Friday, March 18, 2011

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy Earth Day!

Anyone who either knows me in person or has read this blog knows that I am a hippy at heart.... not a "pot smoking, Birkenstock wearing, Grateful Dead listening" sort of hippy, but a " be mindful of Mother Nature, think about how your choices affect others and the world around you and DON'T LITTER DAMN IT!" sort of hippy. So of course I can't let Earth Day go by without an acknowledgement of some sort....I think is a great idea, but we shouldn't limit it to just one day of the year so I'm hearby challenging each every person who reads this to a year long challenge. Ready?

I propose that each and every one of us vows to pick up at least 5 pieces of trash on EVERY SINGLE run we do for an entire year. That's it.. it's super easy, and if we're on a group run we can challenge each and every person on that run to also pick up 5 pieces...and you see how this could spread, right? It drives me crazy to see discarded wrappers, water bottles, beer cans and cigarette butts on the trails or roads, wouldn't it be great to run on trails and not see signs of human habitation? It's just a little thing that we all can do that can make such a huge difference.

The picture I posted is from a trash clean up day the Lawrence Trail Hawks did last spring at the Clinton Lake trails, we hauled out bags and bags of trash... and have another clean up day on tap in a few weeks. Next year I would love to see that a planned clean up day is unnecessary because we've taken the litter out bit by bit all year. Will you take the challenge? Or puss out?

(and I might also be a "really, really want dreads" sort of hippy... but keep that to yourself)

Monday, April 12, 2010


So I got up bright and early on Saturday morning to meet my friends and Shawnee Mission Park and get in a recovery 10 miles but apparently I hadn't consumed quite enough coffee before leaving the house. About 10 minutes from the trail I realized that I was wearing my Crocs and had no running shoes with me... DOH! I am the queen of shoes! I probably have 15+ pairs in various states of wear strewn from one end of my house to the other.... and not a single damn pair in the car. Sigh. So I called my friends and turned around at the next exit and headed home to put multiple pairs of shoes in my car.. to live there.. permanently.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Rockin K 50 miler April 3 2010

OK.... the last 6 months in a nutshell: traveled, raced, laughed, cried, ate, drank, breathed. I'm just plowing forward since there is no way that I'll be able to catch up.... so here we go!

In just 2 short years, Rockin' K has become my favorite's got everything you need in an ultra..... fantastic race directors (most important), fabulous volunteers (very, very important), a beautiful course that is challenging but not totally discouraging (our reason for doing it) and a bounteous pre-race spread, post race feast and aid station fare that leave you fully satisfied (oh, hell yes). I'm not the only one who feels this way since this race fills up every year.... so actually I should be talking about how much this race sucks and please, don't sign up for it... (at least not until I have my spot!)

Last year I did the marathon distance, and if you read back, I did it all wrong.... bad attitude and way over trained. The race kicked my ass and I swore all summer long that I would NEVER, ever, even think about doing the 50 miler. Then I went to Australia and when I got back my running partners had decided that we were all going to do the 50 and drag each other through it.... I never even had a voice in this decision! Not fair! I am obedient so when registration opened I signed up for the 50. I was terrified, the marathon destroyed me and I couldn't imagine doing another loop... all winter long I dreaded this race and I told anyone who would listen that I was more scared of it then doing another 100 miler. Luckily Deb and Debbie shared my trepidation and we renewed our vows to help each other through it.

Winter training was crap and I had to scrap my plans to do Rocky Raccoon again, but luckily I had signed up for a few races in Arkansas in early spring, so even if the Kansas weather continued to be bad I could still get my miles in. The other races went well and with a super hard 50 mile finish just 3 weeks before Rockin K, I felt a bit better about it.

The usual crew (Stu, Deb, Debbie, & Julie) left KC around 2pm on Friday, it was an uneventful drive... other then extreme silliness and laughter. We hit Kanopolis State Park and immediately went to check in and pick up our packets....but most importantly we had to pick up our hugs from Stacy Sheridan.. RD extraordinaire. No KUS race is complete without a big smile and hug from Stacy... she must not have a very good nose, 'cuz I've seen her bear hugging the sweatiest, smelliest guys. Stacy had outdone herself this year, she had 2 kinds of vegan cookies at the aid stations and I got to pre sample them and pronounced them fantastic! We hung around waiting for the pre-race meeting where Phil went over in fine detail which color ribbons we follow at which point in the race... I paid very close attention after having gotten lost twice 3 weeks ago at a different race. After Phil talked there were some drawings for free stuff and lots of our friends won some cool goodies. The last drawing was for a free entry for the Heartland 50, and Stacy "innocently" drew my name...wheeee! I was going to volunteer, but it looks like I'll be running instead!

After the meeting we headed to our cabin which was a mere 5 minute drive from the start... once again Stacy was amazing and managed to procure this awesome cabin for us to use. Nick and Laurie soon arrived and we all settled into laying out clothes, packing up drop bags and filling water bottles. Lights went out early with only a minimum of shenanigans. As soon as the alarm went off I popped up and started the coffee maker... must have my coffee before I run! Food was eaten, coffee was drunk and the rotating line for the bathroom started..7 people and 1 bathroom make for some hasty visits. Stu is the master at making sure we all get out the door on time.. no one wants to incur his wrath so we were out and in cars ready to go right on time. At the start we found tons of our friends who had gotten in late the night before and it was a big mob scene of hugs and good lucks. A few more words from Phil, and we were off.

