Thursday, September 26, 2013

Out of the Closet

Finally cleaned out the closet

22 pairs of running shoes

13 pairs of trail shoes
9 pairs of road shoes (two Hoka hybrids)

Pairs I have not had on my feet in last year or two:

3 pairs of old Montrail Wildwood Trace-uppers are kind of dry rotted. Pitch
A pair of Yellow/Black that I can't even identify the brand on. Pitch
4 pairs of old Sauconies that are only fit to walk around the estate on. That still leaves 3 more pair of Saucony to wear around estate.
Old Mizunos with screws.  Time for them to go.


Nice clean White Saucony-these are actually my work shoes.
La Sportiva Raptors-one pair with total ripped up uppers.

 Need to fix or contact La Sportiva before tossing

Montrail Bajadas-also ripped, but these have screws from last winter, so will use these as winter running shoes

3 pair of older Saucony-for walking around estate

Been wearing Hokas for most road running around here. One pair of road Hokas and 2 pair of hybrids.

Will still have my La Sportiva Ultra Raptors, Montrail Mtn Masochists
Solomon SpeedCross-3-need to try these out some more.  I believe I wore these twice, trying out new shoes before either RevRing or MMT this year.

 I tossed eight pairs of running shoes.  My husband still was not amused.  It's hard to explain to a non runner. I can wear my LaSportivas on rocky courses, like MMT and Hardrock, but it's not the shoe to wear on smooth singletrack, like Mohican or Salt Fork.  That's what the Montrails are used for.
The Hokas have been great on my little road running escapades.  I've worn them for some short trail runs at Salt Fork.  I also ran about 10 or so miles at The Ring, they were certainly comfy over the rocks but I don't know about more mileage yet with them on the rocks.

I also put away all the laundry this morning before week.  I have been taking advantage of this spare free time in the morning before work since not running!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

A Week Off

I actually got in to see my doctor this week, which, in rural Ohio, is amazing.  Health care in rural areas is pretty piss-poor.  I won't go into that rant now.

I presented my nurse, and doctor, with my typical printed out list.  When  I see my doctor, I try and present, in writing, my problems.  They really appreciate this.

For my back, I had the time line, and symptoms, and pain, that I had since September 14.  So when the doctor arrived in the room, we did not have to go over the whole story once again. I was able to give her the "short version" with more specifics, on what hurt when.

Good news:  doc does not think I have any disk issues.  She thinks it is still just a muscle strain issue, and since I keep running, I am not making it any better.

Advice:  One week  off from running and a course of prednisone therapy. 

Once the doctor said, no disk involvement (unless this doesn't resolve in about a week) I felt much better.  My back has been feeling better, but my big issue here has been, get this issue fixed, so I don't have trouble down the road.  I would much rather take the downtime now, than continue on and be hurt and have bigger issues later.

I let the coach know what was going on and got some positive reinforcement for some future race plans.

The silver lining to this injury is the fact that I do not have ANY races looming over me at all.  If I was running Grindstone/Oil Creek/WV Trilogy I would be a bit unhappy and I would also still be running through the pain..cuz those races are almost pretty much here.  Actually, I guess I would take an early taper and then hope for the best.

So I am not going to run for a week.  I am cleared to walk.  Which I will do, some mornings. (Not tomorrow.)  I am going to get in some quality sleep.  Maybe get that closet cleaned off of excessive shoes (I am looking for a purse for vacation in there somewhere.)  I will watch my eating and drinking too, to make sure to dial that back up with less miles on the body.

 I may have one more 2013 goal race to go.  I had almost discarded the idea of applying for Hellgate, but have gotten some positive reinforcements, so when the app for that appears, I may throw my name into the hat.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Then..and 10 Years Later



A couple of pics from Grenada. The first time, in 1993.  The second pic is from our third trip there, 2003.
I can't find the pics from 1998 (Dennis dropped my camera in the waterfall) or 2008 yet.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Cowan Lake State Park Hike

I went on a little out of town trip with my husband, down to southern Ohio (the other side, the western side.) I found a little state park to run in.
Cowan Creek was named for the area's first surveyor, John Cowan. A dam was completed across Cowan Creek in 1950, and in 1968, Cowan Lake was dedicated as a state park.

