Yesterday, after a pretty great morning run, Ryan mentioned he was going to run “hard and fast” on some of the most difficult trails we have in the Boise Foothills. Of course, that got the wheels turning in my head and I asked him later if he’d share the route with me for my Garmin so I could start early and do it too (without messing up “fast boy” training!)
My buddy, Rachel C. stopped by my house while I was looking over the map and said she’d enjoy coming along too, so we met up at 4:30 am to get a jump on Ryan A. and Derek (who I refer to as the “fast boys” because they are exceptionally FAST runners!)
After looking at Ryan’s Garmin info (where he’d done this route in the past in 1:29) we started a half an hour (it turned out to be 27 minutes exactly since they started two min early and we started one min late -not that I’m being a numbers geek) before the guys and decided to hike every step since we thought it would be fun if they caught us at the halfpoint and we all ran downhill together. The sky was pitch black, the city of Boise twinkled below like a thousand sparkling diamonds, the wind whistled and I was thankful for my thin Brooks jacket keeping me toasty. We reached the 4 mile spot and could see two headlamps about a mile down the trail heading steadily up towards us, so we waited for about 7 minutes (that’s ALL it took them to catch us with a half an hour start!!?!! WOW)
They were flying too and in great spirits! We said our hellos and we all started running fast downhill having a blast! If the fellas were tired from running hard on the steep uphills, they didn’t show it! They were FLYING!!!! And whooping and laughing and having a great time! Rachel and the boys took off super fast and I had to hold back on the super technical downhill right after we joined up. It’s like a death trap, a zillion various sized rocks, uneven terrain, by headlamp. Totally exciting! Loved every minute of it – but I had to take my time. I definitely lost my “early morning running” skills with the several week lay off from running much with the calf injury and am eager to get back to being a bit more fearless on this sort of thing!
Once we hit the smoother sections of downhill running I was in my element and started running much faster! That’s when I started whooping and hollaring – and it started to rain! I felt like a little kid I was having so much fun, my hair plastered to my face, arms and legs pumping hard through the mountains under the stars! My fastest mile was mile 7 at a 7:18 pace. I felt I could have ran it a bit faster, but I had to pee!
I stopped to take care of business and wait for Rachel (who’s headlamp was fading making it hard for her to go as fast as she wanted to.) Once I saw her light behind me, I took off again to the final stretch, lungs burning and breathing heavy as I gave it all I had to the finish!
That was the most incredible workout I’ve done in MONTHS! Totally loved it and can’t wait to do it again!!!! THIS kind of running will make me a beast!
Elevation gain: 1,659 feet. When I got back to the parking lot and realized Rachel and I had done the 8.64 mile route in about 1:45 I was pretty excited! Not bad for hiking the first 4 miles! Next time, I think we girls need to start 15 min early instead and run as much as we want. I am betting we could do it even faster!! What do you think, Rachel?! Are you in?!
Getting there!!! I was hoping to run the Cobb and Homestead trails on Lucky Peak this morning, but it rained last night, so I knew the trail conditions would be no beuno! So, instead I did the most obvious next best thing and ran from my front door right out onto the sandy trails near my house which are always runnable no matter how wet it is (which is awesome and convenient!) They are also fairly flat, so I knew that would be a smart place to further test the recovering calf strain and tight IT band.
The sky was gray and full of clouds. Some would say it was gloomy. I would describe it as perfectly peaceful.. still…. calm and beautiful. I really enjoyed myself as I ran through the rain-soaked sagebrush and enjoyed the fragrance of wet earth. I saw Canadian geese (made me think of you,Canada Steve ) flying overhead in a v formation as I crossed a red bridge over an empty canal and smiled thinking how lucky I was to be outside enjoying the day. I ran to Barber Park and crossed the bridge and noticed three swans, their heads tucked into their feathers, taking a little siesta as the shallow water rushed by.
I had walked the first 3/4 of a mile to warm up the legs, then ran every step until I hit the steep hill in our neighborhood (that I can’t run up on my best day.) Then I ran again right until I hit 8 miles and was at my front door. I turned back onto the little greenbelt near my house and walked another 1/2 mile to stretch the legs out nicely for a cool down. I felt totally pain-free during the run but did feel some stiffness in the IT band once I started walking. By the end of the half mile walk it felt smoother.
