Sunday, September 25, 2011

Last Annual Vol State Road Race 7-14-2011

 I spent Fourth of July weekend getting almost 60 miles in, but more importantly, testing out my pack and clothes.  Seemed the pack was going to work great and I settled on the clothes I would wear for my attempt.  As with any bio for the ultralist, I had three goals:  STG- good learning experience, LTG- get half way, Fantasy goal- finish the thing.  I also had a plan.  I thought that I would need a crew.  Being a woman, I was a little concerned about safety out there.  My original crew plan fell through.  So I went with a back up plan.  My mom (and niece Jasmine) would be my crew.  They were going to a teen retreat in Chattanooga for the same weekend. mom would get me to the ferry and then would rejoin me on Sunday.  She would be able to stay until Monday night, possibly Tuesday, before heading back home.  If I couldn't go on, I would go home with her, but if I was going on, my husband would come to the rock to pick me up.  I thought a solid plan.  For the most part it was.  The big flaw- my mom is a big tender heart and I am a tight wad.
  We headed down to Tennessee on Tuesday evening, stayed with a friend in Christiana, and met up with the rest of the tour caravan Wednesday morning in Shelbyville.  The John Price and Diane Taylor decided to ride in the bus with us.  I tried to pay attention, since this was the course tour, but I only vaguely remembered some spots-but one did come in handy later when I was in doubt.

  At the last supper, I got to put some more faces with names and Marv gave us all waterproof turn direction sheets (and every one's phone numbers on it).  I promptly tested mine by accidentally lying it in water from my coke.  It held up beautifully (and would hold up a couple of other times during short showers).
  Thursday:  We drove the short distance to the ferry.  I was looking forward to riding the ferry, but also to see exactly what the start entailed.  I knew we would ride a ferry to start, but I wasn't 
sure if we drove over a bridge to the start or what.  There were quite a few things I was unsure of in this race, but I figured that would add to the adventure.  Anyhow, we rode the ferry over to Dorena Landing, debarked and then lined up at our start line. Laz quickly started us so the cars could drive onto the ferry.  And with that the race had begun.  It was pretty humorous to get back on the ferry and just sit and wait.  I took the opportunity to go to the potty
and spray sunblock on.  Soon we debarked again and I said goodbye to my mom and headed down the road following the line of others.  My mom drove past and I waved and I swallowed hard.  I'm on my own now.  I still felt pretty good and was extremely excited to finally start a race I had been looking forward too for so long.   About 5 minutes later, my phone rang.  My mom was driving the bus for the first time and she wanted to know if it was normal for the service engine light to be on.  Yep-tis normal.  (I later learned that my tender hearted mom had a long cry after leaving me.  At least until she realized she needed to pay attention if she was going to make it to Chattanooga.  She is very directionally challenged.)
  I jogged a little, but mainly walked and soaked it all in.  I chatted with Erika for a little bit.  She sounded great and had a solid plan of
not quitting (She explained her plane ticket didn't leave until after the race finish in ten days- so what else did she have to do.  Probably the best plan and I wish I would have thought that way).  I made my way through Hickman with no problems and headed down the straight stretch toward Union City, where I planned to stop at the famed Subway that I had heard so much debate about on the vol state emails.  I passed the KY-TN state line and regretted not taking
a picture.  My phone was hard to get in and out of my pack, so I didn't take hardly any pictures at all once the race started.  Which I really regret my laziness.  Wasn't that the whole part of the experience is documenting with pics.  Not too mention, I am known for blowing my race times due to stopping and taking pics (and potty breaks).
  During this straight stretch I could see Sherry up ahead of me. I   also kept trading paces with Don Winkley's crew Donald.  I said hi a couple of times and probably a couple of lame jokes, but I wasn't real sure of the etiquette when you keep passing someone and I felt like a snob if I didn't acknowledge even with at least a smile.  Eventually though, Don caught up to me going into Union City.  It would be the last I would see of him after leaving Union City.  I also caught up to Sherry and we debated about the route we were suppose to take through Union City- which was also debated before  the race.  We went around the court house, so we figured we were safe.  I spotted the Subway and headed in there.  Fred Murolo and his family were in there having their lunch.  I don't recall saying anything- I wasn't sure if they would know who I was. 
  Usually when I eat, I don't drink anything until after I finish.  I can take the whole afternoon at work to drink a can of Mt. Dew.  I just don't drink alot.  I downed two Dr. Pepper's while eating my sandwich.  It had only been several hours and I was already feeling
cool because I was doing something outside of my norm.  Like attempting 314 miles was normal.
  I finished and headed back out and down the road.  It was starting to get warm and the first store I came to, I stopped and filled up my buff with ice.  I tied off both ends and laid it on top of my head.  It would keep my head cool and drip onto my arms for a nice cooling effect.  I had practiced doing it over the 4th of July weekend.  The only thing I did wrong this time was I overfilled it.  Although it felt marvelous, too much drip and very wet shorts would lead to some nasty chafing to contend with at the end of the day.
  I believe in between Union City and Martin is where I got to chat with Laz and Carl for a few minutes.  I was still on the high of getting to do this race and was felling pretty good about it all.  It was the first day after all!
