Monday, May 31, 2010

Meet My New Trail Running Buddies

Wherein I recruit Eminem and Lil' Wayne as trail running buddies, as my body guard, realize Jesus is the ultimate endurance athlete, and embark on a mission to get my husband exercising.

Saturday I went out to Big Ivy and ran what Mountainbiking inWesternNC calls the "Big Ivy (Coleman Boundary) Best Ride." I love getting trail directions from this site, as they give you directions using both Garmin mile markers and landmarks. They also give you the "ride" (run) statistics and a good description of what you're in for, which I have found to be fairly accurate. For example, they describe "Big Ivy" as:
  • Difficulty: Most Difficult
  • Total Length: 16.2 mi.
  • Trail Tread Condition: Moderately rough
  • Total Elevation Gain: 2500 feet
  • Trails/ Roads Used: FR 74, Douglas Falls, Laurel Gap, Bear Pen, Staire Creek.
  • Ride Configuration: Figure 8 loop with an out-and-back extension. Travels along gravel road, a grassy roadbed, and a downhill on a steep, technical rocky singletrack.
  • Starting Point: Corner Rock picnic area on FR 74 near Barnardsville, NC

Sure enough, I climbed 2500 feet in the first third of the run, was on a grassy roadbed for what seemed an eternity, and the steep, technical downhill was so steep and technical it was the slowest part of the whole run. I was doing good to cover 4 miles an hour on this trail, but it's a must-do as Walker Falls and Douglas Falls are gorgeous and definitely worth seeing.

I set off at about 7:00 a.m., and quickly realized the fire road was going to continue to climb and climb. I settled into a nice rythm of running whenever the road began to flatten a little and walking the true uphill portions. It wasn't long before I began to have a feeling of supreme relaxation. I felt like I was finally able to breathe, while realizing at the same time that I didn't even know I felt like I couldn't breathe in the first place. It wasn't just a physical sensation, although part of it was physical. It was as if my whole being relaxed and matched up with frequency aof my my surroundings. (I never get this sensation on the road- somehow, I'm able to stay completely in my head and stressed during a long run on the road).

Back to Eminem and Lil' Wayne. I had definitely slipped into the zone. I was aware of simply monitoring the effort, almost as if outside myself. I was vaguely aware of my right wrist making a little break with every step, as if to keep the rhythm of my pace. I was listening to Eminem's new song, I'm Not Afraid (over and over). Then listening to Lil' Wayne's, "Drop The World" (also featuring Eminem) over and over. It might seem weird to listen to music on a trail run, but certain music really inspires me, and I felt like I was creating a stronger memory of the run by linking it to music. As often happens while running in this state, my mind wanders and I sometimes get decent insights into things. At least that's what I think at the time. I admit I also sometimes later think that those same insights seem very much like what a really stoned person would write down in the midst of an epiphany, but whatever. Is the experience really any less valid if you look at it differently later?

Today's insight began with thinking about how my husband hates rap music. I think he hates it because it's crude, sounds angry and perhaps lacks the aesthetic of more lyrical music. Valid points. But I like it- and in this moment I was looking at music as simply energy- and rap music is a source of very powerful energy. And enerygy is not good or's just energy. Which made me think that all that anger and angst in Eminem and Lil' Wyane's music is like very condensed, compacted energy that could be transmuted into a higher frequency. Then, I of course thought that Eminen and Lil' Wayne would totally get that. In fact, they would both totally get the whole trail running experience. Totally. How all things are just energy or spirit, and so is music, and how everything is literally connected to everything else. (This is where my train of thought jumped even further to, "In fact, Jesus transmuted his body into energy, therefore, he's kind of like the ultimate endurance athlete", but I quickly retracted that line of thinking as it's so unoriginal that there are probably bumper stickers available that say that very thing...).

I stayed with the Eminem and Lil' Wayne theme a while longer. By about mile 13 I was so sure they would totally get trail running that I saw myself recruiting them as trail running buddies. It must have seemed pretty real, because I thought I also better befriend the ultimate peace-maker, just in case violence broke out on the trail... Can you imagine the poor dude who shouts some lame insult at one of these guys? Lil' Wayne would start to stab the guy. But then Eminem would call Lil' Wayne a Pussy and shoot the dude right there. Then he'd shoot himself just so he could go to Hell and kill him again. Yeah, it could get out of hand pretty fast.

Well, as all trips do, this one had to come to an end, too. I have to say that by the time I hit the steep descent of Bear Pen trail, my legs were hurting, and Eminem, Lil' Wayne, and were safely back in the studio pumping out great tunes to keep me inspired. I found myself coming full circle back to my husband, and how he totally needs to get out here and delve into this life changing experience called trail running. We seriously need more stuff to talk about.

Happy Memorial Day to every one!
6 days 'till Chattooga!!

Friday, May 28, 2010

5 Jokes Friday

On June 13th I'm leading a Scout Hike to Rattlesnake Lodge. Here is a good description of the hike:
This is one of those hikes that holds natural and man-made wonders, making it a special hike for both dogs and their people. The trail is named for the actual Rattlesnake Lodge, which sat tucked away in this hidden mountaintop retreat for about twenty years in the early 1900s. The stone remains of the lodge await at the end of the trail, a treat for history buffs and anyone with a sense of curiosity.

So, off I set to canvass the 1.5 out-and-back trail to see what we were in for. Here's what I found, in pictures, on the way up and back. What really amazes me, is that this trail is 4.7 miles from my garage. It's amazing to me that I live in such a beautiful place.

There's never an easy segueway into "5 Jokes Friday", so...

Here are yer jokes:

1. Smith Loses $500
Six guys were playing poker when Smith loses $500 on a single hand, clutches his chest and drops dead at the table. Showing respect fortheir fallen comrade, the other five complete their playing timestanding up. Roberts looks around and asks, "Now, who is going to tell the wife?" They draw straws. Rippington, who is always a loser, picks the short one. They tell him to be discreet, be gentle, don't make a bad situation any worse than it is. "Gentlemen! Discreet? I'm the most discreet man you will ever meet. Discretion is my middle name, leave it to me." Rippington walks over to the Smith house and knocks on the door. The wife answers and asks what he wants. Rippington says, "Your husband just lost $500 playing cards." She hollers, "TELL HIM TO DROP DEAD!" Rippington says, "I'll tell him."

