Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Freezing Christmas!!

Greetings from th 12 degree tundra of Leavenworth, Kansas!
I was fortunate enough to be on the last flight not cancelled from DFW to Kansas yesterday, and arrived to 32 degrees and rain, which quickly turned into blizzard conditions. By time we left evening mass the ground was covered with snow, which was storming in. My constant words were, "this is crazy."

We are here celebrating Christmas with Paul's family, and enjoying fantastic time with his sister's kids. They are just amazing!
I will be honest that since stepping off the plane my fingers have been blue and have been FREEZING. Fortunately, CJ has been precious and trying to cuddle up and keep me warm :)

We woke up to 10 degrees this morning, I went for a run on the treadmill (thank goodness for nice warm basements!), and we headed over to Nicole's for Christmas present opening. (We are staying at Paul's cousins house). It was an incredible morning, as we got to share opening of presents with Nicole, the kids, and Ryan (my brother in law) on Skype from Iraq! What a cool world we live in that he is doing such an amazing thing for our country and the Iraqi country (they are there training the Iraqi soliders...he is there for the next year) and he got to watch his family open their presents (twins and a one year old). The kids would open and then show each present to their dad. I am so glad he got to share the morning with us!

I'll admit that this is not my most fun vacation, as seriously I will need weeks to defrost from it, but my heart is filled with absolute warmth by spending some fantastic time with my wonderful husband, and seeing what an incredible job his sister is doing. This is the first time Ryan has been deployed since they have had kids. She is managing work, as a doctor, twin 3-yr-olds, and a one year old without complaint. At dinner last night we were talking, and she was talking about taking them to church with her. I know families that don't take three kids to church with two parents, but she goes every week without anyone else to help her. She does it all: work, grocery shopping, meal prep, and once the kids are asleep she gets a workout in. She looks fantastic! What a blessing her example is for me and for anyone who feels challenged by the day-to-day of "getting it done." (Clea - seriously she would give you hope in what is to come for you!!)

On another topic: running...I went to Bastrop on Wednesday to get my 15-miler in. It was a LOVELY 60ish degrees and 100% humidity, seriously some of my favorite weather. I have been logging some pretty big miles so my motivation on the first loop was not high, to say the least. But I still set out on the 2nd loop. As I headed out, I was filled with such gratitude for the sacrifices Paul makes for us every week, for the amazing moments of self-reflection I get to have during my time in the woods alone; for my ability to be able to run in such incredible weather; for my health; and for all the gifts of wonderful people in my life. As these thoughts passed through my head. I was lifted...my legs floated and I had the best end of the run. It was just an incredible moment. I shared it with Paul when I finished and told him just how grateful I am for him and his support. I am so truly blessed and felt it every step as I went through the run. Having that run on my own was absolutely uplifting and priceless!! What a great reminder of what a gift a run can be...I will need this, I am sure, as I train for Western States.

As always, I am just so filled with gratitude for my wonderful life, all the gifts I am given; and all the people that create such happiness in my life! I just hope for the next few days that these thoughts can keep my body thawed and warm until I return to Texas!!

Merry merry!
mer

Friday, December 18, 2009

Just another Friday...

I have another post that is coming with some catching up to do, but I thought this would be a fun one to quickly put up.

Today was just another typical Friday:
- catch up on emails
- see clients
- run in the INCREDIBLE weather
- visit with my neighborhood friend (major time suck, but oh such meaningful moments to give)
- deliver cakeballs and vegan bars (one of my new favorite pasttimes, as this delivery always brings a smile to everyone's face)
- take Flyer to the vet
- leave in the middle of the appointment
- head to the movie set
- photo op with my client
- nice visit with my client
- great dinner with husband
- prep for run for tomorrow


Oh, yeah, here is the pic

mer

Friday, November 27, 2009

Loving Thanks

Thanksgiving Day had an early start - Davenport Death Run 16 miles: Mel and Mike, Paul and I, Luisa, Tom, and William. It was an incredible route, and I look forward to challenging myself with it again. Then it was off to finish prep!

There is no better way to show your thanks than to create a lovely meal. And, that is just what I did!
On the Menu:
- Herb Roasted Turkey Breast (made two bone-in breasts vs. whole turkeys to avoid being stuck with dark meat)
- Sweet Potatoes with unsweetened dried cranberries and infused with orange juice
- Roasted Beets in reduced balsamic vinegar
- steamed string beans
- Rosemary Sage Stuffing
- Cranberry Relish with mandarin oranges
- Spinach salad with pears and fall vegetables
- And for my non-turkey eaters Grilled Salmon seasoned with herbs de Provence and grilled lemons


For Dessert:
- Cakeballs
- Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Cinnamon Buttercream and sprinkled with cinnamon
- Pumpkin Pie
- 1 single Vegan Brownie for my father's birthday :)




Sharing this special meal with family and friends made me truly thankful for all the gifts in my life. This year has been filled with just so much, and this was an incredible moment to take to show my true appreciation for all the gifts I am given.

And if the above wasn't enough, there is no better way to complete the evening than to take the bones and from the turkey breast and create a turkey and vegetable soup. So not only are we left with incredibly healthy leftovers, but the treat of warm soup for weeks to come! As with all the meals and foods I create, there is nothing more special than sharing the goodness...so if you want a container of soup, just let me know! (I have it in the freezer! Next week looks like it is going to be a PERFECT soup week in Texas).

Ahhh, to melt into the couch with Paul and the UT game (hook'em) after such a wonderful day and hard work. All was sooo worth it!

Have a blessed holiday weekend!
mer














Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Running and Baking

What a day! If you would have asked me at 4:30 this morning how the day I was looking, I would have had a very different response than what I have at 10pm.

At 4:30 this morning, I was crawling out of my slumber after a brief 4 hours of sleep. One of the things of truly appreciating running and training is the gift of getting to release any negativity that might be brewing inside. For me that is what is a run is for. It is not an escape from reality, but a true moment of appreciation and blessing...and who the heck wouldn't feel positive after taking advantage of those feelings. Of course, it does help that I run with some of the most fun people! I am so very fortunate to be surrounded by such a phenomenal community of healthy people who think a 5:30 run is the best place to be.

I showed up for the run with the cold front blowing in. Right as we get started, Amy comes running up from behind totally giddy. She tells me that Dorie posted on her blog. Two pieces have to be mentioned here: Amy's blog is INCREDIBLE (see the first blog favorite of mine). She touches my foodie passion with each of her posts and creations. Second, she recognized that only another foodie would be almost skipping to the thought that Dorie Greenspan commented on her bundt cake entry. If you don't know who she is, look her up and BAKE! Amy just brightened my morning. I promised her that I would have pics of my creations today (they are coming in a moment). I love having that connection with someone...the passion of wonderful food.

The run was really great, everything about it: the route; the company; even the cold front coming in...it was just the magical miles that my body needed to be renewed for the day to come! Although, I will admit that I am looking forward to partaking in the full glory of Testosterone (Estrogen if you ask Asia) Tuesday next week!!

After the run, it was time to get in a full workday as well as a full prep day. As I went through the day in a perfect symmetry of time balance I came to realize what a joy it all is. There is truly nothing more wonderful than creating food for others. I enjoy nothing more than sharing my creations of healthy foods and treats with those who I care about. In good food: the preparation, the serving, the delivering...it's the entire act that gets to come from pure raw ingredients to effort of your hands and skill to final product...well, that end result is just like a great run. The gift of food to another person creates that same moment of joy and renewal. I came to realize in my food prep today, I LOVE sharing that. I love bringing a smile to someone's face with the food I prepare. It is such a great gift!
With that level of joy, I created some very requested cakeballs (red velvet...my signature...and Boston Cream Pie, my sweet husband's request), prepped vegetables, and roasted sweet potatoes (they just need the addition of fresh cranberries and orange juice) in the midst of my workday. As promised this morning, Amy - here are the pics! If you go back on my blog you will note that I have stepped up the artistry on them. It's about time that these little wonders look as beautiful as they taste...but no tastes for me. Seriously!!