Six hiking trails are available in the park:
  • Beechnut Loop Trail - 1/2 Mile - Easy
  • Dogwood Trail - 0.7 Miles - Easy
  • Emerald Woods Trail - 1.8 Miles - Easy
  • Lotus Cove Trail - 0.7 Miles - Moderate - Offers a boardwalk view of an American Lotus (water lily) colony
  • Oldfield Trail - 0.8 Miles - Moderate
  • Lakeview Trail - 1.1 Miles - Moderate
Cowan Lake State Park has one Mountain Bike Trail - 1 Mile - Easy-Difficult

It poured rain on our drive to southwest Ohio, so I had no high hopes for this hike.

You notice  I said hike. Not run.

I've jacked up my back, to put it in runner medical terms.  I overdid lifting and carrying stuff at YUTC.  It hurt that day at YUTC, but I just figured "I overdid it" as I am apt to do, and the strain would be gone soon.

It has not gone away.  At mile 8 of my 10 mile run on Thursday, it came back with a vengeance. It made it difficult to turn over while sleeping.  I still got my Friday seven mile run in, with lots of pain through out.

It still hurts pretty bad.  It is in the small of my back, so it's not just muscle strain.  And what I am worried about is that is has hurt more, rather than less, as the week went on.

I took 800mg of ibuprofen this morning before we drove south and that thankfully helped.  Monday  I will see about getting a doctor appointment set up.  That will take about one week or so.  Really, it will, in my limited health care area.

I still decided to go with my husband and check out this state park.  The rain and gloom suited my mood entirely.

 I had difficulty finding the trail head. In fact, I just found a trail and blundered down it.  There were no markers.

 Not a bad little trail. It stopped raining, as I arrived.  Dark and wet.

You can tell the Trail Goddess doesn't feel good.  Glasses and no Buff.  I think I look tired.

I pop out of one trail, and see this sign across a drive. Hey, that's where I want to go!

Some old slippery timber steps lead down to this...non view...

So I go around this trail, and then walk down the drive, where I could see the lake and all the lilies.

The American Lotus colony was pretty cool.  It was huge!
 Probably a couple of acres of lotuses..loti?  I could see why this park is popular for kayaks, in nice weather.

I could see the seed pods on the plants, but they were all facing away from me, no pic except this off the web:

And you can eat the American Lotus!!

I brightened all the other pics except this one so you could see the lilies better.  It was a dark and overcast morning.

I never found the boardwalk either.

I wandered down this trail called "Deer Trail" which is not on the map of the state park.

It then intersected with what I believe was the mountain bike trail, but I was kind of done for the morning and took another trail back to the vehicle.

I drove into the campground a bit while recceying for the trail.  They have both cottages and RV hookups.  The part that I was in was fully wooded and looked pretty nice.

So if you are ever in southern Ohio, Cowan Lake State Park is about 11 miles out of Wilmington.  You could cobble together a short little run there, on some easy, non-technical singletrack.  I bet the water lilies are beautiful when blooming!

P.S.  The only positive aspect to my hurting back is the fact that I don't have a big race, or any race coming out right now.  Hellgate is a consideration, but we'll see.  I am hoping that some rest will help me out tremendously.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Do You Worry About Runners Face?

 I did not know about the condition called "runner's face" before.  Thank you, internet.

This was an actual interweb article:

QUESTION: Is there really such a thing as ''runner's face''?
ANSWER: If you're over 40 and a woman, you probably know the urban myth of ''runner's face'' - the gaunt, skeletal look you end up with if you run for fun or fitness. Only, alas, it's not a myth. And it affects men, too.
It's not just joggers who can suffer from a prematurely aged face but people taking part in any sport or training in which the aim is to lose fat.
''Unfortunately, fat reduction is seldom selective, and not only do we lose fat from the areas we want, such as bellies, thighs and backsides, we lose it from parts of the body we don't want to, such as the breaisementsts and face,'' says cosmetic physician Sean Arendse.