  I made it into Martin and stopped at McDonald's to eat. Someone 
(with our group) was coming out, but I can't remember now who it was.  I went in and ordered some food, found a table to plug in my
phone and tried to eat.  I was able to get some food down and my phone charged up and I called my husband to let him know how it was going.  (I was a little concerned about my phone not keeping a
charge- another reason I didn't take a lot of pics.)  I thought about stopping in Martin for the night.  I had heard a couple of people talk about doing that.  When I mapped out my plan to use motels, I  
was shooting for about 40 miles per day with a long day in there a couple of times.  It was still fairly early in the day.  I felt like I'd be wasting that time and I ended up keeping with my idea and I headed back out of McDonald's.  I had about 10-12 miles to go to get to the hotel and it was a little off course.  Thankfully, someone (not sure who this angel was) had spray painted the road for the correct route thru Dresden.  Bless this guy!  I would have been lost for sure.  It was also really cool to see 500K next to a 5K race marking.(another
picture opportunity lost)
  As I made my way towards the center of town, I could hear thunder in the distance.  I was hoping I was somewhat close so I wouldn't get soaked.  I had rolled up my directions and they were stuck in a loop on the front of my pack.  This worked great since I pulled it out all of the time to help verify my direction and sometimes just to pass the time.  Another test for the waterproof paper was approaching.  I spoke to a couple out working in their yard and they agreed.  I was about to get soaked.  Sure enough, it started sprinkling and I pulled out my umbrella.  (I had packed a poncho, but after seeing The John Price with one in his pack and the dual lives it has, I chucked the poncho before the ferry and put my umbrella in my pack.)  The road I was on was narrow, but tree lined.  Although there wasn't much traffic, right when the rain picked up a pick up truck came barreling down the road and hit the only puddle in the road to splash me as I tried to jump over into the ditch out of the way.  Drats- just like being at home on my road!  I said a few choice words to this guy too and kept plodding along.  By the time I reached the town square it had stopped.  I guess the rain chased everyone in for the evening.  No one was out.  All of the stores were closed down.  Not a soul to be seen.  It was kind of eerie going through the square at dusk, but kind of scaredy cat cool too- for me that is.  I turned out of the town square and headed down the road that would take me past my turn for tomorrow, but to my hotel for tonight.  That's when the cop pulled up next to me.  He stopped, so I stopped as he got out of the car.  He asked me how I was and if he could give me a ride somewhere.  I told him I couldn't take a ride until Evergreen Street.  I explained about the race and he told me to be careful and wished me well, then he pulled off a little doubtful of me being out there alone.  Not enough to come back and give me a ride once I reached Evergreen Street though.  I threw the hint out there.  Hello?!...oh well, I'd have to trek off course to get to the motel.
 The highlight was when I called Carl to check in for the evening.  Carl is a true blessing and asset to the race.  Seeing as how he's been there and down that, he knows what we are in for.  Every time I called him, it was a highlight.  In one of his updates, he stated that was important because he may be the only cheerful voice the runners would hear.  He was correct.  He informed me that I would have some company.  I believe it was Josh and Naresh(?) maybe.  As I trekked off course, I begin to fantasize that the stars would line up and maybe if it was Josh, I could get a ride with his crew in the morning back to the course.  hahaha 
  The other highlight was at the end of the street was a Dollar General Store and a Subway.  I headed for the Subway, but when I went in there, two fellas ordering for the whole ghost town I believe.  I did not feel like waiting around, so I headed across the street to the DG Store.  I needed some new sunglasses since I broke mine on the ferry right off the bat.  I also picked up a box of band aids and some blister aid thingees.  I grabbed a Sunny Delight- figured it would taste great in the morning.  I don't drink coffee, but if I don't have orange juice (or some kind of juice) then it is a rough morning ahead.  I also grabbed a candy bar and a bag of chips before heading to the motel.
  I headed to the hotel to check in.  It was one that I had heard may fill up.  So it was the only one I booked a reservation at.  I walked in and it would be when I met Holly Bobo.  I would see a lot of Holly Bobo over the next few days.  She was a girl that had gone missing in the area.  She reminded me of a girl that was missing from Bloomington, about an 1.5 hours from my house.  Kind of put an all to real perspective on a woman being out there alone for the most part.  I think at the time though, I was too freaking tired to think about it.  I just wanted the gentleman to please give me my key.  Bless his heart being so efficient, but the incense he was burning was making me nauseous and I just wanted to sit.  I was getting at the end of my rope.  It was the second time I had ever went that many miles in a day.  He finally handed me my key and I headed around back and went it.  I promptly pushed the chair up against the flimsy door. 
  In my grand planning, I figured I'd soak in the tub each evening.  Yeah right.  I washed my shirt, shorts, and socks.  I hung them all to dry and my shoes (wet from rain) all over the air conditioning unit.  Put on my only other pair of underwear and extra shirt I had after soaking for about 5 minutes.  I was just too tired.  Not too mention, that was a lot of dirt and road grime I was sitting in.  Yuck!  I checked in with my husband and mom and called it a night.  Around 2 or so, I heard voices out in the parking lot.  If I'd had the energy I would have got up and told them to pipe down.  Alas, I was too tired.
