About knevinger

Ultra-runner, MBA Grad, Full-time adventure seeker

Hanging Out Like Normal People

Since I am in taper mode, I had what I would consider a normal weekend.  Saw friends…hung out with my husband…did nothing involving a three or four hour workout.  It was a nice change.  After sleeping in on Saturday morning, I spent the afternoon hiking with my friend, Meg.  Well, after I found her…who knew there were three or four entrances to Windy Hill?  And two roads in close proximity to each other with the same name.  Once we found each other, we had a great time exploring some new trails on a beautiful day.

Saturday night, I went to dinner with Meg and some other friends.  She started a book club, which is great – I love to read and don’t do it nearly enough anymore.  However, time got away from me and I haven’t even gotten the book we were supposed to read, much less read any of it.  As it turns out, I wasn’t the only one who had gotten behind due to life, and we decided to meet for dinner anyway.

Since the book was about Peru, we decided to have dinner at a Peruvian restaurant down on the Embarcadero, La Mar.  Dinner was delicious, I has some sort of steak dish with fries and other stuff.  I also had several bites of Meg’s food, since that’s what was put in front of me first.  Oops.  What happens when you don’t really understand the food you’re ordering.  Luckily, they brought her a brand new food and all was well.  We enjoyed the food and wine, and chose our next book.  Really looking forward to getting back into reading, especially with friends.

Then it was on to my Uber adventure home.  I’m the first to admit I have a horrible sense of direction, but this guy…this guy was in a league of his own.  As he’s picking me up, another couple hops out of the car…the lady says to me, ‘he picked up the wrong people….’.  That should have been my first clue, as we then proceeded to drive all over the city before we got to the Tavern in Noe Valley.  After my tour of San Francisco – Pac Heights, North Beach, USF, the Castro….and finally to the Tavern where I had planned to meet Brian a half hour earlier.  But, I got there, we got to watch the amazing end of the Warrior’s game, and have a few drinks….all’s well that ends well, I suppose.

And, today, rather than go exercise for four hours, we hung out like normal people.  Haha. We tried a new (to me) place for brunch on the edge of Noe Valley.  Delicious French Toast and mimosas and breakfast potatoes.  Then we went shoe shopping….yay for new running shoes.  Even though I had to order them since they didn’t have my size, but they’re on their way and should be here by the end of the week.  Then we went to get food for the snake….so close to being normal….haha.

And, now on to the countdowns….

Days ’til Way Too Cool – 6

Number of Orange Theory Classes before Way Too Cool – 1

Number of Days at 24-Hour Fitness before Way Too Cool – 2

Weeks ’til Lake Sonoma – 6

Where has the time gone?  On one hand, it feels like this has been the longest month ever…it was still less than one month ago that we bought the new dinning room table.  But, I really can’t believe it’s going to be March next week.  And, with March comes Way Too Cool….a race I’m way more nervous for than I should be….

I’m worried about getting there since I can’t plan to leave work early to miss traffic….hopefully all of the reports that day come in early.  But, regardless, if I end up leaving late, I can pick up dinner from Amici’s and eat before I leave, and just worry about getting to Auburn, rather than finding food along the way or once I get there.  Or, hold out hope that I can leave early enough to pick-up my bib before pick-up closes Friday night and get an extra half hour of sleep the next morning.

I’m worried about the race itself since I didn’t finish any of the races I started in 2015.  Looking at the course and my previous times, I should be fine…but, I’ll feel much better after I actually run it.  And, at this time next week, it will be over.

I keep telling myself it will all work out in the end.  I’ll have an amazing race – feel great, have fun, and get a frog cupcake at the end.  Then sleep ’til noon the next day.  Rest for a week and start gearing up for my next adventure…..

Because, after all of that…there’s still the beast that is Lake Sonoma….

 

And, on to the taper…

So, I am officially in taper mode.  Well, sort of…I do have three Orange Theory classes this week, and nothing about that says taper.  But, I am dropping my weekly mileage from nearly 50 miles this week to 30 next week.

I had quite the final big week of training: two Orange Theory classes and four days of running equalling 47.3 total miles for the week. The Orange Theory classes were a great workout…well, one more so than the other.  Yay for coach Tom and some uncensored DNCE.  I still can’t wait for publishing to be over so I can get back to coach Robin’s classes too.  And, speaking of Orange Theory….I can’t say enough about how great it has been for my running.  I’m running longer (without walking) and faster, after only four weeks.

Wednesday and Friday, I ran at Edgewood before work and got in 13 miles between the two days.  I actually enjoyed running the trail in the morning and then heading to work more than I thought I would.  And, it was fast (for me)…all of the miles under 13 minutes per mile.

After Friday, I ran my way through the weekend.  First, a course marker check on the north peak of Montara Mountain during the race this weekend.  I’d forgotten how steep that part of the course was…the way up was one thing, but the way down….geez.  Hopefully it helped train me on descending.  Of course, something happened between my watch and strava, so that run never uploaded. And, I was so curious as to how I did in comparison to the other times I’ve run that route.  I was hoping I’d continue to see myself getting faster and get some additional confidence going into my race.  But, alas….the file got eaten somewhere.

Today, Brian and I headed back out to Canada Road/Edgewood – he rode and ran, and I just ran.  I set out with the goal of 16 miles.  Based on the rest of my week, that would get me between the 45 and 50 I was looking for.  I started out heading into Edgewood, and it was a good run, but there were a lot of people and I ran there both Wednesday and Friday, so needed a change.  So, I took a trail leading out of the park and back down to Canada Road, followed that over to Crystal Springs Trail, and down into Huddart.  Yay Huddart.

There were only a handful of people there, but it’s big enough that I never really saw them.    With all of the rain, it was a gorgeous run through the redwoods.

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I ran through the remnants of the recent rainstorms – it’s still muddy – probably due to the shade of the redwoods.  But, the rains have done the park well.  In addition to the luscious greens, the wildflowers have begun to bloom, giving off the fresh feeling of a new spring.

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I spent about an hour running through Huddart before beginning the journey back toward the car.  Getting back toward the car, I realized I still had some time (and miles) left to do, so planned to make another trip through Edgewood and take the long way back.  I ran into Brian on my way to Edgewood and made a failed attempt to keep up with him up into the park.

Once I was back in the park, I realized I was out of water.  I thought about heading to the main parking lot to refill, or just turning around and heading for the car to retrieve my Gatorade…then I reminded myself that I swept three miles up Diablo without water.  If I could handle that, there was no reason I couldn’t handle Edgewood when it was 30 degrees cooler.  So, I got through my last three miles.  Enjoyed my Gatorade.  Stretched.  Waited for Brian to get un-lost.  And enjoyed the fact that my hat had a new salt stain.

