Saturday, October 30, 2010

"Please don't throw me in that briar patch, Brer Fox!"

Once again, I headed to Bell Buckle, TN, but this time I would get to run on the trail I had previously helped clear on Labor Day Weekend.  I was looking forward to this 11 hour and 1 minute race and looking forward to seeing the trail once again.  I left my house at noon with Penelope saying my ETA would be 2:40.  Perfect- the walk thru was scheduled at 3:00.  Unfortunately, a wreck snared me a little bit, but I still managed to pull into Laz's drive a little after 3:00.  After being in the
bus for four hours, I was a little tired, grumpy, and stiff.  I'm sure I did not look the least bit friendly when I rolled out of the bus, but I think
I fairly managed to post a smile on my face as I walked up to the table to sign in.  I got my bib and cool t-shirt from Gary Cantrell (aka Laz), the race director and creator of this crazy race.  Then unloaded my cooler before parking the bus at our parking area for the weekend, which was just a 1/2 mile from the start.  When walking back to the race area, I was met my 2 gnarly pit bull looking dogs.  Used my firm "No" and hoped they stayed- they did.  Friday night's plan was to walk thru the trail and then a brat roast with some trimmings.  As soon as I arrived back, we set off on the walk thru of the North Loop (5.5 miles).  The North Loop began with a 2.5 mile jaunt down the black top road.  Only two dogs came out to greet us before we reached a gravel
drive that we turned down, that would lead us to an uncut hay field.  There we followed along the tree line on the outskirts of the field.  We cut through a couple of wooded sections before coming upon our first fence crossing.  There was a nice rectangle cut out for us to bend over and step through, or some did step over.  Me being on the vertically challenged side, I had to bend and step thru.  Back down the  
field we go before reaching, yet again, another wire fence.  This one was a nice circular shape that you had to step up on a rock to crawl through.  No stepping over this one.  Finally, we are in the woods and headed on the trail.  The trail was very, very well marked with pink ribbons.  There was no way to get lost.  Lots of rocks, especially at "wobbly rocks".  These were like a giant's jigsaw puzzle after he  slammed his fist down on it.  Between 3-5 foot crevices between the jigsaw shaped rocks.  One section was too far apart to jump, so we
were guided down into the crevice, and then back up some perfectly built rock steps.  It was absolutely beautiful.  I had not gotten to see this section when I was here on Labor day.  After wobbly rocks, we went through cedar lane and then over a long forgotten rock wall.  We continued traveling around Laz's backyard.  I was still a little lost and unsure if I was on parts that I had helped on or not, until we came upon the fallen tree.  The tree was too large to move off the trail and why go around when you could go over.  The rule, since there was a nice rock step on one side, was the last person over needed to roll the rock to the
other side.  I think everyone broke that rule.  Now I recognized some of the trail.  We soon came upon the cave, which meant we were near the old sewer line road.  We followed it down the hill and then started around and again into the woods. This was the area we had tried to reach the corner and was unsuccessful.  Laz was successful and we were soon back on some familiar areas to me.  The trail circled around again and then cross the sewer road again, close by Laz's house, and then around.  Nearing the end now.  Cross another downed fence section, cross the driveway, and finally out right by the start/aid station.  