  Friday:  I managed to get out of bed and get headed out.  About an hour later than I wanted too.  Everything dried really good, especially my shoes and I had to tried to take care of my blisters the best I could last night.  I had bought the foot book and tried to read some of it, but not enough practical application yet.  : )  I hobbled out of Dresden and came upon New Route 22.  My directions stated to keep on Old Route 22 but I kept remembering a 4 lane highway and old route looked deserted.  Sigh..I crossed and went down Old route hoping I wasn't making a mistake.  Turns out I was okay.  The one spot on the course tour I remembered because we had stopped for a potty break by an old bridge crossing the road.  yeah- I'm still not lost yet.  I had some doubts thru this section because I didn't see anyone, very few cars, and nothing looked remotely familiar. It was eventually time to check in.  Bless Carl, but I could only tell him I had left Dresden headed for Gleason and I was currently standing on a bridge with really no idea where I was but there was a large building up ahead so maybe I was close.  It was a manufacturing building, but I was not close to Gleason. 
  Several hours later I made it into Gleason and spied Marv sitting on the porch steps of the general store.  He pointed me in the direction of food and I headed to the cafe.  Biscuits and gravy- the one thing I could get down.  yum  While I was in there, Stu and John came in and joined me.  I was so happy to see people I knew again.  Stu told me to get Neosporin for my chaffing, not the baby powder i was currently using.  (He was right, it helped!)  After coming out of the general store, i tried to work on my blisters again.  Still not knowing what the heck I was doing.  I had just put my shoes on when Stu sat down to do the same.  Then this wise sage showed me what to do with some scissors and Neosporin.  I took off my shoes and he showed me which way to cut and what I needed to do.  woo hoo  I was good to go again.  If Stu hadn't showed me that, I would've stopped way before I did.  i was able to jog a little bit again.  I was so happy.  Leaving Gleason, I came upon our co-RD's, Laz and Carl, and Marv lying in the grass.  I was doing good since Stu helped show me what up!  I did ask Carl to help put my bottle back in my pack.  (That was the one thing about my pack I did dislike.  When it was full, it was hard to push my bottles in the side pouches.  If I was tired, it really sucked.)  After the two debated if that would make me crewed, I reminded them that I was crewed just waiting for my crew.  Bless Carl for helping me- dag nab it dumb bottles. 
  I made it into McKenzie and stopped at the first store I came upon.  There was a young shady looking fella standing outside the door holding what looked like a radio or amplifier (stolen?). I nodded at him and headed on in for the bathroom and cold drinks.  Luckily, there were some tables to sit down inside the cool air for a spell and I took advantage of it.  Soon enough though, shady fella takes advantage of table across from me.  He asked me what I was doing and I tried to explain.  Then he asked for my phone number.  (Okay here is where heat fries your brain.)  I gave it to him and as soon as he asked me to recite again, I cringed.  Shoot - was it to late to fib. Alright Lord, I can't lie now but you better protect me.  Please.  Bless the Lord!  Who walks in not much after that but my two road angels!  Stu and John!  woo hoot  We all sat for awhile and I was like glue on them when we walked out of there.  Shady guy gave me the heebie jeebies.  I even turned off the GPS finder on my phone.  Hey, brain wasn't completely fried apparently.  We headed on into McKenzie where a McDonald's beckoned us for a stop.  I was more than ready to try and eat.  I managed to get some food down and had a lemonade- which was not a good idea.  Way too acidic-did not finish it.  I believe I gave it to one my angels, but cannot remember now.
  Let me say, if your gonna have road angels, Stu and John are the ones to have.  The best of company.  We chatted, we were quiet, we laughed and cut up, we blew under our breath.  When I heard The John Price blow the first time, I was so happy that I wasn't the only one blowing.  Yee haw  Misery does indeed love company!  I was the luckiest newbie around as far as I was concerned and I felt much safer getting out of Gleason.  It also gets fuzzy here.  So many roads, so long out there.  Well for me at least.  I don't remember if this was the day we came upon Troubadour (Rich and his lovely wife) or on Saturday- and I did not do a good job of keeping my texts or emails for more clarity (should have done that!).  Stu and I moved a little better and pulled ahead, leaving John.  We made it through McKenzie and into Huntingdon.  I told Stu I was going to stop there for the night, even after John had told me not too.  I was dragging again and didn't think I could keep going.  Stu was going to try to keep going to make it into Parkers Crossroad.  When we finally
arrived into Huntingdon, nothing was open.  We did not find the cafe and headed right out of town.  The only cafe we did find was closed with a resting Fred Davis on the bench outside.  We stopped and chatted with him as thunder could be heard rolling in.  The motel was a few miles ahead and Stu and I decided to keep going to try to beat the rain coming in.  Nope- two nights in a row I was to get a good dousing.  We made it to the hotel as Naresh was leaving.  We chatted with him for a few minutes before he headed off.  We went in and I got a room and we grabbed some cold drinks.  I let Stu come in and rest a bit.  He looked dead on his feet but was determined to keep going to Parkers Crossroad.  After he left, I was mad at myself for not pushing myself to go too, but I had already procured the room. I went to check out the vending machine selection.  Pretty dang empty.  I bought a bag of popcorn that I did not eat and another cold drink before retiring to my room.  I was getting into a rhythm of emptying my pack, washing my clothes, hanging to dry, take a shower, call home, and then crash in the bed.  I'd check my email and facebook and then go to bed.  My clothes didn't dry as well that night, so they were a little crisp when I put them on for the morning. 