What a wonderfully full day! So many gifts and "little blessings" to be thankful for and prep to share with those I love!

I am so very fortunate!
mer


Saturday, November 21, 2009

It's time to get back!

John P said first thing this morning when I showed up to Rogue for my first run with the crew in quite sometime, "What happened to Sunshine Makes me Happy? I miss the blog posts." Well, John, I must say that you made my morning :) It is with your nudge that I come out of the thought process and back!

Then I opened my blog page and saw a note from Kelly. Kelly - miss you too, and it is time for me to get back on it. I hope to see you so soon and am thrilled to know that you are healthy and back running.

Journeys, life, trails...all have many options and many final destinations. Sometimes we take the right path, sometimes we take what we think is the right path, and sometimes we downright take the wrong one. The gift that God has blessed me with is that no matter what path I head down: the love, compassion, and non-judged support I have from everyone in my world can return me to my core.

I am so very grateful for all the gifts in my life. I am speechless by the love and support that holds me up, and reminds me of the person I truly am. I am in awe of my husband who can sit at a table and listen to me with levels of compassion that are greater than that of a Saint. I will never be able to truly verbalize how fortunate I am to be married to such a good good man. (But, let's be honest in that EVERYONE who has ever met him already knows that about him) When there is so much love at the core of two people for eachother, I now truly believe, you can conquer ANYTHING that comes your way.

As with each race I run, these past few months of life have also taught me lessons that I will not soon forget...Fortunately, my "team" remains stronger than ever and intact, and we can move forward together, forever changed...

Thanks to each of you for your patience for my return! I'll be sure to make each post worth the wait :)

mer

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Training Races and Appreciating Friends



































































I could go on and on about what a wonderful day I had at Headlands, but instead I am going to focus on what this gift is all about...appreciating my friends.

Over the past few months, I have been given the gift of the best training partners, friends, advisors, and support team. These are not new people in my life, but the gift of each of them is so incredible that it is what carries me as I run, and especially as I ran on Saturday.

My goal for Saturday was made very clear: this was a TRAINING RUN! This was not a race for me. What this meant in my head was that I was supposed to finish with legs as fresh as I started, right?

Even so I was heading out to run...not hike around the Marin Headlands. And, run, I did. I went a little too fast on the first loop. Not fast by effort, but fast by time. I knew if I tried to push that pace for the 2nd loop I would not finish with fresh legs. So I turned it off, and really took it easy on the 2nd loop. I chatted with folks, I cheered for others going the other direction, and I just had a great time appreciating my gifts and the day.

It was on the second loop that I realized as I was running just how much I was smiling. I wondered for a bit what people going the other way must think, and then it struck me...my smile, my utter happiness on the trail was contagious. Who the heck smiles after 30 miles of running? What I came to realize is that someone who is at complete peace and happiness in their life can smile with every step they take. And in that moment, when people can feel your inner and outer smile...it makes them smile too.

I have the great fortune of being in a place that brings me to constant happiness: work, life, family, friends...each and every piece lifts me and it comes out in each step I take and the smile on my face.

OK, now for my moments of gratitude because I ran this race filled with so much, as always.

I would name each and every one of you, but you all know who you are!! I was called a "secret weapon" on Saturday, which made me laugh. But, honestly, each of you that are such a huge part of my life...you are my secret weapon. You fuel me with moments; you lift me up; you bring me strength; you support me; you love me; each of you is exactly what I need to be filled with such inner happiness...it is just incredible what a gift you are.

The best way to honor this gratitude is with pictures of all of those who bring me this inner and outer smile :) Thank you for the gifts! Headlands was for you, and we had a great time!
mer
(as a side note to this, missing from the photos are Mike, Erin, and Bruce) Mike and Erin - I couldn't find the pics from my b-day...totally MIA. Bruce - after tomorrow AM I will have a pic of you (yes I am taking a pic after our run!!)
Other pics missing, but the people are not - my fantastic friends from all over who advise, support, and are just as important as everyone who has a photo up...need to get better at taking pics of out of town friends, too :)

Saturday, July 25, 2009

My Inner Roadrunner

Today I was a true road runner! Dropped my car off at Barton Springs, and hooked a ride with the guys to the Arboretum. From there our fearless leader, Steve, gave the instruction: 8 miles EZ, 10 mile MGP, rest cooldown (we were going 24 total).

Let me back up. I do actually run roads quite frequently: hills, tempo, easy...it is just easier to find company and speed that way. But, the last time I endeavored on my long run on the road (over 10-15 miles) was Austin Marathon last Feb. where I paced. But it worked in my schedule, the other guys were in Bandera, and I wanted to be done early to go enjoy Swedish Waffles!

I will be the first to admit I have no idea what my current road pace is. I have been known recently, and apparently am getting quite the reputation, for taking an easy run to a 7:05 pace...thanks for all the grief! But I figured if I hung with the crowd for warm-up, stayed with Bruce (7:15 or a little faster) for MGP, and then home free I would be fine. This would give me a solid run without any fatigue going into Headlands.

Well, what a treat this run was! I spent most of the early part, and until she had to get to work, with Asia (sp?) one of the UT Cross-Country girls. We had a great time visiting! I spent some time just listening to the guys and their banter. And, I spent some time letting Bruce and Jason (yes, Mike, Jason was not pulling the crowd!!) keep me in check pre-MGP. The miles (even the bonus wrong turn +1mile) flew by. Then it was time to pick it up. It's so weird, and I was telling Nedra later, that I was a little nervous picking it up. I run too fast all the time, but I didn't know if I could hold the pace for 10 miles and on the hills.

Well, actually Bruce and I did pretty darn well, and Charles TOTALLY rallied after an early show stopper! Here's what Bruce had to say about our pace splits: "Actually I think those are pretty good considering the terrain, especially the last four miles. I know mile four was 7:14 so if I factor that in our overall pace was 7:12 on a course designed to slap us around a bit. It was expected that many people wouldn't be able to keep pace for ten miles."

I can't believe I am typing this, but I think some of my inner roadrunner is back :) Probably most of it is because I don't do long runs on the road very often, and the company is fantastic, but I think I might do that again...and maybe soon!! Thanks for letting me play with the black short boys!!

Next stop, Trattoria Lisina and a wonderful anniversary evening! 5years!

Oh, and by the way, Swedish Waffles (crunchy) are the best!
m

Monday, July 6, 2009

Pacifica

I'll be the first to admit that I have a heavy racing schedule for the end of summer/early fall. I love to race, whether for a training run or for an A effort. There is so something to be said for pinning a race number on, going to incredible places, and testing your training.

I can't remember when I decided that Pacifica 50K was a good place to start, but I did and then convinced Beth that it was a great idea for her to join. Afterall, she needed a pick-me-up race after Boston and trying to motivate for the next goal...and what better place than the trails of California!

I have been training hard and strong lately, and so I was interested to see how it would play out. I had looked at times from past years and saw that I could do fairly well, if I ran a smart race. I had taken a peak at the course record, but more for reference of where I thought I might finish...5:15-5:30 was my goal. Beth and I hit on one VERY early challenge, I needed to run fast enough for us to make our 5pm Sunday flight. When we booked everything neither one of us had checked out the race start time: 8:30. It was going to be close if we wanted to be clean on the plane.