I have an appointment on Tuesday to see my massage gal and I’ll have her work over the IT band, hamstrings and calves. I think that should help. And, I’ll keep stretching each day and spending quality time with my foam roller who I’ve started to refer to as “Arnold” (said in my best Schwarzenegger voice!)
I grew up in Owyhee County and one of my favorite places to sneak off to for a long, trail run is the Wilson Creek trail head in the Owyhee Mountains, not far from Melba, Idaho. It’s about a 75 minute drive from my home in Boise, so I save this one for special occasions or training for the Wilson Creek Frozen 50k that will be happening next year on January 19th, 2013!
On Saturday, a group of about 20 ultra runners met up before dawn to run the 20 mile loop that is part of the race. This was the first time I’d done the entire 20 since last January when I raced it during my 50k. I was eager to revisit the course!
I decided to bring along my camera for this one. I used to take a ton of photos on my runs and share them here on my blog. I felt it was time to take a super easy day, stop and enjoy the scenery and take some great photos along the way and I was really hoping I’d have a chance to get some shots of the elusive wild horses that roam out in these hills.
I arrived while the sky was still dark and dawn was just beginning to break. This proved to be my favorite photo op of the day as I snapped a series of photos of the quickly-changing early morning sky as it morphed before my eyes into a beautiful sunrise!
It was an amazing day! I had the opportunity to chat with three new friends and even had the chance to point out the herd of wild horses was up on a hillside to two of them who had never seen them before! In total, I spotted more than 30 wild horses during my 5 and a half hour run! It was wonderful!
It was a lovely 20 (actually 20.75) miles on the trails. I am looking forward to doing it again at least one more time before race day!
I woke up this morning without a plan but said to my husband, “I want to run from the house to Lucky Peak and back!” I’ve ran up to the peak and down again several times – but never from my front door (which is about 3 miles to the trail start, so I knew it would add roughly 6 miles to the total, which sounded great since the trip up and down the mountain is always a hair over 13.) I figured it would be a nice, long, slow distance run giving me strength on the steep hill climbs, a chance to run fast on the technical downhill sections and the cushion of dirt instead of asphalt getting me ready for my marathon in three weeks. It sounded like a plan!
I packed my Nathan vest with ice and about 50 oz of water (which might have been enough if I was heading out on an early morning run, but I wasn’t thinking as carefully as I should have and didn’t bring my handhelds as back up.) I also had plenty of S caps, some peanut butter crackers and a mint chocolate GU. And, off I went!
It was exciting heading out. I like to run with my pal, Randy sometimes and I had been curious exactly how far it was via trails and the greenbelt from my house to his. It turns out it’s almost 3 miles on the nose! So, the next time he invites me I need to leave the house half an hour early and run to his before the “run” starts. Then, run those 3 miles back after! BONUS MILES!!
It was 10 am before I started today, so I was also thinking it would be a great chance to get in some heat training (again – a doh moment – I should have been packing MORE water/electrolyte drink, etc!!!) It was hot. It was hazy from all the smoke in the sky. So hazy in fact, that you couldn’t see as far into the distance or up the mountain as usual, which made it kind of mysterious looking, but the air wasn’t as fresh as usual which wasn’t a good thing. Since it was fairly warm already when I started (about 80 degrees), I stayed conservative — steadily hiking the uphills and even warming up the first mile from my front door with an easy walk pace. I knew I had a long way to go and figured pacing would be the key to a successful and fun run instead of a miserable drudge.
So many locusts hopped out of the golden grasses and onto the dusty trail in front of my feet as I climbed up, up, up Lucky Peak. Five different small lizards – no bigger than three inches from head to tail each zipped across the trail on the climb as well. I considered these things wonderful distractions to my heavy breathing! I could feel myself sweating and it was so humid (which is unusual for Idaho) that it would evaporate off my skin within seconds! I kept drinking but felt the weight of the pack every little bit and realized that I was drinking more than I’d planned to, so I tried to be conservative with the water, which didn’t really help things much since my body was really needing it.
Around mile 8 into my run, I looked up and spotted local rock star Wayne Rancourt coming down the hill, wearing his pack and grinning! He stopped and said hi to me and he asked me if this was my “first time” up the hill today. Haha! Wayne is known for doing hill repeats on this crazy, horribly long hill (Lucky Peak) that has over 3,000 of climb in 6 miles up. It works well for him! He came in 2nd place last week at Wild Idaho 50 miler! I told him that I was just doing “one” hill repeat. Man, that made me feel like a weenie next to him!!!! He said he’s see me again when he was heading back up.
