Monday, December 22, 2008

Happy Holidays Everyone!!!

Last week George and I sent out 50+ Holiday cards with these 2 photos of "our family" and the following annual "update"...Happy Holidays to All!

Hi all!

George and I are both wonder how time can go by so fast. It only seems a couple months ago we wrote last year’s “round up”! As with many of you-there have been adventures (fun and hard), celebrations, travel and experiences unique to 2008. Yet in many ways… some things have stayed much the same.

We are happy living at our same address in our red roofed “chalet” facing Mt. Jefferson in Ashe County, NC. Mama Grey, our kitty, is amazing and continues to put up with us. George is still with the National Committee for the New River, and I a school counselor at Ashe County High School. George is doing great in his job and really likes it…I, on the other hand am restless and tired of “hoop jumping” and want to make a change-yet first need to soul search to find what I’d rather do-and waiting for an positive change in the economy would be smart too.

This year, in order to minimize lawn mowing we added 2 flower/shrub gardens, and to grow food, George built a good-sized raised bed veggie garden. We had tomatoes, peppers, chard, onions, some kale, basil, parsley, lettuce and spinach. Sadly the deer got our broccoli and cauliflower before we did! We are both doing our best to “live locally” and happily support the farmers market and independent growers in our quest to do so. We are sharing the canning section of the basement with an ever-evolving wine and beer making laboratory and have pinot grigio, chat dormant, pinot noir, shiraz, blueberry wine, blackberry wine and goldenrod wine and oatmeal stout and an English nut brown ale at varying stages of readiness. I think the wine needs to age and bit more, yet George raves about it even when young. I guess all of us have our own ideas about what is yummy!

George has had a busy year. To speak for The River, he returned to DC in June to lobby for the protection of the New River (he is so good at it and seems to love that sort of social interaction so much-I really wouldn’t be surprised if one day he is working more blatantly in politics!) George also covered many miles on the New River in all 3 states this year. Highlights include a 3-day solo canoe paddle (and portage) in West Virginia. He has rafted parts of the New River Gorge 3x and I joined him for one of those rafting days.

We vacationed too in WV this year…celebrating our anniversary snowboarding at Snowshoe Mountain and in July, rented a cabin in Watoga State Park in WV for 4 days and did lots of bike riding on the Greenbrier trail and surrounding state and national forest.

End of last year I micro fractured a kneecap and took until February to heal…then a few months later wound up with a stress fracture in the other leg! Ugh! My ultra running experiences were puny in 2008. I ran 3 ultras (two 50ks and one 40 miler), 2 trail marathons, 1 road marathon, 2 half marathons, other runs, and assorted “long” cycling events. My endurance highlight this year was race directing my 1st ultra marathon: The New River Trail 50k on 10/11/08. (All proceeds went to the National Committee for the New River). It filled to limit and we had runners from 14 states. It went very well and was named the “Southeast Green Race of the Year” by Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine…yay! The 2009 version will be on 10/10/09. My injuries are much improving; I am again on the roster and with neat running plans with the Montrail Ultra Running Team ’09!

Life just zooms by! If you get a chance, please check out George’s work website at I have a blog: .

Wishing you all health, fun, quality time with those you love, and courage to love and grow in 2009 and beyond!

Peace and Love,
Annette & George

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

USATF Announces USA Trail 10k Championship to be held in Ashe County, NC!

Looking the distance from Laurel Ridge.

Earlier this month USATF announced the 2009 USA 10k trail championships will be August 29 on the trails of Laurel Ridge Camp and Conference Center, in Ashe County, NC!

This is just 24 miles from where I live! (And 34 from Boone and about 100 miles from both the Greensboro and Charlotte airports).

Jason Bryant, member of the LaSportiva Running Team is emerging as a race director for this new course. Jason has been hard at work for number of months…dealing with race logistics and searching for the right combination of facilities and challenge. Though I have never been to the exact trails of Laurel Ridge, I frequently run on the MST along the Blue Ridge Parkway and in Doughton Park which features some of the most challenging climbing in the region.

This is great news for trail runners in the Southeast!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Montrail samples 2009 shoes

Left to Right: The New 2009 Hardrock, 2009 Mountain Masochist and my dear 'ole Continential Divides.

This afternoon I received a pair of sample Montrail 2009 Hardrocks and Mountain Masochists to wear. I know the new HR are reportedly much different from the "old" ones... (less "burly")yet since I have been such a loyal Leona and Continential Divide wearer, going to something more stable and beefy was never necessary. So I personally can't make a comparison to the "old" HR.

Last month I got a chance to see the Mountain Masochist at a pre race meeting for the race with the same name and was intrigued by the lightness and meaningful tread on the bottom.

I had a late night from work today and have only been able to try them on at this point-yet offer these 1st impressions:

Masochist: light. snug heel, low to the ground, narrow toe box (I anticipate needing to tape and glide my little toe on my R foot due to where the middle piece of webbing attaches to the top of the shoe). Arch placement of R and L shoes seem different. I usually use superfeet as an insert, yet will "test" with original insole before switching. Wearing in my kitchen cleaning dishes makes me want to run!

HR: Reminds me of the Gortex Hurricane Ridge. Firm. Generous but not too big toe box. Snug heel. Really cool looking. Lacing system a little complicated for cold/wet hands needing to re tie shoes. They need to be testing on the rocks of the Appalachian Trail asap!

I plan on some good rocky, muddy runs of distance this weekend in the Southern Applachians while so many of my ultrarunning friends are surviving Horton's Hellgate 100k or the Sunmart races in TX!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Mistletoe Half Marathon

Me, Carrie and Meredith outside race central

Yesterday morning 12/6 at 5:25am, I met my training friend Carrie (she ran Boston earlier this year and is now training for a marathon in FL in March) and her friend Meredith who will run the same marathon as Carrie in March- met at a local grocery store parking lot to carpool the 90 miles down the mountain to Winston-Salem, NC to the 25th running of the Mistletoe ½ Marathon. It was 17 degrees at my house at 5:15am and arriving in Winston, somewhere around 28 or 29 with very little wind.

What fun! I usually always travel and run alone! And I did run alone this morning, traveling with these 2 was very fun! I thought is was neat we live in Ashe County, NC and span 3 decades: Meredith in her 20’s, Carrie, in her 30’s and me at 42! We chatted and listened to music on the way down. We rode in Carrie’s new black Ford Focus and I felt a bit like a participate one a TV show I watched in high school: riding in Kit-the car from Nightrider while being exposed to all sorts of new electronics and ways of communicating with the car!

This year’s Mistletoe had 853 registered runners and 768 finishers. Some people dressed like elves and deer or just wore tails. The course was rolling hills and looped around some of the old parts of Wake Forest University.

Though I am not a regular in the Winston-Salem running scene, I saw many familiar faces at this event which is always a cause for shared smiles and waves. I ran this event in 2004 and finished in a little over 1:31. I hoped to beat that time this year. I didn’t. My hamstrings never really loosened up and I have learned not to push in situations like that. Perhaps if it was a longer event, they would have…Anyway, running was great fun-there were a couple of “out n backs” and I could see my “car mates” and share a wave! I pretty much started out as 10th woman and maintained that spot until the end. I finished 45th overall with a time of 1:32:24. Carrie and Meredith were both pleased with their times of 1:45:01 and 2:10:23 respectively. Complete results here.

I was happy to share a morning of travel and running with 2 neat women-and we got back to Ashe County by 12:30pm!

I took a nap with kitty before resuming Saturday afternoon activities!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Birthday running thoughts

This picture is a “self portrait” taken on Thanksgiving-which was my 42nd birthday. I had just returned from a leisurely 12 mile solo trail run in Fairystone State Park in VA. (I even ran into a tree and got a little blood flowing!)

Thsi past year was a challenge. I was often frustrated as I couldn’t run much. I did my first stint as a race director. In my work, I have been challenged to stay positive amidst the politics of public education…I am appreciative of George and my family and the rest of my health. I think my body is healing and I am looking forward to my 2009 calendar.

Last night I sat at my computer staring at my wish list of races and places and felt daunted.

The feeling daunted came from all the choices about ultra and trail runs. A big part of me is soo very greedy: I want to go everywhere, run all the time and not miss out on anything. Yet that is not going to happen. Job, family, finances, body limitations and other responsibilities must balance my running life. Finding greater balance between ultrarunning and rest of life is a big priority for this next year in my life.

My goals for 2009, in additional to staying healthy is to do different sorts of races. And, because I have run very little technical terrain for the past 8 months, to concentrate on more mellow trail terrain for my ’09 races (no Massanutten rocks or Uwharrie roots) and building those muscles back over time. I also will volunteer more at events and find ways to train with friends and companions more often.

I want to run at least 1 Montrail Ultra Cup 08/09 race this year, 1 hundred miler, do my 1st 24 hour event and train for a fast 50k properly. These in addition to several other fine events…

This is what is currently on my “wish list” for ’09:

New Year’s Eve Freedom 6 Hour Run, 12/31/08-1/1/09, Morganton, NC
Frosty 50 km, 1/10, Winston-Salem, NC
Caumsett Park 50 km, 3/1, Long Island
American River 50 M, 4/4, Saramento, CA
24-Hour Adventure Trail Run, 5/2-3, Triangle, VA
Vermont 100, 7/18-19, West Winsor, VT
Tussey Moutainback 50M or Hinson Lake 24 (late Sept or early October).
New River Trail 50k 10/10 (race directing)
Mountain Masochist 50M, 11/7,Lynchburg, VA
JFK 50M, 11/21, Maryland

I am not sure about MMTR and JFK…I will have a few months to consider. As I get ready to post this it is sideways snowing out…yet looking at this race schedule, it makes it easier to head outside instead for a run instead of resorting to the gym!


