Race Schedule

2018 Races…TBD!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Still No Stank!

Winter running, it ain't so bad.  So long as you're prepared and dressed smartly, you're sure to have a grand old time. 

That sorta reminds me of an old timey sales pitch.  It sounded different in my head :)

Anywho!  I've been having fun squaring away the final miles of 2010 (I finally surpassed 2009's miles, woohoo!  Final number to be revealed soon...) and getting in some much needed snow running.  I had forgotten how much I really do enjoy running through the snow.  Snow makes everything pretty. 

Speaking of snow, Geof and I spent Christmas Eve in Eastern Iowa with some of his family, and we were lucky enough to reap the rewards of a solid snowstorm from earlier in the week, and even into that evening.  After scarfing a most delicious dinner, seeing what Santa brought all the good little kids (yes, we were very good this year), and taking a tour of the Christmas Lights display in town, Geof and I headed out into the backyard and relived our youths...we romped around in more than 14 inches of fluffy gloriousness!  Bundled up in our finest snow clothes, you'd have thought we were little kids seeing snow for the first time ever.  We were runnig and diving into it, completely fearless; I even ate some snow, on purpose :)  Snow angels a'plenty, powder balls a'flying, making sure there wasn't a single un-played-in area of the yard.  Out of breath and smiling ear-to-ear, we eventually laid down in the snow, temple-to-temple, staring up at the dark sky as snowflakes fell silently.  It was just perfect :)

Sunday, we decided it was time for another run after taking a couple days off.  We were back home, and headed onto the path for a solid 8 miles.  Unbeknownst to us, the path hadn't been plowed yet, so we were treated to a thick, fluffy layer of snow the whole way; sweet!  I was testing out the newest addition to my winter running wardrobe, and after a second equally snowy and cold (yet still somehow quite sweaty) 5 mile run on Monday in the same shirt (ewwwwww, groooooooosss), the verdict is in: the Icebreaker Bodyfit 200 long sleeve shirt is the bomb diggity.  One run is usually enough to tell what I'm going to think of something, but this time I needed a second opinion.  You see, Icebreaker is supposed to, among other things, not be stinky.  It's that whole merino wool thing.  I seem to be pretty good at stinkifying running shirts, or at least leaving a deodorant scent.  Not so in my new threads.  I aired it out overnight on the drying rack both times (like I do for all my sweaty running clothes), and the next day the shirt smelled like it did fresh out of the package (which is this really cool slider cardboard box).  Hmmm, interesting.  Still no stank. 

Oh, here's a picture of the shirt I got (I ripped it from the Wilderness Running Company website):

Maybe for Halloween I'll dress up as the WRC Icebreaker chic...we are practically twins ;)

So I'm thinking I may be falling in love with this shirt...oh, wait, yep.  I am.  Luckily, I had top notch foresight and decided to get a shirt for Geof, "from Santa".  He was gifted with the Icebreaker Bodyfit 150 Atlas Crew, and I'm pretty sure he loves his as much as I love mine :)  It's one of those shirts that will become a serious staple in our closets...they're super versatile, and we like versatile, especially when traveling and what not.  Now I want one in every color, long sleeve and short sleeve :) 

Okay, enough of the pitch.  I just get so excited when I find really great gear. 

Next up, I'm looking forward to taking my new Yaktrax Pros for a spin on some ice on New Years Day.  Geof's the best Santa ever :)

Crash, out.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Serious Case of the WooHoos!

 Photo Courtesy of my Dear Friend Google

I was right, today's run was way awesomer :)

We got a good 3-4 inches of fluffy stuff overnight, followed by a sprinkling of freezing rain, so this morning's run was intermixed with the two and made for a truely lovely run, albeit a little scary.  The slick stuff was hard to spot as it just looked like wet concrete, but I managed to stay upright, woohoo!

Today is quite a big day...it's the first day of winter, and, therefore, the winter solstice, and it is precisely five short months until Geof and I march down the aisle together.  Woohoo!

Crash, out.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Serious Case of the Slugs

We ran this morning and I was soooooo not into it.  We all have these days, you just are never really sure when they are going to pop up.

I woke up actually awake and with the plan of running.  I was particularly excited last night when I saw that the high for today was in the 30s (sweet!!), and when I checked the weather this morning, it was at 17 degrees (bam!) with zero windchill, specifically "calm" (double bam!).

We bundled up just a touch less severely than last week, in hopes of a 'warmer' run.

It was so not "calm", and definitely not warm.

And, my legs had other plans for me today.

I was cold the entire run, and my legs felt as if they were caked in a thick, heavy layer of cement.  My feet didn't know what they were doing; I found myself looking down at them more than a few times to make sure they were actually still there.

We were barely 3/4 of a mile out when I slowed completely to a walk, Geof's arm around my shoulders.  I considered turning back for home, but after I whined for a moment, and frowned the ultimate frown, we picked it back up and continued on down the path. 

I don't end my races because I'm sluggish or in a less-than-awesome mood at points, why quit a training run?  It's just a phase, I'll get over it. 

I didn't get over it, but then again, it was only 4 miles.  Had I had 96 more miles to go, I definitely would have gotten over it eventually :-)

Ah well, this run gets filed in my Character Builder tab.  I haven't had one of those in a good long while, so I was long overdue.

Tomorrow will be awesomer. 

Crash, out.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

A Sunset-y Sunrise

This morning's sunrise looked an awful lot like a sunset.  The colors were more sunset-y than sunrise-y...lots of pinks and purples and end-of-the-day colors.  I stared at it through our living room windows, willing myself to get excited about running in the chill again.  Winter running requires a great deal of motivation and will to get out the door.  It's amazing.

It just looked cold.

Ya know when it's super, super cold out and, even if there wasn't any snow to be seen, you could still tell it was frigid out?  Well the ground is still pretty well covered in snow here, and the lake is frozen in time under a thin layer of ice for about as far as you can see, but still.  You could tell it was bitterly cold out just looking at the horizon. 

We opted for another short, fast loop this morning, around the Pier and then some.  It was pretty chilly (17 degrees with a wind chill of 7), but it somehow felt considerably warmer than the last couple of runs of similar temperatures.  I had some spring back in my step this morning, so that was cool.  It is also cool that the Pier has been salted and de-iced to my liking :)

Supposedly we are getting more snow tonight, yippee!!  And tomorrow's forecast has more of it, too.  Then again, you can't trust a Chicago weather forecast that is more than 5 minutes old...and even then it's pushing it.

Crash, out.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Anybody There?

I'm here, I'm here, I'm here! 

That was a long stretch of radio silence I had going there...yikes!  But have no fear, I'm still running, albeit in a much more watered down version. 

Ah, winter, it has officially, totally arrived.

In the wee hours of the morning on December 4th, Geof and I emerged from the warmth of the Double Door, after witnessing a seriously amazing show by my brother's band, How Far to Austin, to find that the city was hushed by a thin layer of fluffy white snow...oh glorious winter!!  My ears were shot from standing practically IN the speakers for much of the night, so stepping outside into the snow was positively deafening.  And beautiful.  Old man winter was making his presence known.

This morning was our first truly frigid and wintry run, and it was great.  I felt a little like a fish out of water; the cold is so much earlier than last year it seems.  We bundled up, unsure of what to expect once we got outside.  The temperature read 12 degrees, with a windchill factor of -2.  Yowza!  Since I am paralyzed with fear when it comes to ice these days, I opted to wear my trusty Sporty Cats, the originals, and just go into rigor mortis as soon as I saw any patches of anything resembling ice before proceeding along the path behind Geof.  I really don't want another spill

We opted to stay on the upper section of the path, and it was mostly free of ice patches, save for a few sketchy random spots.  Somehow I managed to stay upright :)  We squeezed out five glorious miles, misfired snot frozen on my cheeks and my mouth frozen in a smile.  As uncomfortable as bitterly cold running can be, it sure is rewarding.  Kinda makes you feel like a rockstar.

Though, I'd be lying if I said I wish I were training for a hundo in this weather :-)  Geof and I were just picking the training up right about this time last year, getting ready for Rocky Raccoon 100M.  I had a dream over the weekend that we were running Leanhorse 100.  Hmmm, interesting.

I'm looking forward to breaking my fear of ice this winter.  Or at least acquiring a pair of Yaktrax to make it slightly less paralyzing.  The ol' screw shoes will certainly make a few appearances as well.

I love snow :)

Crash, out.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Very Engaging Weekend

What a great weekend!  I'm still reeling from it all, and super excited :)  It all started on a good foot, so to speak...

Friday evening, I arrived home eager to get started on the packing for the CHUG Deer Grove fat ass run the following morning, and sort out nutrition and what not.  Geof, however, had slightly different plans in mind... :)  I'll spare you all my mushy gushies, and say...he proposed!!  Was I shocked? um YES!  I had no idea what was coming, and completely thrilled with it all.  Wow, he really pulled one over on me...I never picked up on any clues, dropped hints, nothin', and here I was thinking I was soooo sharp ;) 

Of course, I said yes!
After making all sorts of calls to family and friends to share the amazing news, we decided it would be a good idea to have dinner and celebrate a little.  We headed over to our favorite sushi spot and basked in the glow of it all.  What a lucky gal I am!

Saturday morning, we rose early to get ready for the day's CHUG run, out at Deer Grove in Palatine.  A HUGE group showed up!  There were over 50 registered and I think most people made it which made it even more fun.  So many new faces, a bunch of veterans, all good times.  Geof and I were running together, and Palatine native (recently transplanted back here via Oregon), Maria Clementi, joined us for her two laps and we really had a great time getting to know her.  What a fun chick!

