Monday, December 29, 2014

2014 and 2015 resolutions

2014 results

Short trail

Bridle Trails Winter Running Festival 5.2M - 41:18.05 (5th female, 17 overall) - season opener on a winter storm day, delayed by 1 hour, couldn't feel my feet for half of the run :)
Lord Hill 10M - 1:36:10.7 (4th female, 27 overall) - big hill in the beginning the rest was quite runnable, felt good in spite of a long run the day before
Sun Mountain 25K - 2:15:22 (12th female, 40th overall) - run the 50K next day, didn't feel good on the uphill, but downhill was great. Position sucks because it was a competitive race, and I am not fast at short races..
Taylor Mountain half marathon - 2:03:23.6 (5th female, 19th overall) - very muddy, but felt good
Cougar Mountain Trail Running Series 10.82M - 1:47:33.0 (7th female, 24th overall) - incredibly hot day, I think it was high 80ties during the race.

Long trail

Orcas Island 50K - 5:57:04 (7th female, 45th overall), felt great, 30 minutes PR on the course
Chuckanut 50K - 5:26:40 - (14th female, 95th overall), ran after two weeks of being sick and not running, had bronchitis, was still coughing a lot during the run. Made a conclusion that sometimes it's better to DNS (especially if the race is not an A goal), and that race was a good one not to start. Still got about 15 minutes course PR, but Chuckanut in 2013 was not great too (my stomach was off during the whole race). Not racing it in 2015 because of conflicts, but desperately need my redemption on this course. Maybe 2016?
Gorge Waterfalls 50K - 5:30:58 (4th female, 33rd overall), felt great all day.
Lake Sonoma 50M - 9:28:04 (18th female, 90th overall) - very competitive 50M, was not ready for the distance though on 30 miles/week training. Race was a roller-coaster between feeling strong and weak.
Sun Mountain 50K - 5:03:48 (6th female, 25th overall) - ran it the next day after a 25K race. The course is shorter than 50K, probably about 29 miles. Felt tired, but the course is really fast, can surely do under 5 hours with proper rest the day before. Not doing it in 2015 though, because of a conflict.
Squaw Peak 50M - 10:11:19 (2nd female, 17th overall) - my first race in Utah with about 10-11k of elevation gain, felt bad because of altitude (up to 10k?), heat and very early start (4am Seattle time). Came in 2nd just because this race is not competitive at all, except for the first place lady who finished 50 minutes ahead of me (and also broke 18yo Wasatch course record few months later).
Speedgoat 50K - 8:21:09 (18th female, 91 overall) - jeez, that one was hard. My second race in Utah. I was in a great shape, but felt just awful because the race is between 7,500 and 11,000 (getting up to 11k three times over ~33 miles) and I came the night before from the sea level. I also had a heat stroke just before finishing..
White River 50M - 8:50:35 (3rd female, 28th overall) - hands down my best race of the season. Ran it just one week after Speedgoat, felt awesome all day long, got in 3rd at the Sun Top and never looked back. 45 minutes course PR.
Wasatch Front 100M - 25:47:01 (6th female, 35th overall) - my A race of the year (in Utah too), but didn't go as I planned. I did not feel at 100% during the race jumping from one problem to another. Wasn't able to run from mile 73 to mile 94. I wanted to do sub-24, and conditions were perfect, but my body did not cooperate. Another one I need to come back sometime.


Seattle Marathon - 3:22:55 (15th female, 140th overall) - 17 minutes course and distance PR. Aimed for 3:20, but generally happy with sub 3:23. Started training in October and trained well, though two most important build up weeks were skipped because of the trip to Russia.


Not a great season at all. I think I've only climbed few times outside in WA in spring, and for 5 days in Colorado in August. I did send my first outside V4 (Fridge Center in Leavenworth), but did not climb a V5 as I wanted.

2015 plans and goals


  • Road half marathon PR. My current PR from 2010 (my last HM) is 1:43:48. 1:35 must be doable judging by my full marathon time. The problem is that I am going to race it in the middle of the trail ultra season, not sure if I won't loose the speed by that time. Lake Sammammish half is on Mar,7 and Mercer Island half is on Mar, 22.
  • Race outside of the state. This year I am going to AZ (Black Canyon 100K) and GA (Cruel Jewel 50M).
  • PR at all races I've done before.
  • Podium at Cascade Crest 100M.
  • Marathon PR. Now I need to beat 3:22:55 and it's going to be harder than ever. 