We headed to California on Saturday with the plan to check out the town of Half Moon Bay before settling into the hotel. We had a great time, and it was completely worth the trip to the old beach town to drive there. The drive was spectacular. One funny piece of this part of the trip to note was us passing the local vineyard, and Beth and I remembering our trip to Napa. I had never been wine tasting before in Napa, and it didn't take much for me to be drunk. We considered stopping in, but I drew the line.

By late afternoon, we were both fairly spent and went to the room to relax, eat, and get ready for the race. I kept telling Beth that I was a little nervous about the course. The 50K course read like this: Orange/Pink/Pink/Orange/Yellow/Pink. WTF. How was I supposed to remember this is the midst of a race. The was only one person who could help...Mike. I sent him an email asking for help, and he was a GENIUS! He said, quite simply: "Who's down with OPP, yeah you know me." And then he said something about OYP. Beth and I were laughing and laughing. We would, now, not easily forget the route!! And, I would have yet another Mike song stuck in my head.

Both Beth and I were up VERY early the next morning, still being on Central Time. It was kind of nice because we could be totally leisurely in our getting ready for the race. At first we might have felt bad for making too much noise getting ready, waking up our neighbors, but shortly before we departed we could clearly hear that our neighbors took advantage of the wake-up call. I will spare everyone any more details than that, unless you are on a long run with me and need some laughs.

We headed down 1 to Pacifica. WOW the views of the ocean as we drove in. And this is why I run in California! We got to the park, and were surrounded by incredible foliage and cool temps. Arm warmers...ready to go. The race consisted of a 9K, 21K, 30K, and 50K. Everyone but the 9K started together. We all lined up, and Wendell sent us on our way. I took off toward the front, chatting briefly with my friend, Lee, from Granite Bay. He told me that Saturday he had gone for a 5K swim in the American River for his birthday and needed to slow down on this first climb. I know he is historically faster than me, but I was really going conservative and pulled away pretty quickly. I had the plan to take the first round of Orange/Pink conservative to get a check of the course, and then pick it up on the back 1/2. I continued up the climb with Elizabeth. She was doing the 50K, and seemed to be a strong climber. After the first two miles, I had to let her go. I knew I would be at the edge if I stayed with her to the top. So here I was 2nd woman...long way to go. We climbed to the top of the peak about 3.5 miles up, turned around and went down. I LOVE downhill. My legs were starting to warm up and I was feeling spry. I hooked in with 2 30K guys and 2 or 3 21K guys. I got in front for the single track down. One of the guys, at one point, made some wise crack about me taking this first downhill too fast for planning to run the 50K. I was comfortable, so I ignored him. (downhill miles: 7:21, 7:14, 7:12) We came into the start/finish, I refilled my bottle, and headed out.

Pink loop had a smaller climb, a short stretch on a dirt road, a two mile climb, and then decent back to start/finish. This first loop of Pink seemed to take forever. I used the time to just collect myself and remember sections for repeating later. I got to the top of the second climb and then happily took it down (7:23, 7:16). My legs seemed to be warming up on this second decent and I was finally seeming to find some rhythm.

I refilled, again, and headed back on the Pink loop. I definitely felt better this loop. ..downhill and dirt road mile (7:42) It was here I caught back up to one of my initial 30K guys. I caught him right before the twoish miles down, and tried to drag him with me. He had some words that I was going to drop him and he was only running the 30K, sorry. Down I went (7:12, 7:08)

Back to Orange. I knew it was coming and this was going to be my test. My nutrition, my head, my legs...up I go. I actually felt great. I was almost 3/4 up before I even saw the 1st place male. I was getting a little giddy...where was Elizabeth? I kept saying to myself, if I can be 1-2 minutes behind her I can catch her on the downhill. Sure enough as I get to the top of the peak, she is 1 minute up...race on! I turn around and RUN. I thought for sure I would catch her on the downhill. I was flying for me (7:10, 7:04, 6:42...NO JOKE!!) I have so much momentum on the downhill that I am having to grab poles on the switchbacks to keep my balance. It was awesome. My legs were giving me all the gifts of all of my hard work, and I was grateful for every moment.

I came running hard into the start/finish for my final water refill only to find Elizabeth there. I was ready to push. My legs felt fantastic, and I knew I could run the whole last up and push the down. She takes off right infront of me, and I catch her. I tell her that she must have been flying down that last downhill because I couldn't believe I didn't catch her. She says she loves the downhills but she is tired. That was all I needed to hear. I pulled ahead, but knew she was back there...it was a good place to be. I like to run a little scared. I started up the final climb and about 1 mile up I get stung by a hornet...OUCH. It freaking hurt. I walk for just a second, but then reason to myself that if I have a bad reaction to the sting the best I could do was get to the finish quickly. So I start running. I get to the top of the final climb and know I have about 2 miles down to the finish. It is now for the first time that I look at the clock for real time. I knew the women's course record was 5:02 (Mike told me today that the men's was 4:58), and see that I have about 24 minutes to get down (I was looking at real time...not chrono, my GPS was being grumpy with me). So I take off at full speed down, once again. Somewhere in my head the math is telling me that I am going to be really, really close. This time I descend with everything I have. (7:04, 6:32) I am going down so fast at one point that I catch the switchback wrong and catch the side of the ledge of dirt and it gives way under my foot. I go sliding down. Before I can lose time, I am UP and moving again. My legs are loving every moment of this. I can't believe it. I hit the opening, and then the finish. 4:53:21. Elizabeth finishes 3 minutes after me, with a hornet sting in the exact same spot as mine...picture worthy :)

I finish muddy, joyful, and grateful. I am so grateful for all of the support I have going into the race. I feel lifted. I actually have moments of handing sections over to each of you and have you run with me. I am never alone on the trail because each of you is with me. It is an incredible feeling. I am so thankful to Paul for supporting me in my endeavors of running. It is not easy, but he let's me go. What I do is so different from a triathlon in that it is often more than one race a year, and I am so blessed that he understands what this means to me. There are very few words to describe what it is to have people in my life to lift me, to push me, to stand beside me. It is when it is time to go to the depth of what I have and what I am made of that I can feel you beside me...ALL of you :) God bless you all so richly for all of your love and support.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Priceless Adventures

It's been a little while, so time to catch up...

Hogs Hunt left me with a new openness to my running. Yes, there are many questions to where, what, and why, but maybe the more I ask the questions the less I need the answers.

The gift of this new change was taking advantage of some friends that I know and haven't run enough with. Over the past few weeks, I have had some of my finest runs with some of the best company. Yes, there is some mild beating of each other, which is kind of fun, but more than anything it is good time with really great people. This leads me to my latest adventure...

I have been running with Jason for some of his Leadville training. Each run we have done has been solid, and really great work both on the trail and the road. (Can you say midday 90+ degree hill workouts!) We knew the replay of the RHR race was coming up, and when he said he was running, I couldn't say no. But here was the catch: he needed to start at 2AM so that he could get back for his daughter's recital. In admiration for his ability to juggle family and training, I was in!!

Then I thought better of it. I didn't really need 50 miles, so I decided to join him and just run two of the 16.75 mile loops. It all sounded great, as I would be finished before 8AM. Of course, Friday rolled around and I kept thinking, "what did I agree to?" Our departure time was going to be 12:45AM, ouch. Of course, I would have loved to take a nice long nap on Friday, but it never happened, oh well.