2. An Old Man Was Critically Ill
An old man was critically ill. Feeling that death was near, he called his lawyer. "I want to become a lawyer. How much is it or the express degree you told me about?" "It's $50,000," the lawyer said. "But why? You'll be dead soon, why do you want to become a lawyer?" "That's my business! Get me the course!" Four days later, the old man got his law degree. His lawyer was at his bedside, making sure his bill would be paid. Suddenly the old man was racked with fits of coughing and it was clear that this would be the end. Still curious, the lawyer leaned over and said, "please, before it's too late, tell me why you wanted to to get a law degree so badly before
you died?" In a faint whisper, as he breathed his last, the old man said, "One less lawyer . . ."

3. A Guy Trying To Console A Friend
A guy was trying to console a friend who'd just found his wifein bed with another man."Get over it, buddy," he said. "It's not the end of the world." "It's all right for you to say," answered his buddy. "But whatif you came home one night and caught another man in bed withyour wife?" The fella ponders for a moment, then says, "I'd break his caneand kick his seeing-eye dog in the ass."

4. Another Blonde Joke
Why does a blonde girl always have a bruise around her belly button???
Cause blonde boys aren't that smart either.

5. Another Lawyer Joke
Why don't lawyers play hide-and-seek?
Nobody will look for them.
I wish everyone a wonderful long weekend! I, for one, am planning a long trail run tomorrow out at "Big Ivy". I'm sure to get lost on this one, so I expect this to be an adventure! Whee Ha!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Laurel Valley Outkasts Run

On Saturday, I had the absolute pleasure of running the Laurel Valley Trail Ultra course with (from L to R): Jason, Dave, Sherrie Marie, Byron, Lester, (me), Terri, and Charles.

Beloved RD Terri Hayes was on a mission this day: She had had quite a bad race on this course, and was determined to wipe out its memory and replace it with a more positive one. We were equally determined to help her accomplish this.

Let me just preface this post with some info about the course:

"Laurel Valley Whitewater Ultra is not for the faint of heart. Claude Sinclair, self proclaimed leader of the Runner from Hell running club, conducts the Laurel Valley Ultra every August. It is a very tough and grueling course that traverses over 5000 steps and several major climbs on the Foothills trail in North and South Carolina.

However, the runner is rewarded with many beautiful views of water falls and scenic trails throughout the event. By all means the fact that you have to provide your own aid does make the event rather challenging. It is almost required that you either use iodine tablets or filter your water in some way while out there on the course. There is also supreme comaraderie throughout the event. . The trails are always gorgeous and surprising. There is lots of foliage, rocks, roots and rivers crossed by beautiful suspension bridges.

Of course, that is the beauty of Laurel Valley, you have to finish. There’s not a way out, no short cuts or turns to get you off the course. Once you leave Rocky Bottom, S.C. you have to continue on until you reach the parking lot above White Water Falls. People do get into trouble out here. It is rumored that some participants slept on the course last year. There’s always the threat of snakes, bees, falling and a really good case of giardia. "

Veterans and Newbies alike, we set off on our Adventure just before 7:00 a.m. We would return approximately 12 hours later...

I should have realized what I was in for when we immediately began to climb single file up a steep set of wooden steps embedded into the hill. Ah, my first taste of the infamous "wooden steps" that climbed up and down, over and over again, all throughout the course.

There must have been thousands of them. They were mostly wooden blocks pounded into the steepest sections of trail to provide footing for the hikers and probably to prevent erosion, too. Did I mention the number of steps on this trail?

Thousands upon thousands of steps.

As far as the steps went, the last 1/3 of the course was probably the toughest as far as climbing and descending, tackling wooden steps, and scooting over or under fallen trees. When you come to a sign for White Water Falls parking area 1.7 miles- it's a lie. The stretch between this sign and the finish marks the point where you only have one enormous climb left to the finish. It's the most difficult part of the entire course- both mentally and physically. (Thanks, Fell Runner , for the image!).

This Trail is simply amazing.

The sheer beauty, difficulty, and mystery of it (I don't think anyone really knows how long the course is- just somewhere between 30 and 40 miles) makes it my favorite Trail. It will be very hard to beat.

Highlights of the day are so numerous it's impossible to capture them here. But here's a short list anyway, in no particular order:

  • The sheer amount of beauty we experienced.

  • How time seemed to be suspended. We could have been out there 3 hours or 3 days. There simply was no sense of time.

  • The amazing, clean, wonderful taste of the water.

  • The differing trails- Wide trails, skinny trails and “barely-a-trail” trails. Climbs so steep you have to pull yourself up, and punishing (and I mean punishing) descents.

  • The mysterious distance- no one knows for sure how far it is. I like that.

  • Running the last part hard. It was definitely the most difficult terrain I've ever maneuvered. I felt really proud of myself for attacking it at the end.

  • Seeing Whitewater Falls at the end- what a reward!

  • Eating 3 of the best tasting bananas I've ever had with Sherrie Marie in her car.

  • Feeling so privileged to have Terri to myself for long stretches of trail. Hearing her stories, benefitting from her wisdom. Getting to know her.

  • The total geekfest I unleashed on Byron! Even I didn't realize what a Track Geek I am!

  • The awesome comeraderie I felt with everyone, and how it was so easy to spend time with each person at some point during the day.
A special thanks has to go out to Terri for organizing this day.

Also, thanks to Sherrie Marie for getting me back to my car at the end. I remember not being able to recall the way back to Table Rock from earlier in the morning.

In fact, I'm still laughing as I remember Sherrie Marie saying, "Tell me what you're thinking right now." ...And then me, realizing : I'm so tired I'm not thinking anything at all right now. How cool.

