Thursday, September 30, 2010

FAA Road

The FAA has a right of way, a road, through our property. The road leads to a VOR Navigational beacon on the adjoining property. The gravelled road is gated and locked. It was where I first began my work out journey. Back in the day, I would walk the road about three times almost every day. Just walking-walking people!!!-and watching portion size (ala WW) helped me shed 75 pounds.

I returned to the road yesterday as a new source of working out. The road was re-gravelled last year, with some large, #1 gravel. What is #1 gravel? Well, larger rocks. Kind of uncomfortable to walk on. When we accompany the dogs on the daily hike around the property on the road, we try to find the most settled part of the road.

My road workout is to walk over the rough section of the rocks, and improve my speed over time.
So I set out in the morning, armed with the Zune and podcasts.

It turned out to be rather uncomfortable and tedious. I was glad to have the podcasts to listen to. The footing is not that stable (I was wearing trail shoes) and it was slow going. I walked for 54 minutes, 2.9 miles. Now I have a baseline established, time to go about improving on this.

A few hours later, at work, my lower back was very tight and painful. I believe it was due to rough walking surface! So I think this was a good idea, it's a different surface, it should help me increase my walking speed, over time, and work on some different muscle groups.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Akron Marathon Race Report 2010

Well, as you can see by the Akron Marathon "Taunt" Card, they sent me, I did spend a little less time with them this year.

I thought this was a very funny marketing ploy by the Akron Marathon-but I could see how it could really bother runners who didn't hit their target goal for the race.

I kept this on the bulletin board all year long, and about two months ago, decided to run Akron. Yes, the 50K was the weekend before, but please, I'm an ultra runner. I did take most of the week off and didn't run, my version of a taper.

Race morning was chilly. I was amazed at how much the little Akron Marathon has grown. I started the race with my friend and Umstead pacer, Steve, and his brother-in-law, Ken, who was running his first half-marathon (and finished too, in 2:41!! good job!!). As always, I keep to the far left on the Y-Bridge so I can bellow at all my fast friends who are already coming back: Tony, Frank, Dave, Kevin, Jim. Then we run a quick around the block to go back across the bridge. This is where I parted company with Ken and Steve who stopped for a port-a-potty break.

As I ran back through town (running too fast) I was amazed at BLOCKS of spectators. Usually there is one or two blocks or so. This was like a freaking parade route! Amazing!!
I was still running too fast, but was trying to slow down. I had looked at a marathon pace chart, and my goal was to run just under 11:00 minute miles. Every time I looked at Garmin, it seemed like it was around 10.30 ish. Sigh. I knew I would pay later for this. But hey, as I said to Cindy, Bob and Don post-race, I know nothing about pacing a marathon! I don't run them!

It was kind of an uneventful race through the first half. My left calf cramped up in the first two miles. I kept taking my S!Caps every hour, along with an amino cap from Hammer Nutrition. I did give in and took a few ibuprofens. The leg hurt, but the drugs kicked in eventually. I wasn't going to let the excuse of a "muscle cramp" be what defined my race.

I hammered the hill leading into the towpath-hey, let gravity help. Although I like the towpath section, since we're in nature, it really slows me down. I concentrated on the Garmin and tried to move away from the 4:45 pace leader. I'm sure he's a nice guy, and the chattering is helpful to keep the group on pace, but I just wasn't into the chatter. They did pull in front of me on the towpath.
The 13.1 banner is overhead, and then the lady giving you your predicted race finish time: "you're on track for a 4:56 finish" Yack! Egads! Great! That's a little too close for me!

But the 13.1 marker was also my release to put my headphones on and turn the music on. That was my carrot, what I was looking forward to for miles. And man, the music really picked up my pace!
We got off the towpath, and I kept a steady running pace through the traffic lights, and onto Sand Run Parkway. This is the notorious 3 mile uphill stretch. I put both earphones in and turned up the volume.
Where were all the marathoners? I swear, every person walking up the hill was a relay runner. Which is funny, because this is "ONLY" a 5K section for the relay, and they just started out. Whatever. I ran (not walked!!) the entire section. In fact, I ran this whole marathon, except for some walking to pick up water and to drink PowerAde at the water stops.
Frank Dwyer was running the relay, and we chatted for a bit after Sand Run, it was good to see him!
I got through the neighborhoods and then we hit Stan Hywet Hall. I wasn't sure how much farther I had to go but the sub 5 goal was looking pretty long as I didn't blow up or cramp.
The turn onto West Market Street means it's about two miles to the finish---and a big long downhill. "Footloose" comes on the Zune. I got something like 40 minutes to go 2 miles, so I have a big old grin on my face as I RUN down the street. Best marathon feeling finish since the first one here at Akron in 2004!