Geof, me, Maria and Jim (all in the center) awaiting the start instructions from RD Brian Gaines

It was really, really cold, and didn't warm up much through the day.  Geof and I somehow managed to really overestimate the weather for the day and showed up in shorts...it was a tad nippy for that!  After the first few miles along the 5.4 mile loop, we warmed up nicely and I could finally feel my feet and toes again.  That's always a bonus!  It was great to meet and run with Maria, filling her in on all things Chicago running, and hearing about her time in Oregon.

After two loops, Maria was done as she had other plans that day, so Geof and I continued on for a third loop.  It was cold again, and since we were pretty tired after a late evening the night before, we were reduced to walking the hills we had run the first two times around, so this made it colder.  We decided three loops (just over 16 miles) were peachy keen and called it a day after that. 

 Hanging at the 'finish' with Ian, Geof, Anastasia, Kelly and Sarah

After we were done, we changed into warm clothes and left to grab some warm food with Sarah (who is making her return to running after a brief time off from injury...welcome back Sarah!!).  After refueling, we went back to Deer Grove to hang with the Brelly and cheer on the remaining runners.  It was so COLD!  Winter is well on its way in the Midwest.
Some of the hearty souls hanging out, cheering on our fellow CHUGs

After we closed up shop at Deer Grove, we headed over to the Brelly B&B to get cleaned up.  Brelly treated us to a celebratory dinner at Cooper's Hawk in Barrington...YUM!  It was the perfect post-run dinner, and a wonderful way to share in the fun and excitement of the engagement with two of our favorite people :)

Sunday was spent relaxing, eating and planning!  We waste no time!  Needless to say, our date won't work out too well with Western States and the needed training for it, so we've opted to withdraw from the lottery for 2011.  That's fine with me...I didn't really want to get in all that badly for next year!  I'm thinking 2012 will be a better year for WS100 for this chick :)  Of course, we'll be scoping out possible mid-summer, early fall hundred milers to fill in the gap (what, you didn't think we'd opt out of a 2011 hundred miler altogether, now did you?!).  Oh, the choices!

Looking forward to some more good running this week, some fantastic food, and wonderful company for the holiday.  I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Crash, out.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Fleety Feet

This morning's run was splendid!  Yes, it was "only" three miles ;) but they were three very high quality miles. 

Geof and I got a late start to our run, so we settled with our favorite loop near the Pier.  It's a perfect loop for a short tempo run, a long speed workout, a farty-lek or whathaveyou.  I certainly didn't have speed in mind for this morning as I'm "tapering" for this weekend's CHUG Deer Grove 32.4 mile Fat Ass run, but hey, when in Rome!

I didn't even wear my lightening fast speedy shoes today, just my plain ol' Asics.  So I was doubly surprised when I hit stop on my watch and saw that we ran it in a new PR for this little lady.  We cranked out an average 7:56 pace... 

Big money, no whammies!!

Okay, this time it felt like we were pushing the pace, but not that much.  We were both pretty much mute the better part of the run, and my breathing was fairly laborious towards the end.  Cha-ching!  I love when that happens!  It felt a lot like the final mile of this year's Minnesota Voyageur 50 Mile when we kicked it hard to pass a woman in front of us just before the finish.

I gotta say, I'm really enjoying this running for the fun of it, and not actually training for something for once.  I have more spring in my step, more umph in my stride, and less junk in the trunk ;-) 


I'm also enjoying no bugs on the lakefront due to the cold temps, but I really wish they would keep at least a couple of the bathrooms open during the winter months.  I mean seriously, it's not like we suddenly never have to pee when it's cold out.  Sure, there are fewer people on the lakefront, but still.

Lookin' forward to the run this weekend!

Crash, out.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Big Chill

It is almost officially the MIDDLE of November...and that means the cold weather is upon us.  Booya!!

That said, I wanted to give some big ups to my favorite running retailer, Wilderness Running Company.  They have been sharing their thoughts and insight into winter running apparel over the last couple o' weeks and it's pretty interesting stuff, especially if you're fairly new to seriously cold weather running.  Stacy posted THIS today.  I like :)

If you're in the market for some quality pieces that will stand the test of old man winter, WRC carries some of the best.  There may be a little sticker shock at first (at least after November 15th, as WRC is currently running a special on certain winter running apparel items, so hurry up if you want this stuff on the cheap!), but consider the lifespan of high quality running apparel made to persevere.  This stuff will last a good long while, and never underestimate the power of the drying rack...seriously.  Winter running means it's really cold (duh) and, therefore, there's a lot less sweat and nast compared to hot summer running.  So, after you finish up, turn your garment inside out (and, if need be, hand rinse first) and hang your stuff up to air out.  This means, you'll have more room in your laundry hamper for things that need to be washed after each use (i.e. socks and underwear), AND you'll extend the life of your garments even further (machine washing and drying reduces the life of our running clothes, it's like running apparel murder!).  Ta-da!

I don't know about you, but I plan on continuing my training all through the winter, I ain't afraid of no snow (but I am terrified of ice...)!  I've got some great winter items in my running wardrobe that I've had around for awhile, and well worth every penny spent on them, but there's a pair of Craft thermal tights that are currently trying to lure me.  What's in your closet?

I like to think of running in frigid temps as a sort of moving 'ice bath'...two for one deal!


Crash, out.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Runs We Live For

Sunrise on the Chicago Lakefront, at 39th Street - October, 2010
Yesterday's long run was something to behold.  It was just what I wanted it to be.

Geof and I were up and at 'em by 7:15, loving that the sun was already up.  After some solid relaxation, some tasty soy lattes (courtesy of Geof's mad coffee-making skillz) and some hemming and hawing about what to wear for the weather, we headed out the door by 9:30.  It was chilly outside (low 40s), but was set to warm into the upper 50s before long so we opted for lighter clothing in hopes the weather would stand by its word.  The sun was warm on our faces as we headed north into a pretty decent and chilly headwind. 

I had one bottle of Gatorade and a thingy of Honey Stingers (my new favorite running food...and what do ya know, I just noticed the company is in Colorado, which gives them automatic Awesome Points) that I hoped would be enough for our 20 mile route.  I also brought another serving of Gatorade, just in case, but never ended up using it.  Since it's November, all the bathrooms and water fountains are shut down along the Lakefront Path.  Only the water trough at Diversey and the inner path remains on all year, so we planned to run by it on our way back in case we needed a refill. 

Since it was sufficiently chilly, I only lightly sipped on my drink and never felt thirsty until we were about home free.

The legs were moving rapidly, especially considering the distance we planned to cover.  I was running more like I was out for a 10 miler, or shorter, not 20.  But, it felt good and relaxed and before long we were reaching the turn around.  Geof's Suunto is unfortunately fairly unreliable (for the very purpose the model is made for...GPS), so we were questioning it's mileage count and decided to run another mile just in case.  This allowed us to run through the Loyola campus, along the water and then some.  It's fun to run through that campus, it's gorgeous. 

Once we turned it around, we were very happy to find that the wind (which had changed direction a number of times) wasn't going to be much of a factor on the way back.  I ate the rest of my Honey Stingers somewhere around here and had my second and final S!Cap of the day.  I was feeling great!  I had forgotten how different things are once the temperature drops.  Nutrition and hydration change a good deal for me.

I could feel my patellar tendon on both sides beginning to protest all the pavement and I was reminded I need to keep up with the glute exercises I was given by the good doc.  I also noticed my left ankle doing something funky, so I know my form was starting to get sloppy around 15 or so miles.  Par for the course!  I had no idea what pace we were running, but it still felt pretty brisk.  I had long since peeled off my wind layer and had it tied around my waist and I was glad i decided against the gloves. 

As we neared the turnoff to get to the water trough, I was trying to decide if I needed more water, and, ultimately, going for it.  This added more onto our mileage, but was worth it.  I got thirrrrsty as soon as I saw the trough :)  Ah, the power of suggestion!  I fixed the top lacing on my left shoe so it didn't rub my ankle anymore and this felt glorious.  As we headed back out after a short walking break, my legs stiffened up.  Geez, you'd think this was my first long run ever.  I felt like such a newbie ;) 

I was pretty ready to be done with only a couple miles left.  We picked up the pace and almost seemingly out of nowhere we reached our end point.  Ahhhhhh, yes!  There's a short flight of stairs down to the tunnel to get under Lake Shore Drive, and my knees felt incredibly wobbly and out of sorts as we walked the short bit back home, but boy did it feel good to have that run under the belt now.  I felt like I put a lot out there and was pretty depleted when we finished, and that feels good.  I don't do that very often :)

We were pretty curious about our route, so I pulled up trusty MapMyRun to check our route.  It was a lovely 21.5 miles, and I didn't bother adding in the Diversey water trough section as it's pretty tedious work, mapping out the route, so it was actually more than that, but who's counting :-)  Combined with our running time, it came to a 9:11 pace.  No wonder I was spent!  I'm used to doing my 20+ mile runs at something closer to 10s or 10:30s.  BAM!  The best part was how good it felt most of the time.  How I felt reminded me a lot of the section of Rio Del Lago from miles 45 to 67, when I felt like I could run forever and ever.  These are times we need to package up and hold onto for runs to come.  They are a good reminder of how good it can be out there.

