Hello 33, so nice to meet you!

Here is your 33 mile recap:  I ran 33 miles.  The end.  Final Conclusion:  Not only am I now confident about my ability to complete the Trifecta, I looking forward to running 34 miles in ONE DAY for my birthday next year.  I also need more hill work.  (Shocking, I know.)

What?  That’s not good enough?  Oh fine then, here we go.

First a disclaimer:  This may get incoherent.  While I am physically feeling pretty darned amazing today, mentally I am still a little tired.  So sorry.  Okay, now here we go.

For those you not exactly sure why I would run 33 miles for fun, please feel free to click here but the short version is I turned 33 this past week and decided to celebrate by running my age.

Friday:  5 miles, 13:58 average pace – 28 miles left to go
After making some sort of weird macaroni and cheese pie and enjoying its delicious cheesy, pasta-y, veggie, soy crumbly goodness I set out in my neighborhood for five miles.  It was a rather dull and uninspired run, nothing really exciting except the constant onslaught of pizza delivery drivers and ice cream trucks that I swear were following me, tempting me with melting cheese and frozen chocolate vanilla cones.

See? This ice cream truck was even waiting for me. Seriously buddy, I haven’t been chasing you for two miles. I’ve been RUNNING.

Saturday:  14 miles, 13:59 average pace – 14 miles left to go
I had originally planned to start my day of running in Washoe Valley but ran into a little hiccup as access to the valley was significantly restricted as the 112 mile cycling portion of the Expedition Man ultra triathlon was in full swing.  The heat was oppressive in Reno proper, which resulted in something I never thought I would ever do:  run more than 3 miles on a treadmill.  Hey, treadmill miles still count.  I hate them, yes, but they count.

I ran a mile to the gym at a very good clip, hopped on a treadmill and promptly negotiated a solid strategy to keep me on the treadmill for 4 miles.  The only problem was that after three miles, I was feeling good, had settled into my pace and for whatever reason was not in the least bit bored.  So I kept running.  Of course, about five miles in the treadmill abruptly stopped while alarms went off like crazy.  Apparently this particular type of treadmill cannot count past 59:59.  Now, I’m not kidding.

Tiffany at DrinkRunYoga says I get 14 bonus points for breaking a treadmill.  I think it should be more like 15 but who’s counting?  Much to my amazement I hopped onto the treadmill right next to it and picked up where I left off while the poor front desk girl tried to figure out how to reset the one I killed (Note:  It was still dead when I left.  Oops.).

After putting in 6 really solid miles on the dreaded treadmill, I ran the mile home for a grand total of 8 miles.  Good times.

I ate a meal, hosed myself off and headed out into the neighborhood for the last six miles of the day.  I ran into the same ice cream truck again and avoided the temptation to order a SpongeBob Popsicle.  Otherwise, it was just as uneventful as the night before.  I stretched out, poured myself a Lime-a-rita and called it good.

My running essentials.

Sunday:  14 miles, 16:45ish average pace – 0 miles left to go!
Now THIS is where it gets exciting.  I slept through my alarm, woke up at the first hint of daylight and realized I had exactly five minutes to eat, get dressed and get on the road to meet Patrick at the trailhead for the adventure run portion of my 14 miler.  Somehow I managed to get it all together and arrived at the trailhead only 5 minutes late to discover Patrick had also slept through his alarm and wasn’t coming at all.  It’s a good thing I like you, Patrick.  I’m just sayin’.
I made a few last minute adjustments to my pack, steeled myself for the three mile ascension to Hunter Creek Falls and set off at a lope.

Yes, a lope.  I’ve hiked this trail enough to know that footing in places can be difficult and that I cannot sustain my race pace through that type of climb.  Instead, I maintained a very quick walk broken up with intermittent loping and actually running at any flat or decline I came across.

I will admit.  It was slow going.  It isn’t exactly easy but I kept moving and pushed myself up the mountain as the rose over Reno.

While the most exciting thing that happened on the previous 19 miles was killing a treadmill, this portion of the weekend was much more entertaining and certainly more eventful.

This is actually part of the trail. You sort of squiggle down it.

Case in point:  I met a bear.  No seriously.  I pretty good sized teenaged black bear to be exact.  About two miles in I heard rustling in the brush.  My first thought was “Psychopathic Trail Rapist” but it turned out I had startled a bear.  Fortunately, the bear seemed to think I was the “Psychopathic Bear Serial Killer” and hauled furry butt up the hillside while I stared after it slack jawed and promptly increased my pace by a few clicks.

Caution: Bears live here.

Bears also live here.

I also forgot to take the low trail around a rather large, slab sided boulder with a 100 foot drop off and slid on my arse down the front of said large, slab sided boulder onto the trail below.  Oops.  Good work, Liz.

Yeah, I slide down this onto the trail below.

I accidentally stopped time on my Garmin no fewer than 6 times when I crashed into/climbed over/ran directly through a number of boulders, trees, bushes and roots.

Did I mention I actually know this trail?  Pretty scary, right?

Out of the desert, into the woods.  Bears also live here.

At last, I crawled over the log bridge just before the falls.

Don’t be silly. I actually walked across this bridge. I’ll find a photo of the logs I crawled on though. It was some Tough Mudder type stuff.

