Monday, December 9, 2013

The Marathon that Wasn't.... Snowcumseh

I was supposed to run a marathon on Saturday…. The Tecumseh Trail Marathon. I ran it last year and it was AMAZING! It was 60 degrees out in DECEMBER and the course was beautiful, the volunteers were wonderful, and once race got going (late start=me being a giant stress ball) it was a fantastic day (read about it here)! So, I signed up for the race again, obviously I expected similar magic.

Early last week we started to see rumblings of an epic storm inching its way across the country. I’m a huge weather stalker most race weeks, but I was extra stalky watching this storm. The race has a time cutoff of 17 minute miles. I was “sure” this wouldn’t be a problem on clean trails, but add in snow? This is how my mind spent the week:

Check the forecast

How many inches of snow would make the race unattainable?

Check the forecast

Ice is ok, I could run in ice

Check the forecast

I don’t want to run in Yak Tracks…. What kind of screws do you put in your shoes for traction?

Check the forecast

3 inches of snow? I could run in the inches of snow

Check the forecast

It’s not going to be that bad

Check the forecast

It’s going to be SNOWMAGEDDON! Should I even charge my Garmin?

Check the forecast

It’ll be fine, just a single digit wind chill. I can run in cold

Check the forecast

I’ll charge my Garmin, but there is no way I’m going to be able to run this race

 Friday morning my husband and I woke up early to shovel the driveway. We were looking at 2-3 inches of snow on the driveway, but it wasn’t snowing at 5:30. I still had a smidge of hope… until I heard the weatherman say THE WORST IS COMING! Oh no….. word was we were going to be snow city all day. I knew my chances were slim to none that this was going to happen. Maybe my husband could still run it. He’s faster than me and a foot taller. But for me and my stumpy, slow running legs, it looked like the game was over.

At some point during the day we got word that the race was canceled. Canceled? Canceled. Whoa. No one expected the race to be canceled. Change the course from point to point to an out and back? Sure. But canceled… no way.

So how did I feel about it? Relieved, disappointed, sad, happy, all of it. I was relieved that I didn’t have to make that final call of; sure I’m stubborn enough to try it (possibly injuring myself and being out of commission). I was disappointed because it’s a great race! And even if my stumpy legs couldn’t run it, some folks might have been able to. Sad for the volunteers, the race director, the athletes, and everyone that had put their time, effort, and training into this event. Happy that I didn’t have to have an anxiety attack that my husband was STILL going to run it while I stayed safely at home picturing him with a broken leg in three feet of snow seven miles off the trail (I have a vivid imagination when it comes to anxiety).

For me, this wasn’t a “goal race”. I had a great 50k in September and a fun full marathon in October. I wanted to run this race, but ya know… stuff happens. If it had been the one race I was training for I would have been heartbroken. I get that.

So what did I learn?

  1. If I’m going to sign up for a race in the winter in Indiana… expect ANYTHING!
  2.           I am a control freak, but I can’t control the weather.
  3.        Sometimes, shit happens
  4. I really might need to see someone about my anxiety issues
  5. I never EVER EVER EVER want to be a race director. EVER

Will I register for the race again? You bet I will! Cause when it’s not being screwed up by a stupid snow storm, it’s freaking awesome!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Bad Run + Good Run = Good Race? We'll see....

When I had been running for less than a year, my husband asked me if I would like a running log. I laughed out loud at him.

"Who uses those things? That's ridiculous. Why would I keep track of stuff like what shoes I was wearing an how many miles I'm running? I mean.... no thank you".

Fast forward to today. I log every run, what shoes I was wearing, and any interesting notes. I also have a blog that blathers on endlessly about running which I sometimes look back on as a form of running log. So, to answer the question, "who uses those things?" It turns out I do. Who knew?

I bring this up because I have one more marathon on Saturday. This weekend I ran 10 miles on Saturday and 6 on Sunday. The 10 mile run felt like crap. My legs were tired, the easy pace seemed impossible, I couldn't settle into a groove. In fact, the only saving grace of the run was the fact that I was running with a friend and we did get to see a beautiful sunrise. But it was one of those runs where you really question your training. The race I have coming up is challenging and there I was on a 10 mile run feeling completely spent. Crap crap crap crap crap.

Sunday, my husband and I didn't set an alarm and spent the morning lazing around the house. This seems like a great way to start the day, but for me... if I don't get out for a run early... I can lose motivation quickly. And that started to happen. Thankfully, when my husband showed the motivation to get moving, I reluctantly went along with him. I figured I'd slog through 6 miles and continue to punish myself for my crappy training. I was even whining as we headed onto the trail. Then everything changed. I started out counting the tenths of a mile pass... but within 3 miles I was screaming down trails with my arms flailing and a grin on my face, grabbing onto trees to navigate switchbacks and power hiking hills. It was PERFECT!

And then I remembered.... this is pretty standard for me. My weeks leading up to races typically have at least one super crap run and at least one really great run. This is standard. I know it's standard because of those stupid running logs that I had mocked a few years ago. oops.

So, today I'll just go ahead and assume that my crappy run and good run will equate to an excellent race day! That's the way it's worked before! Now back to my tapering....And did I mention the impending snow/ice/sleet storm that's supposed to hit?

Saturday, November 23, 2013

All I Want For My Birthday Is...

My birthday is coming up and there are only two things I wanted…. To spend time with people I love and strong ankles.

When my husband and I were running in Tennessee in October, I had a pretty bad ankle roll. Not a terribly uncommon thing for me, really. I grew up clumsy and did gymnastics, so I was an ankle rolling mess for most of my childhood. It hurt and I knew it had weakened my ankle, but I got through the rest of the run and lots of hiking, so I was feeling ok.

I ran a full marathon on roads in October and my ankle felt strong. I thought it was all healed up and I’d be ready to switch back to trail running for my trail marathon in December. So…. The weekend after the Indianapolis marathon I set out on a 10 mile run on a favorite trail with some great friends! And then…. You guessed it, HUGE ankle roll. The kind that pop when it happens and your eyes tear up. The gal behind me saw it and was a bit disturbed by how painful it looked. It hurt. But, we were halfway through a 10 mile loop trail. And I could run on it. I got through the rest of the run and it hurt, but not terribly. Then I stopped moving, and then it started to feel like it was swelling to the size of a cantaloupe. I came home and rested, elevated, and iced. I’ve been through ankle rolls a million times and I figured it would clear right up!

It didn’t.  After resting all day Sunday, the swelling hadn’t gone down and there was the added bonus of discoloration! Ruh roh. By Monday I took my still swollen and discolored ankle to the doc, got some x-rays and braced myself for bad news. Thankfully, there wasn’t any!!!! I could even run, only on roads, and I was given a set of ankle exercises that I needed to do to get back on the trails.

So, I’ve been running on roads only for a month now and DILIGENTLY doing my exercises. Today was the day. I was either going to get through the run with strong ankles or I was going to have another bad ankle roll and the trail marathon wasn’t going to happen. No pressure, right?

