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!