Friday, October 24, 2008

Life after New River Trail 50k 2008: compartment testing, running with friends, and preparing to aidstation" at Masochist

Photos:Runners in Grayson Highlands-courtesy of Beth Minnick,The needle: Step One of Compartment Testing... Mike Hall from Atayne Products (the cool shirt is his company's design!) and my future aid station partner at Masochist next weekend,

It's been 14 days since the 1st inagural New River Trail 50k. I am finally not exhausted and broadening my vision onto "other parts of life"...yet still working on sponsor and volunteer thank you's... Yesterday results and "the story" were posted on the website.

A few thoughts and hopefully I'll post more later....
I am super psyched about my Montrail Teammates Eric Grossman and Jamie Donaldson!
as they are performing at super elite levels in National and world events. Eric won the USATF National 50 mile championships and Jamie came in 4th at the 24-Hr World Championships.

As for me, I am still dealing with my calf issue. The compartment testing (see teaser photo above) knocks out compartment syndrome and my 2nd round of MRI makes it clear there is no obvious muscular damage or stress injury. SSSooo. I have an MRI/MRA (to look at my veins and "blood piping" )scheduled for Halloween and an EMG (nerve conduction test) the week after that...lots of travel to and fro UVA Medical Center in Charlottesville,VA

Instead of running Masochist, I 'll be working with Mike Hall at the Mid-way aid station on Hwy 60...

I am working on an article for Ultrarunning on Ultras and trash...I welcome ideas and perspectives...more on this later too!

I can run. A little. Up to 45 minutes or even an hour at a time as long as it is not on terrain. So tomorrow on Sat will be my 4th 5k in 6 weeks! I am no speedster-yet it is fun anyway: 9/15: 20:46 flat, 10/4: 20:47 not flat!, 10/18:very flat: 20:07...we'll see what tomorrow brings. At least this will help me remember how to pin on a race number!

I plan on registering for the New Year Eve Freedom Runs this weekend. 6, 12 and 24 hour options. Don't know as if I'll be able to do much-yet I'll sacrifice the 65.00 entry fee just to have an option!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

New River Trail 50k 10/11/08 ...results listed...more info and rambling to follow later this week!

This photo was taken about 2 minutes after runners left the starting area!

Save the date for next year: 10/10/09!
report and photos coming later this week! Results and more info will also be posted on race website.

Some photos from Anita.
A collection George is working on.

New River Trail 50k 10/11/08
102 starters

place name Age gender time From
1 Aaron Saft 30 M 3:25:54 NC
2 Bill Shires 43 M 3:29:54 NC
3 Tad Morris 41 M 3:35:57 PA
4 Nick Whithead 30 M 3:38:09 VA
5 Owen Speer 27 M 3:51:15 VA
6 Thad Pajek 23 M 3:51:22 VA
7 Tom McLean 45 M 3:56:22 NC
8 Derrick Carr 47 M 3:59:46 VA
9 Dennis Norris 44 M 4:05:50 NC
10 Shannon Price 30 M 4:10:31 VA
11 David Dunson 36 M 4:12:11 NC
12 Steve Bognar 56 M 4:15:06 VA
13 Rick Gray 47 M 4:23:33 TN
14 Doug Blackford 61 M 4:23:33 NC
15 Stan Austin 32 M 4:25:37 NC
16 Robert Kern 45 M 4:29:06 NC
17 Robin Weiner 49 F 4:29:21 NC
18 Mark Long 49 M 4:31:59 NC
19 Douglas Andrews 35 M 4:35:29 NC
20 Joel Sweigart 39 M 4:37:35 PA
21 Leigh Hagan 34 F 4:38:19 PA
22 Andrew Stahr 30 M 4:39:21 SC
23 Kelly Fredgren 42 F 4:40:16 NC
24 Ralph Veytia 57 M 4:40:29 SC
25 Mark Long 52 M 4:42:59 VA
26 Michael Medlin 36 M 4:44:15 VA
27 Chad Randolph 42 M 4:48:38 NC
28 Eric McGlinchey 34 M 4:52:38 VA
29 Mark Elson 48 M 4:53:28 GA
30 Rick Spencer 35 M 4:54:17 NC
31 Maureen Miller 44 F 4:56:21 TX
32 Alan Roche 24 M 4:56:46 NC
33 Nate Sikes 26 M 4:56:46 AZ
34 Jonathan Adcock 26 M 5:00:18 VA
35 Mike McClintock 42 M 5:07:27 SC
36 Eva Gonzales 47 F 5:07:49 NC
37 Nancy Pullen-Seufert 34 F 5:08:15 NC
38 Robert Hill 57 M 5:08:16 NC
39 Erin Sommer 30 F 5:09:19 NC
40 John Lerch 33 M 5:13:13 GA
41 Ed Hanks 49 M 5:16:34 VA
42 Charlotte Hanks 23 F 5:17:08 NC
43 Leon Harmon 58 M 5:21:30 NC
44 Marit Janse 47 F 5:25:32 MI
45 Tony Rouse 44 M 5:27:13 NC
46 Dan Besse 53 M 5:30:24 NC
47 Bruce Flanagan 45 M 5:31:14 MD
48 Chuck Haggard 47 M 5:32:18 TN
49 David Welch 45 M 5:32:27 NC
50 David King 61 M 5:33:54 NC
51 Suzanne Weightman 44 F 5:35:02 PA
52 Laura Sadler 44 F 5:35:02 NJ
53 Allison Laxton 28 F 5:42:21 VA
54 Meredith McBride 20 F 5:46:41 NC
55 Shawn Horton 37 M 5:46:41 NC
56 Stephanie Harvey 46 F 5:47:53 VA
57 David Harvey 52 M 5:47:54 VA
58 Carl Coe 29 M 5:47:55 VA
59 Kevin O'Connor 61 M 5:48:26 VA
60 Donna Raye 39 F 5:52:00 NC
61 Bill Keane 64 M 5:52:19 NC
62 Jeff Hanks 56 M 5:53:01 NC
63 Rebecca Adcock 28 F 5:57:05 VA
64 Amos Desjadins 27 M 5:57:26 VA
65 Anita Finkle 42 F 5:57:34 VA
66 Sandy Davis 31 F 5:57:50 VA
67 James Cottledge 35 M 5:58:13 VA
68 Enithie Hunter 40 F 5:59:10 GA
69 Johanna Lockner 37 F 6:05:16 VA
70 Bea Kendall 48 F 6:06:33 NC
71 Donny Keller 50 M 6:08:03 PA
72 Chris Redman 40 M 6:08:26 TN
73 Pam Parkinson 36 F 6:09:40 TN
74 Steven Jones 39 M 6:10:37 TN
75 Brian Moretz 43 M 6:11:38 NC
76 Martha Cutler 59 F 6:13:16 NC
77 Richard Corbett 43 M 6:14:43 NC
78 Michael Ward 45 M 6:16:39 SC
79 TJ Farmer 33 M 6:19:37 VA
80 David Ritchie 53 M 6:20:37 VA
81 Tony Truitt 46 M 6:21:13 VA
82 Keith Wood 59 M 6:21:36 NC
83 Nicole Howe 33 F 6:27:40 TN
84 Marie Tedesco 60 F 6:30:00 TN
85 Aaron Proden 35 M 6:33:08 VA
86 Max Cassidy 44 M 6:38:55 AL
87 Cindy Ralston 51 F 6:41:29 GA
88 Roy Mcginnis 47 M 6:42:28 NC
89 Radu Stoica 34 M 6:47:20 TN
90 Maria Evans 45 F 6:48:36 TN
91 Cecilia Morris 39 F 6:52:00 TN
92 Windy Clayton 36 F 6:52:01 TN
93 Charles Springer 49 M 6:54:10 VA
94 Jennifer Jenson 41 F 6:59:39 TN
95 Samantha Wong 25 F 6:59:39 NC
96 Marcia Godwin 63 F 6:59:39 NC
97 Donna Bays 44 F 7:03:28 TN
98 Dale Less 49 M 7:03:53 NC
99 George Songer 58 M 7:05:14 GA
100 Sue Norwood 59 F 7:09:02 VA

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Newbie Race Director Jitters

Ack! The photos above are just a few of the various piles of race stuff erupting around my house during the last 2 weeks!
I am soo very nervous, excited, anxious, happy, freaked-as the project I have been working on for almost a full year is about to happen! The New River Trail 50k out of Fries, VA will start at 8am sharp on Saturday, 10/11/08!

I am as wound up as much as I have been before my 1st (or 2nd or 3rd) 100 mile run...yet instead of moving into a day of "freedom" and "flight" as I often feel when racing-the weight of priveledged responsibility is heavy. (Heavy in a good way!)