The face has a number of fat pads that sit beneath the skin and act as scaffolding, giving structure and volume. As we age, we lose these naturally.
''And when they're lost at a young age, for example in joggers, we tend to look older than our years,'' Dr Arendse says.
According to plastic surgeon Gerald Imber, another contributor to the premature ageing of a runner's face is the continual high impact of pounding up and down, which pulls the skin of the face away from its underlying muscles. ''This constant bouncing causes a gradual destruction of the elastic tissue that keeps faces firm,'' Dr Imber says. ''It accelerates the loosening and stretching of facial skin.''
But Dr Arendse says he would never encourage someone to stop running, as the health and lifestyle benefits far outweigh the toll on appearance.
And a temporary solution for the problem is available. ''The atrophied fat pads in a jogger's face can now be safely replaced with hyaluronic acid fillers, such as those in the Juvederm or Restylane range, restoring youthful curves and volume in the face.''

Q: Is there any specific skincare that runners should use?
A: Many runners spend hours exposed to the elements without proper protection for their skin. As well as a lithe body, the result can be wrinkles. In Australia, ''photo ageing'', or sun damage, is one of the most prevalent but preventable external ageing factors. So put simply, use sunscreen. Before your run, apply an SPF50 sunscreen that's water (and therefore sweat) resistant. Use generously on all exposed areas - including the often-forgotten back and sides of the neck and decolletage (a big tell-tale sign of ageing in Australian women).
Dermal therapist Sally Risby, of Toorak's Flawless Rejuvenation, says runners should use a Vitamin C serum beneath a moisturiser and sunscreen for added photo protection. The antioxidant reduces free-radical damage and is vital for the production of the collagen that gives skin its strength and texture.
At night, use a retinoid (Vitamin A). ''Retinoids have a large body of scientific evidence behind their use in anti-ageing,'' Risby says. ''They assist with hyperpigmentation [age/sun spots] and have an inhibitory influence on the process that breaks down collagen.''
Traditional moisturisers are a must, she says. Running outside can exacerbate skin dehydration causing it to appear crepey and making fine lines more noticeable. "

So do I have the "gaunt skeletal look" here?
Worried about my face in 20 degree weather, high winds, and Short Mountain Reverse Ring 2012

Do I look that bad? Top of Jawbone, MMT 100 2012, Mile 95  Pretty worried here. It must be the aid station food making my cheeks plump
Still worried about the wrinkles

Okay, protecting the face here from wrinkles..or frostbite

But really, I should be worried how I look after a run now?  The only physical thing I do during a run is try and finger comb out my nappy curls, after they have gotten all sweated down on my head.   And that is just to make me feel better, because I don't like the feeling of my matted hair on my head.  I will also occoassionally wipe my face off or pour water on my face to get rid of salt that I have excreted.  But that is also for comfort, to make me feel better, not to make me look better.

More relieved at being done than what I look like The Ring Finish 2013

What I do Use

Okay, in all serious, I do not use a Vitamin C serum.  But I do use a daily moisturizer, I've been using Oil of Olay since I was about eighteeen years old.  I have dry skin.  Most Oil of Olay products have a sunscreen.

Most days when I go run I also apply sunscreen with a SPF of 15 or 30.

In the winter, I try and remember to apply this before runs:

Vaseline Petroleum Jelly Cream.  Yes, it is Vaseline, but in a cream format, not the ointment.  So it goes on smoothly, like any other cream, and sinks into the skin, unlike if you tried smearing the petroleum  jelly ointment on your face, which will just sit there.  I find it gives my skin a nice barrier from wind burn.

So there is the Ultra Trail Goddess skin beauty tips: put some sunscreen on, go run, and don't worry about what you will look like afterwards.  Think about how you will feel afterwards!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

A Better Run Today

A day off from work. I woke up to see the hillside below totally shrouded in fog or light rain.  I knew  I had a fair bit of free time before some medical appointments ( a follow up mammogram and ultrasound) that I had to get out the door about 130 pm.

