Friday, December 21, 2007

Registration Open for New River Trail 50k: A "green" event!

New River Trail 50k-This photo taken at what will be mile 5.5 and 25.6 of the race.

In 2008 I am adding Race Directing to my resume of Ultra experiences! Yesterday the website for the New River Trail 50k went online-and we already have several folks registered! (Thanks to Joey and Bedford with guidance on how to create a link!) Registration is at

The course is 100% dirt, flat, FAST and is run completly on the New River Trail in New River State Park out of the Fries, VA entrance. The New River Trail is a rail trail-(photo above). It is out and back along 2 branches of the New River Trail. There will be at least 5 aid stations.

What I am really excited about-and what is proving to be a good challenge, is that this is a "green" event. I have made a commitment that at least 75% of the goods we purchase or are sponsored with are either made locally (within 100 miles of course start), are recyclable/recycled or from companies that have demonstrated committement to lightening their impact on the Earth.

Some of the "green" aspects of the event so far:
-all registered runners get a choice of a Nathan handheld bottle or locally made pottery cup (we are encouraging use of water bottles to cut down on disposable cups at aid stations-and gave the pottery cup option to those of us that already have plenty of handhelds.)
-Finishers shirts will be LS Capilene from Patagonia (view mens:, view women's: may vary!
-All registration is online to do away with paper and fuel used by "snail mail"
-Flowers Bakery of Winston-Salem and Jamestown, NC have agreeed to supply aid station goodies (fig bars, etc)and bread baked in these cities.
-The few flyers that we produce from race promo are being printed on 100% recylced paper.
-Montrail will be providing some of the top finisher prizes (we hope it might be a couple of pairs from the new "green line" to come out in '08!)
-All proceeds from the race will go to The National Committee For The New River

Please share with me your thoughts, ideas and questions that will help make this one of the "first intentionally green ultramarathon in this part of the country!" Last year the Uwharrie Trail Races (including the 40 miler) raised awareness and funds for a carbon offset and do have some expanded "green goals" for this year! Thanks to TrailGoat for pointing this out to me!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Hellgate 100k 2007: Leaves, lessons, and authenticity in life!

This is Sophie and I several hours before the start of the run...
(for the record: contrary to some people believing otherwise, the Hellgate 100k is named after Hellgate Creek near Natural Bridge Station, VA where the run starts!)

After finishing up David Horton’s epic Hellgate yesterday afternoon many of us shared stories, ideas and questions with one another while we were hanging out at the finish line. Responding to, “What was your time?” “What’d you think of the leaves?” were easy. The question that stumped me, if only for a second was, “Did you have fun?”


I shook my head and said quietly, “no”. Hellgate 2007 was many things for me yesterday: it was humbling, difficult, joyful, frustrating, celebratory and life affirming, but honestly, not fun. And not being fun is not a bad thing.

Later while talking with my mom on the phone, I came up with the analogy of going to church. (I was raised Catholic and my mom attends every day. She doesn’t describe church as “fun” yet attendance, practicing the rituals, celebrating God and life is an integral part of her life and essential to who she is.) Hellgate 2007 was like that for me-an adventure and interaction with life that helps sustain the core of who I am.

This was my 3rd running of Hellgate. I ran the inaugural in 2003 and again in 2004. My hamstring injury and issues kept me out in ’05 and ’06. I entered again because I could. I think Hellgate is one of the best celebrations of the human spirit that I have experienced. Not only the spirit of the runners but all the generous aid station workers, many whom are Liberty University students who give up their study and social time, and personal comfort in order to help David Horton and the runners. I am drawn to Hellgate because it is tough and different and special (ok, some might say weird-but that’s another comment line all together!) And I like Hellgate because I am forced to stay in the moment the entire time I am out there (except for a few later miles in yesterdays run…). I live so much of my life trying to “get things done” and fit more activities in. I constantly multitask. Yesterday I was incapable of multitasking-I had one thing to do-run the course…so it was sort of a vacation from my normal life. (Even other ultra marathons haven’t demanded the same single-mindedness given to Hellgate this year).

I didn’t train, per say for this race. I’d run 16 ultra’s so far this year with Iron Mountain 50, Triple Lakes 40, Mountain Masochist 50 and most recently JFK 50 in the months preceding Hellgate. Instead of training for it-I rested for it! I ran enough to keep myself “almost sane” during the last few weeks and purposely ran in the cold and dark to remind myself what it like to be in those conditions. As is my usual style I choose a goal for this race. Since I had been feeling good running much of this fall I decided (though I didn’t share my thoughts with more than 3 people) that I wanted to break 13 hours. Ambitious considering the current CR 13:01ish) was set by Krissy Moehl last year and my best time on the course was 13:40ish in 2004. Yet I secretly thought I could do it.

In the days leading up to Hellgate I became distracted. Usually racing doesn’t interfere with my work except when I have to flex a day for race travel. In the days leading up to Hellgate I checked the weather, packed and unpacked, read race reports, checked the weather again. Nerves? Yes! Preoccupied? Yes!

Doug Blackford (who finished Hellgate in ’05 and ‘06) and I drove up together, anticipating we could help keep each other awake and alive during the 3 hour drive home after the race.

During the race check in there was the usual happy reunioning with runners, remembering of horror stories and this year the questions that made their rounds most was: shorts or tights? And to yak trax or screw? (screws in bottom of shoes). There was conflicting weather and road condition reports. In the end, I decided to put some screws in the bottom of my Continental Divides. I’d used yak trax in the past, yet this would be my first time with screws. So, courtesy of Serge Arbona I put 9 screws in the bottom of each shoe. There was some icy conditions on the dirt roads and because since my ’05 hammie injury I have become more aware of the consequences of slipping. What I failed to consider, when putting the screws in, that they would prevent me from slipping on ice-and promote slipping on rocks! Usually technical running-including rocks is strength of mine-by putting screws in my shoes I unknowingly added just another Hellgate challenge!

I attired myself in shorts, tank top, long sleeve shirt, Houdini jacket, warm hat and gloves and mittens and a Petzel headlamp. In my borrowed Nathan Intensity women’s hydration pack (which I tried for the 1st time-courtesy of Bethany Patterson) I carried my extra light, cliff blocks and shots, Nuun tablets and batteries. Little did I know that 4 miles into the run I would remove my jacket, hat and mittens and stuff them into the cool little pack. I was warm!

AT 11:55pm all the runners gathered at the gate (yes the course really does have a gate as an entry way!) We all sung the National Anthem, jumped up and down from the chill and excitement and with relief at 12:01am, scurried away towards our experiences!