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So, where does that leave me?  Hopefully ready to bang out 31 miles at Way Too Cool in two weeks.  I mean, I was able to pull 30 out of somewhere the month before North Face…and, I feel stronger now than I think I ever have, so I can do this, right?  I think so.  This new way of training is different than anything I’ve tried before, and not going to lie, the unproven-ness (is that even a word) scares me.  But, as I’ve said before….doing what I’ve always done will continue to get what I’ve always gotten.  And, I want to do better.  And, hopefully it works, because in all reality, I don’t have time to completely adjust my training in the five weeks between Way Too Cool and Lake Sonoma.

In other news, North Face has opened up.  I was really hoping it would wait until after Lake Sonoma to open so I would (hopefully) have a 50-miler under my belt before I had to make a decision on which race to sign up for.  But, I’m afraid it will sell out if I wait too long, and then I won’t be running any race. The good news, is that I can change my distance, so long as I do it before the race.

Weekend of Running

After my Wednesday debacle, I realized two things. One, I needed to run both days this weekend. Two, I was going to find out how complete double day training worked for me. Ideal?  Maybe…maybe not. I don’t know. I’m going to go with, doing what I’ve always done will get me what I’ve always gotten. Meaning, long days of a lot of slow miles would get me through the race, but probably at the slow pace I’m used to. Maybe trying something new is just what I need.  

So, Saturday….I headed to Walnut Creek for coffee with Lisa and the Coastal Trails awards lunch. It was great to catch up with Lisa over some coffee…I miss seeing her more frequently. The awards lunch was a lot of fun too. Got to hand out medals, coasters, and shirts, to the yearly winners. And enjoy some pizza too. Always a good time. Anyway, on to the running. 

Post-lunch, I headed over to Mt. Diablo to tackle Eagle Peak. A route one of my friends runs loops on, but I had never done. Diablo was also somewhere I hadn’t been since the summer. Once I got around the medical emergency…)hopefully everyone is ok, it didn’t look good. Helicopter and everything.) I got going pretty quickly. Brief stop at the ranger station to make sure I wouldn’t get locked in, and I was off. 

Sort of…good god, I’d forgotten how hard running on Diablo was. It was pretty much a slow uphill slog until about mile five….mile four on my watch since I’d forgotten to turn it on after checking on the parking lot situation. It was pretty though. Totally different world in the green before it all turns brown. 

As tough as it was, before I knew it, I was making my left onto Eagle Peak Trail. And, what an adventure that was….between the times I was sure I was going down, I wasn’t sure I was actually on a trail. I was glad I had put on my long sleeved shirt….I was also pretty sure the bushes were trying to tear off the skin on my arms. It was also steep….steep up and if the report is read was correct, even steeper on the other side on the way down. I rather quickly decided I’d turn around and head back the way I came. A steep descent wasn’t worth the injury and going back the way I came would get me more miles. 

As tough as the way up was, the way down was amazing. I ran nearly all of it…other than the moment I stopped to ask a peace officer which trail to take down. Anytime I started thinking I wanted to walk, I asked myself why I was going to walk…did I NEED to?  Generally, the answer was no. The end result, just under a 14 minute per mile pace overall…faster than I’ve ever been on Diablo.  And, just an overall feeling of strong. Thanks Orange Theory…or this multiple/back to back training thing. Or both. 

Which brings us to today.  Brian wanted to do a brick workout (bike/run…really any triathlon sport combo for those not familiar with the term), so we headed toward Canada Road. I wanted to get in more than just flat, so I had him drop me off at Wunderlich Park.  Cause an exercise Valentine’s Day, nothing fits us better. 

Anyway, I don’t think I’d been to Wunderlich since the summer, so had forgotten how hilly it was. You’d think the route I made on Strava last night would have clued me in. Haha. 

It was basically a six mile slog uphill to skyline and then some. But, after about three miles, I started to feel pretty good. At five, the terrain started to roll and I was able to run more than hike, which was great. 

And, once I turned around….amazing. Down, down, down, I went. Again, I ran almost the entire way…stopping only to calculate mileage to the end and determine which trail to take, or to carefully move around downed trees. No matter how good I felt, nothing is worth injury. 

I continued down the trails…some back where I’d come from, some brand new. So much fun. At one point, I looked at my watch and saw I was running an 8:50 mile. I never run that fast….especially on a trail. But, holy crap….I never run that fast, especially on a trail. And I’m 11.5 miles through a 13 mile run. Thanks, Orange Theory…and let’s enjoy this til the end. Or until I run into an entitled horseback rider….

OMG….stop. 

You can’t run towards a horse and there’s four up ahead of you….

Seriously?!  If your horse can’t handle sharing a FIRE ROAD with people, perhaps it doesn’t belong out there. Luckily, I was in a good mood and all of my snarky comments stayed in my head. I’m all about sharing the trails, but really, to tell someone to stop running?  

So, I doubled back and headed down a neighboring trail.  All the while this lady tried to make friendly chit chat. Nope, sorry….not sorry…I have a trail half marathon PR to break and you’ve already interfered enough. 

In the end, 13.1 in 3:04. Faster than I’ve run a half on a trail by 30 minutes or so. Wow, that felt good. 

After this weekend’s runs, I feel cautiously optimistic about Way Too Cool. The stress of getting there not withheld. Lake Sonoma is another story. Hopefully one with a happy ending, but I think I’ll feel better about that one once I get through the 50k and see how I do. Hopefully I’m on to something with the new training plan and Orange Theory. I think, for the first time, I just might be trained properly…or at least trained to the best of my ability. 

Until next time…. 

What a Wednesday

“Don’t worry about the future, Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing Bubble gum.  The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind. The kind that blindsides you at 4 p.m. On some idle Tuesday,” Baz Luhrmann

The day began like any other Wednesday, or similar to it.  I was taking my quarterly half day to get another long run in before Way Too Cool, so I had a bunch of extra stuff with me….and one side of my throat had started to hurt, so I made some tea for my drive to try to help it.  But, other than that, pretty ordinary.

Traffic was traffic….maybe not as bad as usual, maybe just as bad.  I don’t really remember.  Typical backed up places, typical nightmare 280/380 interchange, but since I do it everyday, I’ve learned to handle it.  Then came the interchange on to 101….

At first glance, it looked like things were moving, which isn’t always the case.  Great, we like that.  As I drove down the on ramp, I noticed something that looked like a cloud of dust or smoke or something.  However, as I saw other cars swerving to get out of the way and about ten of them pull over, I realized it wasn’t smoke or dust or anything other than an SUV rolling across the freeway.

It came to rest in the median between my on ramp and 101 just before I passed by.  It seemed like for a moment, maybe more, everything just stopped.  The cars on the on ramp came to a standstill, people poured out of the cars that had pulled over, running to help.  A great showing of human kindness amidst the chaos.  I remember thinking I should call 911 and digging out my phone, but just as quickly tossing it away when the line was busy.  There were several people on phones on the median – I would assume doing the same thing I was.