My friend who has a birthday two days before mine and I had planned the run, both of us wondering how it was going to go. She had been doing shorter faster distances and not a lot of long runs. I had been going long, but only on roads. 18 miles of trails was going to hurt, or be awesome.

The good news is….STRONG ANKLES FOR THE WIN! Even with a leaf and stick littered trail my ankles held up beautifully! I think these exercises need to be part of my life forever, because it turns out they work. The goal moving forward will be to not blow them off now that my ankle is stronger (dumb runners, we always do stuff like that). The trails were tiring but beautiful, and the company was delightful.

As I get older, I don’t really need THINGS for my birthday. What I want more is time with the people I love and doing things that I love to do. Those are the best presents anyone could ask for.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Awesome Race! And I Didn't Run a STEP!

I've made it clear I LOVE a good Fall race. That's why I ran the Indianapolis Marathon a couple weeks ago. But there's another race in Indianapolis in the Fall that has a special place in my heart. The Monumental Marathon. In 2008 I ran my first half marathon there and it was an amazing experience. SO amazing, that I went back the next year and ran my first full marathon. It was while training for that full marathon that I first got involved with my running group and met some of my favorite people EVER. This race makes me all squishy inside but I just wasn't feeling like I wanted to run it this year.

So what do you do? I thought about just going to cheer, but what about.....volunteering?

I've only really volunteered for one other road race. It was back when I was still running 5ks only and I wanted to help out with the local half marathon. I scheduled myself to volunteer as early as possible because I love mornings and I was excited to help out! I reported for duty and was disappointed to find out that my co-volunteers were all college kids that had been forced to volunteer by their sororities and fraternities. It was awful. At that point I NEVER thought I would volunteer for a race again. ever. ever.

Obviously I changed my mind. And I'm so glad I did. I signed up to volunteer from 8-11 at the finish line!!! I loved the idea of seeing the race from a completely different angle. I drove up that morning with a friend that was running the full. We met a few folks from the running group for photos hugs and merriment and then I headed to the volunteer check in to find out my duties.

Immediately I knew that this was going to be a much better experience than my previous race volunteering. Everyone was happy to be there, friendly, and fun. They had obviously CHOSEN to be there for the morning. Big sigh of relief. We were herded into a group and my group was told we would be handing out the space blankets right as the runners cross the finish line.

We waited there laughing and chatting. We were told to give anyone a blanket that wants it! Alrighty. The fun run kids came through and they were awesome. And then the 5K runners started coming through. We were giving out blankets to anyone that looked interested and were told by another volunteer leader that we needed to be stingier with them. Um... ok. We just shrugged our shoulders and kept on doing what we were doing. There were lots of kids running the 5k from local schools. They would cross in packs. Some were thrilled and some were annoyed by the whole situation. I put a blanket on one girl and told her she made that look easy! Her response was completely deadpan, "what's the big deal? I've done this before". Oh Ok......

The 5k runners poured through for a while longer and then we heard that the half marathoners were coming through. It was so cool to see the leaders come through the finish line. I've never witnessed the finish of a race and it was inspiring to say the least. BUT! Funny story... When the lead woman in the half marathon came through she hit the finish line ribbon and kept walking, holding it to her. She was then chased down by a volunteer who told her he needed it back because they use the same one for everyone.... Interesting? Who knew?

At about 2 hours the half marathoners started to pour in. I can't tell you how many times I said congratulations and good job. WOW! You think it's a big deal to finish your own race? Try watching thousands of people cross the finish line of their race. There was crying and barfing and hugging and collapsing and sky pointing and limping. I was lucky enough to see quite a few of my friends and tackle them with hugs and congratulations... oh and blankets, cause that was my job!

I also got to see the full marathon winners and holy crap!!!! These people LITERALLY run twice as fast as me, if not faster. How inspiring! I had lined myself up on the marathon finish side specifically so that I could see some extremely talented runners from my town cross the line. And they were amazing!!!

When my shift was over, I handed over my "credentials" and headed out for some coffee. My feet were freezing and soaking wet from the condensation that had accumulated on the blankets that were put out the night before. My gloves smelled like sweaty runner and armpits, and I had a bit of runner puke on my jacket. IT WAS THE BEST WAY TO SPEND A SATURDAY MORNING EVER!!!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Indianapolis Marathon...Another 26.2

I ran a marathon last weekend. It was a weird one for me. I had zero expectations for this marathon. It was just a case of wanting to squeeze in one road marathon in the Fall, because I LOVE Fall races. And Fall road races have such a buzz; I just couldn’t pass up the chance to sneak one in. And also… When did I become a person that “sneaks in” a full marathon? That’s ridiculous.

So, I had come off of my 50k-ish feeling pretty good. I did some road running with my ONE friend that likes to start running early enough that we get to run through campus trying to figure out if the people staggering around are Up All Night or Up Early. It’s a fun game. Any who, after a particularly spectacular run, we both decided to sign up for the marathon. We were drunk on amazing long run.

And after that, all my other “long runs” in preparations for this race were crap. So… I showed up for the race questioning every choice I have ever made in my entire life.

No build up, no long runs over 13 in a month, no game plan, just one big experiment.

The race day forecast was crap with a side of crap. 40ish degrees and rain, just what a runner with no game plan wants to see. Was it enough to make me want to collect my shirt and skeedadle? Well, I considered it, but chose to give it a shot instead. I started the race wearing a garbage bag to keep my core dry and warm and a visor from a triathlon I never competed in. I hate hats and visors, but if it was going to rain for the entire 5+ hours I was gonna be out there, I couldn’t handle the idea of rain pelting my eyeballs the entire time. Side note: wearing a visor from a triathlon that you never did means that you have to explain to too many strangers that you didn’t do the race and when you swim it looks like drowning and biking it terrifying. Perhaps it’s time to invest in a visor of my own….

FINALLY the race started! My feet and hands were wet and cold, so I decided to keep my fashionable trash bag vest on until some warm blood got circulating to my appendages. No point in getting my core wet before my feet regain feeling, right? After four miles I had feeling in all appendages and although my hands were still cold, they weren’t numb. So at this point I was able to rip off my garbage bag just like Hulk Hogan used to rip off his shirt.

One of the things I LOVE about road races is the people watching! There are so many more people there and I love to see what other people are wearing, eating, doing ect… Within the first 6 miles I saw a guy that had to be over 6 feet tall doing some kind of stretch/ muscle loosening thing where he would swing one arm around in a large circle and kick a leg up. I don’t know what this did for him, but it was AMAZING to watch. I’ve tried to recreate it to show people, but I can’t do it. I also ran near a girl that was in some zero drop shoes and was constantly stopping to stretch her calves. When I saw her run I understood why. I’m not kidding you; her heels NEVER touched the ground! Holy crap! Thank goodness she was running the half. I think her calves would have exploded if she were running the full!