  • Climb 4 days/week
  • Start working on finger strength finally! Right now I don't, like at all.
  • Power endurance workouts once in two weeks at least, they work!
  • Just keep doing strength and core 
  • Stretch more!!!
  • Climb outside more, and do a V5

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

2015 racing plan

Races that I consider to run, not all of them of course.

purple - low interest
blue - already signed up
red - lottery
green - high interest, but not signed up (yet?)
black - everything else

Tiger Fat Ass 25K - Jan, 3
Bridle Trails Winter Running Festival 5M or 10M - Jan, 10
Evergreen trail runs: Blast from the Past half marathon - Jan, 18
NW trail runs: Interlaken Icicle Dash 5K or 10K - Jan, 24
Orcas Island 50K - Feb, 7
Black Canyon 100K, AZ - Feb, 14
Evergreen trail runs: Lord Hill 5M, 10M, 20M, 50K - Feb, 22
Lake Sammamish half  - Mar, 7
Mercer Island Half marathon - Mar, 22
Gorge Waterfalls 100K, OR - Mar, 28
Evergreen trail runs: Squak Mnt 12K, half, marathon, 50K - Apr, 11
Yakima 50K - Apr-18
Capitol Peak 50M/50K - Apr, 26
Grand Ridge 5M, half, marathon, 50K - May, 2
Lost Lake 50K - May, 9
Cruel Jewel 50M, GA - May, 16
Sun Mountain 50K/50M - May, 16
Bryce 50M, UT - Jun, 5
Scout Mnt 100K, Pocatello, ID - Jun, 6
Beacon Rock 25/50K - Jun, 8
Bighorn 50M, 100M, WY - Jun, 19 (WS/HR)
River of No Return 100K, ID - Jun, 20
San Juan Solstice 50M, CO - Jun, 27
Western States 100M, CA - Jun, 27 (WS)
Hardrock 100M, CO - Jul, 10 (WS/HR)
Speedgoat, UT - Jul, 24
White River 50M - Jul, 25
Tushar Sky Race 93KM, UT - Aug, 1
Angels Staircase 60K - Aug, 8
Fat Dog 120, BC - Aug, 14 (WS/HR)
Squamish 50M/50K, BC - Aug, 22-23
Waldo 100K, OR - Aug, 22 (WS)
Cascade Crest 100M - Aug, 29 (WS/HR)
Rut 50K, MT - Sep, 5
Plain 100M - Sep, 12 (HR)
Run Rabbit Run 100M, CO - Sep, 18 (WS/HR)
UMTUF 100M, ID - Sep, 20 (HR)
Bear 100M, ID/UT - Sep, 25 (WS/HR)
Mogollon Monster 100M, AZ - late Sep (HR)

Monday, September 22, 2014

Wasatch Front 100 mile race report

"Training to run 100 miles is like training to get hit by a truck." -Luis Escobar

I first wanted to write something big, similar to my last year's Western States report. But I understood that I don't have that many emotions left as I had after Western States. And I don't really have a desire to write a big fat race report. All I wanted to say is generally already said in my facebook. I think Western States together with my first road marathon are two races that left me in the most excited state ever. Because that's the first time you do something big and overwhelming, and no matter how many times and how hard you try to experience the same feeling again, it's just not happening. Probably because your first time all you care about is finishing and having fun, and your second and all future times are always about PR (at road marathon), or finishing time and placement (at an ultra).

I selected Wasatch as my second 100 because I wanted to finish a hard 100 miler. Western States is not the easiest ultra, but it is not hard. It is a fast course, most of the terrain is not technical, and well, "it's all downhill". I did not get lucky in Hardrock lottery (seriously, I was going to run it as my second 100 in the case I'd succeeded in the lottery), but I got lucky in Wasatch lottery. Wasatch is a hard 100. It is at the altitude between 5,000 feet (1.5km) and 10,500 feet (3.2km), that is not too bad, but for someone who lives at the sea level it actually is quite bad. It has 25,000 feet (7.6km) of elevation gain, and the same amount of elevation loss. That's quite a lot. The trails are mostly very technical and very rocky, and there are lots of very steep hands on knees climbs. Some descents were really steep too, with lots of loose rocks. So it is something that satisfied my requirements of the "hard 100 mile race".  It is also a Hardrock qualifier with no chances to be excluded from the list, so I got covered for 2015-2016 lotteries.