Before the traffic on the on ramp began to move again, I watched a woman climb out of the SUV.  Her look of terror, relief, and confusion, is not one I will soon forget.  Hopefully she escaped with minor injuries and was the only one in the car.

As I proceeded down the road, I saw the emergency vehicles coming from the opposite direction.  And, then life moved on.  Cars kept moving…..cars merged on to the freeway from further south none the wiser to what occurred only a few miles behind them.  Me, it just got me thinking.

Who knows where anyone involved was heading this morning…..work, school, picking someone up at the airport.  But, I can pretty much guess that this wasn’t anything that they planned on.  Then life changed…..in the blink of an eye.  Scary.

For only a short while ago, I was headed out of work early for a holiday weekend.  I stopped for gas and was heading to join the gym.  And a truck tried to drive straight through the back of my car.  Thankfully, this was a far lower speed (compared to the freeway….I still maintain the guy never slowed down), but nothing I was expecting.  I was excited for the long weekend – a race on Saturday, something fun on Sunday and Monday, maybe a couple of runs in there somewhere.  And in the blink of an eye….I’m dealing with insurance and driving a rental car for six weeks.

“I really regret that run,” said no one….ever. 

After spending half the day at work, I continued with my plan to get out on the trails.  I was hoping for 16-20 miles, and I know a great 18 mile course at Horseshoe Lake (conveniently located near the office), so the clock hit 12, and I was off.  I should have known it wasn’t going to be my day when I got parked and tried to set up my watch.  Of course it’s locked…..and of course, no matter what I press, I can’t get it to unlock.  Not annoying at all.  Luckily, I had my phone and my Strava app, so I could still track my run.

Things started off just fine, I planned to run the half marathon and five mile portions of the Horseshoe Lake race course, both of which I had done before and I had a map, so I knew where I was going.  Kind of.  Sort of.  Basically follow the Bay Area Ridge Trail.  Some climbing, some rolling, good training.  But, for some reason….not sure if it was my morning or because it was the middle of my work day or because my watch didn’t work or because I was already sore and tired, but I just wasn’t feeling it.

I ran along the half marathon course, quickly finding my way through the Christmas Tree Farm and on to the trail, up to the point where Ksenya and I turned around a mont ago (back when I started to get sick….who knew I’d still have remnants of it a month later).  I paused there to admire the beauty of it all….the trail, the sunshine, the fact that I’m able to get out there.

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Shortly after that, I hit my stride…at least for a little while.  Music was good.  Trail was run-able.  I was in it.  Until this happened….

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Now, it says the trail is open for hikers….if that’s the case, why are both the gates locked? It’s bright and sunny…it can’t be that muddy.  And, I’m little, I could always fit through the gate, right?  After some brief contemplation, I decided that fence jumping onto a closed trail was probably a bad idea and there were just as many trails back towards the car, so why not head that way.

I was able to run most of the way back to the car.  Hopefully that means I’m getting stronger and Orange Theory and the back to back shorter days are paying off.  Once I got back to the car, I headed up the five mile route, but at this point, I really wasn’t feeling it. Again, maybe it just wasn’t my day.

But, not to be outdone by the beauty of the first lap, the second lap was just as nice and included some friends.

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These two came flying down the trail and off to my left quick enough to scare me a bit.  They get close here too!  I feel like the deer in NY would run away if you so much as walked by the window, but here they come right up and walk on by.

I turned around shortly after seeing the deer and headed back down to the car.  I ended up with eight miles…not the greatest, but eight miles more than I would have gotten had I not hit the trails.  The shorter day today combined with the sick I’ve been fighting forever, has me a little worried for Way Too Cool.  And, really more than that, Lake Sonoma.  I can probably pull 30 miles out of somewhere….I did in late October/early November, but 50, as I’ve learned is a whole different ball game.  But, Way Too Cool first…let’s focus on that.  I’ve still got this weekend before I need to taper and the back to back training day thing is new for me.  Hopefully it gets me there.

So, after giving myself a pep talk during the car ride home and a nap once I got there, I leave Wednesday with two thoughts.  One, a day in the sunshine on the trails, no matter how tough, beats the office any day.  Two, I need to stop stressing about this race.  Life is too short, 2016 is a new year, and it’s supposed to be fun.  And I’m a stronger runner than I’ve ever been….I’ll get through it.

Until next time….

Who Knew Getting Lost Could be So Much Fun…

Since I’ve spent most of January sick (maybe that’s why it feels like it’s been such a long month…), I’m a little behind on long runs, so I knew the 30 miler I had previously planned for today was not going to happen.  So, I decided I would head to Lake Sonoma and see what happened.  I was more comfortable doing a shorter run if I’d get to see more of the race course.  And, I’d already planned a run for Sunday as well, which was a good way to make up the distance and get a double day in.  Anyway, on to the adventure that was Lake Sonoma.

I made a plan over a hot toddy last night.  I’d park at Lone Rock, just beyond No Name Flat where I parked for my last adventure.  From there, I could access a portion of the course I had yet to see, run a few miles out, then back to the car, and then head out towards No Name.  I’d seen those trails before, but there’s only so far I’m willing to limp back to the car if I break myself.  Not that its happened before or anything….

Before stopping at Lone Rock, I drove the extra few miles to Liberty Glen to see if there was any day use parking – it’s another good place to access the course, but all I had read about was camping parking.  Good news!  There was day use parking.  But, I already had a plan, so I headed back to Lone Rock.

I got ready, paid the parking fee, grabbed a map and headed across the road to the trail.  After that, it took approximately three miles for my plan to fall apart.  I found the first trail I was looking for, Outcrop, pretty quickly.  And then what I thought was Madrone.  So, down I went.  The whole time thinking, it’s really going to suck to come back up this.

And, then it ended.  Just got down by the lake and stopped.  There was a short, steep, downhill that I thought might lead to a trail….nope just goes right into the lake. So…now what.  I decided to make my way back up the trail and see what I could find.  If all else failed, I just needed a trail to run on.  Rolling hills look like rolling hills, and at the end of the day, I just needed to get a run in.  Oh, what’s this…Cove Trail.  Not on the map.  Oh well.  That works.

So, off I went….and really, so much fun.  Since I didn’t really know where I was, I focused more on time (run out on a trail for a half hour, run back), rather than how many miles I had run or how fast I was going.  So, I splashed through creeks and slogged through mud without too much of a care in the world (I mean, it is still hog hunting season)…and I actually felt really good (Orange Theory is going to be worth every penny if it’s already making me feel great after two weeks), when I wasn’t hacking up my lungs.  That part wasn’t too much fun.

After about four miles, I decided to turn around and see what else I could find.  Didn’t want to get too much further from the car.  I got back to the service road and hiked back up to Outcrop where I had come down.  At this point, my lungs were pretty sore (stupid sick), so I briefly thought about heading back then, but curiosity got the best of me and I decided to see what happened if I continued to head up the fire road.