At 12:45 Paul dropped me off to meet Jason and his friend, Kirk. Gotta love a husband who is willing to get up for the midnight train to Smithville! Off we went with a laugh of, "what the f are we thinking?"

We got to Smithville a little before 2AM, loaded up and were off for the start of our "race." We had some fantastic laughs: spider web girlie screams, superman falls, and just some "should be drunk" moments. I love how quickly the time can pass in the night when you are laughing so hard.

We returned to the start/finish, so that we could join Ken and Mus and the rest of the race for the real start. Off we went to an incredible sunrise and a great morning. I was having a grand time, and had wonderful chats with Ken and we were just scooting along. The bonuses of loop two were: light; great company; and Joyce's Coke in the cooler...what a treat!

Before long, we came in and my "race" was finished. Jason had one more and Ken and Mus two. Off they went. I relaxed and waited. Jason finished after a while, and had definitely taken a bit of a beating at the end of the last loop. But, I told him given our departure time, start time, and pace...it was a priceless training day! He cleaned up and rallied to go be with his family, just amazing.

Then, Ken and Mus came in before their last loop. I went into crew mode: refilling, cooling, whatever I could do to get them out. It was an interesting situation as with so many people finished and hanging out they were tempted by the conversation. I wanted them to get the heck out of the start/finish and on their way to their third loop. I made them take bottles to keep themselves as cooled and wet as possible, and packed enough fuel for a long loop. Just amazing!! I got the best message from Ken much later that they had finished and it was the hardest thing he had done.

I couldn't have asked for more out of a run: great laughs, conversation, friends, and beautiful trail running on a Texas summer day. I feel so blessed!
mer

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Reasons

I have been wavering whether or not to line up for a race, 50K, on Saturday. After my sad day at Miwok, I felt this immediate urge to search for, "what's next," as I was not content with the obvious lack of outcome or exhaustion that would have followed me leaving everything on the trail.

At first I was just digging for reasons: I love running in the heat (it will be in the upper 80s/90s on Saturday; my legs feel fresh and ready; I want to release this energy. But, none of these seemed to be enough to have me pull the trigger and say, "I AM going to race." Thank you for those who gave non-advice, advice..."if you can't find a reason, don't go."


But, then I thought about it, and I decided my reason to race is simply because I can. If I truly appreciate this healthy life I have been given, and I truly appreciate my gift to be able to run...then I need to do it in the way I love it the most. I love to pin on a race number. I love to run in the woods. I love to push my body, and see just what it can do. Sure, there will be bad days and outcomes I wish wouldn't be. But no day running, even if not as long as planned, can compare to the hardest day these people or my sister endure.

So with these thoughts in my head, I headed to Huntsville. Once I settled in Huntsville, I watched the weather, and was pleased to see that it would be in the low 70s at the start and warm up to the mid-80s before my race would be done...with the highlight of a pre-rain 100% humidity. Now that's my kind of running weather!!

I got a decent night's sleep, although the 3:50 alarm always feels early. I got to the park and set up my "transition" area. Right before 6 we lined up at the start and I said hi to a guy we know from Houston, Joe Constantino. Also, before we started Catherine arrived in time to wish me luck. She was running the 25K. A little after 6, off we went.

The race starts with almost a mile on the road. I took off with Joe, catching up and chatting away. Before long I notice that we are in the lead pack with the rest of the race behind us. I also grab a look at my Garmin 7:05...oops. First mile beeps as we head into the trail, and the same number shows. I tell Joe, and he says, "no wonder I could barely talk." Fortunately, since I couldn't get hold of my pace, the trail Gods slow me down...I fall. I bounce right back up, but take it as my definite sign to slow the heck down and run my race. I settle in, 6th place behind the guys. I definitely am feeling great, but I am just 2 miles in. I am also now on my own.

For the first time I am appreciative of the out-and-back on the jeep road. It becomes my chance to see other people. I am just a very few minutes behind Joe and the others around us. I cheer on the rest of the racers as I head back from the jeep road, but mostly I am following the path that Joe takes. Since it hasn't rained recently, the course was VERY sandy. It wasn't bad, but the sand kept coming.

I was wearing my new Garmin for the race, and was really enjoying seeing the miles pop up, even if they ended up not being perfect. I ranged between 8:23 and 8:50 with a few miles faster and slower when I would stop at aid stations for water. I felt really smooth and relaxed. Before I knew it the 15.5 mile loop was over: 2:11.

I headed out on the 2nd loop, and felt really good. I knew the temps were going up, so I knew hydration and electrolytes would be my key to success. Maybe that is why I love running in the heat so much. It is such a practice in solid nutrition. If you fall behind, your race is gone. If you stay on track, you are golden. So far, I was golden.

As I hit the jeep road I told myself that this was two miles of solid running...go for it. I knew I would be home free after the jeep road. I got ice water at the 1st aid station, put my head down and ran. At the end of the jeep road my Garmin peeped: 8:02. I had a 1/2 marathon left, Bolinas Ridge out and back.

I kept moving along. I thought of Jamie and her telling me how it was so much easier to run when it was for something bigger than herself; she had just represented the USA at the World 24-hour. I thought of a friend who is killing himself to train while fighting injury after injury. I thought of what a gift I have to be able to be running so pain-free. I thought of my client who was just diagnosed with breast cancer, and thought about how I was going to give her my medal from the finishline to share with her my strength. It was in these miles that I realized that so often in the past I would slow, or walk, because I had moments of "I can't." It so stemmed from my start as a runner. It was not so long ago, and there were always moments of me running farther or harder than I had before. It was always such a scary place to be, and there would always be a moment when I would throw in the towel and give into that fear. But the reality of Saturday was that there wasn't a moment of "I can't" that I couldn't fight back. My legs were hardly tired, my nutrition was beyond 100%, and nothing was going to stop me.

I went through the aid station with about 7.5 to go, and I was ready to head home. It was here that I started catching the backend 25K runners. I gave them each a cheer as I went by, as they were amazing to just be giving the distance a shot! As I made the left to wind through the last set of trails to the bridges, Love Story by Taylor Swift came on my MP3 player. The song means more to me now, as it is a concert that my sister so badly wanted to go to but just couldn't go to because of her chemo treatments. Every time it plays I think of her during my run. I thought of how hard it is for me to hear that cancer has not changed the person she is...so hard to explain, but I just wish this journey would have changed her core to make the most positive out of all the days she has. I still took the moment in the woods to reflect on her journey, and send prayers her way.

I hit the bridges and knew I had less than 40 minutes left to run. I kept telling myself, "this is your day, how do you want to end it?" I knew that I wanted to end it strong!! As I got to the last aid station, one of the guys that had been well in front of me was taking off. The aid station had just poured him a coke, but when he saw me he took off. I took advantage and grabbed his cold coke and went after him. I ran so hard, but didn't see him. It wasn't until I hit about 1/2 mile left on the open road headed to the finish that I saw him again. I tried, but ran out of property...

4:27:?? 1st female 6th overall 16 minute PR on the same course from November 86 degrees at the finish 100% humidty

Yes, I can and I loved every minute of it!!

Thank you so much for all of the support, guidance (making me have a reason to race), love and friendship!
mer

Pics to come when they post!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Memories...

Instead of spending this blog post whining about my race that wasn't...I thought I would highlight some of the laughs from the weekend.