Soon after I lost the garbage bag I realized that a potty break was inevitable. So, at every port-a-let I would assess the line and run right past it. The lines always seemed too long (any line was too long). This is hilarious because it's not like I was going to WIN the freaking race! Why couldn't I wait a minute or two to use the potty? I just kept running... sure that something better would come along. AND I WAS NOT DISAPPOINTED!!!!! Just off the path we were running on there was an indoor bathroom with flushable toilets and EVERYTHING! And no line. But the real magic was the heated hand dryer. I stood there and thawed out my hands for 2-3 minutes and it felt like heaven. Eventually I realized I needed to get back to work, so off I went.

The rain stopped and I was able to remove the visor from the race I never even attempted that felt like it was squeezing my head like a giant pimple. Life seemed better. And there were a few tiny out and backs where I was able to see some of my friends. Seeing friends and removing visors made things better.

At about mile 12 the half marathoners headed to the finish line and we kept moving forward. I always start races where there's a half and full thinking, "oh I love having the half marathon people here, it makes it so much more exciting". But by mile 8 I want them to be gone with a passion that overwhelms my soul. I can't stand hear them brag about how they are almost there and have almost made it, blah blah blah. You and your smart decision, get outta here!

Then we started another out and back. This out and back was closer to 5 out and 5 back. But it felt like 450 out and 3ish back. Fun thing about such a long out and back? I was able to see ALL my friends that were running. YAY! So, find your friend became a fun time waster. Another time waster was obsessively ask the lady beside me how much longer til the turn around? I really try not to be that person, but it kept happening. I like to think I helped her to a faster finishing time... because she was trying to get away from me.

Right before the turn around I finally saw my friend that I had been trying to catch for the whole race. I spent the next two miles focused on catching up with her. Yeah! Another project! When I finally caught her, I actually passed her. This is not as jerky as it sounds. You see, my hip flexors were a crampy mess and she walks faster than anyone I know. When I tried to walk with her it was impossibly painful, so I kept going. About a mile and a half later, my hip flexors loosened up, she caught me and we decided to spend the last three miles of the race together! Because running a marathon is hard, why not run it with friends!

So we took our time walking and running (ok her walking, me falling behind walking and then jogging to catch up with her). We caught each other up on how the race was going, what was driving us crazy (why did it take that lady 21 miles to take her poncho off?), tried to figure out if some things were real (were there like 6 dead snakes on the road or did we just pass the same two snakes three times?), and we definitely embarrassed a kid that was too busy rearranging his privates to hand out water at the aid station. It was a perfect way to end a race that started in a less than perfect way.

26.2 miles of running and a fun day with friends. Works for me!


Thursday, October 17, 2013

Ten Years of Marriage? Let's Run and Hike in the Smokies!

My husband and I celebrated our ten year anniversary in May. And by celebrate, I mean we acknowledged it. Like, " hey, did you notice it's our ten year anniversary? That's cool". It seems like the older we get the less we care about presents and hoopla. But one thing I did realize was that we hadn't really taken a vacation that wasn't with a family member since our honeymoon. That seemed unacceptable.

With much back and forth we decided that a week of hiking and running in the Smoky Mountains would be PERFECT! It's a reasonable drive, not too expensive... how could we lose?!?!?

Oh I know... the Government could be bickering about a budget and all the National Parks could be shut down. ARE YOU KIDDING ME???? At different points, we briefly considered forgetting the whole trip but then we realized if we don't go then those stupid politicians WIN... or something.

Thankfully I had a great friend that was headed there a week or so before me. She did ALL kinds of fact finding and exploring and I was able to reap the benefits

It appeared that although the National Parks were closed, the National Forests were open for business. So we headed out on an hour and a half drive to beautiful Pisgah National Forest.
After death defying drive up what seemed to be an endless uphill, hairpin turn covered, gravel road, we found the parking lot for Max's Patch. And immediately realized that the previous night's rain had made it so foggy at this elevation that we couldn't see more than 20-30 feet in front of us. But, we had driven all this way.... so let's get running!

We found our way onto the Appalachian Trail and started moving. My husband is a faster runner than me so we fell into the pattern of him trotting ahead a bit and then coming back to check on me. Of course it was so foggy out, every time he did this it was like he had appeared out of nowhere and scared the living crap outta me. good times.
The trails were amazing! But my puny Indiana trained quads were not equipped to handle the relentless downhills! Yikes. I ended up running ten miles that I'm CERTAIN would have equated to at least 15 in Indiana. I heard one bear (which was only made creepier by the fact that it was so foggy he could have been 6 feet away from me) and I got to have one of my creepiest/awesomest/magicalist/most difficult runs yet. And I got to share it with my husband of ten years.
We spent the rest of our trip doing easier runs, hiking, napping, and eating. At one point we started laughing because we couldn't imagine that ten years ago we would have ended up as people that wanted to hike and run their butts off as a vacation. But I'm pretty glad it worked out this way. 


Thursday, September 26, 2013

Dances With Dirt Hell 50k-ish

Back in May I ran my first 50k in Gnawbone, Indiana. It was crazy fun and I quickly broke my cardinal rule of never signing up for a race when you’re still on a high from your most recent race. I not only signed up for the Dances With Dirt 50k in Hell, Michigan… I signed my husband up too. What a nice thing to do for your spouse, right? That’s what I thought!

So, here we were four months later driving to Hell, Michigan. I was trained, in good shape, surrounded by friends (that came to run AND came to cheer) and I was ready for adventure. This race did not disappoint!

Race day started normally enough. People showered; got themselves race ready and we exited our room right on time. Win! We were greeted by Sleeping Party Boy. While we were laying out all our goodies for race day the night before I had heard some noise outside our room, I would have to assume that this guy might have had a little too much fun at the party. He was passed out on a chair in a lounge area still wearing his shiny suit vest and dress pants. His friends were even thoughtful enough to throw a blanket over him. Good or bad race day omen? I have no idea. But at the very least it was a funny way to get the day started.

After a 35 minute drive on curvy unlit roads, we arrived at the start. As the parking attendant flagged our car in, he told us “the port-o-potties were knocked over last night…. So do what you gotta do”. We had no idea what that meant but we were thankful our car was directed towards a parking spot that was 30 feet away from a port-a-potty that was not knocked over. We “did what we had to do” and relaxed in the car for a bit. At about 5 minutes til start we headed towards the starting line to hear the speakers saying the race would start in ONE MINUTE! Yikes! Quick warm up run to the starting line and then we were off!

The race started at 6:15 which meant DARK. We all started out with headlamps. Had I practiced with my headlamp? Nope, not at all. I wear one in the winter so, I figured it will only be an hour or so, what could go wrong? Oh, I know… I freaking HATE WEARING A HEADLAMP! Ugh, mine is uncomfortable and makes my head hot and it kept sliding all over the place. And then I tried to tighten it and the buckle came undone. Oh for pete’s sake. This was not working the way I planned. Aside from wanting to throw my headlamp into the abyss and counting the seconds until it was light enough to pack it away…. I did notice that it was kind of cool to be running in the dark with only little reflective lights to show you the way. Well, it was cool until I thought, “oh my god, there’s no one behind me. I’m already the very last person in the race and it’s dark and I hate this 75 pound headlamp and THIS IS THE DUMBEST THING I’VE EVER DONE!” To be fair, about two miles into every race I run, I almost always wonder why I do this crap because it’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever done. This is a pretty standard thought process for me, headlamp or not.

