Saturday, August 4, 2012

Vol State 2012

All packed up!

All my junk unpacked!
After only making it 130 miles last year, I have spent the past year waiting for July to come back around. 2012 was going to be my redemption year (although two of my races thus far this year have been slower and I did not get to participate in the book set out). So far- I was not redeeming anything, but I was still looking forward to trying Vol State again. I felt like I learned a lot from last year and Strolling Jim this year taught me more patience and not to quit. I was looking at Vol State like going to the dentist with a toothache.  I hated to go, but knew it would be worth it when I finished. I did not get to train like I had envisioned earlier in the year due to a death in the family and then beginning a new race directing venture. I wanted to try to get my   feet toughened up more. Alas, I had about three weeks before the start where I got some good mileage in going back and forth to work. I live 12.5 miles from work.  On Monday and Wednesday mornings, I would jog into work and on Tuesday afternoons (my early day), I would walk home- working on my walking pace in the heat of the day. My plan was to try to jog in the morning and evenings as much as possible when the temps were cooler and then keep a good walking pace during the heat of the day. The last week of work I also would stand all day instead of sitting on a stool to try to get myself use to being up all day on my feet.  (don't know if any of that truly helped, so...)
  I felt like I packed well last year, but I did decide to add a fanny pack to make getting to my wallet, phone, etc easier throughout the day.  I was glad I did.  I'm sure I packed more than many others, but I had reasons for everything I took.  I made a list of everything and had it in three columns. 
  In my Go-lite pack:  2-24oz insulated water bottles, shampoo, 10 q-tips, caress soap, deodorant, razor, Glide, Neosporin, scissors, umbrella, sunblock, phone charger, ipod cord for charger, xtra shirt and shorts, 3 pairs socks, 2 pairs underwear, 5-band aids, maps, flashlight, Advair inhaler, toothbrush/paste, waterproof bags for everything to slide into in pack, garbage bag, devotionals for each day, and Dad (actually a tupperwear container with his ashes). 
  Waist pack had: pepper spray, chapstick, credit/debit cards, medical card, driver's license, roll of quarters, cell phone, ipod/earphones, cash, emergency inhaler, and ziplock bags (for phone with rain & tp (used & unused)). 
  Then I wore or had on my pack: hat, sunglasses, shirt, jog bra, shorts, underwear, socks, shoes, 2 buffs, bandanna, watch, and pic of Angela Ivory (all runners had laminated pic of her) and I had my dad on other side.
  My husband was going to drop me off at the ferry and return to pick me up if/when I finished.  He also offered to come crew or just bring dry shoes if I felt like I needed him to finish the race (I didn't). 
Day 1: I woke up and started to get dressed. The first snafu. Somehow, I had forgotten to pack my jog bra. (I later found it in my duffel bag that I had packed for him to bring at the finish line.) Thankfully, there was a Wal-Mart near and we were able to find one and get back in time for some breakfast before heading to the ferry.  I was a little disappointed about the ferry not running because I wanted my husband to get to ride across the river. He didn't seem to be bothered by it though. He did buy me a ferry shirt. While he was paying, the race started. I took off because I didn't want to get lost through Hickman. I knew he would be at the top of the hill and I figured I'd say goodbye to him then. Well, I got to the top of the hill and he was there, with Carl and laz. I wasn't sure if giving him a hug would be considered crewed or not. So I didn't get to really say bye to him, but I thought he might be at the Subway in Union City. So I kept going. The highlight from Hickman to Union City was Stu Gleman sitting on his vehicle playing his guitar.  
  I didn't really see anyone and I got a little turned around in Union City looking for the Subway, but when I got inside, Sulaiman, Richard, and Thomas were there.  Paul, John, Psyche, Mike, Sherry, and I believe a few others came in/out.  I headed on down the road and caught up with Fred Davis and we covered several miles chatting about religions.  The sky was overcast and kept the sun at bay for the most part.
  I was feeling pretty good.  I leapfrogged with Richard and Erika's crew, Adam, before reaching Martin.  I stopped at Pizza Hut in Martin and saw Mike Melton.  Heading into downtown Martin, I caught up with Dusty and John Price.  Dusty got a chuckle when she found out I was jog/walking telephone pole to telephone pole.  Traveled with Dusty for awhile, catching up with Psyche.  I stopped at a store for some juice.  Headed into Dresden feeling pretty good.  I had made it earlier in the evening than I did last year.  I stopped st Subway for carryout and then DG Store for a Sunny D for in the morning before heading to my hotel.  I let Dusty know which room we were in, since we decided to share.  I hurried and tried to get my shower and clothes washed before she arrived so she could have the bathroom.
  It was a good day.  40.5 miles completed with only a slight heel blister that I didn't take care of immediately and let get too big.
 Day 2:  Dusty had left earlier, so I headed out alone.  I saw 3 raccoons as I was walking back to the course from the hotel.  Later down the road I saw a deer in a field as I headed to Gleason.  I called my mom and let her know I was okay.  There were a few sprinkles of rain, but not too much.  I actually love running in the rain, so it lifted my spirit.  I made it into Gleason and headed for some breakfast.  I chatted with a few of the locals and the waitresses.  Went through McKenzie and headed into Huntingdon where I caught and passed Fred.  I stopped at Huntingdon at Mallard's for lunch and was joined by Fred.  (Last year I had stopped in Huntingdon on the second day.  So I was still doing better than last year.)  I had to take cover at a church on my way out of Huntingdon due to a storm rolling through.  I made it into Parkers Crossroad and stopped at Subway before heading to the hotel.  I stopped at the first hotel and thought I was going to have to go across the expressway because he didn't have any non-smoking rooms.  When he went to call the other hotel, the phone rang, and he had a cancellation!  Praise the Lord!  I ended up in a room with three beds- all the pillows I could want!  I did not sleep very well though.
  I completed 41.5 miles for a total of 82.
Day 3:  My original goal was to head to Linden, but I knew I could stop in Parsons for Plan B if I needed too.  Turns out I would have to go to Plan B.  With the limited sleep and the pouring rains, I was moving at a snail's pace.  I stopped In Lexington and had to run to the bathroom before a dirty accident happened, all the while a nice gentleman is trying to buy me a drink.  I felt so bad that I had to run to the bathroom and not get to properly thank him (but its a good thing- would have not been a pretty sight!)  My stomach had begun to misbehave and I had the runs but not in a good way.  The clouds began to move in again and I stopped in DG Store and bought a pair of flip flops.  I figured my best bet at combating blisters was to keep my feet and shoes as dry as possible.  The rain was coming down as I exited the store and I sat under a bank drive thru changing into my new race accessories.  I was a little worried that my feet would slip in them and I'd risk twisting my ankle.  A needless worry.  I was much slower walking in flip flops but it was better than trashing my feet, or worse yet, waiting for the rain to pass and losing precious time.