The night went quickly for me. It was very dark. My world was the patch of illuminated trail in front of me. Though I chatted briefly with Steven Core and Jeremy Ramsey, I mostly spent night by myself-yet did have several later encounters with fast Jeremy who was running his 2nd ultra and slowed by “pit stop” issues early on… I found that in order to run as efficiently as I would need to hit the 13-hour mark, I had to not be distracted from running. So I ran and ran and ran (except for a tiny bit of walking somewhere around Floyd’s Field). Contrary to what some people say, I find the nighttime part of this course the easiest to run. It is not technical and the inclines are fairly mild…the 2nd half of the course I think is harder to run-with more rocks and leaves and steeper single-track climbs. I came into Jennings Creek at about 5:35am and ate soup, PB&J square while my hydration bladder was filled up. Sarah Johnson walked me out of the aid station, cheering me on as I drank my soup. When I took my 1st running step I realized I hadn’t checked the bladder screw and it wasn’t put on correctly and I soaked myself with half the water from my pack. Oh what a reminder! -I should have checked the bag before I put in on! The same thing happened during a previous Hellgate. I don’t blame the aid station volunteer one single bit-it is up to me to check…but I didn’t. Even though it wasn’t really cold out, I was grateful that the next several miles were uphill and I would warm quickly! The section from Aid Station 5 to 6 sped by. I had brief mini hallucinations of seeing laundry hanging in the trees and many furry kittens in the leaves on the side of the dirt roads and I got to see a beautiful (real) sunrise running along Cove Mountain. I turned my headlamp off. At this point I was running well, feeling positive and anticipating the single track and leaves and rocks.

VERY soon I got my leaves and rocks. This is where I learned screws and rocks don’t mix and after many attempts at running and falling, I succumbed to shuffling through the leaves, making lots of whooshing sounds as I kicked through them. Though I slowed in this section, I still was targeting a 13-hour finish. In the midst of this section I was psyched to see Jeremy looking great as he bounded over the rocks and leaves-he’d come back to life!!! At AS #7 I met my drop bag and David and another very helpful person assisted me changing my shoes, getting tomato soup, switching my pack for a handheld bottle and helping me out of the aid station. David asked me if I knew the current CR (I am sure he knew full well I did!)…I blurted: “13:01 and something”. He yelled, “Can you do this “in 3 hours and 45 minutes?” “I’ll do my best”, was my hurried response.

This next section was physically the hardest for me. After a mile or so in, I tripped and banged my already bruised left knee. It turned red and I got tears. At first I thought I’d really hurt myself-yet after several minutes of experimental limping discovered I was okay-just shaken up and sore. I slowed down a bit more and came through the friendly aid station #8 knowing I had my work cut out to reach my very challenging goal of sub 13:01. So I ran downhill-encumbered some by the knee-but not so much. I kept looking at my watch as I slogged and shuffled and ran and through this endless section. I got bummed because I was taking so long and the trail wouldn’t end. I got disappointed that I wasn’t there (to the aid station) yet. I felt fairly certain if I could reach the last aid station by 11:50am I could reach my goal. Then I thought 11:55. Then I thought-well-maybe by noon. It didn’t happen. Both my body and mind slowed me down. My “tribe members”(voices in my head) were at war during this section. “Oh just give up your goal it is too hard”. “You don’t have enough time” “You do have enough time!” “You are greedy going after a CR!” “You can do this in more time and still have a great day”. By the time I ultimately reached AS #9 it was 12:22ish. I hiked and ran (plodded) up the hill to the parkway as my knee would allow ran the descent-I cried a little on the way down hill-disappointed with my failure to achieve my goal, a little afraid I’d messed up my knee. At this point I knew I was going to be the first female finisher and that I would be in the top 10 overall (I like seeing women represented that way). I was thinking on my way down that I didn’t want to share my disappointment-after all I would have PR, a win and nothing bad (except for a couple lessons) happened out there. I don’t want to seem like a snob. My introspection abruptly stopped with the arrival of David Horton as his truck.

Charging up the hill like the Lone Ranger on Trigger, David, Andrew (the photographer), and another person I didn’t know approached in David’s truck. Andrew was in the back with his camera and David would drive and Andrew yell commands. David would stop short and Andrew be thrown around the back of the truck. Andrew shot many pictures of me. (If any come out as a result of the bouncing around and stop and go driving I’ll be surprised). This went on for the whole decent from the National Forest. With a mile left to go, David looks at his watch and shouts, “let’s see how fast you can run this last mile!”

There is nothing like being provoked by a challenge to make me instantly respond! The little gang told me to drop my gloves, extra clothes and water bottle and get going. So I did. I continued to be entertained with them taking pictures, yet was pretty focused on running hard. I think the last mile took around 7:20. The whole Hellgate took me 13:26:25. I was relieved to be “home.”

The efforts of the last mile served me by helping me wipe away my disappointment and completely drain myself. The best way to describe how I felt was to think of an old stuffed animal that you hugged so much that the stuffing was lumpy and fur matted and eyes scratched up and it was dull with dirt. I felt ratty and worn out and happy and relieved and thrilled seconds later when I learned of Aaron’s (Schwartzbard’s) CR!

After a shower and light meal of veggie soup supplied by Nancy Horton I settled back with my water and Nuun and swapped stories with other runners. I think I fell asleep standing up a couple of times. It was warm enough to sit outside and cheer other runners in. Many people came to the finish line looking like floppy stuffed animals. Bethany Patterson really touched me with her finish. Kerry, Rebbecah, Sophie and myself were sitting in the grass when she came in. She went blind last year due to the cold and had to drop. This year she experiened milder symptoms yet although she had to slow down, she did not stop. She came to the finish line emotional, yet so tough. What an incredible combination. As the 5 of us sat there getting our picture taken, I felt very proud to be associated with these fine, incredible women!

I think I could write pages about the people and emotions I experienced and interacted with yesterday. Hellgate was way more than a race for me this time around. Although not everyone runs together and every runner has their own successes and disappointments there is an element of passion and shared experience and rawness/authenticity of life that I have felt with no other ultra. The experience of fun in all of life is not essential-yet the authentic, genuine living and sharing of life to the core is!

Thank you my friends.

Friday, November 23, 2007

The JFK 50 miler : An ultramarathon with a multisport feel!

Ooops-I did it again-dinked around with the pictures-and I am trying to figure out how to delete a couple-please put up with me until then!
Saturday was the 45th running of the JFK 50 miler.
When I arrived to pick up my number and “hang out” at the Montrail tent, I realized I’d never participated in such a big running event. I believe there were about 1200 runners issued numbers..and that is with the event filling several months before for the 1x in history!
Here’s a bit about the history of the race by Mike Spinnler, the current RD:
The JFK 50 Mile was first held in the spring of 1963. It was one of numerous such 50 mile events held around the country as part of President John F. Kennedy's push to bring the country back to physical fitness.
When Kennedy was assassinated in November of 1963, most of these events were never held again. The one here in Washington County, MD changed it's name from the JFK 50 Mile Challenge to the JFK 50 Mile Memorial in 1964. The JFK 50 Mile in Washington County, MD is the only original JFK 50 Mile Challenge event to be held every year for the last 44 years. The 45th Annual JFK 50 Mile will be held on November 17, 2007.
Although open to the public, the JFK 50 Mile is in spirit a military race. It always has been and always will be. In 1963, the initial inspiration behind the event came from then President John F. Kennedy challenging his military officers to meet the requirements that Teddy Roosevelt had set for his own military officers at the dawn of the 20th Century. That Roosevelt requirement was for all military officers to be able to cover 50 miles on foot in 20 hours to maintain their commissions. When word got out about the "Kennedy Challenge", non-commissioned military personnel also wanted to take the test themselves as did certain robust members of the civilian population.