Dawn finally broke and I was able to stow my stupid headlamp and settle in. The cool thing was that I had already stumbled through almost five miles before daylight even happened. The not cool thing was the cool but humid weather that the previous night’s rain had brought and the hot headlamp sweats I was having were causing me to burn though my salt pills at lightning speed to try to avoid cramping. When the sun was finally up I grabbed another salt pill and saw that I was already down to four. CRAP! I decided on a rationing plan hoping that the humidity would drop a bit (it did) and my body would level out (it did). My stash was also refilled when my husband (who had taken a wrong turn due to some missing flags) came up from behind me! He’s a faster runner than me so it was a surreal moment when I heard him shouting my name from behind. Thankfully his head was in a good place and he was enjoying himself. AND thankfully he had not used a million salt pills in the first nine miles of the race so we traded salt pills and he zipped ahead with the other “got lost boys”.

It might have been somewhere around this point that I was trotting down the trail and noticed a one person camouflaged dome tent on my right. And it was that point that I realized I was not close to any other runners. And it was that point that I sped up…. A lot.

Two of our friends and their adorable pup Toby had come to the race for cheering and general merriment and we had no idea where they would be on the course. This adds a whole new level of fun. Every dog bark had me wondering…. Is that Toby? Nope, just some dog that wants to eat my face off as I tromp through the woods…Is that Toby? Nope, just some unseen death dog out to get me. When I finally did see my friends and Toby I, of course kept my cool and started screaming Toby’s name at the top of my lungs. Always keeping my cool…..but not at all…..

 I left friends and pup and started on what would be a big loop. Follow the blue flags up and the pink flags back.... got it. On the way out I saw my friend that was running the race and shouted things to him. He looked strong and was smiling, so that was encouraging. I settled in to a groove and got moving, following the pink flags. Eventually I caught up with another runner. As I eventually passed her I asked if she was ok and she said yes. The funny thing is.... this is something that happened a few times. As a lifelong back of the packer, I just assume that if I am passing someone, they are having some kind of catastrophic breakdown. Or maybe, I've just become a stronger runner and am not used to giving myself any credit. Anywho...

I knew there was a big hill coming up that was refered to as the stripper pole. I had seen a You Tube video of it and it was not encouraging. As I was running with a gal, I found out she had run the race last year. I then proceeded to ask her, "is this the stripper pole" on a steep incline. Nope, she said I would know when I saw it. I did. I believe I stopped in my tracks and said, "holy sh!t". I yelled back to her that yeah, I get it now.
And up we went. Hands on the ground, bent over, in a bear crawl. It was hilarious and painful and was only made more hilarious by listening to other people curse as they saw the hill. A guy came up behind me and I told him to feel free to zip on ahead if he wanted to. He assured me that there will be NO ZIPPING! After what seemed like 475 years we FINALLY got to the top of that stupid hill and the guy behind me screams F!CK ME! And the gal behind him says, "no thanks, I'm too tired". It was really funny when I thought they were running together. Even funnier when I realized they weren't.

At some point after that we hit our first water crossing which felt amazing. I took my time and enjoyed it. Too my right, there was a guy sitting in the water cooling off. A gal next to me told him, "you know there's a chemical in the water that turns blue when you pee in it". He shouted back, " I ALREADY DID". These people are great. Nobody is taking this too seriously which means 100% more FUN!

The first water crossing was chump change compared to the hike down the river. I had a fella in front of me that allowed me to see where the water got deep and various hazards to avoid.

When we came to our exit point we were greeted by Satan as we climbed up the hill and out of the water. Seriously? This is fantastic!
I sat down on a conveniently located bench to shake the rocks out of my shoes. After shaking out my left shoe, I got bored with the project grabbed an orange slice and went along my merry way. As I was running out of the aid station I noticed the giant party/ music/ hearse convention going on. It was WONDERFUL! There were people everywhere and frankly, I was half interested in staying there to hang out. Instead, I headed up the road with the Friday the 13th music playing in the background.

Around mile 20ish I started having a heated discussion with myself:
     Why would I ever want to run a 50 mile race? That's the dumbest idea ever.
     Sure, my legs feel fine, but my feet HURT!
                And then... the question that always pops up around mile 20

     I wonder what Hokas feel like?

Yep, Hokas. When I'm running a 4 mile run Hokas look like weird Kiss style platform shoes that I would never consider in a million years....
But at mile 20ish? They look like magical pillows that would be my secret weapon against the weaknesses of my silly feet. Have I ever tried a pair on? No, but this is not the first Hoka related fantasy that I have had at some mileage after 20.

I crossed a road and realized I was heading back to the start.... wait a minute. I'm gonna be really short on mileage. Wait, there's all my friends! Why is Steph running at me? Oh my lord she's holding a giant fat head of me! That's the most horrifying/awesome thing I've ever seen! Honestly, friends that come to the race just to cheer for you are great. Friends that come to the race and make giant fat heads of you are friends that you keep FOREVER!

As I ran past my friends laughing about the giant heads I asked them where I go. They said, “just follow the flags”! And the flags took me right to the finish line… My Garmin said I was short on mileage, but it the flags lead you into the shoot…. I guess you’re DONE! When I crossed the finish line I was told that I was fourth in my age group and I got a pint glass for my MAJOR AWARD (which I promptly filled with beer).

It ended up being a great race for me for quite a few reasons. I haven’t run a trail race of the marathon distance or longer on my own and that ended up being quite an experiment. Without anyone to push my pace or cry to, I had to depend on myself and made of conversations with other people in my head to keep things moving forward. Sure, that might look crazy when I type it out, but it made total sense during the race. I’m in better shape and could tell that I have improved from when I started slogging around with heart rate training. WIN!

The distance wasn’t what I had expected, which was initially disappointing. But then I thought more about it. Why did I sign up for this race?

To challenge myself: I did that

To have an adventure: I did that

To spend a weekend in Michigan with some of my favorite people: I did that

Who needs a couple of extra miles when you have a whole boatload of awesome and a giant fat head of yourself? Total WIN!

Run this race!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

This Taper is Gonna Be TOTALLY Different

Every time I taper for a big race I convince myself that it’s going to be different. I mean, after months of training, who isn’t ready for a little resting up before the big day? Yeah Resting!!! And I always think that this time I’m going to ace the taper. No freak outs, no weird dreams, and no freak outs. Let’s do this thing!

As you might have guessed…. I am absolutely NOT acing this taper. Oops. My race is next Saturday. A 50k. And here are some of the ways I’m losing my mind…..

I’m reacting even more irrationally than normal. I can be pretty high strung but during a taper I always find myself freaking out over the tiniest things. Something that may have slightly annoyed me two weeks ago turns me into a rage filled super hulk. AND it typically has to happen a few times before I realize that maybe it’s the taper crazies?