There is still so much to do-bib's came in yesterday and water and fresh food and replacing volunteer drop outs and trying to get around the piles of stuff in my house! I am also taking time to document quanities, processes, money and time so next year might bring a little less mystery. I have found check lists for race directors-yet the learning curve is continous to answer the questions: "How much Clif Shot drink? How many PB &J squares? How much water? How many volunteers do I need? Do we have enough parking???? All the while working towards creating a green event and an opportunity for a quality race for all the runners.

I will post more after Saturday-I am sure the discoveries and challenges have only started!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

New River Trail 50k...6 weeks left!

The above photo is of Pat Morrison's "locally made pottery tumblers" as an entry choice for the run.
Wow! What a huge learning curve RDing The New River Trail 50k for the first time has been! Earlier this week the 125 runner limit was reached-I think there is certainly interest for more runners-yet as a "virgin" race director-and guest in small town (the runners and race will be the guests too!), I need to keep things small this year with the focus on safety and quality!

Sponsors have been amazingly generous! Nathan Sports has donated 55 quickdraw pluses and numerous packs for prizes and volunteer gifts. I think Nathan is a very good fit with the "green" approach of the event with it's handheld waterbottles-each having a pocket for food and wrappers (after consumption!)and the "ditch disposables" campaign! I am also very proud to have Clif Bar as our electrolye sponsor-and we will be collecting wrappers from Balance Bars and Clifbars to recycle through TerraCycle.

Montrail is on board too and will be assisting with some logistics such as race numbers and, marking tape,etc as well as providing prizes which I hope will include a couple of gift certificates for either velocity shoes or maybe even some of their new "green" slackline shoes which we hope will be out later this year!

Local potters and growers and smaller running stores have been awesome too! I am learning more and more each day as we near race day of October 11, 2008!

Earlier this week, Mark Lundblad interviewed me for Team Inov-8 USA's newsletter and I think this interview sheds alot of my current perspectives on RDing this event. Please check out this link!
If anyone reading this is in the area of Southwestern VA and wants to assist with the event-I will welcome your assistance!

One last bit having to do with my last post. It has been 5 weeks since my stress fracture diagnosis...So I will try running for the lst time on the weekend of September 6 &7th. I haven't run or walked much since the results of the MRI-and have been thankful for my road and cyclocross bike and the elliptical trainer for keeping me from getting too "out of shape"! I MISS RUNNING AND THE WOOD AND CAN'T WAIT TO GET BACK!

Monday, July 21, 2008

MRI results

MRI results
I don’t know if the news is good or bad. I just got off the phone with my doc who shared the results of last weeks MRI with me. I have a stress fracture in the upper part of my tibia, right below the knee. The MRI shows the bone swelling and a series of microfractures. NO Running for at least 6 weeks. Take Vit D and Calcium…

At this point, for what I have been through, that sounds okay to me! As long as I am pain free I am given the okay to bike and swim and use the elliptical. I only hope the MRI is showing the real problem!

Sooo...I must cancel my plans for Cheat Mountain Moonshine Madness 50M and Laurel Valley 30+ next month…

I guess I have had this for 3 months! What caused the stress fracture? Perhaps a combo of 3 things:
1)Return to training hard after 8 weeks on the shelf due to a bruised bone in my knee in Dec and Jan

2)More speed work as I ran with my friend Carrie who was readying for Boston

3)New shoes-I started to wear the Streaks a bunch-perhaps too light compared to what I was used to?

I am glad to be informed and will spend some time researching stress fractures this week!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

An endurance weekend close to home: (The Bear, The Grizzly and The Grandfather Mountain Marathon)

This is a public photo courtesy of Grandfather Mountain.
The Bear ends on the Mountain Top
The Grizzy’s S/F is the track
The Marathon ends on the track

It’s been a little over 4 weeks since I came to the conclusion after Highlands Sky that my body is not in the correct form for any sort of serious ultra running or training right now. I decided to seek another option about my mysterious “angry” calf and to in the interim of ultra training, see what other sort of physical events I could get into to keep me “fit” and somewhat involved with my local ultra/adventuring community.

I still feel desperate to get back to training, yet more than anything, want the use of my body back-to be able to dig a hole in the garden or run up the yard after a piece of getaway paper without feeling like something is so weak and wrong…

To take care of my physical body in addition to continuing to see my chiropractor I sorted out some referrals and made a series of traditional medical appointments. Most of the appointments are far out of town, as anyone “local” seems booked for the next 2 months!

6/30: Had a complete annual physical and blood work. All groovy.

7/3: Met with neurologist Dr. David Seales in Wilkes County. He doesn’t think my issues have anything to do with nerves. An EMG, which is a nerve conduction test could be an option, yet is expensive. Doc believes I need to see orthopedic specialist. I can do the nerve test if other avenues don’t provide information.

7/8: Met with Dr. Skip Whitman in Surry County (Elkin, NC). As expected, nothing conclusive. He told me runners were difficult patients and gave me an order for 2 MRI’s. (MRI are costly too, yet in this case a bit more apt to show useful information).

7/14: Had 2 MRI's at Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital in Elkin, NC.

Currently awaiting the results of the MRI to determine “next steps”.

Since long back to back runs on technical trails isn’t an option right now I continued to run “mellow” (flatish and not fast) on dirt roads and pavement and spend as much time as possible, despite the summer winds and thunderstorms of the western north Carolina mountains, on my road bike. To keep me motivated, especially on the bike where I am at best, slow and steady, I signed up for what some locals here call “the triple”-all taking place at the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games July 10-12, 2008:

The Bear
5 mile hill climb (running), The Grizzly 100k (bike) and The Grandfather Mountain Marathon. This would be my 1st road marathon.

My reasoning was that if I couldn’t be strong at any one thing, perhaps I could be mediocre in all! It would be fun, I reasoned to run without my own personal expectation or even the expectations of others as has happened do to past successes in ultras. I was looking forward to seeing old friends and playing hard without getting stressed about performance. I must admit, I did have another motive. Last year was the first “King and Queen of the Mountain: a special award given to the male and female completing all 3 events in the least amount of time." Several men did all 3 last year. No women did. I wanted to be one of the 1st women (especially over 40) to do “the triple”!

July 10, 2008: The Bear. I have run The Bear several times during the last 10 years. This year had almost 900 people registered! The links I show will provide better visuals than my descriptions. This year was different. I can honestly say my ego was not involved. Dorsal fin, tucked away. My goal was to warm up and run steady, pushing the pace only as hard as my R leg would allow. I must have made some good decisions as the run never got “stupid hard” for me. Last year I ran my PR in a 1:13 minutes less than this year. My 2008 time was 43:23 and 8th or 9th woman, 101 overall. The top 10% of the men and top 10% of the women receive locally made pottery mugs, so I got to add one to my collection!

July 11, 2008: The Grizzly. I had a hard time sleeping the night before this. Last year I road the event in the chilly drizzle and was cold the whole day. This year was pleasantly different. There were about 100 starters compared to last years 60ish!
As expected, I quickly gained the back of the pack and was very comfortable there, warming up slowly the first 20+ miles of the event. At mile 23ish I met Jane Kupkowski at the aid station and learned that this buff 24 year old was an ultra runner and was also going for the triple. We chatted for several miles up the backside of Beech Mountain. Rumors had it there were 3 or 4 women signed up for all the events…

I could feel my dorsal fin poking me, yet kept it in check as the ride continued. For me to push during this event would be to insure failure at the rides end, during the marathon or to totally tweak my R leg. I would NOT further hurt myself! So the name of the game wouldn’t be to “push”, it would be to be efficient.

I rode the rest of the event alone, passing several riders going up and being passed on the down. The weather and my spirits remained happy and I pedaled around the Highlands Game track to finish in 67th place overall and 6th woman (there were only 12 female finishers-10 of us 40+!) with a time of 4:36:30, as compared to 4: 48:10 of 2007.

After getting off the bike I stretched and drank a beer for 30 minutes with tears rolling down my face evoked by the bagpipes of the Games! I was relieved to have the climb up Beech Mountain over and was very much looking forward to tomorrow’s run!

July 12, 2008: The Grandfather Mountain Marathon. (I wore my Saucony’s in lieu of Montrails for this road event-though I did elect to wear my jersey as I was using both Clif Bar and Nuun Products that day.)

Oh what fun! I was a little nervous before the start-mostly just excitement from being at such a traditional event that starts in a town I used to live in and now live near. The morning of the run I met may familiar ultra and non-ultra faces: Doug Blackford and Martha Culler, Joey Anderson, Dennis Norris, Lynn Phillips, etc...

We started at 7am on the ASU track and ran through the nearly empty (I have lived in the Boone area since 1992 and have never seen the streets so vacant!) streets of the Appalachian State Campus and 321 for 1 ½ miles before turning on to a side road and starting our windy ascent to The Blue Ridge Parkway. Around and up, around and up we ran. (I plodded) as was passed by men and women as we went up. Ego was checked!

I found myself being annoyed-not at my limitations-but because runners kept switching sides of the road to lessen the distance or equal out the camber of the road. I thought you were supposed to run facing traffic? With all this back and forthing I was certain someone would be hit. To non-locals these look like country roads-yet to those of us who live here, they are mountain thoroughfares! After conversation with several runners, I found myself accepting the practice-for the good or bad-I didn’t want to be the lone person running against traffic with cars having to come through runners… If I choose to do more marathons on curvy roads I will know more of what to expect.