It was pretty chilly at the start but temps were supposed to be in the mid 60s for the day so I started in short sleeves and my Moeben Sleeves (tie dye!), the sleeves quickly got pulled down to become makeshift gloves. My hands were frozen! We started out in our usual pack, the Deb's, Laurie and myself with a few other friends interspersed. I ended up being in front of our pack once we hit the single track so I tried to set a comfortable pace that would see us through 2 loops. I was mildly surprised at how good I felt.... honestly I haven't had a really good race since before Leadville and I had forgotten how effortless it can feel when everything is clicking. I was in such a zone that I didn't realize that I had pulled away from the group and only Laurie was running with me. She was feeling good too so we continued our steady pace together, chatting and enjoying the views, splashing through water crossings and bitching about our frozen hands. Note: next year wear GLOVES!

It was a glorious morning, and the wind hadn't yet appeared so we felt like we were flying. Last year we had wind gusts of 40+ MPH from the start and since there is no cover on this course, you are at the mercy of whatever elements Mother Nature chooses to throw at you. When we hit the first unmanned water stop, Laurie and I walked a bit so we could eat something and the Debs, Kristen, Gary and Lee quickly caught up to us. Laurie was feeling her oats and took off soon after and I was content to let her go. With 40+ miles still to go I didn't want to blow things too early. Laurie was rockin' the marathon so she was ready to open her legs up. I spent the next 5 miles chatting up a storm. It was great to catch up with Kristen and Lee, both people I adore and hadn't gotten to run with in months and months! One of the best things about these long races is the ability to hear someones life story and still have time left over to share your own!

We hit the manned aid station as a big group where the Lawrence Trail Hawks fearless leader, Gary Henry was checking in runners. We mobilized quickly to refill bottles, grab cookies and bananas and then get the hell out. The goal is to spend less then a minute in an aid station and we've been working on that all spring. I was still feeling fantastic as we headed out on the 6 mile Big Bluff Loop..... true to it's name, there is a damn big bluff that you go up... and down and up again. Last year I kept getting blown off the trail in this section but this year was still relatively wind free so I kinda opened it up, without realizing it and dropped everyone again. We've been doing hill repeats every Tuesday night for months and months and I feel like it's really paying off... the big bluff didn't feel so big this year. I ran the Big Bluff loop by myself.. picking off other runners and passing them one by one. I kept telling myself that it was too early to run like that, but I just couldn't help it, I was feeling too good. When I came back through the aid station I grabbed a handful of Stacy's cookies and kept going.... I could see Laurie not too far in the distance and I was hoping to catch her.

I was having a great time running by myself, pondering life, the universe and the upcoming race schedule but was happy to catch Laurie at the top of a hill. The wind was starting to kick up and she pulled me along for awhile, and then at some point I lost her... I spent way too much mesmerized by my feet on the trails and I kept dropping people without meaning to. Running on my own meant I had to judge the big water crossing for myself. Last year Debbie went first to make sure I wasn't going to have to swim, but this year I had to be brave on my own! I took my pack off, held it over my head and started wading. It was a warm day but man when a cold river hits you at crotch level it is breathtaking. It felt like my lungs started to seize a bit, but luckily the water only came to bellybutton level so I never went into full cardiac arrest. A short bit of running and another deep river crossing, this time Dick Ross was on the far side snapping pictures and offering much encouragement. It's always a great mental boost to see his smiling face! For some reason I had in my head that after the water crossing it was less then a mile to the turnaround.... not so. (At least it certainly felt like longer then a mile!) Part of this section is fairly deep sand which makes running even more difficult. This was probably my hardest section, I just wanted to get to the turnaround, grab some more food and get going again, so it felt like an eternity.

As I hit the road and the last .2 of a mile to the turnaround, a guy caught up with me who was about to finish his first marathon. I had a good time encouraging him to pick up the pace and sprint up the final hill to the finish. I hit the turnaround at about 5 and a 1/2 hours, I checked in at the line, got my keys from Nick and headed right back out. I took a few minutes at my car to refill my pack with food and I headed back out... as I was refueling, Laurie sprinted past me to take 3rd place female in the marathon!! YAY Laurie! I hit the trail again for the second loop still by myself, but a few miles in, turned on my iPod for company. The wind had really picked up on the second loop, but I was still feeling pretty good and moving fairly easily. The hardest part here for me was knowing when to eat, I had gotten lazy recently about wearing a watch and had been relying on Deb to tell me when to eat and s-cap, so being by myself had me thrown off.

