Saturday, December 11, 2010

My Own Little World

I need to download pics from last weekend, and will next week. I am FINALLY over the crud...almost 10 days later...and so I was thrilled to be able to get out and enjoy a long run in this incredible weather.

Paul and I were talking the other day, and then as I ran today I kept listening to this great song, My Own Little World. The song talks about being absorbed in your own little world. We are all to blame for living like this, but what if you took a few precious moments in your busy day and extended a hand, call, or note to your family, friends, and loved ones? What kind of impact do we have when we reach out to those we love? It's kind of like the thought of getting out the door for a run. Everyone says that there are no regrets in getting a run done...same thing applies to getting out of your own little world, no regrets.

The songs' lyrics are meaningful: "I don't want to miss what matters. I wanna be reaching out. Show me the greater purpose so I can be living right now."

I get a consistant glimpse of this whenever I can be a good person to those around me. It's whenever I can take a moment, not for me, that I realize "my own little world is not just about me."

As ill as I was last weekend, it was the filled moments that were more meaningful than any race. It was seeing Paul have a great run. It was spending wonderful time with friends. It was making the most of the time I had, and the time I got to share with was realizing that there is a bigger picture.

I challenge you to take a step out of your own little world and see what you find :)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Friends, Family, and North Face

Things have been busy over the past few weeks, and never seem to slow down. Before Thanksgiving Paul, Flyer, and I went to Ultracentric 24-hour to support Jamie. We also got to support her friend, Debra, and enjoyed catching up, although only briefly per loop, with Amy.

During the race, when the sun went down, I had the treat of hitting the trails with Luis Escobar. In my mind he is always of photography fame. He takes the most incredible Ultrarunning shots. But, now-a-days he is of Born to Run fame. We had great talks and sloppy feet running in the woods. It was during this run that we talked about how Jamie and I became friends. We met at Mountain Massochist years ago when she was a Montrail Athlete and then I became one. From there we kept in touch and seemed to link up at races or when Paul and I would come through Colorado. I will forever be thankful for being on the Montrail team for the gift of her friendship and other people who have touched my life as a result (hugs to Sophie here!!).

After a short week Paul, Flyer, and I headed to H-town to visit my family for Thanksgiving. I enjoyed the time with my family, memories as we moved items out of my grandfather's house, hearing him tell stories of his family history, celebrating my dad's birthday with him, and wonderful moments with Paul. We went for a run on the trail I first ran on. It was 40 degrees and raining, but we had a blast slopping around the woods. I loved that when I needed a hug we sat on the couch upstairs at my parents and he just silently hugged me. I am so very thankful for every moment we get to share together! People ask if we have needed an "adjustment" period since he has moved home, and the answer is, "not at all!" We enjoy eachother so much that being together more is just such a huge bonus!

On that note we are headed to North Face Endurance race in San Fran this weekend. We are doing the fun run 50K! The weekend is more about spending time with eachother and friends, so I didn't want to be out there running or focusing on the run. That being said...we are working up some kind of race wager for time predictions between us :) Any ideas are welcome! I give us a 30 min diff. He ran 1:14 at San Antonio half as a training run, so he is in stellar shape. I am just happy that Anna is running the 50-miler so that Paul doesn't use her for pacing like he did over Hope Pass...

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Sharing Austin

The past few days have been such a treat! The Running Event comes to Austin each year, and this year brought in some of my friends from California and the West Coast. We planned a small get together last night, and with an added phone call or two it turned into a small party!

John and Lisa of UltraRunning fame, Josh, who shared his birthday with us, Ian, my coach, and Devon were all planned attendees. Then Ian asked if Karl could come...of course. El Chile, one of my favorites, was kind enough to set up a big table in the back of the restaurant for us. Paul picked up John and Lisa and I loaded up the rest of the crowd.

Once one round of drinks were down, the conversation got lively! For those of you who don't know, Karl has just come off of his run 40 days and 2000 miles of the Pony Express route. Oh did he have tales to tell...runs, broken bones, crew fights, lots of support, golf games, and barley blood levels :) Well over three hours later, great food, conversation, laughs, and drinks we all got up with early departures or runs to come.

Then, this morning after getting in some quick work I picked up Devon at her hotel and we headed out for a run. I took her straight to the Hill of Life, our local Greenbelt. My goal of the run was to not have her turn an ankle. We had a great run and Flyer was all kinds of happy! From there we headed to Rogue, and then to the Snack Bar for the European Salad (hello beets!!), and finally a trip to Whole Foods.

More than just showing off all of the fun places of Austin on such a beautiful day, it was just incredible to spend a day with such a wonderful person. We shared so much great conversation, and I feel so fortunate that our paths have crossed a number of times, and will continue to cross in the coming months!

I love being able to share our town and my family with all of the wonderful people I have met over the years!

Next stop: Coldspring, TX to crew for Jamie! Paul, Flyer, and I will be manning the .6 mile loop for 24 hrs :)

What a group!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


This past weekend brought me back to some of the final miles of Vermont 50 last year. It was Aliza and I on the trail. I had thrown in the towel. I had gone off course. I just wanted to finish. I didn’t fight to the end. I just got there. She was incredible in her patience, but I just wasn’t the person and runner I know I am. As I was talking to Paul Monday night I said, amongst other things, I am so proud that I fought all the way on Saturday.