I 'chick' about 4 guys and a few girls that seem to be far worse off than I am on the last leg. Really, I don't feel bad at all, just hungry and want something to eat!!

Run across the infield at Canal Park, finishing time of 4 hours 50 minutes!

So beat Goal C: improve on the Akron time of last year of 5:37: done

Goal B: Run a sub 5 hour marathon

Goal A: Would have been to PR the course and my marathon record of 4:37. You know, if I had trained to 'run' the Akron Marathon, and run a road race, and tapered, and not run a 50K the weekend before, I think that could have been doable. But I'm actually more proud of my 50K PR of the weekend before, and very pleased with my marathon finish.

I jogged/hiked 6.3 miles on trails this Sunday morning, to help the hamstrings become less stiff. I think after some stretching, I'll be good to go. Now to work on a somewhat tapering plan for the West Virginia Trilogy in 13 days!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Last Days of Summer

Today is my day off, and what a gorgeous one! My legs feel good. This new thing I tried, post-race, standing around drinking beer for several hours vs hopping in a vehicle and heading home? Well, it seemed to help my legs. Just a very small amount of muscle tightness in the quads.
The weather was too nice not to run. Cool temps, no humidity, I was out the door around noon.
I did try something different on this run. My stinky hydration vest was washed and on the clothes line, so I used a waist pack, which holds one bottle-uggh! I do not like that any more! It really was cumbersome around my waist! I guess I like the weight higher up, between my shoulder blades now.
The camera doesn't do justice to the goldenrod. The sky was actually much bluer.
This is the tractor, that I took several snow-covered pics of last winter. I think it looks better this way!
I listened to music, and ran well. I was about "average" with the loop time, so very pleased with that, after running a 50K on Saturday!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

YUT-C 50 Race Report

Pictures stolen from Nick Billock. Thanks for the pictures, Nick! Good to see you out there. Hang in there!!
Early Saturday morning, I made the decision: carry the camera, or not? I put the camera in my purse. I came to run the YUT-C this day. No putzing around taking pictures.

I spent the night at the Harris' home, thanks Jim and Beth for the hospitality! I really appreciated it.
Jim and I were up very early. We drove over to Mill Creek Park, where Jim was going to run the 25K course to make sure of trail markers. I had gotten the okay to start early, so I figured 430 AM was good to go. I turned my trail headlamp on and started my two watches.
Jim caught up to me right as I hit the Monkey Trails and took a slight wrong turn, so I was then back on track. We stayed together until the Covered Bridge, where Jim decided to just run the shorter loop, and I promised to proof the bottom half of the course.
Course markers were still in place, and I had a pretty uneventful run through Mill Creek Park. I had forgotten that the trail here is a bit technical-both rocky and rooty. I'm glad I have a 50 miler-the URINEO, December 18, on the same course. I did note I got back to the start, for the 25K distance, in 3 hours 6 minutes. A very good time for me.

The YUT-C 50K course has changed a bit over the sixth year history. The present version is a 25K of both the upper and lower lakes, then two more laps of the upper loop. So when I got back to the start/finish, the official race had not begun yet. Bob Combs, Race Director, advised me that I had 23 minutes until other runners would be joining me on the course. I took off!

Shawn Pope, the race winner, didn't catch me until just before the famous love log. Coming into the Covered Bridge Aid Station, I noted I was keeping almost even splits.

I ran into John DeWalt, ultra trail legend, right where we climb past the turnoff for the Lily Pond. John gives me praise for looking so strong, and congratulates me on finishing The Ring. High praise indeed, coming from a runner like Johnny D.

I make it back to the start/finish in 5 hours. I'm starting to think favorably on my one goal for this race: finish under 8 hours. I haven't finished YUT-C under 8 hours (usually 8.5 hours) ever.
But now there's this other little goal popping into my head:
what about finishing under 7 hours?