The dreams! Oh my lord the dreams. My typical taper dreams are filled with anxiety. Being late for a race, going the wrong way at the race, interrupting the opening ceremonies that involve an elaborate blessing by Buddhist monks… you know the usual. So I’ve had a few general stress dreams and a real doozy of a rage dream just the other night. I dreamt that I signed up for a race that was extremely pricey. When I arrived at packet pickup, they gave me a COTTON shirt and socks and I completely freaked out like a lunatic. Yep, I’m having nightmares…. About cotton shirts.

 And did I mention that my husband and I decided to switch cable companies? That’s great news because we’lre going to be saving a TON! But…. Maybe we should have waited for the taper to be done. Because we haven’t had ANY TV for a few days and we won’t have it for a total of a week and a half of taper. What have I discovered in this time?

 I miss watching dumb useless crap on TV.


When I’m not watching dumb useless crap on TV, I actually recognize that I’m getting sleepy and go to bed instead of staying awake to finish watching stupid crap! I’m getting oodles of sleep! So I suppose that’s good.

 I have also learned that when I’m not holding stress in my jaw (remember how I cracked a tooth during my last taper?), I hold it ALL in my neck and shoulders!
I’ve been in OODLES of pain! But at least I’m not at the dentist
So obviously I have yet to master the taper. My husband on the other hand is sitting pretty during his taper and wondering what all the fuss is about. Of course this make me freak out.....


Monday, September 2, 2013

The Students Are Back! I love it /hate it!


It’s not really Fall according to the calendar. But I live in Bloomington, Indiana and according to Indiana University… it’s Fall! Fall semester, that is.

I love/ hate the students coming back to town, let me tell you all about it!

-I LOVE quiet summer running where I don’t have to weave through crowds of people at bus stops that seem to be less than a block apart. Seriously kids, are you so lazy that you need a bus stop every half a block apart on the same road? Back in my day we WALKED to class! And do you really need to sprawl your crap out all over the sidewalks so that you can sit down because standing at the bus stop is simply too tiring? 

-I HATE how old these kids make me feel. I’m not old, logically I get that. But when you live in a town that perpetually has an influx of 18 year olds moving in, you feel old quickly. Take for instance the statements I just wrote, “back in my day we WALKED to class”. Really? I sound like I’m 75 years old! And I catch myself saying stuff like that ALL the time. You’ll read plenty of it as this post progresses. 
-I LOVE starting my runs as the IU Marching Band is practicing!!! There’s something about a good old fashioned marching band that just makes me smile. I love it! And lots of my Tuesday runs start right by their practice area. Just a few days ago I started a run/slog in 94 degree weather, the drummers were practicing and I couldn’t stop smiling. Even in the oven-like conditions I had a little pep in my step.

-I HATE kids wearing headphones/ texting/ reading while walking. SERIOUSLY! What is wrong with you kids? Have a little awareness of your surroundings! Just yesterday I watched three girls walk directly into oncoming traffic while texting. On the rare occasion when I run with headphones I only use one ear bud. You need to know if someone is coming up behind you, if a tree is going to fall on you, or if a rhinoceros is coming at you so that you can change your pace/route accordingly.

-I LOVE listening in on undergrad conversations! Oh my lord, talk about fake problems! I’ve heard them gripe about tanning, complain about “doing work” in classes, discuss hair and outfit problems. I mean seriously, if you need a reason not to wear headphones, this is it! Sure, they might think I’m crazy as I literally laugh out loud at them, but I’m having a blast hearing about their fake problems. This does not make me upset about being old, it makes me oh so very very grateful to be beyond that time in my life.

-I HATE the way those kids drive! What are they doing? Can they read signs? And where did they get these cars from?!?! No young twenty something needs to be driving a sporty BMW convertible. Get a sensible car or WALK for crap’s sake (oh my lord I’m a hundred years old).

-I LOVE observing the fashion choices. I’m not a zippy dresser at ALL. Most days, I just try to get out the door looking like I got dressed with my eyes open rather than closed. But man these kids today! I constantly find myself saying to people I’m with (or myself), really? Is that a thing? Like, why did you spend a boatload of money on a t-shirt that looks like it is 20 years old and is so thin that you have to wear another shirt under it? And honestly, who is walking around a campus (or waiting at the bus stop) in shoes like this?

Come on kid, you’re like 19 years old! Put on some tennis shoes and relax! You’ll have plenty of years to tighten / shorten your Achilles tendons and calves with those ridiculous high heels! 

So what am I reminded of every year when the students come back? I’m reminded of how much I love this town and those students are a big part of why this town is here. If it weren’t for them I wouldn’t have a lovely campus to run through.  Oh, and I wouldn’t have a job if it weren’t for them either.  In other words… GO HOOSIERS! And welcome to Fall semester!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

WORST. RUN. EVER...... so far

Did I mention the amazing marathon I did a few weeks ago? It was everything I wanted! Yippee! I was high on running and everything was rainbows and unicorns. My next long run was going to be 20 miles and I was ready to get going. Expecting a magical run I was extremely surprised by



I’ve had awful runs. We all have. But this was on a whole new level of suck-o.

There were multiple fails that made up the worst run I’ve ever had. Let me tell you about them.

1)      I didn’t respect the effort I put into the marathon I ran the week before. You see, I had the marathon built into my training as a “training run”. I would tell people “oh it’s just a training run” and I wasn’t wound up like I would be at a goal race. I upped my heart rate monitor by about 7 beats, but stayed in that range for the entire race. And even though I was tired I felt GREAT for the race. BUT, I put in quite the effort. And I had just run a 20 mile long run the Saturday before. I really should have taken the week as a cutback week, but I didn’t do that. I thought I would push through with one more big mileage week and THEN have a cutback week. The only reason I wanted to do that was because it fit into my schedule better. No thoughts as to what my ACTUAL BODY may want…. Oops.

2)      I go to a chiropractor regularly. Typically I have an appointment set up for right after a big race to straighten me out after the extra effort. But, since I had convinced myself that this was “just a training run” (see mistake #1), I was also not concerned that my next chiropractor appointment was for ten days after the marathon. My lower back was bothering me quite a bit after the race, but I figured I would wait. Turns out macho-ing through the pain didn’t do me any favors.

3)      I didn’t do the simple math of sweat pouring off your face=more electrolytes needed. Pretty self-explanatory.

 So there I was. I started off the run with high hopes that were quickly disturbed by lower back pain. Ouch, should have gotten that adjustment. I thought to myself, oh well just get through it. I also noticed that my legs were just kind of dead, but you know, maybe they should be? I do run a lot. They can’t always be fresh as a daisy.

