Posted on Jun 22, 2009
Another week has gone by, a nice recovery week for me that included two whole days off from running- which I was needing very much as my body was screaming a little bit at me during Saturday’s 2.5 hour run reminding me that rest is also very key to running. JB and I woke early to hit the trails in Golden Gate park and run to Ocean Beach and then head up to Mt. Sutro and Twin Peaks. We were both lagging pretty good for about 3-4 miles when nearing the beach and the turnaround, JB decided to put the hammer down. So to avoid looking like a total loser, I also picked up the pace to stay close on JB’s heels. As we approached the 8 mile mark and Kezar Stadium, I knew my lactate threshold hill repeat was upon me and I had to “Get R done” as my Dad likes to say. I yelled to JB that I was starting my threshold and would see him at the top of Mt. Sutro. For me, lactate threshold occurs between the heart rate of 173-178 plus or minus a few beats. After last week’s 2 x 60 minute hill repeats, I wasn’t too worried about the 20 minute climb ahead of me. So off I went charging up the hill thinking I would really kill it. It took me a few minutes to get into the grove and one look behind me revealed that JB wasn’t far behind. I guess that was a good sign that JB is truly in peak form. I finally got the legs motoring and got to the top a few minutes ahead of JB. Yes those hill repeats hurt, yet I really think they make so much difference in acheiving top shape.
If every climb had a rainbow...
Now here it is Monday and I have a full week ahead of me- 8-9 miles of M pace, a 90 minute strides workout, 2×40 minute hill repeats (that I will do at Squaw Valley before WS100) and then pacing JB 38 miles on Saturday/Sunday at Western States 100! Time to push the training as it is peak workout time and the countdown to Headlands 100.
But really I am most excited we have finally made it to race week- JB has been dreaming/talking about Western States 100 since forever. My Dad and I will jump into the Journeyfilm van after the Squaw Valley start and set out to get JB through one of the most important races of his life. We are forming the “Team Benna” crew and will be busting out some serious crewing and pacing and we plan on having a blast.
The Journeyfilm Van
More posts and pictures this week as we get into the good stuff- packing drop bags, driving up to Squaw and pre-race festivities!
Posted on Jun 15, 2009
What a wacky week… JB and I took a very much needed day off last Monday after some grueling back to back weekend running. We were feeling refreshed on Tuesday so we hit the gym for a recovery run on the treadmill and a weight session. JB then did a 20 minute sauna session to get his body used to holding on to salt for the upcoming Western States 100 mile race. Well 24 hours later, JB was in a full blown fever of 102.6 with muscle aches and chills. The flu in June, 2.5 weeks before the biggest race of the year? After a trip to the doctor, and the obligatory question: “Could this be the dreaded Swine flu?” The cultures came back negative for flu of any kind. But JB did not feel better and in fact took another 2 days before the fever went away… How’s that for heat training? So what was supposed to be his last big push for training, turned into coughing up chunks of yellow ick and laying in bed obsessing over his split times on his lap top. He is feeling a little better today… but when should he start running again? This is the question we are both wondering…
Calm Before the Storm
Meanwhile, I continued my training (alone), which in someway was kind of a revelation. On Saturday I needed to run a 2x 60 minute uphill lactate threshold run… So I went to the base of Mt. Tamalpais (2700ft peak) and with the guide of JB via cell phone (I got lost a few times), I found myself exploring a great singletrack trail that went to the top of Mt. Tam with the most gorgeous views of San Francisco. On Sunday after waking up and wanting to linger in my cozy bed, I made homemade berry scones, had some coffee and again found myself planning a long run alone.
Wanting to stay in bed on Sunday.... but only a for a few minutes
I decided I should start getting to know my 100 mile course for the race in August, so I decided to run the 25 mile loop of the Headlands Hundred. This loop you run twice at the very end… not easy, mentally or physically. So off I went and I pushed it fairly aggressively to see what it would feel like come race day on tired legs. The thing about the Marin Headlands is you are always climbing or descending with very little flat stretches. I ran a little over 26 miles in 5 hours exactly. I figured the loop is good for about 4000+ feet of gaining and descent- so it was a great run, albeit a bit slower than I wanted to run by about 30 minutes. I have another 5 weeks to really push my training and to peak for this race… so hopefully I will feel even better come August 8th.
View of San Francisco from the Coastal Trail/ SCA trail intersection
Posted on Jun 7, 2009
Yesterday, PCTrail runs put on their annual Mt. Diablo 50k. With 8900ft of gain and equal loss, this course is a tough one. In years past, heat is usually a huge part of the game, but for either good or bad (bad for those doing Western States seeking heat training), the weather yesterday was quite cool and never got above 75.
I probably had the worse ultrarunning day yesterday than I can ever remember. Things were seemingly off for me right from the second JB and I got in the car to drive the 50 minutes to the start. We were running late, the car was signaling that our remaining tank of gas was about to run out, oh and we got lost. Now with only 3 minutes to the start of the race, we hurried to put our bibs on and get to the startline. With a tough week of miles already on my legs, I was feeling a little lackluster about the whole day. Scott told us to just run this as a training run and use the hills to do 2 x 60 uphill lactate threshold repeats and to run in 3a/3b the rest of the time, working the downhills and remembering our hydration, nutrition, ect. Ok, I thought, I can handle that. My week to that point had been good- a 10 mile strides workout, a couple of nice 6 mile recovery runs, and what felt like a super easy 9 mile M pace workout. Throw in some weights workouts and a yoga class and the week was really solid. This weekend of a 50k followed by a Sunday 4 hour run was definitely rounding out a Build 1 week of close to 85+ miles.