  Naresh came upon me in my new shoes and snapped a pic.  I did not talk long because he had Abi in the car and she was not feeling well and had dropped.  The rain eased up and I changed back into my shoes.  Of course, it came back and I thought I might try to just tie my grocery bags (I had kept the store bags just in case) around my ankles with my feet down in them.  It worked well for awhile.  Until I got a hole in it, then I had water just sloshing around soaking my shoes.  I was mad at myself for being so dumb.  I took them off and trudged on.  Not caring how wet my feet became.  The long stretch from Lexington to Parsons was spent watching one storm after another roll in on me.  I eventually reached the store that we reached last year- but was closed.  It was open and I headed in to dry off and get a bite to eat.  I had a corn dog because I was nervous about my stomach and it was all I could really get down.  I bought a newspaper and stuffed my shoes while I ate.  When I went to tear the paper up, I came across the article that laz had wrote about the race.  I tore it out and put it in my ziplock bag for a keepsake. 
  I eventually had to leave because the a/c was freezing me.  I changed out the newspaper and stuffed my shoes in a bag and headed back out in the rain in my flops.  Trudging along with a chill.  This was Vol State- you weren't supposed to be cold!  My feet began to hurt and I was worried I may be causing a stress fracture, I took refuge under a bridge to change my shoes.  It was nice to get out of the relentless pounding of the rain.  It slowed down enough for me to come back out and I headed into Parsons with off and on sprinkles.  I tried to call the motel that was past the town center (the same one we tried to reach last year), and I kept getting a busy signal.  So I asked my husband if he would try to get hold of them.  If I could get to that motel, I'd be a little farther than I was last year on the third day. 
  By the time I reached Subway, he had me a reservation.  I was thrilled but I still had to go four miles to get there.  I tied my Subway bag to my pack and headed out.  I was able to jog some.  Well, as much as possible on a two lane road with no shoulder, plenty of cars, and rain.  I was glad when I crested the hill and so the motel sign.  When I went to check in, they told me my mom had called.  I was a little confused, but I figured Pat might have recruited her help too.  When the lady read off the phone number, I did not recognize it.  Come to find out, they almost gave me Erika's room.  : )  I almost asked them if I could dry my socks, but I felt bad about asking and headed to my room.  This is when I learned of snafu number two.  I had left my cell phone charger at the last hotel (and its only the third day).  I had a small meltdown, but since there was no cell service anyway- the owners had already told my husband we could use the phone as much as possible.  I had a solar charger that I bought for the race ( a nice cheap one from Wal Mart) and once I figured out how to work it- I charged my phone some.  I tried to make Naresh feel bad enough to bring me a charger, but he wasn't budging.  He wanted me to stay self supported for as long as I could.  Thanks Naresh!
  I was getting ready to go to sleep when I heard, "Adam."  I jumped up and tried to poke my head out but the dumb door would not open.  It took me a couple of minutes of tugging and yanking, but finally I was able to go outside.  Adam was sitting outside, chuckling at whoever (me) trying to open the door.  When I stepped out, over Adam's shoulder was this huge, vibrant rainbow.  It was awesome.  I chatted with him and Erika before heading to bed.  It was a bad night.  I needed the air on to try to dry my clothes, but I freezing.  My teeth were chattering and I hated to crawl out of bed the next morning.
Only 29 miles- 111 total miles, one lost charger, and one vibrant rainbow.
Day 4:  I wish I would've asked about the dryer.  You could just feel the dampness in the air.  None of my clothes dried.  I picked out the driest socks to wear and then used the blow dryer to work on my shorts and shirt; burning a hole in the back of my shirt in the process.  I actually managed to get out of the room before sunup though.  My goal was Hohenwald today. 
  I reached Linden, and after chatting with a cop about the race, I headed into the Commodore Inn as Naresh pulled up.  They let me use their dryer for my socks.  I went back outside to chat with Naresh as my socks dried.  Laz and Carl pulled up as I was trying to cut the burned part of my shirt off (it was sticking me)- surgery on my shirt as laz called it.  We headed inside for breakfast where Jan and Fred were.  I ordered oatmeal- but it was not (I think it was cream of wheat or some such crap).  I forced myself a few bites as I watched Abi try to bandage Jan's back and shoulders from her pack rubbing her raw.  I finished and went up and got my socks, which were better but still slightly damp, and headed on down the road.  I planned to stop at the store where I had missed the turn last year.  Once I passed the store, I would be on unfamiliar ground.  Mom and I rode the course tour from Shelbyville to the start last year, but that was over a year ago.  I hoped I would be okay.
  When I reached the last store out of town, it was closed for church.  I could either wait 45 minutes or go on.  I filled up my bottles from the side faucet outside and called my husband.  Naresh, laz, and Carl pulled up to check on me.  Laz said that was all he ever saw me do- sit on my butt (that is what I am good at though).  Just as I was getting ready to leave, the owner returned, early, and opened up.  I got a Gatorade and a payday.  It was a 15 mile stretch with nothing to Hohenwald.  Jan eventually caught up to me as I was lying in the shade.  We traveled together for awhile before I had to step off to tinkle. 
  I made it into Hohenwald and the second store I stopped at had a phone charger.  Score!  Then I came upon a laundromat.  I stopped to get all of my socks dried.  Things were looking good.  Jan and Dusty were coming out of a Mexican place as I came through town and we headed to the hotel together.  I felt bad about not offering to room with Jan (Dusty already had her room) but I knew how restless I was trying to sleep and how I liked to use all of the pillows.  I just didn't want to cause her (or anyone to have a bad night's sleep- I was doing it enough to myself).  I got in my room and ordered a pizza. 
  I called Pat while I was eating and on the second piece I stopped eating.  My chest felt all flutter and I just felt bad.  It just hit me all at once and the chest part was a little disconcerting.  We discussed it and I figured after sleeping, I would feel better.  Unfortunately, the ac would not stay running.  I would wake up sweating, turn the air back on, fall asleep, then wake up sweating, turn the air on, etc.  The cycle went all night and I did not get a good night rest- if that is even possible at vol state. 
33 miles- 144 total
Day 5:  Monday Morning Meltdown  The next morning, the chest was still fluttering.  I used my inhaler and called my husband.  I was a little nervous about leaving the room.  All kinds of thoughts were running through my head.  I didn't want to be on the side of the road and having some kind of heart attack or something.  Plus, this was the day I was to head to Columbia.  Everyone always warns about going into Columbia at night and I was already loosing time by waffling on my decision on what to do.  Plus, there was no Plan B- no hotels between Hohenwald and Columbia.  Finally, I got it together and told him I would try.  I would just take it easy and not stress myself out.  No running, keep a walking speed without getting out of breath.  That was my plan as I headed to Wal Mart.  I stopped there to get a few more pairs of socks (I know like, 4 pairs wasn't enough) and a new watch.  Mine was suppose to be good for 100 meters, but apparently I went deeper than that the day before and I left it at the Pine Tree Inn all fogged up and not working.  Incidentally, my camera on my phone had quit working too.  The rain, heat, humidity was wiping everything, including me out.
  It was a beautiful morning as I set out and I tried to be positive.  I had a hard time when I called Carl to check in.  Tried hard not to be too blubbery- Tom Hanks knows nothing but there is crying in vol state.  It was a 17 mile stretch to Hampshire but Carl had said there was a campground I could get water. 