Lots of ice, water and foam rolling was in order after this one.  It was great to feel so exhausted from a solid effort.

This morning it felt like someone punched me in the feet, hips and glutes, and my calves were tight like guitar strings :)

These are the runs we live for...

On to the next!

Crash, out.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Trail Running in Chicago

I was going through my partially drafted blogs this morning to see what I had crammed into the confines of my "private" plot of cyberspace here on Blogger...exciting, huh?!  I found a few things that made me laugh (was I seriously going to write that?  Ha!), a couple that I couldn't figure out why I even began to draft them in the first place (brain fart!), and one that I just plum forgot about (oops!). 

I wrote this...article? blog post? thingy?...back in July and Stacy at Wilderness Running Company posted it to his "Life" section of the website. 

So, if you ever find yourself in the beautiful city of Chicago, and simultaneously have a hankering to hit the trails, check this out for a couple of recommendations, from yours truly:

Trail Running in Chicago

Hey, it's the weekend!  Get outside!

Crash, out. 

Monday, November 1, 2010

There's a New Shoe in Town

But first, a totally unrelated tidbit:

I looked at the calendar today and realized it's November...wow, where does time go?!  I've been hard at work (not really, but sorta, for me anyway) revamping the ol' eating habits and working towards something more sustainable.  Geof and I are on board for a nice little overhaul and it's actually pretty exciting making changes, and being able to do it together.  We've been watching a lot of food documentaries lately and our whole outlook on the food we eat has changed dramatically.  I never thought that would happen!  (No, we're not giving up meat, that would be silly for us...chicken and sushi are staples!)  Not that we were bad eaters to begin with, but we certainly haven't been very mindful of the food we eat.  No longer!  It's fun to try new foods and actually cook stuff...but let's not get all crazy here and start spreading rumors about me wielding pots and pans and forming anything resembling "edible".  But, somehow, between Geof and I, we've managed to put together a number of very successful and delicious meals of late.  How fun!

But enough of that, what about that running problem of mine?

It's my slow season (ha! no pun intended)...ultrarunning doesn't really go out of season, but I choose to get back to basics during the colder, winter months.  Same mileage as always, but little to no racing...it's hard to reduce my already low mileage :)  Lots of strength training and core work.  Some cross-training, some shoe experimentation, some glutenous eating, some hoppy beverages, prancing around in my fleece lined running tights (doesn't every runner do that?) and lots of rosey, windburned cheeks and tingley un-gloved fingertips.

Yesterday, a handful of us CHUGgies met up at Poplar Creek (in Streamwood, IL) for a group run.  Brelly ran a loop but had family stuff afterwards, Deanna contemplated another loop but a touch of a cold kept her from joining us again, so Geof, Leslie and I headed out for a second loop.  Leslie and I had run the first loop together way up front and since neither of us are actually familiar with the trails there (even though I've run there a couple times...it's confusing, okay!) we ended up getting a little...turned around :)  Oops.  The 6.75 mile loop turned into 9.5, yippee!  We were crankin' it for a long run, and I was pleased with how everything was holding up.  It was cold as balls (read: approximately 31) and windy whenever we came out of the shelter of the woods, but we kept on keepin' on.  After 16.5 miles, Geof and I called it a day and Leslie left for one more loop.  I opted to take my newest Sporties (La Sportiva Crosslites) for their first run and was very, very happy with how it went.  I felt a little bit like I was cheating on my Sporty Cats, but since they are practically siblings there was no harm done :-)  I think I shall call them my Sporty Lites, it only makes sense.

These are THE Sporty Lites, not some stock photo :)

Here's the lowdown on the Sporty Lites...they are great.  They are technically minimalist trail shoes but still have some of the bulk I enjoy around the foot (i.e. fatty lugs and some decent cushioning).  They felt awesome!  There's a built in debris shield that covers the laces and while it makes it hard to adjust the laces, it sure does a great job of keeping the crap out.  There is some sort of rock shield on the bottom, but it's not much.  I could feel the larger gravel through the shoes, but certainly not enough that it caused any discomfort...I could just tell it was there.  These shoes fit like a glove, and that's how they're supposed to.  The forefoot is just wide enough for my foot and allows my toes to do their thing...whatever that is.  I got them a full euro size down from my Sporty Cats because they are kind of like trail racing flats, but with killer lugs, so they need to fit a tad snugger.  That said, I am a big fan of socks and the only kind that work with these shoes are the Drymax Hyper Thin Running Socks, which is great as I finally get to put these socks to good use (and not just as post-run kick-around socks).

I'm not gonna lie, I felt a little like a speed demon in these.  Actual performace may not reflect said speed demon feeling, but it was fun :)  So if you're looking for something wicked fast, and not overly built-up, I suggest giving these babies a try.  Wilderness Running Company is the only place I'd buy 'em from, but that's just my humble opinion.

Speaking of shoes, I've finally taken the next step in the Purging of Unnecessary Things Game at home: I've placed a couple pair of old running shoes in line for donation.  This was hard as they include the Cascadias I ran my first 50 miler in and a pair of road shoes that have seen some of the coolest scenery yet (Badwater, Leadville, etc.)...siiiiiigh.  But, it's time; enough is enough!  Feels good to shed some 'weight' from the ol' closet.

Tonight is raw fish night, aka sushi, with some of the Badwater crew and I'm really looking forward to it all!

Crash, out.

Friday, October 22, 2010

It's Happening Again...

I knew it would. 

Even in the midst of a moment of "clarity" during my most recent race, where I boldly announced to my pacer, Gretchen, "Fifty miles may be my favorite distance afterall...I think I'm done with 100 milers after this!"  I'm pretty sure I followed it up with, "...sure, that's what I say now, but give me a couple of days...." 

In the sport of ultrarunning, always remember to do this: know thyself.

I know myself.  Well, in fact.  And I knew that it wouldn't take long before I would be trolling the UltraList for new races, digging through Run100s.com feverishly in search of number four, and perusing the hardware available for viewing on the new 100 Miler Buckles site that Brian put together.  I love buckles :)  And, I love spending a day or two running in a new place.

I'm not sure what I want to focus on just yet, but I do know I'm going to throw my name into the Western States 100 lottery next month...ya' know, for good measure.  I'll be quietly hoping I don't get in, but I want to go ahead and get my name in the hat for upcoming years.  Geof is entering the lottery as well, and it would be way cooler for him to get in so I can crew and pace and get a taste of o' the West' :)  Plus, I'm pretty sure Geof was made for the mountain races.  Speaking of my leading man, he is considering Tahoe Rim Trail 100 as his back-up race just in case he doesn't get into WS100.  Now that would be sweet!  I would crew and then pace him the final 50 miles, thus getting in a delicious 50 miler for gits and shiggles, and a nice run in the mountains with my man. 

Ice Age 50M is enticing for the mere fact that it's so convenient, so why not?  I wouldn't mind a couple other 50s for the heck of it, and perhaps fine tune my 50 form before my next hundred.  There will be a couple of CHUG hosted fat asses (free events) in the spring so I'm looking to do those as well. 

Wow, I was hoping I'd have a list here, but it's turning into a serious case of stream-of-consciousness typing...

In all honestly, I'd love to run Rio Del Lago 100 again.  I freakin' loved that race.  Really.  It was so pretty, so runnable, so crew-friendly...so...wonderful.  Or has time really chipped away at the pain and left behind only the good stuff?  Nah, that doesn't ever happen ;)  The only issue with Rio is its late-season timing in 2011...  That said, Geof and I want to run another race together and the end-of-summer timing, and ease of going crewless, of the Leanhorse 100 may end up making it our choice for 2011.  I also like that you can wait to register until pretty close to the race.  It's tough to register for races way far in advance...you have no idea what may come up.  I like to procrastinate registering as much as possible :)

Eventually, I'll have a schedule figured out.  In the meantime, you know what?  I'm really enjoying running for the sake of...running!

Crash, out.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


There she is!

I am pleased to introduce you all to the newest addition to the Serious Case of the Runs home...the lovely Stiletto :)  Check out some more pics HERE.

Remember THIS?  Well, I somehow ended up winning (I still can't believe I won something this kickass) and just last night I received the final product...wow!  Chris Dornbach of Dornbox Bikes is the man behind the machine and after a few phone calls to discuss what I was looking for in a bike, swapping measurements, and lots o' e-mail, he set about creating the most beautiful work of two-wheeled genius that I've ever seen.  Seriously, it's pretty amazing :)

Since Stiletto arrived in a couple pieces, I just oooo'd and ahhhh'd at the box until Geof got home from work, so it was slightly delayed gratification.  But if ultrarunners have one trait in common, I think it's the ability to handle this sort of delay.  Instead, I cooked some chicken with cilantro and lime for tacos :) (The chicken turned out pretty good, btw!)

Geof set about getting Stiletto put together and after putting her up on the trainer to test out the chain and shifting gears, and one final adjustment to the derailleur, she was all set!  It was easy to watch him work, but I think it's a tad more complicated to do than it appeared :)  Thanks, Geof!

Hopefully we get a chance to test her out tonight after work, woohoo!  It was dark by the time all was said and done last night and I'm kind of a whussy about things like riding in the dark, so that didn't happen.  Again, a little delayed gratification.

Anywho, I'm pretty excited about Stiletto and look forward to many long rides and happy times with her!  A huge, delicious THANK YOU to Atayne and Dornbox Bikes for making this possible for me.  And, if you're ever in the market for a completely customized, handcrafted performance bike, I highly, highly recommend working with Dornbox Bikes to make that happen.  The service, the quality, the craftsmenship, it's all top notch.