Well, first goal is to get to the Covered Bridge. I run. I mean, I run. I run everything that isn't a big uphill. I run across the boardwalk into the CB. I take off my hydration pack, yell for Rich Vribonic to fill it, and tell him I'm trying to break 7 hours.

I then take off. I am RUNNING. I am running everything. I've got one hour. I don't know the exact mileage back to the finish, I was afraid to ask. Afraid I will pysche myself out. I concentrate on just running.

I pass John DeWalt, again, at the Pionner Pavilion. He comments again on how happy and strong I look, and I tell him I'm trying to break 7 hours. He tells me I can do it!

I know the landmarks. I glance at my watch. I keep running. I get two girls in front of me. Oh crap, I will have to pass them. Luckily, they keep a good running pace in front of me.

Where's that last little bridge? I hit it. I know we will dip off the trail pretty quickly. I glance at my watch. 630. Oh yeah. I'm doing it!!!
The girls hesitate at the last right turn, and I direct them to the right. We burst off the trail, and I pass them as I head into the open, heading for the finish line. I'm RUNNING! No walking, running!!

I hit the finish line at 6 hours 40 minutes. My fastest 50K time, EVER. Damn. And that's with about three hours of night-time running to begin with.

I am very very pleased with my race. I felt good. My leg calf cramped up, very early, as it has been doing for around the last year. I had a ultra sound on it last fall, to rule out a DVT, so I'm safe there. I did use S! Caps, and ate some bananas at aid stations. I do have a compression calf sleeve on order, so maybe that will help.

A very good solid race effort. Weight loss and training is paying off!!!!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

A Tale of Two Shoes

Actually, it's a tale of two pairs of shoes.

I mentioned having a brand new pair of Montrail Vitesse, purchased in 2007 for my first thought of a MMT race.
I've never mentioned the other pair of Montrails I bought, via www.steepandcheap, a pair of Montrail Nitrus. I think I paid around 40 dollars for them. I wore them, once, and they seemed to cause an ache to my ankle. So I immediately consigned them to the closet.

This past summer, I got the Vitese out and ran in them. They seemed fine, a bit warm.

Somewhere, along the way, the Nitrus crept out of the closet too. And somehow, (since the Vitesse were out of sight, out of mind) I thought the grey/red shoe was the Vitesse.

I wore them several times, in West Virginia, and on trails around here. Wow, these seem good to go. I congratulated myself on having a second trail shoe option.

So, today, I was looking for the Mizunos, for the YUT-C 50K this weekend. I go into the closet, and find the Mizunos.

Then I also pull out the Montrail Vitesse. Huh. Well, this is not the shoe I think it is! AND I pull out the Montrail Nitrus. Which, two years ago, hurt my ankle, but now, in 2010, I've been running very well in it. LOL.

SO it appears I have two very capable trail shoes to run in. So why is this disappointing? Because I want to buy new running shoes, darn it!!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Trail Awesomeness

What a great run today. Cool temps, around 60, no humidity, light breeze. Our ongoing drought ensures that the bridle trail is bone dry. Even the huge muddle pockets that the horses have churned up have solidified into firm mud, where you can just run across it.

My first trail run since The Ring-I felt really good, and felt faster. I don't know how to describe it. Well, I guess I can. I was running. After the rocks of Virginia, my minimally rooty dirt path just seemed like no effort! I was running everything. I felt lighter, and felt faster. I even ran some uphills. Just a joyful day in the woods.

I dutifully logged my run at, and then compared my pace to other runs there. My pace was 15.16 minute miles, which is a bit quicker than my fastest pace there previous, of 15.54, very nice, 38 seconds quicker per mile!

A very good run today. I think I will run Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, and take Thursday and Friday off, to rest up for the YUT-C 50K on Saturday.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Back to Training

It’s time to return to the plan. I took a few days off after The Ring. The blisters have healed up, and I think I’ve got sufficient rest. I’m back to my twenty pounds weight loss plus two more. I’m very tickled about that. Sorry that you, dear reader, will hear more of my yammering about weight loss and such, but it really makes me feel positive. And positive action begets more positive action..

Which leads me to brag mention a small victory this morning..being a chilly morning, I grabbed my Brooks Buckeye Trail “Run for Regis” jacket and donned it.I’m swimming in it! It’s just a large. I feel I can almost wrap it around me twice!