That led to Liberty Glen, which I knew was part of the race course.  That took me to Serpentine, which according to the map, would take me to Rancheria.  I enjoyed the trip down a rocky descent and arrived at a junction…..Rancheria….’hey there trail…I’ve been looking for you all day’.  I pulled out my map again to see which way I should go, and that was when I flipped it over.  And realized there was a detailed layout of the Rockpile Road trails on the back….I’m an idiot.  haha….oops.

I made a right and planned to follow Rancheria out until about 2:30.  That would give me a half hour to get back to the fire road and I’d be on my way back to the car by 3.  I ran more than I thought I would….it reminded me a lot of Matt Davis and my run out to McKennan….until I came across a recently downed tree.  Apparently that was my cue to turn around.  Since one side was a cliff down to the lake and the other side was a hill up, there wasn’t a safe way to get around it.

So I turned and headed back toward the Wulflow shortcut….once I got there, I decided I’d try to take the long way back up.  Since I now had the map and all.  And the more of the course I saw, the better.  After about a half of a mile, I thought better of it and turned to head back the way I came.  I didn’t know how far it was that way, I didn’t have a good track record with not getting lost, and my lungs were just about done.  So, up I went.  It was actually a lot further than I remembered, and at some point I realized I didn’t really know exactly how to get back to the car.  I mean, there was always the road, so I wasn’t completely lost.

And that’s where the adventure began.  At one point, I thought I was at the fire road that brought me down to the trails (conveniently named fire road….as was the other one), so up I went….of course it wasn’t the right road and I just ended up in someone’s campsite.  So, back down I went.  Lots of time with the map…..of course not all the trails are on the map, so lots of potential for some brief wrong turns.  Finally, I got back to where there were some markings and an exit to the road….and other runners.  Of course, rather than ask them if they knew where Lone Rock was, I just picked a direction and started jogging down the road.  After spending the last two miles trying to get off the trails, I was all set with guessing games for now.

So, down the hill I went.  Past a closed parking lot/event site…I think I remember passing that on the way in….around several more corners, I kept thinking I would see the lot, to no avail.  Until…..there was…..

No Name Flat.

Really?!  Seriously?!  I had only run about a mile in the wrong direction.  Ugh.  Poor lungs.  Across the road and back I went….a couple of cars went by…for a fleeting moment, I thought about flagging someone down for a ride.  Let’s not pretend it would be the first time.

Thankfully, it didn’t take too terribly long to get back to where I was and then literally around the corner was Lone Rock.  Steps from where I’d come off the trail.  Awesome.  Only me.  Despite being desperate to be back at the car, I looked down to see that I was at 13.8 miles.  Can’t have that, so I took a couple of laps around the parking lot to make 14.  And of course as I was doing so, I thought about what a great day I’d had on the trails.  How much fun it was being caked in mud.  And how I couldn’t wait for next time.  All of this now that I was back in sight of the car of course.

The best part, once I got home and looked at Strava, I was actually on the race course, if not all day, close to it.  So that’s good.  The giant hill I ran down – definitely Madrone.  The Cove trail….it’s actually Rancheria.  Apparently Strava decided to call it something else.  Or the course map did….or something.  Oh well….was a fun adventure and I’m glad I saw a lot of the course.

I also came home to an email from the race director – there’s the potential for a training run that will let me see all of the course.  Hopefully it works out…..not too close to Way Too Cool, not too early since it’s two hours away, etc., etc.  He’s also planted some water on the course for people training and let us know what local water is potable.  It also looks like one of the creeks is 18 inches deep….good times.  Sounds like I’ll be running in shorts.  I never wear shorts.  Hopefully it’s warm.

Now, I’m hungry….where is my pizza.  And that hot toddy I’ve been thinking about since about mile six.

Next up – three hill repeats on fox trail tomorrow…because I hate myself or I need to get ready for goat hill.  Or maybe both.  And, barring any madness, I should hit 100+ miles for January.  Not bad for the sick girl ;).

Trying New Things

Before I get to the point of this post, I have to call-out the new site.  I’m learning to use WordPress at work (they also host our public work website), so I wanted to set up a site of my own that I could play with during downtime.  After learning in last week’s training class that I could import multiple blogs, I thought, ‘what a great idea – I can combine the two blogs I have into one site, sweet!’  Then, as an added benefit, my Asia travel blog was already a WordPress site making the combination even easier.  Really though, even importing from Blogger was painless.  I’ve had fun over the past week creating the new site and I’m sure I’ll be playing around with it as I learn more….so many links and widgets and gadgets and such.  Anyway, on to the real stuff….

Yesterday I had one of the best workouts I can remember having in a long time.  My 24-hour Fitness membership expired last week, and after getting over the plague from earlier this week, I decided to check out the gym that opened in the same plaza as my office.  Orange Theory.  I had never heard of it, but read a little bit about it online and popped down during lunch to check it out.

It’s an instructor led, hour workout, generally half cardio and half weights/abs/etc.  They showed me around – very nice looking gym, and signed me up for a free class later that evening.  I was a little concerned that it might not be the best way to train for my lottery of pain later this spring, but I like new things and the concept was pretty interesting.

Before class started, they gave me a little heart monitor and the instructor showed all the new people (two of us) how the machines worked and explained how the class would go.  I liked this – definitely took out the worry of feeling dumb because I was new.

I got to start class on the treadmill, which was nice – I’d much rather start with some cardio to warm up.  I did notice that the other group, who started with some of the weight exercises, did warm up on the rowers first…I think that would have been ok too.  It started out simple enough – get to a pace on the treadmill that you could run for about a half hour.  Then we spent the next six minutes taking that pace up and down and back up again.  Because the speed was constantly changing, the time passed really quickly and it was on to the weights.

Well, the weights and the rowing machine.  The rowing machine and I, well, we’re not friends…it became a joke between the trainer and I, but I’m sure I can learn it over time.  After the rowing, the floor set involved a couple of different weight lifts; curls and flys and stuff.  I haven’t really done weights since bootcamp, so it was a welcome change to my workout routine.  In hindsight, I could probably use heavier weights (channeling my inner Cat ;)).  Something I can definitely change for next time.

Six minutes later, it was back to the treadmill….this time and the next time (there were three treadmill rotations total) were all about hills.  I’ve never set the treadmill at a ten percent grade….until last night.  There were definitely times that I thought I’d slide right of the back of it, but I managed to hold my own.  ‘Running’ up the hills made the one percent grade feel like a downhill.

The other floor sets consisted of TRX (another favorite I haven’t seen since bootcamp) and ab work.  Halfway through…a quarter of the way through….I don’t remember.  I was dripping sweat.  The other new girl and I kept looking at each other in disbelief or something.  What a workout!  It kept changing, so I never got bored and the hour passed so fast.