Friday, May 21, 2010

5 Jokes Friday and Some Shout Outs

Today's edition of 5 Jokes Friday is brought to you by...Chihuhua's Stephen Wright Dogs. I dare you not to laugh at these. I ...wait for it...double dog dare you.

"I put contact lenses in my dog's eyes. They had little pictures of cats on them. Then I took one out and he ran around in circles." -Steven Wright

"I bought a dog the other day... I named him Stay. It's fun to call him... "Come here, Stay! Come here, Stay!" He went insane. Now he just ignores me and keeps typing. " -Steven Wright

"I spilled spot remover on my dog. He's gone now." -Steven Wright

"The other day, I was walking my dog around my building... on the ledge. Some people are afraid of heights. Not me, I'm afraid of widths." -Steven Wright

Joke #1 Unique Puppy
How do you find a Unique Puppy? Answer: You Neak up on it.

Joke #2 Yo Quiero
The Taco Bell Chihuahua, a Doberman and a Bulldog are in a doggie bar having a drink when a good-looking female Collie comes up to them and says, "Whoever can say liver and cheese in a sentence can date me." So the Doberman says, "I love liver and cheese." The Collie says, "That's not good enough." The Bulldog says, "I hate liver and cheese." She says, "Nope, that's not creative enough." Finally, the Chihuahua says, "Liver alone! Cheese mine."

Joke #3 How Many Dogs Do You Need to Change a Lightbulb?
Who cares? I can play with my squeaky toys in the dark.
Greyhound: It isn't moving. Who cares?
Labrador Retriever: Oh, me, me, me!!!!! Pleeeeeeeze let me change the light bulb! Can I? Can I? Huh? Huh? Can I? Pleeeeeeeze? Please, please, please?
Golden Retriever: The day is young. The sun is shining. We've got our whole lives ahead of us. And you're inside the house worrying about a burned out bulb?
Jack Russell Terrier : I'll just pop it in while I'm bouncing off the furniture and walls.
Cocker Spaniel: Why bother changing it? I can still pee on the carpet in the dark.
Australian Shepherd: First, let me put all the light bulbs in a little circle...
Rottweiler: Try and make me.
Chihuahua: Yo quiero Taco Bulb.
Border Collie: Just one. Then I'll replace any wiring I find that's not up to code.
German Shepherd: I'll change it as soon as I've led these people out of the dark, checked to make sure I haven't missed anyone and made one last perimeter patrol to see that no one has tried to take advantage of the situation.
Dachshund: You know I can't reach that dumb lamp!
Poodle: Let me just blow in the border collie's ear and he'll do it. By the time he finishes rewiring the house, my nails should be dry.

Dog Ads - Funny Misprints
*FREE PUPPIES: part German Shepherd - part dog .
*FREE PUPPIES: ½ Cocker Spaniel - ½ sneaky neighbor dog.
* FREE YORKSHIRE TERRIER, 8 years old. Unpleasant little dog.
* GERMAN SHEPHERD, 85 lb., neutered, speaks German, free.
* FOUND: dirty white dog, looks like a rat, been out awhile, better be a reward.
* CUTE KITTEN FOR SALE, 2 Cents or best offer
* FREE: Farm kittens, ready to eat.
* KITTENS 8 WEEKS OLD - seeking good Christian home

Dog Works
One day, a company posted a notice saying that they needed a employee that is good with typing, good with computers, and is bilingual. The next day, a dog wanders in. As a joke, the secretary took the dog into her boss' office and said, "Sir, this dog is here for the job."
"Ok, um... mr. dog are you good with typing."
The dog jumps onto the computer and types a perfect letter
"Ok, sir. now you need to be good with computers."
The dog jumps back on the computer and makes a perfect spread sheet
"Ok" said the boss "sorry but u have to be bilingual."
the dog walks up to him and says, "Meow."

And now...Time for some Mad Dog Blogger Shout Outs!

Shout out #1 is for everyone who is racing this weekend.

Julie , who when not blogging, often hangs out at Go wish her "Good Luck!" in running the Maple Grove 5K tomorrow. Rumor also has it that she just...wait for it...signed up for her FIRST Marathon!!

It seems there's a bad case of "I went into this race feeling like crap, but then I PR'd" sweeping the nation. Maybe these people are just now shirking off the effects of Snowpocalyspe...Whatever. Shout out #2 goes to AZ and sRod, who both got Marathon PR's recently. Go show them your jealousy love and admiration. Do it now. Nice job, guys. I only hope to feel as crappy as you someday!

Happy Friday, all!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Prep For Laurel Valley "Outcasts" 35 Mile Run

Phantom Pains
I've logged no miles in the last 3 days as I've been letting a sore soleus rest (if you call trigger point therapy every few hours rest). So, how is it I am sitting here with multiple aches and pains and that all-too-familiar dread of wondering, "Am I injured?"

Oh, yeah. Laurel Valley "Outcasts" 35 Mile Run is Saturday. That's it.

I am giddy with happiness over being able to do this run. It will be a "first" in a few different ways:

First 35 miler
First self-sufficient Ultra
First run using a water filtration device

Race Prep
As I go about preparing for the run, the mind-body connection thing is kicking into high gear. This part of it can just get ridiculous with me. I know I'm not injured, yet I get all kinds of pre-race aches ("WTH? My third toe is going numb!! What does that MEAN??!") and pains ("OMG, what is WITH my soleus? Am I actually limping?"). I guess there's still just some mechanics of racing, or rather pre-racing, that happen no matter what. It's a trip.

So many things about Ultras are different, but this is one of my favorite: Ultra's seem to be more about eating and drinking than anything else. Just say that again to yourself, and see if you're not ready to jump on this crazy train: "Ultra's seem to be more about eating and drinking than anything else." I for one, have definitely found my sport!

As I pack an outrageous amount of calories into my pack, I am truly amazed.