At the start line, Wendell gave us the nod and the 50K and 25K runners sped off. This also happened to be the La Sportiva Mountain Cup 25K championship race, so the amount of 25K runners was huge. We started climbing right away and I noticed my heart rate went through the roof- maybe from adrenaline or maybe too much pre-race coffee- I wasn’t sure, but I did feel winded for no particular reason. As we settled into a nice but aggresive climbing pace, I just focused on my breathing and getting my heart rate to calm down a bit. The first climb is about 5 miles climbing 3000ft. I was feeling a bit slow and tired, but okay at this point. I only had one water bottle and was sucking it down fast- I realized I was dehydrated right from the start- probably the reason my heart rate was not recovering. As we crested the ridge and came over, my nose started bleeding. Not just a little- gushing through the only tissue I had. As I was getting ready to shove my long sleeve top in my nose, a nice runner handed me a wet nap and I gladly took it. That damn nose bleed took another 3 miles to stop and I was pissed. Coming into the first aid station I again did not take the time I should have to rehydrate, take care of my nose and get myself together. I hurried through it, grabbing a 1/4 of banana and kept going towards the summit, another 1500ft of climbing. Reaching the summit, I felt a rush of renewed energy and I pushed hard to the top. I was sure glad to get there as I was out of water and looking to refill. Well, I am an idiot, I realized as there was no aid station at the top- I had to drop down the 3 miles back to the campground aid station. Okay, no problem, its downhill and its cool out. So I pushed a good pace down to the aid station and refilled and even drank some coke and tried to eat some fruit. Nothing else sounded good and I realized I wasn’t eating much at all to this point. I headed downhill back to the start feeling okay but kind of like I didn’t care anymore. I even thought I would just finish the 25k loop and stop. I got to the bottom with a first lap time of 2:56- not too bad so I decided against dropping and I quickly filled my bottle and started back up the second loop.
Major mistake # 134 for the day- not grabbing a second water bottle . Some days when I am tired and I drag my feet to do my workouts, JB tells me that I put on my “mental Uggs,”- the cozy but ugly little boots you put on after tough races or on cold days when you just want to chill. Apparently, my mental uggs were on bigtime at this point. Starting the next climb, I was just tired and mentally did not have the capacity to push. But onward and upward I went. Slurpees, Ice cold coke, popsicles and ice water all danced in my head as I slurped down the last of my one bottle only half way into the climb. Then the cramping started and didn’t stop. I asked a nice (and smart) runner who had two bottles for a sip of one so I could take a salt tab. He gladly obliged and I was so grateful. I also felt like I was a rookie running my first ultra- I sure must have looked it. Anyway, 20 minutes later, I was wretching on the side of the trail. Okay, enough already, I was done…. cooked, fried, tanked, just plain done. I got to the campground aid station and immediately told them. After seeing JB come into the aid station- he informed me he had been puking too- but he was on his way to the finish with only 4 miles to go. He finished strong in 5:49 for a 4th place finish!!
What did I learn? Well, after a brief pity party for myself, I am just chalking this up to a bad day and allowing myself to have one every now and again. It hurts to not have the finish, but I made the decision best at the time and now I am off to go run a 3 hour 3a/3b run with JB to redeem myself!
Posted on Jun 5, 2009
Why start a blog? I wondered this myself for quite some time…. but, also why not? This is my attempt to share my adventures with you all! I have loved reading blogs by other ultrarunners, but realized that most were by the guys- what about us girls? We can fly down technical trail, we love to kick ass too! And yes some of us do it in our Lululemon run fast skirts.
So, about me: I live and work in this fabulous city called, San Francisco. My day job is a critical care pharmaceutical sales rep- what does that mean? I work in the O.R or cardiac cath lab in hospitals to educate physicians, specifically those involved in critical care medicine- cardiologists, cardiac surgeons, anaesthesiologists, ect. I love my job- it provides me with constant challenges and I get to be around some amazing people. I also get to watch some awesome surgeries- chests cracked open, skulls exposing grey matter… it’s very cool!
Jen runs in Hawaii
JB and Jen in Telluride, CO at Mountain Film Festival
Jennifer Benna 3rd place at The North Face China 100k April 2009
JB and Jen summit Dead Women Pass on way to Macchu Pichu marathon finish
My husband, filmmaker JB Benna, created a small outdoor/adventure film company called Journeyfilm about 5 years ago. So I also help him produce and make documentary films. We have been ultrarunning since 2004, and we are hooked. Only in the last 2 years have we really ramped it up and began competing and training seriously. I don’t know how I ran all those races before on such little training? I guess the mind is a powerful thing.
JB and I are parents to our three rescue animals: Mr. Big (a seriously ugly/so cute mix dog) and Tazzoe and Gracie (seriously cute cats). We love, love, love to travel when we can and running adventures take us all over the world. Ok enough background already… lets get on with on with the present adventures!