The schedule called for an 8 mile run, and since I have eschewed the schedule for the last few days, I was bound and determined to follow it.  But I really lacked the energy.  My back was still strained after too much volunteering at YUTC on Saturday.  I donned the clothes and my new pair of Hokas and went anyways.

The morning was nice and cool.  I felt sluggish.  I glanced down at my watch-yes I am sluggish.  I decide I just don't care and I am out to just run.  Just run your route, Kimba.  Time really is not important or an issue right now.  But consistency is.

I wore my new purple/pink Hoka One One hybrids out of the box, and they are just as comfortable as my first pair.  My original Hokas have about 450 miles on them, and they are getting worn on the bottom.  But hey, they have lasted longer in mileage than my other go-to shoe, my La Sportiva Raptors.

I am amused at my awesome color coordination.  My purple shorts and pink top match my new running shoes! (I had just randomly picked up running clothes and donned them, not thinking about matching..)

I started to feel a bit better around mile three, not as sluggish, but I was just out for a run.  I ran up some of my hills and walked up others.  I do like running when I don't have the "before work" deadline looming on me.

It was a nice cool morning.  I felt far better after the run than before.  That usually is what happens!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Run Around Town

Today was a day off from work, and I had a few errands to run in town.  I planned to get my run in after my hair cut.

The hair salon (if you could call it that, I think I prefer the hillbilly "beauty parlor" term) was closed unexpectedly, so I was able to get my run on a little sooner.

I parked in the center of town, at the IGA, and took a route out of town, which I knew would be a straight climb up the ridge. Then onto an unknown to me road, then a loop back into town. 

I haven't been on this road in 4 or 5 years.  It's a gradual ascent out of town.  As I am running west, the sky is darkening quite quickly.

 I don't mind the rain as it is about 72 degrees out.  If lightning starts, there are plenty of houses that I can go and stand on their porch or near a building, so the storm isn't really a worry.
 It was really dark for a moment! This is a barn in the normal light.

Here's the barn after I brightened in up in Picasa.

So I climb climb climb the ridge in pouring rain.  I am looking for a road to my right.  It doesn't matter if I find it or not, as I am supposed to run 7 miles, I can always just turn around at 3.5 miles.

But I find my side road, and start down hill.

Very low ceiling through here.

Only one selfie because I had to put the camera away due to the rain.

I really liked this white barn coloring.

 But of course my pic doesn't really do it justice.  Soon I was back in NCT again.  I glanced at my watch, almost five miles.  I decided to just end the run at the vehicle, and get the rest of my errands done.

I had a dry shirt in my vehicle, but walked into the IGA sopping wet otherwise.  I don't shop much at the IGA, but I was surprised to see a better beer selection.

As I was buying for my purchases (no, sadly, no beer) the cashier mentioned my running, and the man in line behind me mentioned his son Trevor loved to run in the hot hot weather.  I mentioned Trevor's last name, another local ultra runner, and the man indicated yes,it was that Trevor,  his son, and "he'd seen me around the local 100 mile races"... LOL...  it is a small world.

Being on a different route was very helpful today.  I have had the post race blues since The Ring. I'm tired of running by myself. I'm tired of running either UPHILL or downhill. I would love to just have a nice almost flat 10K loop.  Getting the runs in have been both a mental and a physical struggle, even though (luckily) The Coach has made them short ones!

I've had a bit of a knee niggle, so I have been icing that.  I think that is just a Ring residual, just like when my foot ached after MMT and I thought it was a stress fracture.

It's entirely normal to have the post race blues too, and I know that. I will get my running mojo back soon.  I think the difference this year is even though I have a terrible mental attitude about a run, I still get out there and do it. Having a coach, therefore, accountability, too helps get one back on the trail.

YUTC is this Saturday, so I am sure being around trail runners for the day will certainly help with my post race blues.