Check out this list:

64 Oz. Camelbak w/o the bladder to hold my stuff with extra pouch
2 Amphipod Handheld Bottles - 20 oz
4 Hammer Bars
4 Lance Peanut Bars
2 Honey Stingers
2 Cliff Block Shots
3 Gus with extra caffeine
5 Accelerade Single Serving Mix Packs
SteriPen to treat water
One bottle 5 Hr. Energy
30 Endurolytes
1 Baggie of Jelly Beans
2 Packs of salted peanuts

I already feel like a Badass doing a run that requires 3,500 calories and a water filtration device. Seriously, how much better can this get? To be continued...

Monday, May 17, 2010

Tsali Trail Fail

To say I'm a little bit excited about trail running is an understatement. The word anticipation comes to mind. Anticipation of all the good things to come in the next weeks and months. It's trail running season, baby. It's here, it's now and it's exciting. I got things to do and places to go. I got adventures in the works. I got...lost.

Early (as in waaay too early) Saturday, I drove out to the Tsali (SAH-lee) Trail system. Tsali is a beautiful set of single tracks that follow the shore of Fontana Lake, with the Smokey Mountains providing a beautiful panorama in the background. A far drive (from Asheville), but a must-run to be sure.

The day before, I googled the Trail, and printed out a nice play-by-play description of the Right and Left Loops from a Mountain Bike site. I love these descriptions, especially when they provide mile markers. As I further researched, I came across more than one description saying, "the Tsali Trail is well marked, so navigation should not be a problem." (May I point out the obvious foreshadowing at this juncture?).
So, I was not too upset when I arrived at the parking lot to find I had left the trail instructions at home. I grabbed the map they provide at the trail head, and off I went.

My thoughts at the time: "I mean, it's a loop. How hard can it be to stay on trail? There's mile marker posts every half mile. A total idiot could do this." Hmm. Perhaps I am psychic after all...

I brought one Mojo bar, my 20 oz. hand-held Amphipod, and a trail map that soon disintigrated from sweat in my back pocket. It was humid, humid, humid, and I was drenched in sweat not 5 minutes up the trail. No problem, I thought, it's a loop- remember? I'll be back at the car to water up again in no time. "No time" turned out to be 18.5 miles, and 3 hours 40 minutes later.

As it often is with getting lost, I don't exactly know what happened. I came across a marker that said "Right Loop Alt." I kept going. Since it was a loop, I figured taking any turns off the Right Loop Trail was not the thing to do.

Then I came to an intersection that ended in a choice of turning right or left. The Right Loop/ Left Loop markers pointed back where I came from. Huh? Another arrow pointed towards the lake and said, Overlook. The last arrow pointed left and said Trail Head. I consulted my map, and went left, having no idea if this was correct.

A while later, I panicked when the next marker said "County Line Road". WTF? Where am I? I then turned around and tried to orient myself to where I thought the water was. As I back-tracked, I tried to remain calm. But I was so thirsty! This was quickly turning into a disaster.

I finally came up to the 6 mile marker on the Right Loop. I hoped against hope that the next marker would say 5.5, not 6.5. My feet were feeling tender, and I was feeling very dehydrated. I was slowing down noticeably. The first 13 miles were ran at a pace of about 12:40, and now I was in the 14:00 -15:00 zone. And walking more and more.

Finally, the marker! 5.5 mi. Yes! Just 5 more miles and I'm back to water. It was a tough 5 miles, and I'm not ashamed to say that when I finally made it out, I sucked the water out of the Bike Wash hose like a $5 hooker. A very tired and happy $5 hooker.

Next adventure:
Laurel Valley 35 Mile this Saturday.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Friday, Bloody Friday

With body and mind on the mend, I was happy to get back to running yesterday. I spent a leisurely 2 hours on the Bent Creek Trails and enjoyed every humid, happy moment of it.

Here's the remaining evidence of my recent trail beating (hopefully, you're not eating):

Post Race Thoughts
    I am so ready for more punishment!!!
That was easy.

That brings us to your 5 jokes. Here they are:
Joke #1 Termite
Termite walks in to a bar and says, "Is the bar tender here?"

Joke #2 Don't Step On A Duck
There were three drunk guys and they got in a car accident. They go to heaven and plead god for a second chance. God says, "Alright, but don't step on a duck. The drunks reply, "Why ducks?" God repeats, "Just don't step on a duck." The drunks agree and go back down to earth. A few weeks go by, and the first steps on a duck. Instantly, he's chained to the ugliest woman in the world. A month goes by and the second steps on a duck. The last of them is laughing at the others and is instantly chained to the most beautiful woman in the world. He says, "God, what did I do for this?" The girl says, "I don't know about you, but I stepped on a duck."

Joke #3 Duck In A Feed Store
A duck walks into a feed store and asks, "Got any duck feed?" The clerk tells him, "No, we don't have a market for it it so we don't carry it." The duck says, "Okay" and leaves. The next day, the duck walks in to the feed store and asks, "Got any duck feed?" Again the clerk says no and the duck leaves. Next day, the duck walks in, and asks, "Got any duck feed?" The clerk says, "I've told you twice, we don't have duck feed, we've never had duck feed and we never will have duck feed. If you ask me again, I'll nail your feet to the floor." The duck leaves.The next day, the duck walks in and asks, "Got any nails?" "No," comes the reply."Got any duck feed?"

Joke #4 Blonde
There is a blonde, a brunette, and a redhead and they are all in grade 3. Which one is hottest?The blonde because she is 18.

Joke #5 Out On A Limb
A blonde, brunette, and redhead are hanging out on a limb of a cliff.As the limg begins to give away the brunette say, "One of us is going to have to let go or we will all die."The redhead gives a long impressive speech about how she has lived the most and that she will be the one to let go. The blonde is so impressed that she starts clapping!

Aaaaawwwww... Look at this adorable picture of the Blackhawk Boys:

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

RACE REPORT: Enoree Passage 40 Mile Trail Run

The Enoree Passage 40 Mile Trail Run is the 2nd race in the 5-part S.C. Ultra Trail Series. It's an out and back course, beginning at the Brickhouse Recreation Campground Area and turning around at Johns Creek Lake. The RD, Terri Hayes is simply awesome - a real inspiration. Her website says it all- after 27 years and well over 250 ultra mathons completed, ultras are still her passion. She more than delivers on her goal of providing runners with what they need to be able to finish while hopefully having fun.