On Friday night at the check in I met several other Montrail runners including Eric Grossman, Ragan Petrie (female), Paul Curran…We looked around for Bethany Patterson and Sue Johnson yet didn’t see them. Paul signed more guys up on the existing Montrail Team and opened a women’s team of Ragan, Bethany, Sue and myself. I enjoyed myself for a couple of hours talking with Montrail and other folks. I discussed goals for the race with several people and at first I was a bit stumped with how to answer. Paul asked me if I was going for sub 7…I blew up with laughter and said that was not possible…yet I wanted to better my PR on this distance which was currently Bull Run ’05 at 7:40ish. Yet I knew when I said this that it wasn’t 100% true. I wanted a shot at top 3…and based on history and calculating odds-I would have a good shot at a top finish if I could run 7:20 or better. So I amended my articulated goal and started to say it out loud. When I do that it helps me stay more committed to what I perceived to be and especially challenging goal.

So after a quiet night at the Microtel Inn and being in much dilemma about shorts or ½ tights –(wound up in shorts)-I made my way to the exciting start of JFK 50 ’07.

At the start line I briefly met Sue Johnson and had a chance to wish Anne and Mark Lundblad well. I knew Anne would run well and would likely win unless something very bad happened to her. Yet I thought I still might run up until the Towpath near her. Or not. My focus wasn’t on Anne or anyone in particular as we started out-I varied between people watching-so many runners with such different ideas of race wear-and consentrating on running strong but not hard.

The AT section (multisport part I)
This section came and went very fast for me. I loved it! Though I really like technical terrain-this was a pretty mild section of the AT and I was grateful for that as we ran over rocks and through millions of leaves. The swichbacks heading down towards the Cliffs were an absolute riot and the 5am starters were very generous with giving right away to those of us from behind. Anne and I swapped positions 2x-ultimatly she left the AT about 30 seconds ahead of me and I had fleeting glimpses of her green shirt for about 20 minutes on the towpath…but she flew Anne Lundblad style and I plodded on, Annette Bednosky style! (Although I really wasn’t plodding tooo slowly-).

Towpath (part II)
I’d heard wretched things about the towpath. (boring, boring, boring, etc!) I was determined to love it! After all-my hammie troubled me when running up hills and fast on flats and I would be doing neither during this 26+ miles of flat stretch!
I did love the towpath! (though I’d never trade in my trails for it!) The towpath was easy to run on, populated with tons of encouraging people. I really liked “back and forthing” with runners and checking in and encouraging each other. I also hugely appreicatied the cheering and support from the 5am starters! They really pushed me on! Other runner’s crew members were as equally encouraging as the miles unfolded. I got to “ping pong” with some of the members of the Navy Team at this point! I noticed the 5am starters wore lots of clothes and carried packs-yet I was one of the few 7am starters to be carrying a pack. Did others have a crew? Or am I more high maintaince than so many others? (Please DO NOT answer that ☺)! During the first half of the towpath I thought perhaps I might be able to go under 7 hours…yet I couldn’t quite maintain my pace and reality struck (as it usually does for me around mile 35-40) and I slowed down quite a bit.

Though I enjoyed the predictability of the towpath, I was not sad at mile 42ish to see the turn to pavement!

Hilly Pavement (part III)
The run in was all on mildly hilly road shoulder. These roads were not highly trafficked and the hills were a nice break for the muscles that had worked the in the same was during the flats in the preceeding hours and I found myself getting a “2nd wind”. Sponsoring the aid stations on this segment I noticed more aid stations run by young cross country teams and their coaches/parents? Thank you guys and gals! On the road portion mileage markers were visible each mile. Somehow I missed mile marker 5-so I was thrilled when marker #4 appeared-knowing I’d be done in ½ an hour!

Following the cones into town and up the hill to the finish line was very exciting to me. I was happy to be concluding this long effort-yet I was also very pleased with myself too. The mantra “you are strong and steady” still stuck with me, although I’d already said it to myself 200 times that day! I finished 23rd over all, 2nd woman with a time of 7:10:29. Later at Brightroom I saw pictures of myself I looked as joyful as though I’d just won and set a new World Record! But alas, I did neither, and am still grateful to be recovering from my hamstring ordeal that originated 2 years ago and delighted to feel good almost all day long (except for when it hurt! ☺ -from effort, not hammie!)

The Montrail women's team never quite materialized and the men's Montrail Team handily won the team event! The Navy guys won the Military division, Anne got 1st place and Michael Wardian was 1st man. Complete results at:

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Mountain Masochist November 3, 2007

(pictures courtesy of Sue Norewood)

Saturday’s run was hard. I cried (with relief) crossing the finish line. I have run Masochist 4 times now, and this time the race really earned its name with me.

This time last year, my hamstring healing was still precarious so I worked aid stations
instead of running. This year I was overjoyed to be again at the other side of an aid station table. I wanted to run smartly (without overdoing it and straining my hammie) AND I wanted a top 3 position in order to feel pleased and to “do justice”(even in a small way) to my sponsors: Montrail, Nathan, Clifbar, Petzel and 1st Endurance. These companies have supported the ultrarunning community and me for the past 3 years and I am proud of my association. I wasn’t sure if running conservatively and placing as a top finisher could be accomplished…Nikki Kimball, Krissy Moehl, Bethany Patterson, Justine Morrison and several other “known” and “unknown” fast women were there. It would be a challenge to stay within myself and not get spooked by the strength of others.

The weather was perfect-mid 30’s –mid 50’s…gusty winds…aid stations were fabulous and excellently staffed.

Nikki and I ran side by side the first the first few miles and were quickly joined by 21 year old Sebrina Moran and Bethany. Although I was enjoying our conversations very much, their pace was faster than what I needed to be doing while still on the pavement so I backed off and comfortably settled in to my own rhythm as 4th female, keeping a keen eye on Bethany and Sabrina for the first 15ish miles. Sabrina is an excellent climber and is less experienced on technical downhills. Bethany is a dynamo on the downs.

The miles passed and I alternated between running and “plampering”. Since my hamstring injury I have learned to “plamper” (cross between a plod and very slow scamper) up the hills instead of engaging the muscle to stretch the way it must when power hiking. This technique works well for everything but very steep technical hills. Somewhere around mile 12, just as I moved past Sebrina on a downhill, Bethany took off, flying away ahead of me-her tiny pony tail and blue Montrail jersey leaving vapor in her wake. I was feeling happy for Bethany for running well and wondered how the day would continue to unfold.

I got chat some with Carl Lainiak on route to Hwy 60, yet for the most part I journeyed alone much of the day. I crossed Hwy 60 at around 4:20. Rather than describing bit by bit all the rest of the run I will say Sebrina and I crisscrossed a couple of times, she rolling by me on the ups and me by her on the downs. Going into the loop I was informed that Bethany was 3 minutes ahead and Nikki about 10 minutes. I enjoyed the loop. I love single track trail and because I’d been running conservatively earlier, could enjoy the ups and downs of the rocky, leafy trail. (Though fly down hill I did not-the leaves were quite abundant and thick in places).Bethany had twisted her ankle and moving slowly at the moment I caught up to her just before the end of the loop.