I trained hard, and I was in a good shape by the race day. My training mostly consisted of slow power hiking up the steep climbs. Think about combining Section line trail, Chirico trail, Poo top trail and Cable Line trail into a single workout (nah, not gonna call it a "run") on Tiger. I also raced in Utah in Wasatch range twice to check the terrain - at Squaw Peak 50M (2nd female, 10:11) and Speedgoat 50K (18th female, 8:21). I felt pretty bad because of the altitude both times, terrain didn't feel that bad, but it was clear that the hardest race in WA is not comparable with any of races in Wasatch. It's just too fucking high, too fucking steep, too fucking hot and too fucking rocky. Sorry :) One week after racing (er, I should not call that racing really..) Speedgoat 50K I ran White River 50M and finished sub-9 and 3rd female. Running White River was quite exciting because every time I run it I get surprised how much easier it feels comparing to the years before. Good sign, I guess. We spent 10 days in Colorado bouldering at 10,000 feet, sleeping at 8,500 and hiking up to 13,500 two weeks before Wasatch. By the end of our Colorado vacation I felt great at the altitude, running the ridge at 12,000 feet felt not harder than the sea level (well, it might have still been slower, but it didn't feel that way). 

Starting the race on Friday, September 5th I felt super confident. I decided to start somewhere in the middle of the pack because I was sure that I will have enough time to make my way to the front. "It's a 100 mile race, you'll have plenty of time to make up, remember how you negative split Western States with ease?" - that's what I was thinking to myself while slowly moving in the train of middle to back packers. Strategical mistake - it is not possible to negative split Wasatch, unlike Western States it doesn't get easier on the second part, it actually gets harder!

Let's just say that none of the Wasatch climbs were a big trouble for me. I am a good hiker as long as we are talking about very steep, technical climbs nobody can run. Till the most finish I was hiking uphill strong. The problem appeared where I didn't expect it - downhills. I'm used to thinking about myself as of a very strong and fast downhiller. I like to relax and push hard on downhills, I've never experienced "shot quads", and I ran all the downhills at Western States that has 26,000 feet of elevation loss (comparing to just 16,000 feet of gain) NBD.  I also haven't had any "knee problems" since I think 2009 when I trained for my first half marathon, pushed through standard for beginners IT band syndrome, and then it magically disappeared. So, during Wasatch I've got knee pain. It was not the same as IT band, it was something different, not sure how to describe. Like my joints were really tired and painful of overuse. Maybe it was caused by steeper hills, maybe it was caused by colder temps in the morning, maybe it was caused by much more rocky, hard packed and technical trails than what I am used to. I am pretty sure that my training was adequate for the course, just something went wrong, like it supposed to during a 100 mile race. 

I picked up my first pacer (Maxim) at mile 52, Lambs Canyon. I was hardly moving when I arrived to Lambs, but 2 miles of pavement and Maxim who is pretty good in talking in radio entertainment mode (not requiring any response) cured me for some time and we were moving well. We passed a very chatty girl with her pacer (another girl), and later we passed another women with poles who was death marching. Considering that I was 8th female at the Lambs, it meant that I became 6th after I passed her. I was hiking uphills strong, and I was still running flats and downhills. We were well behind sub-24 pace, but we were moving. Up until we reached the paved downhill section to Brighton (mile 85), where my joints decided that I don't want to run anymore. So we walked, or ran-walked, or ran with straight legs (no bending in my knees), not sure how to call this, but it was a pity picture. After reaching Brighton where I got extra warm cloths and changed socks I exchanged my pacers (Maxim to Nikolay) and we started the biggest climb of the course to 10,500 feet. Once again, I had no troubles hiking uphill and I had no altitude problems, so the uphill didn't feel bad at all (wish I could say that about climbs at Squaw Peak and Speedgoat! Altitude acclimation makes a HUGE difference, never underestimate it!). However as soon as we reached the top, we realized that it's going to be a long night. I was not able to run. Neither flats nor downhills. So.. 23 miles were ahead of us and no running perspectives at all. Oopsy. I decided that I just have to keep moving. "It is a hard section, everyone is moving slow" - I remembered the Wasatch veteran advice. I had no troubles with my stomach, but I had troubles eating. Usually I have no problems swallowing Honey Stinger chews, this time the thought of eating them made me sick. I was drinking coke and I had Carbo Pro in my water (though 3 times less than they recommend, I couldn't stand anything sweet anymore, and couldn't risk stop drinking - that's why I only had 1/3 of the recommended dose). Nikolay told me to eat once in an hour, and I made myself eating half a pack of Honey Stingers, leaving the other half for later. I don't think though that I was out of energy, it didn't feel that way anyways. I just felt that my knee joints did not want to run. It wasn't too cold, but I wasn't drinking much. I did not refill my pack once (I had 2 liters bladder) since we left Brighton. Not being dependent on aid station food and water helped us to pass aid stations without a single stop.