Annnnnnd...end scene.

Back to running, I promise!!

Crash, out.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Glacial Trail 50M: Crew n' View

Geof, heading into the early dawn for another 50 mile adventure in the woods

Those who can't, crew :)  Since I'm still working on recovery and earning back a decent base in the wake of Rio Del Lago 100 last month, I sadly opted to sit out this year's Glacial Trail run.  I was hoping to make this one a bit of a ritual since it's such a fan-flippin-tastic race, run by the fan-flippin-tastic Robert Wehner.  It's a gorgeous course with a heaping helping of technical and challenging terrain.  It starts up in Greenbush, WI and follows the Ice Age Trail south to New Fane and then turns around and brings you back to where you started.  The 50k race does a modified version of the 50M course.  I ran the 50k last year and loved every ounce of it.  As the 50M and 50k runners took off at 6am and 7am, respectively, I observed with a hint of trail envy :)

Geof took on the 50M course again this year and while the day started out typically enough, with Geof moving well, smiling, and optimistic for a solid finish, it turned out to be a very different experience in the end.  I took on the roll of crew and after taking a long-cut (the opposite of a short-cut?  Honestly, I wasn't lost...too much :)) down the winding and breath-taking Kettle Moraine Scenic Drive, I hunkered down at Butler Lake with Bill and Sarah as we awaited our respective other halves to arrive at the 13.5 mile aid station.  Geof arrived, game face on, and was out.  Ben came in a little before Geof and it was clear he was going to smoke the course and grab the PR he'd been looking for (he wound up 3rd overall, in 8:11...holy eff!).  Leslie and Deanna showed up a bit after Geof, and it appeared they would spend most of the day together.  Leslie was hoping to shake the demons of an early season DNF at the Kettle Moraine 100, and shake them she did!  In fact, I would call it a knock-down drag-out pummeling of that monkey! :)  Yay, Les!
The Newlyweds, Bill and Leslie, at Butler Lake I (mile 13.5)

While I would have loved to have been racing, I can't say I was totally bummed to be sitting this one out, on this day.  It turned out to be an absolutely marvelous day (for crewing)!  The sun came up and warmed up the trail to a lovely 80+ degrees (perfect for crewing, not so much for running) and I soaked up more than my fair share of warm autumnal rays of sunshine. 

But, have no fear, I did manage to squeeze in my own little run while I waited for Geof to return to Mauthe Lake AS from the turn-around point (~mile 30.5).  I put my iPhone into a plastic baggy to save it from my sweat, tightened the laces on my Vasque Transistors and headed north on the trail so that I could greet runners heading out.  (Note: this was my first f'real run in my Transistors and while I was nervous to give them a go on such a technical trail for the first time, I ended up really enjoying these puppies!  Of course, they will not be replacing my Sporty Cats anytime soon!)  It was a measly 4 miles I enjoyed on that thar' trail, but boy was it fun.  I saw Leslie and Deanna on their way out, soaked in the superior beauty of central Wisconsin in the fall, sang along to my tunes, darted my eyes around the trail to watch for biting rocks and roots and then caught glimpses of the front runners heading back north on my way back to Mauthe Lake.  Just what I needed, some lovely miles on a lovely trail and a really solid sweat :)
Sure is pretty up there!

After my run, I lounged in the sun and chatted it up with Christine Crawford (super-speedster Wisconsin chick, and super sweet to boot).  After what seemed like an inordinate amount of time (and after I contemplated heading out on the trail to look for him), Geof arrived at Mauthe Lake II even worse for the wear and it was clear he wasn't really enjoying the day as he had intended to.  A mix of the heat and some issues with nutrition and hydration was costing him a fast day.  But, true to his ways, he refused to stop and kept on trucking despite his discomfort.  It was a little weird to see him the way he was (and I knew all too well what he was feeling!), but I reminded myself it was just a part of the fun and he would surely shake it.

He didn't shake it.  In fact, I think it got worse for him.  At Butler Lake II he pounded a bottle of ice water, and then another, but he wasn't taking in calories from what I saw.  It seemed to have gotten even hotter out, so Bill suggested I intersect the trail and get him more water before the next aid station (a good 7ish miles away).  After leaving Butler Lake, I followed the map towards the next stop, but veered off-route and parked along Highway U, where the trail crossed the road.  I was the only person there at first, and I had a front row seat to catch Geof as he approached.  You're not supposed to administer aid anywhere but an official aid station, but it was just a little too hot for my liking so I figured it wouldn't hurt anyone, especially since he was far enough back in the pack.  Well, before too long, everyone and their mother showed up at the same intersection and stood at the trail head waiting to catch a glimpse of their runners.  Great.  So much for that.  Geof arrived awhile later and I didn't offer anything up since we were surrounded, but I would have gladly helped if he had asked for water.  He was privy to my plan, but didn't ask for anything so I figured he was okay.

Geof arriving at the Highway U intersection

The next crew stop was the Hwy. 67 AS, leaving the runner with ~7 miles to go.  I hung with Bill, and Leslie's dad there, and caught up with Dominic G. a bit (he was volunteering).  There was a runner laying down underneath one of the aid tables, in the shade.  He sat up and was talking to Dom about what to do.  Clearly, he wasn't feeling all that great.  He asked if the station had any hard candy, and I immediately offered up some Lifesavers I had.  The look on his face was perfect and made me smile.  He got up and went on his way.  Geof arrived, and after slamming some Gatorade he moved out.  That was my cue to move it to the finish line. 

The finish area was still shakin' with 50k runners and 50 milers.  I could still smell the chili warming inside the Community Center, and, what's that?  Homemade chocolate chip cookies?  Yes, please!  I grabbed a chair from the truck, threw on my puffy jacket (it got chilly once the sun fell below the tree tops) and popped a squat on the front lawn near the finish line.  One by one, CHUGs rolled in.  Kathy Rytman finished with an age group award, wondering aloud, "why was that so HARD?!"  Deanna crossed the line and immediately declared, "that was f**kin' hard!"  Robert, the RD, asked if he could quote her on that :-)  Soon Leslie rounded the final corner, with Bill in tow, and crossed the line.  See, I knew you could do it, Les :)  And very soon after, Geof appeared up the road, finally closing it out.  Moral of the story? the GT50M ain't no joke.

Whew, what a day!  While he wasn't thrilled with the day (especially since he eyed six snakes on the trail!!), Geof was thrilled to be done.  We headed inside to fill up on chili and cookies and catch up with Leslie and Deanna.  After Bill and Leslie's 'lost' car keys scare, Geof and I hit the road.  It was a looooooong day, and a loooooong ride back home.  But, I'd be lying if I said I didn't fully enjoy myself throughout the day :)  And my little jaunt on the trail totally kicked butt! 

I love this sport.

Check out Geof's account of his race HERE.

Crash, out.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Purple Piglets

You asked for it...well, actually, you can thank JojaJogger for this one, 'cuz he asked for it!

Here is a fancy shmancy (no, not really) picture of my toes, three weeks post RDL...

The lighting isn't so great, but not too bad, eh?  Well, this is what you get when you let your mind wander too much on the trail and your feet get lazy.  I must have been doing that road runner zone-out thing I used to be so good at.  Obviously, I haven't lost that talent :)  You can see on the left toe where I've managed to kill it down to the nail bed.  Now that takes talent.  Once it finally does fall off, I'm not really sure if that one will grow back, but that's what nail polish is for, right :)  The right toe will be fine, I'll still lose it, but I'm not questioning its return.

These tootsies of mine are actually feeling even better now that I've gotten a couple of runs in.  Weird, huh?  I can only tell I have dead toenails when I point my toes all the way, then it's a funky 'stuck' sensation I get but totally painless. 

Oh, and I got new shoes yesterday!  I told myself I had to wait until I was running again before I would try on new shoes.  Geof and I headed over to Running Away Multisport in Bucktown since they seem to have the biggest selection of road shoes in town, and I decided on the Asics Gel Nimbus 12s.  They are a cushion lover's dream :)  I've been looking for something with a little more room in the toe box, and while I'm not sure these are any wider, I definitely am digging the fit so far.  My foot feels locked in place and the shoe feels very sock-like, it's that comfortable.  The cushioning is beyond awesome...and I thought my Brooks Glycerins were the Queen of Cushion.  Move over Glycerin, there's a new queen in town!

Now, I just need to get re-acclimated to my morning running...I am sufficiently beat after a spritely 3 mile run this morning!  You'd think I did a long run with the way I've been zombie-ing around the office today :)

Crash, out.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Hip Hip Hooray!


There, I needed to get that out :)

A bunch of us CHUGs and some MUDDs met up at Deer Grove Forest Preserve in Palatine today for some solid trail running.  (Sidenote: Deer Grove is where I ran my very first trail/trail race ever, back in August 2008, so it was fun to relive the memories!)  I decided it was time to stop being a sissy-pants and try out a little run.  I kindly asked my sad toenails to cooperate and they were more than happy to oblige.  I showed off my gnarled big toenails to those interested in seeing what they look like (I finally took my nail polish off), and was regaled with many an "ooo" and "ahhh" ;)  They actually look like I've just painted them purple.  Brian thinks they'll fall off in about 4-6 months...

One loop on the yellow trail is ~5.4 miles and I decided I'd try on one loop for size and see how things felt.  I also brought Geof's mountain/commuter bike along so I could still join in on the fun after my loop. 