I ran with male companionship for most of the run until after the Blue Ridge Parkway. I really was having great time-sharing stories with folks. My pace was measured and the Clif Shot blocks I carried in my pockets and sports bra were doing me “right” . It felt sorta empty to not be carrying bottles and relying on aid stations for fluids…yet this too was freeing!

Somewhere around mile 17 the inclines lessened and I must have unconsciously picked up my pace because I started to pass people. And I was feeling really good! At this point I was 4th woman-an although I was told the 3rd woman wasn’t far-I was not willing to risk pouring out too much and doing something stupid. So I just ran and felt strong and furiously enjoyed myself. Being a local event, I knew many aid station volunteers and I am ever so grateful for their presence and encouragement! I also thought a lot about my Dad (who passed away due to cancer 3 summers ago) during this event and believe that somehow his energy helped me stay smart. (I take after him with being driven and he would always try to get me to see to “lighten up”…hard for both of us!) Thank you Dad!

As I entered the grounds of the Highland Games and heard the bagpipes again, I got all kinds of choked up! It was hard to breathe for several seconds! Such celebratory, and sad sounds all at the same time. My lap around the track took some effort as I worked to maintain my pace. I felt pleased and proud to have finished. I was happy with myself for staying smart and still having a great time-and a good run-finishing 4th woman, 1st masters and 25th overall with a time of 3:28:23.

After changing clothes and more stretching, beer and bagpipes I hung out at the finish for hours. As I turned out, I got on the podium in front of the Highland Games stands and received a large “silver” plate and was dubbed “Queen of the Mountain” for 2008. 3 woman and 4 men completed the “triple” this year.

I had a very fun and satisfying weekend. It was excellent to see my Southeast ultra running friends and old friends too from Boone. I must admit as immersed as I was in my own experiences I also thought of folks out running Hardrock 100 and closer to home, the Rattlesnake 50k in WV the same weekend. It feels good to be able to put a happy post on my blog. I will post again when I receive more info from the MRI.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Highlands Sky 2008: a disappointing reality check

This year was my 2nd running of the amazing and tough Highlands Sky 40 mile run out of Canaan Valley, WV. I did not originally plan on running this event in 2008 as I had my sights set on WS 100-and I thought the 2 events would be too close and I wouldn’t be rested enough to give Western States my best shot.

My original planning, however, did not include dealing with funky calf muscle soreness with no measurable mechanism for injury and little response to 4 weeks rest, physical therapy and a new chiropractor. I lost all of April for training and started to cram (as much as possible without making things worse-since my calf wasn’t getting better-I thought I would at least not let it get worse!). May and the 1st weekend of June had me doing doubles every weekend-yet never longer than 30 or 34 miles at once. During the week I was running 45-90 minutes 3 days and on the bike or elliptical on other days. If I hurt, I would walk or cut things short. I figured I’d go to Highlands Sky and run –NOT RACE-as I wanted to go at an “easy” pace that might mimic those early miles of the hundred. If I felt good during and after this event, I would go to WS, if I felt bad during the event or had a very difficult time recovering, I would not go.

The week before Highlands Sky I was feeling pretty good and looking towards at least going to WS 100 and not clogging up the trails. (All my travel arrangements made months ago-even Monica Ochs, my pacer from WA was good to go-though she knew I was teetering with my decision-I was being optimistic!)

After a long traffic filled drive up to WV, I reunioned with a large group of amazing ultrarunners at Canaan Valley Lodge (race headquarters). I registered, ate a quick bite and retreated to lush and rainy Harmon Mountain Farm Campground,10 miles to the south.

The night before as I got my stuff ready for the run I was nervous. Not about competition-as there wouldn’t be any for me-I continuously reminded myself that this was to be a “test” run and there was no place for the hard out mental and physical efforts of competition. If I proved to be physically strong enough to follow through with WS, I didn’t want the emotional tax that competition can sometimes leave! My nerves stemmed from knowing that tomorrow would be a naked look in the mirror. A reality check from which I could not hide. I didn’t want to go away from this event and withdraw from WS 100. I wanted to run, play, celebrate the trail and get stoked for Western.

The next morning I got wonderful and warm hug from David Horton who was making his way back home after his change of plans on the CD Trail. (Sooo good to see him!) I got to enjoy a 5am conversation with 2x prior winner Justine Morrison as we sat together during the bus ride to the start. I mentally predicted she would win as she was running very strong this year from what I could tell.

I estimate there were about 170 starters. I started off steady and passed and was passed by people on the pavement. Coming through the 1st aid station someone shouted “7th woman!” I heard and beat the dorsal fin instincts to chase and continued to settle back into my slow, steady plod up the hill to the rocky highlands. I loved being out there! It was fun! And very muddy and very technical and very wet! I ran loose and easy and felt very positive until I didn’t. Somewhere around mile 18 I started to struggle. My calf didn’t bother me. It just seemed that everything else did! My chronic hammie soreness kicked in and I got stiff all over. I felt nauseous. I was frustrated and felt uncoordinated. By mile 20 I knew I wasn’t ready for WS. Although my overall fitness is not so bad-my overall body strength isn’t where I want it to be going into a 100 mile run. As I continued to run at Highlands Sky I reflected that if I started a race out strong and prepared and bad things happened and I had to walk lots to finish, I certainly would. Yet I don’t want to knowingly go into an event I know I will be walking much of the later miles.

By the halfway point I’d accepted “no go WS 100 (2008)for Bednosky”…and now my challenge was to find a reason to continue the rest of Highlands Sky. I must have felt pretty pitiful and sorry for myself to be thinking this way. I didn’t feel good and I wasn’t injured or sick-just disappointed. So I kept on slogging and had ups and downs as I went along. The Road Across the Sky went quickly and was a good break for the little supporting muscles. Dolly Sods was beautiful, yet as the miles rolled by, I just wanted to be done. I would finish. I was a Bednosky and a Montrail ultrarunner afterall and just to stop because I “didn’t feel like it” was fun to think about, yet just not going to happen. So I slowed down, not from attitude, but from discomfort and fatigue. (Oh how I hate the symptoms of being human!)

So I finished (finally) amist a very cool thunder storm and cool showers. My time was 8:16:36-almost ½ hour slower than last time. This put me in 27 place overall, 6th woman and as David Horton said “1st old lady (masters). I appreciated David listening to me babble about disappointments and expectations after I finished. He was a very good listener and made just enough fun of the situation to keep things lite! I also enjoyed meeting some of the tough young women finishing just ahead and behind me. I was fairly emotional as I shared my decision about “no go Western” with the handful of people who knew what I had set out to decide that day. I am so very grateful for the support and encouragement from Tammy and Rick Grey, Sophie, David, Dan and so many others! Thank you my friends for understanding as only fellow ultra runners could understand!

It has been 10 days since Highlands Sky and I proudly wear my finishers Patagonia Capilene shirt all the time. It is one of the first races I didn’t take for granted that I would finish and I am more learned and humbled almost than I care to admit from Saturday, June 14, 2008.

“What’s next” I am asked and I too wonder? I must sort this out and figure out how ultrarunning, training, and figure out my weird “body mechanical” will be able to live together inside me of. So much feels lost with giving up on WS 100 and the chance to complete the Montrail Ultra Cup again. I will post again when I have further processed this “current reality”.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Upcoming New River Trail 50k featured in May 22, 2008 Winston-Salem Journal

These photos by Bruce Chapman and accompanying story by Monte Mitchell called: Fuuuuuun Run: Extreme runner promotes benefit race appears on the cover of the local section of today's Winston-Salem Journal.

The newspaper article discusses the New River Trail 50k. This is my first venture into race directing and gives a neat overview of ultrarunning with some neat perspectives from registered runners. As of today we have 51 runners! There are 4 scholarship spots open for anyone who needs assistance with the entry fee. Just email me at if interested!

And yes, we are still looking for volunteers-experienced or not!

I have copied the story below in case the above link doesn't stay "live" for more than today!

FUUUUUUUN RUN: Extreme runner promotes benefit Race
By Monte Mitchell


Published: May 22, 2008

JEFFERSON -- Annette Bednosky is an ultramarathon runner who thinks running the road to the top of Mount Jefferson is a nice change-of-pace workout to lighten things up a bit.

"My forte as a competitive runner is the steeper and slicker, the better I do," said Bednosky, who has run in races as long as 100 miles, often scrambling up and down mountain trails.

Bednosky was the 2005 women's champion at the granddaddy of ultramarathon trail runs, the 100-mile Western States Endurance Run in California, where she ran along trails once used by Gold Rush miners, climbing 18,000 vertical feet and then descending more than 22,000 feet.

So when the time came for her to step out of the competitive-running ranks long enough to put on a race director's cap and organize an ultramarathon, runners might have expected a brutal, calf-punishing route up and down steep ridges near her home in Jefferson.

Instead, Bednosky is planning the first New River Trail 50K along a route that's about as flat and easy as a 50-kilometer (or 31.1-mile) run could be in the mountains. It'll start in the Grayson County, Va., town of Fries on Oct. 11, and stay within the New River Trail State Park on a dirt path that follows the river and Chestnut Creek.

Part of the reason for picking this route is to raise money for the National Committee for the New River, but it's also to encourage people to run in their first ultramarathon. Ultramarathons are various distances longer than the marathon's 26 miles, 385 yards.