I spent time this week ruminating over an article that I first read in the Spring Edition of Road Runners Club of America Magazine.The article was about setting goals-nothing new, but I cut the article out and pinned it to the bulletin board. Then, earlier this week, I took it down, really read it, and thought this is a nice reflective time to go through all the steps outlined, and make a plan. So the main headers below are courtesy of the RRCA article, with my plan written below.

1. Define what you want to accomplish this year

I guess if you use a rolling year, that would suit my plan. I want to complete the 2011 Massanutten 100 Trail Race.

2. Know where you are Right now

Err, I y’am what I am. I have a pretty good handle on what I am capable of at this minute.

3. Be Honest About What you Need to Develop

My Gaps: Speed

What can I do about that?

A. Lose Weight

B. Walking Speed

C. Hill Work

4. Set Sub Goals-break down your outcome/season long goals into specific, concentrated areas, like physical, nutrition, and mental skills.

Sub Goal: Weight Loss

1. Journaling and following WW Plan-consistently log and journal

2. Eat more veggies-get the 5-7 servings in

3. Eat less processed food

Sub Goal: Walking Speed

1. Walk the FAA Road-I plan on using one of my training days a week to improve on walking. My outside walking speed is just simply not fast enough. Although I have improved walking on the treadmill, the treadmill does too much of the work. I have a graveled road on our property-a private road, perfect to use to improve the walking stride.

2.Treadmill Walking-I know I just mentioned that the treadmill does too much of the work, but I will also use the treadmill, and the ability to increase the incline up to 10% on walking. I learned after last winter that although it can be the “Dread mill” it has allowed me to get in workouts when the outside conditions were too unsafe to be in.

3. Incorporate strides into runs-Lloyd had me doing these, and I will get back to this by gum!!! (This is one of these areas that I will put on the check-list for accountability.)

Sub Goal: Hill Work

Devote one day per training week to this

Change up the hill-drive to hill if necessary due to time constraints-I mention this because I meant to do hill work this summer. But the hill I wanted to do repeats on is mile 3 of my 6.4 mile loop. I felt it was ‘too far’ into my run, and I was spending too much time anyways…yada yada yada…so I think I will cut the whining out. If I have to drive over to the hill, so be it. Run a short warm-up and then hit the hill.

Also, change the hill! People, I live in the foothills of Appalachia. All I run on are hills (hence the “I don’t need hill repeats….”) I got lots of hills to chose from.

Log mileage and times for tracking and improvement-I think this is important. Establish a baseline of time from bottom to top, and top to bottom. Keep a log of this, so I can see improvement.

5. Commit yourself Totally-declare Goals. Committing yourself means writing down your goals where you will see them at the forefront of your mind. Creating a daily or weekly check off list that will help you stay motivated, as it allows you to see what areas you are doing well in and not so well in.

I think that’s what I am doing with this blog post! I also have been creating a little Excel spreadsheet, so I can mark certain areas: running mileage for the week, walking mileage, stretching, core workouts, weight change, strides. I may try to post it or do a screen shot to show.

6.Continually Monitor Your Progress

I think having my spreadsheet will help with this.

So, can you tell I like to plan things out? I feel really good about this. It helped to sit down and think about all the aspects of “a plan” and then to create the smaller steps to make this happen.

But Kim, what if you don’t get into Massanutten? The MMT 100 has gone to the lottery system. I did not get in last year, and was on the waiting list. I believe, if I had stayed on the waiting list, I would have been in the race. Sure, I might not get picked, and then be at the bottom of the wait list. And if that happens, it happens. But I am going to train for it (which is already going on, with my rolling calendar year) as if I was already selected. It’s only about 200 days out and counting..

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Post Run Reflections

Second day after the Ring, and I feel pretty good. I didn't get out on my bike yesterday, due to company being over. The legs are just a little stiff. The blisters are healing.

I need to work on the blister issues. I have calluses on the outside of each heel, with a blister underneath. I need to work on getting rid of those calluses. I think I need to do some shoe research, and see if I can find one with a better fit. I may try the Scarpas that I wore for a review for Trail Runner Magazine a year ago.