Somewhere around mile 90 Nikolay told me that we still had chances for sub-26, but I had to run. I couldn't. I needed a fucking miracle to turn this around.

And it happened. I was passed by men and their pacers here and there and I couldn't care less as long as that was not woman (Nikolay checked to make sure that all the women that passed us had a bib with "PACER" written on it, and I didn't see a single woman who was in the race since I passed that death walking woman to get into 6th position). And at some point just another man and his pacer (a man too) caught up with us. I wouldn't normally care, but they just kept running behind us and they were really noisy. One of the men talked non stop, and it was some annoying rubbish he was talking about. So I sped up to add some distance between us and shut that noise down a little bit. So we started running, not fast, but fast enough to run away from these two. Sometimes I could hear them again, but then they again disappeared. So quite soon we reached the last aid station at mile 94. And here the second miracle happened. A woman walked into the aid station few seconds ahead of us and announced her bib number. She was alone. She was in the race!!!

The terrain after the last aid station is quite flat. Well, it's rolling, but all hills are runable (for sure if you are not past 94 miles and 25,000 feet of elevation gain, if you are - not so much). I did not say a word, I just started running as fast as I could. I had to announce my bib number out loud to aid station volunteers, so I knew that she knew that I was in the race too. It was still dark, but the sunrise was close. We were wearing the headlamps, and I didn't want her to know that I am running scared. I asked Nikolay to check if she was behind, and he confirmed. I kept running. I knew exactly what was awaiting me because I studied the maps, and of course the last and the first stretches is something you remember best. So I knew that the trail must join the paved road, and that road will be just 0.5 miles before the finish line. The trail was running along the lake and every time we approached another turn I hoped to see the pavement, just to see how it continues till another turn. It lasted forever. The sun rose and it was beautiful. First time in my life I was meeting the second sunrise in a row while running. Finally we reached the pavement, and I started seeing the finish line far ahead. It looked really far. Maxim met us. Just few more meters and I was done. 

The finish line of Wasatch is not that big and loud as the one at Western States. They did not even have the timing board. I lied on the ground, Nikolay checked the results online (really fast tracking system at Wasatch!) and announced that I was the 6th women at 25:47:01. WTF, I was sure I must be 5th. Somehow the woman we passed at mile 94 aid station, was the same I passed long time ago while running with Maxim. I have no ideas when she passed me back. Maxim didn't see her too, and Nikolay said she left Brighton ahead of me. Well, it happens. She finished 14 minutes behind.

I was not happy with how I ran first, but I wanted a hard race, and I got it. It would've been disappointing if it was easy :) Women's field this year was very strong, with top 4 being elite level runners and all ran under 24. The 16 years old course record held by Ann Trason was broken by local Bethany Lewis (in 22:21:47 she was the second women ever - after Ann - to run Wasatch under 23 hours).

What's next? I have my Hardrock qualifier now, so I am applying for this one for sure. I am also applying for Western States lottery again (yeah, because I apparently love easy 100s!). If I am not lucky with Hardrock or Western, I am going to run Cascade Crest. It is a local race with easier terrain, I can train on the course and I can really be competitive on it. Yep, that's the plan.

For now I am having my off season, trying to get in shape for bouldering competitions season. It's hard, because I lost muscle mass during the 100 and became weak. Considering that I am a powerful climber (e.g. lack technique, finger strength and flexibility and rely mostly on power ;)), it means that I am now climbing couple of grades worse than in August. Since I am not going to win anything, I don't care - I love boulder comps!

I am not yet sure if I will sign up for Seattle marathon or not. I have a mental trauma after last year's race ;) and I don't want to train hard again to screw it again. I think I am going to sign up and run it though. After all it's just a marathon.