- Who the heck travels to a race in the rain (forecast said ALL week) without 1 jacket for their drop bag??
- Didn't know it was possible to be running and shivering at the same time. It is and it sucks.
- Very interesting to be travelling in the midst of "swine flu outbreak"
I became fascinated trying to figure why some people chose to wear masks, and others didn't. Paul said that I should be happy for those wearing masks...less likely for me to get sick.
Don't you at some point become immune to hand sanitizer? The guy sitting next to me on the plane pulled his out no less than 10 times on the way to California. I was trying to figure out what provoked each cleansing...1) did I get too close; 2) did he touch his seatbelt; 3) did someone brush against him. No matter, his hands were CLEAN. It was funny to me.
- And the funniest tale of the weekend... (yes, Steve, I know you already told it. My turn now!)

Steve graciously loaded my shivering self into a car to head back to Pan Toll. In the car with us were two other guys who were dropping, as well. In the back seat was Steve to my right and this guy to my left. Steve and I started chatting. He asks, "do you know who was leading?" I say, "Geoff," with some level of knowledge as I saw him run by. Without much more than a pause, the guy to my left says, "No he's not. I am Geoff." GULP...After a moment of silence, I pulled my foot out of my mouth long enough to explain to Geoff that I had been running with his buddy David and that David was raving that Geoff was going to win. I was just hoping that this explanation would leave him flattered that we thought he was awesome enough to talk about him. Fortunately, he was a VERY nice guy and spent the rest of the ride talking about his miserable day...he had gotten quite sick.

Once we got to Pan Toll, I don't know how many times Steve and I had a great laugh about my comment....oops. At least it gave us a good laugh in the midst my misery.

Of course, the DNF stings but there was really no other choice, at least not a smart one at the time. BUT, to have some goods laughs...I'll take those memories.

Thanks for all the support...on to the next adventure.
mer

Oh, and one final piece to add...WTF with the cruel joke of poison oak. Wasn't the DNF enough? I sure do love the trails in Cali, but could really do without another round of poison oak.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Weekends with the T's

This past weekend was a great one, and reminded me just how much I love the weekends.

Friday afternoon has become one of my favorite times of the week. Every week at about 4pm Paul arrives home. It is a most festive time in the house. Flyer goes crazy, and life is good as the family is whole once again. I'll admit that having him gone all week is not easy: I don't sleep as well without him, my desire to make anything more than steamed vegetables or salad isn't high, and the house just seems to get a little too quiet at times. But, I know people have it much worse so I try not be to grumbly about it all.

Once the dust settles, and Paul unloads, we go about the tasks of prepping for Saturday. Paul gets his bike ready and I get my bottles ready for a run. Saturday morning always comes early, but with a good buzz in the air. This weekend I headed downtown to get my group started on their road run, and then had the treat of meeting Melissa for my taper run. I dropped my car, and we headed out, so that I could get two hours point-to-point, and she could make a 4 hour loop. Time flew by and we had a blast. I, then, went home and worked the rest of the day. Paul came home after his 75 or 80 mile ride and run, and was happy to have an early dinner.


We then prepped for a Sunday "family" trail run. The past few weekends Paul, Flyer, and I have enjoyed a trail run together on Sunday. Yes, we have the treat of having friends join us, but it is just nice to have this run that we do together. It was a great crowd on Sunday morning: Mel and Mike, Jeremy, and Beth. Flyer, of course, led the way...although Melissa gave him a run for his money down HOL. We ran a great mix of my trails and Melissa's trails, and Jeremy got a solid taste of trailrunning. It was also great to see Mike and meet John on the trail as they were taking a post-Boston tour. Thanks Mike for helping Beth!! Here was Jeremy's take on the Sunday trail run:

"Let's just say family Sundays with the T's is no walk in the park. They are a family of frick'n mountain goats. It took everything I had to bump around that trail without wiping out and they barely broke a sweat. I was honored that I got to hang with the elite trail runners of Austin and even more happy they slowed down and didn't drop me."

After the run, Paul, Melissa, Mike, and I went to breakfast. We have some great laughs together, and I am so thrilled that Mike joined in for the Sunday fun.

As with all of our weekends for the past months, the fun ends with much scrambling as I cook Paul's meals for the week, he packs, and we prep for his departure. Well, slight deviation to packing was Paul's building of a new training contraption for me(more on this to come once I recover from Miwok).

While our time is too short every week, this weekend really was a wonderful highlight of how great our life is. Paul and I get the most of all of our time together with both eachother and our friends. I am very thankful for their support, and all the happiness they bring to us/me.

Have a great week!
mer

Monday, April 6, 2009

When in doubt, keep running...

Brew 2 Brew 43 miler 2009

I must start this report emphasizing just how much I enjoy running in the summer heat with the sun shining down.
I checked, rechecked, and checked again the weather in Kansas for Sunday. I'll give it to Mike that the forcast did change. It started at 32 and 70% chance rain/snow, and went to 30-40s 60% chance rain/snow and wind. Yikes!!

I recruited clothing advice (thanks Kevin and Jamie), thoughts to run with, songs for my MP3, and just a general kick in the arse to get to the starting line in a happy place.

Paul and his family were running B2B as a relay, the way most people did, and were to start 1 hour behind me. The good thing about this was that we all headed to the start in Kansas City together. We arrived at The Blvd. Brewery at around 5:15AM, and I figured in true JT spirit I better have a beer. As I was drinking my beer, other solo runners came in. I came to know a few things quite quickly: I was one of the only solo runners without a crew following me; I was one of the only solo runners carrying all of my own gear; and I was one of few women. I made small talk with two guys and the girl (maybe a wife or girlfriend) with them was nice enough to say that when she would see me that she would help me if needed.

I gave my finish bag to some guy named Dan, hopefully who was heading to the finish line, and stood on a sidewalk ready to go. We counted down and off we went... The race started at 6AM, dark low 40s, and quite comfortable. I ran on my own on the levee until after the first aid station (about 4 miles). At that point I caught up to a few guys, and stayed with them until the next aid station where one of the guys was changing shoes and I needed the restroom. At that aid station, the girl of the other guys from before the start grabbed my water bottle while I was in the restroom and filled it, how sweet! The guy, I can't for the life of me remember his name, and I took off. Arghh, we get stopped at the train. Fortunately, his wife was there to make small talk with us (the stop was only 2 minutes). At this point we are about 10 miles in, and are in about 5 or 6th overall? We settle into a very comfortable pace together. My plan was to run 8:30s, but we just couldn't get there. We kept clicking off the miles 7:53, 7:55, 7:58, 7:56, you get the point. I would stop and fill up water at the aid stations, and he would grab fuel and water from his wife. (I wish I knew who they were because she took pics of us runnning together).

Right before the end of leg #5, he divulges to me that his longest run for this was 8 miles, he was a 16min 5K runner, and did a cage fight the week prior. I saw his wife later, and she said that his legs were screaming, so I am guessing our pace over the distance was probably catching up to him. The wind had started picking up in the previous few miles, and I knew I would miss the company.

We made a right turn to start leg #6, and all the decent weather ended. The cold wind came straight into my face, and the rain started coming down. I put on my rain jacket and kept plugging forward. I made my way up the first climb to Mike's motivation for me, Rain by Bishop Allen. The song made me smile. Here are just some of the lyrics:
"oh let the rain fall down
and wash this world away
oh let the sky be grey
cause if its ever gonna get any better
its gotta get worse for a day."

I knew at that moment that I hadn't used up any of the thoughts that my friends had put in my head. They had 3 hours to keep me going. I made it through the first set of rollers and the rain started coming down harder. I couldn't tell which was worse, the cold rain or the wind gusts. I just kept thinking to myself, just make it through until the end of leg 6 and assess then. Well, of course the way to the end of leg 6 was slightly downhill and flat, which totally revived me.

