Saturday, October 15, 2016

Spartathlon 2016: My Greek Odyssey

It's been a long time since I have blogged, but if I am going to revive it, it may as well be for something big, and Spartathlon was epic!

The truth is, Spartathlon was never a "dream" race for me, more like a "eh, that might be interesting some day" kind of race. But my friend Bob Hearn ran it last year and was enamored with it and my running partner Dennis was also quite interested in it and spent time talking about how cool it would be to do.  So when the application period opened in January and Bob told me I had till May before I had to commit any money, I thought I would throw my name in the hat. Well, that was a very slippery slope! Sending in an application meant spending time on the website and learning a bit more about the race, so that by the time the lottery results came out, there was no way I was turning down my spot. (I met the auto-qualification standards by being at least 20% faster than the regular qualification standard of 24 hrs for a 100M run, so it wasn't exactly a shock that I got in, but I was still super excited to see the "Congratulations, you have been accepted to Spartathlon" email!). Well, on to Greece!

For those who don't know, Spartathlon is a 153.4 mile race from Athens to Sparta, recreating the journey Pheidippedes made in 490 BC during the battle of Marathon to ask the Spartans to send troops to help defend Athens from the Persians. Herodotus stated he left in the morning and arrived by evening the next day. And no, he didn't die when he got there! (that Marathon myth comes from a play written 500 years later, where the author took "artistic liberty" to make his play more dramatic). In 1982, Jon Fodden, a British RAF wing commander and lover of Greek history, set out to see if the feat was possible along with 4 other men. Three of the men covered the distance and the following year, the official race began. While the race takes place primarily on roads, one of the gnarliest features of the race is climbing the 4,000' Mt. Parthenion on rocky trail with 20% grade at mile 99. The race also covers two other hilly passes for a total elevation gain of more than 10,000 feet - paltry by trail standards, but when you are running more than 50% farther than a hundred miler, you feel that gain A LOT more!

Besides being steeped in history, Spartathlon is a smoking deal when it comes to racing. For 520 Euro  (about $580) you get 5 nights of hotel (plus a sixth night running!), all your meals, race entry, a nice luncheon with the mayor of Sparta, and a very nice Gala awards dinner with unlimited drinks included, plus some race schwag as well (finisher medal, trophy, 2 shirts, Greek food stuff, a race poster, free race pics and a race DVD). Crew can pay slightly less for the same room and board option. Mac and I kept a watch on airfare for quite a while and managed to get flights to Greece for $850 each. I'm not going to call it a cheap trip, but probably not terribly far off from what an East coaster would pay for themselves and crew going to Western States and definitely cheaper than Badwater! For us, traveling half way around the world is a big deal, so we decided to make the most of it and added an extra week to get the full Greek experience (cheap hotels are around 55-70 Euros/night). And in retrospect, getting there a bit earlier was good for getting over the jet lag.

After a lovely red eye flight on my birthday, we arrived at our AirBnB apartment in the Plaka (old town) of Athens. We spent three days in Athens, a day on the island of Hydra, and a day at the Oracle of Delphi. After an amazing week of touring, it was time to get into race mode!
The old Roman agora
 Athens, from the Acropolis
The original Olympic stadium
 The theater at the Acropolis
 The Caryatid columns
Hadrian's Gate
 Isle of Hydra


Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion, picking Bob Hearn's brain on the race!

Bob and I ready to race
Team USA at the start
Starting at the base of the Acropolis was amazing with the marble all lit up in the still dark morning. Despite the fast paced "Euro style" ultra start, I stayed true to my plan, which put me in a whopping 99th place (out of 370) by mile 10. Sharing the streets with Athens traffic wasn't too fun, except it was cool how many people cheered and honked as the race progressed. I actually found myself a bit bored starting so easy and not having much scenery to distract me, so instead I occupied my mind with the names on runners' bibs, amused by things like Kevin Whyte dressed all in GREEN and coming up with song lyrics to fit the names: Luca ("My name is Luka"), Olaf ("let it go, let it go") and Chou Chan ("Ching Chong, it means I love you"). I hit the marathon mark in Megara perfectly, right between 25 and 26 hour splits at 3:46.