At about mile nine the wheels started to COMPLETELY fall off the wagon. It started with a bit of a side stich. Those are fairly common for me, so I had an electrolyte pill and kept going. The slight stitch turned into full body cramps before I knew it. Awful. I can’t take a lot of electrolyte pills at once because they don’t get along well with my tummy. So, by the time I realized I was in electrolyte hell, it was a bit too late. Oops. I started taking an electrolyte pill every 10-20 minutes to try to get things under control, but the cramping was so bad I was having trouble breathing. Super fun you say? Why no, no it was not any fun at all. At this point I was just walking in the woods trying not to cry. I had never been so grateful to pick a route that had my car reasonably close to me.

I got to a park bench and sat for a minute to catch my breath and gather my thoughts. And I emailed my husband:

How do I know this run sucks? I'm not even done and I'm takings Facebook break. Cutting it Down to 15. I’m about two miles away from the car and just needed to whine. But I'm ok.

He said I was smart for cutting the run short. Here’s what I had to say in response:

Nah there was a lot of not smart going on. I'm just smart enough to call it quits before I have to call the EMTs. Done now. Thank GOD!

SOOOOOoooo…. That sucked. Sometimes a run just sucks even though you go into it thinking it will be a bucket of awesome. The trick is, trying to learn from it (see 1-3 above). I’m just grateful it was a training run. Worst run ever guarantees the best race ever, right? RIGHT?

Friday, August 9, 2013

Eagle Creek Marathon 2013... Second Time's a Charm

I try really hard to never say never again after a race.... But last year when I finished the Eagle Creek Trail Marathon I was dangerously close to saying I would NEVER run that race again. Thankfully, I did not utter those words, because I would have been a liar. I ran it again this year, and it was AWESOME!

First and most importantly, I would like to thank mother nature for making this year's attempt of the Eagle Creek Trail Marathon NOT the ball sucking sweat-fest that it was last year! Whoo HOO! 20 degrees cooler and overcast skies were magical music to my ears as race day approached! Sure, it was still 1,457% humidity... but this is Indiana, not Colorado. Accept the humidity and move on.

Other than a lovely weather break, what was different? I think that the biggest difference was.... me. How am I different now than last year? I’ve dropped some weight, I’ve changed my diet completely, I run smarter than I ever have before, and I am better trained than I was last year. Oh sure those make a big difference, but I also realized something recently…. Running is hard. Genius? No, this is not a stroke of genius. But I think that for a while I’ve been frustrated because running is hard, it hurts, sometimes it is lame, and sometimes I hate it. It turns out, those are a lot of the reasons that I do it. I run to see how far I can go and to make myself uncomfortable, or I run to see how far I CAN go before it gets TOO uncomfortable. I don’t run because it’s easy. So, when I turned my thought process in that direction… things became more interesting. Every run is a great experiment.

Back to the race….

So, this is an out and back HALF marathon. What does that mean? Well, it means that if you don’t like a section, you are painfully aware of the fact that you will be doing it 3 more times. At least, that’s how I took it last year. This year I decided to use those sections as a way to break up the course in my head. Win! Breaking up races and distances by aid stations, gel intake, or landmarks has recently helped me not be so intimidated by distances. So this frame of mind was a GOOD thing going in.

Last year there were two dead/smashed raccoons on the causeway between trail sections that helped us break up the day. This year, no raccoons…BUT there was one flat opossum on the causeway! I might have said hi to it by the third time we passed it. I don’t know, you just start doing dumb stuff the more you run….

As we were coming up on aid station three I was happy to have some more snacks and get some cold water… And out of the blue the gal I ran the race with last year pops up out of nowhere screaming her fool head off!!!! Best surprise EVER! We had no idea that she would be coming and seeing her was the best jolt of awesome a runner could have!

The freshly laid boulder sized gravel from last year had been nicely ground in for a not nearly as miserable experience! Yay! So, a section that was mostly walking last year due to the ankle twisting pain fest was a lovely runnable section where we picked up time this year!

Oh, and did I mention I had company? I was thinking that another “running is hard, duh” obstacle I would be dealing with on this race was running it alone. I’m certainly not a person that CAN’T run alone. But for this race about a week and a half before it the gal I was going to run it with decided to switch to the half. So, my head was making big adjustments as to what kind of race this was going to be without someone to take my mind off of all the….running. And then on race day, another friend (that is definitely faster than me) mentioned that she was doing the race as a training run and my pace would be a good range for her to be in. WIN! This was such a blessing. First of all because YAY COMPANY! Second, she was great company! We talked about all kinds of stuff but we are also comfortable enough that we didn’t HAVE to talk every second. Man, I’m a lucky gal.

We also had what seemed to be a normal conversation at the time:

Me: How you feeling?
Friend: I’m a little sore.
Me: Who wouldn’t be sore? We’ve been running for over twenty miles!
Friend: Oh yeah, even Batman would probably be sore. Or maybe not… he’s a superhero and all.
Me: Yeah, but he doesn’t have any REAL superpowers. He’s just rich.
Friend: But I bet he has a really good massage therapist to help him recover.
Me: Yeah, I guess that’s kind of like a superpower.
Normal conversation walking down the street? Probably not. 20+ miles into a marathon? Definitely!

Oh! Awkward moment with shirtless stranger! So I’m running down a VERY narrow single track and this runner is coming right at me (out and back course shenanigans) and I get over as much as I can but the trees and brush on either side of the trail are making this encounter potentially very awkward. In an effort to call attention to the awkwardness I shout, “I MAY HAVE TO TOUCH YOU!”, which I thought was HILARIOUS. Him? Not as much. Psh…. Lighten up folks! Isn’t this supposed to be kinda fun?

I had a blast at this race. Lots of friendly faces and some good running made for an exceptional day. Oh, and guy I don’t know that asked if I was Persistent Runner? Dude! That was the coolest thing ever. You’re awesome, and I hope you had a GREAT race!

And this race report would not be complete without mentioning that Planet Adventure (the people that put on this race) find some of the best volunteers on the planet. They also make these little salty potatoes that are a magical gift from heaven.

Will I run this race again? Well, I’ve learned my lesson, never say never!


Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Those Who Do Not DO 100 Milers CREW 100 Milers

What a weekend! I got to help crew for a runner on her first 100 mile race! And holy crap it was awesome! I am so lucky to have friends that are super talented runners. And one of  those runners, Steph decided that this was the weekend that she would try her first 100 miler.

So, what do I know about crewing? Not much. Runner comes through, you give runner food and drink, drive to next point. Seems straightforward, right? Except, OH MY GOD! They're doing the epic thing and I have to make sure they have all the tools to do it? And I have to motivate them and decode their mood and be awake for a million hours and


Slight anxiety? Maybe a bit.

Thankfully, I was joined in my crewing duties by Ben (Steph's husband and a person who has actually completed a 100 mile race), Steph's mom (who I'll just refer to as Mom from now on), and Steph and Ben's super adorable pup Toby. If this had all been on my shoulders I would have crumbled like a... well, like a crumbly thing.

Moving on....