I'm real pleased with this comparision:

I've noted with glee the number going down on the scale, but it's gratifying to see the gut shrinking. I've lost about 20 lbs. I need to lost another 15 lbs. I'm getting faster, just by being lighter.

I need to work on my walking. I will turn one of my running days into a 'power walking' day. I have done this on the treadmill, but I need to do this outside. The tread does the work for you. I have the perfect road for this too, the private road on our property. The FAA has an road easement through our place to a FAA directional beacon adjoining us. The road has been redressed in the last year with large #1 gravel-rocky and not that pleasant to walk on-PERFECT for training!

I also need to work on going up hills more efficiently, so I will target one running day a week to do some hill repeats on.

AND I need to get back to the Hard Core Workouts! I need to get the core stronger!

Yes, I had plenty of time to think about training needs on my run Saturday.

Being on the Massanutten rocks really sparked my desire to improve and go back there again.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Fellowship of the Ring

The Ring

For the uninitiated, The Ring is a circuit of the entire 71-mile orange-blazed Massanutten Trail in the George Washington National Forest, on the ridgelines of the eastern and western ranges of the Massanutten Mountains around the Fort Valley, roughly between Front Royal and Luray. The "trail" is hard, rocky, and slow. Sections of the trail have been around in some cases for centuries, but the entire, uninterrupted, 71-mile Massanutten Trail was not completed until 2002.

The Virginia Happy Trails Club immediately pounced on this trail on completion. Two members, Chris Scott and Anstr Davidson, were the first to complete the Ring. This got the ball rolling, and every fall, more runners are iniated into the Ring.

This is a FatAss Event. Except Virginia Happy Trails does this up. Aid stations, drop bag support. These AS stayed opened all day and night, even supporting us slow poke runners to the very end.

I'm getting a little ahead of myself. (Sigh. This shall be long.)

Friday, Cam Baker, Jim Harris and myself drove down. We went over to Bird's Knob, to see what that trail was like, since it is not on the Massanutten Trail (but part of the MMT 100 Race course.)

On the first 1/2 mile of the climb, in the same old shoes and socks I've worn before, hot spots are developing on my heels. I stop to adjust the sock, then stop again to tie the shoes tighter. Nope. I can already feel the blisters on each heel. I quit fussing about it, and enjoy our 8 miles we spend up on the ridge.

I'm planning on taping the bottoms of my feet anyways, so now I will also tape my heels for the run on Saturday.

After a very nice meal with members of the VHTRC Friday night, I awake to "your waffle is ready" made by one of the RD's, Quatro. Freshly made waffles and sausages and coffee race day morning? Sweet!!

Pre-race picture. I'm still nervous and apprehensive about the trails out there. I believe Mike Bur said 'okay, go' and we were off! to the sounds of an accordion player. So light-hearted and happy. Most of the field passed me quickly, and I was left alone, as usual. Right across the road was Elizabeth Furnace. The first miles passed by quickly and uneventful. I was worried about water. We'd been told no water at Veach Gap, but at Milford Gap, about 13 miles in. There was aid, at Milford, and I ate, and filled both my 2 Liter hydration pack and one hand held. It was a warm day, and I had drained all earlier.

Carolyn Gernard had caught up to me at this AS, and we began to stay together at this point. I believe I was a bit faster than Carolyn, as I felt my pace was just a tad too slow behind her-I didn't feel like I was working hard enough. But this didn't bother me, as I had no prior knowledge on this course. At this point, like many ultras, the goal is to just make it to the next AS.

And chatting with Carolyn got the song out of my head. We are running on the ridge line, which means we are literally on top of the mountain. On this trail, you can see off to the east....and off to the left. I had this terrible Carpenters song stuck in my head for miles:
" I’m on the top of the world lookin’ down on creation
And the only explanation I can find
Is the love that I’ve found ever since you’ve been around
Your love’s put me at the top of the world"

Yeah, you get that in your head for miles!!!!

Carolyn is a total knowledge geek about the Massanutten Trail, and I'm so lucky to be running with her! She knows every cross trail, she knows what is upcoming, I felt like I had my own private tour guide for this run!

This is a section of trail, as we approached Waterfall Mountain. Kind of uneventful, with a gradual climb. It looks like this section has burned recently, lots of young sassafras trees here.
We also caught with Jason, that also ran at Laurel Highlands. He was struggling, but it seemed to rejuvenate him a bit to have some folks to chat with as we approached Waterfall Mountain.