As I moved out of Salt Log Gap Aid station, Bethany checked in. With Bethany right behind I did my best to plamper and then slowly “march” up the hill to the next aid station where I got cheered on by my good friend Amy Albu. Amy was working the aid station. If she were running this year, she’d have been the youngest person to receive a 10 year jacket. Yet several weeks ago she learned she was pregnant and because of a few personal “unknowns” she was unable to follow through with her plan of running Masochist ‘07. I admired Amy’s selflessness and willingness to show up and be on the “other side” of the table this year. I could relate as I was in a similar position last year, but I think I was far less graceful than Amy! Amy shared some heartfelt encouragement and I went away down the trail-to the “long” 7 miles ahead!

From past experiences, I knew the section to the next aid station to seem like long miles…yet I was looking forward to these-after the initial climb-there is much fun downhill. Not long after setting out on this section I caught sight of Sebrina and one of her friends. Earlier that day she mentioned one of her friends would join her on “the loop”-yet was surprised to see she still had her companion/pacer with her and it seemed they intended to finish together. I instantly wondered if this was allowed? I understood the loop being a common place to run with friends-yet for 17+ miles-that didn’t seem to be part of the “level field” for a front runner. I wondered if Horton had any sort of policy? I know some RD’s do. I wondered if Sebrina finished with her pacer-would she be disqualified? She was running very well and that would really be a bummer. I didn’t know if I should say anything or not. If there was a policy than saying something would be good-if there wasn’t one –would I be out of place? No matter what I did my intentions were with the deepest respect for her and the sport. So, in the true Annette Bednosky style, I said something.

I told her I didn’t know what the policy was but I was afraid that if there was one she could be DQ’d and shared my reasoning about being on equal ground as a front runner. I hoped I came across as respectful and didn’t step on any toes. The next time I saw Sebrina she was without her companion.

With all my ethical wondering about the above interaction, this section went by very fast and the down hills and sense of getting closer to the end fueled my enthusiasm for finishing. I used lots of self talk this day and positive imaging. I am pretty good at doing this in races and am working on using these tools in other parts of life!

This run was work. It was hard. (It was fun too). Finding the balance between competing and meeting my body where it is “at” was hard for me. Juggling position all day long too was a strain mentally. Though I sort of knew where Bethany and Sebrina were all day-I had no clue where everyone else was. I finished in 2nd place in 8:43:42 , my 2nd slowest time on the course. In 2005, I also got 2nd in a time of 7:55: 52. Go figure! This day Sabrina took 3rd at 8:49:36 with Nikki winning in 8:31:42. Bethany wound up with serious throwing up issues and finished a few places after.

I am grateful to Bethany and Sebrina for the physical and mental push during the 2nd half of the course. I also thank David Horton for designing this fine and challenging course and for encouraging and pushing me, and to his wife, Nancy for reminding me to fill my water bottle Aid Station 10 when I became discombobulated due to finding my drop bag missing! It was fabulous to see old friends and meet new ones-and in conclusion I wish Clark Zealand well on his journey Into The Masochist this coming year!

Monday, October 8, 2007

Talking the whole time: A shared adventure at Triple Lake Trails 40

Beginning of Triple Lakes Trail 40 miler, Greensboro, NC 10/6/07 Picture courtesy of Laura MacLean

Question: Why did the runner leave the awesome trails and mountains of western North Carolina to spend a day running in Greensboro, NC?

Response: Because the runner was curious.

Ever since hearing of the Triple Lakes Trail runs I have been wondered about how there could be a trail ultra smack in the middle of Greensboro, NC? I’d been to Bur Mil Park in the past for some cyclocross racing, yet I never remembered the area being vast enough to accommodate an ultra. The website educated me about the watershed system trails and I began to understand!

After my frustrating experience on the Iron Mountain 50 course last weekend where I had to “pit stop” often (due to giardia that I was diagnosed with 3 days ago) I was pleased to find that since I did not “go all out” I had some legs left to run Triple Lake 40. My goal last weekend was to run hard and since I did not accomplish that and the Flagyl antibiotic I am taking is helping with the giardia symptoms, I thought I would do my best to “run hard” in Greensboro. I wanted to see if I could push my self without my hamstring seizing up. After reviewing past results of the 40 miler and learning what I could about the terrain, I chose a goal of running under 6 hours.

The morning of the race, I was happy to reunion with many NC running friends and was excited to see my Montrail/Nathan teammate and awesome human being, Bethany Patterson readying to run. I met Bethany the night before my 1st ultra at Uwharrie in 2003. She went on to set the CR on that course the next day. Since then we have run in many of the same events and have had brief interactions on the trails-depending on the event or year, we would finish ahead or behind one another. Little did I know that today we would do neither.

The run started out on pavement and after a mile or so moved to dirt. I don’t remember much about the terrain as I was immersed in the conversations of the runners surrounding me. As the field filed into single track Bethany and I took to running with one another, chattering the whole way. We talked running, work, food, gear, relationships…a huge variety of topics. I learned Bethany doesn’t run with a watch…I can’t imagine-I use mine regularly as a reality check and to either keep me from going to fast or being lazy!

The course was well marked and it was easy to “zone out” and not pay attention to route finding. Before I knew it, the out and back turn around came. Some where along the run I shared with my running companion that I hoped to run under 6 hours and speculated that if we kept what we were doing, we’d both make a serious dent in the CR. I was feeling good and Bethany reported the same. We commented that we felt like we were on a long training run together. At the turn around it was around 2:44. At this point there was still cloud cover and we ducked back into the trees for our return.

I first felt the heat 5 or 6 miles later at a sunny aid station, and swallowed another Succeed and put a Nuun tablet in my water. I was grateful for grabbing Clif Blocks out of my drop bag, because for me, they go down easier than real food in the heat. On the return Bethany and I got separated a couple of brief times-a pit stop and bothersome stomach caused her to slow for a little while. I slowed a tiny bit-but not much-because as much as I was celebrating running with Bethany, I still really wanted to run sub 6 hour and was spot on pace for that-I felt certain that she’d catch back up-and she did- within 10 minutes or so I felt the bobbing of the shared boardwalk as she bounded up behind me.

In the several minutes I was alone-I appreciated the woods, the feeling of solitude. I appreciated the joy of running and the memory of my sister Cheryl, and my Dad whom I think of at some point during every race.

Not long after passing the aid stations with the 2nd drop bags we passed several marathoners walking. They spoke words of encouragement to us and we to them as we continued our jaunt back to Bur Mil Park. For me, somewhere around mile 32 I started to feel the day’s effort: my hammie was getting sorer, my stomach not being psyched about the Coke I swallowed and I tripped again. (I took 3 falls in total during the run-more than usual…I attribute it to talking instead of concentrating on my footing! Sometimes I am not good at multi-tasking!) Bethany and I had longer stretches of quiet…I couldn’t help but wonder if she too was starting to feel the effort?

Usually I am a fully competitive person-complete with a secret dorsal fin and “Jaws” theme music oozing from my pours. Yet today was different –I only felt like racing Bethany for a little while-but didn’t act on it …I am not sure that it was my time goal that kept me from wanting to compete-or just enjoying the lack of stress from not racing…I think it was a bit of both. For me, mental burnout comes faster than physical burnout and because I have done a couple of hard competitive events in the last month (The New River Trail Challenge and little Railroad Grade Run 5k-Iron Mountain doesn't count so much due to the circumstances...) and am looking to go full out at Mountain Masochist 50 next month, I felt good about putting “Jaws” on hold. As the mile markers ticked by-eventually we discussed what our plans for finishing were. Were we going to race one another or finish together? After a quick discussion, finishing together in less than 6 hours was the goal that felt the best.