Yeah food now.  Laz had the bonfire going and we were invited to get our own sticks for the brats.  I sat listening to conversations around me and wondered what in the heck am I doing there.  I was surrounded by very accomplished runners; 100 mile finishers, Boston qualifiers,
transcontinental completer.  Even worse, I am not a social butterfly.  Socially awkward is more like it.  I guess some would call it shyness.  I call it torture.  I don't even consider myself a runner.  (At the Air Force Marathon there were those cute 'Runner Girl' stickers, and my husband had to practically force me to buy one.  I consider myself a plodder.)   So I spent the rest of the evening beating myself up for attempting this race and wondering why I do stuff like that.  I eventually excused myself and headed to the parking area, chatting with a very nice couple from North Carolina (Joe and Amy).  I headed to my great friend's house, Lina, who was putting me up for the weekend- once again.  I quickly fell asleep and awoke around 5 the next morning.  Feeling somewhat much better about the day after a good night's sleep, I headed back to the parking lot.  I unloaded my small cooler and drop bag, wondering if I was gonna be a total geek for having too much stuff.  When I walked
up though, those fears were unfounded.  There were chairs and coolers, drop bags scattered everywhere.  Soon, time was upon us and a quick countdown and we were off on the North Loop.  My goals were 1) not to get injured, 2) keep moving the entire 11 hours, and hopefully, fingers crossed, 3) reach 40 miles.  (I have never been farther than 35 miles and that was last October on a park path.)  So I was nervously excited to see how I would do.  I settled down into my plodding pace which was somewhere in the middle of the pack I guess and was able to continue on the road part without walking.  I figured I'd be walking soon
enough.  I eventually reached the trail part of the North Loop and caught up with a couple of other runners (Mike P. & Ilena).  The rest of the loop was pretty uneventful and we soon reached the aid station and the flat slab of rock in front that you had to tag for completion of each loop.  I quickly filled up my two bottles (one with water, the other with gatorade) and headed out to the South Loop, the unknown.  As I was coming into the AS, I saw a couple of other runners on the South Loop, so I felt better about which way I was suppose to be going.  I crossed the road to Laz's neighbor's driveway and came upon the
electric fence.  Being my graceful self, my plan for the day was to stop, drop, and roll.  I figured a little roll in the grass was better than being zapped.  I made it, no extra zing, and headed counter clockwise on the south loop.  The rule of thumb for the south loop was to keep an eye on the fence line.  If you were inside of it and in eyesight, you were pretty much on the path.  Sort of.  I would see a pick ribbon go about 15-20 feet and go "crap".  Then take a few steps and see a pink ribbon.  Go
15-20 feet, think "crap", take a couple of steps, then see a pink ribbon. 
To me it was like orienteering without a map.  Every pink ribbon was my control point!  My little victories, until I came upon the first hill.
OMGosh!  My calves immediately began to seize, so I tried to step up as flat footed as I could going up the hill, avoided saw briers all the while keeping an eye out for those blasted pink ribbons.  I kept moving and I eventually heard some voices.  I soon caught up with Mike M. and Mike S.  Yeah- it was nice having 2 extra pairs of eyes watching for ribbons and saw briers.  We soon caught up with John and Steve and close to the end of the South Loop.  Another stop, drop, and roll and I
had completed my first full loop (9.5 miles).  Refilled at the AS and headed clockwise onto the North loop.  I have to say, I can't really remember the second loop of the North loop- except thinking I liked running that way better than counter clockwise.  I also did use my inhaler though.  Even though the weather was great, my chest felt hollow and I didn't want to take any chances.  Same on the South loop- except it was just as relentless as counter clockwise.  Not too mention I got tired of hearing my heart beating in my ears on all of the uphill climbs.  I met up again with Mike M. and as we were heading to the trail section of the third loop of the North loop, he left me in my dust.  I was dragging a little.  I seem to around 15-22 miles.  I was glad that he didn't feel like he needed to hang back.  Go Mike go.  I kept