I was so looking forward to Mountain Masochist. Fall colors and time with folks I hadn’t seen in years. My last trip to the race was actually on my birthday a few years ago, and Amy, who I had just met at the pre-race meeting, made signs wishing me happy birthday at the aid stations and folks all over the course wished me happy birthday. It was an awesome way to spend my birthday. That being said, I was a different runner then. I had no honest experience in the mountains and so each climb was so very hard. But, I knew this time would be different, even with a forecast of snow on raceday. Fortunately, I have a great friend who has already been running in the snow and had the best advice about layers. Spot on!!

I am so spoiled in my travels. I typically can leave for California on Friday morning for a Saturday race with no issue. Well, heading to Lynchburg was quite the opposite experience. Paul took me to the airport at 5:30 on Friday. At about 6:45 we were informed that there were “mechanical” issues. I immediately got up and had them schedule me on the next flight. This was a smart move because 20 minutes later the flight was cancelled. My first flight was now going to leave at 11:50. I put my compression socks on, elevated my feet, and chatted with others having my fun day. I actually met a very nice person who works for Livestrong, and it made the time pass. Fast forward to 5:30 Friday evening and I finally arrive in Lynchburg. I had been talking to Henry who was driving from DC to the race, and we decided that when I landed I would call in and pick up dinner for us and meet him at the host hotel. I was mentally and physically wiped out from the day. In fact, when I landed the only thing I said to Paul was that I just wanted to turn around and go home. In his firm loving way, he told me that this is a good test to run when I am tired, and to appreciate that I get to be there. Basically, suck it up!!

Pre-race dinner at 7pm, which is about 3 hours after my usual pre-race dinner time. My appetite was non-existent and I ate about ½ my food. Oh well, I wasn’t going to force it. I packed up my drop bag, and laid out my clothes for the 3:45 (2:45 Central) wake-up. After the race meeting, Sophie came to the room. It was so wonderful to see her and to catch up with her in person. We had met at my last trip to the race and had kept in touch since. This is the gift of the ultra-community and what I cherish about the people I have met through my travels. She entered the room with a heavy heart. Her friend, Mike, had passed away Friday morning. They had done a tribute to him at the pre-race meeting and it was just so tough. She was going to run to honor him and their friendship!

Barely a moment after we put our heads down to sleep, it was time to rally and go. From the moment I woke up, the best word to describe the mood was sleepy. I am normally so excited to race, and so excited to see what a day will bring. All I could think Saturday morning was how much I wanted to crawl back into bed. Ugg, what was I going to do? Well, no choice…lace my shoes up and go for a 54 mile run.

I slept on the bus ride to the start, sucked down a soda, and just prayed it would kick in before “Go” hit. The start was supposed to be in the mid 20’s. I stepped out to go to the restroom and realized that it just wasn’t that cold, so I stripped off a layer. It was the best call I could have made. I was in capris, a long tank, short sleeves, arm warmers, and gloves.

5 min before the start we got off the buses, I wished good luck to Sophie (who was planning to start very conservative) and Henry and lined up for the start. At exactly 6:30 after a short prayer we were off.

Right from the beginning on the road I felt nice and comfortable. We headed out for 1.5 miles and then turned around. I was so surprised to see so many folks behind me. I ran with two guys for a while, and was very entertained by their conversation. “I always have such a slow back end to this race.” “I suffer so much in the final miles of this race.” Blah, blah, blah. Basically, they were lamenting that they go out too fast every year. All I kept thinking was, “then, SLOW DOWN moron.” I slowed up a little to be smart, and let them go for a little while. As I continued down the road, I started thinking to myself, “just get to the finish line today and you can take the week off and sleep in.” I was angry with myself for having these thoughts but I just wanted the race to be over…and it had barely started. Fortunately, Jill and I started running together at this point. She said that she didn’t want to talk to me in case I was focused, and I explained to her that I welcomed the conversation because I was just hanging on to stay awake and get to the finish line, again at mile 5.

Pretty quickly we hit the trail, 53 min, and because it was still a little dark I had to back off because I couldn’t see. After a few moments I latched onto a guy with a light and followed him up the trail. I was very thankful for his bright light. I thought maybe I would perk up when the sun started coming up. It was a crisp morning, lots of leaves on the ground, and I was surrounded by beautiful colors. I just kept waiting for it to soak in and revive me.

I came into the mile 8ish aid station pretty quickly, and was thrilled to see Mountain Dew. I grabbed two cups and felt like that was going to be my life-line. LOTS of caffeine!! I took off from the aid station and hit the first solid downhill shortly after. I love running downhill, so I took off and got in my groove, even if a sleepy one. Then, bam! I flew in the air and hit the ground hard. Every place I made contact with the ground had to be on a rock. My knees, left quad, chest, and rib…my hardest fall ever. The funniest moment was as I was getting up I might as well have been road kill, the best description I could think of, because this dude came flying by me. Everything hurt, especially my left knee. Compounded with how I already was feeling I just wanted to quit. I say quit because that is the word that went through my mind. I walked for a moment, wallowed for a moment, and then started to run. I moved slowly down the hill. My left knee was killing, and my head totally left the game.

My immediate thought was that I was just going to make it to the mile 15 aid station because Sophie’s friends were there and I could quit. Folks were running past me, and I didn’t have the will to stay with them. But, as I approached the mile 15 aid station the perfect thing happened. As a guy ran by me, would later learn his name was Joseph, I said, “see ya later.” Not in a mean way, it’s just what came out of my mouth at the moment when he said hi. But, his response fired me up, “No you won’t.” All of a sudden, I thought, “oh yes I will.”