This race has had a significant impact on me, so I've wanted to wait a day or two to let everything about the experience settle in. This is bound to be a long post, so for those of you who don't care to wade through the sea of reminescence, this is for you:

Enoree By The Numbers

9:35:08- Finishing Time
30/52- Finishing Place
5- Number of people passed after Mile 30
4- Number of falls I took
2- Number of massages I got from Denise
1- Number of ruined shirts, broken Garmins, dogs in the race, and bare asses I ran behind*

Now, for the long version.

Leopold and I drove down the day before the race and arrived at the Brickhouse Campground around 1:30. We met Terri right away, along with Denise (volunteer massage therapist- score!) and Krissy Johnson (bad ass trekker of the Appalachian Trail and eventual 3rd place female finisher) and the adventure began.

Off we went to fill up the water coolers. Terri had canvassed (read: begged) the nearby residents and found a generous soul willing to let us come by and "water up" via their garden hose.

From there, I drove Denise and Leopold around to the the different Aid Stations to scout them, and then out to Lake Johns Creek, the turn around point. (I admit it was hard not to notice how FAR the lake seemed to be from camp).

Back at the Campground, Krissy and her family invited us over to join them in a game of "Cornhole" . Yes, that's what it's called, and before you get all judgemental on me, you just try playing this game without instantly becoming addicited to it. Seriously.

After a while, Leopold was beating everyone and so we had to form teams to take him down.
Then we had a strange "run-in" with a Park Ranger with a serious authority complex. He had some problem with the way Krissy's second car was parked, and was compelled to keep repeating "Park in front of the van. In front of the van!" What's that you say? "In front of the van!". Where do you want us to park? "In front of the van!". Can we park NEXT to the..."In FRONT of the van!". Sheesh, Mister. Chill, already.

The whole environment was extremely laid back, to say the least. I was wondering if it would change in the morning, as most of the racers would be arriving then.
However, the next morning I found that pre-race anxiety consisted of waking up in my tent and waiting until I heard the first sounds of people stirring at the Campground. I dressed, woke Leopold up, and we headed over (all of 200 yards) to the Check-In area, where we had arranged for Leopold to be with Jenny at Aid Station #3, so that I'd see him at Mile 15 and again at Mile 25.

By the way, Jenny and Swaz are adorable couple #1. The guy in orange above is 1/2 of adorable couple #2, Joe and Sam. I don't have pictures, but adorable couple #3 consists of Rebecca and Doug.

I had hoped to meet fellow blogger Jason Sullivan before the race, and sure enough he was suddenly right there introducing himself. This is the first time I've been to a race where I've met a blogger buddy. It's pretty cool. And Jason is like a GIANT. I'm 5'4", and he's at LEAST a foot taller than me. (I later learned he is an ex-football player. Shocker).

So, it's finally time. At 7:30 we all lined up for final instructions. Terri said, "Go!" and she sent us on our way.

Mile 1: I decided to go for a little run.
Status: 7:30 A.M., and 40 miles to go.

We headed out from the Brickhouse Camp Ground on a trail that looks like this (picture compliments of the Beast Jason Sullivan). Everyone was moving easy, chatting, and having fun. I was trying to make sure I kept it way slow, and just relaxed into a slow pace. At this point, I was thinking about the race in thirds- that the first third should feel easy, the 2nd third should feel moderately hard, and the last third feels like whatever it feels like.

I noticed a definite down hill, and thought about having to come up that thing on the way back.

A little later on I remember running on pavement for a little while and just cracking up with Jason and Sam about phantom pains before a race. I was really enjoying myself. Then we pulled in to the first aid station, got some food and water, and off we went.

Back into the forest we went. I was looking forward to seeing Leopold at the next Aid Station. It occurred to me that it was Mother's Day and I was running my first Ultra and my son was strategically placed at the 15 mile mark to prevent me from turning around early. In some universe that probably makes sense.

Mile 15 - Feelin' groovy

Coming in to Aid Station #3, I felt OK, not great but certainly not terrible. It was awesome to see Leopold and a small party of people there to water and feed us. I still remember Aid Station #3 as having the nicest layout of food. I said goodbye, and headed to the turn-around point.

Mile 16, 17- Strangers are just friends waiting to happen.

For the next couple of miles I ran with a gentleman whose name I don't know. We had a nice conversation and it was really enjoyable. I felt good, and I may have picked up the pace here when I shouldn't have. I think I paid for it later. I later looked back at my splits. I did not speed up here at all, so I guess I was just feeling good.

Mile 18- Little pink houses for you and me.

I hit an early unexpected bad patch around 18. I was running through dense, dense single-track forest and I was now alone. It was nothing major, but I just started to notice I didn't feel as good as I thought I should be feeling. Then, out of the blue, this thought: "That's a weird place for a house." Huh? Why did I just think that? I know there are no houses here. Yet, I looked to my left just to be sure. It was the strangest sensation. I knew there were no houses, yet I had a definite feeling of 'houses on the left'. I spent a little time reflecting on what chemical malfunction could be happening in my brain to make this occur. Something about where images are stored in the brain...

Mile 19- Long distance running is 90% mental and the other half is physical.
The section around Johns Creek Lake to the turn around point seemed to have difficult footing. It was double track, but there was hardened, uneven mud and rocks that began to make my feet hurt. I ust had a terrible time getting ionto any kind of groove here. Plus, you're out in the open sun here and it seemed well over 70 degrees. I tried to take a couple of pictures.

Mile 20 - The Turnaround

Status: 4:15 hrs., 20 miles to go
I was feeling marathon tired at this point. It wasn't horrible, but realizing that I had to do the entire thing over again definitely pushed it closer to horrible. Time to dig. Don't think, just go.

Miles 21 - 25: Only after disaster can we be resurrected.