Saturday:  I headed out the door and made my way to Parkers Crossroad, stopping at the first store I came to along the way, about 10 miles later.  I tried to choke down some donuts, but only managed two before I just went to drinking my juice and yoo hoo.  As I headed back out I came upon Carl, Laz, and I believe Joe Ninke.  I had saw him and his wiggle wagon on the ferry, but I didn't get a chance really to chat with him.  So I was 98% sure it was him,but I was also sad to see him.  I figured it meant the wagon had gotten the best of him, which was confirmed later in the updates.  I wasn't as upbeat as the previous two days, but I was still moving forward.  Then I scored with a DG Store and went in to buy me some scissors so I could be more successful at my blister care.  Safety pins were not getting it and I knew Stu was long ahead of me by now.  I headed on down the road towards Parkers Crossroads, hoping with all my might that there would be a place to get biscuits and gravy.  I was dreaming of those things.  Dairy Queen would be a total score.  I was getting closer and I thought I could make out the big red and white sign.  Could I be so lucky.  Yes- score.  I think I almost began skipping until I heard my name.  Huh?  I turned in the middle of a gas station parking lot to see The John Price coming out of the Subway I just passed.  I told him what I was doing and see him in a bit.  I kept for my bee line to DQ, only to be skunked.  They didn't open for another 1/2 hour.  So I trudged back to the Subway defeated.  Hurumph...I went in an ordered and slid in next to my road angels.  Yep Stu was there also.  So I score on a different front.  John had stopped in Huntingdon also and Stu had gotten a late start.  We finished eating and headed out.  Hoping to make Parsons.  We were at about the 82 mile marker.  Again, I don't remember much about the slog of the day except that it was.  We lost Stu for a bit, but he caught up when we stopped.  Past Lexington there was road construction- which really stunk.  there was no room on the side and I was behind both fellas.  i stayed a good 10 feet or so back from them so I could see what was coming just to make sure I didn't step out in front of anything.  I did not have the prettiest gait by that time anyhow.  It was a definite slog. 
  At one point we passed a van full of guys pulled off the side of the road.  I didn't think nothing of it, but Stu remarked later that they didn't look very scrupulous.  of course, I'm sure neither did we.  Eventually, the construction widened to where we could walk on the unfinished part of the road and get away from the construction.  Which was great, but I also had to go to the bathroom.  Being with them, I kept looking for a good spot but also I didn't want them to have to wait on me.  I knew it would take me longer than them, which they had being doing along the side of the road throughout the day.  one of these days I was gonna practice that pulling the shorts and underwear to the side and squat.  I'd still have to dig out my tp though.  I absolutely did not want to risk getting a yeast infection which I am very prone too and was quite shocked I survived the whole ordeal without that problem.  I was silently suffering beside these guys.  The past two days I stayed nauseous throughout the day in the heat.  Not enough to throw up but wishing I could instead of that want to upchuck feeling I had with me the whole time.  I wanted to cry, but I couldn't do it with them.  Or tried not too.  If that port a potty hadn't of appeared when it did they may have actually got to witness a meltdown.  I told them I had to stop and they could carry on, but they being the ever gentlemen, they waited and we carried on.  After that is when I came upon a beaded cross.  i figured that was my good omen.  So even though I could hardly squat, let alone bend down, I reached down and snatched it up and put it in my pack. 