It was great!  I ran alongside new member Helen and my favorite f-bombin' dude, Ed Kelly and we caught up on all things running, donuts, Badwater and generalness.  Great to see you Ed!  We were truckin' along at a very nice pace for my out-of-practice legs and everything was jivin'.  My hamstrings decided to speak up about a mile or so from the end of the loop, and my knees were achey as well (both were things I expected) so I let Helen and Ed go ahead and I walked in the last 1/4 mile.  My lungs were so happy to be breathing in so much fresh air!  My heart rate felt as though I barely lifted a finger, so everything was very relaxed.  It seems that the first run back after a break is usually pretty effortless feeling, and that's when you have to be careful and make sure not to get ahead of yourself. 

After everyone made it back to the parking lot, we chatted briefly before the runners headed back out for another loop.  This was Brian's first run back since Rio Del Lago 100M as well, so we both called it a day after the first loop, very pleased with our efforts.  We then pulled our bikes out of our cars and geared up to meet everyone back out on the trail.  Of course, before we headed back out, Brian needed to check out his healing feet (and I wanted to see them, gross right?!), and he proceeded to yank off another toenail he noticed dangling...I was squirming watching the madness!!  The things we endure to be runners...!

What fun it was to bike on a trail again!  I haven't done that since college!  We managed to putter around the parking lot long enough that we didn't catch up to the runners until just about the end of the loop, woops :) 

Super fun day, great chilly fall weather, great people.  I'm very happy with how the day went and I'm looking forward to some more short runs next week.  Meantime, I need to get some work done on these hamstrings, yowza, they are tight!

Crash, out.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Baby Steps

Ahhhh...  Another year older now and, so far,  my new age fits pretty well :) 

I decided to kick off the day following my birthday with a bit of a blog overhaul.  While it is more like a revamping of the previous look, it is a change nonetheless.  Hey, baby steps :)  I kid you not, I played around with a dozen other layouts and thingies and after what was probably hours, I ended up picking a layout that is almost identical to my previous layout :)  Heh, go figure.

It's been a full two WEEKS since I've taken a single running step.  And, you know what?  It's not horrible.  But I don't really recommend it if you enjoy being sane and normal ;)  Those two gnarly blisters I got under my big toenails brought me to my knees (on a "manageable pain" day, the feeling was akin to what I imagine it feels like to have your nails yanked off with pliers...nice, huh?).  So, after a week of no running, Geof had had enough.  He set up his road bike on the bike trainer and demanded that I ride.  I resisted for a short bit, staring down the foreign contraption with laser eyes.  I poked and prodded it, circled it, and then decided maybe I'd give it a shot, but I wasn't happy about it... 

I'm thinking maybe I should write an Ode to the Bike Trainer blog post!  But, that would be sacrilege on this running blog :-)  So I will simply state that said Trainer has been a godsend for me this past week.  I get to move my legs and sweat like a pig all without leaving the apartment!  I was lamenting how high maintenance every other activity is compared to running, so this was a perfect solution.  Plus, my new bike is now in the construction phase so I look forward to its arrival in the coming weeks, bam! 

Sidenote:  Dornbox Bikes is the place to go if you're looking for a top notch, custom made ride sure to turn heads.   Chris Dornbach is a genius...which is really good because I know NOTHING about bikes, other than that they have two wheels and a seat :)

Anyhow, the blistery toes are on the mend finally and it's looking like running is indeed in my future :)  You know when you get in a spot where you can't do a whole lot (injury/setback, gross blisters, etc.) and you feel like you'll never run again?  (I know, talk about dramatic.)  Know that eventually you do get to the other side of it.  You will run again.  That's how we humans roll.  I'm now trying to use my forced down time as time to work on some weak areas...hips, glutes, calves, feet...so that when I do return to running I'm not right back where I left off, expecting new results.  That's the definition of insanity, doing the same thing over and over again while expecting the outcome to be different.  Working on the weak stuff, while NOT running, will hopefully position me better.  I'm also thinking about revamping my approach to running...low mileage still (under 40-50 mpw), but shuffling things around and adding a little bit of (but not too much) speed work.  We'll see, plenty of time to work on this in my non-running state :)  I also need to start some research on new road shoes.  It has come to my attention that my feet are now just wide enough that I can't wear my road shoes without getting an annoying side-of-the-ball-of-my-foot blister.  Any suggestions for cushioney, neutral road delights?  We already know how much I love my trail shoes :)

Back to my baby steps...

Crash, out.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Holding Hands on No Hands Bridge, Mile 41, Rio Del Lago 100M
Photo by Gretchen B.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Rio Del Lago 100M: Who Needs Toenails Anyway?

"I have a strong and healthy body...I have a strong and healthy mind...don't cry, don't cry...I'm going to finish this thing, I'm going to finish this thing...Whoa, is that fire in the hole? Somebody put it out!!!...Ooooooooh, man, that hurt, I'm losing those toenails for sure...Do I need to puke? Nah, wait, take that back, BLEEEEEECH!!!!...Why do I always get stuck behind chicks talking about Ironman? For the love of God, WHY?!...That smells, is that me?...Man, I feel great!...K2 is a sissy hill, K2 is a sissy hill...so is Cardiac Hill...Can't wait to see Geof, can't wait to see Geof...EFF my left big toe hurts like a mutha...C'mon Gaines, get 'er done!!!...EFF, it's hot...EFF, I'm going to puke.....................Oh my gosh, I'm going to finish, I'm really, really going to finish!...Leadville, you can kiss my ASS!"

Peeps always ask what goes through my head during these things.  Well, there's a small sampling.  Particularly the first two things.  This is going to sound a bit new agey and weird, but I've recently taken to daily positive affirmations (thanks to Geof's suggestion) to help bolster my mental game.  I came up with a number of things on my own to repeat daily to myself, and the first two things were my affirmations of choice while running the 2010 Rio Del Lago 100M.  I guess it worked :)  Put it out there, and then all the universe will conspire to make it happen.  Thank you universe :)

Rio Del Lago takes place just outside of Sacramento, CA, in Granite Bay, and makes its way up to Cool, CA (which was most definitely the HOTTEST part of the course...how cruel).  You then turn around to go back where you came from, and then continue on down and around Lake Natoma, then back to where you started, in Granite Bay.  The first part of the course from Cavitt School to Cool and back was the BEST...rolling, dusty singletrack along the American River, parts of which were on the Western States Trail and included a run across the famed No Hands Bridge.  No Hands Bridge is heaven and I look forward to going back there :) 

The course itself isn't overly challenging when you compare it to, oh, say, Leadville or Wasatch, or even Western States...but, an "easy" course? Not even close.  It's one of those deceptively tough courses, strewn with rocks and roots and so much dust I was blowing brown stuff out of my nose for the couple of days following.  Gross.  It's also hot.  The weather was cooler than originally projected for the race, and didn't rise much above 90.  Add in the very exposed course and you have one heck of a hot day!  Peeps were dropping like flies because of the heat apparently.  There are two vicious climbs, Cardiac (very apropos) and K2 (again, apropos), which will awaken your every cell and remind you to pay attention, but they come early and aren't repeated.  If you've climbed Hope Pass, these are nothing, but it does take some special technique to make your way up without going all anerobic and what not.  I passed people like it was my business on K2, but what a doozy! 

The rest of the course is very, very rolling and the last 50k are incredibly rocky and curse word-inducing, but considerably easier since it's dark and cooler.  I could have done without all the pavement running in the final 7 or so miles, but whatevs.

Okay, that's enough of a boring description of the course :) 

I'm starting to get all starry-eyed and girly remembering race day.  You know when you have a really bang-up time, when everything just seems to go really right and no matter how much it might have hurt for awhile, you always look back and remember it as "the best time of your life"?  That's where I'm at :)

The short of it?  I finished!  With a new PR!  28:21:29.  The official results are incorrect, showing me as coming in at 28:05.  I'm flattered, but it's not right.  Oooo, and I got a fancy shmancy 20-29 age group award...2nd place chick.  And, what's cooler, is it's something I can actually use!

Was this redemption?  I'd say 50/50.  Was it what I wanted?  100%.  Did I feel pressured or stressed?  Not a hint of either.  For me, this race was exactly what I was looking for.  The experience I had at RDL this year has made me realize a few things: mountainous races are not my thing right now, the Leadville experience was too much of a production and not my scene either, oxygen is a GOOD thing, so is being able to run because you have access to things like...oxygen, and losing your cookies during a race can actually serve you well.  My DNF at Leadville stung at first, then it subsided almost completely, and relatively quickly actually.  But, I had all this fitness and drive still lingering, I wanted to do something.  RDL was perfect timing in every way.  So off to Sacramento we flew, along with Brian and Kelly, of course.

After a quick pre-race meeting where they warned us about the possibility of course marking sabotage (oh, great), weigh-in, BP check and packet pick-up, we headed to dinner at the king of classy Italian dining, Olive Garden.  That will be the last time I eat a plate of fettuccine alfredo and two bowls of salad the night before a race.  Holy over-active colon!  Steve, Geof's uncle, joined us for dinner as well.  Steve was going to be joining Geof as a member of my crew, and on Saturday morning, Gretchen would be joining the crew crowd as well.  What a lucky gal I am, I had a really great cast of characters helping me out, and no drop bags to worry with!

