Lisa Runs on Ramen

— running 26.2 and having foodie adventures too!


Leave a comment

Rocking the Ragnar DC and RnR Brooklyn 10K

October was a pretty intense but fun month of running after my Bear 100 experience. I’m happy to say that I managed to run a relay race and a 10K amidst my ultramarathon adventures! I would hate to lose all my speed, so doing shorter races keeps me on my toes.

My friend Diane invited me to be a part of her Ragnar Relay DC team for the third year, and I was happy to be part of Van 1 once again! I made my way down to DC on late Thursday, then it was up bright and early on Friday, October 4th to run in the relay! Our name was Team A.M.O.R.E. (A Mismatch of Running Enthusiasts), and we were determined to defend our title of Best Decorated Van for the 3rd year in a row! Led by captain Diane, we decorated every inch of our van with funny caricatures and quotes.

Van 1 of Team A.M.O.R.E

Van 1 of Team A.M.O.R.E

The relay went from Cumberland, MD to Washington, DC and teams had 36 hours to finish. This year was interesting, because three legs were eliminated due to the government shutdown (since the 3 relay legs ran through federal land)! What a bummer! I was just glad that the relay wasn’t cancelled entirely. There were a lot of funny signs, such as one that said “You run better than our government.” I ran 3 legs totaling about 15.8 miles, and this year I had the pleasure of running the toughest leg, a dusty 7.8 miles that had a total elevation gain of 1247 ft and elevation loss of 1024 ft! It was a doozy for my sore legs that ran 61 miles a mere 6 days before, but my cheering teammates pulled me through. I think I ran it in 1:24 or so, slower than expected but not bad.

At the end of the leg, a surprise was waiting for us: each leg 3 runner got a belt buckle award! It was a nice touch and I will sport mine proudly. The weather was very warm for this relay–it was high 80s and humid, and some parts the heat index reached 99F! It was very unusual for October.

1380047_10101249279655355_2142754586_n

My favorite part of the race is always the South Mountain Creamery, which stays open in the wee hours of the night to welcome runners with ice cold chocolate milk and a full dairy bar and BBQ for sale. Yum!! I got the raspberry ice cream and a nice half-gallon of chocolate milk in a glass jug. I kept it in our cooler as my recovery beverage. Delicious! I sported my Team Refuel gear throughout the race too.

Our team made it through in 180th place out of 291 teams. For us, it’s not about time but the camaraderie, and we still did well! Our time was 29:24:36 after accounting for driving time through the legs that were eliminated, and this year our relay was a bit shorter than 170 miles, approximately.

I wanted to thank my teammates and our lovely volunteers (Pearl, Art and Larry) for making this relay possible! Also, special thanks to Diane for being super organized and for putting a lot of legwork into our team!

It was really special finishing together in National Harbor in DC. We also found out a few days later that we won for Best Decorated Van for the third year in a row! Go Team A.M.O.R.E.!

Rock ‘n’ Roll Brooklyn 10K

The following weekend after the Ragnar DC, I ran the Rock ‘n’ Roll Brooklyn 10K on behalf of Team Refuel! It was awesome to race with my teammates Anthony and Dani, and we wished each other luck at the start. I also got a chance to run with Diane, Deb and their friend Lauren who came up from Virginia. The night before, we had a carbo-loading dinner at Ganso Ramen in Brooklyn. They had a solid Pork Tonkotsu ramen and delicious green tea matcha ice cream. It’s a hidden gem in a neighborhood not usually known for ethnic food!

I went to the race expo two days before at the Metropolitan Pavilion and had a lot of fun. I got some freebies, took a photo in the photo booth, and picked up my VIP wristband. Thanks Team Refuel for the VIP treatment! The Metropolitan Pavilion was a good venue for packet pick-up, but it was indoors only for one day. I heard from Diane that on Friday (second day), the expo was outdoors and most vendors were not present, just the registration tables. Maybe this is something they can improve for next year.

On race day, I met up with my team at the VIP tent at the Nethermead in Prospect Park. It was very convenient to get there and there were lots of excited runners milling about. The VIP tent had catered food, tables and chairs, magazines, a bar for post-race, and separate bathrooms. Sweet! At 7:30am, the race started and I was feeling good despite all the racing I’ve done the past two weeks. I decided to push the pace as we ran by Grand Army Plaza, and my body responded well to it.