I thought of a number of things as I headed out of the mile 15 aid station: #1: I didn’t come all this way to quit; #2: if I can’t run downhill strong I am just going to have to run uphill strong; #3: I will just take it just 3 hours at a time, and probably the silliest motivator was #4 there wasn’t any blood coming out from my capris so that fall couldn’t be that bad.. I also thought about the necklace Nicole had given me for my birthday. It was a replica of the card Paul gave me the morning of Western States, “Never, never, never give up.” How could I wear that necklace if I can’t finish this race?

The pain continued, but I fought on. I ran with a guy from Wisconson for a while, but he backed off as we climbed toward the ½ way point. As I ran along I passed a young guy. And, in the true spirit of the race he came running up next to me. He was one of Horton’s students. David Horton, in my eyes, is the true heart of ultra-running to me. He inspires others. He loves this sport, and while I am sure it exists, in my 3 trips to this race I have never heard a negative word spoken in reference to him. On top of that, he encourages, I am sure there are other words used to describe this act, his students to run ultras. There is nothing quite like running along during a race and be running beside someone in their early 20’s enjoying the same race as a typical college activity. I so wish I had someone who could have given me the same light when I was in college. And, the coolest thing is that every one of these kids knows exactly what a gift Horton has given them…just talk to one for 5 minutes and you will see. Anyway, I digress.

He and I ran into the ½ way point (almost 27 miles in this “Horton Miles” 50 miler). I came through in 4:41. If I even split the race I would finish in 9:22, but the biggest and bulk of the climbing was in the second half of the race….

As I grabbed my new bottle out of my drop bag, Bob C came running over to see if I needed help. He is a former Austinite and a friend of Sophie’s..wonderful small world and a gift of positive spirit. I didn’t mention my fall, and just thanked him and started the climb up Buck Mountain.

It was much easier than I had remembered in the past. I was able to run almost all the way up, not fast but I got in a good groove and just moved up toward the Rocky Music. They have The Rocky Soundtrack Booming from the top of the mountain. Also on the climb was snowfall everywhere. We were hitting the higher points of the course, and the snow from the night before had stuck. I had never seen a first snow of a season, so it was quite spectatular.

Up and over the top and off I went to the loop section. Mentally this was really my marking point. For some reason I kept telling myself that I just needed to make it to the loop and then I could make my final decision about quitting. Looking back, today, it is hard to believe that I was still pondering quitting a race that I was quite successfully running. I had been able to run the climbs strong, and while I couldn’t run the downhills as fast as I normally do I was able to get in a decent rythmn and mostly block out the pain in my left leg.

Off the trail, we hit a good jeep road section, which turned out to be my favorites of the race because I didn’t have pay attention to my footing at all and could run unafraid of falling. I headed back on the trail and toward the aid station of the “loop.” It was here I had one of my favorite moments of the race…I caught Joseph!! The guy who I wasn’t supposed to see later. As we headed into the loop together I told him the story of what he had said to me so many hours before. We had a good laugh and took off. Again, I was surprised that the loop section was much easier than I had thought from previous years. The only challenge was some of the ground being very slippery from the snow, leaves, and rocks. I was just too afraid to fall, again, so took my time when it was technical. Less than an hour later I was heading out of the loop with the same 3 guys I started with…we were working well together, not visiting, but just keeping eachother cruising along. They would push me on the ups, were really sweet so I would fall on the slippery sections, and let me get in front of them on the smoother downhills. It was very motivating. I came out of the loop, saw Bob, got a quick update on Sophie and headed out for my final 12ish miles.

It was about 42 miles in (40 “Horton miles”) and my pain had FINALLY gone numb. I was free of the injury that had been haunting me and my head for so many miles. I was free of the thought of quitting as I ran past the loop. I felt like at that moment I had perservered the race that God had set before me…and I was going to win the battle. For one of the first times all day I smiled and ran with the joy I am used to running with. I couldn’t change what the previous 7+ hours had been like, nor would I want to, but I could give my all in these final miles.

At the 3rd to last aid station, I loaded up my bottle with my final fuel powder, grabbed “water” and a mountain dew and headed on. I was feeling great! Then I took a sip from my bottle. Whatever they had filled my mix with was not water. I had a choice: don’t drink and suffer the last miles, or drink my mix + mystery liquid and be fuelled. I could deal with whatever it was for these final miles. I tell folks often and firmly believe that part of ultra success if being able to turn off that part of your brain that wants or doesn’t want the fuel that they have chosen for. It is not about what you “want” but knowing what your body needs and just doing it, and following through the entire race. So, now was my time to live up to my words…

I ran through the 2nd to last aid station, and hit the final climb which happens to be on the Appalachian Trail. It is eery, magical, and a little mean…last climb and the steepest one. But once you crest the first steep section it was actually fairly runnable the rest of the way. But, the ground was covered in leaves and I was careful of the rocks underneath. My mantra at this point was, “you CANNOT fall again.” I didn’t even look at my watch when I hit the last aid station but I knew it was about “3” miles to the finsh. This guy and I take off at full speed down. About a mile later, a girl running up to meet someone says, “2.7 to go.” Gotta love a race when the final 3 miles is actually 4 miles  Honestly, at that point I didn’t mind at all…I felt great! I followed this guy down the leaves and held his line so that I wouldn’t fall and when the trail opened up with less than 2 to go I got in front of him. I thought about all of my recent workouts and got into the same groove I do for those long repeats. I couldn’t believe how much speed and power I had in my legs to close. It was so uplifting to finish this way.