plowing ahead, really not looking forward to heading back on that 3rd loop of the South loop.  I was really letting it get me down.  Plus, I was trying to calculate in my head running 4 total loops within the time limit, plus the out and back after 3 laps for the 50K distance.  I wasn't sure I could get it.  I eventually got my second wind and refilled, another stop, drop, and roll, and headed to the South Hell loop.  Two good things happened.  Mike H. came up from behind asking if I wanted company (heck yeah) and there was actually something resembling a trail taking shape.  Although some areas were almost better to slide down on your butt to get through, the third loop of the south side was great.  Mike even pushed me to run some more, dodging the cow patties, to finish that loop pretty strong for me.  I went into the AS ready for the road out and back to bag my 50K.  Still calculating in my head if I could get one more full loop in or not.  Also, I decided that I would change my socks and take a quick potty break before heading out on the fourth loop of the North side.  Oops...I immediately felt my fresh comfortable clean socks rubbing on a blister on the side of my heal.  Dang..not a good choice after all.  I continued on the 4th loop of the North side with no one in sight.  I was soon wishing I had taken the time to hunt out my ipod.  I can't imagine a worse song to have stuck in your head than, "I'm Henry the 8th I am, Henry the 8th I am, I am.  I got married to the widow next door, she's been married 7 times before.  And every says Henry.  Henry!  I'm 8th old man named Henry.  Henry the 8th I am, I am."  Over and over again I sang that blasted song.  Oh
my, I'm losing my mind, but I felt pretty good.  I was trying to get in the  AS with at least an hour 45 minutes left for the south loop.  I made it in 1:33 I believe.  I didn't feel I could make the south loop in that time.  Laz gave me my times for the previous laps, but I wasn't sure if I should trust him or not.  LOL  I should have paid better attention to my times.  Alas, I did not trust and decided to do just do the longer road out and back (1.25 miles).  When I completed that miserable lap on the road, Laz informed me how sluggishly long it took me and I wouldn't have time for another.  I could try the shorter 1/2 mile out and backs.  I decided to get another 1/2 mile in.  When I reached the AS, Laz informed me that one more 1/2 mile would give me 40 miles. goal.  I wanted to sit so bad, but to reach my goal.  I actually ran all of that lap.  Looking at my time, it took me a little over 5 minutes to complete that half mile.  Well, I least I finished strong.  I went and sat in my chair, but then I made the mistake of looking at the clock.  There was still 20 minutes or so left.  Second goal was to continue for the full 11 hours.  I got up out of my chair and plodded my way back out again.  My right foot, the fifth metatarsal, felt like it was broken.  The
road was winning.  I figured I was going to have to have the doc x ray it Monday.  I could hear him banning me first from ballet at 27 y.o. and now running at 35 y.o.  I touched the slab of rock and just immediately turned right back around to get one more lap in.  Everyone was happy and cheering everyone else on.  Abi's son, T.J., was looking so strong still running.  It was a great ending to a perfect day.  At 10:55:25, I finally called it a day with 41 miles completed.  My farthest distance ever to date.  I even ended placing 7th.  Not too mention meeting some really wonderful people.  I am really glad Laz came up with the race idea and his wife, Sandra, allowed him to put it on.  I'm still not quite ready to call myself an ultrarunner, let alone a runner, but I am so happy that there are events I can participate in and see such beautiful places.
South Loop souvenirs!  Plus, some kind of funky rash one week later.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Water Rescue On the High Seas- October 09, 2010

Back to Bethel, Ohio for a 6 Hour Adventure Race- "The East Fork Challenge".  I woke up at 7:30 with the intention of being on the road by 8:30.  It takes about an hour to get to Dany's house and I calculated that we could load the kayaks and be on our way by 10:00.  In my mind, I figured since it took a little over 2 hours from my house to get to Bethel, Ohio, then it wouldn't take as long to get there from her house.  Miscalculated, but more on that later.  I had loaded most of my stuff up the night before, just needed to fill up my camelbak and cooler and out the door.  I stopped and gassed up Big Bird then swung into Wal-Mart.  I wanted to get some snacks for the day, plus look at their rain boots.  While I was grabbing a pair of boots, some of the fuzzy boots caught my eye.  I've been trying to find some comfortable shoes to slip into after I finish my races, but had not been able too.  My Reebok flip flops were quite comfortable, but it is turning colder.  Anyhow, I paid for my purchases and headed out the door.  All the way to Dany's house, I couldn't stop thinking about those boots.  how warm and comfortable they would be after finishing a race this fall.  Not too mention, my feet were a little chilled already this morning in my flip flops.  I glanced at my watch