I knew I wasn’t going to PR (my PR is 49:55), but I was aiming for sub-53:00. I had to actually run the Atlantic City Marathon the following day, so I left some energy in the tank! I finished in a time of 52:52, which was good for top 8.5% of females overall! Here were my stats:

Finish time: 52:52 (8:31 pace)

Overall: 692/4135,   Gender: 232/2731,  Age: 79/702

I got a photo with the Nesquik bunny and recovered with some chocolate milk and croissants. It was a great race! Thank you Team Refuel for sponsoring me! After that, it was off to work, then onto a bus to New Jersey for the Atlantic City Marathon! Stay tuned for a post about my run along the boardwalk!


gotmilk

Ganso Ramen

Ganso Ramen

Advertisements


1 Comment

Bear 100 in the dark (part 2)

(This is a continuation of my Bear 100 adventure in Utah on 9/27/13. Part 1 is here)

As darkness set in during the Bear 100, the temperature dropped to low 30s, then 20s (I was told). I was still feeling ok, but my body started shivering to keep warm. I hadn’t run an ultra through the night in awhile (since the 20in24 was cancelled), so I started feeling nervous. I sat down for the first time at Right Hand Fork (mile 36.9) and some lovely volunteers made sure I got my headlamp from my drop bag, hot soup, and gave me a fruit cup and everything I needed. There was a tiny creek crossing and I was on my way!

Dusk starts to fall at the Bear 100

Dusk starts to fall at the Bear 100

I couldn’t believe how quickly it got dark. I switched on my headlamp and prepared to find my way to Aid Station #6, Temple Fork at 45 miles. It was here that I took a wrong turn and got lost for the first time. I knew something was wrong when I

didn’t see any pink trail markers for at least 20 minutes. By now, it had gotten really dark so it was hard to see anything. I was on a Jeep road, and I saw people camping with RVs in the distance so I wasn’t totally alone, but I saw no runners. I backtracked, and finally I saw some headlamps on an adjacent road that was a few meters above the road I was currently on. I called out “I think I’m lost! Are you part of the 100?” Turns out that it was a runner named Amber and her pacer (small world–Amber was friends with a friend I made through the Maniacs named Jennifer), and luckily they helped pull me up through the bushes and onto the correct path.

We chatted and ran together the 3-4 miles until the next aid station and I felt a sense of relief at seeing another runner. I had lost time and run extra miles by this point, so I knew I needed to keep going, even if that meant separating from the comforting presence of another person. I made it to Temple Fork, and at this point I was mentally tired, since it was completely dark. I was looking for my drop bag, and was told that it wasn’t there. I was searching and searching when I suddenly realized I didn’t HAVE a drop bag for this aid station. Another example about how my brain was a bit addled.

The volunteers pointed me to a trail above the highway and said, “just follow the glowsticks.” I obliged, and followed a steep climb lined with only a few tiny glowsticks hanging from the trees. It was pitch black at this point and I could only hear the sound of my breathing. I couldn’t even see whether the trail ahead of me was flat or steep! (maybe that was a good thing.) The only thing that kept me going was seeing the pink trail markers and an occasional reflector strip tacked onto a tree. There were a few times when I heard small animals scurrying around in the bushes, but nothing big.

Another hazard of navigating the trail in the dark was stepping in cow/animal dung. Seriously. I’ll tell you why later (besides the obvious gross factor of it). There were several times I was thinking, “wow this trail is really muddy,” while I was actually stepping straight into cow poop. Lovely.

The next 6.7 miles between mile 45 and mile 51 (to the Tony Grove aid station) took me forever. I only saw two souls: a guy from California with trekking poles, and another fellow named Kevin. It turns out the guy from California was on his 3rd attempt of the Bear 100, seeking his first finish. I found Kevin sitting in the snow by the side of the trail around mile 48. He didn’t look good, and I asked him if he was ok. I couldn’t bear to leave him by himself, so I helped him get up and promised that we’d get to the next aid station together. It was so, so dark, and I could only see the glistening snow when I shined my headlamp through the trees. It was very, very cold, and I sort of contemplated dropping out at the next aid station, but quickly quashed that notion. Kevin was talking about how this year the weather was brutal, and he was able to finish last year but was going to drop out as soon as we hit mile 51. I was glad for his company, and we made sure to look for the pink mile markers. We finally reached the Tony Grove aid station, and the hum of the generator was the best sound that I had ever heard.