Monday, September 9, 2013



I've been doing most of the same thing all summer.  Time to acknowledge it, and make changes and move on. I am talking about weight loss again.  Trying to reduce the power to weight ratio again. Some more. Again.

It's back to running week also.  The schedule is actually pretty easy this week.  Which is good because after my lazy weekend at home, I still haven't got my aid station gear organized for YUTC-which is this Saturday!!!!!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Don't Wait

Surfing along on the interwebs, I came across this interesting post from Women’s Adventure

Go read it, because it is interesting.  Calling the writer (Rebecca) out because she's overweight; only lost five pounds in one month.  I then had to surf over and see Rebecca’s weight loss journey article.  Okay. I guess she has some weight to lose. Not that much.  Don’t most of us?

But, like her, don’t wait until you are at your goal weight to start living. Don’t wait to start having adventures.  Don’t wait until you get to 125 lbs to run your first marathon.

I don’t look like your typical ultra runner.  Even if I lose these last 15 (or even 20) pounds, I will never have the frame of a Amy Sproston or Deena Kastor.

I get the comment from people lots of times, about how I inspire them.  I seldom understand the compliment. It used to bug me in fact, because I always figured it was because of my weight.  These days I am far less self-conscious about my weight. It is still there; I don't really see myself ever just running in my sports bra and shorts.

Umstead 2007 My first 100 Mile Race

But you can't let the fact that you don't like seeing your fat rolls in your Lycra delay you from your plans to conquer the world.

Hiking up Mt Massive 2012
 So go out there and do it. Forget about the extra twenty pounds. Don that running skirt or that climbing gear. Fasten your helmet and get on the bike. Don't wait.

Hardrock 2012

 Don't let others people opinions sway you from accomplishing your dreams.  It's your one body. You have a finite time on this earth. Go out there now and play.

It's really do design you! No one else is like you. No one!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Ring 2013 Part Two

 The hot weather blew my splits that I had planned out.  I was about one hour behind of where I wanted to be all day.  I was a bit frustrated, but then I thought about it during the latter part of my Ring: what really could I have changed?  I was hydrating, eating, and not pushing the pace (it's not like you could in this heat). 
I got a bit dizzy out there on the East Ridge for awhile.  So I took an extra S! cap and kept going.  We were already going slow; what else could we do?

It was a relief to come into Camp Roosevelt, our first fully stocked Aid Station. 17 out of the 46 starters dropped here.  I got food, water, Gatorade with ice.  I placed some duct tape over my heels.  My already taped heels were blistered.

Todd and I left Camp Roo for the second least favorite section of the trail: Duncan Hollow.  One of the runners, Carter, summarized this up nicely:

"I was trying to describe to Alan (my husband) how that long stretch of trail through the Peach Orchard/Duncan Hollow area is aesthetically uninteresting, has almost no view, and grinds you down by that slight but wearying uphill grade as one approaches Waterfall. I finally described it like this: "It's like walking through a bland office corridor in Purgatory."

 Keith Knipling had warned us early in the morning: "Duncan Hollow was really buggy" and that was an understatement.  As we started up the very gradual climb, the gnats gathered.  The gnats did not leave.  The gnats flew in our eyes, in our mouths.  I ate bugs. I got gnats stuck in my  throat and gagged.

Coach Hanks was smart enough not to follow Kimba thru here.  The only thing to do thru this section is to get through it as quickly as possible.

Halfway up the trail, I remembered my bandanna. I unwound it and stuck it over  my head, trying to get it over my face-yet still be able to see-and keep these #$%## gnats out of my eyeballs.

It helped-slightly.

Probably the prettiest part of Duncan Hollow, the ferns

We finally get up to the top of the ridge.  We descend down Dry Run-which is actually totally dry! this time of year.  Not until we get to Waterfall Mountain do the gnats leave us.

Waterfall Mountain is a nice big climb on The Ring.  Dan Rose had set up to do "Hill repeats" on Waterfall early in the year.  His first time up was 7 minutes and change. His second time up was twenty minutes..and then there were no more repeats.  So I glance at my watch to record my Strava time on the hill.