and Penelope assured me of my arrival time.  I had time, so I detoured to the nearest Wal-Mart and ran in and bought me a pair. (Needless to say, they are quite warm, and not quite time to wear them yet.)  I made it to Dany's house by 9:30 and we had the kayaks and her bike loaded in Big Bird before heading out.  We pulled out right on time at 10:00.  Needless to say, Penelope let me know that our arrival time was 12:11.  Eekkk...cutting it a little close.  Pre race briefing was at 12:30, with the race starting at 1:00.  Hope there's no traffic.  There wasn't and we actually made up a little time on the road, just barely speeding.  (I'm almost off probation- one more month and then I don't have to be quite as careful.)  We had just enough time to swing thru DQ for a bite to eat and potty break, or so we thought.  We pretty much pulled into the parking lot on two wheels, jumped out to grab our race packets and find out where to stage our kayaks at, and headed to the beach.  We quickly unloaded the kayaks, drove back to the start area, and caught the tail end of the pre race meeting.  Hopefully, we didn't miss much, or anything too important.  We had about 20 minutes before the start, so we headed over to Big Bird and got squared away.  As we were walking away, I realized I had my good glasses on my head, so I stuck them up under the roof rack on Big Bird.  They gave the big countdown and we were off.  We had to run back down to the swim area where we had staged the boats.  We quickly donned our water shoes and shoved off.  We had an opportunity to get 5 points, but you only to get a minimum of 3 before beginning the trekking section.  (I have only kayaked one other time and that was only for about 10 minutes- just to see if I could.  I basically paddled out in the middle of the lake, turned a couple of times, then paddled back in.  Last year, Dany and I canoed and she said it would be faster kayaking.)  I think we were a little faster, but not sure how much.  I was just trying to keep from flipping out when the motor boats were zooming past us.  Since, she is more able, I let Dany jump in & out of the kayak to punch our control card.  While she was punching (and at one point peeing- wish I had a pic of that one!), I would study our map and try to get us headed in the right direction.  I could feel blisters forming on my thumbs from the paddling and at times wanted to quit, but we kept pushing ahead and 
 managed to snag 4 checkpoints before getting to the next TA. After studying the map some more, we decided to head for a checkpoint that was right by the trail, but the clue was "east side of pond".  Surely we couldn't miss a pond!  We started seeing a few other groups by then, so at least we weren't completely lost.  Pond- yeah!  Our first trekking checkpoint.  We needed a minimum of 3 before we could head back to the boats.  We figured we could find the next one that was in the bottom of a reentrant.  We went down a reentrant and met a lady coming up out of it, she said it was the wrong one.  So we trudged on ahead and a guy went passed and told us it was about 250 yards on up.  We found another one that looked like it could be
 the one and headed down it.  It was quite steep and rocky and I told Dany I would go down, since she had gotten out of the boat for the paddling checkpoints.   Got it!  We headed back up and out.  Looking at the map, we decided to head back on the trail we had
come in on and where it met with another trail, we would take the creek to find our last checkpoint needed.  The clue was "creek junction".  Luckily, we took the correct junction and it led us to the checkpoint.  We passed another team coming out and saw that they had taken the other junction and tried to point them in the right way.  We thought briefly about heading for one more checkpoint that looked easy to find, but after checking our watches, decided to get in our boats and go.  We kind of figured 2-2-2
(2 hours paddling, 2 hours trekking, 2 hours biking).  We chatted briefly with a family that was also departing from the boat TA as we changed back into our water shoes.  We were headed back to the beach area when about halfway, our adventure began.  Just up ahead of us, one of the canoes had capsized.  My first thought was that it was the family that we had just spoke to and those young boys were with them.  Dany actually witnessed them go over and everything.  I didn't see it.  guess, I was concentrating on being a world class kayaker, stroke, stroke, stroke.  Anyhow, as we got closer to them, it was actually 3 guys, not the family.  Worse though was they didn't have life jackets on.  One had a jacket, but was not wearing it.  they were clinging to the canoe, which looked like it was not going to stay up much longer.  None of them felt like they could make it to shore.  So I took off my life jacket and threw it to the closest one to me.  He put it on and grabbed the end of my kayak and we headed into shore.  We were moving at a snail's pace.  I was stroking as hard as I could and he was kicking.  Sheesh...that shoreline is not getting too close.  I heard Dany behind me say, "We're not going anywhere."  