This was for any race that I threw in the towel and just accepted a “finish” as good enough. This is for all of the hard work I put in my training. This was for all of the support I have. This was for Paul who said all of the right things as I struggled on Friday, and who is just so wonderful and tough for me…he doesn’t let me be mediocre. This was because no matter how much I hurt and wanted to quit, I didn’t and I pushed through the day and the pain. It was a celebration to the finish line, and I felt it!!

When I finished Henry, who had to drop because of his achillis, and Bob were there. As Clark and David congratulated me I told them, “Not bad considering I have been trying to convince myself to quit since mile 10.” We all laughed. 6th female 9:25:30 a 35 minute PR from my last visit to Masochist!!

Then I stopped, pulled up my capris and we started to assess the damage…very swollen and bruised knees and shin. I sat down and my angels, Bob and Henry, got me a baggie of ice and I started the damage control.

I got to see Sophie finish 9:34 and a 20sec? PR…she was so happy! I got to see my motivation Joseph finish, and he said that he wanted to make my race report for motivating me…so he did a few times  He comment was truly motivating even though neither one of us meant for it to be.

As soon as I crossed the finishline, I was able to be thankful for what this race gave to me. It showed me how much I can fight, how deep I could dig in my well, how wonderful time and people are that I get to share the trails with.; and truly what my body is capable of…hopefully the next one will be filled with less life lessons and more fast running 

Special thanks to: Sophie for all of her coordinating, conversation, and wonderful spirit; Henry for his wonderful friendship and support…always a yearly adventure!; Bob for his incredible support; Jill for really positive attitude and great conversation…so good to catch-up. And, of course, Paul for everything, and my friends, running partners, and everyone who make this journey so much sweeter!!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

So Cool!

Paul always does push-ups at the end of a race, "because he can." Theory being that you can always give a little more in the Army...yep, they are that inspiring. They did push-ups at the end of every stage of Transrockies!

Army captain races to $100,000 for wounded warriors

By Allison Pattillo - Special to Military Times

Most runners compete in the GORE-TEX TransRockies Run for the challenge, but Army Capt. Matt Cavanaugh and retired Ranger Capt. Paul Terranova ran to raise money and awareness for the Wounded Warrior Project, a program to help severely disabled veterans re-engage with life.

Cavanaugh and Terranova, who make up Team Nathan Hydration/Wounded Warrior Project, finished fourth in the open men’s category with a time of 17 hours, 43 minutes, 3 seconds for the 6-day, 115-mile stage race through the Colorado Rocky Mountains.

The 2010 GTTR marked Cavanaugh’s third time in the race and also saw him close in on his Wounded Warrior Project fundraising goal of $100,000. He has dipped into his savings to travel the country — mixing running with public speaking, telling groups about the plight of severely disabled veterans and the mission of Team Wounded Warrior.

“As of tonight, we have raised $92,000 for the Wounded Warrior Project,” Cavanaugh said at the final GTTR banquet. “Our final goal is in sight.”

Cavanaugh, the 2009 Association of the U.S. Army Male Athlete of the Year, is turning over the remaining fundraising efforts to Terranova, as he’s on his way to New Zealand for a new adventure — graduate school for strategic studies at Victoria University in Wellington.

Friday, September 3, 2010

What I did on my Summer Vaca

The past two months have FLOWN by! Instead of blabbing on and on, I thought I would give a photographic breakdown of what I have done, where I have been, and the fun I have had.

Over the past two months: I have celebrated (still speechless on the incredible cake Paul had made); travelled (Houston, Long Island, Colorado, California); paced Leadville 100); climbed mountains (Mt. Elbert); run up and down mountains (Transrockies with Paul); enjoyed my favorite trails (Headlands); spent incredible time with friends (at Leadville, Transrockies, and California); made new friends; been in both oceans; and the ultimate was the quantity of time I got to spend with Paul! He and I shared time running, walking, wine-tasting, talking, and playing. We spent hours walking the beach, sitting together, and celebrating just how much we truly enjoy being together.

I can honestly say that this summer was one of the best ever. Paul and I had more fun together than we have ever before. We got to enjoy the fullness of what life has to offer, and lived EVERY moment of it. I am so very thankful for the generosity of our friends, their time, conversation, fun, and all we got to share with them, too. I am so very proud of what both my friends accomplished at Leadville and what Paul and my friends accomplished at Transrockies. I am also so very proud of what Paul accomplished at Alcatraz, 48 hours after the end of Transrockies. He is THAT incredible.

I can't wait to see what is to come this fall!

Friday, July 30, 2010

My Hero

I have so much to catch up on: incredible parties, cakes, time with friends, anniversaries, and so much more...

BUT, I this is more important and comes first.

I am so lucky to have a mother who has become one of my heroes. She doesn't do incredible athletic feats, but what she does is so much more. She taught me that if you work hard enough you can achieve anything! She went back to school sacrificing time with me and the rest of our family. This forever changed who I was and her relationship with her mother. Fortunately for me it created a bond with my grandmother and father that forever shaped me. Since the death of my grandmother in August of 1993, my mother and I have spent many years reshaping our bond and I have grown to truly appreciate what she does and what she sacrificed to do it.