With the Brelly at the pre-race meeting...so excited!
I think I slept pretty well the night before, but that may have been aided by an overdose of the spray adhesive that Brian was using to tape his feet in the room we were all sharing ;)  The usual pre-race preparations took place and Brian and I were all set to get 'er done before long.  I decided to start out in my new Sportie Cats, my trusty Atayne CHUG shirt, Drymax Max Pro socks, RecoFit Arm Coolers and RecoFit Calf Sleeves, along with various other items of necessary clothing.  I did opt for the gaiters this time, and thank goodness I did...by the first sock change at mile 44 you could see exactly where my gaiters didn't cover (the dust and grit were experts at getting into my shoes even with the gaiters). 

At the starting area, we had to be weighed again, and since we got there so early (6 a.m. start time) we just bummed around taking pictures, gnawing on plain bagels and relaxing.  The tiny gym at Cavitt School was buzzing and jammed with the 100+ runners (94 hundo runners and a bunch of 50k runners) and their crews.  It was funny to observe the relatively relaxed scene compared to the start of Leadville, and even Rocky Raccoon.  There was really good, positive energy in the air and I was on cloud 9 imagining the day ahead of me on the trail with these folks.
Brian and I have on our race faces at the start
At precisely 6:00 we were off, running into the early dawn hours.  I carried a small handheld light for the first 30-45 minutes of running, until the sun illuminated the trail enough to not need anything.  The first ~12 miles are run around Folsom Lake on a very rolling dirt trail, and since they get zero rain in this area it was verrrry dusty.  I pulled my Buff up over my nose and mouth more than a few times when runners in front of me kicked up some of the grit.  This section of this trail was really pleasant and switched between single track and wider doubletrack.  I got stuck behind a train of women talking all about how tough Ironman is and that this was just a training run for their next IM.  Yea, see ya at the finish line (FYI, none of those women finished...).  Disclaimer: I have nothing against IM, I have some wonderful friends who enjoy them, but I always manage to get stuck behind people who talk incessantly about those races and how amazing they are.  Minor pet peeve I guess :)  Onward!

After jumping on my first chance to pass up the IM chicks, I sailed along some really rocky and technical sections of the trail, taking quick glances to my right to check out the awesome scenery that is Folsom Lake...simply stunning, really!  I bypassed the first two aid stations as I was full up on liquids and had a tight nutrition schedule to stick to.  No deviation today!  Mile 11.93 - Rattlesnake Bar - was the first crew accessible aid station and I was pumped to see my man and Steve.  At around mile 10 I noticed a very familiar sensation coming over me...I needed to pee, sweet!  This was very good, especially considering it took me 40 miles to need to pee at Leadville.
Coming into Rattlesnake Bar.  Photo courtesy of www.therundown.net (Charlie N.)

I rolled into Rattlesnake Bar in about 2.5 hours, right on schedule, and considering I walked the equivalent of about two miles in that first section, I was quite pleased with my arrival.  A quick swap of my Perpetuem bottle and a check of my water supply in my pack and I was off!  I was feeling great, and I got a nice little surge from seeing Geof and Steve's smiling faces.  The next crew station would be Auburn Dam Overlook (which, from what we could tell, was no dam, and no overlook to be seen, lol) at mile 22ish.  I left Rattlesnake smiling and feeling pretty awesome, setting off down the trail, hoping the field had spread out some.  The first 50k runners were already headed back by this time and they were very polite and stepped aside as we crossed paths on the singletrack trail.  "Go ahead, you've got a LOT more ground to cover than I do today!  Yea hundred mile runner!"  That made me smile to myself :)  I ran a lot of the next few miles solo, passing a couple folks, getting passed by a couple folks, rolling with the hills, drinking at regular intervals, keeping up on my salt intake, keeping an eye on my hands to see if they were puffing up.  It was now starting to warm up pretty good, but the shade of the trail kept runners pretty cool at this point still.  

I was concentrating pretty well and reminding myself to be in the moment.  Too often in a race, I find myself forward-thinking and worrying about what's coming up next.  I think that's a bit of a mental downfall.  This time I would keep my head in the precise moment I was actually in at any given time.  Relish the trail beneath my feet, enjoy everything around me and listen to my body.  I would get to the big climb when I got to it and I would deal with it one footfall at a time.  This strategy made a huge difference in where my head was throughout the race and it made the experience that much more positive.  I recommend trying it out!

I'm not sure what the mileage was, but it was a couple miles before Cardiac Hill that I ran up behind a train of three people.  I hung behind them for a bit gauging the pace and their conversation style.  They were running my pace (sweet!), talking walk breaks at the exact moment I was craving one (bam!) and their conversation was light and pretty entertaining.  I decided to hang onto these folks and really, really enjoyed the trail with them until Maidu (~mile 21).  The climb up Cardiac gave us an insider's view of just why it was named that, and I thoroughly enjoyed keeping pace with this group.  They pulled me along when I likely would have slowed considerably and gotten lazy, but it was never outside of my comfort zone.  Jenny was the women's winner a number of years back, and she was leading the group.  Joey was charged with making sure she kept an even and relaxed pace during the hot hours of the day, and I'm not sure what the other gal was doing with them, but they all clearly knew each other well.  After cresting Cardiac, the trail runs along a canal and is very flat and shaded.  It was lovely!  We all stopped to dunk our hats in the frigid water of the canal and then rolled on.  One more guy tacked on behind me and was thanking me for pulling him along all that way.  I said to thank the ones ahead of us!  I loved this section. 

Running along the canal with my adopted posse, heading to Maidu (~mile 21)

Rolling into Maidu, I took another potty break and then kept on moving, leaving the group at the aid station.  It was only another 1.5 miles to Auburn Dam where my crew was meeting me.  The rest of the way along the canal and nicely shaded still.  I saw the amazing Monica Scholz up ahead (whom I met climbing up Hope Pass during Leadville) and worked to catch up to her.  I finally caught up as we were cresting a paved hill leading up to the Overlook.  Past the bathrooms (ooo, real bathrooms!) I ran down to the AS to the smiling faces of my awesome crew and Kelly.  Gretchen joined us here and I was pumped to finally meet her in person.  She gave me a huge hug and then we set about refilling my bottles, removing my arm sleeves, checking to make sure my iPod was working and a quick potty break in the f'real bathrooms (which even had soap, running water and paper towels...heaven!).  It was really warm by now and there wasn't a cloud in the sky.  The next section was going to be much more exposed so Geof lathered on the sunscreen for me.  I had noticed a bit of an uncomfortable rubbing on the outside of my right ankle and wasn't sure if my shoe was rubbing it, or if it was my calf and achilles butting in.  It looked a bit like my ankle was swollen compared to my left side, but since it didn't hurt I left it alone and quietly worried about it as I rolled out of the AS, Geof warning me about the net downhill section ahead of me, "take care of those quads!"  I turned on my iPod for the first time all day and brushed out the negative thoughts about my ankle and put myself back in the moment.  Ahhhh, bliss :)

This section was much better marked (less course sabotage I guess) and I just put my legs on autopilot and went with the flow.  I was much more downhill running and I began to notice my left hammy tightening up so I altered my form a bit to rely a little less on the hams and this seemed to work pretty well.  It was around this time that I remembered my left big toe.  I had smacked the bejeezus out of it on a rock earlier and it was now throbbing a bit on each steep downhill footfall.  But it went away quickly again once I was back on flat trail and I forgot about it again.  Until, of course, I smacked the bejeezus out of it again...and again...and again.  I was loosing count of how many times I smacked that left toe on a rock.  Crimeny!  No matter, this section of the course was MINDBLOWING!  It was a slightly wide dirt trail following along the American River in all its amazing glory.  I barely saw a soul on the trail, except for one dude who looked exactly like Tony Krupicka...same hair, same shorts, same shirtless abs...spitting image.  I was really looking forward to crossing No Hands Bridge and knew I was getting close to it when I saw a few more people heading up the trail.  Normal, everyday runners, and they cheered me on loudly as I ran passed them.  I love this place, I thought to myself more than a few times along this section of the course :)  As I rounded a corner I saw No Hands come into view and I instantly got goose bumps!  Wow, it's freakin' palatial compared to how I pictured it!  Just then, my favorite Coldplay song came on and I was in heaven.  I imagined all the fast feet that have crossed this very same path in search of a Western States buckle, and it was all I could do to not shout at the top of my lungs that I absolutely loved this place!
Arriving at No Hands Bridge I, feelin' groovy

It was super hot now and while Steve and Geof set about filling my bottle and water, I downed some more nutrition and salt and Gretchen got some ice for my Buff to keep around my neck.  Ahhh, bliss, again.  This next section was nicknamed K2 and was going to be a super steep ~1.5 mile climb.  My hands were a tad on the puffy side by now, so I needed to make sure to keep an eye on them.  The trail turns once and then puts you at the base of K2.  A sign states "Caution: Very Steep Climb", or something to that effect.  I laughed a little bit and thought to myself that clearly they'd never climbed Hope Pass in Leadville, or Naval Run in PA.  I kept my head in the moment, jacked up the iPod as my favorite butt kicking song came on (Static X "Dirthouse") and resigned myself to the baby steps Joe Judd recommended I employ up Hope Pass rather than my usual long strides, eyes down and not focusing on anything further than the next two steps, shoulders back, abs tight.  The result?  Dude, I smoked that hill and everyone I passed on it!!  I couldn't believe how quickly I moved upwards.  I knew there were 7 false summits and I checked them off as I hit them, ran the short flats, and then got right back into my baby steps on the climbs.  I never went anerobic and my breathing was just slightly above normal rate.  I kept hitting repeat on my butt kicking song and before I knew it I was at the summit!  I felt like a gazillion bucks :)  I did notice that the further up I got, the puffier my hands got, to the point of tingling when I had them hanging down.  That was weird, but as soon as the climbing ended, they went down enough that there was no more tingle and I could make a fist.  I made sure to pee the next chance I had and this helped a good deal.  The heat was really becoming a factor, but other than my hands I felt great still.  The course took us through wide open golden fields with long runnable stretches.  At one point, when I was getting close to the next crew stop, at Cool Fire Station, I noticed a woman ahead of me off course.  I yelled to her repeatedly, but she must have had music on as she heard nothing.  Luckily, the course met up with the trail she was on, but then at a T intersection where it was clearly marked to go left, she turned right.  I remembered her from the start of the race so I knew she was in the race.  I yelled again and again after her, but to no avail.  I quietly hoped she'd figure it out and then I turned and continued on my way.  Yikes, I would be so miffed if that happened to me! (Note: this chick ended up finishing about an hour after me, thank goodness she made it!) 