We continued to run and I look at my watch and announced that we were perfectly on schedule. I was becoming increasingly focused as we were only 2 miles away with 19 minutes left…mountain bikes would come rolling down the trail and I did not stop to give them passage. As a fellow mountain biker (admittedly very timid and unskilled) I know the rules of the trail and this day I was going to take advantage of having a cyclist yield to us! Bethany was so gracious-thanking them and apologizing for being in the way. I was not so kind and didn’t say much -probably coming across arrogant like I owned the trail. I admired her politeness and reminded myself that this was something I need to work on…yet time was of the essence and stopping to yield to mountain bikes would have taken more time than I thought we might have. A needless worry because it turned out, we emerged onto the grass at about 5:55ish and quickly plodded our way around the pond. We crossed the finish line together at 5:57:35!

Triple Lakes Trails 40 miler is a very well done event due to the clear course markings, sufficient aid at good locations and intervals. The website provided ample information to be prepared and opportunity for drop bags was helpful. Bur Mil Park, is a perfect race venue-ample parking, porta potties and on a day like Saturday-lots of open space for luxurious sunshine. One runner described the course as a “flat Uwharrie”. I can see the similarities: plenty of roots, curvy trails, and road crossings. Yet this course is also varied-it is mostly flattish with a few “get your attention” hills in the last 3rd. Hardwood forests with smattering of pine groves complete with pine straw running carpet in places.

After the event and the day after I felt pretty “wiped out”, bruised and happy about Saturday’s run. Triple Lakes Trail Run was a lesson to me: Mountains are not a necessity for a great trail ultra. A generous amount of single track trails, helpful volunteers, willing race director and bunches of other passionate people really made for a fabulous and challenging day!

Monday, October 1, 2007

Iron Mountain 50

Wow, what a day Saturday was! I looked forward to the day, trained for it and pined for it when overwhelmed at work when all I wanted to do for weeks is the freedom of running hard for hours at a time with nothing else to worry about!
Early Saturday morning my friend Perry Edinger( in the state briefly from his home in AZ) drove over to the start in Damascus-me in my down jacket and Perry with chattering teeth as we tried to stay warm for the 42ish degree start temperature.
I wanted to run in 8ish hours. Even with my inconsistentcy in hard workouts due to hamstring flareups-I still thought I was well trained for a "go consistent on the ups and flats and fly the downhills" because rarely does my hammie bother me on the down hills ('cept for when I stumble)...

The first 10 miles went fast-being fully on pace for an 8 hour finish...yet a stumble here and there and stomache "issues" appearing after 4 more miles...the last 36 miles of the run seemed more of a contest to see how many pit stops I could make. I didn't feel sick-just unsettled and quickly ran out of rump soreness from prickly leaves quickly added to the frustration of not being able to run well. The harder I ran -especially the more I pounded the wonderful technical downhills-the jostling in my belly would demand a pit stop. So the slower I ran-the less stopping had to happen. I have only had this phoenomena 3x before..out of 50+ ultras...each during 100 mile runs somewhere around mile go figure-what was going on?

It seemed that all day long I heard runners just ahead of me and as I would look forward to catching up-ooopps-time to take a break. Sigh. Yet I was not having a bad day-just a frustrating one! Perry reported having a cruddy day-legs leaving him limp because of too many previous miles...makes sense-the Iron Mountain is a toughie-runnable for sure-yet still makes you work and gets your attention and I think 150+ mile weeks all summer that Perry packed in finally caught up and made him slow way down. Perry and I chatted briefly with 8 miles left to go-he planned to walk some-I didn't know where the next woman was, didn't want to be passed-and although I lost my shot at 8 hours and then 8.5 long ago-I was still in range for my next goal of 9 hours...I knew Bethany Patterson ran in a little over 9 hours the previous year and I wanted a shot a the CR-And my ego wanted to come in at least under an hour past my goal time!
Fortunatley my body cooperated and only demanded 2 more pit stops and pretty soon the descent down Mock Holler came sooner than expected. I knew I needed to hit pavement and 1 mile left to go my 8:50. I got there in 8:46 and motored (by end of 50 mile ultrarunning standards anyway!)...crossed some roads, shared the VA creeper trail with dozens of famllies and kids on bikes and trikes-almost tripping over a few in my eagerness to not be stuck in "traffic"...I pulled in to the Damascus Gazebo at 8:57:16...relieved, tired and sort of content...Happy not to have been passed by another woman..and to have run sub 9:00...yet not satisfied...

I quickly put on more clothes, drank some Clif Recovery and was settiling down to drink water and stretch when Perry hurried across the finish...Great job...I know he was bummed-yet I still cheered-he has been through alot this year-and has pushed his body far...I don't know him well-but celebrate his small part in my life (and the fact he let his awesome kitty Mama Grey move in with George and I when he moved this past April). We didn't stick around for long-I was feeling puny due to lack of calories over the day-and Perry needed to get up at 3am in order to drive to Charlotte to fly back to AZ to be back at work Sunday night....

Now a few days later, I am able to articulate my lack of satisfaction...not so much due to "stomache issues"...but because I didn't push myself as much as I hoped to. I wanted to see how my hammie would do. Yes it was sore from some stumples and my approach to hills since the injury is different..yet I really want to to be strong again...and I'd hoped to use this race as a tool to see how I am doing? I queston myself-did I subconsciously create the belly thing from having to not face my hammie? Am I a "has been" who now makes excuses? I really can't be sure! Because the stomach thing is not common with me I have a hard time figuring out what happened? Was it physical or a physical effect of my psyche?
I did enjoy Saturday-and am pleased with the "win" (and awesome finishers shirt)...yet I think I will be unsettled until I can push as hard as I can w/o being dumb and see what happens-stomache? Fear? Hammie? Sigh. My personal mystery continues!

If you are reading this -make plans to come to Damascus for the Iron Mountain 50M next year. I can honestly say that based on terrain, challenge,variety, placement of aid, race director and volunteers, that it is easily on my top 5 list of favorite ultras. It is worth traveling to. It is tough-yet runnable- And If not tough enough-run it faster! I really hope to next year! Actually-I'll keep things in perspective-last year I was still so injured I worked aid stations for the whole morning and went to the gym in the evening to work out on the elliptical trainer-because I was still having trouble running fast enough to break a sweat!

The next day (Sunday) one of my friends RD'd a new off road duathalon 30min driving from where we live (Dark Mountain Challenge). I participated in the 4 mile run, and 14 mile bike ride to support her and her event...There were 26 participants and I think I finished 3rd from last! Yet it was a good slow motion day for me. (I am sooo scared on a mtn bike I don't think I'd have been much improved even without Iron Mtn day before!)

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Laurel Valley 2007

This photo is courtesy of Irene Baker.
Laurel Valley 30mile-or 35 mile run-depending on your references happened 1 week ago. Due to craziness of canning fresh produce and dealing with working more hours during these last 2 weeks of school (yes-we started public school with students in Ashe County NC on 8/8/07!)