 Unfortunately, I did a terrible job holding the same conservative pace in the next 24 miles. I think several things conspired to get me a bit antsy and cause an uptick in pace: I was feeling good and warmed up after the slow start (yes, it takes me a marathon to warm up - ha!); it was joyous to run alongside the turquoise water with its cool breezes; bumping into Bob Hearn just before the marathon and having him tell me that our Garmins were reading long; getting greedy and wanting to be closer to 25 hour splits than 26; and finding out SIX women were ahead of me, when I had my sights set on a podium finish. I came through mile 50 at 7:14, going 12 minutes faster than my "best case scenario" splits for the 24 mile section. While I don't think the pace was taxing on my musculoskeletal system, I do think it started to tip my stomach for the worse. And with 100+ miles yet to go, you do not want your stomach out of line!

A scolding from Mac and the heat of the day helped me to rein it in and the next 40 miles passed in a blur of fruit and olive fields, views of the distant mountains, the long rays of the setting sun and the first bits of darkness with a million stars and just my little headlamp in the countryside. I moved well through this section, passing all but a dozen people, but it was getting harder and harder to take things in. Two pudding cups at mile 85 helped me on the climb to the base of the mountain and another pudding cup had me feeling good for the steep and rugged trail climb that starts at mile 99. As far as I can tell, I had the second fastest split of the entire race up the mountain trail- you can take the girl off the trail, but you can't take the trail out of this girl! I summited at mile 100.5 just below 16:20, still 20 minutes ahead of my "best case scenario."

 Miles and miles (and miles!) of Beautiful Greek countryside

And that is right about the time I was ready to be done!

I am sure a lot of it has to do with fuel intake. A couple 100 calorie pudding packs can only get you so far and by that time my stomach was just done. My legs were just one big ache going downhill and a huge blister on my left big toe popped mere steps over the summit, adding to the agony of the descent. I pretty much limped my way into Nestani at mile 106. Medical at Nestani had some magic fairy blister tape that was amazing. Seriously! - it went on like clear tape but absorbed water and formed a cushioning gel. If anyone knows what product this is, please let me know! But even with the toe taped and feeling much better,  I was in a super low. I couldn't take anything in, but also the mental load becomes so big at that point: you still have almost FIFTY MILES to go. Everything combined seemed like a crushing burden, an impossible feat and I was reduced to a slow miserable walk with a lot of self pity. Alone in the dark and cold with no idea where I really was and fixating on the ache in my legs, legs that would have to keep moving for another 13 hours at the pace I was going, I was seriously struggling... I spent more mental energy fantasizing about how to get a ride or a short cut to the finish than I should admit, but I just wanted it to be over. 20 hours of running seemed good enough! Yet, I knew I would never quit (or get a ride to the finish!). But somehow that was the opposite of comforting, like I was stuck in this Hell and I had no choice but to continue the torture.

In the late night, the fog settled in the valleys and the still damp air coupled with my sluggish pace left me chilled to the bone. I came into mile 115 shivering uncontrollably. I changed into every article of clothing I had, including my post race sweats. I got a thorough massage which helped with the muscle aches, but I was still shaking like a seizure victim and completely unable to drink any soup as I was spilling it all over me as my convulsing hand tried to bring it to my lips. When I left, I had no choice but to run (shuffle!) to warm up, which actually worked well, minus the two puke breaks! And then we hit the last long climb and I was back to suffering and walking.

Actually, at 4:30 in the morning it was more like stumbling. I have never had the "sleepies" before in a race, but it hit me big time in this one, likely the cold, lack of food and accumulated mileage taking its toll. Instead of blinking, I would take seconds long "eye rests" and I remember focusing on the white line of the shoulder trying to keep myself from weaving off my course. When I complained to Mac, he told me "No resting. Suck it up for another two and half hours and you'll be fine when the sun comes up!" That's some tough love! But stopping for a coffee helped and being able to sip juice again perked me up bit, too, so that when the sun did come up, I was indeed feeling much better...right until Mac told me, "the third place girl made up  huge amount of time and is only 17 minutes behind you!"