My mother is a pain psychologist who helps cancer patients manage their pain, and so much more, in the final stages of their battle. She is amazing at what she does.

Yesterday I was talking to her and she told me of an interaction with a patient's daughter, and said, "today I gave guidance to the child of a patient. It was everything I wish I had been told and could have said to my mother before she died." My grandmother died suddenly, and the only person in our family speaking to her was me, and her usual on and off with my dad. My grandmother was a strong willed lady, and when she thought someone was wrong she went silent to that person (A trait I work VERY hard to overcome...but am constantly challenged by) With that will, she was not speaking to my mother or sister when she died. Both my sister and mother have had to struggle with closure and regret.

Please read the below. I wrote my mom back after reading this, and just pray that she can find such peace in the work she does to lift her from all she carries in the death of my grandmother. I know my grandmother would be so very proud of my mother, and I know that she loved her.

How lucky I am to have been so deeply loved by my grandmother, I get that reminder ever moment I look down at her/my wedding band, and have such an inspirational mother!

May you read the below, and remember to find peace with those you love; create closure with no regrets; and say all the things you need to everyday! I hope to be able to do this as much as possible and not wait until the end to do it!

From my mother:
I gave her what I needed so many years ago, almost to the date.

From: XX
Sent: Friday, July 30, 2010 9:14 AM
To: XX
Subject: thank you for yesterday...

I believe very strongly that things always happen for a reason. Sometimes we are fortunate to be privy to that reason; Other times not.

Meeting you yesterday in my fathers room, at the particular time that we met, was clearly meant to be. Within minutes of leaving you our reason for meeting became so clearly evident. I am not sure I could have handled what happened in my father's room had it not been for you. You were able to give me the guidance, tools and support to do what I knew needed to be done but didn't know how to do. Neither my father nor I have ever been in this situation so we were both traveling on a very emotionally raw and painfully difficult road.

When I returned to father's room he sat up and basically said that he was done fighting, the cancer was taking over and he was tired and just wanted it all to end. He made me laugh when he asked to be put to sleep as if he was a beloved pet. I knew what he was telling me.

I was able to tell him all the reassuring things that you helped me verbalize. I told him that I would respect his desires and would make sure that he was moved to a facility where we could work with the team to make his transition comfortable, pain free as well as comforting to the family. I told him that he didn't have to worry about anything anymore and that we would take care of my mother and all of her needs while caring for him. We both cried and as you suspected he didn't respond much after that. The only thing that he told me was that he owed some money to a friend and he asked me to go get the money from his house and deliver it to his friend. I left the hospice last night for one hour to carry out his wishes.

Now he is at Hospice and I stayed here all night making sure that he was as comfortable as he could be. The staff here is excellent and it feels so good knowing that he is at the right place for his end of life care. I really can't thank you enough for the integral roll that you played. I truly wanted to have that difficult conversation with my dad and before meeting you I simply did not know how to go about it. My heart is heavy and my soul is in pain, but because of you, when my father passes on I will have no regrets. I can't imagine how many people you have helped in such a profound way. You certainly are so in tune to patients' and family member's needs. I hope that you continue using your amazing talent to comfort and change the lives of others.

I learned an invaluable lesson that is very comforting to me. It appears that God gives us all that we need at the appropriate time. I have come to accept that I can't always plan one or two steps ahead (much as I want to) and I have to wait for things to play out. I use to worry that I might not know how to react in a new and difficult situation; I like to be prepared and have answers or at least the tools, but now I feel that I will know what to do in any situation when the time is right.

Thank you again.

With much appreciation,
(the daughter)

Have a wonderful weekend!

Saturday, July 3, 2010


My friend, Lorena, sent me an email before I departed for Western States telling me that when you run with all your heart magic happens.

Every piece of this past week can best be defined as Magic!

As I was heading out and all final prep was done, I sent the following goals to my coach:

my goals for the day: 1) Enjoy EVERY Moment; 2) be appreciative of my crew, the volunteers, and kind to all around NO matter how I feel; 3) Not worry about anything/anyone I can't change or control; AND 4) trust my hard work, healthy body, incredible support and let all this and all the prayers and support behind me guide me to Auburn... I have been told many times that I smile more than anyone during a race. I plan to keep the trend of that alive on Saturday!!

Seeing the above brings such a warmth to my heart. How often can you say that you accomplished every one of your goals! Reading the above reminds me that I nailed it 

The amazing journey began in Squaw Valley in the days leading up to the race. Instead of being nervous, Paul and I had a wonderful time together. Lots of time to talk and just enjoy each other. It was such a treat for us.

One of my highlights of raceweek was getting to spend time with my friend Suzanna and getting to know Amy. There are few words to express how incredible the time with her was. We went for a very humorous pre-race run Friday morning, and had one of us not said something we would have been in a dead sprint for the run. But we talked and laughed and expressed how strong we KNEW we would get to the finish line. Her words let me finally take in my last breath and truly know that the day was going to be everything I hoped for.

After weigh in on Friday Amy and Paul came up with some fantastic engineering to get her leg across the water crossings. I love how prepped Paul is for everything. He had a caribener and Amy did some crazy stuff with our duct tape. There you have it…she and I were set to go!

Paul went and picked up Jamie and Pete arrived. My team was ready for the party to start! They were much more ready for the party after they went for a group run up the mountain. It was so awesome to me that they all genuinely were going to enjoy eachother’s company for the next days.