Coach Hanks at the top of Waterfall.  Pretty happy to be at the top of Waterfall and away from the gnats

I'm pretty happy too

Our Strava time is 25 minutes for a 0.55 uphill on Waterfall Mountain.  Yes, 25 minutes for a half mile.

Crisman Hollow To Moreland Gap

The aid station is just about a 1/4 mile from the top of Waterfall.  Many more people drop out after Waterfall.  I eat pierogies, and almost forget my bottles as we leave. 

Now we are hitting Kerns Mountain.  This is a slow section, with rocks to scramble over.  One of my sub goals is to cover as much real estate after Crisman Hollow, and to get through Kerns in daylight.

We make it.  Just barely.  It is dark as we reach the Moreland Gap AS.

Moreland Gap to Edinburg Gap

Now the route is very familiar.  Moreland Gap AS is where the runners turn off the road and start down the trail about mile 5 on the MMT 100 race.

This is the Short Mountain Section.  My, it looks far different in the dark than the light.  It's really hard to try and see landmarks from the MMT race in the spring.

Todd and I are pretty quiet through here.  We've been chatting through out the day, but as the day moves on, our conversations have become more sporadic.  I have noticed Todd's light falling back here and there, but have been assuming bathroom breaks or stopping for food.

Todd mentions he is "going to finish" but stop for a little nap and that his stomach has turned to shit. My Garmin is still working, and I glance at our mileage. 46.6, only 1.5 miles to the aid station.  I mention that to Todd.  I also mention the little lawyerish that Slim and Coach  Hanks have about following me about The Ring. I don't want to end up with bad karma with abandoning Coach out on the course.  Coach absolves me of any responsibility and I continue on.

Just beyond Coach stopping on the trail, the nice downhill section starts, then a little climb around a ridge, then the AS.  A light comes running up behind me. Wow, it is Paul, The King.  We chat, he gives me a calcium pill as I cannot find my antacids, and he blows by me.  I am slightly amused. Sometimes I am hours ahead of Paul at run/races, and then there has been times when he's been a few hours ahead of me. He's consistently inconsistent.

Edinburg to Woodstock

I am surprised to be dumped out from the trail onto the road. Yay, just the left hand turn, down the road to the AS!!

I grab my secret weapon here. I have stashed my MP3 player here. Just in case I end up on the trail alone, I've got my music.  I cross the road and start on the big climb up to Waonaze Peak.

Another runner was leaving Edinburg Gap not too far behind me.
 Let's call him: Faramir (remember the whole Ring analogy from Part One??)

There is a trail intersection, and I automatically go to my left and start to climb. But I don't see a blaze automatically, and I turn, go down the trail, to make sure I got orange. I've been very careful this time on the trail.  The runner behind me catches up at this time.  His name is Mitch.

Mitch and I start chatting.  This is his first Ring and has just completed Ironman Lake Placid. He finished MMT last year just behind me (I think in 30.50) so we have lots to chat about.We are even talking about New Zealand and The Lord of the Ring Trilogy!  Isn't this funny!!!   It is very pleasant to have conversation and all of a sudden we are on on the top of Waonaze.  Now it is downhill to the aid station.  Of course, it's still 4 miles or so, but the tough part of the section is done.  It is really nice to get through a section with nice company and we are coming into Woodstock.

Woodstock to the Finish

Allison is again working this Aid Station, and also my friend Larry.  I am doing something different at this point in the run-I am changing my shoes.  I never change shoes, but after some summer trail conversations, I am going to tackle the Signal Knob rocks in my Hokas.

As I sit down at Woodstock, I instantly get nauseated.  I've been fighting my stomach for quite some time.  I've been crunching on Tums from the last AS (I find my own bag of drugs in my pack in the last 8 miles).  The idea of drinking half a Boost (my plan) has gone out the window.  I get soup instead.

Allison asks if I have bottles to refill...oh yeah, water bottles. Yes, Allison, thank you! At 230 am, this is why we need volunteers.  I had completely blanked on that concept.