I ran through the aid station, and they remind me that up ahead I will have to take the boat across. Oh yeah, the boat...a bridge was washed out during leg 7 and in order to avoid an extra mile run, you could take a boat across. Well that is all fine and good, but the thought of standing still or sitting in a boat sounded horrible. I keep running, and notice that rain is no longer hitting my body, it's sleet. Are you kidding me?? I don't know what is making me continue to go, but I am still running and running. I am absolutely freezing, but I am running. Every once and a while a huge gust of wind will make me feel like I am standing still and I think that this is what running at Badwater must feel like, although nice and warm, and I remind myself that I will NEVER run Badwater. I think about all of the climbing I did at C2M, and think about how much better my legs feel now then they did at the end of the race there. It must be the constant ice bath they are getting. I try to have warm thoughts, but honestly I am just freezing.

I have been told, in the past, that the best you can do is identify the problem and resolve it. OK, so I am actually working this thought process out..."what is the problem?" Yes, the weather totally sucks, but that isn't an actual problem. My legs are cold, but they actually feel pretty good and I am able to run. My face is frozen, but I don't really need it to be warm. My MP3 is working, and is actually keeping me mildly distracted. And then is strikes me; my hands are freaking freezing. When I conclude this, remember I am doing this all the while running, I almost pat myself on the back. Then I realize that if someone saw me, it would be embarrassing. (not the running like a fool in the miserable weather, but the patting myself on the back) OK, so the assessment is made: my hands are frozen, wet, maybe making me a little hypothermic...what to do?? I seriously spend about 10 minutes from this point running in my head the advice that Jamie gave me. And then I remember, "tuck your hands in the sleeves of your jacket to keep your hands warm and dry." Yippee, I remembered!! So, I quickly get one hand in the jacket. Just then I approach where the boat is to cross the river. It is a mud pit to get down to the water, so I need to use my hands...nice. I get down there and notice the boats on the other side of the river. I ask how long until the boat will be ready and they say about 5 or so minutes. Since I am so cold at this point, I ask the men at the boat to get my other hand into the sleeve of my jacket. Did I mention that it is snowing at this point? They point over to a fire and tell me to wait over there. Picture this, if you will: me soaking wet, freezing, standing in falling snow over a sad little fire. All I can wonder is how the heck I thought this was a good idea. I hit the depth of misery at that moment.

FINALLY, the boat comes across and we load up, others have approached at this point. On the boat the other runners notice how sad and cold I must look, and one of the guys actually gives me his gloves (old layered garden gloves). I gladly take them. We make it to the other side and they all run with me: 2 girls and this guy. They push me to the next aid station. The girls actually put me in their van to warm me up for a moment, with their team who is actually living up to the brew part of the relay. Soooo nice. We visit for a few minutes, and then they kick me out of their van telling me that I will be so dissappointed not to finish and to let Paul catch me. Sadly, I get out of their van into the rain/snow/wind.

The next two sections are unspeakably miserable, hilly, and constant headwind. I cannot believe I am doing this, and I cannot believe that it hasn't ended yet. Time has stood still, and the wind is not helping it move any faster.

Just when hope had truly sunk to the pit, I get to the last leg. The rain has stopped and for the first time in over 3 hours the wind is at my back. I started letting my legs glide, and I realized that although a little tight they really felt quite good. It lifts me, and I go: 4 miles left, 3 miles left, and then just to make sure I don't forget what I have been through the wind starts at the side of my face and directly into my face. Arghh, no gifts. The last 2.5 miles and I have to gut it out.

And, then it's over: 43.91 miles 6:32 and change. First woman, and the total placement to come... It was the worst weather I have ever run in. I was overwhelmed and frozen at the finish. Fortunately, the Dan person had my bag for me and I sat in the back of a truck and called my family. They were not too far behind. They put me in the warm van and I changed, and was sooo happy to be dry and warm.
Once Paul finished his last leg we went over to the post-race party. As we were in line for post-race beers, I see the guy who gave me the gloves. We shared big hugs and thank you's. He will never know just how much he saved me.
I won a ceramic mug, which was quite nice, and my name will go on a plaque.
I get that this is a long report for a not so long run, but I want to remember every moment of what I went through. Without anything but my running legs, whatever gear I had with me, and the thoughts in my head; I did it! Yes, I needed a pre-race rally to get me there, but once I was out there nothing could stop me. I want to remember this moment for the next time a race, or life for that matter, gets so challenging I want to shut down. I actually downloaded more than just the song from Mike for Sunday. Francesca Battistelli sings in her latest: "everyday the choices you make, say what you are and who your heart beats for. It's an open door..." http://rhaplinks.real.com/rhaplink?rhapid=5879476&type=playlist&title=Playlist&from=yahoomigratedsubs

May the door stay open, and continue to guide me in thanks and strength. How fortunate I am!

A side note of thanks goes out to a wonderful weekend with Paul's family...I am truly blessed!
mer

(I wore Drymax Hot Weather socks, wet feet for over 3 hours, no blisters!! Will download and add pics of my feet this week)

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

What a Treat!

I wish everyday could be celebrated in such a way:

- an afternoon trail run, with Flyer, sunny and 75 degrees. Felt so good that I added in an extra hill climb for good measure. The wind literally had the trees singing to me.
- a great day of work. I love highly productive days that can start at 5, and go solid until 10.
- a fantastic salad with roasted beets...root vegetables are the best. (JT give them a try!!)

- AND, finally, CAKE BALLS! Holy Moly did I create some red velvet seriousness. Red Velvet cake, combined with cream cheese frosting to create a ball of cake. (Erin and Mike - I think I put my own cupcakes to shame) Then, if that weren't enough, covered with white chocolate. Almost too pretty to eat, but just almost. What an explosion of happiness in my mouth :)




Off to bed, so that I can wake up and share the balls at the track in the AM...800s and cake balls, should be interesting.


What a wonderful spring day!
mer

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Ring That BELL!

There are so many words and emotions attached to the events of yesterday and the events of the past 6 months. Bonds formed, lives forever changed, and a fighter I never knew existed.
MD Anderson (the cancer center in Houston) has a bell in the chemotherapy area. After completion of chemotherapy the patients get to ring the bell to signify the end and the beginning (the inscription reads: "to life").

Yesterday marked my sister's final day of chemo...battle #1 fought and completed!!

May we all take her bravery and be reminded that the end of one chapter is truly just the beginning of the next. Do not stop or stall just because you hit one goal, one obstacle, one day. Ring your bell and allow the sound to change, shape, and propel you forward.


Thank you so much for all of your prayers and thoughts. They are working!!
mer

Monday, March 16, 2009

Gratitude...


In one of my favorite songs, there is a line "and all I have is gratitude to offer you." This is the best line to describe my weekend at Coyote 2 Moon 100K.

There is just so much to be thankful for. C2M is a run that is not joking around. Over 19000 ft of climbing in 100K, and some of the climbs mean some serious business. But signing up for a race like this you really kind of know what you are getting yourself into before you ever start.

A few things that made me a little nervous:- My start group! I was placed in the final start wave at 3pm. This was meant for the fastest 100K runners with the intention that we would catch up to the other packs. I didn't know who was in the group but I felt like I didn't belong. It scared me...
- My start time! 3pm meant that about 10hours of my race would be through the night. Wait, isn't this why I don't run 100-milers? I am ok on the lack of sleep, but didn't know if I would slow down a ton because of the long hours through the night. Our solid night run (thanks Mike and Henry, again) made me feel better about my night running pace, but still.
- Have I done too much? I have really been on overdrive with work (thankfully) and training/racing since February. I was a little worried that I was going to go into the race too tired from too much. A little late to do anything about it.
- Always a challenge...was I ready to push and do well? It is always such an unknown...