Now onto the race 
The start came so quick. Before I could blink we were heading up from Squaw Valley. The climb is a great chance to settle in. I settled into good conversation with Jenny and then Lee. Once at the top we hit the snow, and the friendly faces and hugs of Olga and Larry. Lee said to me, “at the top in an hour. Right where we want to be!”

And then came the snow. It was such a comedy show for me…slipping, sliding, skiing. The Texan just needed to smile and get through it alive. We laughed and laughed as I made my way through the snow. I was happier having this perspective rather than the grump that some others were having. When the snow would clear we would run through streams and mud. Fall #1: belly flop right into a mud pit; awesome! The good thing was the smooth landing. The bad thing was the level of filthiness I was now going to run with for the next 91+ miles.

Before long we made the turn onto the “new” route. We headed down to the Poppy and French Meadow aid stations. On the way down I showed Lee my filth. He laughed. We would come back to this look post race!

These next two sections were where I would need to remind myself that I was in a 100…and in foreign territory. I ran with the brakes on vs. racing as I would in shorter distances. I needed to run smart, which meant holding back. This was VERY hard to do because I felt really good and the terrain was REALLY good running. Patience, patience.

Once, through the mile 19 aid station we got onto a lovely single track around the reservoir, and then climbed a newly cleared (very newly cleared) climb into the Duncan Aid station. It was here that I hooked up with Layna. She was just wonderful to run with!

Coming into Duncan AS was great because I got to see my crew for the first time. We had a great laugh at my pigpen look, Paul cleaned my face off quickly, and off I went. I cruised down to Duncan Creek, crossed the water, and started the climb to Robinson. The climb up was fantastic because I had three others join: Layna and two guys. They were all happy to let me set the pace and pull the train up. It was great for me because I was able to get lost in short spurts of conversation as we went up…the climb flew by. We came into the roar of Robinson. I didn’t have my crew come here because I knew I could move through faster and would rather see them at Duncan and Dusty vs. just Robinson. I ran in with a huge smile on my face, got weighed, bottles filled, and hea

ded out. It seemed the happier I was the more the crowd went crazy. It was an awesome high!

I was so thrilled for the high because out of Robinson we hit the snow for the last time. This section was a grinder. It was about 2 miles of climbing slugging through the snow. I knew the fun of the canyons was coming, so I decid

ed to take it very easy through this and save my legs vs. getting fatigued fighting the snow…a battle I would not win.

Once we got to the top of Little Bald and started to descend, we finally for sure had clear trail. Let the real fun begin!! I headed down with great happiness to Miller’s Defeat. The sun was shining and I was feeling great. This day was flying by!

After Miller’s Defeat, it was a great quick downhill to Dusty Corner’s and my crew! I hooked up with Suzie here and we chatted about an email string we were on together. It was awesome to meet her in person (we would come to spend many post-race hours together). I came bouncing into Dusty Corners and thrilled to see my crew. I traded bottles, and Paul walked me out soaking me with cold towels on the way. I was having a blast and he could tell!!

From Dusty Corners it is this beautiful and soft trail to Last Chance. I had run it during training weekend and really loved it. I was enjoying it all the same today! I was looking forward to getting to Last Chance because I knew Dennis was volunteering there. It is always great to see friendly faces all over the course. Dennis had taken care of me at the aid stations at Quicksilver. I came in and Dennis was more than just a friendly face. He helped get my bottles ready, grab fuel, and walked out with me. I now had a chance to get some great refueling while continuing forward with the race. What a gift! Again, I was just lifted out of the aid station.

Off I headed to the nice descent and then the climb up Devil’s Thumb. I passed a few folks on the way down, crossed the swinging bridge, dipped my hat the in stream, and then up I went. I settled into a nice tempo and climbed. I passed two guys, but not for pushing just because I was moving steady. Before I knew it I was at the top. I weighed in, reloaded my fuel, grabbed a popsicle, and headed out. I knew I would want to take a moment and regroup, but I figured best to do it moving forward eating my popsicle! I shoved the stick from the popsicle in my bottle and headed down to Eldorado Canyon. It had gotten hot, so instead of pushing hard down I decided to ease off and just cruise down. I drank down my bottle and just took it easy. As I approached the bottom I passed Whit. It was great to see him, but I was sad to see him having a bad day. He is such a steady fixture in a 100, so it was just hard to see.

At the bottom I refilled my bottle and started the climb to Michigan Bluff. I knew this is the longest climb left of the day, and it was also the heat of the day. Again, instead of pushing I opted to just stay behind Eric and hold his smooth pace. We had a great time and really just kept things steady. I would come to later fully appreciate the lack of effort I put forth on this climb.

I came into Michigan Bluff, thrilled, but definitely feeling the efforts from the day. Fortunately, my crew was ON IT! They had cool towels ice cold drinks and food ready to go. They cooled me down and got me out. I had the team of all teams!! I was lifted and raring to get through the point I had NEVER crossed.

I headed down to Volcano Canyon and remembered running this in training and how great it felt. I got to the bottom and spent an extra second in the water before the climb up. It felt great. I climbed up knowing that Paul would be at Bath Rd to climb up with me. I was so excited. I hit the road and am greeted by a very pregnant Jennifer, huge hug, and a quick top off of my bottle. I start to climb and Paul comes smiling toward me! We chat about nothing important, hit the top of Bath Rd, and run it in to Foresthill. I am on top of the world. I can’t believe I have done it!