So race day is here. We get Steph to the starting line on time (score!) and sent her on her merry way. Thankfully, Ben has programed all the aid stations into his GPS on his phone AND is driving (he was obviously the brains of this outfit). After the start we had to wait for her to get 6 miles of running done and then we would see her again as therunners looped back by the start of the race. We "relaxed" in the car for a little while and then headed up to the aid station to do the crew thing. Ben asked me to spot Steph as she came out of the trail and let her know where we were. So I was READY. First problem.... the runners are wearing headlamps. Crap. They all look like bobbing lights. Thankfully I recognized her, got her over to Ben, he took her headlamp, probably gave her some something and she was off again. YEAH first crew station and I didn't fail!

Our next crew station was at mile 17ish for Steph. We headed there right away and got a great parking space. Win! We sat in the truck and did a bit of people watching (favorite hobby of mine). One of the first people I noticed was a gal next to us that had a clipboard, a cellphone and all other kinds of things that she was fiddling with. Oh course I immediately thought, should we have a clipboard? Too late now. As the first runners came in she was furiously typing in her phone and scribbling down numbers. We assumed that she was a spotter for the race tracking? I called her Math Girl. When a runner came up and obviously knew her (she gave him a new shirt to wear), we realized that she was crew too.

This was also our first sighting of tan guy. He was solo crewing as well, and was really tan. As the runners came in, they got names too:

-Ribs- he wasn't wearing a shirt and had impressive rib muscles
-No shirt guy - pretty self-explanatory
-Muscles - this guy and some arm muscles for sure
-Camelbak guy - duh he was wearing a Camelbak
-Blue Shirt Hokas - (he later became white shirt Hokas and Red shirt Hokas.)
-Long Hair - he had long hair
-Plaid Shirt Guy - No foolin, he was wearing a button down plaid shirt
-Achieve - His shirt said achieve (thankfully he kept the same shirt on for the majority of the race)

When Steph came in she was looking great. We sent her on her way and also met New Crew Guy. He was just a super nice guy that said hi and asked us if it was our first time crewing. It was his first time and you could see he was a bit overwhelmed, but so excited to be there.

At the next aid station, she was through the marathon in 3rd place for women! It was so exciting to be at the race, but to have a runner that's KILLING it at the race was oh my god oh my god oh my god super exciting! We were joined here by Mom and spent the rest of the caravaning from place to place. Oh, and it had started raining....

Next aid station was mile 42ish. So, we had a bit of a wait. Mom took Toby on at least a couple of walks while Ben and I puttered around on our phones. The new routine of me asking Ben a hundred times, "when should she come in?" was in full effect. You see, Ben had a spreadsheet that had all kinds of mathy mumbo jumbo that would give us a good feel for when to expect her. It was really good at predicting her times and Ben was really good at predicting when mom and I would be so anxious we needed to get out there anyway. Then we would open the back of the car to start organizing and Toby would supervise.

We got to the aid station that was conveniently located under a giant shelter. Giant enough to have a picnic table to set up our spread and keep us out of the rain. And it was the first time that I got to marvel at Ben's obsessive compulsive organization of the buffet we were offering Steph. From a gal who definitely has her own OCD issues, this was familiar territory. But it was still kind of amusing to watch him lay everything out and then move it all a half inch. Then he would fan the gels out so that they looked more appealing . After stepping back and taking it all in, he would typically trade the placement of two or three things.

We saw the familiar runners coming through, plaid shirt, Camelbak, Blue Hokas, and Achieve.  Then came our girl. The rain had made things sloppy, so she switched to trail shoes. We loaded her up with as much food and supplies as we could because we wouldn't be seeing her for 24 miles. Her spirits were up but we were all worried about her running these long middle miles with no friendly faces. But with a potty break and one more almond butter covered apple, she was on her way.

So, we had a 24 mile break. What did we do? We went to a town, found the running store where Ben proceeded to buy a few more socks and a brand new pair of shoes.... just in case she wanted them. We also got some lunch. And then we waited.....

This wait was miserable. When we got to the parking lot of the aid station, we puttered around on the phones some more, and Mom took Toby for another walk or two.... Ben and I finally tried to get a bit of sleep (we had been up since 3) when 15 minutes in Mom taps on the car door. I can't remember what she wanted to tell us, but I think it might have been about the massive clouds of mosquitoes at this aid station or about the fire that was built in the shelter, or something. Either way, those 15 minutes were the full extent of our sleeping for the day/night. We saw our crewing "friends" Tan Guy and Math Girl pull in and went back to puttering on our phones and obsessively tracking the runners. The tracking was showing us that these legs looked difficult for the runners. And we just weren't sure what we were in for when we saw Steph next. But at least it had mostly stopped raining.

When Mom and I were too anxious to stand it, Ben finally gave in and we headed up to find a spot for our crew station. As we hauled our goods up the path I noticed that Math Girl's runner was standing at her car with flip flops on. I looked at Ben and said, "I think Math Girl's dude is out". This was confirmed when Ben saw him get in the car. So his race was over. This was something ELSE that made me more anxious about what kind of shape Steph would be in when we saw her.

With the weather drying up, we knew that this would be a great time to get her into some dry clothes. It was my job to go with her into the bathroom on site and talk to her about how things were going. Ben gave me her clothes to hold while we waited and then began to pile on every other thing he could think of. Take this towel in case she needs to dry off, take this apple juice, take this sports wax, take these electrolyte pills, I kind of felt like this guy

We waited for her while staring down a long trail. Our tired eyes thought that every leaf movement was a runner. Two very nice ladies walked up beside me and said they were hoping that the next runner would be wearing a green shirt. I said, no we want her to be wearing orange. Well it turned out that we saw both of them at the same time. They had been running together. I shuffled Steph off to the bathroom to get her in some dry clothes. It was then that I got my first runner drunk, "I love you".

You know how when you get drunk, people get all huggy and start saying I love you a lot? I think that 100 milers might have the same effect. And apparently when crew members are sleepy and obsessively worried about their 100 mile runner..... they say it too... Love you Steph!

She was blown away by the new shoes (which she took off running in) and the new socks. Her spirits were up in part to her new running partner. After some more refueling she was off again, we would see her in five miles. That aid station was fairly uneventful. She was still with her new running partner (yeah) and we gave her back her headlamp from the morning. The next time we saw her it was going to be dark.

