I may have just done something stupid

And these days, it can all be blamed on Facebook, of course. So there I was just scrolling my FB feed, looking at all the pretty trail pictures and “did his job anyway” memes and trying not to be disturbed by all the cat posts, when I see a post with a link to apply to the Second Season of Becoming Ultra. You may have seen this yourself today if you’re one of the 28,961 members of Trail and Ultra Running.

Two lucky runners will be coached to ultra glory by Ian Sharman in preparation for the American River 50 mile race on April 2, 2016. Race entry included. You also appear on the website and on the podcast several times.

So yes, I applied. And then I got that feeling in your stomach when you just KNOW you screwed up. Then I felt relief when I realized that the chances of me being selected are slim to none. Except that my name is Speedie. And I live less than two hours away from the American River 50 mile course. And I tend to win things I enter. Who knows, it could happen. And it hit me. Do it anyway. Even if you don’t have a fancy coach. Even if you don’t have the base you did two months ago. Do it anyway.

Deadline to enter is September 30th, if you’re feeling like doing something stupid too.

 

The Year of The Ultramarathon

Yep, I’m declaring it. 2015 is the Year of the Ultramarathon.

I’ve been a trail runner since I first ran the rainbow eucalyptus-lined trails of Poli Poli on Maui back in the summer of 1997. Most of the time, trail running was just running for me. Something better than hiking. Almost flying. Once I moved to Portland, I began entering races, but I never had a desire to run a marathon (road OR trail.)

Something has changed. Part of it was the increased coverage ultras were gaining in Trail Runner Magazine, my go-to for trail porn, especially while living in super flat Florida. Part of it was that I found UltraRunnerPodcast, the BEST round-up of all things ultra and trail running. But I think mostly it was the abundance of elite trail runners in the PNW region. I saw pictures of super stoked muddy people on trails on Facebook, read race reports of crazy brave souls running 100 freakin’ miles and volunteered at an ultra.  That was it. I wanted to be one of them.

There are three weekends a year with races on Orcas Island. Two of them are for 25k and 50k distances, out of my league at the time of the race, and the other is coming up in April. Bellingham Trail Running Series directed by Candice Burt, is putting on the inaugural Orcas Island Trail Marathon and Festival on April 11 and 12 and I am registered for the half marathon. Candice is known for her sadistic tough races and this half warns boasts 3800 ft of elevation gain and 3800 ft of loss for the half. (6200 gain and 6200 loss for the full marathon and 3100 gain and 700 loss for the 10k ascent.)

In non-trail racing news, I registered for the 2015 Portland Marathon. Do I run on the road? Not really. My friend Charity, super badass runner and Ironman finisher, casually mentioned a few months ago that she might be running the PDX Marathon and I let it slip to the back of my lazy mind.  And then I got a message on Facebook from her. Turns out she registered the night before and wanted to know if I was down for it. I love this woman more than words can express (see past post here) so I did too. So, I’m shopping for road shoes running on the road now and not just on my beloved trails. (I would be shopping for road shoes right now, but we haven’t decided on our “look” for race day. We all know that running is all about the cute outfits, right?)

But that’s still not an ultra I hear you say. You’re right, an ultra is any race distance more than 26.2 miles. Most people in the ultra community (yes, that’s a thing) agree that 50k (or 31.0686 miles for my non-metric friends) is the entry-level ultra. Wanna get yourself into what will become an all-caps screaming match a heated discussion on the interweb? Ask how long a real ultra is.

I couldn’t possibly be ready for a 50k before my half in April and from mid-Sept to Oct 4th is sacred taper time before the marathon. I’d like to squeeze in manage an ultra between early May and early Sept just in case I get injured, abducted by aliens or DNF and need another race to get in an ultra finish before the end of the year. (I love my job, but I have a weird yet super predictable summer schedule: off every other Sun-Fri and on every Saturday.)

Here’s my options as I see them now:

pre-marathon:

June 6th-Vashon 50k

post-marathon:

Nov 14th-Grand Ridge

Dec 14(estimated)-Deception Pass     (I want to run this race no matter what else I do this year.)