I didn't know what to expect. It was hot in the NC mountains where I live. 90+ degrees and I knew it would be hot down in SC. The day before Greenville set a record with 105! Ouch! Laurel Valley was to be my kick off run into serious fall training for events like Iron Mountain 50M and Mtn Masochist 50M. I wasn't trained-not really. After WS100 I have been concentrating on the bike with the idea of riding well at the Brutal 100 in my current hometown on 8/11/07,-that would meen taking 1/2 hour off my best time. So..although I have run some-not more than 100 miles since WS100 on JUne 24. I have however put in many hours of biking.

One week make a long story short...Night before the run I slept at Laurel Mountain Inn (awesome place 45min from the end) and met folks for a shuttle at 5am at the run's terminus at Whitewater FAlls. (The trail is in SC...and road in NC!...)

We started at 6:30am. My goal was to spend as little time on the trail as possible. Ironic isn't it...what I love so much-pure trail running....I want to finish up! Go figure. Personal challenge and even low-key competition are fine motivators for the author of this rambling blog!

I can some my experience of LV in a few words: Fun! Hot! Frustrating! Hot! Fun! Holy Cow...this is the finish! This low-key event is one of my favorites due to it's remotness and need for self sufficiency...I purposely don't study the map, or plan a stragedy-because I simply want to run with how I feel and experience the day as it unfolds....Laurel Valley is a celebration of wildness, roadlessness, the human spirit and the gift of RD Claude Sinclaire and his volunteers and sweeps...

My most consistent companion of the day was my Nuun tablets. I was able to produce a CR at 6:29:32. I attribute that to rest (biking instead of running)-having a good attitude and my Nuun tablets. They are a team sponsor and a great product. No calories, but flavored electrolyte replacements. I took no plain H2O, but every t ime I scooped agua out of a little creek-I added a tablet and viola! A minute later I was replentishing! I don't mean to sound like a commercial-yet I will now be more religous about my consumption of these tablets during hot events. If you are reading this and plan to be in attendence at any event I am planning to me and I'll bring you a sample.. .these little treasures are too good to keep secret.

I enjoyed Laurel VAlley. You can't space out. YOu must think and be alert to stay on course. I got blisters. So much for pretty pink toes in my sandles to work. After this run (as I go into training for fall events..."hello clogs!". Hide those feet in every way!)

Sigh. I rode the Blue Ridge Brutal 100 + assult on Mtn Jefferson today and am wasted. Tomorrow I plan on a miniture post about that cycling event!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

On the bike!

This photo was taken in downtown Asheville 10 minutes after George just finished our last 50 mile leg of the 200 mile relay...
Just a quick blurb about George and I's team, called "Biking Buddies" experience with the inaugral Black and Blue double century. The ride started at 6am Saturday July 21 and rolled and climbing through 200+ miles to downtown Asheville. George and I formed a 2:2 team-2 people each riding two 50 mile stints. I got the easy end of the deal-with much less climbing than George-yet 100 miles on a bike for a person not in great bike shape is still a challenge!
We really had a great time! 15 teams started. Teams were anywhere from 1 person (4 people rode 200 miles) to 8 people...I think this event deserves to, and will grow! We rode through some beautiful areas-very "off the beaten path" and very representative of riding in WNC. I believe 14 teams finished, with George and I being in 9th place with a time of just about 12:30. Official results will appear son on

What's next? This coming Saturday is a metric century called "Pain, Hurt and Agony"...My self imposed lay off from serious running ends in 2 weeks-I am really starting to miss running, yet it has been good for my psyche to focus on a different physical outlet for a little while!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Unlikely Magazine Page

A little over a month ago I was contacted by Jonathan Poston, a writer from Asheville who wanted to know if I would be willing to have some of my "favorite things" photographed and featured in a 1 page spread. He was looking for a female athlete. In the past the magazine had profiled favorite things of chefs, writers and artists. I was hugely flattered. The photo above is a little glimpse of the page. It will be on newstands in the Southeast 'till mid September.

Monday, July 9, 2007

A surprise at Rattlesnake 50k

Rattlesnake 50k, Kanawha State Forest, Charleston, WV, July 7, 2007
The first picture is Dennis Hamrick, Sean Andrish and me, the 2nd photo was me 200' from the finish. I am trying to figure out how to remove this duplicate photo at this time!

OK. I’ll come out and say it. The biggest reason for me running this event on July 7, ’07 was to redeem myself to myself from my “low of ’06” when I almost hyperventilated from frustration and distress. This time last year, while feeling out my healing “hamstring injury” I ran this event and had a very tough time. If it weren’t for the companionship and sharing of awesome human and great runner, Rick Grey, I would have likely fell apart. Rattlesnake ’06 was one of the roughest days I have had on the trails…. I did finish last year , yet it was almost overwhelmingly humbling and not a bit satisfying.

Fast forward to ‘-07…Rattlesnake was a great surprise!

I chose to run this event for 3 reasons: 1) I would not be in CO acclimatizing for HR 100, 2) George already had plans for this weekend to paddle The New River in WV, 3) I was feeling better than last year and wanted to stop “dreading” the course-best way to do that was to go out an run it!

The day was warm even at the 6:30am race start. I saw many familiar faces-and met many new ones. To keep this post from being overly lengthily I’ll refrain from listing these great folks! From the Montrail team besides myself was Courtney Campbell and Sean Andrish. Like myself, Sean had run WS100 two weeks before.

With WS only 2 weeks behind me and my total running not exceeding 25 miles total since (I have been doing long road and cyclocross rides on my bikes)…I didn’t have a clue with how I would respond. I have also been working pretty diligently on my posture and doing exercises I received while at the SPEED Clinic at UVA last month and hoped that at least I was starting to adopt more of a correct running form.

Rattlesnake is an up and down course and with my hamstring limitations I have had a hard time running uphill and running fast. This wasn’t true on Saturday! My hamstring/legs felt great! I could feel my glutes working and my abs too. I am starting to get a sense for the 1st time about how to engage my “correct” muscles to run! And it makes things a whole lot easier! I did have some issues with the bottom (balls) of my feet cramping and burning-it would come and go-pretty uncomfortable at times…only thing I can think of is that it is from riding the bike-I jumped right into spending hours clipped in to my pedals after barely touching the bike for 8 months…I plan to pursue what might be causing this-but hope to not get overly alarmed unless it keeps on.

At mile 15.5 I came into aid station #5 and because I was feeling really good I wanted to keep up this pace. 2:21 had passed at this point and I thought I remembered the current course record –earned last year by Anne Lundblad was 4:44…I could not remember the seconds. What did I have to loose? I would run for the CR. There was a fast woman not too far behind me-later I learned her name to be Robin. As long as I was feeling good-why not go for it?

Nick Whited and I ran together for a while-until he succumbed to awful vomiting problems…then I got to run with Greg Goodson for a little bit. All the while I was feeling soo off guard and appreciative of being able to run! I wanted to dance out there, because for the 1st time in 1.5 years, I truly felt great on the trail… I had the perception of flight-the wonderful feeling of freedom that I can feel when my body/mind/spirit and the land all come together! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you to the Universe and to God!