NOOOOO!!!! I din't want to have to "race" at the that point! 
"Well, then she is going to pass me," I told him. 
"Hold her off as long possible," Mac fired back. FUCK!!!

But I started to run. And it was terrible and not terrible at the same time. It didn't feel good, but it was doable. By the next crew stop, I learned I had clawed back another five minutes on the gap.  Well, just keep moving. And so I did, cutting across the highway multiple times trying to "run the tangent", eating up ground, and counting down the kilometers to Sparta. When the wheels come off, you have to somehow change the tires!

And then I was on the last turn, escorted by boys on bikes and kids that ran alongside. The sidewalk cafes were packed with people cheering as I deftly bounded up the stairs to kiss the feet of King Leonidas (the statue), all pain having left my body at that point. I MADE IT!!! Suddenly, the lows seemed so worth it and I was overcome with emotion. For 30+ miles I hated this race and everything to do with it, but at the end I had an amazing sense of accomplishment and I remember thinking specifically, "There are no limits!" 153.4 miles scared the shit out of me going in to this race, but afterwards all the longer stuff made sense - things like Joe Fejes running six straight days, the guys doing 3,100 miles in New York, Karl Meltzer on the AT, Pete Kostelnick running across the US (not that I want to do any of those things!). In The Empire Strikes Back, Yoda tells a frustrated Luke Skywalker that there is no difference between levitating a stone and raising his space ship from the muck, that the difference is only in your mind. Spartathlon was my Yoda and it taught me that if you have the strength to get through the lowest of lows, you can DO anything! 
 Spartathlon was my Yoda! :)

In the end, I finished Spartathlon in 27:13, second female and 13th overall. That was definitely overshadowed by Katy Nagy's remarkable 25:25 win, but still the 6th fastest female time ever, 3rd fastest female "rookie"time and 2nd best women's masters time. While lovers of gnarly trail will balk at descriptions like "the world's most grueling race" for a road run with only 10,300 feet of gain, it was by far the toughest and most grueling thing I have done and it challenged me more than I even expected. Only after running it can I see why it has chewed up some of the best ultra runners in the world and why it has such a low finish rate (historically less than 50%). While running the race, I wanted nothing more than to finish and be done with it forever, but this is a race with a steep learning curve and I know I can do better.  And taking on a big challenge with the goal of achieving my best always gets me fired up, so don't be surprised if you see me on the starting line for this one more time! 
It's not super high mountains, but it is still super tough!

A big thanks goes out to the race organization for putting together this epic race and to the volunteers who staff 75(!) aid stations for hours on end. Also thanks to my mother-in-law for watching the kiddos and making the trip possible. But the biggest thanks goes to Mac, my super crew once again, who said this was also his hardest assignment to date and who slept a lot harder than I did when the race was over! Don't tell him I want to go back!
Podium!- The Sparta awards: starting at 8:30pm the day the race finished was a test of endurance in itself!
Athens awards gala
The post race Gala with Bob and race director Kostis

Monday, May 23, 2016

91% of the Perfect Race

People will tell you life is like an ultra - plenty of highs as lows as you make your journey. When it came to running, 2013 was the highest of highs, with wins at American River and Western States and a speedy 100 miler at Desert Solstice. But it was more than just wins and good race results, I felt great and the running all seemed to come so easy. But by Western States 2014 I was on a downward slide. I managed pretty good runs at WS, Angeles Crest and 100km Worlds, but everything felt a lot harder and they were all off my expectations. By 2015, things on the running front were hitting rock bottom. I limped though Lake Sonoma and Western States with sub-par finishes all while feeling terrible. I was dropped by Liza Howard at Leadville just a couple miles into my pacing gig and I gave up my US 100km spot because I didn't feel like I could represent my country well. And all the while, every medical test said I was perfectly normal and fit as a fiddle. 