For me, this was the moment I waited for, get past 62 and the rest is icing! Now it was time to enjoy time with my pacers and go on the victory lap. Pete and I head off.
We head toward the river. I have very few memories of this section, so I am just guessing as far as effort. If there was a regret to have, it was not knowing exactly what this section would be like. I just didn’t know where or when to give effort and I kept fearing the bottom falling out. If I pushed would I be done after the river? Truly this whole section all I could think about was getting to the river.

We get to the river aid station, and I breathe a sigh of relief as we hit perfect timing for the boat crossing. We get to the other side to the greetings of Jamie, Paul, and Rick! He is video taping us, but I am single focused on climbing to Green Gate. I have a plan!! As we climb up I tell Jamie that I want to take a minute to refuel at the top before we head out. Paul is happy to hear this. We hussle up, and get me quickly through the aid station. On the other side I take a seat, eat, and drink, and prepare to keep it together to the finish. Everything seems so surreal. It feels so weird to really be so on top and clear-headed. Maybe it’s easier to be in a fog?

After a quick few minutes, I was checking my watch, Jamie and I are off. We head down the trail talking much about how much time I have to make 24. All of a sudden this is going to be our focus…or so I think. I try to run, but am having a problem. It’s not my legs, no unfortunately I am really badly chafed. What the heck?? I have never had this happen, so it is kind of a foreign pain, and boy is it painful. Jamie and I talk about it and decide the best I can do is get to the next aid station, get some vasoline, and then move on. It becomes a much slow move to the aid station than desired. I want to be running, but we just have to go with what is given. Finally we get to the aid station, I grab a bunch of vasoline and run behind a truck to take care of things. Quickly, we head out of the aid station and start to run. CRAP the vasoline didn’t work!

This is the first time all day that I feel the time slip away from me. I feel the look on my face showing this. We walk for a second, and I refuse to give up. I tell Jamie that I am going to rip the liner under my skirt. She looks puzzled, even offers me her shorts, but I come up with the power of hulk and literally rip the seem of the fabric. I still don’t know how I did it. Unfortunately, it didn’t fix the problem, but Jamie plainly said, “you know what, it isn’t going to get any worse.” I completely bought it, and started running. My form is so pathetic that I start giggling at the thought of what I must look like. Jamie gets a huge kick out of me giggling, and are finally moving.

We both get giddy as we start to pass people and start running like a normal person. We talk about how anyone who has seen my splits will be in for a good surprise when I hit the next aid station and am moving. We plan how quickly we need to get through the next aid stations and how to approach the course as it is coming.

To the disappoint of the folks having a party at Brown’s Bar, we don’t stay. They tried to entice us, but I had a finish line to get to. We watched the clock and knew that we had just enough time to donate to the climb up to 49 and the climb up to Robie Point. I kept telling her that I needed 20 minutes from Robie Point. I knew there was a climb before shooting down to the finish.

The plan was to run everything except for the steepest parts of the climbs. I had only done this section of the course as a pacer, and it had been 5 years earlier, so I kept telling Jamie that the climb up to 49 was steep. I guess my memory failed me, but we kept running waiting for the climb to get steep, and then we saw the 49 crossing…hmmm, I swear it was harder?

I quickly run in a weigh and the aid station crew tell Jamie, thinking I can’t hear, “she can break 24 if she moves.” We can do that! Two funny things happen on the way to No Hands. First, in the meadow we pass this guy and his pacer. There is a guy standing about 50 ft up the trail from the other guy. He comments on how much we are enjoying ourselves. We say, of course we are, and ask if he is ok. With a loud disappointed sigh he says that he is waiting for his runner to go to the bathroom. As we continue on Jamie and I laugh about badly we feel for this guy having such a sad time with his runner. We, in the meantime, are having a party!! As we get almost to No Hands, again, I think we are about to face a long steep climb. I know we don’t have a moment to waste. It has been my long awaiting dream to cross No Hands Bridge, and while I want so badly to savior the moment, I tell Jamie we have to hussle across and have “no emotion.” I was worried that if she got emotional about it that I would crumble. So with this laser focus we cross no hands. Reflecting back, the moment to savior is the fact that it was mile 97 and I was able to run across it feeling strong!!

With just enough time to make it happen, we start to run up to Robie. About a mile into the climb, moving with determination, we come up on Ed (I would later learn his name) and his pacer…his 15 year old daughter. I ask to pace as we come up, and for whatever reason we collide and I go down HARD. For anyone who has fallen late in a race, you know that every muscle feels this impact. My right quad KILLED. I look up at Jamie, get up, and with all the adrenaline left in my body start to run…if that what you can call what my now broken body is doing. This also lights a fire under Ed’s ass. He and I are going to fight it to the finish. I had this moment of worry as his daughter led the charge that she was going to slow us down, but not one bit. She was incredible. She was running and pushing us up to Robie. It was awesome. With determined force we come out onto the road with what Paul said was 19 minutes to spare. Paul and Pete are there, and ready to go. I ask Pete to go to the top of the climb so that I have a focal point, and the minute we crest I push my way to the track. I can’t believe it is happening. I can’t believe I have done it.

We run down and enter the track. It is a total blur, except I remember the smile that was still on my face and the couple of fist pumps I have as John calls my name.

I cross the finishline in 23:56 to a big welcome hug from our longtime friend, and WS Board member Dana Gard. He had gone on my first training run on the WS course with me so many years ago. He knew what this meant to me. He was proud and I could feel it.