I kind of giggled to myself, because I was struggling getting one to shore, let alone her trying to get both of them. Dany's side of rescue:  So here I am in the middle of the lake: Shannon has her distressed paddler wearing her life jacket and he is holding to the back of her boat. Meanwhile I have dude 1 hanging on the front of my boat trying to tie his shoes (those apparently were not secure either). I have dude 2 swimming to the back of my boat, I'm yelling for him to be on opposite side of his bro up front. Yes, i was making smart comment to dude #1, asking him if he needed me to tie his shoes for him too LOL! I commented that I guess I should not be such a smart butt 'cause you could easily flip me over. He said he wouldn't do that. I must say I didn't have much confidence seeing how they didn't exactly "mean" to flip their canoe! Anyhow both dudes are on my boat and I am paddling away for shore, did I mention I was paddling in the same place, or so it seemed!  Finally, he was able to touch the bottom.  I turned and headed back out to Dany and we proceeded to get the other two dudes in.  Poor canoe left to its own devices.  Dany had retrieved their paddles and tucked them in her kayak.  We figured it would be one less thing for them to carry if they decided to walk back.  We got both of them to safety and they threw out my life vest and Dany and I assured them we would let them know, and we headed off again.  Of course, it would be another 1/2 hour before we reached the beach area.  We let the guy at the TA know of the incident and then headed back up to the start area to retrieve our bikes.  We had a little less than 2 hours to grab a few checkpoints.  Our water rescue did not put us to far behind.  So we looked at the map and headed out down the road.  We found the bike path we needed to take and headed down the path.  I always forget how much mountain biking is because I only do it about once a year.  The last time being last year for this race.  This time though it was dry.  Last year was quite wet and we had a couple of incidents, especially crossing the wooden bridges.  This year, we were living up to our team name "Girls Gone Wild".  Motoring right through the trail.  Well that was until we came to a wooden bridge and Dany's bike threw her.  Like a horse that stops at a jump.  I'm behind her and it was like slow motion watching her just fall to the side right off of the bridge.  OMG- I thought now I'm gonna have to do a splint because she's had to broke something in that fall.  I couldn't even see her foot.  It plunged right through the ground.  Silence, no screams, no cries- then giggles.  She was miraculously okay- just dust covered up to her knee.  We mounted up again and was off.  We were seeing other riders, but no freaking checkpoints.  Last year, you could see them right on the trail.  I'm not sure if we needed to get off of our bikes and look or not.  We knew we had  passed CP 17 because a team told us.  We had a little under an hour left an unsure where the heck we really were on the trail.  We just kept pedaling madly.  Finally, we came to a sign that said Parking lot- we turned off of the trail and headed that way.  We were at the same point where we had begun, we had made a full circle without seeing one checkpoint.  We decided to head in and call it a day.  As we turned into the parking lot where Big Bird was, we came upon three deer grazing.  They just looked up at us and then kept grazing.  Beautiful creatures.  We turned in our control card and found out that the canoe was able to be recovered.  The RD said we could load our kayaks and that pizza was at the picnic area by the beach.  We drove down to the beach and proceeded to try to load the kayaks.  Both of us being a little over 5 feet tall and fatigued- we struggled.  Thankfully, a gentleman took pity on us and helped give that finally push on Big Bird.  We were loaded and drove over to the pizza.  As we walked up to the tables, we heard, "Thanks for saving us."  Yep, our little capsized crew was already seated and eating.  After grabbing some grub we sat down with them to hear how they finally reached the beach.  A boat actually come by and helped push the canoe to them on the shore, but because we had taken their paddles, they tried to carry the canoe over their heads along the shore.  That didn't last to long.  One of them finally decided to try to get the canoe around and the other two kept walking.  From what I gathered, they also was able to finally flag a ride down.  They eventually made it with the saved canoe.  We still did not learn why they didn't have life vest or how they even managed to capsize in the first place, other than something about a rogue wave.  We did learn that they were actually in the 12 hour race and had been going since 7 that morning.  So they were about 8 hours into their race when they capsized!  Alas, all's well that ends well.  As for our race, the results have not been posted, but I'm guessing that we are disqualified since we did not get the minimum 5 bike points.  We did save a team, so we figured that counted for more.  And the best- we had fun!  Oh yeah, as we pulled out of the park and headed down the road, I remebered my sunglasses that I had stashed on the roof of my truck before the race.  I pulled over, and yep, they were still there!  Unbelievable.  Jumped in Big Bird and headed back to Kentuckiana. 