Such runs as the Western States are daunting even for elite-level athletes such as Bednosky, and it certainly won't be easy to finish the New River Trail 50K. But while the flat course will make this a good training run for elite ultramarathon runners preparing for other races, it's still achievable for runners who take pride in being middle-of-the-pack or back-of-the-pack plodders.

Donna Bays, a 43-year-old paralegal from Kingsport, Tenn., is preparing for the New River Trail 50K.

Bays ran in her first ultramarathon May 3, the Strolling Jim 40-Mile Run, named after a 1939 champion Tennessee walking horse.

"I so much loved the atmosphere of the ultra events," she said. "There's three times as many support people as runners. The focus is on, ‘How do we get these folks to the finish line?'"

Bays has lost more than 100 pounds in the past four years. She had run hardly a step in her life before she turned 40, she said, and started out doing just 30 seconds at a time on a treadmill. She has run in three marathons, but likes the slower pace and more relaxed atmosphere of the ultras.

"I'm very slow, but I like to see how far I can run," she said.

Patience and stick-to-it-ness are keys. The cutoff time is seven hours, meaning that runners could average a pace of 13-and-a-half-minutes a mile.

For people who think they could never do it or who think that their biggest running achievements are behind them, the average age of runners already signed up is about 50.

Keith Wood, 58, of Clemmon, has run about 30 marathons and eight ultras. He says that the training is about the same for a 31-miler as a marathon and that people who are already running now still have time to prepare.

He said he enjoys the ultras because they are generally run on trails and there is a lot of camaraderie among people as runners rise to the challenge of finishing.

"It's a good way of relaxing," he said. "Get out in the woods. You don't have to fight traffic."

Both runners said they're looking forward to the New River Trail 50K, and they expect Bednosky's experience, reputation and attitude will contribute to establish the run as a first-class event.

Bednosky will be too busy directing the race to run in it, but she is training for other races. She ran along a dirt road outside Jefferson last week, still sporting scabbed knees from a fall during a 50K in New York. Her training run followed the dirt road along the South Fork of the New River.

The river here is much smaller than where the race will be run in Virginia, as it widens outs and deepens after the confluence of the north and south forks. But the dirt road that follows the South Fork here offers a nice preview.

Forty-eight people have signed up so far.

Bednosky, who works as a counselor at Ashe County High School, said she hopes that other runners will follow her proven pre-running routine: "Rush home from school, change my clothes, grab my water bottle and get out before I get tempted to get into something else."

■ Monte Mitchell can be reached at 336-667-5691 or at

■ To read more about Annette Bednosky's running, read her blog at For entry information and other details about the New River Trail 50K, visit the Web site for the National Committee for the New River, at On the left side of the page, click on "Calendar of Events," go to October listings and follow the link to the race page.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Soreness, Bloody Knees and Stubborn Running of the LI Greenbelt 50k: May 10, 2008.

The top photo is amazing athlete Amy Palmiero Winters who also ran on Saturday!

Before discussing The Long Island Greenbelt Trail 50k race I must say “Thank you Mom” for crewing me and Happy Mother’s Day! (This is the 2nd year in a row while visiting Mom on our native Long Island that I have run this very excellent event).

I do look forward to the day again when I can reflect on a run with celebration rather than disappointment and frustration over “mysterious” mechanical difficulties of my body. I know many people say I should be grateful for what I can do, rather than with my limitations- (temporary, permanent, or perceived)…yet I am an adventurer, greedy not to miss out on experiences of pushing boundaries what I and others in the past have perceived to be coming to the “edge”. In my life as I have known it, I have been most alive frolicking in the wilderness: be that a wilderness of trail running, multi-pitch lead climbing, wandering for NYC in my theatre days, or simply contemplating the wonderful possibilities of the future.

Though I have dealt with injury –both serious and minor in my ultra running years I am very frustrated now as I have no clue as to what caused my right calf to start to stiffen, get sore and move up into my hamstring. It started during a 30ish mile training run 4/5/08 in the Iron Mountains that ended turning around and slogging the last 12 miles back to my car…I rested thinking it a strain. My PT said it was “barely a strain”… Then went to my chiropractor and started seeing another thinking the accompanying tingles and hamstring tightness might be nerve related. Lots of stretching. Break from running. Lots of growling from me. Some training as my fussy leg will allow. I backed out of Zane Grey 50M last month 2 days before, knowing I wouldn’t be able to participate…Grrr…I cried. Sadness. I wish I had answers…

So I have an appt tomorrow with a PT in Winston-Salem…with a fellow who is one of the PT’s for Wake Forest’s athletes… I can more easily deal with limitations if I know how to work towards changing them…Sigh…time will tell!!

I can’t image being prepared for WS 100 this year. I did some good prep during February and March, yet have been snafu’d since. I am really wanting to go out there and round out my participation in the Montrail Ultra Cup. Yet I have no desire to go out wayyyy under trained and limp my way through the miles. If I don’t earn the right though time on the trails-I don’t belong out there clogging them up! June 1st will be my cut off day of what I will do about that event!

Get to the point you say! (I agree!) What does all this blundering talk have to do with LI Greenbelt 50k 2008?
Because the race was this past weekend out of Plainview, NY and for smarter or less smart, I ran the event while on Long Island spending Mother’s Day time with my Mom.

Mom knew I was hesitant about entering. She knows me well enough that it would be really hard for my to quit even if I started hurting very badly. I chose to enter because my calf/hamstring is soo inconsistent that sometimes sitting/standing is more uncomfortable than I was not convinced I would do any additional damage-especially if I ran and did not race.
So I christened my new green Montrail jersey and ran the course. I was fun to be out with folks I’d met the year before. It was even more awesome to watch Amy Palmiero-Winters (pictured above) reportedly set a world record as a trail running amputee that day! This woman is very strong and graceful; she inspired me not so much as her obvious overcoming hardships, yet by her grace and transparent athletic talent! Her efforts and achievements make me more steadfast to not want to give up in the face of my own current frustrating body mechanics!!! (good or bad…I don’t know?)

The course was as I remembered from last year-very runnable with steeper attention getting sections in the northern 4 miles. Some sand, several road crossings, generous volunteers. It was a very well marked trail-yet runners still had to pay attention. I got turned around at one point only because I was daydreaming and added on a couple on inconsequential minutes…

Several times during the 1st of the “double out and backs” on the all dirt/sand LI Greenbelt Trail (or one of the LI Greenbelt Trails….there are actually several long trails on The Island with this designation, with this one being the shortest and the most western and the steepest!) I considered “dropping”… my calf was sore and I didn’t want to spend all afternoon on the trail. After all, the plan was for Mom to crew me in the am and we would spend the afternoon with George’s family across the Island in early Mother’s Day celebration with Mom Santucci, Grandma, Mom Bednosky, our sister in law Nikki, and George and George’s Pop…

Yet history proves I am not an experienced or graceful DNF’r and my leg did feel better after the first 15 miles. In fact-I started to feel the familiar amazing freedom of trail running and joined THE FLOW bobbing along “semi conscious” to the dirt and roots and acknowledging the passing runners as we navigated our different directions…until somewhere around mile 25: splat!

Next thing I knew I had rolled off the trail and was on the verge of hyperventilating. I had taken a silly fall and scraped both knees, bruised both knees and sported dusty bloody streaks on both legs within minutes. In climbing language, I achieved 2 “flappers”. I was surprised and shaken up and after several minutes of walking and calming down while picking the bits of gravel out of my palm realized I was okay. I did not hurt myself-a few light bruises and maybe forfeited a half ounce of blood…and I got distracted from focusing on my calf. I ran again and was overjoyed! The remaining miles became a focus of looking forward to spending more time with Mom, changing my goal from beating last years time to “beating” 5 hours…So I ran and appreciated being on the trail and sharing encouragement with other runners. No doubt I was pitiful for a little while. I saw others were too-and the “out and back” staging of this course made it so easy to share empathy with and encourage other runners.

I ran hard the last non-technical mile and crossed the line at 4:59:40! About 12 minutes slower than last year…yet I was still pleased as I ran an honest race and felt better at the end than the beginning. I will sort out what is going on with my body…and I strive for patience and the willingness to accept these ebbs and flows with by bodying abilities…

I don’t know about WS 100 2008. For the remaining 2008 I seek for a resolution to my calf issue and to pull my weight and then some as a member of the Montrail UltraRunning Team…running more races, race directing The New River Trail 50k and being a sincere and “real” ambassador for our amazing sport!

I did “win” on Saturday (results here)…the numbers were low (bummer because this is such a GREAT trail run!) I look forward to a strong woman coming out next year and running the 50k in 4:30ish…I know it can be done! It is such a runnable course! My real success I think will be with the action I take from the information about my body I received on Saturday. Thank you to ALL the folks that made the LI Greenbelt Trail 50k come in to reality. The subs and yummy beer and smoothies at the end were totally NY! Thank you to Nick P and everyone else!!!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Mountain Hardware fall 2008 clothing promo photo shoot in Grayson Highlands State Park

The top 2 photos were taken by photographer Stewart Smith in November 2007 in Grayson Highlands…(I wasn't wearing much of Mtn. Hardware last fall-Patagonia,Smartwool and Montrail are easily identified!) I expect we’ll have to wait until fall to see what photos taken on Sunday Mountain Hardware might use...The bottom 2 garments are 2 of the pieces we got to wear on Sunday-hopefully we'll see them in "use" in Mtn Hardware's fall 2008 promo materials!