Next came Paul. This was for him as much for me, and we both relished in the shared moment. This was OUR moment. I could not be standing at the finish without him. This is his journey, too.

Then came celebration with Pete and Jamie, Olga and Larry, Dennis, and so many others. But, it was more than that. Everyone…all of my friends and loved ones who had loved and supported me through this journey, I could feel the warmth of their love all day and in the end this finish was for them as much as it was for me.

The smile on my face ALL day, the gift of this run, the joy I felt…this was the result of all of the love and support that had been unending. I am so very blessed and share this day with all of you!! Thank you!


Photos courtesy of: Paul, Olga, Jamie, and more :)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

All Smiles!

A report to come soon, but I wanted to post a few pics and send a HUGE thank you for all the love and support I have received.

The smile that was on my face from the day we arrived in Squaw until I left the track on Sunday afternoon was the result of the most incredible journey that got me to the start line and me truly appreciating every moment that the day had to give! (what a long run-on sentence).

The course was everything I wanted it to be. I ran the smart run I had hoped for. I nailed my nutrition. AND, there was not a moment that I took for granted the gifts I am given: great health (although I don't feel it now); the most loving, positive, supportive husband; the incredible support of family and friends. I could literally FEEL the love and positive support the entire race.

I am just completely overwhelmed with how blessed I am. I am so fortunate to have the most wonderful people in my life.


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Follw the Yellow Brick Road...or the trail to Auburn!

I would like to start by sharing part of a note I wrote during my last journey to WS in 2006:

Lessons in TIME

so much of this journey is really a lesson in Time. It is that magic word that not only will determine what metal my buckle will be made out of, but it has also measured much more:

- how long I have spent training
- how many days I have been thankful to recover from a long week
- how many hours I have spent listening to the same "happy" music
- how often that training and recovery came before family and friends, and work
- how the effort to catch up with a distant friend seemed too much, and so I just have let them go and what I will need to give to get them back
- what I have spent with new friends and how these new friends with such a deep understanding in my journey will remain with me for many years to come
- what those who know and love me best have consistantly given to me throughout this journey, continually reminding me that the magic in the sacrifice of time for others is a gift to the recipient...
- what so many have given to me: people I have just met, people who I have yet to meet in person, and those I will meet on the trail at Western States
-and in the end: the 1 hour up to the cemetary, the 45 minutes from the base, the 15 minutes from the creek, the 7 minutes from the manzanitas, and when you see the "Y" tree you are almost to the top

...and more than anything how each of these pieces of this magic word carry me day after day!

In this oh so wonderful, yet selfish endeavor, this word, Time, with so few letters has come to signify so much!

While so much of this journey that brings me to the starting line in Squaw healthy and the happiest I could ask for rings true in the above, so much has changed...I am a different person/wife/friend, and in the end runner, than I was in 2006.

Instead of letting life take a back seat this time around, I have embraced all of my moments whether in person, on the phone, or via email with all of my friends. I have not let work or life slip away so that I could get to the starting line. I have been appreciative of every piece of company and flexibility that has been given to me, and not had expectations of anyone but myself.

Yes, there have been many sacrifices. I do not meet friends for a "lunch" or spend extra time being social. I often run and train on my own, so that I have all the free moments possible with Paul. Paul has made more life sacrifices than I could possible start to list for me/us. Oh, and let's not forget the sugar sacrifice :)

But, in the end, I am more ready than I have ever been and more equipped to dig from the well than ever before. I am armed with more love and support than I have ever known or thought possible. Paul and my dearest friends have empowered me to soar!

I will take you each with me on Saturday. I will think of all you have given to me as I run. I will be lifted by the gifts of your love and support. I will give to you for all that you have given to me!

I will soar on wings like eagles. I will RUN and not grow weary.

I will walk and not be faint!! Isaiah 40:31

I will save my blubbering individual thank you's for when I write my novel of a race report :) This way I can also take the time to share where I was on the course when I had you with me!!

Thank you more than you will ever know!!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

More Than Running

It's good to remember that life is more than just about training!

I rearranged my last long weekend of training so that I could fit in extra time with Paul, and prep to celebrate Erin's b-day/housewarming!

How I was able to rearrange:
- did all but 9.5 miles of my long run on my own on Friday instead of Saturday. It was actually an awesome run and great hours on my own.
- ran from the house to downtown to meet Paul midday on Saturday for a run in the almost 100 degree temps.
- ran hills Sunday afternoon once the sun came out and it was 95+ outside.

What the rearranging allowed for my weekend:
- Date night with Paul Friday night
- lunch on the deck post-workout with Paul
- easy morning trail run with Paul and Flyer
- time to cut and grill: protein, veggies, and pineapple for the week
- dinner and quality time outside with Paul on Sunday

- making the vision of Erin's cake come to life (red velvet cake robots and all!)
- showing I can still manage fondant a little bit (I am REALLY out of practice)
- enjoying Erin's party and seeing all of Jess' creations come to life (her bread is top notch!!)
There are so many days I feel like all I have been doing is working, training, eating, managing, juggling. It was just nice to see that it was possible to put the life stuff first this weekend, and enjoy Paul and my friends in the right way...

Such a balancing act. Sometimes I must fail misereably, but every once in a while I get a glimpse that it is all possible :)

(Side note is that I seriously need a haircut...maybe during taper :) )