By the time I reached the summit and enjoyed what I could see through the smoke of the view of Boise, I knew water was an issue. Randy had told me about a path down the front of the hill that I’d never tried that was a shortcut. I decided this was a good day for that, so I sought it out, found it and really enjoyed the little deer trail down the front that shaved about a mile off of my descent! It also made me feel like a cheater pants since I never go that way – haha!
I ran about a mile, then sipped on my Nathan tube for a drink and ended up getting a big gulf of air instead and started choking and coughing! I was thinking “Great! I need a drink of water to help with the choking but apparently I’m all out and I still have 8 miles to GO!!” ARGH!!
I realized I was in trouble a bit. I was already having headaches and feeling thirsty and figured without water in the heat of the day (which had a high of 100 today) I would not do my body any good by pushing through this, so I grabbed my cell phone out of my pack and texted my husband.
Then, I took off running again. I was running fairly fast downhill through this section when I spotted a bit of blue up ahead – it was Wayne on his way up and when he saw me he started clapping, which only made me run faster and start to grin! (It’s always more fun to have an audience!) He wished me good luck on my “flight” down the mountain, and I wished him well on his climb up. No sooner had we passed one another, when all of a sudden I stepped poorly on my right foot and instantly realized I’d rolled it — not horribly — but still – it was hurting and it was sore! UGH! That’s what I get for showing off! I pulled off of the trail again and dug out my cell phone, almost in tears and looked to see if Wayne had written me back. He hadn’t. I called him. He didn’t pick up. I felt a little freaked out thinking I would have to make it back to the house possibly without any more water and now with the ankle hurting my pace would slow down so I’d be out for HOURS more in the heat! Normally, I would stop and ask for water at my buddy, Randy‘s house, but I knew he was on vacation, so that wouldn’t be a possibility. I tried calling Wayne two more times without success and then just settled in a slow, steady downhill pace trying to get closer to the bottom of the hill (and closer to home!)
Finally, my phone rang! It was Wayne!!! I told him I was out of water and had rolled my ankle and needed him to come meet me on Warm Springs in about 20 minutes with some water. He said he would. I was so relieved!!! Once I knew he was on the way, I picked up the pace, knowing I would only have a couple more miles to run without water before I could stop and DRINK!
When I was about 3/4 of a mile from Warm Springs, I was back in Randy‘s neighborhood, running on a path that has a little bubbling brook right next to the trail. I hobbled right over to it, fell down on my knees and started scooping the cold, delightful water all over my face, arms and legs. It was so refreshing in that heat! I also ran through every sprinkler I saw near the path! My shoes were making a squish, squish sound, my shorts and tank were wet and my face was dripping wet from the washing when Wayne found me on the path. He was holding a water bottle filled with ice water, which I would gladly have paid a king’s ransom for at that point! I barely had time to thank him before I started gulping the cool, refreshing water down my dry, parched through! Ahhhhhhhhh – better!!!!!
I was bummed when I hopped into the car to realize my potential 20 miler had turned into a dehydrated 15 miler – but it is, what it is! At least it was just a training run!
Elevation Gain: 3,300 Felt: Pretty good until I ran out of water, then not so much!
With a DNF this summer at both Pocatello 50 and Big Horn 50 in the books — both because of running too slow and getting pulled from the courses at 48 miles and then 34 miles respectively — I was in a bad place mentally and needed a good race to kind of clear the slate and give me a positive mindset again as I gear up for the Pocatello Marathon next month, where I hope to qualify for Boston.
One month prior to my 3:48 Famous Potato Marathon in May, I had raced the Weiser River 50k in 5:05 (a PR for that course and that distance for me), so I knew that it had served me well to run this distance a few weeks before a marathon and figured this might help me prepare well again. I decided signing up for Wild Idaho 50k would be just the ticket! I did the 50 miler last year and knew the course and thought it would be a good challenge, with plenty of climbing (it’s advertised as 10,000 of elevation gain) (and some sweet downhill running which would also be good preparation for the Pocatello Marathon which has about 1,500 of elevation loss on the course) and would also be a lot of fun since so many of my friends would be either racing that day as well or at the aid stations volunteering. So, I signed up!