At about 10 miles into this loop I started getting hungry... nay, I was starving... seriously, I just might have eaten a hamburger had someone offered me one at that moment. I downed a gel, then a Cliff Mojo bar and then a packet of peanut butter and started feeling a bit better. It was also around this point that my right hamstring started to tighten up, not enough to stop me, but I could feel a slight tug with every stride. I was just praying that this wasn't where the wheels fall off. I was still passing the occasional runner, but now the pickings were few and far between. Let me also state that some guys get very cranky when they get chicked. I moved in and out of the Big Bluff aid station quickly, but not before collecting a hug from Laurie... the fabulous 3rd place female in the marathon. It's a good friend who will finish her marathon and then come back out on the course and crew for her friends! As I was heading out on the 6 mile loop, Gary mentioned that I was the 2nd place female... now, when I'm told stuff like this it's both good and bad... good- it makes me happy and gives me a bit of a boost, bad- I started looking over my shoulder as I ran. I prefer to be the hunter, not the hunted.

The rest of the race was spent battling the wind, my right hamstring that kept getting tighter and fatigue, but I remained in very good spirits and even managed to pass 4 guys in the last 8 miles... granted a few of them looked like zombies, but still. I slowed down way more then I wanted to, and maybe wearing a watch would have helped keep me pushing harder. Would have kept me eating on time too! I finished in 11:44... 2nd place female. After the race Stacy told me she was glad that 5 girls finished the 50 this year, in past years there have been as few as 1- zero girls finish! (My goal is to talk as many women as possible into doing the 50 next year so we totally smash that curse.) The Deb's finished just 15 minutes behind me to tie for 3rd place! After a few big bowls of soup, we all headed back to the cabin, where I disgraced myself by not being able to finish my beer before falling asleep. What a waste of perfectly good beer.

I'm only able to do this races thanks to the support of my fabulous husband & wonderful running partners, and even though Nick was injured he cheerfully and helpfully crewed for all of us, and Laurie came up big by helping after her race... encouragement from Angel, Kristi, Darcie and the countless others around gave much needed energy shots. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Can't wait for next year!

(thanks to Rick and Kristi Mayo for the picture)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

100 mile recovery

I'm thinking the best way to recover from running 100 is to spend a month traveling a foreign country and indulging in all sorts of bad things like drinking lots of beer and doing a whole lotta nothing! Erik & I are having a great time rambling all over Australia.. we're going wherever we feel and doing lots of camping and hiking. We've spent some great time with Erik's family and friends... we helped his parents celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary and got to watch a high school musical directed by one his best mates from high school.

Running has been on the backburner for the most part... although barefoot running on the beach has been pretty damn great! I'm definitely feeling the beer drinking and laziness... I think I've put on a good 8 pounds since I've been here! Whoops! I had every intention of running the Sydney Marathon on the 20th, but I think I'm going to end up giving it a miss... I'm having a hard time spending almost $200 on a marathon. Leadville was $250! As much as we're trying to just enjoy this holiday and not think about the unemployment factor, it does colour alot of our decision making. Lots of camping and cooking on the camp stove and staying only in cheap motels when it's going to rain or we need to shower. The gorgeous spring weather and the fact that we love to camp makes the spendthriftiness quite OK. We are totally lucky that Erik's sister lent us a car and camping gear so we didn't have to rent stuff.

Getting to Australia is always an adventure, but we try really hard to make things as easy as possible on ourselves.... flying Quantas is the first step. Even if it cost's a bit more, we would NEVER fly an American carrier overseas.... foreign airlines take much better care of you! We were able to get vegan meals that we fairly good and the seats just seem so much bigger... and everyone just seems so much more friendly and helpful. We left Denver and flew to LA, had a thankfully fairly short layover at LAX. That airport just sucks ass.... at least the international terminal. The only place to eat that was open was a hotdog stand, fortunately there was also a bar so we drank our dinner hunger pangs away..... sadly when we got the bill, we found that our Kirin beers were $8 a piece so then we had money pangs instead. Usually dinner is served fairly quickly after takeoff and since we get a "special" meal we get served first, so I was real ready for the plane to take off. It takes about 40 minutes for the plane to taxi over to the runway and I settled to take a short nap until dinner and then was rudely awakened by the captain announcing that someone on board had gotten ill so we were going to have to turn around. 40 minute taxi back to the gate, a nice long wait till there was an available gate and then time spent digging the ill person's luggage out, meant we were going to miss our train when we got to Sydney. We were taking the train up to Erik's sister place and there is only one a day.... it left 4 hours after our plane landed and under normal circumstances we would have had NO problem making it. Sadly for us we had bought our tickets online and there were non refundable, so we had a 17 hour flight to be cranky about wasting $150, and having to find a hotel in Sydney (more money) and missing some of the weekend celebration for his parents anniversary. The flight was smooth, but my sore muscles and achy knee from Leadville made it really hard for me to get any sleep. I kept trying to stretch my legs and get comfortable, but that's pretty rough at the best of times.