  One of the great things about being with John was that he had a Garmin.  he could tell us our pace.  How many miles until the next store or stop.  It was a blessing and a curse.  We knew we should be getting close to a store and when it finally appeared I think I did shed a tear.  We crossed the street only to see that we missed it being open by about 10 or 15 minutes I think.  Bummer...but there was soda machines.  I bought mine and took my shoes off and laid down.  the best I felt all day.  It was also about the 100 mile mark.  It was great to get my shoes off for a few minutes and wiggle my toes.  There was also a water spigot that I filled my bottles up and ran my feet under.  Felt soooo good.  I eventually got up and fixed my feet and we headed back out.  We began discussing our options for when we got to Parsons.  Apparently there was a nicer hotel about 3 or so miles outside of town, but if it was full we didn't want to have to risk backtracking.  And we all agreed we wanted beds for the night.  So the phone game began of trying to reach the motel.  Both phone lines we had was busy or just kept ringing.  I think we even tried to call the police station to see if there was something going on- no luck there either. We asked Carl to see if he could find us another number, but no luck there.  We finally decided we should shoot for the one that was about 1/2 mile off course in Parsons if they had a room.  If no room, then we would go to the so called dirt ball hotel.  Plan in motion, we heard some fireworks.  Left over from the Fourth of July and since we were getting closer to the river we figured that the motels could very well be filled.  ??  Darkness descending on us.  Thank goodness I was with them and John had his red blinking light so that we could be sen.  No room on the road.  Luckily there was not much traffic until we got closer to town and onto the sidewalk.  The Long walk was almost over.  Tough day!  We headed into partying Parsons.  People milling around everywhere.  Once again I was glad to be with my road angels as we headed into the subway shop to eat.  I tried to eat a meatball sub.  It was tough but John told me to try to eat and I knew he was right.  he also called the motel about rooms.  They had two rooms left.  One handicap and one smoking with double beds.  I offered to give up mine and stay in the dirtball hotel because I knew John did not want to stay in a smoking room and neither did I.  I had not had to use my inhaler but one time and I didn't want to risk it.  He declined and booked the rooms for us.  We went in the store and then headed out of town off course to the hotel.  There were hardly any cars in the lot and we were frustrated that there was only two rooms available with an empty lot.  She explained that she had just come back from vacation and the rooms were not ready.  We finally headed off to our rooms and I told them I was not setting an alarm.  i was beat.  I barely had energy to wash my clothes and worse, I was all undressed ready to step in the shower when I realized there was no towels.  Re dress and walk back up to the counter to get towels.  While I was there, I went on and got ice.  My shin had begun to hurt again today and I was going to make sure i tried to ice it before going to bed.  I quickly took my shower and laid on the floor with my legs up and icing while I checked in at home.  Could I get up tomorrow and go again?  I went to bed without setting an alarm.  I didn't care.  I needed rest. 
Sunday:  I did get up and not too late.  John had headed out earlier I found out from Stu when I turned my key in, he was at the front desk chatting with the manager.  We left and headed to the DQ we passed the night before.  I managed to get a good breakfast of biscuits and gravy, some ham and orange juice.  Finally able to eat.  We headed back into town and back onto the course.  Both of us moving quite slow, me more than Stu.  I had to stop once to get a pebble out of my shoe.  As I was walking to catch up with Stu he had stopped at the crest of the hill.  I felt bad that he was waiting for me.  I knew I was going to have to tell him to go on.  When I reached him he was directly across from a truck sitting in a parking lot.  I thought the guy was waiting to pull out, but he just sat there.  Not more than 100 yards or so was another truck parked pulled off facing towards us.  Stu stopped to wait for me because he felt that an ambush was about to happen.  I almost didn't care at this point, but I was glad my angel was there.  I don't think I was in danger, but tell that to Holly Bobo.  you never can tell and we'll never know.  We finally reached a store and replenished before crossing the Tennessee river.  After we crossed, there was another store.  I knew definitely Stu needed to go.  he was moving faster than I and I couldn't hold him up.  We each had our own race to run and I knew he felt responsible for me.  When I reached the store he was coming out as I laid down on the picnic table.  i told him he needed to go.  I had pepper spray and I would be fine.  It took some encouraging but it was a race after all.  If nothing else my two road angels have taught me the past two days, you move when you can even if it means leaving someone behind.  We had each been left, today would be my day.  Stu finally carried on and I finally got myself up and went to the bathroom.  My stomach was not doing good and I felt sorry for whoever went in there after me. (I would find out later who did, but thankfully I'm sure the smell was gone by then.  lol)  I headed out and up the road.  That is when I realized I had never tested my new can of pepper spray.  I had bought it because I could attach it to my pack easily and it was small, shaped like a bullet.  I had it hanging from my pack.  So I reached down and messed around with it trying to get it to work.  Great, I thought, why didn't I test this thing before I told Stu to go.  Duh!  About that time the breeze kicked up and I hit the button just right.  Up into my face I sprayed.  Thankfully I had sunglasses on but my nose and mouth immediately began burning.  OMGosh!  I am such a goofball!  I finally had my good cry.  Thankfully I had filled my buff with ice and it was still damp so I could use it to try to cool the burning.  I called my husband in tears.  He was playing golf.  I kept trudging on.  It felt good to cry finally and the burning eventually subsided but I was moving at a snail's pace.  I stopped at a cemetery and laid under a tree.  I stopped at a church and called my husband.  He was on the last hole and lets say his shots were not good thanks to me.  lol  He encouraged me and I felt better.  I saw someone coming out of the church so I headed up there to see if I could use the restroom and re fill my water bottles.  OMGoodness...there was people everywhere.  They were having dinner.  Now that's the kind of church I want to go too.  They even offered to feed me but I declined.  I headed to the bathroom and tried to wash my hands when I took off my watch, I put it in my mouth.  Which started the whole burning mouth sensation again.  Duh!!  I finally headed out of there and I thought I had seen Lynnor and Erika when I came out but I didn't see where they went.  They eventually caught and passed me when I was in a yard soaking my buff in a drainage ditch that had moving cool water in it.  Sometime after that I believe is when I got a chance to chat with Juli Aistars and her husband.  It was so good to see her smiling face and it gave me a pick me up.  Then Laz and Sandra came by and I recounted the pepper spray story to them.  Pick me ups!