Why am I pushing for an ultra this year? Well, like Warren Miller is known to say: “If you don’t do it this year, you will be one year older when you do.” And I’m 40 this year. Time to get it done. (Hope I don’t end up living out his other great quote: “If at first you don’t succeed, failure might be your thing.”)

If anyone out there has any race suggestions, I’d love to hear them.

 

 

 

A Runner’s Introduction To Orcas Island

trails signs Moran State Park

The saying around here goes: If you’re lucky enough to live Orcas, you’re lucky enough. Couldn’t agree more. Especially if you love running in the woods and mountains like I do.

Orcas Island is but 55 square miles and yet it’s home to Washington’s fourth largest state park, Moran State Park. With nearly 40 miles of sweet runnable trails it is heaven. (Hikers, paddlers, bird-watchers, and mountain bikers call this park heaven, too.) If you’re looking for a destination trail race, you’ll be stoked to run one of the races lovingly directed by Rainshadow Running and Bellingham Trail Running Series. From kid fun runs to 50k ultras, every racer gets to experience the remote and unspoiled beauty of the Pacific Northwest’s famed lush trails.

Another jewel for runners (hikers, mtn bikers, anybody with a pulse) is Turtleback Mountain Preserve. Some of the most postcard-worthy shots in the San Juan Islands come from this spot.

And since we all know that running and beer go together so well, I’d like to introduce you to Orcas’ only brewery, Island Hoppin’ Brewery. Reason enough to come to Orcas.

If you’re lucky enough to run and chug on Orcas, you’re lucky enough indeed.

Rainshadow Running logo Bellingham Trail Race Series

Island Hoppin' Brewery logo  SJCLAB logo

Where I’ve Been (for the last 16 months)

Speedie atop Turtleback

Last time I was on this blog, I was living on Treasure Island, Florida. In the middle of 2013, I was offered the opportunity to relocate to Orcas Island, part of the San Juan Island archipelago, and I couldn’t resist. Another dazzling little island to call home. And only a mere 3300 miles away! The hubby and I sold off the furniture and gave away what we couldn’t live without (we’ve gotten really good at the whole minimalist living and moving thing). The stuff we kept we packed into the bed of our 1995 Ford F-150 pick-up truck known as The Beast.

[googlemaps https://www.google.com/maps/d/embed?mid=zytllcNzQKOo.kA5V1EufAhW4&w=640&h=480]

Over the next four weeks, we drove. And camped. And found new places to enjoy burgers and burritos and beers. We also broke down. In Laramie, Wyoming. If you’re going to break down in the middle of nowhere, might I suggest doing it in Laramie. We met some fun-loving people and generally had a blast for a week while we tried to figure out if The Beast would make the trip. The outlook wasn’t good, so we sold her for a fair price and rented a mini-van for the rest of the journey. In Anacortes, the last stop before the San Juan Islands, we bought the sweetest bikes either Greg aka El Agua and I have ever bought. No car? No idea what we’re doing or where we’re going? NO problem. It’s kinda how we roll.

Wanna see how we’ve rolled for the past 18 years? Check out another map below:

[googlemaps https://www.google.com/maps/d/embed?mid=zytllcNzQKOo.ksPVGhuQBkqw&w=640&h=480]

Operation Reattach Mojo

Guilt and shame, or rather the avoidance of either, is what is keeping me from conveniently “forgetting” that I’m registered for a triathlon this weekend. I’ll be honest. I kinda lost my mojo. Yeah, let’s blame it on the weather.

I feel like I’m making a mental comeback and I had a great ride yesterday with El Agua, but now is not the time to try to make up for laps and miles I should have tallied in the past weeks and didn’t. It’s not the time to make myself feel any worse than I already do for dropping the ball. It’s time to reflect on all the progress I’ve made and remember what I learned from my first triathlon that I can use during this one.