  Heading out of Howenwald, I heard my phone chime and checked it.  It was the morning's update.  I stopped and sat down on a bridge and read the update that I felt that was just for me: 
vol staters may be consistent with their performance,
but their emotional state is a different matter.
part of running the vol-state, at least successfully,
is surviving the crushing emotional and physical lows that accompany the effort.
sitting at home (or even putting in endless miles up and down the route in a car)
it is easy to say that every low will pass,
that highs
(such as one can feel a "high" after a couple of hundred miles, with over a hundred remaining)
will be in the future.
at the time when it is only with the greatest effort one can trudge along at 30 minutes a mile,
it seems like this is the state that will last forever.
that, if anything, it will get even worse.
the ever-present pain seems to crescendo,
until it's cacaphonous screaming wracks your body and fills your head.
the mind can only calculate the endlessly depressing slow progress,
which will never get you to the finish.
the downward spiral disappears into the mists below you.
the freefall can only end when you crash to earth in a total collapse.

to succeed at the volstate
you must preserve a spark of hope deep inside.
you must persevere thru any depression.
it will not always be that way.
there are still times in the future when you will move strongly,
and you will feel invincible,
as if you could go on forever.
and somewhere out there in the future is the rock.
the reward for never losing sight of your goal.
the incredible power of that moment,
when you step on, touch, or kiss the rock,
and all the pressure ends cannot be described.
it can only be felt.
and the memory of that moment will last a lifetime,
with a power that could not be, if it were not for the hopeless, horrible lows.
so easy to understand on the sofa,
so hard to believe on the road.
what comes down must go up.
  Carl was correct about the campground.  I was also able to get the best buttered toast.  The owners were cleaning up after their bed & breakfast guests had left and offered to fix me food, but toast was the only thing I felt I could get down.  They were very sweet and I headed out feeling much better about the day.  I was feeling really good when I finally reached Hampshire.  It was lunchtime and I ordered a fried bologna sandwich.  I was able to charge my phone and chat with the locals.  They told me about Juli staying at their Men's club and one of the guys offered to rent his apartment to any of us for the night.  They were really sweet and I hated to leave, but I knew I needed to get out of there.  Columbia and darkness was preying on my mind.  I filled my buff with ice and wore it on my head to keep my cool.  As it dripped dried, I laid my buff on one shoulder and I eventually lost it somehow.  (I loved that buff- my LLTH's buff.)  Carl, laz, and Mike pulled up and I chatted briefly with them, but I knew I needed to get going.  Especially since I knew I'd have to rest in the shade as the day was getting warmer- which I did several times.  I think I scared a poor farmer that came upon me while he was mowing his field and I was stretched out with my feet on a fallen log.
     I finally reached the edge of town and kept plowing ahead.  It was only about 5 or 6 in the evening, so I felt okay.  I went through the town square (which is apparently the less desirable part of town), I was a little nervous, but I kept plowing ahead.  I finally saw the hotel ahead and breathed a sigh of relief, especially since the clouds were rolling in again.  After I got checked in, I went back out to the steak house in front and ordered me a steak, mashed potatoes, and grilled veggies.  Steak sounded so good and I figured I'd have time to digest it before heading back out.  I ran my bath water and grabbed the suitcase stand for a tv table.  Nothing better than soaking in the tub while eating a steak dinner.  I was getting food in me and was becoming human again.
35 miles- 179 total went from a morning low to an evening high
Day 6:  I still was having the fluttering feeling, but not too much.  I headed out with the hopes of getting to Shelbyville, but I had Lewisburg as Plan B.  I knew Dusty was several hours ahead of me.  We would text about where we were each day.  She was so diligent about getting up early every morning and starting early.  I wish I could do that.  I couldn't make myself get in bed because I didn't want to get up the next day to face the truth.  It was great to know I was close to someone.  I also chatted with Diane on the phone a couple of times a day to see how she was faring and let her know where I was.  I knew that if she caught up to me- I would finish, but if she passed me, it was going to be like Ray K at the Backyard.  She was my grim reaper always nipping at my heels.  (I adore these two for their encouragement throughout the race!) 
  I reached the Bench of Despair and had the best biscuits and gravy I have had in a very long time.  Since my camera was kaput, the lady offered to take a pic of me on the bench and text it to me.  I thought that was so sweet of her to do. 
  Culleoka, past I-65 interchange to Lewisburg was kind of a blur.  Just suffering, tired, and hot.  I kept stopping probably every half hour.  I stopped on a bridge and laid down right beside the road on the bridge because it was the only shade available.  I sat on guardrails in the shade.  I finally reached Lewisburg.  There was two convenience stores- one ahead on my side and one across the road.  I looked ahead and was trying to see if it was open instead of having to cross the road.  I was dying for something cold to drink.  I saw a truck pull in, so I opted to keep going.  I reached the store- it was closed for remodeling.  Skunked again!  I decided to keep going.  Figured there had to be others.  There wasn't.  I came upon a gentleman sitting on his front porch and asked him how much farther to the restaurants and he acted like they were wayyyyy up there.  So I decided to go over to the Family Dollar Store that sat back off of the road on the other side.  I needed something cold and I was almost out of water.  It helped some,and I headed back out. This was becoming a bad day as I reached the intersection I looked at my choices.  Huddle House was on the course but did not sound good.  Pizza Hut was about 1/4 mile off the course, but I figured I could stomach a cheese personal pan pizza.  I took off my shoes and socks and swapped out for my flip flops.  My feet were so happy as I sat there chatting with a family and waiting for my food.
  I was at Lewisburg and I was fairly early.  I did not want to go on to Shelbyville- it was still 21 miles to go, but it was too early to call it a day.  So I headed back out.  I stopped at a store and had a hard time explaining that I wanted ice.  "You know frozen water" I tried to explain.  Our sheet said that there were various stores between miles 210-220- so I decided to keep going.  I was really starting to drag even more.  Called to whine to my husband a couple of times.  A friend of mine that lives outside of Shelbyville wanted to pick me up and take me home for dinner.  I had to explain to her that I couldn't do that because it would make me crewed.  Not sure she understood my text, so I had my husband call her to explain -not sure if he did.  I passed a store that was closed and I was broken.  There was a family out in the yard and the wife asked if I needed anything and I begged of some water.  They gave me some ice too.  They were great.  They also let me know the next store was closed too, but thought I could make the one after that.  I thanked them and headed on my way.  This is when the highlight of my otherwise really, rotten, hard, suffering, day was.  I was crossing a bridge and saw the water rippling under the bridge.  I figured it might be a turtle, then I thought it was a deer as I saw brown fur.  Then it came into view- a bobcat.  I watched him looking side to side in the water as he waded through it.  He came out on the rocks and then stepped into the deeper side of the creek and swam across to the other side.  He got out and shimmied the water off and then squatted for a poo (or pee).  That was when I realized how alone I really was and decided to get the heck out of there.  Especially since he was already looking for dinner it seems.  I did make it to the store 25 minutes before they closed and was able to get a hamburger to eat and charge up my phone.  I was late a few minutes checking in because my phone was dead.  (I was really bummed about my camera because I had such a great vantage of the bobcat, but my phone was dead anyways- but it just added to the discouragement of the day.)  I had about 9 miles to go and it was 8:00pm.  I probably did the most running of the race trying to get to Shelbyville.  I just had my cheap little flashlight that I only used when a car came so I could see the white line to make sure I didn't go off the road and fall in a ditch.  I was worried the dumb light might die and I am the biggest chicken at night (seeing the bobcat did not help).  There is a reason I call myself a candy arse!  I finally saw the city limit sign, stopped at a store for a drink, and then headed to the hotel.  When I reached the Magnolia hotel, which was on the course, I took a couple of steps toward it but could not make myself go in.  I wanted a good night sleep with good AC and it did not look like that would happen.  So I sat down and used my phone to find the next nearest hotel.  There was an America's Best Inn about a 1/2 mile off course.  After calling to make sure someone was there to get me checked in (didn't want to be like Psyche- get to a hotel and not be able to get checked in), and that they did have non smoking rooms left, I headed off course. 