It was 12:30am at this point, and I sat down in a chair while volunteers draped me in blankets. I reached for my drop bag, where I had stashed a big red fleece jacket I bought the day before (Bear 100 merchandise). I put on the jacket, downed half a can of Starbucks Espresso shot, and rested for 10 minutes. It was so cold that I wanted to just stay there the rest of the night, under that blanket, but I was on a mission. I had told my pacer that I was going to meet her around 2:00am at Mile 61. I was going to be really late, but unfortunately I had no cell phone reception and no way of telling her.

I said goodbye to Kevin, waited for the caffeine to kick in, and asked a volunteer to guide me to the trailhead. I hated being lost the first time and didn’t want to waste valuable time looking for the wrong trail! Up I went on the steep trail. It was a long climb–the darkness was only good because I didn’t have to think about how steep it actually was!

I drank a lot of water and ate some granola bars to keep my energy up. At this point, my granola bars were frozen! The mouthpiece on my Nathan hydration pack had also frozen, so I relied on my handheld bottle. When I shook it, I could hear chunks of ice inside. Freezing. I was very conscious of the ice at night, and my trail shoes provided little traction because of the frozen cow poop I had stepped on earlier. I started to feel scared and lonely, and used my iPod shuffle for moral support. I kept one earbud in so I could listen for animals and people with the other ear. Around mile 53, I came to a creek crossing. It was icy, and I could barely see the other side. I used my hands to brace myself on the rocks, and very slowly made my way across. There were three possible ways I could have gone after crossing the creek. One of them was a dead end, one was the way I came from, and one was the right path. I was suddenly very disoriented and I couldn’t remember which way I came, since I went back over the creek to look for the last pink trail marking.

I forged ahead and assumed I was going in the right direction. The scenery was exactly the same. I had completely stopped taking pictures once darkness hit because I was feeling crappy and couldn’t see ANYTHING. The next mile was the scariest part–there was a really steep downhill part completely iced over. I took one step and went flying down the path on my butt. Ouch!! The worst part was, I used my bottle as a trekking pole while I helplessly clung to some weeds on a hillside. The only way was down, and there was a ravine on the other side. If my mom could see her daughter in this state, she would’ve had five heart attacks in a row. It was really dangerous–one wrong step and I could fall OFF the trail, into the ravine, and no one would have found me for hours. It was so dangerous that I literally wished I had quit at the last aid station when I had a chance.

I gingerly crawled down the iced-over trail on all fours, using my bottle for traction. God, I really wish I had some trekking poles. I did this for about 300m, and it was the longest stretch of my life. I saw one person come by (same guy from California with his trekking poles), and asked him for help, but he didn’t look to be in any position to help me. He came and went. Well, so much for that. He was probably delirious as well.

I finally made it safely down the path and kept walking down the path. I stopped to look at my directions and they said “Turn left, down, crossing a stream, and ascend north, up a pass full of Mules Ear daisies. Cattle braid the trail in this area, but the trails will rejoin after the meadow.” What??! If this didn’t make sense to me at home, what the heck does it mean 19 hours into running a 100-mile race when I’m exhausted? I was growing increasingly frustrated.

I passed through a giant field (I assume full of Mules Ear daisies, still don’t know what it was talking about), and saw two lone runners.

“Am I going the right way?” I asked.

“You’re on the right path, but I hear the aid station is at least an hour away,” they called back.

My brain refused to believe it. It was already 3am and I was the most tired I had ever been in my life. What choice did I have? I was closer to mile 61 than the mile 51 aid station I had left. I couldn’t fathom making my way up the icy hill. I literally had no options. I couldn’t call anyone for help with my useless cell phone. It was an awful feeling.

