Phase IV Athlete – Diane Reynolds
I started contemplating running trails instead of roads in November, 2012, after taking a year off from running due to a serious fall while road running. I got back on my feet running a local dirt path around Penmar golf course. Around the same time, in December, 2012, I attended a "Running Analysis Clinic" at Phase IV. I met Aishea Maas, along with Ron Berry and Robert Forster, and I learned a ton—mostly, how much I didn't know about running and training properly! I was lucky enough to win a raffle that night for an RMR. So before the end of 2012 I was at Phase IV again, having Aishea test my resting metabolic rate, as well as having a VO2 test. With those results in hand, I decided to give myself a New Year's challenge and I signed up for a June 9, 2013, trail half-marathon.
The Valley Crest Half-Marathon is a Road Runners Club of America State Championship Race; a hilly mountain trail, half on dirt Mulholland with 1700' of elevation gain. My goal was simply to finish my first trail half marathon so Aishea put together a manageable Enduro training program that began in February, culminating with my June race. I joined a local trail running group for my long Saturday runs and I hit the trails with the “Santa Monica Mountain Goats.” Every month, Aishea and I communicated about my progress and along the way I had some issues with my knees, mostly I discovered, from taking downhills too aggressively. Aishea suggested some therapeutic cross training choices (aqua jogging, biking) to help take pressure off my knees, and she referred me to Forster Physical Therapy, where I worked with the skillful Kent Moody, PT, for a few weeks to stabilize my knees and support overall leg strength. I learned the power of icing daily to reduce inflammation, and the necessity of daily stretching.
In May, as I was ramping up my last weeks of training with a lot of work in my anaerobic zones, I noticed I was having real difficulty working into my highest HR zone. I talked to Aishea about this and she suggested a re-test of my VO2. The re-test quickly pinpointed why I was having difficulty; I had tremendous improvement in my aerobic efficiency over the past six months, such that my highest training zone now had lower heart rates. I was just a couple weeks out from my race and as I got ready to taper, I was increasingly worried about the heat because we were having excessively high temperatures in mid-May and early June. I had a practice run of just a few miles on part of the race course in the crazy heat and I showed signs of heat exhaustion. I re-thought my goals for the June 9th race, as I knew if I pushed myself in the heat I could be in big trouble. I prayed for cool weather and chose to carry my own pack with Tailwind nutrition frozen into cubes before putting it in my hydration bladder. I also started my day with fresh beet juice, which promised a documented 3% boost in performance! Miraculously, on Sunday, June 9th, there was low cloud cover and cool temperatures until late morning—perfect!
On race day, I was prepared to take the first (downhill) half slowly; careful to stay in my heart rate zones 2-3. Then, in the second half, I started to turn it on and picked up the pace for a brief downhill. As the race course doubled back on itself I was seeing the first runners heading for the finish. I spent the hardest 2.3 miles of steady uphill climbing in the second half of the race cheering on the men and women already headed for the finish. I think encouraging all the runners in their final stretch made that long climb easier than I had ever experienced in my practice runs! I made the last turn and sailed for the finish with gas still left in my tank. I was gleeful to read my time: 2:11:56. I would have been happy just to finish but as awards were given out, I received an age group award—first place 50-54 year old woman! To top off an already awesome moment for this first-time trail half-marathoner, I was called back for a second award—as the first woman, 50 years old and up, to cross the finish line in this Road Runners Club of America State Championship Race. I was given a plaque for "2013 RRCA (Grandmaster) State Champion" of California! This was truly a great way celebrate entering my 50’s. I feel more fit than I have felt in years, and I'm running distances that I never previously imagined. What's next? Another Enduro is planned with Aishea to support training for my first trail marathon—this one, on Catalina Island. My body, heart and mind are strong, and getting stronger—wish me luck!