Apparently one should always announce oneself when crawling through bushes because I scared the living daylights out of campers who were convinced the “Psychopathic Tin Can Killer Bear” was visiting them again.  Yes, folks.  Bears often disguise themselves as fat chicks wearing neon green reflective hydration packs and rhinestone studded sun glasses.

Note: The falls are actually larger than they appear in this “amazing” self portrait I took by setting my camera on a funky tree limb.

This photo, taken by moi in November of 2011, puts the falls in better perspective and perhaps does the view a little more justice. It is gorgeous up there.

I enjoyed the falls for a few minutes before stretching out and beginning my descent.  It might have been a slow climb to the top, but I went all Scottish Hill Runner on the mountain’s ass on my way back down.  I was leaping over logs, diving off boulders and scrambling through sand and rock like a pro.  While I had ungracefully navigated every obstacle on the way up, I executed them like a pro on my way down-which is good, because I am pretty sure at that pace, taking a digger would have really hurt.

I am here to tell you there is nothing that makes you feel a little bad ass than the bewildered expressions of hikers struggling to catch their breath when a fat chick comes careening down the hillside.    Some yelled encouragement such s “You go girl!” and still other asked in total disbelief, “You’re RUNNING this?”  If you think what I do is running, thank you!  Really, everyone was very encouraging though one guy insisted I was surely running from a bear.  I assured him that the bear had actually run from me.  Mwahahaha.  My favorite hikers were a group of women working hard to get up the mountain.  One of the ladies was struggling a bit, looked at me and said, “I can barely walk this and you’re running it!  That is amazing!”  I paused to thank her and offer a few encouraging words of my own.   The miles flew by after that.  It’s not always about proper hydration, training and nutrition.  I was truly inspired by these women and it pushed me to run harder for all of us.

While I was negotiating a really nasty (read painful) rocky portion of the trail I received a text from Dianne.  She had breakfast for me at the trailhead.  It was about this time I realized just how hungry I was and I had new motivation:  an almond butter sandwich.  YUM!

I completed my first six miles of the day in 1:48, which is a blistering pace of 18:09.  I climbed 1,412’ in elevation, met a bear and tried to kill myself several times.  Normally, I would be traumatized by the pace but I had planned for it, prepared myself for 20-25 minute miles going up and speedier, but cautious miles coming down.  The fact is that I ran it.

True to her word, Dianne was waiting for me in the parking lot with a delicious breakfast.  We chatted as I ate, changing our route plans as that same heavy heat from the day before was already creeping in even at this early hour.  We moved the cars about a mile away and opted to run through downtown Reno where the trail was mostly shaded.

Ahhh, downtown Reno.

We set out at a very easy pace for the remaining 8 miles of my 33 mile weekend, chatting the entire way.  The first four miles were just slightly slower than my projected Trifecta race pace of 14:30.  The slower pace was inevitable.  I knew it was, but I kept pushing.

This is the OLD Reno arch. It’s sort of weird to think that I went from a water fall to this in one day, but hey, that is the diversity of Reno.

I slowed up just a hair more on mile 5 and full blown fatigue set in on mile 6.  We walked and jogged, walked and jogged.  I knew that at some point I would hit a wall.  Frankly, I had expected it to be somewhere around 18 or 19 miles into the weekend.  I hit it around mile 31 and I hit it hard.  It was never a matter of wanting to quit or being unable to continue, rather a new wave of fatigue hit me like a Mack truck.

Chipped polish, blisters, dirt and broken nails? Now that is what I call a good day of running.

Dianne was such an incredible source of support and encouragement for those last two miles.  I wasn’t injured.  I wasn’t even sore and other than a couple completely random, isolated pops I wasn’t even in pain.  I was just tired.  Dianne never once complained when I needed a walk break and while she and I have a tendency toward being a slave to our Garmin’s, she never even snuck a peek.  Instead, she kept the conversation going (because at this point, even my mind was starting to drift), which in turn kept me going and before I knew it, we rolled into her driveway.  It was done.  Thirty three miles.  I did it.

We celebrated by heading down to Walden’s for breakfast and lattes.  Breakfast has never tasted so good.  EVER.

Oh yum!

In the end, I ran 33 miles in 3 days and it was actually a lot of fun.

Thanks, Dianne! You are amazing!

A few things I would do differently:

I would NOT start a workout program such as Insanity a couple days before starting.  I knew better, but I couldn’t resist temptation.  I was a little more sore in non-running related portions of my body and the two a day workouts leading up to this left me a bit short at the end.

I would use more Body Glide.  I have scabs, blisters and hot spots in unusual places.  For example, my faithful heart rate monitor chest strap left welts all over.  I also ended up with a couple hot spots on the inside of my upper arm where the seam of my tank top hit with regularity.  And even my favorite virtually seamless compression shorts (washed daily) wore on me.

I would drink more beer.  My calorie deficits were insane, leaving me plenty of room for beer.  I shouldn’t deny myself.

Now for a few things I would not do differently:

I don’t care how silly I look wearing them, I won’t trade my compression socks for the world.  They made a huge difference in my recovery.

I would push just as hard on the mountain.  Yes, I got blisters on my toes.  Yes, I was fatigued.  But I actually enjoyed every minute of it.

I would challenge myself like this again and again.  Let’s face it, I love a good challenge.  Though running 33 miles in three days may not seem like a big thing, for me it was mentally and physically challenging and I loved pretty much every minute of it.