  This was my roughest day.  I would go 100 feet start tearing up, get mad at myself for being soft.  Go 100 feet, tear up, get mad.  It was ridiculous.  I also thought about my dad and if he was alive he would be calling me on my cell and be like, "You're doing what?!" and then proceed to tell me about his problems.  lol  As the darkness fell, I let fear take hold even though I know the spirit of fear is not from the Lord- just repeating it to myself kept me sane but I also argued with God that if it wasn't from Him, then He better get them fear spirits away from me!  It was more panic than fear.  That and I just could not see and I just wanted to get done and in a hotel room.
  I reached the hotel.  Praise the Lord!  My longest day and the longest mileage I have ever went.  44 miles in 17.5 hours (no wonder I have 3 50 miler DNF's!).  Total mileage: 223.  (I did not set my alarm for the next morning.)
Day 7:  When I finally woke up and got moving,  I backtracked to the course, but then missed my turn.  When I reached the Magnolia I knew I had messed up.  Re checked my maps and realized I passed my turn when I crossed the street and was trying not to get hit in the morning traffic and completely missed the street sign that I was watching for.  Once back on course, I headed thru town and came across a coffee shop and was able to have some real oatmeal (finally).  I tried to shove as much as I could down before heading toward Wartrace. 
  I reached the convenience store at Wartrace and went in to have lunch- as many others were.  I sat down and traded out my shoes/socks for my flip flops while I waited for the line to go down.  I also plugged in my phone (always worried about my phone dying).  There were three tables in there and by the time I got my food and sat to eat, they were filling up.  The couple that sat with me use to live in New Albany, IN (which is about 25 minutes from where I live now).  He also helps out with the SJ40 every year.  One of the best parts of VS is chatting with the locals.  Makes me homesick, especially now because I live in a small town that is similar to all the ones we trek through.  Loved it!  I finally got moving down the road but before I could get out of town, the heavens opened up.  I decided to just keep going.  I knew today was a fairly short day, so I figured I could get to the hotel and get my shoes dried back out.  Leaving Wartrace, Mike Melton drove up and I chatted with him for a few minutes before he headed off to pick up Jan.  I was very lucky Mike came up because he told me the turn was just up ahead.  When I reached "the turn" I still wasn't sure Mike knew what he was talking about.  I pulled out my turn sheet, re read my maps, and then for good measure looked at my google maps on my phone.  I finally felt like Mike meant for me to veer to the left- so I did (thank God Mike came along when he did!).  Leaving Wartrace was beautiful with the light rain falling and all of the growth.  I enjoyed this section, even the hill.  Did have a short run in with a Pyrenese, but I kept pointing my umbrella out at him.  The neighbor across the road was watching me brandishing my umbrella and "No'ing" the big hound.  Mike and Jan passed by again and I eventually caught up with Psyche (walking in wet socks and her shoe insert!).  We came upon an empty store and sat under the awning.  I gave her 3 pairs of socks that I had bought and knew I wouldn't need (I later felt bad for not giving her more of my socks).  I also gave her my flip flops, my solar charger, and cord since her phone was dying.  Although her beau, Charles, was coming to crew her, I felt bad for leaving her, but I knew needed to get going.  I took off and saw some kids playing on a trampoline just before I saw the jaws of life coming at me.  I had just walked not more than 50 feet from Psyche when this dog comes screaming out of this yard at me.  I did not have my pepper spray out (I know dumb right).  I start yelling at the kids to get their freaking dog while trying to keep the dog off of me.  I knew I couldn't dig in my waist pack for my spray, so I reached around and unclipped my pack to keep it between me and his jaws.  I figured if I could get it lodged in his mouth, I could strangle him somehow with the straps.  One of the kids finally come out but instead of grabbing the dog by the collar, he starts throwing rocks at the dog- which does not help the situation.  So I am still yelling and doing the 'stay away from the teeth' dance.  The kid finally grabs the dogs collar, but when he does the dog takes one final lunge at me and scratches my leg. The other kids were still playing on the trampoline during all of this.  It made me nervous that the dog would get off of his chain and go for Psyche, so I walked back to walk past the house with her (the house across the street had another dog chained up and he was stalking us quietly- not the good stalk you want to see either).  This time I had my pepper spray and when I felt like we were in the clear I left Psyche again. 
  As I headed down the road, a car comes by me and honks the horn.  I looked behind me and a husky looking dog quickly turned from me and dashed back into the woods.  I didn't even realize I had someone following me.  I love dogs, well animals period, but I was not feeling good about dogs when I finally made it to the campground outside of Manchester and here comes another dog at me.  This one just wanted to jump and play though, but I was a little edgy and had my umbrella out as a weapon to whack him in the head.  Thankfully, the owner was there and got him under control and apologized for the dog.  I used the bathroom and headed out feeling more than a little weary.  Somewhere along the road, I lost my umbrella.  I kept tucking it (and map pieces) under the flap on my waist pack.  Problem was, I would open the flap to get something out of my waist pack and forget the umbrella (or whatever was there).  Many times I would catch it, but apparently not this time. 
  Rita and newly crowned "King of the Road" Dan came by and chatted for a minute.  They offered to take any trash, but I didn't have any.  I later chuckled to myself because they probably thought my bag of socks hanging off my pack was trash- not my most treasured possessions. 
  As I was making my way through road construction, Fred and his mother stopped.  They were leaving to head to a reunion.  I was tired and frustrated because I couldn't figure out how far I was or how far to go to Manchester.  I explained that I was using my map, but hadn't seen any identifying road signs.  Fred gave me a paper that had mileage points for different places, mainly cemeteries, stores, etc.  He was trying to explain it to me and I loved seeing him, but I just wanted to get going.  (I felt bad because he probably thought I was so rude, but I just wanted to get moving and get to food and shelter for the night.)  I stuffed the sheet in my waist pack and headed on.  I pulled it out later after getting out of the road construction part, but it had so much numbers and stuff.  I'm sure it would help, but I had a good system that was working for me.  I like my little map pieces.  I would find a street name on my map and I would know about how many miles I was.  Tenness is just like everywhere else, road signs are limited.  So a lot of the time, I would find out that I was actually farther than I thought I was- which was a real boost.  I left Fred's sheet in Manchester (sorry Fred).
  I finally made it into Manchester and was irritated with myself because I stopped at a Subway, but once I crossed over the interstate, there was an O'Charley's.  I almost threw out the sandwich for a Cajun chicken pasta dinner but I felt that I had wasted so much food already that I just couldn't bring myself to do it.  I checked in with laz and then checked into the hotel.