Henry and I headed to Ojai California fairly incident-free on Friday. We got in right in time for registration and packet pick-up. Now anyone who knows me well knows that I am a HUGE creature of habit. Yes, we can call that rigid. So you can imgine my reaction to being handed a rainbow beanie with a propeller on top to WEAR for the race. Apparently, it is like a leader jersey, ha ha. That would take a little bit of getting used to...100K with a wool beanie on?

Also at the start/finish, I got to meet Bob, the head of Drymax, and his wife Charity. Right from the beginning I was completely blown away. I mean they were THERE! They were super involved with meeting all the runners and getting them set-up with socks. I got to visit briefly and he generously got me all set. Even another reason to be so proud to represent Drymax this year! (Read more about me being on the Drymax team here) I got to share tons of hellos and hugs with friends from all over. I just love coming to races in California :) I am sure races are like this elsewhere, but I have really been made to feel at home with the community here, and I am so absolutely hooked.
After departing, I went to the Ojai fresh market for tasty dinner and food for breakfast/lunch for Saturday. I also got some wonderful fresh pumpkin bread to take home to Paul and some other snacks, AND plenty of drinks. I then walked around town and bought a few gifts. (The town was three blocks long) From there I went back to the room, Best Western Ojai...awesome place! Quiet evening and bad tv, fun times :)

I woke up WAY too early for an all night event, and WAY too antsy. I got dressed and went for a 20 minute super easy jog. I totally get it that I was about to be running 100K later that day, but the sitting and eating, and sitting and eating was going to get the best of me if I didn't get out. My legs and body were happy to get some fresh air and movement. The neighborhood was nice and quiet.

As a 3pm start was a bit of a challenge nutrition-wise, I opted for a large turkey sandwich and salty crackers that would be filling and easy to stomach early, and then have a banana and usual pre-run fare closer to start time. I had been training a number of times eating and then either running within an hour in the afternoon or hitting the hill repeats to see how the sandwich would go. I trusted the plan and felt good, but not stuffed.

Around 10AM, I picked Henry up and dropped him and my drop bags off at the start. Afterward, I got to spend some good time visiting with Bob and was so excited to hear all of the great things Drymax has in store and to really get a good pulse on what a wonderful support and great person he is. It really makes me proud to stand behind such a solid company and good people...and, no, this isn't just a plug for Drymax (you will see this all come to life below).

Before I knew it, and before I drove Paul COMPLETELY crazy (I think he was begging for me to be in an earlier start group, due to me calling out of boredom) it was time to get ready to start. There were 10 of us starting in the K5, final 100K, start group. Andi, the other lady, was from San Diego and might have been more bubbly than I was. There was Dan, the man deemed to wear the other beanie. Jonathan was there, a guy I had run some miles with last year. And then of people I could identify, there was Kevin, the man who had won Rocky Raccoon 50-miler. In my head I had settled on the fact that I would be pulling up the rear of the group.

FINALLY, it was time to GO! The first climb was my absolute low of the day. I ran/powerhiked it, but something was wrong with my right ankle. The pain was horrible. I said nothing of it, and made small talk with Jonathan. At one point, he reminded me to drink and then did it again, and I didn't know if I could take 60 miles of someone reminding me to hydrate... We reached the ridge and were finally on a runable area. I needed to stretch out my legs and see what was going on with my ankle. Jonathan stayed in tow. We came through the first aid station, and hit the ridge for 5ish miles. Finally my ankle was loosening up, not happy but ok. I picked up the pace a bit, and Jonathan stayed with me. He said at one point that he was going to be sick, and I said great just not around me. He stopped for a moment and I heard him get sick, and then he sprinted back up to me. He, then, proceeded to vomit while insisting on continuing to run with me. SERIOUSLY!! I could not shake this guy, and I couldn't believe this was happening. WHY would you feel the need to vomit and continue running, especially right next to someone. I will never understand that. I didn't want to ruin my run and totally take off, and I didn't want to be behind someone vomiting so I just let the madness continue. I noticed another guy a bit behind, and just kept wondering what in the world he must have been thinking. We made the turn down to Rose Valley, and I knew my biggest hope was my ability to climb this steepest climb back out with enough purpose to escape the vomiting wonder. I hit Rose Valley, which was about 12 miles and felt fantastic. I had told Jonathan that I was going to put my music on for the climb, and I took off. I climbed with huge determination. I thought of my stepmill inspiration (you know who you are) on this climb and dug in deep. It was a blast. I passed Dan, and he thought I was a bit crazy. Fun times!

I got to the top feeling great, free, and on my own. I was thrilled for the ridge section to stretch out my legs and run. It seemed so much more runable than last year. My ankle pain was far removed from my head, and before I knew it I was heading down to Howard Creek and mile 18. I saw Kevin as he was heading up and he cheered for me...so supportive! I also saw some of the other runners from other waves heading up. I guess I would catch a few afterall... I reached Howard Creek to the cheering of Bob and Charity. Charity had my drop bag ready to go, and Bob was taking pictures. I felt like a superstar! It also helped that I felt really good too :) I grabbed my stuff for the night, and off I went. (Jamie - did you notice the shirt I wore for the night!) What fun!!



Dan had pulled into the aid station right with me, and we started the climb out together. He was having a little trouble getting going, and we attributed it to the entire week he had taken off...just a little stale. Hopefully he would get more spring in his step later. One guy who felt fantastic, and seemed to be sticking near us was a guy I would come to know later, Hank. I pulled a bit in front of them on the climb and then back on the ridge. Once the sun went down and it was foggy, I got a little nervous about making a wrong turn. I was a little slow just figuring my way. It was as I entered the party of Gridley Top (an aid station we would see three times) that Hank caught me. I was thrilled to have another pair of eyes watching the way. At the aid station, there was tons of play and fun times with Sue and Chris egging me on (and a "borrowed" sign saying: road closure for the Austin Marathon...they had borrowed it when they had been in Austin a few weeks earlier and now it was on top of a mountain. I just love the funness of this race) Anyway, Hank and I took off on the 1 mile climb and then 7 mile decent to Cozy Dell. We seemed to be fairly well matched pace-wise, and he was so awesome. We talked and talked. He had actually gone to play putt-putt with his kids before the start of the race (and I thought I was crazy for my 20 min jog). It was on the way down that we really got to see a ton of people from the earlier waves. I saw Moogy and Mason, who were running the 100-miler. I saw Henry, Karen, Melissa, Steve, and so many more. At that point, Hank must have been thinking I was so odd for knowing everyone on the darn course. But, cheering on the others definitely made the time pass quickly. We arrived to the bottom and Bob and Charity were there to support again. Are you kidding me??? They were/are that amazing. I think it was about 10pm or so, and they were all about being out there. I was just in shock. I hope I acted as thrilled as I really really was to see them. I grabbed my stuff and headed out, knowing/hoping Hank would catch back up to me for the loooong climb back up. I just wanted to move forward and eat. He caught back up to me and we forged upward. WOW, I don't remember this climb back out being such a challenge. It just continued upward...