The Cool Fire Station at mile 29.84 was a big crew stop, and anything but 'cool'...it was freakin' HOT!  I finally caught up to Brian at this point.  He was enjoying a popsicle when I rolled in, yum.  After not one, but two bathroom stops (I knew that fettuccine alfredo was a bad idea...) I downed an ice cold chocolate Ensure (so good!), got more ice in my Buff, bottle and pack and headed up the trail after Brian.  This section was brutal.  Hot, hot, hot.  Very exposed and rocky.  I stubbed my left toe a couple more times and even stubbed the right one once.  Eventually, I caught up to Brian and we power walked the rolling sections and kept each other company during a mentally challenging part of the course.  It never seemed to end.  We went back and forth with a few other people, but otherwise it was an empty trail.  We got to a paved road and then the heavenly Knickerbocker AS came into view.  Yes!!  Brian sat for a spell and asked if I'd wait, so I gave him 30 seconds :)  We dumped ice into our hats and Buffs and then put our heads down and headed up the road for the remaining 1.6 miles back to the Cool Fire Station.  I made quick business of getting out of there after some refills of water.  My stomach was starting to feel a tad funky, but nothing alarming.  I decided to grab some banana, that was pretty yummy.  Yet another bathroom break (this is some sort of record for me...I actually did lose count of f'real bathroom breaks after stop number 7) and then I took off back down the trail, headed for No Hands Bridge again.  Music on full throttle and I was sailing.  I felt pretty good still and ignored the little yelps of my stomach.  I kept the pace a little more relaxed as I figured the heat was starting to play more of a role.  I also went from taking salt every 45 minutes, to every 40 minutes.  Not a huge difference time-wise, but it really did seem to help during this stretch of exposed trail.  

The race organizers were really awesome and opted not to have us run back down K2, and instead had us turning down a trail that would bring us gently down and around the face of the hill.  Still very downhill, but much more palatable for this not-so-good downhiller.  My toes were jamming into the front of my shoes and that didn't feel too good, but I was just so glad I found the trail that I didn't mind it too much.  This section heading back was really crappily marked.  But, I found it and found my way back to No Hands.  I was feeling my stomach more and more and was trying to think of something to do about it.  I sat briefly at No Hands while my awesome crew did their thing.  My ankle still wasn't bothering me, but I was letting its slightly swollen appearance bother me.  I let Geof know that I'd want to change my shirt, socks and shoes at Auburn Dam, and confirmed with Gretchen that she'd be jumping in to pace at that point.  Sweet, I got some renewed energy knowing that.  This next section would be net uphill, but I knew it wouldn't be that bad since it was pretty rolling.  I plugged the headphones back in and danced my way across No Hands Bridge, eating up the scenery.  "Man I love this place", was all I could think :)

My music kept me good company on the less than four-mile trip back to Auburn Dam.  I thought about how consistent I'd been all day and how much fun I've been having.  I was keeping a very steady pace, something new to me :)  My left foot was bothering me and I was letting myself worry about it.  I decided I needed a new distraction, so I began to sing, loudly.  A song came on that I knew all the words to and I belted that mutha like I was Aretha Franklin!  I checked behind me a couple times to make sure I was still alone, and kept on singing.  It felt so good!  It was releasing a lot of tension and getting my mind off other things.  I highly recommend trail serenading :)  Before I knew it, I was climbing the short hill back up to Auburn Dam and ready for a slightly longer stop.  I weighed in again here and was surprised to see I was still at my starting weight.  There were a couple other stops where we were weighed and I found that I maintained the same weight the entire race...something new for me!  I changed my shirt and socks here as planned (I opted not to change the shoes just yet for some reason), drank a Starbucks Doubleshot for some much needed energy.  My ankle appeared fine and my feet actually looked great, albeit quite dirty :)  My stomach was a little distended so I knew I was going to need to change something, I just didn't know what.  I could feel a low spot approaching quickly and I was scrambling in my head to figure out how to dodge it.  It was time for a second dose of Tylenol so I took that, along with more salt and after a stop at the potty, again, Gretchen and I were off!  Gretchen was going to run the next ~23 miles with me, back to Cavitt School where Geof would then jump in for the remaining 33 miles of the race.

Gretchen and I heading out of Auburn Dam Overlook - mile 44.29

The fresh socks and shirt felt good, but my stomach was getting less and less happy.  My feet felt better and as we got to the canal I stated that I'm usually pretty quiet and that we may be walking a good bit.  I was feeling that low point come on strong suddenly.  Gretchen was awesome and assured me she was fine with whatever I wanted to do.  What a great chick :)  As quickly as that low point sunk in, it seemed to lift and we were running along the canal, I in front and Gretchen behind me.  Ah, this was better.  Maidu II was just 1.5 miles up the trail and it appeared seemingly out of nowhere.  I headed for the port-o-john immediately, and as I sat there I thought, "something needs to happen".  I stood to leave and then I turned around and it happened.  I dry heaved into the hole in the ground, and then made the mistake of observing the contents of the toilet...that's all I needed!  I lost my cookies, and lost them good!  A few more heaves and I was good.  I stepped out of the port-o-john and hobbled over to the tent where I sat on top of a cooler.  "Well, let's just say...I need to replenish some calories!"  I felt like death warmed over and was wondering when that great feeling that supposedly follows a mid-race puke fest would come on.  I'd never purged during a race and will actually usually avoid it with every ounce of energy in me.  This time, I just let it happen, and now I was worried about what the consequences of that would be.  I had just eaten a Gu, taken salt and Tylenol and now I need to replenish that and then some.  I ate some saltine crackers, and a kind volunteer offered me a Pedialyte popsicle.  That frozen delight tasted a-maz-ing!  Just then, Brian ran up to us.  The three of us hung there for a couple more minutes while I ate more food and even downed another gel, this time I decided to stick with my Powerbar Gels, rather than the gross Gu gels I'd been using.  Gretchen helped me up and then we slowly made our way down the trail a few yards, with Brian in tow.  

Now, I wouldn't say it was immediate, but it did seem to come on out of nowhere.  I started running, and running, and running.  My legs were moving better than they had all day.  I remember wondering whose legs these were!  Brian was still with us for a ways longer and after making the steep descent down Cardiac (yowza, my left toe was screaming now!) we didn't have him behind us.  There was only one major course marking flub along the American River section at this time, it was a fork in the trail and thankfully Gretchen ran ahead to see which way we were supposed to go.  Brian caught back up and waited with me while Gretchen did her trail reconnaissance.  

We were clipping off the miles and I felt incredible.  I got back on my nutrition plan, surprisingly, and never had another issue with it the rest of the race.  I eased back on the salt now that the sun was going down and kept it to one per hour.  Running along the American River and Folsom Lake at sundown was awesome and Gretchen and I were chatting up a storm, almost entirely non-stop.  Walking steep ups, but then back to running the flats and downs.  I could NOT believe how good I was feeling, and I could NOT believe I was talking while running!  We laughed about my having said I'm usually quiet :)  We talked about everything, laughed, swapped race stories, talked about our jobs, how we met Stacy of Wilderness Running Company, music, concerts, etc.  I was having a freakin' blast.  We rolled into aid stations smiling and laughing.  At some point the sun completely disappeared and the lights came on.  I wasn't sure how I'd fare in the dark...would I get insanely tired like at Rocky Raccoon? Would I get cranky? Would I get tunnel vision from my headlamp?  None of those things factored in this time.  I felt like I was running the same as I was when the sun was still out.  I took only one misstep and fell to the left into a soft patch of yellow straw-like grass.  Phew, glad I didn't fall into the rock bed in front of me!  A couple of pit stops in a field and I was good.  Arriving at Rattlesnake Bar, I took some more Tylenol and decided to change my shoes.  I could feel my feet were swollen, which is normal for races of this distance, and the back of my right shoe was really irritating my achilles, so I switched into my road shoes.  It felt like my feet filled in every ounce of those shoes!  My left toe felt huge, but I couldn't see well enough in the dark, and I was just so happy to have that tension off my achilles.  I grabbed some Sharkies and my pack and we headed back into the night.