29.5 miles for the day, 1 lost umbrella, several dog fights with only a scratched and bruised leg, 252.5 miles total
Day 8:  I was looking forward to this day.  The shortest day yet.  The climb into Monteagle.  It all started with a stop at Wal Mart for more flip flops and an umbrella.  I knew how much I enjoyed going shoeless and it would be worth the few dollars and lost time.  I made it to Hillsboro and tried to eat a coconut raspberry zinger and a yoo hoo.  It looked good but I could only get about a 1/3rd of one down.  I was hoping there was a cafe or something in Pelham (my mileage sheet said there was).  When I reached Pelham I came upon a house that said cafe, but I was thinking someone said the cafe was named Southern something or another.  While I was sitting in front of the post office trying to decide to go a little further to see if the cafe was ahead or to go back and go into the house that had said cafe, Psyche and Charles drove up.  I was so glad to see her crew show up for her!  They hadn't noticed a cafe, but a lady came out of the post office and Charles went over and asked her.  Yep- it was up ahead.  I headed on and sure enough there was the cafe.  I changed into my new flip flops and headed in.  I found a table close to an electrical outlet to plug in my phone.  I can't remember what I ate but it was dang good!  Southern cooking, but I was really looking forward to taking a nap out in the porch swing.  The restaurant closed at two and after checking with them, I headed out for a nap.  I had already stopped in a field and laid down under a shade tree.  I was having a really hard time staying awake.  Figured a nap would help and a porch swing is the best place to get one.
  I eventually got up and headed across the street to the small store.  I finally found a Gatorade, but no luck with ice.  So I walked back to the restaurant to beg for some ice.  Then I remembered I better buy another bottle of water- so back to the small store.  I finally was able to leave Pelham after chatting with a couple that was working out in their yard.  I had seven miles to Monteagle with the climb up the mountain in there.  I was worried about the climb, but it turned out not to be bad at all.  Very pretty too and for the most part shaded.  Charles and Psyche passed again and let me know I was getting close.  Psyche had a milkshake from McD's that looked really good (but of course by the time I reached a McD's it did not sound good anymore).  At the top of the mountain, the course goes left but the hotels are to the right.  There was some kind of steak house in front of me, but wasn't sure if it would be any good.  I pulled out my phone and looked at my hotel options.  I ended up staying at the American Eagle Inn (I think was the name).  I asked the guy about the steak place and he said it was the best in Monteagle (probably the only one).  After I cleaned up, I called in an order and then headed over to get my food.  While waiting, I realized I did not get all of the sunblock off of my legs.  That crap was caked on there.  So I decided to take a bath when I got back to my room and eat my dinner again while soaking in the tub.  I eventually filled my belly and cleaned my body and headed to bed.  I had told my husband the past day or so that I was not going to make a big push to finish on Friday night.  It was crazy to make myself suffer more than necessary.  I was almost done.  I would just stop in Kimball on Friday and then finish on Saturday morning figuring the pictures would be better in the daylight anyways.
21 miles, another steak dinner, and one mountain climbed.  273.5 miles total
Day 9:  At the light of day, best laid plans go awry.  I decide that I am done with this race.  I am finishing tonight no matter what.  I just want it to be over.  Plus a little guilt from laz about having to go back up on Saturday morning.  Not too mention after reasoning it out in my head.  It made no sense to stop in Kimball and get a room, then have to go 14 more miles.  If I didn't finish before check out time then I would have to pay for another night.  (I am way too cheap for that!)  When I first tell my hubster of my new plan, he is a little shocked, but he also begins to see the reason after we've miffed each other.  Although I ended up leaving later than I intended from Monteagle (due to a storm when my alarm originally went off), I was gonna finish on Friday!  I stopped at a store for a drink, candy cigarettes, and a garbage bag.  It was still raining and in the early morning hour, I was freezing.  I reached Tracy City and found a $20 lying in the gravel lot next to the store where I stopped for a bacon biscuit.  I didn't stay long because I knew I needed to try to get to Jasper (16 miles) before the heat came.  I did stop at the DG Store and bought a pair of scissors, a  pair of gel insoles and foam insoles.  My feet were feeling pretty bad and I figured a little bit of cushion might help.  I cut both pairs of insoles for my shoes, put the foam ones in, and gave the scissors to the clerks since I didn't need them any longer.  That was a good idea! 
  Okay from Tracy City to Jasper- that is just desolate.  There seemed to be nothing.  Good thing- it was easy to find pp spots.  Bad thing- no change of scenery, seemed to take forever.  Good thing- John Price found me dragging along and chatted with me.  Whenever you see someone, it always gives you a quick pick me up.  I made it almost to the descent but the call of a closed gas station with shade was calling my name.  I laid down between the two gas pumps using the hoses to prop my unshod feet and legs up and rested my eyes for a bit.  That helped and I was able to start down the hill, even jogging some.  You should never waste a down hill.  John was at the bottom of the hill and we chatted again.  While coming into Jasper, a guy was trying to push his truck in a parking lot.  I asked if he needed help, but he was trying to push it to get it to start.  He didn't seem to think I'd be much help in that effort, but I felt bad for him.  I asked if he had a cell phone.  Turns out it was dead, so I sat and rested while he used mine to call for help.  I headed on into Jasper and found a nice little cafe to have lunch.  Best grilled chicken salad ever.  Had a slice of watermelon and an orange with it.  Good stuff.  Thank you Lord for the twenty in Tracy City because the lady's credit card machine would not work and it gave me the cash to pay for my food.  I was getting low (another reason to finish). 
  I was really starting to feel good about my chances of not only finishing, but finishing tonight!  I reached Kimball and was greeted by the sight of my mom and other dad.  I told them to meet me at the gas station up ahead.  I felt bad for not accepting anything from them, but my mom understood even though it was killing them both not to be able to even buy me a drink.  I bought my Gatorade and sat on the sidewalk chatting with them before heading out.  I was by the Wendy's and John had said it was only a half marathon left to go.  I crossed the Tennessee river for the second time.  Checked my phone camera to see if by some chance it might work- it didn't.  I headed into New Hope.  Laz called to see where I was and I let him know what road I had passed and he knew where I was and made me feel like I was getting close to 377 (the road I was watching for).  I wasn't that close.  SR156 seemed to take forever.  I finally came upon a convenience store and stopped to go potty and for fluids.  He also let me have some ice.  As I headed out a guy pulled up and asked if I was in the race and where was Diane at.  I chatted with him and he gave me a glo light.  He tried to give me another but I had to cut him off.  (I'm sorry buddy but I gotta finish this race.  It's getting late and I am a candy arse.)
Another call from laz telling me to call my mom when I reached the Alabama state line.  I finally reached the turn off and was so happy to be heading up Sand Mountain.  Happiness faded as the steepness settled in.  I finally came to the state line and called my mom.  She didn't know why I was calling.  I was feeling frustrated as to why I was calling, other than they were wanting to know where I was.  I vaguely remembered that you could see the runners at some point, but the runners were still a ways away.  Turns out I was coming up on that spot.  I heard all of the yelling from across the valley.  I waved my arms.  If I'd had the energy I would probably have mooned them, but also out of respect for my dear momma- I did not.  I just trudged along.  Abi pulled up briefly but I didn't hear what she said because another car pulled up behind her and honked the horn.  I still trudged along.  I crested and had three dogs run out to greet me.  I waved my umbrella at them and chased them back into their yard.  I kept trying to find some point on my maps to line me up to where I was on the course.  I had a lady offer to give me a ride because she had seen me walking earlier in the day. 