After class, the instructor took a few minutes to explain the monitors and the results.  Pretty interesting.  And I was in the acceptable ranges, so I did something right.  Haha.  And burned approximately 600 calories.  In an hour.  Crazy.  Ending verdict – I am still sore today and have plans to make this part of my regular routine.

In other news, my present…the purse I ordered last weekend, has arrived.  What a great ending to the week :).

Until next time…

Lake Sonoma Adventures

Since I am the proud winner of not one, but two spring race lotteries, referenced before as the lottery of pain, I decided I needed to get my act together. Mainly for Lake Sonoma, the 50 miler, but 30 miles on uncharted terrain is no joke either.

Let me back up…why was I even in two race lotteries to begin with?  Well, back when I thought I’d conquer North Face and I realized I didn’t really want to swim a half ironman distance again (let alone a full), and realized how much I loved the trails, I entered the lottery for Lake Sonoma. It’s worth noting that I thought I had to be in before North Face.  Post North Face debacle, I thought that maybe I’d need some time before another 50, and that I’d enter the lottery for the Way Too Cool 50k and pull out of Lake Sonoma.  Great idea in thought, not so much in practice. Turns out, entering Cool was no problem….however, there wasn’t a way to get out of Lake Sonoma. It won’t be a problem, I thought….I never win anything, I thought….

Cue the Monday I have the flu and try to work anyway.  After a scary drive home from Redwood City, the realization that I can’t keep anything down, and an overwhelming desire to sleep forever, I check my email.  Two Ultra Sign-Up confirmations book-ending an email from the Lake Sonoma Race Director…..I had won the lottery….two lotteries, to be exact. Yup….time to get it together.

Since the 50 mile scares me way more, I decided to focus on that. Thought process being, I have to run a couple 30+ days to train for that anyway….might as well use Cool as a training ground. And people seem to really like that race….and it’s on part of the Western States course….and I saw something about frog cupcakes. I’m slow, but I better get a cupcake….haha.

Anyway, I digress. I emailed with a friend who has run Sonoma three times and planning for a fourth.    She gave me the lowdown on the course….rolling hills for approximately twenty miles, headlands
like hills for ten, back on the rollers for another twenty. Throw in some (12) creek crossings and some really good swag at the end, and you have the most fun 50 miles ever.  Well…I just had to check it out for myself.

I took a trip up to Lake Sonoma right before Christmas….I mean, I had to pick up wine anyway, why not?  I think I only missed one turn on my way to the park, and really, I was already in the park.  Pretty good for me. Haha. As I pulled in, I passed several signs about drowning and not being next…thankfully (I think), there’s only been one. There were also several signs about paying at the marina….ok, sure. If I’m going to pay for something, it might as well be a park or a trail, etc. I drove down into the marina to pay, but no one was around…very Deliverance or something.  I guess that’s what happens in the off season. I wandered for a bit…looking for a map or a person or something. Didn’t really seem like there were trails or anything near there. Luckily someone (marina worker, maybe) found me and was able to provide some directions and give me change for the parking fee.

I headed up to what I thought was the parking lot for the trail, but turned out to be a field of soft mud and gravel. Well, it’s supposed to be rugged, so I thought I was in a parking lot. Turns out the lot was the next turn off the main road, but, no one cared. Haha. I put on my awesome ankle braces, loaded up my pack, and headed towards a trail. There was only one, so I assumed it was the race course my thoughts were semi-confirmed by a few stray course markers I found (strava would later confirm that I was correct….and don’t get me started on races that can’t seem to clean up after themselves).

The trail was….excellent. I quickly understood why people like this race and why it’s fast and rugged. The trail was overall runable.  Very rolling….nothing like the walk up, jog down I was used to in the headlands. Sad, because I’ve become a great hiker, but good, because maybe I can learn to run more. At some points, it almost felt like an obstacle course….lots (ok, two, maybe three) downed trees to climb over.  And then there was the man with the crossbow. Really??  Where am I and what did I sign up for?

Unfortunately, I was tired. My body had been through a lot in early December – North Face debacle, the flu, life….and my thoughts of 15 miles quickly became 13 and then 10 before ending at 9.  But, I’d gotten a good preview of what 4/5 or so of the course would be like. And had an adventure. Tough to beat that.

Shortly after the holidays, I decided to head back out to Lake Sonoma. I didn’t feel the greatest and couldn’t decide if it was tired or sick. But, I figured, might as well go explore something new if I’m going to be slow anyway. After a quick stop at SF Run Company (fewer things burn a hole in your pocket faster than a gift card from there…), I was on my way.

Once I arrived, I headed back towards the marina, where I thought I was supposed to pay. Not before passing a sign about boar hunting until March 23rd and sharing the trails. Now, are the hunters supposed to share with me or me with them?  At least that explains the crossbow from my last adventure.  I become thankful that I just bought a bright orange running shirt with my gift card. At least I wont be mistaken for a boar. I drive down to the marina to pay and unfortunately no one is there….oh well. I remember where the envelopes are. But, before I can get out of the car, a giant truck pulls in right next to me….almost close enough that I can’t get the door open. And they have a confederate flag license plate. Awesome….sometimes I make great friends…..

I jump out and quickly pay the fee. I wasn’t planning on staying, so hopefully my new friends have plans that involve the marina. Just as quickly as I paid the fee and dropped the envelope, I got back in the car and was off to my destination – the turn around point for the race. Of course the scary truck decided they needed to leave then too….followed me halfway up before stopping and I never saw them again. Maybe they decided to stay at the marina….maybe they decided they should pay to use the park. Who knows. I was just glad they were gone.

After crossing a bridge, I found my destination pretty fast – no name flat parking area. After my previous run in, I was pleased to see several cars in the parking lot. I got ready (que awesome ankle braces) and was on my way. I didn’t have a ton of water, but it was chilly and only ten miles….ugh….bad idea. Someday, I will learn.

The first piece of trail was similar to my earlier adventure.  Rolling hills and pretty runable. I did a loop and a half or so, then realized I was doing the same thing twice. Strava later confirmed that I’d also gone in the wrong direction on the loop – how else would I get a course record ;). Oops…at least I found it. There are no names on the map and the trail markings leave much to be desired. Part of why I love it, but not conducive to easily figuring things out. Haha.

Once on the fire road out and back (appropriately titled fire road on strava), I definitely found the hills. I turned just before the Madrone fire road, but I think I saw the worst of them. Good news, with some training, they didn’t seem that bad. Bad news, I understand why Marissa suggested Fox trail repeats as part of training.

I started my journey back, and in no time rolled my left ankle. Ouch…I was walking. Grrrr….hiss.  Luckily, I was able to walk it out, but it still hurts now and it’s a little puffy. Hopefully I can get some healing or strengthening suggestions from the doctor next week. It seemed like forever – running when I didn’t feel too hot was not one of my better ideas, but eventually I saw the car from afar. Not before another runner passed by and wished me a happy new year and some hiker failed at peeing in the woods. Really….we were maybe 200 yards from the parking lot. With a porta poty. Try that. Or learn to actually hide….