My first triathlon and the one this weekend (Fort Desoto & Top Gun, respectively) are essentially the same race. Same location, same course. A few minor differences: hundreds more racers in this race, July vs May weather and I’m not a complete rookie for this one. I actually know a bunch of seasoned triathletes in the area by joining the St Pete Mad Dogs so that means potentially more people I’ll try like hell NOT to embarass myself in front of to rally me on and to inspire me.

And there are some bloggers I’ve been following that will be racing Top Gun this weekend and maybe I’ll get to meet them, cheer them on and generally bask in their glory. As long as I don’t pass out I’ll be feeling glorious.

Here’s where I’ll be huffing and puffing on Saturday:

Top Gun Tri

Taper? Taper From What?

Next Saturday is my next sprint triathlon. That means I should be tapering or reducing the volume of my training. How do you reduce from nearly zero?

July has been a rough training month for me and I’m pretty sure I’ve temporarily lost my mojo. My running miles are half what they were in June. My cycling miles are a third. And my swim? The sport I need the most discipline and practice? Well, I think I’ve only logged two decent swims this month. And they weren’t even open water swims. Ugh.

It’s not like I don’t have the time. I do. It’s not that I don’t have indoor workout options when the weather is bad. I have a membership at a better than average gym. It’s my mojo.

I read posts by two bloggers yesterday that seem to be feeling like I do lately. Lack of workout motivation and lack of blogging motivation. A general sense of malaise. Loss of mojo.

There will undoubtedly be some missing-mojo-related-self-butt-kicking come next Saturday. Top Gun is a much bigger race than my last triathlon with many fast ladies. You can bet I won’t be on the podium this time around. My tri shorts might fit a little tighter than needed. My swim will surely not be pleasant or swift. And my sense of triumph dampened just a bit. Or maybe not.

When I finish it will be with even less training than last time. When I finish it will be in much hotter and stickier weather. When I finish it will be just what I need to reclaim my mojo.

Anybody else missing their mojo?

Respect The Weather

I woke up before my alarm today. That usually signals a good run, IF I go for one. I prefer morning runs to afternoon or evening runs, and not just because I can suffer from a little intestinal difficulty when I run too soon after eating. Sometimes even five hours isn’t enough time, ugh. (Too much “full disclosure?” This is a blog about training for triathlons, it could be SO much worse.)

I mostly prefer the morning runs since I live in Florida and the heat and humidity in the summer months only increase as the day progresses and often doesn’t let up. Or it does let up, but only because some freaky thunder and lightning are happening. (Tampa Bay is the lighting-striking-humans capital of the world. Go ahead, look it up if you don’t believe me, I’ll wait.) Not a good place for a runner to be.

Somehow I have logged much fewer morning runs than afternoon runs lately. It’s as if I’ve forgotten how miserable it can be to run in 88-106 degree/88-147% humidity. (If you doubt my scientific calculations of heat and humidity than you have clearly never ran in Florida in the summer.)

sunrise on the dock

This morning I reclaimed my common sense and ran before work. I was rewarded with a gorgeous sunrise over the inter-coastal waterway. See above.

The wind picked up just as I hit the beach trail and there was rain falling in the area of the bridge I use for hill repeats. See below. I altered my route slightly and managed to only get kissed by a few sprinkles. (Or spit on as some around here call it.)

Treasure Island beach trail with impending rain

I’ve read many Ironman race reports lately and a common theme is to “respect the distance.” I totally get it. 140.6 is a monster. An attainable monster with focused unrelenting training and some good luck and a ton of support from your loved ones and possibly fairy dust, BUT it can be done if you have all of the above and “respect the distance.”

Sprint triathlons just don’t summon the same respect and they shouldn’t. Is it respectable to race sprint tris? Obviously, yes. But 13.35 or even 16.6 doesn’t command and demand the same respect as 140.6. (Probably the reason you don’t see anyone rockin’ a 16.6 bumper sticker on their car.)

Don’t get me wrong. I respect the sprint distance. It’s all I’ve done so far and it’s the distance I will be racing on July 27th. (Top Gun Triathlon) But I can’t help wonder if I would take “training” more seriously if I was actually afraid of respected the distance? An Olympic distance isn’t SCARY like a 70.3 is to me at this point, but I would salute and respect it and probably follow my “training plan” a little more consistently if an Olympic was my next race.