My husband and five children and I arrived at the Boiling Springs Campground the day before the race. I think my kids were more excited than I was to be there, which was fun to see! There were several other children of the other racers for them to play with and great access to the shallow river that runs right behind the campground, which turned out to be the main highlight of the weekend for them since the temperatures were in the 90s.
We set up our tents just as the pre-race meeting was taking place. I wandered over and heard the basic “Drink lots of water and try not to die on the course” speech. There was an excitement in the air following the meeting as the racers mingled and said their “hellos” to one another and made their way over to the pre-race spaghetti dinner (which was something new this year!) We had really scored on our tent site since we were literally right across from the camp spot serving the meal! Woo hoo! And, boy did that spaghetti, bread, salad and watermelon hit the spot! It was delicious and served with a smile! And, the best part was they’d prepared enough to allow family members to eat as well, so the whole family enjoyed a tasty meal before settling down around a campfire and socializing with all the runners and their families.
I don’t sleep well before races, so it was no surprise that I’d hardly slept a wink when my alarm went off at 5:15 am. I quickly got dressed in the tent by headlamp and shivered in my running skirt and tank top in the chilly morning, mountain air. I was excited and eager to get started! I ate a few bites of a bagel and drank some Starbuck’s Mocha Frappuccino to get my caffeine boost and then hit the porta potty. Just before 6 am, Ben Blessing (the race director and my awesome cousin), announced that we should all line up and he played a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem on his Tuba.
And, then we were off! Right away, I fell into pace with my good friend Rachael. She and I often end up near one another in a race and it was nice to have a familiar face to begin the journey with. Ben had changed the course a bit this year, so instead of starting on the dirt road, we hopped onto this sweet, forested, uphill trail with some fun technical aspects. I enjoyed leaping logs and pushing through trees while yelling behind me, “TREE! ROOT!” to those behind me. It was a really pleasant, fun stretch to get the legs warmed up for the rest of the race and when we popped out onto the road about a mile later I gave race director Ben a two thumbs up when he asked what I thought of the course change!
I had a couple goals. 1. Run a smart race by taking care of my fueling and nutrition needs right from the start and NOT pushing too hard and 2. Have FUN! I really had no other big goals and could have cared less about my pace. This made the whole event a whole lot more fun for me! I just tuned into my body and let the legs fly when they felt like it (mostly on the downhills) and eased back on the climbs keeping a fairly steady effort level from start to finish. I also made it a big point to socialize, which is always a lot of fun for a stay-at-home Mom of five kids like me! I think I may have talked to people practically the entire race. It helped me stay at an easier effort level and distracted me from all of the hard climbing. And, thankfully, I had a few people say to me, “Keep doing that! You’re chatting is really helping me out and your positive energy is contagious!” That made me smile!
From the Boiling Springs start, it’s uphill 4.4 miles on a wide, fairly smooth dirt road to the Silver Creek Saddle Aid Station. I checked in, grabbed some Coke, downed it in a couple of gulps and then headed to the Silver Creek Lookout about 2 1/2 miles uphill. I was still running with Rachael and our friend Sam had fallen into pace with us as well, so we relaxed and talked and enjoyed the morning. I kept stopping to take photos of the beautiful mountain views, though the sky this year was much hazier than it was a year ago due to a nearby fire.
Somewhere on this uphill climb I bumped into my friend, Ryan, who was doing the 50 miler and was ahead of me, but passing by me on the out and back. I pulled out my camera to take a photo of us and he pulled out his and told me it was time to do the “No Whining Dance”, which is a tradition in his family before hikes. The idea is to complain like crazy during the “no whining dance” and then you won’t complain the rest of the journey. Ryan and I looked like a couple of goofballs, hopping in circles, chanting, “My feet hurt! This sucks! I don’t want to do this!” and the grins on our faces clearly say that we weren’t really as miserable as we sounded at all, but it was a lot of fun and put me in a great mood.
I got back to focusing on the climbing and my pal Sam reached the summit first. I have a picture of he, our friend Emily and I at this spot from a year ago, so I knew I was on a similar pace since I was right on Sam’s heels still. I handed my camera to the volunteer taking down numbers at the top and asked him to take my picture (which is a must-do for this race! The view is GORGEOUS up there!!!) Just as he finished, I heard Rachael yell out, “Wait! I want in the picture too” as she summitted. I grinned and said “Of course!!” and the kind volunteer took a picture of us smiling together on top of the world.