Friday, October 8, 2010

Doing the Double October 2/3, 2010

I have been looking forward to this weekend for quite awhile, not just because of my mom's birthday (sorry, mom I had to miss it!).  But because it was going to be a good test for me to see how my training has fared.  And since I feel like I have fallen off of the training wagon since the Air Force Marathon, I was nervously anticipating this weekend.  We even left the Friday night football game (Go Greenwaves!) after the third quarter because I knew I needed to wake up at 4:30 and be on the road with Penelope by 5.  I still am amazed I was able to roll out of bed at that hour, seeing as how I usually cannot get out of bed at 7:30 to make it to work by 9 most mornings.  Anyhow, I gassed up Big Bird and we were on I-64 about 5 minutes after 5.  Then I come to the Sherman Minton Bridge- traffic.  "Hello, its Saturday morning, 5:30 in the morning- can you do construction work some other day?-!"  I'm finally through and headed to Waynesville, Ohio.  My goal is the White Tail Trail Half and Full Marathons at Caesar Creek State Park.  I was going to run the half marathon (13.1 miles) on Saturday morning and the full marathon (26.2 miles) on Sunday morning.  At least that was my plan.  I arrived at about 8, plenty of time to check in and get ready.  The race starts at 9.  I picked up my packet for both races (bib numbers, race shirts, and a totally cool duffel bag for running both races).  I was kind of shocked that they gave out the duffel bags before you actually completed the event (more on that later though).  Before long it was time
to board the bus to the start of the race.  The half was a point to point, so we had to be bussed to the start line.  In no time, we unloaded and lined up to start the race.  There was about 160 runners.  I lined up pretty close to the rear.  We started out on the road that lead to a nice stretch of flat park road before turning into single track.  Enough time to spread the runners out.   I found out right away that this was going to be a great run.  This park is absolutely beautiful and the trail was well marked, and taken care of.  We were fairly close to the lake alot of the 
time, but passed several creek crosses, small wooden bridges, and also pioneer village.  I again used my trusty Nathan pack for my electrolytes    (powerade- they only served Heed at the aid stations) and chomps throughout the race.  I tried to drink water at all of the aid stations to stay hydrated.  Since I was running tomorrow, I was trying to take it easy.  No injuries,  Finish strong, but finish was my motto today.  I happened to come up on a couple  from Richmond, IN, and after chatting with them for a few switchbacks, found out that he had completed Western States last year.  Also, learned that he was
recovering from a femur fracture from just 5 months ago.  He was looking great.  Really  impressive after such an injury.  I continued on, marveling over and over, how beautiful this park was.  I felt like I was doing pretty good for me.  Plus, I hadn't really tripped over obstacles like I normally do.  I can recall only flying through the air a couple of times.  Flying, no landing.  I tried to keep a steady pace, or at least for me.  Before long, I came up on aid station and calculated that I was at about mile 7.  While I was grabbing a drink of water, I heard the lady say it was mile 9, only four miles to go.  Like music to my ears.  Woo hoo  That really perked my spirits of.  Four miles is a ton better than 6 miles left.  One race almost done for the day.  I finished in 2:31:58 (placing 122 out of 172 runners).  Grabbed a couple of snacks and headed to Big Bird.  Penelope finally found me a place to get some grub- Applebee's.  Cats were playing and I hoped I might get a chance to see some of the game at a place like that.  I think Penelope was taking me away from my hotel, but didn't care, I was tired and hungry.  I sidled up to the bar and proceeded to look around at all of the big screens.  Not one had the UK game on.  Drats- dumb Ohio State was on at the same time.  I figured there may be a riot if I asked to change just one of the dozen or so tv's.  Texted and tortured my husband for updates until he quit recognizing my number.  I ate my salad, steak, and potatoes, ordered a strawberry shooter for the road and headed back to Big Bird and the Holiday Inn.  Figured I had a better chance at finishing the races if I stayed in a Holiday Inn Express, or at least that's what the commercials seem to make you feel.  ; )  Anyhow, I got checked into my room, and praise the Lord, found the game on the tube.  Unfortunately they lost, but the strawberry shooter was yummy.  