Finally, finally I got diagnosed with asthma and things started looking up. I was getting treated and feeling so much better. I won 5 mile race, a half marathon, a 50k and a 6 hour. Things seemed to be going so well. Right up until I lined up for Gorge Waterfalls. Holy big bag of crap! I felt bad the whole week leading up to the race, but race day I just felt awful! I was hating every step starting about mile three. By mile 22, I called it a day. There was nothing that was so bad that I couldn't have finished if I had wanted, but I am not new to this rodeo and I knew just another finish wouldn't mean much to me. I quit but I didn't give a second thought to the DNF - I had bigger fish to fry. But first, I had to feel better again. During this time I was on some pretty heavy duty asthma medications - albuterol, steroid inhalers, oral anti-inflammatories and even a brief course of prednisone. I hate the meds - they make me feel like I am defective and weak. Taking them means I have to face that something with me isn't right and I don't like that. I'm an ultra-runner, I eat more veggies in a day than most people do in a week, and all my addictions revolve around exercise - I should be invincible!! But I wasn't; my lungs were failing me.  The good news is that the meds seem to work. It also seems that alder pollen is a huge allergic trigger for me and by the end of April their season was dying down. Everything seemed to be coming together as I headed off to Philadelphia for the Dawn to Dusk to Dawn  (D3) 24 hour race. But after everything I had gone through, my goal seemed a bit outlandish.

Ever since running 14:11 for 100 miles at Desert Solstice in 2013, I've wanted another shot, a shot to see how close I could come to Ann Trason's 13:47 World Record if that was my primary focus. I trained my butt off and did multiple long runs on the track, trying to pace exactly as I would need, but still, how can you tell how 30 miles will translate into 100?? And just to make sure I was in full panic mode, the RD let me know that the 100 mile mark had not been recertified after the track was resurfaced last year, so I'd have to run 267 meters extra to get an official time. 100 miles may not be that far, but 267 extra meters is really, really far. 

Race day was warm even at the start and I had ice in my bra and hat by 8 am. Still, I felt really good and I was right on pace. My quads started getting sore around mile 40, but lap after lap I was hitting the paces and it didn't seem to be a big deal. By mid afternoon the clouds rolled in, but so did the wind. And then it started to pour! I was fortunate to have Josh Finger and John Cash on the track with me and both of them were doing a few stretches at a similar pace so every now and then I'd get a bit of company and even a wind shield. I can't thank those two enough for letting me hang behind them for a mile or two at a time. I came through 100km in 8:24:51 (not 8:18 as reported) - perfect 8:08 pace. Everything was right on plan.

The pacing plan  :)

Cruising right along
Pacing with Josh in the wind

Checking the 100km split

Lap after lap, I was nailing it. My super crew was sticking right to the plan I had given them and if I needed anything else, I'd tell them on one lap and pick it up the next. I never broke stride. The bad news is that I didn't feel that I could predict what I would need more than nine hours in to the race so I only had a plan for that long. Let's just say the crew did NOT like that - lesson learned! But still I was cruising, passing through 12 hours with more than 88 miles, trailing only Ann Trason's marks for 12 hours. 355 laps perfectly paced at 8:08 and I was 7 minutes up on the 100M world record. 

Sticking to the plan ("1" = done)

Closing on 12 hours

My quads were burning now, but I knew I'd be sore after; it's a long way on a hard track, of course they were burning! But from a fatigue standpoint, I was golden. I didn't feel taxed at all. I knew I had a 100 more minutes in me, piece of cake! Going into this race, I thought my chances were exceedingly slim, but if you had asked me at 12 hours, I would've bet the house; I was so SURE I had it! But I didn't have 100 minutes left in me; I had 26 more minutes and then my quads shut down completely. It wasn't cramps, it wasn't bonking, it wasn't me feeling too tired, and it certainly wasn't my mind calling it quits. My quads were just dead and they had gone into full on rigor mortis. I took a gel, a salt tab, caffeine, 2 ibuprofen, a quad massage - nothing would revive the hunks of burning flesh on my legs. My cushion was so great, I only needed to hit 9 minute pace for the remaining 8.8 miles, but instead I pushed with everything I had only to achieve a disappointing 11+ minute pace. After 91.2 miles my perfect race went up in flames.