Then, it was time to fly!!! This section coming down from the lookout is my favorite downhill running on the whole course! I was comfortably running in the 7-8 min range, relaxed, arms flailing out to my sides for balance and having the time of my life! Rachael was hot on my heels. I realized about halfway down the hill that I really, really, really needed to use a bathroom! I kept muttering to myself, “Don’t poop your pants! Don’t poop your pants!” and luckily, when I got back to the Silver Creek Saddle Aid Station there was a porta potty waiting for me (without a line, which must have been Divine Intervention!) I heard Rachael pass me outside the door and she jokingly yelled towards the loo “GO Christie, GO!” hahaha!!!!!!! And, of course with encouragement like that, I did!
After my bathroom break, I headed up the dirt road towards another favorite part of this race course – a sweet ATV trail that winds through the trees and is very runnable! This little one mile section out (for the 50kers) is a total pleasure cruise! The path roller coasters a bit at the start and then you can just settle into an easy, relaxed, fast stride without taxing the system. It’s just completely beautiful! I passed a few of the fast 50 milers on their way back up and said hi to them, then turned around at the road where the sign said “Turn Around 50kers”, then headed back up the trail. I pulled out a granola bar here and started munching that as I went. At one point, I saw a woman heading off on another road to the right and I hollered out, “You know the race course is this way, right?” and she said, “Oh yes, thank you. I just need to use the bathroom!” I headed downhill, through that section and suddenly heard these crazy, loud, crashing sounds coming from the trees and bushes on the mountain to my right. Startled, I stopped and stared up towards the sound and was trying to figure out what I was hearing when this enormous, 6 point buck came leaping onto the trail just a few feet in front of me before bounding off into the trees and brush on the other side! I was so stunned! It was such a beautiful, magical moment – and it also occurred to me that had I been running a couple seconds per mile faster pace, I would have suffered a hit and run by Bambi!!! Yikes!
I arrived at the Silver Creek Saddle Aid Station for the third and last time, downed another cup of Coke, grabbed some cheese-its and then headed down the long, forest service road back towards Boiling Springs. I remember this section from last year distinctly because that’s when I first started having problems with my IT band with all the downhill running, so this time, I let myself run for a mile, then eased up the pace and took a walk break for a bit, then did it again over and over, allowing myself to enjoy the downs but without taxing the knees quite as bad as last year. It seemed to work! My IT band and knees felt great as I pulled into Boiling Springs (which is a hair over 17 miles) at 3:45 into the race. My friend Michelle was there and she asked if she could help. I asked if she’d fill my Nathan with 30 oz of water and I filled the Nathan hand bottle I carry with another 22 oz of water, downed some soda, ate some salty chips, sprayed bug spray on my body (horseflies had been biting me like crazy on the Wet Foot trail the year before so I came prepared this time), dropped off my jacket, grabbed my sunglasses, hugged my husband and was running out of there at 3:50 into the race heading towards the dreaded Wet Foot trail. My husband commented that I looked strong and I told him I felt awesome! My buddy, Mark and his dog Cali joined me here for a little stretch until I was safely off the road and onto the single track trail again. That was a nice sendoff!
At this point on the course the year before my IT band had seized up and was very painful, it was hot and I was starting to suffer from nausea. This year was a very different experience! I kept the effort steady but never let myself redline or push too hard, I ate steadily, drank often and took my S Caps every hour. I felt WONDERFUL! In fact, I was really surprised that my pace was so good through this section since I had remembered being slug-slow during this stretch before. Last year I had to stop and sit on logs along the steep climbs or sit in the dirt on the side of the path. I never felt the need to stop at all this time! I felt just fine! Doing the 50k instead of the 50 miler also meant I was climbing this section earlier in the day which helped! There was still plenty of shade out instead of direct sun exposure which was a treat!