When we landed we had a little over an hour until our train left so we figured we see how fast we could do the customs/luggage thing... maybe we could still make the train! I put to good use my super fast hiking skills and we motored through the airport. When we hit customs, we handed our passports over and our visa info and since we came over on a permanent residency visa ( we still haven't decided if we're going to move) we had to give an Australian address, well the only one Erik has memorized is his parents out in Lightning Ridge, and the agent thought it was hysterical that we were going to move there... we then had to reassure him that there was no way. Lightning Ridge is an opal mining town, in the middle of nowhere. Erik grew up there and unless you are an opal miner or doing something related to that... there's nothing there. Drinking and playing the pokies is the only entertainment. It's about a 10 hour drive from Sydney, so no chance of popping into the big smoke for a fun evening either. We got through customs and thought that we still had a slight chance of making the train, but our bags were some of the very last to be unloaded. DOH! We decided to hit Central Station anyway and see if they could do anything for us or to find out if we had any other options for getting up to Moree that day.

We got a super nice Countrylink agent and she just transferred our ticket to the next day! Phew! No having to spend an extra $150!! We still had to find a cheap hotel in Sydney (hah!) but at least the tickets were sorted. Erik's sister Heidi was able to get online and find us a $100 hotel near Kings Cross and we headed that direction. Kings Cross is the redlight district so it's always a fun place to people watch. We checked in and headed off to wander the city, which is our favorite thing to do in Sydney anyway! We had a great Thai lunch and gave ourselves blisters before heading back to the hotel and crashing hard. The worst part of the trip is the awful jet lag, so we picked up some hummus and VB beer and spent the evening sitting on the porch at our hotel watching people.... staying upright lasted until about 7 pm when we couldn't fight it any longer and crashed hard. Going to bed that early means a 4 am wake up, so we got to do our favorite early morning hike around Sydney while the sun came up. Wandering around Circular Quay, which is where the Opera house and Harbour Bridge are is magical in the early morning.

To be continued!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Leadville Trail 100

This whole summer my entire focus has been to run Leadville and to run it well. I received a ridiculous amount of support from my husband in pursuit of this....and a ridiculous amount of encouragement from my friends, family and running partners. I can't imagine life without these people.... and I CANNOT imagine trying to do Leadville without crew and/or pacers, hands down, there is no way I would have finished without them. The race certainly didn't go the way I had envisioned, planned or hoped for.... but I got it done.

Erik and I drove out to Colorado Springs on August 15.. a week before the race. Since the beginning of July my life has been stupidly busy. I had no idea that shutting down a business would take more time and energy then opening one! My band also had our first show just days before we left for Colorado which meant lots of extra practice and since Erik & I are leaving from Denver to fly to Australia for a month just days after Leadville, all my ducks HAD to be in a row! We spent a few days in the Springs, relaxing and adjusting to altitude, and then on Wednesday we drove to Leadville. The days leading up to the race were full of full on panic and fear mixed with strange calm mixed with dread. I tried to just concentrate on getting my stuff together and staying off my feet as much as possible.

Thursday night was packet pickup and the pasta feed and it was good to hang out with a bunch of my KC area friends. There was a whole huge herd of KC folks coming in over the next few days, runners, pacers, crew and groupies.... yes, runners have groupies! I admit to a bit of star struck, girly, squealing when I caught sight of Anton Krupicka on Friday morning at the pre-race meeting, but I wasn't the only one! Thursday night after the pasta feed, my good friends Mac and Angela called to tell me.. Surprise! They were flying in late Friday night and would be in Leadville by start time to watch me race. I almost fell on the floor....and it almost made me not want to race! I knew that everyone was going to be having such a good time hanging out at aid stations and partying, I wanted to be there with them! OK, that was probably just the nerves talking...

Friday morning was the med check and pre race meeting. Due to a helicopter crash on Mt. Massive, the race had to be re-routed a bit, and rumours had been flying about how the course was going to go. After the meeting the day seemed to crawl by in slow motion, I tried to get a nap in, but finally gave it up and started getting all my aid station food ready. I wasn't going to do drop bags since I had such a bad ass crew (5 people dedicated solely to me.. not including 2 pacers.. I felt like a rock star!) but I wanted to get everything as organized as possible so I could just grab food and go. My plan was to spend just a minute or 2 in each aid station especially in the beginning and try and bank as much time as possible. It finally got dark and I drank some chamomile tea and hit the bed.... I slept much better then I thought I would, but by 2:30 I was half awake before the alarm went off. Getting dressed, number pinned on and eating felt sure didn't feel like the race I had prepped for all summer. I forced food down my throat, grabbed my stuff and walked the 2 blocks to the start. In front of the video store, the whole KC crowd met up and exchanged hugs, stories and good lucks.

We made our way to the start line after what seemed like a million pictures were taken by friends.. Nick and I planted ourselves kinda in the middle of the packs and waited for the shotgun blast. While standing on the start line, I realized I hadn't gone to the bathroom, but it was too late.. BOOM and we were off! It was a slow start with just over 500 runners starting, and we had time to look around and find Gary and Willie and Adam... more KC runners. We ran past a house that had Bruce Springsteen's "Born to Run" blaring at top volume and probably 40 people standing out front cheering us on with beers. The morning was surprisingly warm, which did not bode well for the rest of the day. I felt good so instead of starting out slow and holding back, I would run at a comfortable but quicker pace until I started feeling like I needed to back off.