Finally we got to the top, and were able to get our running legs about us again. We hit the aid station at GT (gridley top), and Karen and crew were there. Something had happened to Karen's light, and so I offered her my spare. We dug around and got it out of my pack. I was thrilled to take the moment to help. And then off Hank and I went to descend almost 6 miles. It was a blast!! We caught Henry about 5 min down, and then just kept going. It reminded me of the descent we had taken on our night run a few weeks back, but 6 miles vs. 1 mile. I don't know if Hank was having as much fun, but he stayed with me and played along. Again, we hit the bottom grabbed what we needed and were off! Last looong up, and home free...well kind of. It was during this climb back out that I realized that my rear-end was crazy sore. I just wasn't able to move as fast up as before, and my funtimes spirit was fading. Hank would pull away a little and I would have to power myself to get back to him (I will have to leave it to his race report whether he would slow for me or I was actually speeding up to catch back up). And what seemed like FOREVER later we got back to the aid station.

I realize running math is it's own beast, but I was sooo on the floor saddened to realize that we had 7.7 miles on the ridge before the 5 miles down to the finish. BOO! We headed out to what felt like a freezing chill. We decided to put on our jackets for the first time...might as well use some of the stuff we had been carrying for 40 miles. I tried to let Hank leave me in my sad no butt/hamstrings state, but he wouldn't go (I didn't want him to go, but I didn't want to ruin the end of his race either). Everytime the ground would go slightly downhill I would run, and definitely ran tremendously more on this section with him leading the charge. My flashlight was fading and so was I. He knew it, we didn't talk much about, we just ran.
We got to the final aid station and I knew I needed to change batteries in my light for the final descent as it was the rockiest. Thank goodness for this decision, as I would have never gotten down in the dark without the change. We ran, talked a little, cursed a rock or two, lost our way twice, and finally emerged from the woods. As we approached the field, everyone was cheering but cheering that we needed to AROUND the field to the finish...full loop around. I dropped my pack and picked up the pace. Hank laughed at my 400 repeat pace, but I was so ready to be done running it was worth the sprint. And then it was done...15:4ish (I stopped my watch after we stood for a bit)! Bob and Charity were at the finish for pics and hugs...so amazing!

After cleaning up and returning to the finish, I got to see Henry finish!! Woohoo! Then shortly after, Kevin returned from his clean-up and nap, nice. He had been cheering us on at each up and down passing so it was fun to catch-up standing still. He is an incredible runner, seemingly very calm and patient, and I am excited to see what's in store for that talent at Western States...watch out!
Over 15 hours:
- So thankful for my health! My ankle pain is mysterious and pretty much gone now!
- So thankful for my supportive husband!
- So thankful for Bob and Charity and Drymax (no sock change, no blisters, once the dirt was off it didn't even look like I had run!)
- So thankful to Chris and Sue and their creativity and team for such an awesome race!
- So thankful for my friends and their support. Thanks for getting me to the start and for making me feel so special about my finish!
- So thankful for old friends and their success on such an epic adventure
- So thankful for so many friendly faces on the course
- So VERY thankful for a companion for 35 miles and so many hours. What a gift to be well matched for so long, and then for your generosity to slow to pull me along! Thank you Hank!! What a great person, and what an honor to get to meet your wife and family at the finish...although I think the kids will prefer Disneyland to the finish of C2M :)

All I have is gratitude! Amen for a wonderful run, and hopefully a quick recovery...the flight home was painful to put it mildly.
mer

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Lots of Updates

Since I last updated my blog:
- I paced the 3:50 group at the Austin Marathon
- Spent 5 incredible days in Colorado with Paul and great friends
- Went to Napa to watch my girls run the Napa Marathon
- Got in a truly memorable run with Kelly, Leslie, and Karen (thank you!!)
- Enjoyed some fantastic wine
- Watched some tough runners in the rain
- Got to tour the French Laundry kitchen
- Came back on a red-eye
- Got in a 3hr run with Mike and Henry as final tune-up prep for C2M
Here are some funny highlights:
- Pacing the marathon is the best way to run a marathon
- I do not take any sport "recreationally" That being said, it took my 4 days to recover from cross-country skiing. Heck they give you an all day pass. I thought that meant that you were supposed to stay out there for 4 hours at a time? Who knew that was crazy?? Probably the wine didn't help with recovery.
- I have never laughed so hard as when I was cross-country skiing with Luisa and Steph. Memories I will never forget. We literally laughed so hard our stomachs hurt. We had the best time ever together!
- Spending time with the husband was the best! I am so glad that we got to take time out of our busy schedules to enjoy one of his favorite places together. I know how much he loves to ski, and it was fun to see him enjoy it with our friends.
- I am a fan of Drive-Ins, Diners, and Dives. While this restaurant might not be on the show, it should be. Any place that serves chili cheese tator tots, grilled salmon, and a fried twinkie is a definite!
- Napa is an amazing place for a foodie or wine drinker. I am much more of a foodie than wine drinker, but it is easy to get totally sucked into the wine drinking. And for some odd reason, seriously, the wine is stronger in Napa? What's up with that?
- Thanks to a reach out email to my former Montrail teammate, Kelly. Well actually she is my current Drymax teammate (I love to follow her...although she kicks my butt at every race we run). I needed a run on Saturday while I was in Napa, and she was planning one with Karen and Leslie. They took me on the most amazing 5-hour tour: redwoods, crazy climbs, DEEP cold creek crossings, beautiful views, and Wild Boars! What a wonderful way to spend time together visiting and seeing sights I would have never gotten to see. The trail they took me on was just incredible.
- My little group...what can I say. The rain started at 6AM and the marathon started at 7. Not a one of them complained, and in fact relished in every moment of the day. PR's across the board. Biggest was 30 minutes!! How's that for some liquid sunshine amongst the vineyards. I am so very proud, and thrilled to have been out in the rain running with them, supporting them, and enjoying their day!
- French Laundry...WOW! Someday I might enjoy a meal there, but until then...the view in the kitchen and the tour was enough for my memory bank. I was not afraid to pull into the lot and knock on the copper back door. The gift was a guided tour by an amazing chef, Tim Hollingsworth, 6th place team winner in this year's culinary olympics Bucuse d'Or. I had mentioned an article I had read in Food and Wine, and asked him about the chefs in the article (there wasn't a picture of him). He quietly responded, "that was me." SERIOUSLY! I get it; I am a TOTAL geek. Anyway, to watch the mass of chefs create the 9 course tasting menu with such finesse was breath-taking. There were 6 pastry chefs behind one counter. Such an awesome, awesome way to celebrate food. Did I mention the flat screen TV where the French Laundry chefs can watch the kitchen of the sister restaurant in New York...it was so cool. (By the way, Beth who was along for the ride was awed by getting to experience this...which was really cool to see)
- I must mention that as a group we ate at Ad Hoc, the sister to French Laundry. The experience was equally memorable, in a different way. A 4 course menu that changes everyday, highlighting local and seasonal foods. What an awesome way to celebrate marathon accomplishments.
- OK, enough advertising for Chef Keller's restaurants...
- Arrived back with plenty of tasty wine and wonderful memories, and time for one last "real" run for C2M.
- Amen, for a wonderful friend! Mike - without you I wouldn't have rallied! 3 hours of night running with Mike and Henry. It was supposed to be a leisurely run for time (maybe distance too), but very leisurely. The pace wasn't hard, but we sure were moving from 11-2AM. Good laughs, solid running, and great energy especially when Mike finds a story funny enough to spark a second wind. I will have to remember that if we are running together late in a run?!? Thank you, thank you!
How blessed I am to have such a chance at such incredible memories...and this is just two weeks worth of life. Thank you, thank you to all of the people in my life that make these memories. It's not just the places...it is always the people!
mer