  Finally, CR 132-Castle Rock  Road!  woo hoo I was getting somewhere now!  I turned and kept plodding along.  About that time my mom, other dad, and hubby came up.  They took a few pictures then almost got stuck in a yard as they were turning around.  I was glad they had come up when they did because I just had a guy pull off into a drive and yell "Run Forest run".  Turned out to be the glo light guy from earlier.  He may be a nice guy, but I was tired and he kind of creeped me out.  I followed those tail lights from my mom's blazer like a drunk to a bar.  Jogging as much as I could until I'd come to a little incline.  Trudge upward, see the tail lights and jog some more.  I made it back the private drive- so pretty with all of the trees lining the drive.  I saw the power lines and started watching for the road to turn on.  Blazer had stopped, so I turned onto the road.  Then Blazer turned and I kept running off to the side trying to give them room to pass.  Finally, I just stopped and waved them past.  Through the corn field.  Laz was correct- the corn was really tall!  It was getting dark and I wished I had my flashlight.  I grabbed the glo light out of my pack and bent it.  A little light for the way.  I saw the tail lights turn down the dirt road.  I knew I was getting close.  I was singing "Zippity Doo Dah, zippity ah my oh my what a wonderful day."  I was making up lines about the race ending to fit the song and I was sounding good (Of course, now I cannot remember for the life of me what I was saying).  Then I came upon a large puddle.  I tried to decipher which side would be the best with my little glo light.  I went left, but ran into briers.  I backed back out and went right and was able to get past without soaking my feet.  Back to jogging and singing.  I could hear voices getting closer!  I saw a car.  More voices, yelling, clapping.  I slowed down because I knew there was a drop off at the rock.  I just wanted to find the rock.  Laz is telling me to hurry ("what's the hurry now!").  John is yelling for me to come to him.  He is out on the rock and I make my way to him with laz telling me to hurry, John telling me to slow down.  It was chaos- BUT I was finished as soon as John stuck me on the spot and called out time.  8 days, 13 hours, 13 minutes, and 36 seconds.  Dang I could have had 8:13:13:13 if I would have known where to go before I got there or if I hadn't been playing by the puddle like Briar Rabbit.  A couple of pics and I was allowed to sit on the 'thrown'.  I had never felt so good!
  I only had one thing left to do.  After I had rested and chatted with John, family, laz, Sherry, & Dusty, I dug into my pack for one last thing, my dad's ashes.  I walked back over to the rock and opened up the ziplock bag and let him fly.  He had traveled the whole race with me and I got him to Georgia, although not Fort Benning.  I figured he didn't always listen to what I wanted (like for him to stop drinking), I could get away with not listening completely to him.  Plus, my sister has the rest of his ashes and plans to follow his wishes- so I'm good.  When he passed away in January, and we were discussing his wishes, I knew immediately why I didn't finish the race last year.  This year I would finish and I would have extra meaning to the finish.  I didn't want my gesture to take away from my finish (or anyone else's), but it made it special to be able to do that.  My husband came over and gave me a hug and I went and sat back down.  Laz made some joke about what I was doing because he didn't really know.  I let him in on the secret that only Pat and my mom knew about.  I joked with laz that I really thought about leaving him a couple of times to lighten my pack load.  I was actually nervous that I might leave the ashes somewhere after the second night of leaving my charger.  I was careful to check every morning as I packed my bag for the day.
  I didn't want to tell anyone and if I didn't make it, have some feel sorry for me.  Plus, it was a private kind of thing but it was part of also what made my finish extra special and I feel I can share it now.
  We headed off the mountain and met up with laz and Naresh at Huddle House- and of course more rain.  The lights flickered a few times while we were eating.  The lights were out at our hotel room, but they came on in the middle of the night.
  This year was so different from last year and not just because I finished.  Last year I kept catching up to John and Stu and seeing several others.  This year other than the first day and a few hours with Jan one day, I didn't travel with anyone.  This year I never thought about quitting.  There were many times that I wanted the race to be over with or the day to be done, but not quitting.  Last year my shins were horrible and I could hardly go downhill without crying and I did not know anything about taking care of blisters.  I still don't know a lot about taking care of blisters, but I managed to only get the one heel blister the first day, then just a couple of small ones later in the week.  But they were manageable.  As for my shins, I never had any pain in them, my legs, or anything.  I was a little sore in my hips, knees, or back periodically but not outright pain (Of course, I didn't haul butt like the front runners either).  Last year I carried my ipod but never got it out.  This year if I was on a long stretch and not much traffic, I would get it out and hang it on my pack.  I probably used it maybe 5 or 6 times for an hour or so.  It was a great pick me up, but it also would start getting on my nerves.  This year I tried to enjoy myself more.  Although I did have quite a few melt downs that my husband can attest too, I remembered what Carl had said in his SJ report.  One other thing that I felt helped me was my course from home to work is 12.5 miles and I know how far different points are from home.  So if I knew I only had 4 miles to the next point, then I'd tell myself, "okay its from the pond to home."  10 miles- "from the bridge to home."  And so on.  It helped me to digest the miles.  That and I had a lot of prayer coverage over me!
  Honestly, if it wasn't for the pictures, I wouldn't believe I had even finished it.  I also feel like anyone can do this race.  I mean really, if I can finish it- anyone can!  When I was out there, I didn't think I'd ever want to go back, but I know I will.  I want to do a few other races first, but I will be back.  Shooting for my 40th birthday which is in three years.  I hope to get under 7 days or better.  I really need to finish a 50 miler and work on my speed- or at least getting out of the jogging and maybe get closer to some running.  Although my energy level is really low still after two weeks and my bruised leg from the canine has healed, I feel more energized toward wanting to run than in a really long time.  Thanks laz for a great race!  And thanks Carl for helping out and keeping me on track.  I know I was a little better knowing where I was when I called in this year; a little better.  : )
  For those that might want to know:  Counting the night in Union City before the race, I spent $594.84 on hotels (lowest was $39 and highest was $86).  I spent $238.71 + the $65 in cash I brought on food, drink, and whatever else I bought (i.e. socks, watch, umbrella.)  I also gave a small donation to the RD.  I found a twenty and some change, more so near the end of the race (thanks Dusty).  ; )
  Vol state to me is like a Christian's walk.  You have valleys and mountains.  You do a lot of things wrong and a fw right.  You hope to get the chance to do it better next time.  I feel closer to God because of VS, but I still have a long way's to go.  Kind of like I feel better about my races, but I have a long way's to go.  : )

Dog Fight at RUTS 2012

  One of my favorite races of the year, or I should say my other family reunion.  That is what RUTS is like- getting to see family members that you haven't seen in a while and then getting to spend time, or laps, with them throughout the night.  Plus, this is the only race Pat does every year- trained or untrained.  We passed Stu and laz on the road and I called John to see if he had dinner yet.  We picked him up from the course and headed to Applebee's.  It was great to get to sit with John since he just returned from England and a little jaunt across the country.  I had seen most of his photos, but it was fun to watch them on his laptop while we ate.  We dropped John back off at the course and headed to check into our room to take a nap before the race.