I do, however, respect the weather. Knowing that high heat/humidity coupled with poor hydration and non-existent heat acclimation can crush even a little ol’ sprint tri makes me wanna run thru the tears. (I haven’t actually cried during or after a run, that YOU know of.)

I will not be crushed. I will run. And drink water. And NOT cry.

Thankful Thursday #1

Yes, like most folks living in the first world I have much to be thankful for. Perhaps I should make “Thankful Thursday” a regular feature?

I am thankful that I am healthy and ABLE to complete a triathlon if I WANT to. I frequently run on a paved beach trail shared with walkers, other runners and cruiser cyclists.  I also share this trail with folks using walkers and wheelchairs and runners who are struggling with obvious injuries. As I pass by these folks I am instantly humbled and motivated.

Undoubtedly, I pass or run around people who WOULD run or swim or bike if they COULD. I can, and I am thankful that I do.

On a lighter note, I am also grateful to whoever invented Nutella.

A New Kind of Triathlon

Whew. I barely made it out alive. I enjoy managing a small boutique resort on Treasure Island, Florida and this past week was intense. Since July 4th fell in the middle of the week and since crazy, relentless rain fell almost every hour for days the holiday seemed a little longer, a little messier and a little more chaotic. But I survived.

I started my weekend off right by heading out for a run just as soon as I could drink my weight in coffee. It was one of those days where mentally I really wanted to rock out my run but my body was not feelin’ it. I went anyway and although I stopped to chat and walk with some friends on the beach I managed to keep a pretty respectable pace. Even managed to power up my bridge for a little extra intensity.

Day two included a sweet 4 mile kayak with El Agua. This is the first time either one of us can remember paddling and NOT seeing a dolphin. Weird. Perhaps they had a hard week, too.

Back to work today and as I’d hoped it was peaceful and quiet and no one was yelling at me. (That’s always nice.) And to celebrate, I created a new workout. New for me, anyway. I’m calling it the S4Tri.

What is the S4Tri? Glad you asked. Speedie’s Super Sprint & Sauna Tri. First you ride your bike 3.5 miles to the gym as fast as you can, then you take a sauna, then you swim a quarter of a mile with the most perfect form you can manage, then you take another sauna. Then back on the bike for a super quick return of 3.5 miles immediately followed by a mile run. If you’re lucky like I was today you’ll walk in the door just minutes before the downpour and thunder and lightning start.

And then you’ll come home and blog like a good little triathlete.

Speedie & the kayaks

What’s The Definition Of A Tri Season?

(This posted was originally posted on GoSpeedieGo.com on June 29th.)

Until I  finished my first triathlon I didn’t register for a second. (Did not want to endure the humiliation of not finishing a first and THEN have to suck up the inevitable DNS on my second.)

But I DID finish my first tri. In fact, I placed second in my age group. This shouldn’t be a surprise to you unless this is your first time reading my blog  ’cause I have told just about everyone I know (in person and in the interweb) that I placed second in my age group, BUT if it IS your first time reading my blog, THANK YOU, and yes, triathlon has changed my life and my outlook on my life, which is probably more important than what life can be sometimes.

ANYWAY…my “season” has gone from only one little sprint tri with room for more  to a solid 4 race season. I say “solid” but I have no idea what constitutes a solid race season. I live in Florida, so it seems sometimes that unless you race every month between April (St Anthony’s) til Nov (whatever craziness you happen to take on) you aren’t truly participating.

I realize that if I lived in most other places in the country, or the world, that triathlon would NOT be as accessible as it is in Florida. (Florida has more triathlons than any other state in the US and more than EVERY other country.)

So…I will be ever so grateful that I have been able to run/bike the mountains/hills/beaches/trails/random-ridiculous-places  that I have and know that as long as I wake up tomorrow, there will be new adventures.

AND that I will be racing Top Gun tri on July 27th. Yeah.

Andrea Speedie on the podium