   I didn't know if I would ever get to Linden, but I finally did.  I stopped at the first store I came to, lo and behold, Lynnor, Erika, and Angela Ivory were in there.  It was good to see them again.  Not too mention, Lynnor had found some socks in a bathroom at the gas station and asked if they were mine.  Now I knew who went into the bathroom after me.  They had fallen off of my pack where I had hung them to dry.  I thanked her since those bad boys cost $12.  I never pay that for socks!  We finally headed out.  It took me about 11 hours to get 17 miles.   From the time we left Parsons, until about the time I reached Linden.  Laz was baffled by how someone could be so slow.  If your laying in every shady spot you come across, your not making very good time.  That was a bad day.  Thankfully, my mom had arrived at the hotel with my niece and we headed in to get us a room.  When we signed in, my mom told me that the desk clerk was worried about a gentleman that came in earlier.  Stu had made it but had a rough day too.  I checked on him and we agreed to meet for dinner.  I went in and crashed on the bed.  After chatting with mom and Jaz, taking a shower, and putting some clean clothes on, I went and tapped on Stu's door and we all headed down for dinner.  The guy that had worked the front desk, was also the waiter and chief cook.  So we had to wait a little while, but boy did he try his dangest to make us feel at home.  John Price passed the window and I spoke with him before he headed back out onto the open road.  As we were finishing eating, Diane and Paul came in.  We spoke with both and then all headed up to our rooms.  I told Stu I would let him know what I was going to do about tomorrow.  I was wavering.  My right shin and ankle was killing me.  When I called Carl, I let him know that I would make a decision in the morning after I slept on it (and iced my leg).  I wasn't ready to quit just yet and they always say to get some rest before big decisions.  So I did until about 3 in the morning.  I woke up wide awake.  I started thinking about getting out there.  i knew I couldn't head out into the darkness without Stu though.  I got up and tested my leg.  Not great but better.  I went and tapped on Stu's door and he was game.  We planned to meet downstairs and head out into the early morning.  I had a really good feeling about the day and I told my mom I wasn't giving up yet.  She did her best to smile and encourage me.  I dressed and put on some slip on shoes that I wear at work a lot.  I thought it would help a little.  Big mistake I would find out later.  I met Stu down in the hotel lobby and we headed out of Linden.  It was my first time getting a good early start and my first time heading out into the darkness.  Thank goodness for my road angel.  When we reached the outskirts of Linden, trekking along behind Stu, I heard something snorting at me.  It wasn't a cow or horse.  Pretty familiar with those sounds from home.  Whatever the heck it was, I wasn't staying back to find out.  I don't think Stu ever heard it but he may have wondered why I was heavy on his footsteps.  I kept checking back behind me every minute or so.  Hence, the reason i do not watch scary movies.  My overactive imagination can not take it.  We came upon a store, but it was closed.  We kept trekking.  Sun started to come up.  Went into a new county.  That's when Stu said he wanted to stop and take a break.  I did not argue.  Dumb shoe choice was not a smart idea this morning.  I sat and watched as Stu pulled out a map and started checking it.  Oh crap I thought.  This can't be good.  It wasn't and was confirmed when we asked a lady at the next house we came upon.  We were off course.  I called my mom and she came and picked us up.  We had went 5 miles off course.  When we passed the closed store we should have veered right and we went left.  I remember wondering if we should have turned because John had said something about a road and to make sure we didn't miss the turn.  We did.  I was down and I was done.  I let Stu know.  He had already tried to get me to join a relay with Marv and him, but part of my reason for stopping was my crew.  I was concerned about my niece being bored, my mom struggling to watch the pain on the runners.  I knew my mom would stay but I wasn't sure I could afford to pay for the three of us and I didn't want to put my mom in a bind.  I had no idea how much money I had spent on the trip and was not sure where I was with my money.  I knew I was making the right decision for the time, but it wasn't easy and I really felt guilty for not being part of the relay team.  I told Stu I would crew him until he caught up to Marv though and we did that.  We stopped and talked to Diane while trying to help Stu.  We caught up with Marv and Sandra in Howenwald.  I hated telling Carl, and especially Laz.  Another disappointing DNF from me.
  We stopped and chatted with John, Fred, Lynnor, Erika, and Paul as we headed out of town.  It was great to get to see them again once more before I left.  We then decided to make the best of it and turn it into a short girls trip.  We ended up staying in Franklin, KY for the night before heading to Mammoth Cave on Tuesday.  Which incidentally was only my mom's second time ever going in a cave (the first being in a cave in Mexico when she agreed to it but not really listening towhat I was saying when I asked her- she's terrified of them).  So we ended up having a great time.  Since they both live an hour away from me, it was worth the quit to spend the time that way with them instead of my mom worrying about me (she still worried about the rest of the runners and thanked God for each report about them).  Plus it was fun spending time with my niece and teasing her throughout the night and day.