I glance over at Mitchell and ask if he is ready to go.  He asks for another 1/2 cup of Coke but also gets up.  I need to get down the trail, and I hope he is going to be right behind me.

I start down the trail. My feet feel WONDERFUL in their Hokas. My heels have been burning since they blistered, but it has dulled to a low pain thud by now.  But with that wonderful fat cushioning of the Hokas, it really was worth the shoe change.

Exit Faramir

No Mitchell behind me.  I pull my music back out again and start my playlist.  The section between Woodstock and Powell's Fort is pretty runnable but I am not really doing well.  A bit of tripping and alot of nausea is happening.   My stomach is growling, and  I get a gel down.  Maybe not the best idea, as the stomach roils. I stop several times, hoping I am getting ready to vomit.  But nothing occurs, and I keep going.

As I have finally discovered my drug stash in my pocket, I have ginger candies.  Okay Kimba, let's try this ginger. I break off 1/10 of  the candy.

It's amazing. The ginger is strong. But my nausea subsides.  I feel a bit stronger. OMG my nausea is gone.  

Bill Wandel has warned me to be careful of the blue Tuscorora trail crossing.  I laughed when he counseled me on this, but I am paranoid and have my Fenix handheld light out. When it is dark out, and you have your head down, following the trail, it can be easy to wander out on the intersecting trail.

I successfully find the blue blaze trail, and now I know I am going downhill (on orange) to the road, to the LAST aid station.  I get to the road, shine my light over to where the traditional MMT AS is set up....nothing....

Hmm. Maybe they left?  If so, I am still okay. I have plenty of gels in my pockets, and the always functioning spring is down here on the road.  But just a little ways down the road, I smell smoke and see lights...yes, the aid station!
This is Bob Fabia and Kathy's aid station, our VHTRC foodie cook.  Bob has so many options for us runners, but it's hard, in the last miles of a run to get food in.  I asked for potato soup and coffee in my RSVP to Bob, but now the steel cut oats sound much better.  I ask for ginger ale and oatmeal, and beseech Bob to put just a little bit into a bowl for me.  It is a great decision, as I can completely tolerate it.

Caroline Williams is asleep in a chair beside the fire.  She gives me a "hi Kimba, I'm falling asleep" and she is conked out.

I get a cornbread whoopie cake from Bob to go.  It's hard to spend time in the last AS when you are smelling the barn....but you still have to ascend and descend Signal Knob in between.

I start up the road. I am trying to do a run, then walk, then run, walk strategy. I nibble on my corn cake which is delicious.  If I had not run 60 miles in hot humid weather I would have wolfed down  this treat. But now it is nibble and nibble at a time. 

Now I am getting paranoid about missing the turn around the reservoir.  Which is kind of unreasonable, I DO know this course, but rational thinking can be a bit out the window at this point.

The light is brightening also.  My goal of being at  Signal Knob before sunrise is gone. I am okay with this.  My time goals have been in my head all day long.  I've thought about people who run marathons, who are trying to BQ or break 4 or 3 hours, and have to dial back goals because of temperatures, and I have realized that has happened to me also.  But I do know I am not too far off my 2011 pace, and that was with Slim running with me, which probably lead to a faster pace.

I get to the reservoir, go around it, back to the road, and get to the bottom of the climb.

The Signal Knob road has been graded.  The road previously was very rough, with big gullies and ruts through out it. Now, it is just "a gravel road" with a nice incline.

So actually it is not that bad.  You can stay in a straight line, you don't have to hop back and forth.  You just have to climb. And climb.  But I know this. So I am okay with that. I count my steps, learned from Carolyn Gernard on my first Ring. Keep your head down and count.

Our Ring Leaders and volunteers are also diligent on this section, and have strung a orange ribbon so you don't miss the overlook.

On Signal Knob, it is the first nice chilly refreshing breeze I have felt in 24 hours. Unfortunately, this is not the place or time to relish in the breeze. The sign sez 5 miles to the parking lot; 1 mile to Meneka Peak.