By the time I hit the first aid station at May Queen, I HAD to stop and use the bathroom on the way in.... I dropped off my long sleeve shirt and headlamp with my dad, grabbed some watermelon to eat and was off again. I caught up with Nick and we spent some time running with Anita Fromm, who holds the record for fastest DOUBLE Badwater.... she proceeded to scare the crap out of both of us by telling us that Leadville was way harder then Badwater. Not really what you need to hear at less then 20 miles into the race!! Nick and I stuck together climbing up Hagerman Pass road and then I got in front of him a bit coming down the Powerlines section... I was trying to go slow and save my quads but not so slow that I trashed them by braking too much. It's a fine line and I definitely have some serious work to do on learning how to run downhill. Maybe someday when I'm living somewhere that actually HAS long downhills, I'll learn.

When I hit the pavement on the way to Fish Hatchery, I realized how hot it was getting and how my stomach wasn't feeling real great. I was trying to think ahead to the aid station and what I might want to eat but nothing sounded good. Coming into F.H was like coming into a party, people were cheering their heads off and everyone was having a great time. I checked in and pretty much right out again and headed towards my crew... they got my water refilled and I tried to interest my stomach in some food, but a few watermelon pieces and some sips of a ginger drink where about all I wanted. I was hoping the ginger would settle things by the time I hit the next station, but I had plenty of food in my pack in case things improved quickly. I was starting to get a bit concerned about the lack of calories, once you get into a caloric deficit it can be really hard to make it up.. there is only so much food your body can process at one time.

I caught up with Nick on the way out of the aid station and we cruised along together on the road. This section pretty much sucked.. it was either wide open pavement or wide open dirt road for about 4 miles. The sun was blazing down and it seemed like an endless section. During 1 point I had to pull over and use some bushes and then a few miles later, when I got to the aid station I had to use the bathroom again.... my stomach was not very happy with me. I had a few sips of a peach/strawberry smoothie and tried some cookies but nausea had set in good. I left my crew and headed off, a short bit down the road Nick's family had set up a small aid station that was just a few yards from their house and Shane offered me some ginger chews that helped for a short bit, enough for me to get down some Hammer Gel anyway. I finally caught up with Nick again and we decided to stick together at least through Twin Lakes.

It was so very helpful to have each other to push on with. I think at this point we both did a bit of bitching and moaning, we were both having issues but quitting wasn't an option for either of us. It was absolutely breathtaking scenery and we'd look around occasionally and decide that life didn't suck. We may have been hurting, but damn... we were able to run allllll day and allllll night in the beautiful Colorado mountains, with amazing crews to tend to us and see to our every need and at the end of the race there was a red carpet to run down and a shiny new belt buckle waiting. Going into Twin Lakes there is a super steep rocky downhill and Nick warned me not to fall... I didn't but I did have a close call or two and let out a few girly squeals. Coming into all the aid stations was so much fun! The cheering crowds were amazing and everyone wanted to help right away.
I sat down for a couple of minutes at Twin Lakes for the first time and tried to come up with something to eat.. once again, a few sips of this and a few bites of that were about all I could stomach. My mom soaked my hat and bandanna in cold water and that made me feel a ton better. I hit the porta potties AGAIN on the way out. Nick and I started out together but at some point I was chattering away with some other runners and lost him. The stream crossing wasn't very high.. only about knee height on me, I was hoping for about waist high so my quads could get a nice icy immersion. I guess I could have stopped and spent some time in the river, but I had forward motion going and I didn't want to stop!! I was about 2 minutes into my climb up Hope Pass when Anton blazed past me down the hill on his way back to Leadville.... all I could do was stand aside and cheer for him.... he was running like the hounds of hell were after him, chasing course record ghosts. I succeeded in that, I wanted to at least be ON Hope Pass before I was totally passed by the leaders.. but knowing that these people were going to finish in the daylight is totally mind boggling! I have such admiration for the speedy guys and girls!

Going up Hope my nausea got worse.. I figured it was a combination of heat and altitude that was doing me in... but it seemed to be doing everyone in. I have never seen so much puke on the sides of trails before! I made some contributions and knew that I was in real trouble. If I couldn't get food in me, I didn't see how I was going to be able to finish. It was the first time that I thought about a DNF. Hope Pass is a hard ass climb, but I just put my head down and kept going up, I stopped when I needed to stop and pushed on when I could. I chatted with a bunch of people on the way up and I always stepped off the trail and gave the speedy ones plenty of room as they flew down the trail heading back to Leadville. It was a great excuse to stop and rest in addition to being able to cheer them on fully.

When I finally hit the Hopeless Aid Station, I filled up my water and took a minute to look at the gorgeous llamas up there. The aid station stuff is all packed in on llama back and those people who run it are bad ass!! It is such a help having them up there and gave me a definite lift. I grabbed a few saltine crackers in hopes of calming the guts and continued upwards. I hooked up with Josh who was a KC runner now living in Manhattan, Kansas and he really helped me get over the top and down most of the other side. He, too was having stomach issues and I offered him everything in my pack hoping he could keep something down.. but no such luck. The descent on the back side of Hope was quad and knee killing. I almost fell, I don't know how many times and the trails are so narrow that trying to get out of the way of the runners coming back up was a bit hair raising at times. Your choices are either a steep drop off on one side or such a severe side slope on the other that you'll bust an ankle trying to stand on it. I ran some bits on the descent but the constant stopping and letting people by disrupted any rhythm. By the time I hit the dirt road and had 2.5 miles to go to actually get into Winfield... I was out of water. This section was pretty miserable, the cars were stirring up so much dust that I was wearing my bandanna like a mask, I was waterless, I was totally out of energy and still puky. Those were some of longest miles I've ever been on!