I did stop for just a moment when I passed the section of the trail that has a plethora of huckleberry bushes! I had never eaten a huckleberry or seen a huckleberry bush until my 50 mile race last year, so stopping to enjoy a little treat along the way brought a smile this time. I maintained my steady push until I reached the Wet Foot Aid Station at about 22 miles. Last year there was no aid station in this section and it was a hard grunt. I had gone nearly 4 hours from Boiling Springs to Skunk Creek before any aid and that was too long. I happily let them refill my water bottle, gobbled down some sweet, juicy watermelon and made small talk to the aid station workers (a few of whom are distant relatives of mine!) It was just as I was ready to leave that my buddy, Tony Huff came up the climb and into the aid station, too. I was really happy to see him! He was doing the 50 miler and had even won this race three years ago, so I knew he would be awesome to have in front of me for the next section of climbing (which is pretty brutal!) And, Tony didn’t disappoint! He kept saying, “You’re lagging behind! Come on! Keep up!” I laughed as I tried my best to keep up with Tony. I was able to keep him in sight for about 3/4 of a mile and it was nice to have that push. Once he was out of sight, I started hoping Ryan would catch up soon, too, so he could also help pace me up the steepest section of all (two miles of roughly 1,000 of climb each) before Skunk Creek. I was really surprised when I finally sumitted the worst of it and he hadn’t caught me yet.
Just after the summit, there’s a nice flat section, some trees and a glorious view- and to capture it all, my friend and world-class photographer Michael LeBowitz snapping off shots of the runners as they crested! It was nice to see Michael and he took some pictures of me. Then, I pumped the legs a bit more since I knew I was almost to the Skunk Creek Aid Station at mile 25! They had the cowbells going, several of my friends were volunteering and I could feel the love from the moment of my arrival! My buddy, Jim Updegrove asked if I wanted him to squirt me with a water bottle and I happily said, “YES PLEASE!” He squirted my face and I used a paper towel to wipe the sweat and salt off and I felt like a new woman! Then he walked around me squirting me from all sides and it was exactly what I needed! He then offered me a pancake, which I happily took, along with an orange slice and some soda, while my friend Shanda filled my water bottle. I was well taken care of, so I waved goodbye, thanked them all, then headed back down the path towards the Wet Foot trail again. It was here that I finally saw Ryan again! I teased him that he needed to run faster next time to catch me, then I took off.
Now, here’s where the fun part comes in! Hiking up Wet Foot is a grunt for sure! It’s steep, the dirt is fine and powdery and difficult to get a good firm grip in, you’re thirsty, tired, you feel like it’s never going to end and then — wallah – you get to the top, get treated like royalty at the aid station and then you get to run DOWN that stretch which is a whole different story!!!! I made it a point to encourage every single runner I passed on that section, as they were heading up and I was heading down. I stopped and gave several hugs even! I was in great spirits! My buddy, Mark had told me to treat this downhill section like a skier would — easy, loose, letting my feet slide side to side a bit instead of fighting the powdery, loose dirt. And, that’s what I did! I used my arms for balance, got fearless and started really making some good time on the descent! There are plenty of technical aspects of this trail – roots, rocks, trees, loose dirt, etc and I just played with it. I felt like a little kid and I was having ball!
I reached the Wet Foot aid station at 27.7 miles and again took advantage of their wonderful hospitality, getting my bottle filled, eating a little snack and then quickly getting back to business on the trail! Once I left that aid station, I couldn’t stop smiling! I was feeling great, running strong and knew that the finish line was getting closer! I could hardly believe my good luck! I’d had no injuries, no stomach problems, no negative thoughts. I was having a fantastic race!
Once my Garmin reached 31 miles (with a total time of 8:07) I knew it was almost over! I just relaxed, let loose and cranked it all the way to the finish line at 33.67 miles. My time was 8:34 and I could not believe it! That is a PR for a mountain 50k for me! My family was there to see me, my husband snapped a finish line photo, Ben handed me my cool finisher’s prize – a small baseball bat with the race info engraved on the side and I headed straight for the water to soak in the ice cold deliciousness while I sipped a cold Mountain Dew! It was a perfect day!
I’ll definitely be back to Wild Idaho again next year!!!!
My husband, Wayne and I are race directors and this past weekend he invited me to test drive one of our newest race courses out – a race like no other I’d ever attempted before because much of it takes place on enormous sand dunes at Bruneau State Park in Bruneau, Idaho! Wayne had me run the 5k course. I raced a 5k a couple of months ago in 22:41. This took much closer to an hour and a half!!!!! It was that hard! Though, I do admit to being overtaken by the beauty of it all and stopping for a few photos along the way too!