At the bottom of Waterfall Mountain. Not currently used in the MMT 100, but has been in the past. Carolyn told us that it is 2400 steps. She counts to get her up the mountain. It's short but steep. I start counting also. OMG. I'm at only 200? I resolutely keep counting. Carolyn announces 1000 and I start over again. Then I just give up and follow steadily up the hill. Jason stops for a rest and I pass him. We keep going. I stop for a moment, to see where Jason is. No movement below. I keep going.
Carolyn is good with the carrot and stick reward. She warns of what is coming, but then re-assures what is ahead. Which is another aid station, not far after we reach the top. Carolyn is way ahead of her normal pace, which everyone at the AS is very happy about. We both eat up; I change out of my nasty salt-encrusted singlet for a YUT-C shirt and we up and on on Kerns Mountain.
After Waterfall Mountain, Kerns doesn't seem that 'bad' to me. We're boulder hopping, and climbing, but we're trying to get as much trail in now that we can before dark.

I believe we hit the Moreland Gap AS, and then started up Short Mountain in the dark.
On Friday, Slim and I are driving along I-81, and he remarks "wow Short Mountain sure looks intimidating from here" and I look at this MOUNTAIN that I am going to run UP and then down! Now I am actually doing it!!!!
Carolyn starts to fade a bit on me on Short Mountain. She mentions she might have to stop and take a nap to regroup, and just wants to let me know. I tell her that is fine, I will just grab my windbreaker from my drop bag (her crew member, Chris, has been shuttling my bag along with Carolyn's for many miles) so that Chris can stay with Carolyn.
But before long, Carolyn's stomach rebels on her. It's the start of quite a few puke festivals. I feel bad for Carolyn. I don't know what to do. Really, there's not that much I could do. We slow down, way down, and continue our way. Now Carolyn's nap has turned into "just get off this mountain" and we continue down.
Carolyn is concerned about me and my run, and says to go on ahead. I tell her of course I'm not going off and leave her sick on the mountain! I have no pre-conceived times for this, as I have never done it before. And I would never leave a sick person out there on the mountain! I'm grateful I've had her as my own personal tour guide for the MMT Trail!
But it is long and slow off Short Mountain. We get to our aid at Edinburgh Gap. I have the famous soup here, and ask about the next section of trail. Now I am on my own for the run! Bedford tells me it is 8 miles and change and rather boring.
Well, boring is good, I think, after Kerns and Short Mountain. I head off into the night. The first two miles or so go well. Then the sleep deprivation kicks in, and I'm struggling. Struggling badly, in the wee hours of the morning. Typical ultra stuff, except I haven't experienced it for quite some time. I know my stomach can't handle more caffeine pills, in fact, I'm delicately putting food in now. I wish I had brought music to amuse me.
I lean up against a tree and close my eyes for a few seconds. That doesn't help. In fact, it seems to make me more dizzy. Using my second light to look for blazes, as I pick my way through rocks, and my anxiety over staying on the trail, seems to be the only thing to keep me going.
I get to Waterfall to very enthusiastic Caroline Williams and company, AND Carolyn and Chris. I'm pretty numb at this time. Carolyn nervously tells me my drop bag is Lost. Okay. She asks if there is anything important in it, like car keys. I ponder that, and say no. I'm really so punch drunk at this time, it doesn't matter to me. All I want to know is, how far to Powell's Fort, cuz I know Signal Knob is after that. And MAYBE sometime, dawn will occur!!

I've been thinking about sun rise since 3 am. I know I will get a second wind when the sun breaks. At this point, I am singing songs out loud to myself. And talking. Anything to keep me going. There are these disgusting wormy caterpillars that only seem to come out at night, and I shriek when I touch one on a tree.