I made it into Winfield and was weighed at the aid station..I was afraid I'd lost too much weight but surprisingly I was up 2 pounds. (I deliberately waited to go to the bathroom until AFTER weigh in) My crew swung into action and got me ready to make another Hope crossing... they tried everything possible to get me to eat. Coming into Winfield I told them I was in real trouble, I was totally out of energy and had to come up with something that stayed down. Luckily for me this was also the point I picked up my first pacer Debbie. She packed her bag with all sorts of things to eat and we headed off down the road with my spirits considerably lifted. We chattered away and as we headed down the road we came up Nick on his way to Winfield. He looked bad and my heart was breaking.... we gave him huge hugs and in my heart all I could do was pray for him to make it. A bit further down the road we came upon our friend Rick, now normally Rick would have been a good 20+ miles in front of me... he had kicked some butt at Western States, but today the altitude and heat got to him too. He had been resting at Hopeless Aid Station when I went through and I didn't even realize it. When he hit Winfield, he had already passed the time limit, but his weight was down so much that he would have been pulled anyway. My heart was breaking for him.
Debbie kept my spirits up and kept me moving over Hope... this was the very worst of the nausea, and it took me forever to make it back over. I kept having to stop and breathe and try and keep from puking. Debbie put up with some serious whining at this point but ignored me and kept prodding me upwards. When I hit the top of Hope again... I stopped and yelled as loud as I could "SCREW YOU HOPE!!!!" and started running down. At this point it was obvious that the majority of my problems stemmed from altitude sickness and not just heat since the quicker I dropped down in altitude the better I felt. I thought it had taken me so long to get over Hope that I would have timed out at Hopeless, but apparently I had plenty of time, so onward we went.

Originally I had planned to be at Twin Lakes again before the sun went down, but luckily my crew knew that there was no way I would make it, and stuck my headlamp in my pack. On the way down, we kept blinding baby mice on the side of the trail and they would get confused and try and run under our feet, so we had be careful so we didn't squish any of the little things. When we hit the water crossing, I sent Debbie ahead to tell my crew to make up some oatmeal, since finally something was sounding good to eat!!! At about this point Nick and his pacer Ben Reeves came up behind me and I have never been so darn happy to see someone in my life! Nick has this amazing ability to come back from the dead and keep running! Ben kept us moving
into the aid station where I peeled off to the bathrooms again....(you can skip this next section if you don't want to hear my poop musings ) I was constantly amazed at the amount of crap I was producing... I had hardly eaten all day but stuff was coming out of me from both ends like I had been hoggin' at Country Buffet all day. It amazed me that I was still able to move forward at any sort of speed given the fact that I probably hadn't even consumed 2,000 calories over the entire day and most of those had come out of me in one form or the other.

I grabbed my oatmeal from my crew and quickly checked in and out of Twin Lakes aid station, after which I could take a minute to stand around eating it... it was hot and tasted pretty good, I also downed a few watermelon pieces. Debbie and I were off again into the night. I had forgotten how much climbing was in this section and I was back to moving VERY slowly. At this point I started getting very, very sleepy, and found myself dozing off and stumbling all over the trail. I kept begging Debbie to just let me lay down and sleep for 5 minutes, but all she would give me was 2. So I did that a few times until Nick and his pacer Shane came by us like a freight train but stopped long enough to ply us with caffeine pills. Debbie had the sleepiees too, so she took one a tried to keep me moving. I feel awful about this part of the race.. I was exhausted, crabby, and mentally I couldn't imagine climbing up powerlines again. I told myself at this point that I was quitting when I saw my crew again. All I wanted to do was crawl in a warm sleeping bag and sleep for a few days. I started voicing these thoughts to Debbie, but she didn't want to
hear them. She really took the brunt of my absolute depths of despair and kept me moving.

When we got into the Box Creek Aid Station, mentally I was telling myself that I only had 3.5 miles to go and I would quit when I saw my crew. I was sitting in a chair with my head in my hands and the uber helpful volunteers at Box Creek were trying so very hard to help me out. Finally I took a few handfuls of watermelon and some sips of coffee and we were off. I started to enjoy myself a tiny bit at this point because mentally I was checked out of the race. I made Debbie turn off her headlamp so we could enjoy the AMAZING array of stars. It was a gorgeous night and instead of plodding along with my head down, I started looking up. When we finally hit the road where the crews were waiting I told them I was done. I couldn't officially drop out there because it wasn't a true aid station but I wanted a ride to Fish Hatchery where they could snip my med bracelet and I could go to sleep. Unfortunately for my plans, my crew was having none of this. They told me I was going to have to get to F.H on my own 2 feet. I cried at my husband, and whined at anyone that would listen.. but they weren't actually listening.

