Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Memorial Day Weekend: Moving with Diane on the MST!

Somewhere around mile 45 of a 65ish mile day! Let's eat!
As I have so recently posted, I have taken every opportunity “guide run” with Diane Van Deren as she makes her way from the western boundary of NC to the dunes of Kitty Hawk on the almost 1000 mile long Mountains to SeaTrail. (A true trail in the west and parts of the Greensboro area), yet most other sections are still in development and follow established Department of Transportation bike routes on mostly rural roads.

Diane started on May 10th and is on a quest to better the current 24 day trail record-perhaps by almost 48 hours? Time will tell as she at this writing (Wednesday at 8pm EST ) has around 80 miles in front of her and a storm to deal with.

Because of Diane’s brain surgery years ago, she had relief from awful seizures, yet the removal of part of brain left her directionally and sometimes detailed challenged. To assist with these challenges, she has had a companion runner(s) for most of the whole cross-state trek. I am happy to say that I have traveled with Diane for most of the last 3 weekends. See previous posts for details of the first two.

I joined Diane this past weekend on Saturday afternoon. After driving to Raleigh, awesome Amy picked me up  and drove me to somewhere north and east of Raleigh where I met up with Diane in a church parking lot. We ran /walked/trotted and scampered about 37 miles together (Diane did 50 that day) and crashed in a church parking lot (me in a tent) Diane in back of the traveling aid station (awesome box truck) and crew in car and hammock. We had full support and kindness from the local pastor. After 2.7 hours of sleep, we rose at 2:35 am to prepare for a 3 am start.

Diane is dealing with the heat and humidity of eastern NC, so an alpine start, seemed the most sensible…especially with still tender feet from her earlier blisters, several foot cooling/icing breaks would be needed as we traversed the hot pavement of the roads. I think we did around 65 miles on Sunday…What was sooo crazy-we hardly saw anyone outside-only lots of dogs barking and running around –a few after us-very scary. 

Next time I run in the eastern part of this state, I will carry pepper spray! The cats we saw were smarter: lounged over porch railing or plopped in tree branches. As far as wildlife? Lots of dead snakes on the road and some pretty crazy driving Sunday night from likely holiday partiers! In fact, this traffic and the encouragement of local law enforcement made up quite 3.7 miles short on Sunday (to stay alive) and add those miles to the generous ones mapped out on Monday! Good call!

All of us slept for almost 2.5 hours in a Hampton Inn. We got to shower and charge our electronics and drink coffee and eat oatmeal before being back out on the road from where we stepped off it less than 5 hours before. Diane and I were solo during the wee, dark hours. We stalked the roads, checking map and constantly being checked on every 4 miles by the awesome mobile aid station. In the earliest hours we wandered and weaved on the road-falling asleep to be sure. We moved forward, wobbling. 

I thought, “How lame am I after only a couple days of mileage and lack of sleep? And Diane has been living a similar lifestyle for how long?” Yet concentrating on perceived lameness does nothing to invoke success, so the funky singing started (both of us at fault) and we made our way through the welcomed first light of day to Chuck and Sarah and breakfast  and COFFEE at around 14 miles in.
A dark reflective start leading to a great day for Diane! (Me on the right am wearing my new cool MH skort...wish you could see it!)    
Well…talked about hitting a funk and waiting an hour to see what happens! Wow! This morning was the reminder of precious patience! I don’t know if it was the syrup from Diane’s pancakes or the 3 packets of sugar in my coffee or just awesome connection to attitude, yet we went nuts in a great way after breakfast!

 We mostly power hiked with some real running thrown in to be sure. We used my Garmin for pace guidance (accurate on flattish non-tree covered terrain) and she rocked! It is such a difficult balance to figure out what pace will lead to success and not breakdown. At this point pushing too hard could have awful consequences, we just had to trust her perceived effort. We got into a great groove and made some good miles. 

I had to leave Diane at mile 28 that day-I felt sad to be rightfully “left out” of her remaining miles, yet so proud and pleased to call her a “trail kindred spirit”.  Leaving Diane in great company of her crew and other fantastic peeps as pacers, I jumped into Amy’s car as she drove me back to Raleigh so I could reunite with my Echo and creep the 3.5+ hours back home to be ready for work the next day. Truth be told, I was exhausted both emotionally and physically and had to stop for 2 naps on my way home.

My own running goals have been on hold due to the privilege of these past weekends and to  some weird bio mechanical issues I’ve been dealing with. I have seen a local PT 2x in the last month, yet as wonderful a human the PT is, she is not a good fit for me.  I have an appointment with awesome Greg at Mountain Physical Therapy in "far away" Asheville on 6/13. I know he’ll give me good direction. I am grateful my issues didn’t get in the way of being a companion (except for having to switch packs) to Diane and her mission.

I will say there has been some fun bantering as a North Face Runner drinks out of Montrail water bottles and a Montrail runner sleeps in a North Face Tent. I love it! Despite the lack of photo documentation-this mission is about supporting the greater good and what Diane is doing is more than certainly that! Go! Diane, Go! Thank you to The North Face and Great Provisions for Supporting Diane’s expedition and also to Montrail/ Mountain Hardwear for encouraging my participation on her grand adventure!

To learn more about Diane’s race to the finish and her adventures check out these sites:
Don't wait too long to follow her: She'll be done in the next day or a little more! Go Diane! North Carolina is Cheering for you!

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