This is where things start to get interesting. At the end of the Dam, instead of seeing the marker for the Trail, I kept going straight. I eventually came to a gate, and there was a gentleman there who told me I was off track. I got back on the trail, and not 5 minutes later I was going down a hill and my foot hit a rock or root and I was down. Just like that. No thinking, just aaaaaahhh...splat! It happened so fast. A huge jolt of adrenaline went through my body. I checked to make sure nothing was broken, and kept on.
Note: I had my phone (for the camera) in my back pocket. One of the coolest things about this race is that I can say I fell so hard my ass took a picture. Of my mind.
Then it was back to dense forest single track trail. I was trying to remember the trail from the way out, but nothing looked familiar. I was thinking I wasin the section where I had the "houses on the left" sensation, when another weird thing began happening. As I would run by fallen logs or downed trees, they would look like bears. If they were lighter in color, they were polar bears. The darker ones were brown bears. Not real bears, but trees carved in to bears. It was also here that I thought I began to hear voices. This was probably the most disturbing thing. I had no way to know if they were real or I was imagining them. I got a little bit scared because something about hearing voices scares me. Not the voices themselves, but the fact that I'm hearing them and they may not be real. During this section I had a lot of fears about whether I was predisposed to being schizophrenic. I tried to recall anything I could think of about schizophrenia. Aren't you supposed to hear directional voices with that, or hear them only on one side of your head? Or is that just on crime/drama TV shows? (Later, I would notice that the couple with the dog were behind me- I'm fairly certain it was their voices I kept hearing. Not that that makes me sane or anything).

Like worrying about having schizophrenia's not bad enough, I came up to this huge downed tree and suddenly thought I was lost. I did not remember this tree with the red, red earth around it on the way out. I got a little panicked, and back-tracked to make sure I saw the yellow markers on the trees, which I did. Then the fact that I back tracked scared me because I thought I could get turned around and think I was heading back, when in fact I could be heading out to the lake- again. Somehow, I came to my senses, and decided to walk up to the tree to check it out (obviously something was off, as doing this in the first place was not my first, second or third thought). I felt completely stupid to find that I had been on trail all along, and I had just wasted god knows how much time having a panic attack.

I was coming up to Leopold's Aid Station when the final weird thing of this section happened. The moment I saw Leopold, I was overcome and began to sob violently. It was so unexpected and it was shocking how strong and fast it came over me. I reassured Leopold I was OK, just overcome with emotion. I pulled it together, and got some food and water. It was really, really hard to leave this Aid Station. But I saw Joy taking off, and didn't want to get too far behind.

Miles 26 - 30: Enjoy your pain, you've earned it.

I remember this section as ROLLING HILLS. As in, take 3 steps down, 3 steps up. Repeat hundreds and thousands of times. From these miles, I remember the couple with the dog, a gentleman, and Rebecca. I was trying to be aware of Rebecca to see if she needed to pass. I remember her making a noise, and then explaining she was just blowing air out so as not to suck in the swarming ball of gnats. For a while, it was the gentleman, Rebecca and me. My legs were getting sore and it felt like my feet had been tenderized with a sledgehammer. Yet I was just still moving forward, somehow. I do remember not wanting to take the lead, though. Later, I reflected on this and I felt selfish. I didn't want the responsibility of making sure we were on track, and deciding when to walk. However, at the time, I was just too tired to care.

Mile 30 -35: Courage, determination, pride...that's what little girls are made of.

This is my favorite section of the race. I had a good patch here, and so did Rebecca. I was feeling strong, even though "strong" was a relative term at this point. This is where the gentleman we were running with fell behind. We came up to a guy with blue shorts on wearing an iPod. We scared the crap out of him as we went by. We then came up to another guy, tall with red shorts, and passed him. We also passed the couple with the dog. Coming in to the final Aid Station we were feeling pretty happy and loopy. I sucked down black jelly beans and peanuts like it was ambrosia. Rebecca's boyfriend, Doug, was there and was going to run the last 5 with us. It began to occur to me that I was almost done.

Mile 35 -40: And you help each other realize that all the things you want to already are.

This is by far the most emotional section of the race for me. It went on forever, and every mile felt like an eternity. Doug was a godsend. He was there to help us, lift our spirits and provide some comic relief. He succeeded wildly on every count, although Iwas so tired, I bet I barely even responded to him. It was painful to keep going. It took everything to run when we could. Then it got worse. There was a mamoth hill. It turned my legs to jelly. I fell. Hard. It didn't even matter. I don't even know why I bothered to cry out at that point.
I was getting loopy, too. I had fallen so many times that a montage of my falls was running through my head- and it was cheering me up. My god, I think I'm drainbamaged. I began to feel proud about my cuts and bruises. I was definitely feeling like a badass. As horrible as it was to keep going, it was even more horrible to realize that if I didn't have a choice about stopping, I could keep going. Oh, my god. If I had to, I could keep running. I don't want to know this!!

Doug would run ahead and make sure he saw the yellow blazes. At one point, we were sure we were lost. We were in a forest of soot covered trees. My eyes were playing tricks on me. I was thirsty. I had forgotten to fill my water bottle at Mile 35.

He somehow kept us calm, and assured us we were almost done.

During the last two miles, I felt a very strong connection to Rebecca. I felt like we were similar in what we were going through, and that was so comforting. It was the longest distance either of us had run. Our feet hurt so bad. Our hands had swollen to twice their size - "Shrek Hands", as Rebecca put it. And we were almost done.

And then we were done. That wonderful, this-is-the-final-few-yards-of-the-race feeling. Amazing! The feeling at the finish was so powerful and unique. I later came across a quote that describes it best (even though it refers to a hundered miles):

"Going for a run always clears my head. But running 100 miles distills my soul."

* You know who you are!

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Shortest Pre-Race Freak-Out Ever

Right about now, I'm thinking, "What was I thinking? 40 miles. Not even 40 road miles, but 40 trail miles. Oh my god, how can I get out of this? "

Hmm. That's not good.

Best to just set aside the doubts, and go blindly/ stupidly into the abyss. That's right- it's my style. I own it.

The next time I post, I will be telling you what a _______ race I had. How I _______ it. How I ran until my ______ fell off and I ________ the ground.