I went downstairs and utilized the hot tub and their pool, alternating between the two.  Figured close enough to a contrast bath as I was going to get.  Nope, haven't worked up to an ice bath- too big of a sissy for that.  Noticed that it hadn't stopped raining since I got to my room.  Great the trail is gonna be a nasty mess tomorrow.  It was beautiful, but with all of the wooden bridges and ascents/descents.  Went to bed not looking forward to running the next morning.  I woke up the next morning and looked at my nice new duffel bag and knew that if I didn't at least attempt the race, i wouldn't use the bag.  the thought of my hubby using my new bag was enough to propel me up and out of my toasty room.  A breezy, balmy 46 degrees greeted me as I walked to Big Bird.  I wondered about how I was dressed and if I should try to find some gloves.  Ii decided if I pass a store, then I would try to find some.  As luck would have it, no store, so I sucked it up and pulled back into the park.  I waited until I saw others climbing out of their cars and heading to the starting line.  Today's race was an out and back, so we would start and finish in the same place -no busing today.  I moseyed up to the back of the line and waited for the go signal.  I immediately kind of paired up with Tamara from Ohio and Debbie from New Albany, IN (right down the road from my home- small world).  We chatted a little
and kind of traded on walking/running together.  Then they kind of took a walk break and I wasn't ready too, so I kept on.  Met up with two other fellows, but although older (65 y/o) was keeping a better pace than I was.  They left me in my dust.  My plan was to finish under 6 hours and not be injured.  Soon though Debbie caught up with me again.  For the next 5 hours, I had the most enjoyable experience.  Debbie is a member of the 50 states club and this was her 76th marathon!  She was also training for her first 50 miler.  Her husband was also there and kind of crewing.  We got to see him at almost all of the aid stations.  I also have to add that the trail was not as bad as I feared.  Some spots did not look like it even rained.  I was still careful on the bridges and descents, but overall just another great day.  The only hard energy sapping times mainly was when we came out of the woods into the open areas, like crossing the dam.  Normally, a good spot to run.  Not today.  The wind was just sapping her energy trying to just stay upright, let alone run.  Then a car would pass and really blow us over.  Arrrggg...We made the turn around and I was doing really well, not tripping too much until....whoops!  I don't even know what caught my foot, but there I went flying through the air and this time I was unable to catch myself.  Down I went to my knees and hands.  Ouchie!  "Momma!"  Debbie went to help me and I got up as gracefully as I could and we kept moving, even though I wanted to start crying (yep Corydon candy arse).  The palms of my hands were stinging and I didn't dare check my knees.  Hopefully, no blood.  I knew if I stopped to inspect, I may never move from the spot.  By that time, I'm in the endless have to jog because it feels better but too tired.  Hard to walk because I hurt and get stiff, but tired and need to walk.  I started praying for that aid station from yesterday.  Then I knew I would only have 4 miles to go.  Debbie and I tried different walk/run combinations.  We actually passed a guy, well two before we finished the race.  Tamara
passed us.  I was hoping I wasn't holding Debbie up, but I knew without her I would not be doing as well as I was.  I now see why pacers and crews can buoy a runner.  She was getting me through this.  Finally, the aid station and soon after the highway overpass, small pond, and then I knew the tall grass with the path cut through it that would lead to the sidewalk that would lead to the finish line.  The highlight of running the day before, the course was familiar- at least the finishing areas.We crossed the finish line together. 5:21:48  yeah I did it!  I did the double and I could now use my duffel bag.  I wouldn't be giving it up to hubby.  woo hoo!  Better yet, there was pizza waiting for us (Bless the race directors).  We headed over to Tamara and Debbie's husband and chatted.  While eating, Tamara was presented with the age group award for her age group and dum da dum...I was presented with the age group award too!  Double woo hoo  (Okay so the only other female in my age group finished second female overall, but hey if the RD is going to give, I'm going to receive (a glass and $25 gift card).  I finished 34 out of 37 (only 8 women in the whole darn race).  I ate another slab of pizza, changed my clothes, broke open a cold yoo hoo, hopped in Big Bird and headed home.