The crew version of what happened

But don't let my Gorge Waterfalls DNF fool you: I am not a quitter when I have my mind set on something. And one thing I said I knew I could do no matter how the 100 mile attempt went was stay on the track for 24 hours. I hobbled to 100 miles in 14:08ish and got my official 100M (100.16 M) time at 14:09:43. I then took a short break to change out of garments still wet from the rain and into warmer clothes and I set off with my iPod ready to walk the next ten hours and see the race to the conclusion. My legs didn't seem to work, but I was in good spirits and was doing well on fuel after a couple of puddings. I should apologize to my fellow competitors for singing so loudly when I most certainly do not have a good singing voice! Afterwards, someone asked me if I was singing gospel music, which I most certainly was not (teeny-bopper pop rock all the way!) so maybe I owe God an apology too for my bad singing! But as I walked, I realized the master's 200km American Record (20:20) was a done deal even if I didn't run at all. But what if I tried to run?? I was stiff and sore and couldn't do anything faster than a 10:30 pace, but I could run a tiny bit. And then I fell in with Connie Gardner, the Queen of tough, and was able to keep going. It hurt and it was hard but I could keep that 10:30-11:00 pace going. It was so far from those 8:08 miles I was cranking off earlier, yet it was so much more effort to move my nearly lifeless legs and somewhere along the line, I lost my stomach. But I was still moving better than I expected. Forget the master's record, let's get the overall record! My Frankenstein legs got me to the mark in 18:48:28, more than 30 minutes better than the current American best of 19:19:05.  I promised my husband I would get this record in 2013 and then didn't so I felt like I had redeemed myself.

I just need a tiny rest!! I was up three minutes later!

That was officially the end of all running. I took a brief rest in a chair to regroup, but three and a half minutes later, I was up and ready to finish even though I knew I'd be walking every step for the next five hours. Bob Hearn was still chugging away, pushing toward his own 200km record (50+ age group) and I told him he would catch me if he kept it up. "That's my plan!" he told me in a very matter-of-fact tone (he has a different version of the story, but that is what I heard at the time). My brain had a brief flash of competitiveness, but my legs wouldn't have any of it - it was very certain at that point that walking was the best I had! By dawn I had covered 143.6 miles, and while I could not best Ann Trason's 100M time, it was a small point of pride that I eclipsed her best 24 hour mark.

Earlier this year a friend of mine confided to me that the Fuji Mountain Race is her dream race. As a Japanese American, the race not only represents a physical challenge but it has significant cultural meaning. The race course is challenging: nearly 10,000 feet of climbing in 13 miles and my friend is not a trail runner. But she is a tough and tenacious woman with a sub 3:00 marathon to her credit. "You should do it," I told her. 
"More than 50% of the runners don't make it in the time limit," she countered.
"You can do it," I told her. "I know you can." I meant it but she still had doubts.
"What if I fail?" she wondered.
"So what? So what if you do fail?"
"Oh, I'd be so embarrassed!" She told me.

I had a BIG goal going into D3 and I knew it was a long shot. I didn't hit that goal, but I am not embarrassed one bit. How will you ever know what you can do if you don't set the bar high?? There are plenty of things I will second guess: Should I have done longer runs on the track? Would my quads be stronger if I hadn't stopped lifting? Could I have made it if the weather were better? Should I have aimed for 2:03's instead of 2:02'? But I do not doubt for one minute that I gave everything I had on that track. And for that, there are no regrets. I am not giving up on this dream. I may be old and have a defective set of lungs, but I am not ready to wave the white flag just yet!