We made it back to the race and picked up our bibs and set up our tent. Before long it was time to start. Pat and I stayed together and chatted with several friends as we passed or they passed us (Naresh, Joshua, Steve, laz, Stu, Diane, John, Chris, Tim, Kathey- see family reunion). The best thing about this year's event was the two front runners. A lot of times it is hard to tell who is leading because there is relay teams and they are rocketing past, but this year there was a dog fight. Chris- who we adore not only for his abs but he is one super nice  friendly guy and Matt- who just won our (co-RD) Bernheim Trail Marathon the weekend before RUTS and is also a super nice guy that lives about an hour from our home.  Pat and I were pulling for both of them all night long- we couldn't choose between them.  We encouraged both of them all night and was pulling for them both (Matt would eventually win by a 1/2 mile and set a new course record).  When I grow up- I want to be like these two guys!
 Pat was doing great all night long and had racked up the most miles ever for him with 25.  He was beginning to suffer some with some blisters and we discussed him continuing to get a marathon, but he ultimately decided he wanted to stop and let his first marathon actually be a marathon and not on a timed course.  I was happy with whatever he decided but really happy that he set a new PR this year for himself.  He retired to the truck and I grabbed my headphones and tried to get a few more miles in.  I have always tried to do a little better each year at this race but with Pat doing so many miles this year, I didn't have much time.  I needed 34 miles
and I had 25 miles with an hour and 50 minutes to get the remaining 9 miles. I tried but I just fell short. My biggest regret is not trying to get that last lap. Even if I timed out, it would have felt better than not trying at all (I thought I had already learned that lesson, but apparently not).  At 9:55:46, I had 34.5 miles. I headed down the track to try to get one more lap in and as I headed away from the finish line, I made the mistake of looking around the track. I reached the bus and I just stopped. I couldn't make myself go one more lap. More than likely I would not have made it, but I sure would like to know how close I would've come. Sigh....  
One lucky girl (and my hubby's taking the pic!)

Pat PR'd with 25 miles!!!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Strolling at the Jim 2012

  I headed down to Wartrace Saturday morning without sunburned feet this year.  This year I was more familiar about where I was going, problem was I had to drive through all of Kentucky in the rain.  Not just rain, but relentless pounding rain, hail, and lightning.  I even stopped under an overpass because the pounding was just wearing me out as much as the mental strain of concentrating on the road trying to see the white lines to make sure I was still on the road.  I should have stayed home or at least pulled over but I knew I would not be able to get to the race in time if I did.  As it was I got there about an hour early, not enough time to rest before the race like I was able to last year.  Many people were already there and getting ready.  I quickly picked up my bib and stuff from Mike and then I readied my stuff.  I looked at the clock and I had a few extra minutes and tried to put out some fliers of our upcoming race in June (the Bernheim Trail Marathon that I co-RD).  I was slightly embarrassed because so many people were still at their cars.  Sticking stuff on cars is not my forte.  It ranks right up there with asking for money when fund raising.  Yuck- but I did it because I said I would.  I put out all that I had and then I went back to the bus to finish getting ready.  I was going to use my pack that I was using for Vol State.  Strolling Jim was purely a training run for Vol State.  I had a few funny looks because of the larger pack, but I didn't care.  I needed to get some training in however I could get it.  I was way behind in my schedule!
  All too quickly it was time to line up.  I saw a few people I knew, but mostly I was just a little tired after the rain drive down.  Steve Durbin came up and we started the race together.  I tried to stay with him the best I could, but even with his bad back, I was pushing my pace for me. 
  Not long though, the clouds started rolling in and everything that I had drove through had caught up with me again- even the hail.  Thankfully it was just pea sized hail, but that was right when I noticed I had lost my LBL hat off of my pack.  I was bummed because I loved that new yellow hat, but more so because I wouldn't have it later for when the sun came out.  The rain finally ceased and it was a wonderful morning for a run.  Steve and I continued to chat for a bit.  It was nice while it lasted especially talking about UK sports (even though I am a bigger football fan than basketball, sorry Steve), but I eventually had to stop and tinkle.  I was secretly glad because I was having to push myself to stay up with Steve and I knew I was dragging him down- which seeing his finishing time proved to me that I was right.
  I met Liz- who I found out was sharing the hotel room with me later.  (I had told Juli Aistars that my brother had gotten me a free room with his points and she could room with me if she wanted.  She asked about Liz and Jan too, and I said that was fine.)  I also met Mimi, who had swam the Ohio River last year and actually stopped at my aunt's house for her overnight- small world! 
  I was doing good for about 18 miles, but I could tell the rain had wrecked havoc with my feet and I was getting blisters and I didn't think to bring an extra pair of socks.  (I was at the race track all day on Friday with family and did not think to check the weather.  Sigh...)  By mile 20, I was reduced to a walk.  No amount of cajoling from Amy would help- which was a bummer because it was great to hear about her upcoming adventure in the summer at Cape Cod.  Well, I wanted good training for Vol State, I was about to get it.  20 miles left to go and I am walking.  I wanted to quit several times, but I knew if I did I had no business even returning to the ferry this year.  So I pushed myself onward.  Diane eventually caught up to me and she went strolling on by smiling and looking fresh as a daisy.  Stu caught up to me when I was trying to adjust my shoes and socks at a guardrail.  I continued to trudge ahead.  My secret nemesis, Savannah caught up to me.  She had knocked me out of third place at RUTS last year by a 1/2 mile.  Of course she is 16 and friendly as can be (and her dad is super nice too)- so I couldn't hold that against her.  She looked to be struggling some too, but she was motoring on.  I finally gave in to a pity party, then I kicked my butt in gear and made myself get going. 
  I finally made it out to the main drag and the blessed sign of only 2 miles to go!  I finally reached the finish line and the best thing was getting hugs from Chris, Naresh, John, and Joshua!  What more could a tired, stinky girl want?  (Well to finish faster than last year- but strike two.)  I finished in 10:35:30 (Almost an hour slower than last year.  Two races this year that I've been slower than last year's times.  Not good!)                                                                                                                          
I sat and visited with everyone (laz, Big, Ray K, John, Naresh, Joshua, Diane, Juli, and many others.)  I eventually was ready for a shower and some rest.  I told Jan what hotel we were at and Liz and I headed to get us checked in.  My buddy Lina called and invited us all over- they were having a graduation party.  They were all too tired, but I couldn't come to Tennessee and not see my buddy- no matter how tired I was.  When I left they were discussing sleeping arrangements and I just asked to have a section of bed to sleep on (after all my brother did get us the room) and there was a king and a roll away bed-plenty of room.  I visited with Lina and her family and headed back to the room to find Jan sleeping on the floor in her sleeping bag.  After trying unsuccessfully to wake her up- without waking everyone else, I gave up and went to bed.  I found out the next morning, they thought I wanted the whole bed.  I felt bad that Jan slept on the floor, but even more so that they would think I was that much of a prima donna.  That ranked up there with the drive down for the race as being the lows of the weekend.  Otherwise it was a great experience and I hope the training run would prepare me for my second vol state attempt.