Oh what an adventure I’ve gotten myself into. Until next time…over and out….

Life in Overload

So, at the beginning of 2015, I promised some sort of New Year’s update….ringing in the new and casting off the old, or something like that.  And, I intended on it, but as always, the time got away from me….life got in the way….things happen.  A lot happened.  After awhile, it felt like I’d been writing this entry for at least six months, and then I realized I had.  And then I backed off…and then it was almost 2016, so I decided to wait.  And reflect.  And now I have pages of randomly typed thoughts and feelings….semi-sober, deep down, and at times heartfelt/heart wrenching thoughts and feelings.  What a ride it’s been……

It started with a race….

I rang in the new year doing the thing I love most….which ended up being my first 50-miler and fourth ultra of 2014.  It was fun and tough and boring and great all at once.  And, somewhere along the way, I learned that AIDS Marathon friends are some of my best friends.  Something that I think I’ve always known, but forget to be thankful for.  I also learned that 50 miles on pavement and gravel takes its toll on the human body and ended up staring down a knee injury for most of the year. That was an adventure in and of itself, a nagging, not-that-painful-but-I-know-its-not-normal adventure, requiring rest and PT, and two rounds of prolotherapy and a platelet injection.

Then, life threw me a curve ball…or kicked me in the shins…or both.  I thought I knew the trajectory I was meant to be on, but turns out – life had other plans.  And, sometimes, as hard as it is, knowing when to let go is just as important as continuing to hold on.  I feel like there is so much I could say, but, as I also learned, some things are better left unsaid.  Things happened and it wasn’t ok and in my opinion, unforgivable.  But, sometimes it’s all about letting go and moving on.

Because, you never know what adventure you’ll find once you do.  Right now, I’m still not sure what that is yet.  But, I get to figure that out, and I am so excited for that.  Sometimes you have to let go of the planned finish line …just like a race.  You’ll still get to there, it just might look like Coyote Ride or the North Face in 2014, and be a little different than you imagined.

It continued with a race…

Starting out the year with an injury and a healthy dose of stress was no fun, but I quickly found a way to stay involved with running and started volunteering again.  It was something that I’d loved, but had given up in the craziness of work and school.  As I got more involved in my free time over the summer, I learned to mark and sweep courses, and drive a giant van up and down some winding roads.  I had so much fun exploring new trails and helping other runners…In the absence of all I knew, I found somewhere new to belong and something to focus energy on.

And, not to be out done, the back half of the year had to give the first half a run for its money.  Whether I was getting re-acquainted with a certain fashion novel or finding out what happens when slimer gets in a fight with a Toyota Tacoma (nothing good), I began to anxiously await the arrival of 2016.  I’m not sure why, something about turing the page, casting off the old, and bringing in the new felt fresh and necessary.  Then, when I thought it was over, I had the opportunity to cross driving down the freeway with the flu off my bucket list (also not good).  Since it’s not 2016 yet, I suppose I should knock on something…..

It ended with a race….

I plan to end 2015 (and then begin 2016) with the same race I ended 2014 with. Though this time, I’ll be working at it, not running it. Racing for me is on hold until March and then April – the race lottery odds were somehow in my favor and I ‘won’ entrance in to both Way Too Cool and Lake Sonoma, hopefully an omen of good things to come in 2016.  I’ve spent the past week and a half (feels like forever) resting, so my silly ankles could heal, my body could get a much needed break, and I can get back at it in the new year.  Bring it on lottery of pain, bring it on.

This year is nothing I’d sign up for again, I might dare say it’s been the toughest of my life.  But, looking back, I’m amazed at how much I’ve learned and how differently I look at certain things now.  The importance of taking things one day at time….celebrating the small victories….forgiving yourself…standing up for yourself. Stopping to smell the roses….climbing up one more hill…taking the long way home.  That wine just might be a food group – sometimes it needs to be, and that’s ok.  The importance of surrounding yourself with things and people that make you happy.  And if you just keep moving, eventually you’ll be moving forward.

And, above all, the biggest thing I learned is that I have a stronger support network than I ever realized and I will forever be grateful.  I had listening ears when I needed to talk, advice when I didn’t know what to do (or just needed confirmation), and smiles when all I wanted was to frown.  I always had a rock, a safety net, and everything in between. Perhaps that cheesy car commercial has a point – when it’s dark enough, you can see stars.

So, here’s to 2016.  Here’s to good times with family and friends.  To new adventures and new races.  To my continued understanding that everything happens for a reason….and hopefully to understanding what that reason is.