While I didn't hit my main goal, there were plenty of things I did accomplish:
8:24 100km split - qualifying for US 100km team
88.23M in 12 hours - Age group world record and third best female 12 hour mark ever
14:09:43 100M time(officially) - New US track 100M American Record and 100M Age group WR, 4th fastest female 100M time ever
18:48:29 200km - New American Record 
143.6M in 24 hours - 8th best North American 24 hour run and qualified for US 24 hr team (Team USA liaison Howard Nippert says he thinks it is the first time someone qualified for both teams in one race)

All in all it was a pretty successful failure! ;) But the best part might be the sense of optimism I got from the race, the idea that I can not only find joy in running, but maybe, just maybe I can be good at it again, too. That being said, I do not know how optimistic I am for Bighorn in four weeks! Woowee - it took me a week just to walk again! And with essentially no trail training on my legs, it's going to be an adventure! But that's what ultra running and life are all about!
 So happy to be sitting down!
 Girls rule, boys drool! The ladies go 1,2,3 overall!

Friday, April 1, 2016

New: Liposuction For Athletes!

On the bulletin board over my desk hangs a saying cut from a magazine ad. It reads: "If you can run, you can run farther. If you can train, you can train harder." This is a sentiment most ultra-runners embrace, except for many actually get to their training limits; a point where more miles and training are detrimental and prohibit recovery. But ultra-runners are a discontented crowd always looking for ways to improve fitness and get better. So along with training, many runners focus on achieving a specific "race weight" to perform at their best.

So while Tyra Banks and feel good social media posts urge us to love our bodies for what they are, running literature is telling us to get thin - crazy thin - if you want to run your best. In fact Runner's World continuously publishes the formula: 1 pound = 2 sec/mile. And the Jack Daniels' table has weight as a variable in one column so you can see your predicted times at your current fitness if you lost weight.

There's just one problem: dieting SUCKS! Sure you can lose weight if you eat only baby carrots and lettuce with water to wash it down, but where is the joy in that? Show me cheesecake, cookies and beer and I'll show you joy! I mean, come on, isn't one of the main reasons we run to be able to eat more food?? Hell, chocolate has been shown to stimulate more pleasure receptors in the brain than sex!

Well, now you can have your cake and eat it, too - literally! Introducing liposuction for athletes.

Liposuction has been around for decades and is a safe and fast procedure for removing unwanted pounds. Liposuction can be done in the out patient setting and you can be back to running just three days later, only at a much lighter and much more enjoyable weight.

Salem Bariatric surgeon, Dr. Raj Nair adds, "Thousands of athletes use surgery every year to help them get back in the game, from things like Tommy John surgery, tendon scraping and arthroscopic knee procedures. So why shouldn't athletes use surgery to help them get to the top of their game as well?"

Drugs in the amphetamine family are very effective at stimulating weight loss; unfortunately, they are all banned by WADA and an athlete risks sanctions and social ostracism if they use them. But liposuction is perfectly legal! The masses might balk at this being unfair, since only the rich can afford it, but with all the new liposuction centers popping up, the price of the procedure is on par with a high end home treadmill or an altitude tent.

"Ugh, ultra runners spend so much time talking about nutrition and it is so annoying," says Dr. Nair, who is an ultrarunner himself. "If you want to be fast, it doesn't matter what you eat, you just have to be thin. If your diet causes you to put on a little extra weight, just have it surgically removed a few months before your next big race." Dr. Nair often has two donuts and several cans of Coke for breakfast, further demonstrating that this Stanford grad doesn't place a lot of importance on the quality of food.
Medical expert, Dr. Raj Nair, trying to get some more of his beloved doughnuts

While we are not aware of any elite runners who publicly admit to having had liposuction, it seems on the brink of becoming the next best thing for achieving that performance edge, especially in the masters athletes where weight just doesn't seem to budge from your 40+ year old middle. If getting to race weight seems like too much sacrifice of all your favorite, check out liposuction. It just may be the solution you are looking for!

Mac Smith is all ready for his liposuction surgery yesterday (or his meniscus repair, whatever)

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Spring Break!