This past Sunday, my Montrail teammate Sarah Johnston and I got together with photographer Stewart Young. It is early spring in the Southern Appalachian Mountains and in the valleys and elevations below 3500’ the daffodils, forthesia and pear blossoms are out in full force. Most trees have least buds on them.

Our challenge was to find a location that made it look like winter this time of year. My first thought was the Virginia Highlands as it seems it is always cold and windy up there, even in July! Though we sought to find a place closer to Lynchburg where Sarah lives, none of us are too familiar with areas midway between there and Asheville (where Stewart lives), so we went with a sure choice and Sarah agreed to do the 3.5 hour drive each way!

We spent 5.5 hours together running, jumping and doing just a bit of posing for Stewart’s camera. We were told the idea was to be authentically windblown and gritty and not have it be “just a run in the park”. It was windy and our eyes ran for hours. And cold (afternoon highs were in the mid 30’s) and it snow showered much of the day-though the snow was tiny pellets that up close looked like dandruff on dark hair and showed up only as background mist in the photos. We smeared ourselves with mud, rain through creeks and tried too keep our noses from obviously running (I am perfectly fine if a photo of me appears and I look tough or like I am working hard or in pain and not pretty at all-yet I draw the line about 2 things: 1) having snot leaking down my face and 2) getting caught on film leaning over and creating a little “belly roll”. I am not too worried about these for this shoot as I am certain neither one would do anything to positively promote the selling of clothing!

Stewart worked furiously for hours…his gloveless hands were cold-I am not sure how he could function! At times our directions instructed “athlete 1” (me) to remove gloves and hat and I did so while stifling a whine. Sarah also had to take off layers.

We had fun and did our best to do our “job” although we are both newbie’s at this sort of thing. I loved the clothing that we got to wear-though most were way too big for Sarah and my tights also too big…though the jackets and hat and gloves were perfect. (Later I learned the sample/model size is size medium and usually when things don’t fit photographers with staple and pin them…I am not sure how staples and pins would do when really running?) Anyway I really hope Stewart got the sort of shots Mountain Hardware can use!

I got to wear my favorite piece of Mountain Hardware Gear to date: The transition jacket with thumb loops and a hood.(pictured above) It is much like our 2007 Montrail uniform jacket with longer sleeves and a hood. Perfect to wear and “stuff in the pack”… (When mountain running for hours alone-I always have extra clothes as one of my greatest fears in to have to stop and get too cold!) Also pictured are the transition tights-not really tight –but definitely windproof and water resistant…Mountain Hardware has some other neat pieces for fall, not yet available to show!

Sooo…Sunday was fun and cold and now it is back to getting ready for my final graduate class meeting on Wednesday of my PMC in Advanced School Counseling and to icing my Right calf. (I over did some speed running week before last and am trying to find the slippery balance between healing that and not loosing fitness before Zane Grey on 4/26!).

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Ultrarunner is a Maid!

For the past 2 months I have been in rehearsal of The Children's Hour at The Ashe County Little Theatre. This past Wed-this afternoon was our run...I had a bit part of Agatha "the maid", yet I enjoyed the experience of being on stage again. (In my former life I studied at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in NYC, have been a professional Magician's Assistant and have performed in numerous college, community and a handful of professional productions!)
I got to work with some very talented folks and am grateful for the experience and happy to have my "life" back...(4+ hours of rehearsal and performance each day sort of gets in the way of sanity after a little while!)
Funny...because as a runner I have been in the "public" eye way more so than when I was a performer...yet I am happy to say that the videos/film/images that capture me as a runner-even when I look "bad" make me proud...because they are "real"
Now: scene change:
Focus on Zane Grey and WS 100 and being healthy and living life!

Continental Divides or Streak= red wine or a cold beer?

Streaks are grey and blue, CD's are green/neon...notice the traction and "cut outs" on the bottom that contribute to the strength of each!

During the last few weekends I have run some fabulously varied terrain: 9+ hour jaunt through and around the wet, technical and remote Linville Gorge, a marathon on the packed dirt of the VA Creeper Trail, and yesterday a 6+ hour adventure run through the rain and wet leaves and rocks of the Iron Mountain trails of Jefferson National Forest. I have the perfect 2 pair of shoes for both of these endeavors!

Yesterday while running up the wet, seepy, Beech Grove trail wearing the Streaks I pondered my shoe choice. (Not much else to think about sometimes when plodding uphill in the drizzle, trying to avoid echoes of another rendition of the “Star Wars” theme in my head.)…(I am not a fan of ipod/earphones during trail running-but more on that another time!)

I can’t not say which shoe I prefer-just, as I cannot say if I prefer red wine to dark cold beer because each one is perfect depending on the situation!

I found the Streaks perfect for the 12 miles of rail trail, couple miles of rocky/rooty technical climbing and many additional miles of wet leaves-but not too technical single track. The week before they were also perfect for the rainy, muddy VA Creeper Trail marathon. They are light, have good traction and drain exceptionally well. Also, the week before when doing a long training run/route finding-river crossing adventure in the rugged Linville Gorge, I tried the Streaks. I wished for my Continental Divides-not quite beefy enough for such a technical long day…(my ankles and arches were more tired than anticipated-yet this makes sense due to the more flexible nature of the shoe’s sole…I thought this would be the case, but I had to find out for myself!)

If ever I am in doubt over which shoe to pick, I will prob’ly go for the CD’s (just like I drink more red wine than cold beer)…as I am very comfortable and experienced in them…in all types of terrain…yet I am psyched for the option of the Streaks…if I had them earlier this year, I would have most certainly worn them at Way Too Cool and the Black Mountain Marathon…yet as I think ahead to Zane Grey 50 later this month, I’ll plan in the CD’s because of the epic reputation of the technicality of this event! For WS 100-this far out, I think for sure the CD’s until after Rucky Chucky…and put my Streaks in my after Rucky Chucky drop bag…Yet time will tell and I am happy to have these options! Bottoms up!

Monday, March 31, 2008

March 30, 2008: VA Creeper Trail Marathon: Running, raining and off to dress rehearsal…

As I write this to post I am sitting in the green room of our local community theatre awaiting my scenes on the stage. I am dressed in black strappy heels, hair in a bun wearing a 1930’s maid uniform for my bit part in The Children’s Hour. Several hours ago I was flopping through the mud and water during the 10th annual VA Creeper Marathon in Abingdon, VA. This is a certified marathon course with all except 2 miles of the 26.2 taking place on the flat, packed dirt surface of the old rail trail.

This was my 3rd time running the race-I am drawn to it because: 1) it is less than a hour and a half from where we live in Jefferson, NC, 2) It is a “low key” event with a $10.00 entry fee, no t-shirts and minimal awards, runners come to this event to run, not to be coddled (though the aid stations are well-spaced and offer the most basic of liquids and a couple contain yummy fig bars!), and 3) The event is on Sundays and is during a time of year that makes doing “doubles” part of my schedule. Currently I am preparing for Zane Gray 50M in AZ in 4 weeks and WS 100 at the end of June. Yesterday I ran a rainy 17 miles and did a leg weight workout. Hence today when I ran, I did not have fresh legs and running on heavy, easy to tire legs is good way for me to prepare for the longer efforts.

When it is rainy and windy and the temperatures are in the low 40’s…deciding what to wear can be a dilemma. After sampling the weather I went with shorts, tank top covered with my LS Montrail uniform top, capped off by a baseball hat and covered with a knit cap. On my hands I had 2 layers of gloves: smartwool and pearl izumi over mitts to keep out the wind. I have learned that with my raynouds syndrome, if I allow my hands even an opportunity to loose circulation, they will. Because we have access to our drop bag 4 times on the run, I did not carry any calories.

I don’t know how many people started. (There were 107 finishers)There were perhaps a dozen or more early starters and a small representation of women out there today. I expect the weather kept some folks home for the morning. My personal goal for the race was to better my 3:30ish time from last year. A personal necessity was to finish and get home asap in order to shower and get to rehearsal on time. (This was sort of sad as I Love hanging out at the end and talking and sharing stories…plus it would have been an excellent venue to inform people about The New River Trail 50k).

I enjoyed the early miles-little rolling hills until getting on the trail at mile 2. I felt absolutely great until somewhere around mile 10…I started to feel colder and had a sense the weather was contributing to me needing more calories than I had thought I needed. So after being passed by several guys, I stopped and grabbed 2 fig bars from the cow pasture aid station. These combined with an additional 3 Clif blocks from my drop bag, claimed with immense assistance (because my hands were too cold and unfunctional) from the wonderful volunteer Donna Bays-she is in the photo above…(and soon to run her 1st ultra next month: The Strolling Jim! Yayyyee Donna!)…anyway, these calories gave me a 2nd wind and I “got it back together” to run well again…and pass a few of those “guys” mentioned above! Such a good reminder to not be lazy and just carry what I might need-especially in conditions of wet and chill that I always find my body more unpredictable! I finished 1st woman (6th over all) in 3:24:42. The next women were: Kimberly Wilson: 3:45:09, Mary Lund: 3:53:21. (I think it is very cool that all 3 of us are over 40 years old! )No offense to younger women-yet I continue to do lots of reflecting about running well as “masters” woman… The first 3 men were: Robert Preston: 2:49:22, Paul Carrasco: 3:13:07, Lewis Blake: 3:15:56. Complete results on the VA Creeper Marathon website.