I came through the last aid station with 3 miles left to go-I looked at my watch and elapsed time was 3:19… “I am strong…I am running well-I can run hard-I am so grateful to be alive…go Annette, go..” Thoughts such as these past through my head. I ignored the ones that were trying to make me lazy-thoughts that said, “You have nothing to prove” and “don’t bother, you could still have a 1st place finish and you should be happy with that…”
Of course I’d be thrilled with a 1st place finish-yet since I was feeling really good-I wanted to know what was possible on this day. Focus. Run. Focus. I finished in 4:44:26. I couldn’t have moved any faster those final miles. Anne’s time from last year was 4:44:53.
I was thrilled to have felt good and relieved that my ’07 Rattlesnake didn’t mimic ’06.
I don’t know what my next run will bring-that will unfold as time goes on. I will continue with the bike riding as my focus until mid August and will continue to work on my posture, form and do strengthening/stretching exercises.

Dennis Hamrick also gifted me with the Rosemary Platt award. This award is in honor of his ultra running friend who passed way several years ago due to cancer. The award I think is for someone who has gone through hard time and can celebrate persistence. Receiving this was emotional. What I want to take with me from my experience Saturday is to continue to appreciate what I have and to continue to openly give and receive support from other people…And I look forward to feeling really good out there on the trails again!

Sean Andrish came in 4:01 and change-he was 1st in the men’s race and bettered the current courses CR by almost 10 minutes!

Complete results aren’t available at this time but will be posted at

Thursday, June 28, 2007


Time: 21:15:22, place 28th overall, 6th woman

This past weekend I once again ventured to California for The Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run. This was the 3rd time I’d signed up for the run. In 2005 I had an amazing year of running and won the event in 18:39:02. Last year I had to withdraw my entry due to a lingering hamstring injury. This year, in 2007, though still dealing with limitations from this chronic injury, I chose, with much apprehension to go ahead and run.

Days before I was scheduled to depart NC I had second thoughts about my ability to participate and finish this event. My hamstring had been very irritated and I couldn’t imagine using it for 20+ hours straight. I was scared that I would start the run and have to drop, or that I would be in so much pain that I would limp in at the 30 hour limit…and I am too much of a wimp to want to be out on the trail that long! After some discussions with my physical therapist and Eric Grossman, I put off my departure from Sunday to the Wednesday before the event, this gave me a few extra days to get massage and evaluate my body. As it turned out the extra days gave me the information needed to head to CA. Though I was still in a “set back”, I felt 20% better than the week before so I figured by Saturday, I might just feel 20% better than when departing!

During the long journey out, I read parts of the book The Secret, loaned to me by a friend who thought it would be helpful to boost my confidence and encourage positive thinking.

I arrived in Alpine Meadows, just a few miles from Squaw Valley and joined Paul Curran of Portland, Hiroki Ishikawa of Japan and Eric Grossman from VA in the Montrail House. We were a tiny crew and would be joined by several others the next day. It was good to be back in CA. I missed the clear night sky, smell of Douglas Fir, and anticipated the dry warmth of the Sierra sun.

Thursday was spent running; hanging out and being interviewed for an NBC TV program called Jeep World of Adventure Sports which will feature WS 100 2007 and will be aired 3pm EST on July 28th. The show is for a general audience who doesn’t know much, if anything about ultraruning. A camera crew came to the Montrail house and interviewed Bev Abbs, Andy Jones-Wilkens, Eric Grossman, and myself. One of the questions they asked caused me to start to cry. When asked, “What is your greatest fear when thinking ahead to Saturday-the sun, the climbs…”? I promptly responded, “My greatest fear is to (gulp)…dnf.” My confidence was very, very low and I knew I had to focus on having a good attitude or fear would take over.

Friday I ran/walked the first couple of miles of the course, did medical check in. Anne Lundblad and I were interviewed together by Shannon Farar-Griefer for a promo film on WS100. Anne seemed tough as always and psyched and ready to go for Saturday. I learned that both camera crews would be following runners during the event and we could expect to see them again. Friday afternoon I also got reacquainted with Eric Ellison who I met at American River 50 miler in April who would crew and pace me the last 20 miles. Paul Curran would pace from Foresthill to the River Crossing.

Many people whom I’d met in ’05 wondered if I was nervous to be racing Nikki and Kami. To a few I confided that my injury was still giving me limitations and I wasn’t in the same league as them. I planned on a 20-22 hour pace. There was a part of me disappointed not to be back strong and race ready. There was a MUCH bigger part of me just thrilled to be back and readying to run at all! I was determined to have a good day. I figured if I could get a top 10 position I will surely be stronger by next year and can come back. I know WS will be there! Whether Saturday would be successful for me would be measured by attitude and mood, rather than time and place.

Saturday came and we finally started running. I came out very slow-my running limitations include having to walk (not power hike) up hills that I used to run. Fortunately I can run flats, downhill and mild up hills. I moved slow and steady with many passing me. I concentrated on the sunrise around me and saying to myself 2 phrases I would repeat 100+ times to myself during the hours, “ You are having a great day.” “You are getting stronger”.

The sun rose. We climbed the escarpment. People cheered. We winded around and down the mountains. Fun! Beautiful! Flowers-marshes, dirt-dust-snakes, familiar faces. Some people commented on me not being “up there”. I tried to think very little about pace and place. Scott Mills cheered me into Lyon Ridge aid station-10.7 miles with elapsed time of 1:58. The camera crews were at Red Star Ridge (16miles, 3:03) and I noticed one of the men was very good at running uphill and backwards with a huge camera. I was grateful just to be carrying my tiny pack and 2 water bottles. I was having a great day!

A mile or so later came the most significant experience of WS 2007 for me. I caught up with a figured walking up a hill with an ipod on. I did a double take and was suddenly sad. My friend Perry must be going through a tough time because he was trained and primed to run an 18-hour race. This was Perry’s 1st 100 miler without his wife. She passed away from cancer 2 months ago and he was missing her. I wanted to walk with him for a bit, but he pushed me on and told me to run my own race.

I continued forward and erupted into sobs as I ran. I sobbed because I was sad for Perry. Because I missed my Dad who died almost 2 years ago from cancer. I thought about the unknowns in life. I thought about George. I knew that whatever unfolded for me as personal successes or disappointments this day-I had someone to go home who loved me and I loved back. I was instantly reminded of the true value of my relationship with George. Although we both consider our relationship to be healthy, it must be nurtured and fed in order to grow. I thought about my plans to run Hardrock 100 and being gone for 20 more days right after this trip. I instantly knew that I needed to stay in NC for the majority of the summer. My drive to run HR this summer disappeared. I thought about wanting to actively value what George and I have together. I thought no more about it. It wasn’t a decision made on a thought level, but one on a gut and intuitive level. (Later as I ran along I hoped my withdrawal from HR would open up a place for Scott Br who so desperately wants to run this year…)

Duncan Canyon was fun-a welcome change from the long dirt roads I experienced last time running this event. In Duncan Canyon I briefly caught up with Meghan Arbogast and we chatted for a few minutes until the trail went up and she ran and I crept.

“I am having a great day and getting stronger”.