The Brunea Beast as we’ve dubbed it, will take place on August 18th with a 5k, 10k and a 20k option for those who really, really want to get their full money’s worth while racing on the sand dunes! It should be a crazy, fun time for all! Looking forward to it!
“Why do you run trails?” “Is it worth it to run in the mountains versus running on the roads?” “What’s it like to run for hours?” “Is it fun to run with others?” These are some of the questions I frequently hear from others and my answers are usually along the lines of “I really just need to take you along and let you experience for yourself how the whole world looks different from a mountain top, how much pride you can feel in yourself when you’ve pushed so hard to climb steep sections at elevation to reach that lovely summit, how spotting a bunny or a herd of deer or a snake or a chipmunk or a hawk can remind you that this world is full of more life than you ever imagined and had forgotten about while sitting at home in front of your computer or on your couch, how awe and reverence can overwhelm you as you watch the sun rise or set (or both!) while you’ve been running, how coming around a bend and seeing a meadow of wildflowers can make your soul sing, how the smell of pine forests or sagebrush and rain and earth can make you breathe more deeply than you have in a long time, how splashing through a creek or a river can make you feel like a five year old again, how stopping to sit on a log and share a sandwich with a friend can make you feel like you’ve never been happier in your life before.”
Well, now I can also “show” those who ask by sharing these little YouTube videos! I am thrilled that a local runner has taken the time to make videos of a few trail runs on some of my favorite trails to run in the Boise Foothills and at Bogus Basin and I wanted to share them with you since it’s as close as I can come to taking all of you running with me in beautiful Boise, Idaho (and it doesn’t hurt that they used two of my favorite songs in the world as background music!) Just a word of warning, though… you will likely feel inspired to lace up your own shoes and head out to find some trails to run! Happy running!!!!
I feel truly blessed to live in the Boise, Idaho area. We have so many lovely trails and scenic places to run, bike or hike that I never grow tired of heading out to enjoy the mountains and their pristine allure. Yesterday, a group from the Pulse Running and Fitness Shop came together to do a run on the trails at Bogus Basin, a popular ski resort in the Treasure Valley. I was so glad that I went. I took along my camera and just enjoyed the day, savoring the expansive blue sky soaring above the mountain tops, the pines, the wildflowers in shades of bright orange, deep purple, sunshine yellow and white and the unique atmosphere of a ski lodge. I loved running under the chairlifts and imagined myself wooshing downhill on skis in a few months (that is if I ever learn to SKI!) It was fun! I hope you enjoy the day in photos that follows!
It is incredibly rare for me to set out to do a certain distance and to end things before I’ve reached that goal. One example is this past Saturday when I showed up to a group run expecting to run 8 – 12 miles. We ended up doing 16 – and I pushed it on the downhills for several of those miles. Today was different. I set out to do an easy 6 and cut things short after 3 and a half.
I’ve been struggling with some hip problems, some IT band stuff and piriformis syndrome all on my left side. I’ve seen the chiropractor about it several times in the past few weeks. My running hasn’t been affected, thankfully, but on today’s run (which turned into a slow, sloggish walk), I was concerned that things weren’t going that well.
My calves were achy and I just felt sort of tired, despite the fact that I was going several minutes per mile slower than normal. My heart rate was fine, but I am convinced that I still need more rest and recovery before my tough, mountain 50 mile race this upcoming Saturday. I’m not totally sure that my body is fully recovered from my fast marathon from the 19th yet. I pulled way back on mileage last week, but I kept the intensity and climbing up. Maybe what I need the most right now is to do a little swimming (the pools opened up in my neighborhood this week!), biking, yoga and stretching until the race.
I do have a very real concern about the time cut offs for this upcoming race. Several people have warned me that it will be the toughest 50 miler I’ve ever done and I’m at a very real risk of being pulled at the 32 mile cut off 9 1/2 hours into the race (which sounds like a lot of time, but given the extreme climbing and technical terrain may make it a real test of my abilities at this point!) I have friends who I consider faster than me who were pulled at that cut off last year, so I really should rest up as much as possible and attack those mountains this weekend with everything I’ve got!! A finish medal at this particular race will certainly be a confidence boost if I can pull it off!!!