So I found myself once again heading down the road to Leadville and I felt kinda confused as to how they bamboozled me into 4 more miles. I walked this entire stretch of road, there was no attempt at running, but I have a pretty mean power hike so we were actually moving fairly quickly. I kept turning down food from Debbie and telling her, that I didn't need it since I was dropping out in 4 miles. I spent half the time trying to justify it to her and myself, I kept telling myself that it was amazing I had gotten as far as I had on so few calories and it was impressive that I had continued on being as sick as I was. I was almost able to make myself feel good about dropping out. We hooked up with a group of guys a few miles from F.H and they kept us entertained, but my mind was still made up.

When I got into F.H, my crew descended on me and hustled me to check in and then out since I was so very close to the cut off. I kept saying it didn't matter, but they said I wasn't allowed to make any decisions until I had had some soup. So I ate a cup of some amazing vegan broth and the next thing I knew I was changing into tights and putting on new socks (my feet had some yucky blisters). This was where I was dropping off poor, beleaguered Debbie and picking up Christy (who was quickly being briefed about my mental state by Debbie). My mom made me eat a spoonful of peanut butter over my protests that I was not going on, I almost puked it all up again but I managed to keep most of it down. I stood in the middle of this group of wonderful people, whining my head off about not wanting to do powerlines but they just ignored me, and kept telling me to move on out. At this point my dad gave me a huge hug, and told me that I had his strength and had to finish... we both got all teary and that was it. A switch had flipped in my head and I was going to finish this damn race. As Christy and I moved down the road, I kept quizzing her to make sure we had enough time... I didn't want to do powerlines only to be timed out at May Queen. She assured me we could do it so off we went.

When I was in Leadville in June, I remembered the climb up powerlines as being super steep and I was thinking it was going to be like Hope Pass, but my thinking was faulty and I think that broth was magic, becuase it felt like we flew up that section. I'm not entirely sure how many people we passed going up (powerhiking) but it was quite a few. Christy just kept pointing out glow sticks so I was concentrating on passing those instead of going up hill and the next thing I knew, we were going down Hagerman Pass. Christy kept telling me stories and making me talk and we kept passing people on our way down. At one point we came upon a guy who was NOT doing well, he had a pacer with him and they asked us to send help when we got to May Queen. We picked up the pace a bit more and a mile or so down the road a Search and Rescue truck was on it's way up the hill, so we flagged him down, gave him the guys number and crossed our fingers that it wasn't anything serious. When we finally got off the hill and onto the trail again, my memory started to go, I had thought the trail section was much shorter then it was and I started getting SUPER cranky when the trail just kept on and on and on. I snapped at Christy a few times and got a bit hysterical that I wasn't going to make the time cut off. But finally we hit the paved section and got to the aid station in time.

Another cup of broth and another stop at the porta johns and I told my crew that I would see them at the finish line. Christy told me I was going to have to make up some serious time going around the lake since I was only 4 minutes ahead of the cut off, so I put my headphones on and we ran, from ribbon to ribbon, and powerhiked the hills. When we hit the Tabor Boat Ramp and found out we only had 7 more miles to go and almost 3 hours to do it in, I knew short of disaster, that I was good. I settled down into my powerhike since running was making my blisters scream in excruciating pain. Once we got off the trail around the lake and onto the dirt road I felt like I was homefree, but I didn't realize just how long this stretch was and once again started to get super cranky and panicky when it just continued on and on. My bits of running here were nothing more then a shuffle punctuated with me grunting in pain. Christy offered me an advil and I gratefully accepted... I should have grabbed a few more from her, but advil can be so very bad for your kidneys during long races so I had kept myself to taking a total of 4 over the 30 hours. Finally, after what seemed like lifetimes long, we could see town. Spectators kept saying.. it's not far.. and I had to restrain myself to keep from screaming.. How far is not fucking far?????? I was at the height of my crankiness and poor Christy finally just dropped behind me a bit, (she would have had every right to just push me off the nearest cliff!) When we hit the pavement, it was like I was a new person... and I could see the finish and hear Christy sobbing behind me. She gave me a huge hug and Dad came out and met me a bit less then a mile from the finish and ran me the rest of the way in. Scattered along the way were my KC friends and they cheered me on in. All I had eyes for was that red carpet and finish line banner, and then finally I was running down it and into the arms of my crew. 29:48:07.

There was much hugging and crying and then Merrilee put my medal around my neck with a big hug and then I was swept off to the med tent and weighed in. I was up 3 pounds and by the amount of swelling I had going on in my hands, face and feet, I was surprised it wasn't more. I grabbed a few pieces of watermelon, found my crew and sat my butt on the grass. I guess everyone had been freaking out thinking I wasn't going to make the time cut off, but I knew I was. Christy and I had been keeping such a close watch on things, and since my legs weren't totally shot, if I had to run fast.... I would have. My feet would have been hamburger but I could have done it. Just a short 12 minutes later we heard the shotgun blast to announce the end of the race and my heart ached for those people still coming down the hill. Not an official finish.. but they finished in my eyes.