  I had other reasons in my head when I quit than just mom and money.  I bummed myself out that I wasn't going to finish in 7 or 8 days after that Sunday slog.  I still was on pace to be finished in 10 days but mentally I didn't want to have to take the full ten days.  I was hoping to have a few days of actual vacation before returning to work.  Next year better mindset and vacation planning should help that.  You can always have many reasons to quit.  Or at least I seem too.  I plan to be back next year to finish the race, crewless this time.  I did fulfill my STG of a great learning experience and I know of things I can do better and differently for next year.  I am already plotting and planning and am very excited about the next attempt.
  I used a Go Lite Slipstream pack with two Nathan bottles. Would use a bladder next year.  I had two dry bags with my stuff in it.
Large dry bag:  extra shirt, underwear, and socks, 2nd pair of socks bought at DG store to sleep in (cold feet, I can't sleep), band aids, scissors (bought at DG store), neosporin, shampoo, soap, razor, toothpaste, toothbrush, baby powder, extra safety pins, ibuprofen
Small dry bag:  phone charger, gum, asthma inhaler, wallet w/ money, check card, & insurance card,roll of quarters, phone
I also carried an umbrella, plastic bag with maps and turn directions in the outside of my pack, along with pepper spray, bandanna, and my buff (great for ice).  I wore shirt, jog bra, shorts, socks, and road shoes.  I would take a small fanny pack next time to make getting to my phone and wallet easier.
Change and cross I found, plus waterproof
and non waterproof turn sheets 

Monday, September 5, 2011

Run Under the Stars

  Pat, my husband, usually does only once race a year and this is the race.  I love this race because of that fact alone.  We ran this race the first time two years ago as a team.  Last year we ran independently, same thing this year.  My main goal is to enjoy the race with him and keep it fun.  My secret goal, as always, is to do better than the previous year.  We always head down to Paducah and get a hotel room.  We rest up before heading to Carson Horse track where the race is held.  We parked the bus in the same spot as last year, about the first turn, and then headed to get our race packets.  Steve Durbin, the race director, was there and we chatted with him for a few minutes.  We spoke with The John Price as we headed back to the bus.  John brought us a handmade wooded plaque in a USA shape documenting his cross country trek he had just finished.  (We had went out and stalked him on US 60 as he went through KY.)  It was great to see him again and able to walk after finishing that amazing feat.  We stopped and spoke to Diane and Naresh, and she introduced us to Mike.  We finally made it back to the bus and began setting up our tent.  The tent was important last year in changing our clothes with the humid conditions.  This year was not as bad but still was nice to change when needed.
  Soon it was time to line up and walk across the timing mat and then begin the race.  I let Pat set the lead and decide what we are going to do.  We started off running timed increments and then eventually we were running half the track and walking the other half.  I am always so proud of him for even being out there with me.  He does not train at all and he is game to go for as long as he can.  I also have learned not to push him when he is done.  It all makes for a much enjoyed experience.  We chat and catch up on stuff and it is just pure fun.  Plus, we chat with runners that I meet at other races and he gets to meet them too.  Diane catches up to us and we chat about the upcoming Vol State run that we both are planning to attempt.  Pizza is brought out and we enjoy a couple of pieces of that.  (They do a wonderful job with the aid station all night long and all of the volunteers are top notch.)  Since the course is a half mile track you see the same people throughout the night and it is always fun to see the top runners pass by looking strong throughout the night.  Naresh is looking great even though at one point he wants to cut his ankle off.  The more he hurts the bigger he smiles.  I get tired around midnight.  Way past my bedtime.  We continue to plod on.  Pat lets me know his feet are starting to hurt.  He decides to stop at 18.5 miles (6:21:22).  Which is a good thing because his feet are quite blistered and I know he has to work early Monday morning.  He retires to the bus and I get my headphones on and head back out onto the track.  I try to jog some, still feeling a little tired.  Once it gets to 4 o'clock I start to feel a little better and keep trying to get some more miles in.  It was going to be close to try to beat 33.5 miles from 2010.  I start trying to calculate.  I start watching how long a lap is taking me.  More calculations.  My brain is tired and the numbers aren't working.  I just keep going around the track and the time just keeps winding down.  Finally I do it.  I get 34 miles in, but I think I can get one more lap in.  I keep going trying to get that last lap in.  I have to speed up to make it in.  I crossed the line at 9:59:26 to attain 34.5 miles.  Good enough for 4th female and 31st overall.  I'm thrilled to have met my goal and to have another great race with my husband.  Plus, meeting a few more people; Josh H, Scott S and seeing the old faces.  Such a great race and fun times.

Strolling Jim 40 miler May 7, 2011

  I had a heard time deciding to do this race.  Practically last minute.  And all because it is on the same day as the Kentucky Derby- which I normally watch on television (and bet on).  What we, hubby and I, do though is go to the Kentucky Oaks every year.  We meet up with his brother (and sometimes other family members) and sit by this huge bush in the Infield close to the finish line.  We have went just about every year for 13 years.  Big tradition for us.  For me.  I stayed on the fence until finally I thought I had a good plan to go to the Oaks and to the race too.  We usually would get home from the track around 7 or 8.  So I figured I would go straight to bed and get up early Saturday morning and drive the 4.5 hours to Wartrace, TN.  I
figured I could get there and sleep in the bus for about an hour before the race started so I could feel a little refreshed after driving.  That was the plan. 