It's gonna be cool. Way cooler than Mad Libs.

Later, dudes.


Tara over at Colorado Runner is running her FIRST marathon on Sunday!! Woo Hoo! How cool is that? Go wish her luck.

Matt Patten is a guy who runs. He's running the Ice Age 50M tomorrow. In my book, that just makes him sexy.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

5 Jokes Friday

Flowers Friday!
Look at this beautiful flower arrangement. This is what was waiting for me at my desk this morning. Wow! It's a "thank you" from Kristin Harkey at CMLC. What a great way to start the weekend!

It was such a pleasure working with Kristin to coordinate our participation in the race, that I would actually like to find a way to become more involved with CMLC on a forward going basis. That must be the ultimate compliment, huh? Of course, as a condition of my involvement I would expect flowers on a regular basis...

5 Jokes Friday
And now for your Friday reading pleasure, I've prepared the following 5 Jokes. There's something for everyone today: Lawyer jokes, Blonde jokes, Inappropriate Cattle behavior -it's a virtual perfect storm of politically incorrect jokes. Enjoy!

#1 - Doctor And Lawyer Talk
A doctor and a lawyer were talking at a party. Their conversation was constantly interrupted by people describing their ailments and asking the doctor for free medical advice. After an hour of this, the exasperated doctor asked the lawyer, "What do you do to stop people from asking you for legal advice when you're out of the office?"

"I give it to them," replied the lawyer, "and then I send them a bill." The doctor was shocked, but agreed to give it a try. The next day, still feeling slightly guilty, the doctor prepared the bills. When he went to place them in his mailbox, he found a bill from the lawyer.

#2 - Revenge of the Blonde
A blonde walks into a bank in New York City and asks for the loan officer. She says she's going to Europe on business for two weeks and needs to borrow $5,000. The bank officer says the bank will need some kind of security for the loan, so the blonde hands over the keys to a new Rolls Royce. The car is parked on the street in front of the bank; she has the title, and everything checks out. The bank agrees to accept the car as collateral for the loan. The bank's president and its officers all enjoy a good laugh at the blonde for using a $250,000 Rolls as collateral against a $5,000 loan. An employee of the bank then drives the Rolls into the bank's underground garage and parks it there.

Two weeks later, the blonde returns and repays the $5,000 and the interest, which comes to $15.41. The loan officer says, "Miss, we are very happy to have had your business, and this transaction has worked out very nicely; but we are a little puzzled. We checked you out and found that you are a multimillionaire. What puzzles us is - why would you bother to borrow $5,000?" The blond replies....."Where else in New York City can I park my car for two weeks for only $15.41 and expect it to be there when I return?"

#3 - Gotta Love Those Scots!
At a recent U2 concert in Glasgow, Scotland, Bono – lead singer of the rock band U2 – asked the audience for total quiet. Then, in the silence, he started to slowly clap his hands, once every few seconds. Holding the audience in total silence, he said into the microphone, 'Every time I clap my hands, a child in Africa dies.' A voice with a broad Scottish accent from the front of the crowd pierced the quiet...“'Well, foockin stop doin it then, ya evil foockin bastard!”

#4 -Mujibar Gets A Job
Mujibar was trying to geta job in India . The Personnel Manager said, "Mujibar, you have passed all the tests, except one. Unless you pass it, you cannot qualify for this job." Mujibar said, "I am ready." The manager said, "Make a sentence using the wordsYellow, Pink and Green." Mujibar thought for a few minutes and said, "Mister manager, I am ready." The manager said, "Go ahead." Mujibar said, "The telephone goes green, green, andI pink it up, and say, 'Yellow, this is Mujibar.'"

#5 - Three Blondes
A guy is having a drink in a bar.
A lot of drinks.
A very dark bar.
He leans over to the big woman next to him and says, "Do you wanna hear a funny blonde joke?" The big woman replies, "Well, before you tell that joke, you should know something. Sure, I'm blonde, and six feet tall, 210 lbs. and I'm a professional triathlete and bodybuilder. The blonde woman sitting next to me is 6' 2" and 220 lbs; she's an ex-pro wrestler. Next to her is a blonde who's 6' 5",weighs 250 lbs., and she's a kick boxer professional. Now, do you still want to tell that blonde joke?" The guy blinks, swallows, and thinks about it for a second then says; "No, not if I'm going to have to explain it three times."!

Blackhawk Boys T-Shirt Weiners!
Drum roll, please.
The weiners of the Blackhawk Boys T-Shirts are:

Roisin weins the Medium shirt!!! Oooh Ahhhh Wheeee....
Georgia Snail weins the Large shirt!!! Thunderous applause....

Congratulations, guys! E-mail me your address at or, if you are one of the few unfortunate ones my server at work hates, and I will get your shirt out to you pronto. Now go out and have yourselves a great weekend, knowing you're weiners!

Photo Fun

I took this at Barnes and Noble last night. In the kids section. ...Perhaps Leopold is preparing for next week's animal-themed 5 Jokes Friday?*

And finally. 'Cause what's a Friday without a little rude Cattle humor?

Everyone gets stuck once in a while.

Just Remember....

* Look closely at the animals in this picture.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

RACE REPORT: Run For The Hills 5K

The Blackhawk Boys Running Club made a fine showing on Sunday, competing in their Spring Season race, the first inaugural Run For The Hills 5K, held at Fletcher Community Park.

This was an afternoon race, which is becoming more and more common around here. The weather was perfect-breezy, high 70's, and beautiful. I arrived around 1:00 and first-time RD Aimee had everything organized for me. All of our race packets were in one box, and she even went as far as putting all our race numbers in a large envelope. On the front was a list of boys and their corresponding race number. It was awesome. As our boys showed up, we were able to get their race number pinned on them, get them entered in the raffle, and ready run.

Also nice: we were afforded 8 complimentary race entries due to our fundraising. The Blackhawk Boys received 4 free entries, and David Keller (my boss and member of the CMLC Board of Directors) received 4 free entries, which he gave to us. This allowed us to enter several parents who wanted to run with their son.