The last 5 miles were torture. I would see pink trail markers, then I would stray off the trail, and then I would feel like I was going in circles. At one point, I followed the trail markers right into a big field of rocks. I contemplated this problem for a solid 10 minutes before I finally found another marker. I was hopelessly getting lost. I knew that I was not too far off the trail at any point, but going in circles did nothing for my morale. I made the decision that if my pacer, C, was still at mile 61, I would continue. Otherwise, I was going to drop out because mentally, I was done.

The last few hundred meters before reaching the aid station were tough. I saw a volunteer go out looking for runners, and he shouted at me “the aid station is just up ahead!”

“Ok!” I said, and gestured in the direction I was going. I heard the generators and saw the lights of the aid station a few moments later, but for the life of me, I couldn’t find the way out! All I saw were more trees and impassable woods. “Help!” I shouted, hoping someone would hear me.

A volunteer actually had to guide me the last few hundred feet to the aid station because I was so delirious. I was surprised that I didn’t even cry, because I was so broken-spirited at that point. The first thing I asked was if she had seen my pacer. The volunteer said no, she had not seen anyone ask for me or look for me. It was not cool. At that point, I was too tired to care. I sat in front of a bonfire, tried to get warm, and told the volunteers that I was dropping out. They tried to get to me to stay in the race, but it was already 5:30am and I had no more will to go on 39 more miles after the 10-mile fiasco I had just went through. I needed to save my energy for another day. I send my thanks to the volunteers, and especially to the good Samaritan that drove me from mile 61 to the finish line in Fish Haven, ID so that I could wait for Shane to cross the finish. I got my glimpse of Bear Lake from the car, but was too tired to enjoy it.

dusk2

My first DNF was a tough pill to swallow. I had wanted so much to complete this race. There were a few things that went wrong–some of it was beyond my control and some of it I know I can do better for next time.

For this race, I would definitely use trekking poles next time. They would have saved me from sliding down an icy mountain on my behind and would have helped in my posture for later in the race. I would also pack more layers and dress more warmly next time.

I would also bring along a pacer that I know and trust for this race. I don’t blame my pacer for my DNF, but I wished that she would have at least left a message for me at the aid station that she had to leave (she was supposed to be with me from 2am-10am), and at least acknowledge she cared for my well-being. I exchanged a few texts and an email after the race telling her that I had no reception and didn’t have any way of letting her know I got lost, but I was disappointed that she did not at least inquire about me at the aid station. Anyway, that is water under the bridge, and I can’t change that.

I would have also tried to study the course a bit more. The markings were more sparse than promised (or wild animals ate them, who knows), but at some parts it was very difficult to navigate.

I really do want to try for the Bear 100 again, hopefully in 2014, but if not, then definitely 2015. I do not regret giving it my all and making it as far as 61 miles! I am glad that I am safe and uninjured, and I thank Shane for making the journey with me.

Epilogue

I made it to the finish line by car after my DNF, and I was able to watch Shane cross the finish line in a time of 32 hrs 57 min! Well done, Shane! It was a really crazy race in less-than-ideal conditions. I heard from many runners that it is rare for the course to be so icy/snowy this time of year.

Lisa in Idaho

Lisa in Idaho

I was exhausted but was so hopped up on caffeine and adrenaline that I found it impossible to sleep at the finish while I was waiting. Plus, I wanted to be sure I saw Shane finish. There was a nice post-race food spread and an awards ceremony, where the finishers got a belt buckle and finisher’s plaque. I later found out that Fish Haven is famous for its raspberry shakes, so I will have to have one of those next time!

The day after the race, I met up with my friends Jenny and Mark, who drove from Provo to have dinner with us at an Italian place named Cafe Molise. It was so nice to see them after such a crazy adventure, and I hope to see them again during my next trip to Salt Lake City. Shane and I also enjoyed a day of sightseeing on Antelope Island. We got really close to a bison that crossed the road, and saw stunning scenery and awesome salt flats. I’ll be back, Utah! Until the next adventure…

Shane finishing his 100-mile journey

Shane finishing his 100-mile journey

Shane and his buckle

Shane and his buckle

DSC00740DSC00730

DSC00757