My Loot:  2 medals, drinking glass, $25 gift card, and coveted double duffel bag (not pictured: 2 technical shirts for each race)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Trains, no Planes, and one Big Bird September 28, 2010

  Since I am off of work early on Tuesdays, my hubby and I have been trying to go around and sight see.  We decided on French Lick, Indiana for this week.  Mainly with our sights on a train ride on the French Lick Scenic Railway.  We arrived with about 15 minutes to spare before loading.  We entered
into the Indiana Railway Museum to purchase our tickets ("Thank you AAA discount!") and just
enough time to buy a drink and some popcorn.  There were 3 cars to choose from, so we hopped aboard the last car and settled in for our trip.  I finished off the box of popcorn before the whistle blew.
Oops, and I barely shared. 
In no time, we were headed on our way and our tickets were punched.  First up was the Spring Valley HS, who just won their eighth consecutive gold rating and a trip to regional (congrats!).  The trip was only 10 miles one way but would take about two hours.  We passed Larry Bird's boyhood home, but the tour guide was a little behind and we passed before I could get a pic.  It looked like a house, a gray one.  Nothing out of the ordinary.  : ) 
Then we preceded through part of the Hoosier National Forest.  We passed some skeletons and more Halloween stuff since they also have a Haunted Train ride (& a Polar express in December). 
 We passed a log home that had been updated with the exception of the outhouse.  We also went through the second longest train tunnel in Indiana.  I believe he said it was 1/2 mile long.  Then we came to our destination, Cuzco, Indiana.  We were able to step off the train and go 
into the little store.  They were selling ice cream sundaes, which was soft serve in a cup and some chocolate, caramel, or hot fudge squirted on- no toppings.  But the soft serve tasted kind of like snow cream...mmmmmm.   We boarded the train and headed back to the station.  Back to where there was a
farmer's market just setting up with
fresh baked apple pies, cookies, and pineapple upside down cake.  Yep, we partook of each one.  Next up in French Lick was the West Baden Springs Hotel.  Very plush and probably will never stay at, but fun to check out.  The
grounds reminded us of a miniature
Biltmore Estate, bu the atrium inside was something else.  It spanned 200 feet and the rooms rise in six tiers around the dome, and balcony rooms provide a panoramic view of the atrium.  Very cool.  Reminded me of Roman times.  We did not visit the French Lick resort, but did get to
 visit the Bear Hollow Show room that we were denied when we visited Tell City a few weeks ago.  It is worth stopping in to see this place- these guys are good!   I can't even whittle with a knife, let alone a chain saw.  You better take some pocket change though- not cheap.  I did buy me a little pig that oinks.  : )
Next up, we went to 33 Brick Street to grab a bite to eat.  Upon entering, I figured we had a pretty good chance of getting some fine tasting grub.  It was a tastefully decorated sports bar with its famous hometown boy's memorabilia hanging up.  Pat ordered a burger and I opted for a cod sandwich.  We both decided to try their "brick chips".  Burger good, cod was more batter than fish, and the chips were definitely bricks.  Not a complete strike out, but not great either. 
 Of course, the trip wasn't complete without a visit to hang with Jake and Elwood.  Pat only wishes he could be the third Blues Brother.  Camos are not as cool as suits though. ; )