Tons of cheering volunteers and crewmembers greeted us a Robinson Flat, mile 29, elapsed time 5:43.Camera crews were there. One guy ran with me out of the aid station and pulled his “running backwards up hill with his camera” trick. At the time I was being filmed tearing into a Clif Bar with my teeth and stuffing chocolate in my face when trying to keep moving forward. All I could think was that at an ultra is one of the few places an adult could act like a 4 year old and it was acceptable. I wiped my nose with the back of my dusty hand. Oh this will be “flattering” coverage!

The climb to Devils Thumb (47.8)was tough. I crept. I was inspired by Caren Spore doing her 1st 100 as she scampered by. She looked great and I predict her to be competing for a win next year. I kept creeping and Meghan passed again. I got bummed because I was moving sooo slow. I just didn’t have the hamstring/glute strength or balance to move faster. Even creeping people finally top out at 9:10 and everything got better after the longest and steepest hill on the course!

Eight miles later I saw Eric Grossman at Michigan Bluff. His stomach was giving him a hard time. I hoped it would get better fast for him. I was in and out of the AS in less than a minute.(11:00) Again I was passed by Meghan-she was still clean and her shirt still white. She sponges herself off at aid stations and likes to stay clean. She is good at it! This explained how we were so close together when clearly she was running way more strongly than I!

I hit a low point about 3 miles before Foresthill. Hot spots on my foot, shaky. Frustrated at my slow movement. Poor me. I needed an attitude shift. I planned a foot care stop at Foresthill and to eat some soup. I would also exchange my pack for another handheld bottle to hopefully relieve the stomach cramps that were starting. At Bath Road to my delight Paul and Eric walked down to accompany to Foresthill. (One of 2 spots on the course crew can join you running). They helped me with my attitude and once fueled and foot fixed Paul and I tore out (at least that is what it felt like!) and headed towards the River. “I am having a good day and getting stronger”. At 12:21, I was on pace for 20 hours.

The next section rocked! What fun. Though I certainly didn’t fly on it-the downward roll kept things moving for us (although my creepy uphills were getting even slower). We talked. We sang Sound of Music and Eye of the Tiger. Paul vaulted over a fence. I ate more soup. Sweet stuff sounded gross. We reached the Rucky Chucky crossing (mile 78) just as they turned the lights on. It was still light-just starting to get dark. The cold water felt great and the volunteers in their long waders were another dose of positive attitude. Eric met us on the other side and after changing my shoes, the 3 of us walked up the hill together to Green Gate where we turned our lights on. After waving bye to Paul, Eric and I ran out of Green Gate. With 20 miles left to go I was still psyched. The change of shoes and walk up the hill put me behind on my 20 hour pace. That was fine. I was going to do my best despite how long this would take. We ran and talked and ran. I was slowing some. I had to make a few sudden pit stops-with and without porta potties….but I still felt pretty good…(and I was having a great day!) I knew at this point I was in 8th place and wanted to maintain my position in order to finish in the top 10. At some point before Auburn Lake Trails I caught up to Anne. She and Mark were stretching on a tree. I wished her well and continued on. We passed Kami just before No Hands Bridge. She was with her pacer and she was moving slow. I knew she was having a rough day in order to still be out on the trail. I knew she must be one tough cookie to keep on going with whatever bad was happening to her.

Forward motion. No Hands Bridge marks 3.4 miles from the end. We slogged up the hill to Robie Point. I kept looking behind me. This was the 1st time all day I cared about position. I did not want to be passed by ANYONE and kept telling myself I was “having a great day and getting stronger” (though in retrospect at this point I was just getting more stubborn!).

Up and over Robie Point. Through the neighborhoods. I kept asking Eric to look behind us and we smacked the pavement towards the track. No sign of anyone. Good!

Enter the stadium. Bright lights. Not too many people around-sleeping. I ran with joy and appreciation and celebration those last 300 meters. I celebrated my crew, my pacers, George, my attitude, my body’s abilities (instead of it’s limitations), and I celebrated a fabulous, emotional day on the trail. I was finished! (for this year anyway) Yippee!!!

I am home now writing this. This was as powerful in a much different way than winning in 2005. I feel so human and humbled and grateful for George and my life. I cried more during the post race interviews. I had endless patience in the airport the next day as flights were overbooked, luggage locked up and it took me 24 hours longer to get home.

WS 100 was a much-needed break from my crazy, fast life. I am reminded that I create my own realities. The book The Secret came at a good time. Attitude and expectations shape our worlds. Today I am more like the person I want to be than I was this time last week.

My plans for the next month include some ultra “fun runs” with friends and riding my bike in order to prepare for the Blue Ridge Brutal on 8/18. George and I will have some time to play together. Starting tomorrow I am also going to start a new exercise and muscle retraining program I got 2 weeks ago at UVA that will help my hamstring fully heal and help me run with correct posture.

My finish position at WS also put me in 3rd place with the Montrail Ultra Cup and I stopped in Winston-Salem and excitedly spent part of my $500 gift certificate to Fleet Feet Sports on a pair of my 1st road shoes in 3 years! (I think a good move for injury prevention)
I am happy to be home and am doing my best to focus on today-rather than planning my next event. Now it is time to go work in the garden!

Saturday, June 9, 2007

time goes fast

Just this morning I read my email and got a message from a former BFA candidate student who I started undergrad with. Her name is Linda and I have not yet responded to her. This is an awesome connect with the past! I think she located me in part by this blog! I will email her within the next several days...once I have a chance to process my appreciation and reintroduction of
being a musical theatre major at Fredonia State in NY! (Any week of being a musical theatre major exceeds the demands and emotional involvent of a month of training for ultras!

If the planets line up and God is willing, I will be finishing up my WS run a little over 2 weeks from now! I do not anticipating being compettive for a win, yet I am striving for top 5. My "injury" revealed itself this week when I experienced a 4 hour evaluation at a gait analysis appt at UVA. earlier this week. All is not lost, yet I have my work cut out for me! More on "what is wrong" in a day or so...yet for now I encourage everyone who has had recurring injury to have someone knowledgeable check out your posture! The essence of my "problem" prob'ly started as a pre-teen trying to suck my gut in...I need to change my posture and biomechanics will follow. Anyone reading this with a chronic or recurring injury...check your posture...sounds too simple-but NO WAY! it might be the truth!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

another post...

Sigh. At this point I am soo relieved that HS graduation will behind me/us in less than 24 hours...I did a 50 min workout on the elliptical trainer this am, followed by a 4.6 mile run after work...Tired. That is the most honest word I will use. I look forward to the coming soon days where running will seem more fun and less like a PT job!
Ahhhhh. Nothing lasts forever!!

A new blog

Back in February I started a blog on another site. Even with the encouragement of friends I never updated it. Now my high school counseling job is winding down for the summer and I have committed to myself to post regulary and learn how to use this technology!
I am sooo relieved with the ending of the school year where I work at Ashe County High School. Graduation is tomorrow night and I hungrily anticipate another full training weekend and running off the stress of the school year. Nick Whited and I plan 24 miles around Damascus on Sat and I plan 3 laps around the 10.5 mile firetower loop at Moses Cone to further train my quads for Western States next month.
On the "injury" end of things...I have made inquiry today about getting some iontophoresis treatments for that darn hamstring...For now I am dealing with symptom management, yet have made contacts with the folks at UVA Speed Clinic. to continue to try and get to the real problem.