I focus on the one mile to Meneka Peak.

On the way, I notice the gray green cylindrical water tank on my right. When was this placed there??

Oh. It is gone. Because there is no water tank there. Just a hallucination at 630 am...

I go down the rocky rocky trail. The Hokas really help. Because there is just no planting your feet ANYWHERE without rocks. The Hoka padding absorb the little rock points well.  But there is no where you can just break into a jog-shuffle-dont-call-that-a-run please.

Knowing this course fairly well, I am looking *forward* to getting off the little pointy rocks and starting the stupid switchback section, because that makes it sooner to be done.

The first "section" of the switchback trail is the most annoying. Like the pictures above, it is just little boulder fields. You just have to do your best to hop this rocks and get across.

I find myself so irritated thru here, and I wonder why.  I try envisioning this same section like the boulder field a runner encounters during MMT100, right before you hit the Moreland Gap Road down to the finish. Those rocks don't irritate me the same way as these do.  Yet it is almost the same point on the way to the finish, about 3 miles left.  I try and pretend I'm on the MMT trail on the way to Moreland Gap Rd.

My big mantra thru here is patience. I know how badly this sucks. But I know it will end. I know I will continue to suffer but I know the ending will be soon. I keep saying to myself  "I am going downhill"  and "be patient".

I also make myself walk. Every time I try to break into a running shuffle, I catch a rock and stumble. Walk it Kimba. Your walk is just as fast as a jog right now, and will get you down the mountain just as fast, and a bit safer.

I am also off the switchbacks and to my surprise there is another runner in front of me.  He steps aside saying I am moving better than him.

I tell him I am moving better, because I just don't care any longer. And this is true. My heels have been hamburger for hours; this pain is a dull roar.  On the descent from Signal Knob I have clinched my teeth and grimaced when I hit something on my feet the wrong way; but now I don't care. I am almost done. The quicker I am done, the sooner I get to lay prone somewhere.

I pass the "house" on the right. I forget what kind of place this is, but all it signifies to me is, I am *ALMOST* completely done.

The good part about the Signal Knob Ring experience is you don't run back and forth on the bottoms in Elizabeth Furnace like you will at Reverse Ring wondering when it is you will finally cross the road.

All of a sudden, I burst out of the woods-I am running!-and running up into the Signal Knob parking lot. I am done. Again.

The King, Paul and I. Paul finished about 1 hour before me.
I don't lay prone, but I collapse gratefully into a chair, and turn down all food besides ginger ale for a short time.  There is a canteen set up for the finishers and it is awesome.  I find my hands are still shaky.  I have noticed that for all the aid station stops, I got shaky hands, which is not normal. I start eating small amounts of food as we wait for our last three finishers-Todd, Diane, and Shelly.  

I go and try and lay down in my Escape and elevate my aching legs.  My ankles are really hurting. This started even before changing to the Hokas, so I cannot blame them.  Perhaps I should blame all the rocks that I stumbled about for 25 hours.  (The ankles did quit hurting on Monday so it was just a rock inflicted side effect.)  The laying down did not help, so I went back to sitting and dozing in the camp chair, listening to Ring gossip and VHTRC history gossip/lore and Bur taking yet more pictures of my legs that I haven't seen anywhere else..

Tony finishes, and Mitchell finishes.  Then we hear a whoop whoop and here comes our trio! We heard that Todd was with Shelly and Diane out of Powell's Fort, so we knew they would be on their way to the finish!

Todd, Diane and Shelly finish.

There is more time eating at the finish line, then showers and more gossip back at Portabello.  Thankfully Slim has finished quickly! and has got a good nap so he is our driver back to reality.  It is always tough to leave our friends in Virginia. Our time is always too short there. Many thanks to our Race Directors, Quatro Hubbard and Mike Bur; and all our wonderful race volunteers out of Virginia Happy Trails Running Club.  We have an incredibly strong wonderful supportive club of VHTRC and I am very happy and proud to be part of!