Morning finally breaks. I can finally stop looking for the orange blazes with the light. I can know see them. I can finally get this headlamp off my head.
Slim has warned me about the run to Powell's Fort. He says it will be cold, don't stay long, and you will have a big climb, up a road, to Signal Knob. He had also pointed out Signal Knob from the car-a big old mountain, with cell towers on it.
I run a huge descent, which I am cringing. I know I have a climb. Any down hill means it is going up, eventually!
I eventually do turn out on a road. There IS an aid station, still here, hours after any runners have come through. There is a nice soft spoken woman with an accent here. She fills my water bottle as I eat small chocolate chip muffins. I find out later this is Eva, a rock-star 100 mile winner, out here tending to my 'last of the pack' issues!
As warned, this road gently winds up forever and forever. It is cold down here, but I'm "power-walking" as best I can. When does the climb begin? I know I have a climb! I know it's here somewhere!!! But the road winds and wind.
Until I can see the climb. Okay, I'm good with that. FINALLY.
Except it climbs and climbs. Since I'm from Ohio, we don't have that many hills. On a race, called the GroundHog 50K, it has nice hills. One is called "YellowBus". This climb is like YellowBus, with many false summits. It's like YellowBus X TWELVE!!!!!!! I stop looking up and start counting steps. I get discouraged and then just count to 10. Over and over.

I finally get to Signal Knob. The last spot. 5'ish miles to go. I stop and pull out my phone and call my husband to let him know I am still alive. I remember to take a picture, although it doesn't do justice to what you can see up here.
I don't linger. I am almost done. I am going to finish the Ring!!
Actually, not finishing has not been an issue. I felt very relaxed with this, since there are no real time cut offs. The AS workers were very supportive (hey, when you are last, everyone knows your name!!) and they still had real food and drink left out. That's very good when you are in the extreme back. Us slowpoke runners need good food and drink, not just any old crappy leftovers that no one else would have-that's why they're called leftovers!

But first, I have five miles to go. Down Signal Knob. I've had emails that only mention Signal Knob and sucking. No one goes into details. It's ominous.

It doesn't look so bad, does it? All these rocks? (Not that there were not rocks the other 65 miles!!!!) These are all pointy side up.
Really. My feet have been tender since around mile 50. I had been thinking of changing shoes (but then my drop bag was lost.) But this is Massanutten, and everyone's feet is torn to shreds. So this isn't anything new.
I start picking my way through it. It's hard. My feet hurt. Then I decide, screw it, just run on top of it. It's not going to make my feet hurt any less.
So I do, until I come to the 'granite seas' as I put it. These are big rocks (the pic below really isn't justice, but I was fried and not using the camera any more at this point). It's hopping and picking your way across, and not trying to fall.

I get to some sign that says Signal Knob Parking Lot, 3 miles. Longest 3 miles of my life. I felt like Sisyphys and his rock-I am doomed to stay on this trail for the blasted rest of my life! The switchbacks off the mountain were horrible. I would have rather just rappelled down to the parking lot.

I still have the energy to run into the parking lot, surprising the few folks there-Jim, Caroline Williams, Jason, and Eva. Apparently, as last place finisher, I'm well ahead of when I was expected!

Finisher! I finished in 27 hours, 36 minutes (somewhere around there). This is the club record for the fastest last place finish. (I guess usually last place finishers have been around 30 or 31 hours.)

After I recovered, emotionally, of that Signal Knob finish (and I think you have to experience it, to learn the term SUCK) and a nice shower and piece of pizza, I think I can answer Quatro's question "Did you have fun?" with an emphatic, yeah, it was fun. I had a great time!

But there is more. Now that I am in the Fellowship of the Ring, there is another category, The Master of the Ring. It's the Ring, in Reverse (cleverly called the Reverse Ring) in February.
I think I've been smitten with the call of the Rocks.

Apologies for the big old long post. This was the bare bones post. I hope to get something out tomorrow, with more thoughts and reflections and such!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Woohoo Ready to Go!!!

I thought I would post a much more positive blog before I leave town. The post before this is true. I had written it, then sat on it for about 23 hours, read it, and decided it was still valid emotions for me.

BUT I do have to say I'm horribly excited. I LOVE adventures! I love to visit new places and see new trail! I'm as prepared as I am going to be. I got my drop bag packed; my clothes ready, and am charging the camera battery so I can document the whole journey. Or, at least, the first few hours.

Hurricane Earl has been adding an additional level of excitement, but I don't think it's going to affect western Virginia at all, maybe contribute to the cooler temps-it should be in the high 70's during the day, and high 50's at night. Weeee! Great running weather.

Okay, I'm off to work all day, get home around 930 pm and try to get to sleep asap. My day will start early-3 am wake up call!