We originally weren't planning to do much for spring break as we thought Megan might be having her tonsils out. But after a fairly illness free winter with NO strep throat, we decided maybe Megan was growing out of this repetitive sore throat thing and surgery wasn't such a good idea after all so we booked a couple days at the coast and a couple days at Mt. Hood. And then I read an article about how awesome the Utah National Parks are in the early spring and then I needed to go there. Ever since we visited Yellowstone and Grand Tetons in the summer of 2014, I've been kind of obsessed with getting my kids to the National Parks. After this past week, we've hit 15 and I've got hopes of hitting another five this summer with the kids and two more without them- not too bad for getting out and seeing this awesome country!

We got in to Vegas late Saturday night and as luck would have it, the Moonlight Ultra 24 hr and 100M race had a six hour little sister that started on Sunday morning (the others started at 6pm Saturday, hence the "moonlight" in the moniker). You are supposed to be sleep deprived when you are in Vegas, right?? So I headed off to Floyd Lamb park right about the time most drunken gamblers were calling it a night. The race was a low key affair on a 1.74M gravel loop through the desert. I was looking for a long run, but didn't want to push too hard with Gorge Waterfalls only two weeks away, so was hoping for at least 40 but not more than 42 miles. The dry desert air was great for my asthma and I felt better than I had in weeks (Oregon pollen is not my friend). I chugged along doing my own thing and by mile 12, I had already lapped every other runner in the race. I got to 40 miles in 5:26 just as it was starting to get pretty warm. If I kept the pace up, I knew I'd go over my plan of 42 miles, so I ended up walking, taking selfies and texting Mac the last lap and made it back to the start/finish in 5:45 where I called it a day - First place overall by three laps (5+ miles) and a new women's course record by almost 7 miles. The people at the race were super nice and it was inspiring watching the 100 milers plugging away especially as the day heated up.
Lap splits. I used the bathroom on lap 4 and 10 (lap 4 was only mile 6. I was so disappointed in my colon! I will attribute it to a bad airport meal and little sleep). Lap 22 I ran part of the way with the men's leader for some company and lap 24, I lolligagged. Otherwise, pretty decent training at 8:16 goal pace.
The Moonlight Ultra course
Just taking a selfie mid-race!
Since middle aged parents with their kids in tow have no business in Vegas during spring break, we fled Sin City as soon as the awards were over and headed to the family friendly land of Utah. God bless the Mormon women who all have about a hundred children and they raise them all without the crutch of alcohol! My own brand of  parenting consists of hiking all the sass and energy out of my kids and that's just what we did (and I didn't drink once! But there was one horrendous night where Mac let the kids have caffeinated soda at dinner and I might have had some murderous thoughts, though I am not sure if they were towards Mac or the kids!). We made the ambitious drive to Moab that night and then worked our way back through Arches, Canyonlands, Little Wildhorse Canyon and Goblin Valley, Capitol Reef, Bryce, and Zion. Wow - such an awe inspiring list of places in such a small area! 

Friday night we were back to St. George where we stumbled upon the Hog and Jog 5k. When I asked Megan if she wanted to do it, she looked at me like I had just let out a stinky fart, because running isn't cool any more and she "doesn't want to be crazy like me and all my friends who have to run all the time." And here I thought the family vacation was going so well! But Liam was all over it. He told me he likes running more than swimming and would even go if there wasn't any bacon! Liam crushed his 5k PR with a 32 flat and I managed three bacon "shots" during that time which was a bacon PR for me! Not bad mother-son bonding and all for $15 each! We spent the afternoon getting the VIP treatment at a nice Vegas resort courtesy of my cousin, who is a professional gambler, before catching a late night flight back to Portland.

Five national parks, two races and lots of quality family time - certainly a lot better than a tonsillectomy! Hope you all had a great Spring Break!

Arches NP
Landscape Arch, Arches NP

Delicate Arch, Arches NP
Double Arch, Arches NP
She says she doesn't like to run, but I caught her running!
Canyonlands NP
Planking on Whale Rock, Canyonlands NP
Goblin Valley State Park
My two Goblins

Hickman Bridge, Capitol Reef NP

Merry Christmas from the Smiths!
Angels Landing, Zion NP
Right on the white line...future Badwater runner??