Land Between the Lakes 2012

  Why I continue to sign up for the 50 miler when I do not have the speed at this time to finish it under the cut off time, I do not know, but I did it again this year.  Probably because the RD will give you credit for the distance you finish- nice guy that he is.
  This was my first race since my dad passed away in January and I was having a little bit of an emotional Friday morning on my way to work.  Then I get to work and my co worker's brother in law died.  On my way home I pull over to let a funeral go by.  Three times in one morning I have already been beaten on by death.  My emotions were a little raw by the time my mom came over to my house.  She has a friend that lives in LBL, so she usually rides down with me and spends the day with her while I am racing.  My co worker's husband, Dale, also rides down with us and his wife, Kim, is coming in the morning.
  We pick up our packets and chat with Steve, LBL RD, before heading to meet my mom's friends at a local restaurant in town.  It is a buffet and I try not to eat too much of the fried food so I am not spending all of my time in the woods off trail.  We eventually say good night and head back to our rooms.
  Dale and I head out in the morning, drop off our drop bags, and then head down to the start.  The start was moved down by the water this year- which was beautiful, but cooler.  I saw Jim and Karen there and Jim was shocked that I would have on a full face orange ski mask on, but I also know what works for me by now and the temps were too cool for me not to have something on my head and over my nose and mouth.  To heck with what people thought- even if they don't realize that the orange hat is famous!

The race started and I headed out with everyone.  I was just hoping to do better than last year but I knew my training had been sub par with everything that had happened the past couple of months.  Once you turn off of the road onto the trail, you have a nice conga line that goes for quite awhile as everyone jostles around and tries to find out their pace and get spread out.  I eventually get away from others and am cruising along enjoying the quiet solitude of the morning.  I feel comfortable and know by the time I get around the first loop I will be able to switch out from the orange hat to just a toboggan.  I try not to spend too much time at the aid stations, but it seems like I have to stop at every port o pot.  A little frustrated with having to go so much, especially since I don't drink that much to begin with.  I figure it will get better as the day goes by, or at least I hope (it doesn't).                                                                                     
   I eventually get around the first loop and change hats and discard my jacket and gloves.  Sometime around the second loop I catch up or he catches up to me, but I meet Rob Apple.  I have heard of Rob, but I have never met him before.  I knew that he had finished countless ultras (like 600 or some crazy number- someone asked and he told them, but I have since forgotten).  Turns out Rob is quite the wildflower book of knowledge.  We pointed out several species of wildflowers throughout the day and he was able to name them.  The only one I remember is periwinkle and that is because I have a carpet of them in our backyard along my trail.  (I had always wondered what the name of the flower was- now I knew -Thanks Rob!)  It helped to pass the time and the morning quickly.  Although Rob commented that I had a good walking pace and that would was good with ultras, I knew I was slowing down some.  I thought of my dad some and got a little sad, but Rob helped to      
keep the conversation flowing so I did not have time to be said.   
   One of the things I love about ultras is the people you meet.  Plus, it really helps me to work on my shyness.  Rob was very easy to chat with as we discussed our jobs, his travels, my dad's passing, etc.  I felt bad because I felt like I was holding him up, but he seemed fine just trotting along with me.  On our last lap, I had an issue with my asthma again.  About the same as last year, I quickly
used my inhaler and carried on but a little discouraged that I continue to have an issue with my breathing at this race two years in a row.  Not sure if its the dampness and chill from the lake or what but I tried to minimize it this year with my orange hat and keeping my mouth covered in the early morning hours.  I'll have to keep working on that problem.  Anyhow, before long we had reached the end of the loop and turned back on the road to try to
head for the finish. We crossed the finish line in 9:03:23 for the 60K. I felt really good after I finished.  (Thirty minutes slower than last year- no wonder I felt so great!)  Although my time was slower, Rob helped to make the day and my race very enjoyable and I know it really helped me from being out there along dwelling too much on my dad's passing.  Thank you Lord for trail angels.  Karen was at the finish and I saw Sal from Vol State.  Dale and Kim were there and I chatted with them and they gave me a ride to the showers so that I could get cleaned up.  We stopped at a nice Steak house on the way home.  All in all a very good day.  Even if I had another 50 Miler DNF! 


Monkey Mayhem 11-20-2011

  After missing the Monkey in 2010, I got a second chance to run this year.  I was looking forward to this marathon because the race director sends out all of these fun emails before the race.  There is just so much hype with the race, well, how could you not want to run it. 
  Diane Taylor offered to let me stay with her the night before which was great because it save me money, but also because I wasn't quite sure where the race was taking place.  She had two other friends (Amanda & Kristina) staying (the monkey would be Kristina's first marathon).  Diane had picked my bib up.  We got all kinds of cool schwag (2 shirts, stickers, candy, etc).  We were going to take the early start, so I settled on the living room floor in my sleeping bag for the night.
  We headed out the next morning, I followed them in the bus because I wanted to head home as soon as I finished (since the race is on Sunday, I had to be at work on Monday).  We reached the park and I said hi to Trent, the RD, before he gathered us all together for the early start.  The four of us took off together, but I was feeling pretty good and I wanted to see how well I could do the race.  I have yet to finish a marathon and run the whole way.  I knew I wouldn't be running the whole way of this race, but I wanted to only try to walk the hills- or that was the plan.  I was doing pretty good with that for a long while.  Some sprinkles arrived, but I didn't really mind because I loved running in the rain.  I just hoped not to get a chill.  One of the coolest things I saw was a white chipmunk.  I saw all kinds of chipmunks, but this one was pure white and we both stopped and stared at each other.  Then he took off behind one of the many rock walls in the park. 
  Eventually, it looped around and I started seeing the runners that did not take the early start.  It was kind of cool.  Up to the point when I was coming into some of the aid stations and they were calling out, "first female".  The first time I heard it, I looked around behind me to see her.  Then I realized they were talking about me!  I was so embarrassed.  I tried to explain several times, but then finally  gave up and figured just enjoy it- this will never happen again.  The rain was definitely picking up and at the top of the hills it was getting windier and mighty chilly.  Finally, the first female came by and I told her I was glad to see her.  I'm sure she was like what are you talking about goofy lady!
  The last few miles I started dragging some and walking some of the flats, but overall I was sort of pleased with my race, especially considering the conditions.  I finished in 5:39:35.  My time wasn't that great, but I felt better about how I managed myself.
  Although this race is known for its smorgasbord of post race food, nothing really looked appetizing to me.  Then again, food usually doesn't when I finished.  I chatted with Joshua H. and Naresh while waiting for Diane.  They came in shortly after me.  I chatted for a little bit then headed to the bus.  I had my blanket with me, so I sat in the back seat and changed my clothes under it so I could ride him in clean, dry clothes.  I was chilled to the bone from the rain and was just ready to go home.  I said my goodbyes and headed home. 
  The monkey is an awesome race and I look forward to running it again one day.  Trent does an amazing job with the hype before the race and his volunteers are superb (they were so cheerful even though the rain was pouring down on them too).  I would encourage everyone to put this race on their list- but hurry it fills up fast!