Next aid station, mile 86ish. The sun was starting to set and as per usual I was anxious. But the sunset was beautiful.
As Ben and I passed the time fiddling with our phones again and Mom was out on a walk (Toby might have been too tired at this point to go with her), we heard a tap at Ben's window. Mom was standing at the window and asked if we had some bug spray for her new friend. As Ben turned to me to get the bug spray, his eyes got big. Mom's new friend was Tan Guy! We had been crossing paths with him all day, but never said a word. Mom, on the other hand, met him and it turns out he's a delightful fella that we were happy to share some Deet with.
Ben finally gave in to my nerves and we headed to the aid station. As we laid stuff out next to Steph's new running friend's family I spritzed a bit more Deet on myself because the bugs were CRAZY! At this point someone asked me in a whisper if they could borrow my bug spray. Of course. Then another lady asked in a hushed tone. It was like we were doing a drug deal! We settled in on one of the picnic tables in the picture above and stared into the treeline straight ahead waiting for headlamps. When you are as anxious as I was lightening bugs can get a bit frustrating. Every single flicker was a headlamp as far as I was concerned. When the crowd of runners would see a genuine runner breaking the tree line we would shout like we were watching fireworks. Only to have the shouts die down as the runner worked their way towards us. You see, it was a bit of a longer run than we thought. So the cheers would die down, they start up again as the runner got closer, and then we would all try to figure out who this headlamp coming at us was. Every runner's shuffle looked EXACTLY like Steph's. .
When Steph finally got to us, it was the first time that it was obvious she was hurting. She hugged Ben, hugged Mom, and then hugged me. She listed off her aches, took some new socks and a bit more food. Never once did she mention anything about stopping, but my heart was tearing in half watching someone I care about hurt like that. I knew going into this race that I would need to be ready to see a "downturn" in attitude and an "upturn" in OH MY GOD THIS HURTS. Who wouldn't hit a low during 100 miles? But I wasn't ready at all. Seeing someone I adore be hurting like that was miserable. But, they had a race to run, so we got them on their way and hustled back to the car as giant raindrops started to fall again. Thankfully, the rain was short lived. But I was nervous about how things would be going at the next station.
We found the aid station nestled behind a car wash. The runners were now on a town paved trail system. Steph is amazing on roads and we hoped that the change in terrain would work in her favor. and we were NOT disappointed! They zipped through moving quickly and wanting to keep moving. She wasn't chipper but had become determined.
One crew stop to go. We got over there quickly and waited for her to come in. I knew she needed a bathroom break because she had wanted one at the last stop but there had not been one there. When she came in I got her right to the bathroom and shouted, "I'VE GOT A RUNNER" at the two unsuspecting women chatting in there. They quickly exited (maybe because they were afraid of me) and Steph told me about some of the scary terrain they had covered in the night. She was chatting and seemed so much better! With another run drunk I love you, she was off. As we sent her on her way, the fourth place woman showed up out of nowhere! WHAT?!?! We headed to the finish line wondering how this would play out. A race for 3rd at mile 96? Oh my lord, this is exciting!
The finish line was in town and relatively quiet. We found Steph's running partner's family and looked down the road for runners. Red Shirt Hoka came through with the same gracious smile he had all day. We had watched him all day and even when he was hurting he was always smiling. Steph's running partner came barreling through, but no Steph. And then.... ZOOM! She came flying down the street looking stronger than ever for a 20:46 finish! Amazing! 3rd place female!
It was an fantastic day. And I would tell you over and over, if you get the chance, crew for a hundred miler, volunteer for a hundred miler, be a part of one of these races because HOLY CRAP IT'S SO AWESOME! I never would have guessed that helping someone else reach their goal could be so super fun.
Steph's race report should be up soon! Go read it at

Monday, July 29, 2013

Witnessing the Burning River 100 Miler

This weekend I got to do something amazing. I got to crew for a friend that was running her first 100 miler. The experience for me was pretty epic and I couldn't figure out how to get it all into one blog post. And the answer is..... I'm doing a two parter!!! This first post will describe how it felt to watch a 100 mile race. The second post will give you a little insight into the adventure that was crewing a 100 mile race.

So here we go.....

100 Mile races are not a reality for someone like me. I mean, they are a reality in the way that yes, I know they exist as a thing. But a hundred mile race is something a slower runner like myself has a high unlikelihood of finishing in the allotted time. So, it was thrilling to watch some very determined runners experience the massive undertaking of a 100 mile footrace.

The starting line was not as flashy as your average road race. There were not deafening Black Eyed Peas songs to scream over, no annoying beach balls being bounced around, and no corrals to fight thru. In fact the race was started by some dude shouting (without megaphone) GO! And off they went. The race started at 5, so the runners all took off with headlamps to see where they were going. As we walked back to the car, we noticed how cool it looked to see the line of tiny lights head out into the woods. We took video that doesn't begin to capture the awesome... in fact you hear me noting that on the video

But, you can kind of get the idea.

We then spent the next 20 hours and 46 minutes driving all over the place to meet up with our runner and give her things. It gave me a lot of time to think about things. And I kept thinking wow, this is an amazing thing that is happening. The obvious amazing thing is that a human being would choose to do this. What are you doing this weekend? Meh, gonna run 100 miles. HA! That's a REAL conversation that these runners could have had! But what is also amazing is the amount of planning and people that go into giving those people 100 miles to run! There were flags to put up, aid stations to be manned. All kind of things have to happen to make this weekend a reality. It's a big deal for all parties I would imagine.

And the runners. Wow. Watching them come into the aid stations. Muddy (it rained for the first 10-12 hours), wet, tired, and bloody. Some were smiling and some were all business, but they were all there to do this same giant thing. Yet, none of them acted like it was so giant... it was just something to do?

Our runner finished up just before two in the morning. When we got to the finish line, it was another stark contrast to the average road races I'm familiar with. There was the giant timer, some not deafening music, a few folks waiting for runners, and some water. No giant finishing chute, no buffet of processed snack items, not even a bagel in sight. We cheered in our runner who finished super strong. In fact, here we were watching people that had run for over 20 hours and they looked like they had just run a hard marathon! Sure, They were tired and a little limpy after they got across the line, but they didn't look 100 miles broken. I mean, they almost made it look EASY! Our group then headed to the hotel for a quick nap before the award ceremony the next morning.

When we got back to the finish line to wait for the awards to start it was a pretty stark contrast from the finish line of the night before. This race has a 30 hour cutoff and we had made it back to finish line in time to see some of the 29-30 hour folks cross the line. These runners had run through the night and through two sunrises! There was a guy that EMTs were checking on. There was a woman that was so excited about her finish that she had the shoulder shaking tears (which of course made me tear up). There were people with such visibly swollen calves that they almost seemed to be the size of their thighs! At some point in the night/morning a breakfast tent and foot treatment tent had been set up as well. Seeing these people limping around gave me TOTALLY different view of what a 100 mile race finish looks like. Holy crap.

The finish line of the morning also gave me a reason to smile. As a slower runner, I often get to the finish line of races and the volunteers are worn out, the chocolate milk is all gone, the water is hot, the post race food has run out, and the beer truck has driven off. I don't need a ticker tape parade at every finish, but it is nice to have the hot soup you had been dreaming about for 26.2 miles. Here I was at the amazing race and the FASTEST people had gotten the somewhat more lame finish. The good stuff didn't come out until the slower finishers were crossing the line! It was like opposite day for me.

All in all, the magnitude of this race and the runners that were there blew my mind. It also made me fall in love with my sport all over again. Which was something that it turns out I desperately needed. I wouldn't say I've hated running lately, but I've been exhausted by my training and was in a bit of a slump. This weekend busted me out of it. Like I said in the beginning, 100 miles isn't something that's in my reality. But the reality I have is really great and I'm excited to see what I can do with it.