As we lined up on the grass, the Blackhawk Boys toed the line, forming a sea of white T-Shirts. RD Aimee said, "GO!" and 2 of our little 5-year old mascots, Landon ("Peanut") and Adam, shot out to lead the race across the grassy field and on to the walking trail. They will be forever memorialized in the Asheville Citiziens Times Outdoor Section as leading the race.

I stuck with Leopold, as best I could. He went out strong and steady. After running around the large green field, we headedon to the walking path and hit Mile 1 in about 8:19. We settled in behind Robert- for the duration of the race as it turned out. The next section was an out-and-back, and I got a little confused because I hadn't toured the course beforehand. For some reason, I assumed this next section would be a 1/2 mile out and back, and that we'd finish with another loop around the field.

I knew something was wrong when we were at the turn around and my watch said 16:45. Dang, that was one long 1/2 mile I thought. So, as we came up to the grass field, I was thinking I felt pretty bad considering I had to do that loop again. I was completely impressed with Leopold for holding such a strong pace and not giving up.*

That's when I noticed the people up ahead of looked like they were finishing right there- no additional loop. Just to be sure, I kept watching to see if they were actually stopping. (As opposed to running through the finish line and continuing on).
They were! Yay! Sprint to the finish!!
Like that, it was over.
There was a festival afterwards, and a raffle. Sweet, sweet prizes to be had. Graeson won a $100 Gift Certificate for Foot RX, upon which Leopold complained, "Oh, man. He's just gonna buy 50 bags of Sports Beans and get sick." (Consider that permission, Grae!).

There were so many good memories from this race:

  • Seeing how the boys really supported one another and showed up as a Team.
  • The out-and-back portion of the course allowed for awesome hand slapping opportunities).
  • Seeing Bryson complete his first 5K ever with both his parents- and seeing how proud he was.
  • Feeling the comeraderie between friends and coaches.
  • Being surprised - again - at the strength, determination, and competitiveness of our boys.
  • Meeting Aimee and Kristin in person after e-mailing each other for the last month.
  • Winning my age group with a 26:00 5K. Awesome.
  • Photos (from top): 1)Leopold and Drew. 2) Amy, Sam and Jack. 3) Graeson and Drew.


    Overall Female
    1 Aileen Mason
    2 Erin Herbst
    3 Tracy Katsigiannis

    Overall Male
    1 Duncan Sharrits
    2 Max Sass
    3 Wyatt Stevens

    Female Masters 40+
    1 Psyche Wimberly (Coach- Blackhawk Boys)

    Male Masters 40+
    1 Greg Walker

    Female Age Groups:
    Under 14
    1 Mackinney Supola
    No competitors
    1 Nadine Maltz
    1 Page Mayner
    1 Donna Morgan

    Male Age Groups:
    1Under 14
    Jonathan Laws (Blackhawk Boys Running)
    1 Michael Mouton
    1 Rafe Westbrook
    1 Eric Johnson
    1 Robert Dowling (Coach- Blackhawk Boys Running)

    * I was the worst race buddy EVER. I was asking Leopold if he needed to slow down, get a drink, take a restroom break, go fly fishing, etc. That poor kid. We later decided that when we show up to a race, we're there to do our best, no exceptions, no excuses. MOM.

    Tuesday, May 4, 2010

    The New Adventures of Young Leopold

    Last name, Ever.
    First Name, Greatest.

    That's Leopold's aka. Really. Just ask him.

    What's he doing now, you ask? Well, let me tell you. Leopold has set his sights on finishing the Asheville Triathlon on July 18.

    Swim: 400 meters
    Bike: 11.6 miles
    Run: 5K

    How did this come about? Well, first, it's not exactly a new idea. He's wanted to do a triathlon for a while. What's kept him back (besides his inherited lack of swim finesse) is our lack of a road bike. Like most kids, he has a Mountain Bike.

    He has wanted a road bike for for like EVER and I wanted to get him one for Christmas. That was, until I found out they do not make road bikes for people his size. (That's just discrimination. Seriously, who do I have to sue?*). Apparently, companies who make road bikes are missing out on a big share of the Junior market. With few exceptions, none of the big companies carry a bike small enough. And special order bikes are pricey. We were forced to tell Leopold we did not love him enough to buy him a $2,500 bike.**

    So, anyways, I was at the YWCA yesterday morning and was talking with Jeff Carnivale -trainer, marathoner, triathlete, super cool guy. He has started up a Tri Training group and he put me on the e-mail list. I mention we don't have a bike for the training, and just when I thought he was going to loan us one he told me you can convert a mountain bike to a road bike for a triathlon. Ta Da!! Sweet. He said the magic words.

    I told Leopold that this was an option, and the rest is history. Or WILL be history on July 18. Is my son awesome or WHAT?

    * LawMonkey, you cannot count that as my first question.
    ** Like he didn't know THAT already.

    Monday, May 3, 2010

    T-Shirt Giveaway!

    To make up for Friday's cow jokes, I'm giving away 2 Blackhawk Boys T-Shirts. These would be the "extras" left over from our season, which culminated yesterday in the Run For The Hills 5K.*

    The shirts are way cool. The model, not so much. The design is by Jacob Ingram, 4th grader at Weaverville Elementary School. I have 1 Medium and 1 Large Shirt, so before you enter...make sure I have a size that will actually fit you (duh).

    Here is how you enter:

  • Leave a new comment for each entry and indicate the shirt size you want (they are adult sizes).

  • Follow my blog. Let me know if you already do or if you're new!(+1)

  • Link the giveaway on your blog, tweet it, put it on Facebook, whatever you want! (Leave a comment for EACH thing you do...I'm lazy) (+1!!)

  • Last, but not least....tell me a joke (I obviously need new material). (+1!)

    Hurry and register, kids! I will use the Random Number Generator for the first time to pick my 2 winners on Friday, May 7.

    If you find you don't like MY giveaway, and why wouldn't you, Trish over at KETTLECOPIA has not one, but two gift options to choose from. So, go get yerself from free stuff!!

    * The race report is coming- I'm waiting on pictures!!!