Had a wonderful Mother’s Day celebration with my family yesterday. My husband always works major holidays, so we try to work around them. Today, the kids let me sleep in, then I got up and made the little ones breakfast and we ate together, which is always fun – and is the usual way I start all my days. I did my cleaning and got the kids going on theirs, then headed off on a nice mountain run by myself. Being alone is something I don’t do very much of. I’m the mom of five. I’m married and I have so many wonderful friends. I have a very blessed and rich life and much to be thankful for.
Once in a while, though, I really just crave time to myself. Time where I can run my own pace, without any pressure to speed up or slow down, time to sort through feelings that are hard to process when others are around. Sometimes it’s nice to just commune with nature. Gaze at the flowers, the trees, the hills, listen to the wind, hear the sound of my own feet hitting the dirt – even listen to the steady rhythm of my own heart beat.
Today, I did just that. It was hot out – 83 degrees and I went at the warmest time intentionally – from about 12:30 pm – 4:00 pm when it was sunny and I’d have to fight the heat a bit. I have three races coming up in the next few weeks. A marathon on Saturday, Pocatello 50 two weeks after that and Big Horn 50 two weeks after that. Each one is likely to be pretty hot, so this type of training is really essential to help my body adapt to the temperatures and stay steady and strong despite them.
My friend, Donna knew I was considering buying some trekking poles for the two technical, steep 50 milers I have coming up, so she offered to loan me hers for the weekend! That was so nice! I took them with me today since this particular climb is really steep, has some fairly technical sections and would give me a chance to test them out on a shorter run before buying some of my own. I have to say I was impressed with how easy they were to adjust to my height, with how lightweight they were (hers are the Leki brand and they telescope to the size you need), they also were not hard to get in a rhythm with and I liked the ergonomic handles since I found them comfortable and they did not chafe at all. I had decided to hike the entire first half (to the summit) and then run the whole way down – keeping the poles in hand the entire time. Since I just did this same run last Sunday, I also thought it would be interesting to see if I was faster/slower with the poles. This Sunday was about 30 degrees hotter than last Sunday, so I knew that would be a factor that may skew things a bit, but it was still fun to do it and see how it compared overall.
I bumped into a pal on the way up who was coming down. I said, “Hello!” and he said “Hi,” then passed me and I heard him say, “Christie???? Is that YOU?” It turned out to be my pal, Tom! I don’t think he recognized me with my trekking poles, hiking uphill and I didn’t recognize him walking on a downhill (he’s one the of the fastest downhill runners I know.) We both got a good laugh out of that, and stopped to chat about hiking poles. Turns out, he, too, tried a pair on this same path awhile back. He shared some ideas about them, we said our goodbyes and I was off, trudging up the hill again.
I have to admit, I enjoyed the uphill section this week and I don’t think it was the poles that made me feel that way. They were fine and everything, but the main thing that made me enjoy myself more was not having any pressure to run uphill. I just let myself power hike. That’s always what works best for me and when I try to make myself run even some of it, I end up miserable. My right hamstring is still hurting from last Sunday’s hike/run since I was trying my best to push the pace to catch up to my faster friend. I was having a hard time and could not catch up no matter how I tried. So, today, I just relaxed, enjoyed the lovely spring flowers cropping up everywhere on the hillsides and just kept myself steady and determined.
It went well! Despite the heat, I felt strong. I took my S caps and ate as needed and never got tired or needed to slow down my effort level. Once I reached the summit, I snapped a few pictures and stopped to sit on a rock and enjoy the amazing views of the entire valley. I admit, I felt so good, so happy, so open to the beauty and so free to be me, that I cried a little bit. I cleansed some feelings, wiped my tears and then headed down the mountain, feeling refreshed and a little more at peace in my soul.
I almost landed on another bull snake, who was stretching his four feet body across the trail, but thankfully, he turned back and got out of my way before I landed on him! Eeek!
I had the poles fully extended, so ended up running with them held like two long sticks floating vertically above the ground as I flew down the hillside. I had fun, but was thinking, “I think I’ll do it without the poles next time.” My best mile was mile 13 with a pace of 8:37. I ran by feel entirely today. I tuned into my body and finished strong. It felt really good to be in control. I think more training on Lucky Peak will help me with my next two hard fifty milers! I’ll keep doing it!
Elevation Gain: 3,247 feet. Average HR: 157 Max HR: 190
P.S. Interestingly – My overall time was very similar today to last week’s. I don’t think the poles helped me much, but they were really fun to try out! I missed having my hand bottles, which I could not use while holding the poles.