Malibu Canyon Adventure

I’m always excited for a weekend adventure – especially if that involves a new place with new trails.  Enter a 30 hour trip to Malibu Canyon.  
The drive to Malibu was pretty uneventful (other than an accident that resulted in an extra hour and a half or so).  Especially once I hit the 5.  I talked to my parents….joked with a friend about how I needed an uneventful fifteen mile sweep after last weekend’s craziness….sang along to bad 80’s and 90’s pop….all the things you typically do on a solo road trip.  
Thanks to the traffic, I got to the hotel at least an hour and a half later than I planned.  But never fear, it was in plenty of time to watch the poor desk guy deal with two girls under the influence of something trying to figure out if they’d checked out of their room or not.  And how to use the wireless….and something about her ‘friend’ from ‘last night’.  Good times.  Can I just have my key?  After dealing with the girls and a broken computer, I finally had my key.  Then I was pretty sure I was asleep in moments.  
The next day started with an early Starbucks run and a joke about me even sleeping at the hotel.  Thankfully the hotel, Starbucks, and the park were all pretty close, so it wasn’t that early – at least when you consider last Saturday I started running at 5.  We got our caffeine and headed out to the park.  As we were unloading and setting up, I noticed that the finish line was a mine-field of potholes.  All big enough to see, right?  
Or not….at some point once the runners were off, but before I was supposed to start sweeping, I was walking over to the finish line.  I avoided all of the holes in the dirt.  Only to find the one in the grass…I love hearing my ankle pop.  Almost as much as I love grabbing ahold of the ropes holding up the finish line arch before stumbling into the arch.  Really?  Right now?  I tried walking it out and it was just sore, not really swollen.  Nothing an ankle brace can’t fix.  Perhaps I should have wished for an uneventful weekend….
And now for the course.  I love getting to see new trails in new places – especially places I wouldn’t necessarily go to on my own.  I had seen photos and heard it was hilly, so I strapped on my super cool ankle braces and was off.  Luckily, I wasn’t feeling too sore from last weekend’s debacle of a race or from my tumble and stumble at the finish line.  
The first few miles were pretty gentle – some rolling hills and some flat.  A lot of course markings and thanks to someone’s ‘help’, a bunch of them were gathered in piles at one of the trail heads….
Just after the two mile mark, I came across a creek.  And, even with the drought, this one was flowing and probably would have come to mid-calf had I jumped right in (like I do with Redwood Creek).  Somehow, I managed to navigate through on the rocks without falling in and was able to keep my shoes dry for the most part (save for my right toes….ooops).  
Shortly after the creek, I hit the first aid station and then began a climb that I thought would never end.  Beautiful views and a nice trail, but nearly seven miles of climbing with no reprieve was a tall order.  
And then I was told by a mountain biker that I was at the top.  So, of course I stopped to take a photo and captured the below photo.  Looking back, I think the ones on the way up were better.  
The next few miles brought place that I could definitely jog between ribbons and observe some cool rock formations.  
Despite being told I was at the top, I came upon this monstrosity pretty quickly.  I was pretty sure it was straight out of The Hills Have Eyes, if you’ve seen it.  If you haven’t, don’t….At first, I didn’t even think it was a trail….then I saw the pink flags lining the way up it.  Really?  That’s a trail.  Well, ok.  I’m up for an adventure.  And the way up actually wasn’t too bad.  The way down….let’s just say I’m just glad I didn’t crash and burn.  
Surviving the land of The Hills Have Eyes, I came up on the second aid station.  They were just as glad to see me as I was to see them.  After getting high-fives from the volunteers and the ranger, I refueled and headed off on what was pretty much the last climb before a nice descent back to the finish.  
After what really was a nice gentle descent, the last section I hit was pretty flat.  Not sure if this was a good thing or not – right around mile 13 my foot (and the rest of my body), started to make it known that they were done with this running thing.  haha…almost legs, almost.  
Near the 10k turn around, I passed through the MASH site.  It was pretty cool, despite not having watched too much MASH.  I don’t think I really watched any of it until after Alan Alda was on ER and I’m pretty sure those were reruns.  Anyway, I digress.  I paused for a bit to get some photos before the volunteer asked me if I was planning to get in before dark.  Right.  Dark.  Yeah, I should probably keep moving.  
After departing the MASH site, it was a quick jaunt back to the start/finish.  A quick load of the van and I was off on the long journey home.  
Once I got out of LA, I was ready for some food.  Enter my second Carl’s Jr. fix of the weekend.  I’d also warmed up enough to want an Oreo milkshake.  Yum.  While I waited for the drive-thru, I decided to check out my foot again.  It had been out of the brace for about an hour and felt pretty stiff.  Probably because in the time it had been resting it decided to start swelling.  Awesome…well, at least it wasn’t my driving leg.  
I stopped for gas in Kettleman City.  At that point, my feet had been shoeless for several hours and the thought of having to put them back on was worse than the thought of being barefoot (or in my case, bare-socked) at a gas station – especially with my now swollen left ankle.  So, I channeled my inner Britney Spears (circa 2004) and pumped gas sans shoes.  But, I did have socks on and I didn’t go in the bathroom.  Haha…

The rest of the trip passed uneventfully and I made pretty good time getting home.  Home, showered, beered, and in bed by 12:30.
Until next time….over and out.

Life Doesn’t Require that We Be the Best, Only that We Try Our Best…..North Face 50 Race Report

Ahh…the start line of the North Face 50.  After a year plagued by ankle and knee injuries, it was one place I didn’t think I’d be.  But, after a few injections, and lot of PT, somehow I’d gotten it together enough to be there.  I was nervous about the time cutoffs, but based on my 30 mile training run, I’d be fine.  Especially since I was picking up Ksenya around mile 30.

We got to the start line in plenty of time, checked our drop bags, and then it was 5am and we were off.  The first few miles were fine…it was just me and the mountain and a few hundred of my closest friends.  As I made it up bobcat, I realized that my new watch had somehow reverted from miles back to kilometers.  Awesome….so I had no idea where I was.  Well, I knew where I was….I knew the trails, and I knew the two cutoff times, so I was good.

As I jogged down Rodeo, I met Becca, a woman from New York City who would stick with me until approximately mile 20.  She was great….friendly….and we had a ton to talk about.  She said hello to just about everyone, and listening to their conversation made the miles up Miwok and Coastal pass like nothing.  At one point, we were talking about how I’d never been stung before and it would be really bad to find out I was allergic on the trail.  She assured me she’d chase down the lady we met earlier with the bee sting meds.  We shared the journey through Pirate’s Cove, and she celebrated with me when I realized I had made through Pirate’s cove and Muir Beach and had yet to see a sweeper.

I jogged from Muir Beach to Cardiac, before beginning the slog up the hill.  At this point, two things happened – first, we were joined by a lot of 50k runners, so I wondered if I’d see any of my friends that were running that distance, and second, I had some weird acid-refluxy thing going on.  Apparently the potatoes and Mt. Dew I’d had at Tennessee Valley and Muir Beach hadn’t solved that problem as I had hoped.  Ugh…well….onward and upward, I suppose.

Thanks to Becca, Heather Cutoff passed pretty quickly (and there wasn’t any out and back traffic like last year).  We got to Coastal, and while there were places I had planned on running, I realized it wasn’t going to happen with the acid issues going on.  Oh well….I was still right where I wanted to be pace-wise, so I wasn’t worried.  Just sick of climbing.  Thankfully Becca was still on my heels and chatting with everyone….then, it happened, I recognized a voice.  Yay!  A friendly face at just the right time.

My friend, Liz, had come up behind us.  She was looking great running up the hill, and had I felt better, I would have tried to tag on and run up the hill with her.  She mentioned her boyfriend wasn’t too far behind, so I kept an eye out for him and that took my mind off the horrible feeling for awhile. He passed by shortly after, I mentioned I was worried about being slow, and he told me to just keep moving.  So, that’s what I did….one foot in front of the other, with Becca behind me, we made it up the hill.

I paused at the aid station to try to cure the acid problem along with the nausea that had started to pop up.  One of the volunteers suggested Coke, but I already was working on some Mountain Dew.  Then I heard my name being called, and behind me was my friend and fellow AIDS Marathon Coach, Toby.  So many friendly faces at just the right time.  I told him I was nauseous, and he told me to keep at it, and that it would pass.

And it did, as I made my way up to Matt Davis, I started to feel a lot better.  Becca and I jogged the out and back where we could (lots of jumping out of the way of oncoming traffic), making our way to McKinnon Gulch – the first hard time cutoff….and I was still ahead of the sweepers.  Then…ouch!  Sharp, stabbing, pain in the back of my thigh….if had been an inch higher, it would have been my ass.  Who gets stung by something in their ass?  Me.  Of course.  Guess. I can cross getting stung by a bee off my bucket list.  Great….hopefully this doesn’t cause too much of an issue.  But at least I can concentrate on that pain rather than my hip flexor that had started to ache way too early.  I paused for a moment to pull whatever sharp object had impaled me out of my leg.  Becca asked if my hamstring was ok.  I told it was, but something had stung me.  Could have been her opportunity to chase down our friend from earlier. Somewhere between getting stung and the aid station, I lost Becca.  The people at the aid station there were great.  Handed me a cup of hot broth, a welcome change from the PB&J I had been eating.