  I had signed up for the race, but when I checked the website it wasn't showing me as an entrant.  I emailed the ultasignup guy and was going back and forth trying to figure out why it wasn't showing, even though I had a confirmation number and email.  I even spoke with Mike Melton, the race director, who assured me not too worry about it.  Couple more emails while I was at Oaks and it seemed to be straightened out.  I
was still worried though.  It took me awhile to fall asleep Friday night, but I did get up and headed out without incident.
  As normal, I pushed the bus very close to empty on gas before looking for a gas station.  I figured there would be a gas station at the exit to Wartrace.  There was, but it was shut down.  I was getting a little nervous when I finally came upon the Walking Horse Hotel- where the race started from.  I pulled in, but needed to go to the bathroom so bad that I decided to try to find a gas station.  I pulled out and as luck would
have it, right down the road there was a gas station.  Yeah for me.  I quickly potty'd and gass'd up then head back to the Hotel parking lot.  I climbed into the back of the bus to try to rest.  It was very quiet and dark in the parking lot.  Perfect  Then a tap at the window.  I thought security was going to throw me out of the parking lot.  Thankfully though it was Mike M., the RD for the Strolling Jim.  Such a nice guy!  We chatted for a few minutes before I settled down to rest my eyes- sleep would not come.  I eventually climbed out of the bus and went to sign in and get my race number and stuff.  Mike was great about the whole mix up with my entry-which made me feel great.  I wanted to make sure he did get my entry money and that it wasn't somewhere it wasn't suppose to be.  I had plenty of time to get my stuff together; fill my bottles, pin my number on, etc.  I walked back up to the entry table just in time to see Laz (aka Gary Cantrell) finish his run.
  Soon it was time for us to head over to the starting line.  I chatted with Steve D and Mike S.  Soon Mike gave the race instructions and started us off on our way.  I settled into my own little plodding.  I was hoping to get finished in under 10 hours, but I had no idea how I would do.  I've only ran 41 miles and that was last
October at the Backyard ultra.  I spoke with Naresh and another fellow, Dean.
  I was about 5 or 6 miles into it when my phone rang.  I went to answer it and noticed I had several missed calls.  It was my brother telling me my uncle was trying to get ahold of me.  Drats...I knew what it was about.  It was Derby Day at home and he wanted me to get some bets up for him.  Sigh....I tried to explain to my brother and told him I would call my uncle.  Which I did and was forced to walk to hear since the coverage was getting spotty.  I felt bad about not being able to help but
I was on a road in the middle of Tennessee-not really in a spot to get a bet up for him. 
  I did pretty good for about 15 miles or so, then I needed to start doing some walking.  Not too mention start looking for a spot to go potty.  Like normal, I didn't really look at a course map, nor know when aid stations were coming up.  I did find a nice spot in the woods to squat and I eventually came upon an aid station.  Naresh and Dean caught up to me before that I believe.  I tried not to stay too long in the aid station and headed off again.  I was doing okay but my right foot was really hurting on top of my foot.  I tried loosening my laces up, which helped for a while.  I met Janet from Huntsville, Alabama- she was very encouraging, especially about pacing.  I always have a problem leaving people (i.e. at aid stations, or feeling better) and she made sure to tell me not too worry- to keep going.  That was great help for me at the time.  We would pass again several times throughout the race.  At one point, I stopped and took my shoe off to see if there was anything I could do to get my foot feeling better.  When I took my sock off, I soon realized the big problem.  My foot was sunburned from the day outside at the track and with the heat and miles on the pavement it was swelling more than I'd ever felt.  So I sat and loosened the laces up as much as I could and still keep the shoe on.  It helped again for a while.  I'd walk.  I'd jog.  I'd death march.  I'd get passed by Janet, Naresh, and Dean again for the last time.  I got rained on-which was perfect for me.  Very refreshing.  I got to "The Walls" with three other chicks in front of me.  I was able to power walk pass them on the uphills and put a little bit of distance but they eventually passed me also.  I was struggling, like normal.
  Finally, I turned out onto SR 64.  I had about 2 miles or so left to go.  I caught and passed Janet and another chick I had bounced back and forth with all day.  Knowing I was at the end, I regained myself and pushed on- which means I didn't push hard enough if I had that left at the end probably.  I finally crossed the finish line.  9:28:33.3  I met my goal of under 10 hours.  I also got to see Stu G, Diane T, and Angela I. cross the finish line.  I finally met Juli A. and Ray K. 
My niece, Emme, on Mother's Day.
It was a wonderful day all around and I was really glad that even though I missed watching the Derby, I was experiencing my own Derby.  I spent the night with my wonderful friend Lina before heading home early Sunday morning since it was Mother's Day.  (Which I had forgotten in my haste to try to figure out if I could run the race or not.)  I did make it to my grandmother's in time and was able to spend time with my family on my mom's side and had a wonderful weekend.  Incidentally, I did have a $2 to win ticket on the Derby winner that I placed on Friday and had a winning ticket waiting for me at home.  : )
  All in all, the Strolling Jim is an awesome race and I look forward to trying to make it all work to run again.