I really tested my crew and pacers at this race and I'm honestly shocked they are still talking to me much less willing to hug me afterwards! There is no way I could ever repay them or make it up to them, I would absolutely have NOT finished this race without them.

My husband Erik is an absolute angel, he kept urging me on even when he knew how badly I wanted to quit. He spent 30+ hours driving around, trying to get me to eat and giving me support. I won't ever be able to repay him. My parents were amazing... my mom thought she had retired the crew chief hat, but gladly took it out again when I asked. She is truly a selfless woman. My dad.. who inspired me to keep going and kept telling me I could do it. Mac and Angela, who flew in for a super quick weekend, and would not take QUIT for an answer. Apparently I had told them not to let me quit, and they were bound and determined not to let me. All the other KC folks, Laurie, Stacy, Kyle, Caleb, Shane, Ben R, the Lang family, Julie, Ireland Dave, Angel, Tony, Rick, Josh, Gary, Willie, Adam, Darin, British Mark, David, Stu and Deb, all the encouragement, hugs and advice you gave were oh-so-very helpful. I stole bits and pieces of your energy and it helped get me through. Nick, my friend who I can't seem to run a race without.. thanks for all the support... as always it was a pleasure to run with you... next year though, I'm gonna kick your ass ;) ! Finally, Christy and Debbie... my pacers extraordinaire, once again I couldn't have done it without you. I'll never be able to repay you guys this one... you truly saw the absolute worst of me, but continued on with me anyway. Thank you from the bottom of my heart..... I owe you beyond words.
Ultrarunning is such a selfish sport, but somehow this selfish runner managed to find an amazing group of family and friends (who ARE family) who are completely selfless and loving. I am blessed beyond words.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Better to burn out then fade away

(My race report for the PCT 50 is almost done and it's coming soon.. I promise!)

Sunday night was the final day my record store was open, and over the past month since we announced that we were closing we have been overwhelmed by the amount of love our customers/friends have for us. The store has been constantly busy and everyone has stopped by to tell us how much we meant to them. It's been very gratifying to hear that we will be missed and how much we figured into peoples lives. I wasn't sure how the last day was going to go, but I was certain that I was going to be a crying, sobbing mess. We planned a private party after we closed for some of our customers that truly kept us in business over the 6 years we were open... the type of customers that were in weekly and spent half their paychecks with us. My friend Cat even came up from Texas for the last day... she had been there for the very first day so she decided that she had to be around for the last also. We invited some of the kids who had grown up in the store.. they went from riding their bikes over to browse the racks to being able to drink with us in the time we were open. I was looking forward to drinking some beer with some really good people to end things on a happy note.

The official store closing time was 6pm, and then the party was scheduled to start at 6:30, but sometimes the universe takes the best laid plans and turns them upside down. At 5:30 we still had a good 30 people in the store, grabbing the last minute deals. At 5:50, there was a huge explosion and all the power went out... a second later the lights flickered and went back on for a split second and then another huge explosion and power was back off again. People were screaming and hitting the floor.... it was a bit unnerving to look outside and see huge showers of sparks raining from all the power poles up and down the street. It was apparent after a few minutes that it was going to be awhile until things went back on... unfortunately, no power meant no computer, no lights, no a/c, and most importantly for us.. no credit card machine! We could do paper receipts and use cell phone calculators but the no credit card thing was NOT good.

Everyone was awesome and just said they'd run to the closest ATM... but since a couple mile radius was affected by the outage, the closest ATM was a good 4 miles away. We swung into action hand writing receipts and Cat was the cell phone calculator wizard... it was pretty damn stressful and with no a/c it was getting pretty darn hot too! Meanwhile, because it was taking so long for everyone to find ATM's and us to write up sales, our party folks were arriving and adding to the confusion. We explained the situation to a few people and asked them to keep the party folks outside until we could get the "regular" customers taken care of and out the door. As soon as the last customer was out the door, the beer cooler came out of the back room and I broke into one.... we all needed it! The original plan was to order pizzas from next door and luckily for us, the ovens are gas and they agreed to make us up a bunch of 'za by flashlight before they closed.... they couldn't even ring us up!

Thankfully everyone took the problem in stride and had a great time hanging out, drinking much beer and shopping by flashlight.... a few of our emergency battery backup lights were on for a few hours but soon even they went out. It was great to spend some time thanking some wonderful people for all they did for us over the years. And because of the chaos and stress of the evening, I didn't even cry as much as I thought I would!! We kept trying to bribe the guys fixing the power by offering beer and pizza, but they were having some major problems. By the end of the evening there was 4 trucks of guys working on the power and they were yelling and fighting amongst themselves. Yikes! When it got fully dark, the party broke up and most everyone took off.. a few of us hung out and talked by candlelight until 11:30 but finally it was time to go. Thankfully the wonderful husband was driving because as soon as I got into the car, I started crying and didn't stop until we got home 20 minutes later. The store had a great run and I'm not sorry we're choosing to close it, but I will truly miss seeing some wonderful people on a weekly/daily basis. It was time to go.. and the universe helped us "burn out" instead of fading away on Sunday.