Thank you to Frank Kibler,( race director )and all the volunteers for helping me and the rest of us during all those wet and chilly hours out there (and many additional hours of preparation!) …And I must say those white chocolate macadamia nut cookies at the finish really hit the spot! Yum. Yum!

Just a note: If anyone reading this is interested in a similar terrain ultra…please check out my 1st event as RD coming up in October: The New River Trail 50k…and for better or worse-it is even flatter than the VA Creeper Trail!!!

This was a GREAT event and I look forward to participating again…yet for now my focus (once getting through The Children’s Hour) will be on slow, sandy, rocky steep stuff!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Way Too Cool 50k = Unconditioned, but an ultrarunner again!

“The good thing about Cool is you find out what kind of shape you're in. . . and the bad thing about Cool is you find out what kind of shape you're in.” Tim Twietmeyer.

John Medinger sent me this picture he took on Saturday morning along with Tim’s quote. Both sum up perfectly how I was feeling during much of the race! (Yes, I still had fun, but being “out of shape” and still trying to keep up was hard work!) It didn’t take too many miles to be reminded that one can run on passion, yet must race with training and conditioning!

Perfect way to sum up my day on Saturday!

Running Way Too Cool ’08 was hard, competitive and fun. As noted from my previous posts, I am not presently in racing shape do to the 2 months on the “shelf” with the recovering bruised knee bone and WTC was my longest run since my fall during the Hellgate 100k on December 8, 2007! I think I have been back to running now for about 4 weeks-trying to find the balance between good hard training and not amping up the mileage and terrain too fast which most certainly can bring on all sorts of “itises” and overuse issues. I did not have a competitive performance goal, though I would strive to beat last year’s time of 4:40:33 and I hoped I would place in the top 10 women.

Out on the trail, the first 10 miles felt very good, yet soon after that anything that was slightly up hill drew my attention to the fact that I am not in shape and I slowed some. Sore and winded…yet oddly not frustrated as I was passed by several women shortly after the mile 10 mark: Jenny Capel, Luann Park, Caren Spore, Meagan Arbogast (among others). Down hills were as fun as ever and the rolling course got my attention again this year. I was passed again shortly before the 2nd descent to the American River by another woman-and if it didn’t happen there, it surely would have during the climb up Ball Bearing, the steepest climb on the course. This climb pleased me. Yes it was steep and I hiked some-yet was able to “run” (flimsy running) at least half of this climb. That is encouraging as I am looking to train back into shape for the climbing demands of Zane Grey and WS100.

This is not a hard course, yet for the 2nd year in a row, it really got my attention. It felt really hard on Saturday. I don’t know if that was do to my current physical condition, to feeling sooo slow compared to the speedy women (and men) and being “not near the front of the pack”? I am not used to having so many people in front of me! I know my place was both from lack of my own conditioning AND being immersed in a very large field of very good trail runners!

At 3:53:30 I came through the Goat Hill aid station at 26.2 miles. Almost the exact time I finished the Black Mountain Marathon 2 weeks ago. I registered this and didn’t know what it meant, except I had 5ish miles to go and no time to dally if I would reach my personal goal for the day. Thank goodness for down hills, a clear crossing at Hwy 49 and the drive I had to meet my goal. If I didn’t meet the goal I would have no explanation other than laziness to explain my lack of success!

I did finish in less than last year’s time: 4:36:56, 13th woman and 81st overall. (As opposed to ’07: 4:40:30, 9th woman, 67th overall).

The top 3 women this year were: Susannah Beck: 3:55:22, Beverly Anderson-Abbs: 4:07:08, Joelle Vaught: 4:10:14. Top men were: Todd Braje: 3:32:12, Erik Skaggs: 3:34:17, Dan Olmstead: 3:35:05. There were 443 finishers.

I enjoyed hanging around at the finish line for an hour and a half or so. Gordy Ainsleigh helped me out by doing chiropractic magic on me and I loved talking with him and other runners as we roamed around in the warm 65ish degree sun. Before making our way back to Auburn, a few of us east coasters: Paul Davis, Bradley Mongold, Eric Grossman and I sat in VERY cold American River for at least 10 minutes. I really think that sort of torturous immersion helps with recovery. I wailed and whimpered until my body got too cold to feel it. My male companions were far less dramatic, yet we all whined some!

The day continued sharing a meal with Paul Curran, Chris from Mountain Hardware, Bradley, Eric, Paul D, Sean Meissner, and Monica Ochs (a speedy woman from WA and a new friend who is going to pace me for at least part of WS 100 in June…yipppeeee!!!!).

The weekend was exhausting and fun. And humbling and a great reality check. I have my work cut out for me and really look forward to getting strong. Next BIG event will be Zane Grey 50Miler in AZ, last week of April. From what I understand my training better involve lots of rocks, sand and lots of climbing!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Reflections on Black Mountain Marathon and Mt. Mitchell Challenge 2008

Photos by Steve Dixon of Asheville Citizen-Times
I know many amazing women, yet at the moment I am going to enthusiastically rant about one in particular! Anne Lundblad! She had a great run up and down Mt Mitchell yesterday. She smashed her previous PR and course record (CR was held since 2005-5:50:19- by “yours truly”) with a time of 5:38:55. What a run! I know Anne is a hard working runner and strong competitor and woman-yet what I personally are 2 things I am presently most impressed/influenced by:
1) she is 41 and
2) she has a positive, future seeking attitude! When I saw Anne yesterday on the trail for all of 2 minutes (we chatted briefly as she scampered past me in Montreat just before meeting the dirt “toll road”, and I saw her round the lake during the last ¼ mile of her run) she was friendly, focused and seemed to float up the hill with a seemingly effortless gait so characteristic of Anne. Anne seemed happy and humble at the awards dinner last night. I felt so proud! Why proud you may ask? Don’t you sometimes try and race her? Doesn’t she make you come in second a bunch? Doesn’t she continue to hold course records that you might have if she didn’t? Yes and YES and YES! is my answer! (I don’t know of all of Anne’s CR’s during the last many years, yet I know the JFK record (and masters) is hers and Mt. Mitchell Challenge record (and masters) and Frosty Fifty (and master’s) etc, etc…I love it that she as a 40+ year old sets a great challenge for young women and more seasoned alike. Fabulous! And she helps me push myself and call upon my strengths and work on my weaknesses! And she inspires me and reminds me as a “sister” (somehow saying fellow runner sounds silly) 41 year old runner-I still have many good races left and my smartest/fastest events aren’t necessarily behind me! I hope 41 year old Anne has a great season and mushes my 2005 CR at Bull Run this coming April! Last night, leaving the awards presentation as she and I briefly chatted about being “41” she commented, “Look at Anne Heaslett, Bev Abbs (she mentioned at least 1 other name also, yet I can’t remember)- 40 is the “new” 30! I love that attitude and will remember that for sure! Forty-something does have different concerns and added benefits-so the challenge as always is to seek to balance the two!

Congratulations to Anne and Jason Bryant (male Challenge winner) and all the Mt. Mitchell Challenge and Black Mountain Marathon runners!

On another note, yet equally as celebratory, I ran the Black Mountain Marathon yesterday. For days I went back and forth about staying with The Challenge, yet on the Wednesday before the race thought it best not to participate in 40 mile event since by my standards I am pretty out of shape after sitting on the shelf until 2 weeks ago. That combined with Way Too Cool coming up in 2 weeks I asked to be transferred to the Marathon, a distance and terrain I felt realistically prepared for.

I must admit, withdrawing from the Challenge was hard. It is a grand adventure. It holds a certain mystique that the marathon doesn’t. It is beautiful. It is tough and it’s a great ultra marathon in NC! I felt disappointed I may not be running an ultra in NC this year. And part of me felt I had “demoted” myself to the “fun run” …I so didn’t want to miss out on the good stuff up the mountain! Then the day unfolded…

I did have a great day! I didn’t run to race at first. I was trying to sort out how to pace myself for such an unfamiliar distance. I ran according to my strengths and limitations. (Faster on flat, huffing and puffing on uphill-hence really feeling the time “on the shelf” and loving the leaning in and feeling strong on the descents). At first I was scared of falling and getting hurt-yet as long as I didn’t socialize when rock/root hopping I did fine and the one stumble I did take (right in front of Sourwood aid station on the way down as some folks at the aid station and I bantered about BEER of all things!) was just the sloppy harmless “splat” I can be soo good at!

At the turn around for the marathon I had twinges of envy of the strong runners go for the summit of Mt Mitchell. I did feel a little left out at a tiny bit like a wussy. But only a tiny bit. I was also unexpectedly RELIEVED to be able to turn around and frolic down the hill! At this point I was in 1st place and vowed not to relinquish my position. It would be very cool to win this marathon. Now I had my dorsal fin out as I moved back down the rocks of the toll road. Backtracking was super fun as I passed other runners on the way up. EVERYONE was amazingly encouraging and supportive-I hope I was able to return even a small portion of the enthusiastic cheerleading I received!