As I made my way back, I was surprised that there were people behind me.  I wished them all good luck as I jogged by.  I ran a bit with another guy who had run the race the past two years, but hadn’t been able to finish.  He, like me, was very excited to ahead of the sweepers and on pace to finish with time to spare.  We jogged together for a bit before he took off.  Unfortunately, I came up on him with the sweeper….he’d fallen and split his knee on a rock.  He desperately wanted to continue, but the sweeper seemed to think otherwise.

After that, I made my way down the longest descent ever into Stinson Beach.  It was technical, I was skittish, but I was feeling good.  It felt like hours, but I got down to a flat section and my friend Mark was running up to meet me.  Some volunteers greeted me by what I think was the fire station and sent me along my way to the aid station where Ksenya was waiting to run with me.  She helped me refill my pack and I grabbed a sandwich (it was only peanut butter and hard to eat, so I dumped the rest of that quickly….).

We made our way up Dipsea to Cardiac, a mere 2.3 miles, but 2.3 tough climbing miles.  But, I actually ran some of it.  Big change from Brian dragging me up that hill during my first 50k.  I don’t remember a ton of it, but I’m pretty sure I was crying at some point and then there was a ladder on Steep Ravine.  It wasn’t good.  But yesterday, yesterday was great.  According to Strava, I even had a PR going up that hill.

And, then I got to the second pass at Cardiac and it all fell apart.  The acid-refluxy crap was back, along with some nausea and dizziness.  Going down in to Muir Woods was ok, but climbing out, not so much.  I did ok until I got to Fern Trail?  Lost trail?  I think it was lost.  Wherever I started to climb again….and then there were the stairs at Canopy View.  I passed two ladies with kids in back packs, and all I could think was, please don’t let me puke now…..

Once we got to Panoramic and Sun, it really went down hill.  I was looking forward to not climbing anymore, as the nausea seemed to dissipate if I stopped climbing.  But, since it was my lucky day, that’s when the dizziness took over and the trail started moving.  Good times.  At that point, I realized that running wasn’t going to happen, the last thing I needed was to crash and end up with some sort of lasting injury.  I slowly made my way down the trail, wishing the aid station was a lot closer than it was…..everything just felt fuzzy.  Ksenya told me if I was going to fall over, to make sure I fell towards the mountain rather than off the cliff….thankfully, it didn’t come to that.

Somehow, Ksenya got me down to the aid station at what we thought was mile 35, and found the medic.  They got me in a chair pretty quick and before I knew it I had a bag of chips, a cup of electrolytes, and a cup of water.  I choked down a couple of chips while someone wrapped me in a space blanket and Ksenya loosened the ankle braces on my legs.  Eventually they came all the way off and they ended up in a trash bag with all of the rest of the stuff I discarded…pack, braces…maybe gloves….I don’t know.  The medics took my blood pressure, which was high…and a little scary since I’ve never had high blood pressure….ever.  She continued to keep me talking and put a hot pack on the back of my neck.  I started shivering and ended up with another space blanket to wrap around my legs while we waited for transportation.  I’m pretty sure I was the abominable space blanket woman….one wrapped on my shoulders and another tied around my waist like a towel.

The aid station captain lived near Tennessee Valley and offered to take a couple of us there.  Since she brought me to the aid station where they took care of me, I will forgive the fact that she made a big production out of making people sit on trash bags and made sure I had a barf bag….

I don’t think I realized how much trouble I was in until we got to Tennessee Valley and I was wandering around trying to find my drop bag and then wandering around with it, but didn’t really know why.  Ksenya had mentioned grabbing some food, but I really just wanted to get in the car….never mind we still had to hunt down the key.  Ksenya got the key from Shannon, who I think was the aid station captain at TV.

Shannon took one look at me and in a matter of seconds had me on a bench with a cup of warm broth.  I just wanted to hold it, she seemed more concerned that I drank it though.  She started digging through my bag to find my warm clothes….asked me if I had warm pants….what warm shirts I had, etc.  While asking one of the other volunteers to grab an extra space blanket.  I asked her if I should just suck up the cold and change everything – new t-shirt, new hoodie, etc.  She seemed to like that idea just as the shuttle showed up.  So, she decided we were taking over the bus.  She grabbed two volunteers and we headed on to the bus.  Once we were there, she helped me pull off my wet t-shirts and swap them for the dry clothes I had in my drop bag.  Yay wool hoodie.  Best purchase ever.

Once that was done, she asked me what I wanted to eat.  I told her I wasn’t hungry, but she wasn’t having that.  Just proceeded to tell me the aid station menu; ‘We have oranges, bananas, peanut butter & jelly….’.  At that point, I realized I wasn’t going to get out of eating something, so I went for the PB&J.  She sent one of the volunteers she brought with her to get some PB&J and the other to get some more hot broth.  I ate a couple of PB&J squares while I continued to warm up…..then she sent the volunteers for more broth and M&M’s.  Of course I had to eat a bunch of those too.  At some point Ksenya brought my down jacket in (so glad I left that in my car after the Turkey Trot last week).  Shannon handed me another cup of broth and told me I could leave once I wasn’t blue anymore and asked me if I wanted to sit down.  I think I went through three, maybe four cups of broth and was handed one for the road before she let me off the bus.  I had on a running t-shirt, a wool hoodie, the down jacket I took to Mt. Everest last year, a wool headband, and two hoods.  And the moment I stepped off the bus, I was freezing again.  Luckily, it was a short walk to my car, which Ksenya had already warmed up.

We drove back over to the visitor’s center and somehow convinced them to let us park in the lot there.  I think Ksenya told them we were picking stuff up and I needed to get my bag and I couldn’t walk very far.  Anyway, worked in our favor, and we parked next to the flush toilets and didn’t have to walk too far.  I grabbed my stuff and headed over to the finish to wait for Brian to come in.  And, despite being sick all day, he did finish :).  After that, we crashed in the grass and split a beer.  I was still shivering, despite adding another layer of pants to my wardrobe, so Mark gave me his down jacket to put on top of my own.  And at some point, I had another space blanket added to the mix….I think that might have been Ann – thanks Ann!

In the end, I had actually gotten to mile 37, not 35….and I would have been fine with the time limits, and I did better than last year, but, just not my day.  Luckily, I will be able to finish another 50 miler another day.  Big thanks to Ksenya for running with me and taking care of me at the end; Mark for crewing; Dr. Hal, Dr. Wardwell, and Megan, for putting me back together so I could even get out there; and the amazing aid station volunteers.

Until next year, North Face, until next year….