I worked hard getting down the mountain staying focused, breathing, positive self talk. This marathon was hard for me. I did not demote myself. I kept on and didn’t look behind me. Once passing through the last aid station in Montreat I cried a little (thankfully not too much ‘cause when I cry and run I can’t breathe and that is not a good way to go into the last few miles of a race!) I cried because I was working hard and felt both frustrated at having soo many more miles to go (3.4!) and because I was eternally grateful that my body is healing from the bruised bone/micro fractures that I can run hard! I thought about knowing I could get back in shape given regular training. I felt grateful for the ability to heal and kept being so thankful for all the generous humans along the route who helped me along by shouting “good job” or “keep it up!” There seemed to be random amazing cheerleaders on their bikes on the Montreat trails, standing in parking lots on Hwy 9- and in front yards. Thank you to all of you who kept my focus forward thinking and happy. As I ascended the last hill on the course-just before dropping into the park/lake area, a young teenage boy on a bike with a Cross Country sweatshirt passed and called out kindness. Ahhh-if only we knew the power of our own effect on others. His enthusiasm was a wonderful fuel! I am reminded of what generosity of spirit can do to help others. Many generous folks helped me yesterday and made an impact that I will remember to take with me into the crazy world of life outside of trail running! Thank you!
I also celebrate being back to being a runner again! My whole body hurt during those last few miles-my knee-somewhat sore today (like the rest of me) yet I know it is on its way to being well. I did place first in the marathon (as a 41 year old!) with a time of 3:54:58. Not fast but not slow and I was thrilled with the ability to be back on the trails and looking forward to training hard and getting back in shape! Thanks again to all my friends and fellow participants-I just can’t say enough how contagious the positive attitudes and encouragement felt yesterday!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Valentines Weekend: a feeble run, pond jump and team marathon

(If you look carefully you can see me in my sports bra, mouth open wide behind the guy dressed as a polar bear!)
Mid week last week I decided against “back of the packing” at Holiday Lake 50k. My reasons were 2 fold: 1) I felt on the edge about being ready to run 32+ miles after having done only 2 “long runs” of 12 and 15 miles each. After being on the edge for several days, the universe intervened by blowing the door off my car! Seriously we had gusts of wind in Ashe County last week in excess of 70mph and when opening the car door in the driveway it was torn out of my hand broke the door check, dented the front panel and bent a hinge. It didn’t actually blow across the neighborhood, yet still did some damage. Ooops!

The wind event made my decision for me. After physical therapy visits and an MRI bill this past month, $$$ is a bit tight so traveling to the race + late entry fee would cost as much as the door to fix. For the sake of my wallet and impact on my body, I thought a lot about the event instead of going!

Instead I filled my weekend with friends and experiences. On Saturday I occupied myself with a morning run. I’d planned on doing a slow 20-running 6 alone and meeting up with an old friend Russ Hiatt to do 9 and then continue on alone. Russ is training for the Black Mountain Marathon coming up on Saturday 2/23. I am still signed up for the Mt Mitchell Challenge 40-and will decide by mid week whether or no to run.
I drove 40 minutes out to the Cone Estate off the Blue Ridge Parkway and was running up the fire tower by 7am. The red sunrise was beautiful! 6miles and 50ish minutes later I was back in the parking lot changing into shorts and readying to run with Russ. We set what should have been an easy pace for me, yet after 30 minutes or so I was having trouble breathing and carrying on a conversation at the same time. A sure sign of being out of shape! I was so disheartened getting back to the car; I bailed on my next 5 miles. But only temporarily. After a little self talking, I stopped at the Wellness Center in Boone where I do occasional treadmill workouts and plodded out 5 slow miles. No harm physically and I did feel better mentally.

I went home and curled up with Mama Grey and took a nap. Saturday afternoon I joined with 50+other folks for a “polar plunge” fundraiser in the 34degrees Ashe County Park pond. This event rose well over $5000 for the Ashe County Humane Society!

Sunday morning, I met my friend and sometimes running companion Carrie at her house and we drove to Greensboro for the Valentines Day Massacre Marathon and Team Relay. Carrie used to be an ASU track runner and is currently is readying for the Boston Marathon. For the massacre, runners could choose to run the event solo-1 lap of 2.2 miles followed by 15 laps of 1.6 miles or run in teams of 2 or 4. The event was entirely on pavement and route circled a lake on rolling pavement. Carrie and I did the duo-each running 8 laps, swapping on and off. We both worked our butts off and each sent one another an email this am titled, “What are you trying to kill me?” I had a blast-never, ever having done anything like this! And my knee didn’t hurt-some soreness afterwards. Yet I think my knee is the only body part that did not hurt! I did the 2.2 mile lap to start off (15:52) and was amazed to see how close my other splits were: 10:55/11:04/10:49/10:51/10:49/11:01/10:56. I think working out on the elliptical trainer has helped!
The weekend truly zapped me and I went to bed last night at 8:30pm. It is humbling to be so tired after runs of the same length 3 months ago would have barely registered energy drain! Yet I figure at this point, unless I do dumb things, I will only get stronger! I don’t want to wish time away….yet look forward to not feeling so feeble!
Best wishes to Russ this weekend!!!

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Runner in Waiting: A bruised bone heals...

On December 8th, 2007 I ran the Hellgate 100k and as I often do, took a few falls (more on this later) during the 66ish mile event. Though I was sore and my left knee swelled, I really thought little of the “owie” I’d earned during the event…I just slowed and eventually finished up the last 20ish miles after the fall as I usually do-knowing that I was sore yet that it wouldn’t last forever. Back in December I was psyched to have PR’d, disappointed to have slowed down and assumed my knee would be “all better” in a matter of a week.

It was not better in a week. Or in two. Even after resting and icing and taking a horrible number of ibuprofen. I couldn’t run without lots of pain and so until I could have my MRI, which was scheduled for Dec 31st, I resorted to trying the elliptical (too sore), biking (too sore) walking…ok as long as I stuck to 4.0 mph or so. Sigh. So I walked and started doing lots of sit-ups and pushups (yet alas the pushups put too much stress on the knee do to the quad muscles working) ACK? What was I to do? Go nuts and get fat until I could figure out what was wrong and how to help myself? No. I wasn’t willing to go nuts or get fat…so I resorted to slow walking and immersed myself in my sedentary hobby of quilting for many hours a week.

On New Years Day, the day after my MRI, my doc called and revealed: 1) good news-no obvious soft tissue injury-meniscus, ligaments, cartilage all seemed well. I have a thickened plica-yet no conclusions drawn from that. What had been causing my pain was a bone bruise on the inside of my knee. 2) This is good and bad. Good because bone bruises (which are actually micro fractures of the bone marrow as I understand it) will fully heal-the bad news is the initial healing takes usually 6-8 weeks and activity can be done if the individual uses pain as a guide. Although 80% of the healing should be complete in 8ish weeks (add a couple of weeks in some cases) it can take up to a year for a fracture or bone bruise to completely heal itself. In most cases people can be fully active as the final healing takes place. I realized it might take me a little longer to go through the initial healing process because I kept experimenting and trying to run before my diagnosis.

During the past month, until a few days ago, I did not run. Not one step. I have pulled out of races I registered for and have made plans to run others in a couple of months. I have walked (strolled at 4ish mph) many, many miles listening to books on my ipod. I have tried pool running (too much strain on knee) and have used the elliptical trainer in conservative moderation. I have done matt and ball core workouts and I traded in my long weekend training run days for time at home sewing, cooking and doing graduate schoolwork. A couple of weeks ago, to distract myself from being frustrated with not running, I tried out for a community theater play. I will be Agatha (the maid) in The Children’s Hour during the 1st weekend in April. Rehearsals began earlier this week.

My knee is healing and I am soo excited to be again looking forward to training and getting back to racing. Yet I know I must be careful not to rush things. I have run on the treadmill 4x this week 3-5 miles at a time and have traded my flat walking for trail hiking in order to strengthen my ankles and supporting muscles before I venture out to fully running on the rocky, rooty, icy/snowy trails of February in the NC mountains! I am hoping being immersed in the theatre will be a positive and fun focus until I again put lots of energy and time into running trails.

You might be wondering why did an experienced trail runner fall so many times as to really hurt herself? What lessons were learned? This part of the story is important-yet straightforward.

Question: Why did she fall multiple times in the leaves and rocks, if she is used to running in leaves and rocks?
Answer: Because she had sheet metal screws in her shoes. Yes-these were a terrific tool for the icy roads early on…as the route progressed the elevation dropped and we knew there was no ice in the lower elevations.
Question: So why did she continue to run with screws in her shoes even when there was no snow?
Answer: Because she failed to consider that the Blue Ridge Parkway might be closed (which is always a possibility) and we didn’t have drop bags at mile 21 as anticipated. So she got to run over slippery rocks with slippery screws in the soles of her feet.

Needless to say shoes with screws and slick rocks covered with 2 feet of leaves weren’t conducive to me running with much stability!

Uwharrie was run today.I was sad to have backed out-and thought of the runners all day long! Uwharrie 40 was my first ultra in 2003! I really look forward to seeing the results and hearing stories!

What's next for me? I hope to be strong enough to participate in Holiday Lake in 2 weeks...not as a competitor-but I hope to run back of the pack and support some folks who might need some companionship or a bit of a "boost". It will be good for me to get back out there and I think it will be neat to experience an ultra from a different perspective! After that? I hope Way Too Cool in March, Zane Grey in April and WS 100 in June. I am also planning on heading to Richmond VA in May for Montrails Run Like A Girl!

If you are reading this, please send me good wishes of continued healing and patience!