Rattlesnake Bar - mile 55.09

At Horseshoe Bar - mile 57.02, a volunteer handed each of us a glowstick necklace.  I still have mine :)  Just a little something fun for the run and we got lots of compliments on them, lol.  Getting onto the trail that goes around Folsom Lake we worried a bit about the trail markings...there weren't any.  It's a good thing there's really only one option around the lake, but it was still a little unnerving to not see any flags.  Clearly, someone had taken it upon themselves to remove all the flagging during the day.  What jerks.  What's the point?  There were a whopping two flags on the 9 mile stretch from Horseshoe Bar to Cavitt School (mile 66.96).  No matter, we were enjoying ourselves, even running a lot of the ups.  A confusing sign at the levee had us scratching our heads, but I knew the school was straight ahead.  I also knew Geof and I were going to need to figure out the sign for the next portion of the race.  We eventually reached the chain-link fence around the fields behind the school and ran around the perimeter.  I was so happy to reach this point, and feeling so dang good!  I ran to the gymnasium slightly less than 2 hours ahead of the cutoff, and hopped inside, arms wide open, to a MASH scene.  Whoa, it appeared a lot of peeps were having a lot of trouble.  I wanted to get in and out of there, fast.  Geof was all set to go and after another weigh in, battery change and some refills, we were outta there!  I regaled Geof with my excitement over the last 22 miles with Gretchen, "we ran almost every step of that trail, it was awesome!!"

Mentally, I was passing with flying colors.  I was still doing really well with keeping in the moment.  Other than that one mental dip just before I lost my cookies at Maidu, I had had a really awesome mental race, not to mention physically, too.  My stomach was holding tight and my feet were feeling better in my road shoes.  The next 33ish miles were going to be a lot less rolling, more runnable and include a good bit of paved bike path/urban running.  Carrying a handheld light, in addition to my headlamp, helped avoid the tunnel vision sickness I've gotten in the past from having only one light.  Awesome.  Geof and I clipped along the levees, up and down some hills and around Lake Natoma.  Mentally, I decided I just needed to get to Hazel Bluff AS at mile 89 under the cutoff and then I could take my time getting to the finish (the RDs would honor any finish time as long as you made the mile 89 cutoff); the final 11 miles would be my "party miles".  This helped me to break up the last portion of the course and made it feel less daunting.

I was still keeping up on my nutrition and very diligent about the salt and calories.  I was really craving some ramen noodles, and when we arrived at Negro Bar to one fabulous volunteer manning a huge pot of ramen noodles, I rejoiced.  YESSSSSSS!  I downed a cup of the steamy goodness, grabbed more gels from my peeps and we headed out again.  Negro was the only AS that had a generator going, and actual lights...how strange.  Geof and I were talking about how important something as minor as the sound of a generator running is during the night portion of these races.  Hearing that gentle whirring sound is like a beacon of hope for the runner in the night.  I don't know why no other AS had this, and I won't even get into the whole no lights thing here.  At Hazel Bluff (mile 77.33) we were ahead of schedule a bit, so Steve and Gretchen were sleeping in the car.  I asked a volunteer how far to the next crew station and he responded with a very typical (of this race), "I don't know."  But he didn't stop there, he had to share that he did know it was about 12.5 miles round trip, to get back to them at mile 89.  Okay, now there is a prime example of information I did not need at that point.  Suddenly, 12.5 miles felt insurmountable.  We ambled over to the car as Steve rolled out, very surprised to see us :)  I grabbed more gels and another Starbucks Doubleshot and then we headed out.  This was where there was a lot of paved bike path running.  I mentioned that I thought if we saw this part during the day, we would never run in an area like this voluntarily.  Geof agreed, and I added that running in the woods with rattlesnakes and mountain lions was less worrisome to me!  Suffice it to say, it was a little sketchy running in such an unfamiliar and urban setting.

We passed a lot of zombie-like runners, reduced to hobbling.  We were still running pretty well and I was already forgetting the 12.5 mile comment from the volunteer.  The turn-around point was within reach and I knew I was in no danger of missing any cutoffs at this point.  I decided that I would allow myself one nap, at the turn-around station, since I hadn't taken one at Cavitt School as I originally thought I might.  I was feeling a little tired, but not horribly so.  One quick nap would take the edge off :) 

At around 4:25 a.m. we arrived at Mt. Lion Knoll (mile 83.63), the turn around.  I checked in at the AS, grabbed a cup of the most amazing tasting butternut squash soup and then headed back down to the parking lot where a thick blanket was laid out for me on the pavement and a chair for me to elevate my legs with.  I rolled myself up like a burrito and zonked for 15 minutes straight.  I wouldn't call it the most restful sleep ever, but it felt so incredible to have my legs elevated, back flat and eyes shut.  Wow, that was blissful.  My crew woke me up and helped me to my feet.  I immediately put on my Rocky Raccoon 100 fleece sweater as I knew that laying flat like that was going to give me serious chills if I didn't put on something warm asap.  That fleece worked like a charm!  It's nice to know I've learned a thing or two in my experiences.  No matter the temperature, if you've been running all day, gotten some sun, and then lay down for even a minute at night, you are going to get chilled.  Even at Badwater that happened to our runner.  So, if you are going to stop for any measure of time during the night portion of a race, have something warm to put on.  Otherwise, you'll be battling the chills for some time and that zaps your energy like few other things do.

Usually, after making it 80 miles, I have a pretty good feeling I'm going to finish.  There are few things that will stop me, and on this day I could feel it in my bones.  I was going to do it.  But, I wanted to get to Hazel Bluffs (mile 89) before claiming it a sure thing.  The next 7ish miles back to Hazel after the turn-around were pretty unremarkable due to the urban setting, but Geof and I were moving along well.  One major, major lift was seeing Brian and Kelly heading for the turn-around about 3/4 of a mile out of the station.  We were both absolutely elated to see them there.  Brian was going to get 'er done!!!  This gave me a good little boost that carried me to Hazel Bluffs feeling really good, albeit ready to be done!  We arrived with the sun rising behind us, and just shy of 2 full hours ahead of the cut-off, as it had been for me all day.  Sweet :)  I decided to leave my hydration pack here and opted for one bottle of plain water, and one bottle of Gatorade.  I also grabbed my sunglasses and tied my fleece around my waist.  I now knew I was going to finish, without a shadow of a doubt.  My head was in a great spot and my body still felt incredible.  I grabbed a cup of chicken noodle soup from the aid station, silently forgiving the volunteer that had made the 12.5 mile remark earlier on :)  The same guy now announced to me, "head down this hill here, round the corner and then guess what?  You will be in the single digits!"  This made me very happy :)

The trail out of the AS was very steep and rocky and I made sure to stub my toe one more time here.  I said aloud that I was without a doubt going to be losing my left big toenail, and possibly my right one, too.  Blech.  The remaining miles felt much longer than they actually were, but that is par for the course at the end of a 100 mile race for me.  It's funny to look back and remember at mile 12 how I thought, "wow, I'm already 12 miles in, only 88 more to go!"  And, now I was thinking how awful it was that there were 9.5 miles left to go, ha!  Perspective.  Once on the bike path there was a lot of walking mixed with running.  My feet were pretty unhappy with me, but I knew I needed to keep moving.  Each step gets you that much closer to the finish.  Geof mentioned he thought I'd probably be able to PR at this rate.  Ooo, a PR, that would be fun :)  I stopped at every port-o-john we passed, and happily noticed my hands were back to their normal size and my feet didn't feel as puffy in my shoes.  Negro Bar II came up pretty quickly somehow, and after a 30 second stop in the chair, we continued on.  Gretchen and Steve were wide awake, it appeared, and I was so happy to see them at each stop in the night.  I was feeling pretty darn lucky for the crew I had with me :)  They let us know we'd see them one more time before the finish, at Folsom Dam Park.

Arriving at Negro Bar II - mile 94.43

I was pretty much over the whole paved bike path thing, and all the cyclists riding on the left side of the path (um, what's up with that?  Everyone on a bike was riding on the left side), and the sun, and the eerie chanting coming from the Folsom Prison alongside us (yep, the Folsom Prison, a la Johnny Cash :)).  Arriving at Folsom Dam, we checked with a volunteer on Brian's status.  There was a question mark next to his bib number and she said they were unsure if he was still out on the course or a DNF.  This didn't sit well with us, and we both chanted, "C'mon Gaines, git 'er done!" as we made our way towards the finish a mere 3.1 miles away.  I now had two full bottles of ice cold water as the day was heating up, and this made those final few miles more bearable.  Eventually, the levees came into view and Geof proclaimed we were getting really close.  Oh, sweet redemption, you will be mine!!

We rounded the corner on the final levee, and I recalled at that moment that there was less than a mile to go.  Suddenly, the entire day and night began to run through my mind.  I said we should run to the corner and then walk some, but I found myself continuing to run...all the way to the finish.  The chain-link fence appeared before us and we followed the trail around the perimeter one final time.  "Oh my gosh, I'm gonna do it, again.  Holy shit!" was all I could say.  Down the hill and onto the blacktop of the playground, across the basketball court and onto the timing mats.

I was done.  A new PR of 28:21:29...whoa, that was pretty cool.

Geof, Steve and Gretchen at the finish

After getting weighed one last time (still the same starting weight!), a BP check (slightly lower than the start) and getting my buckle, we checked with an official to see about where Brian was.  Still a question mark, huh?  We were positive he was finishing and held onto that glimmer of hope that he was still out there.  I pealed off my shoes and put my feet into Geof's Crocs.  After a quick pee break, a brush of the teeth and washing my face, I parked myself on one of the lawn chair chaises and passed out in the men's locker room, surrounded by half-dressed men, and a naked dude showering in the open shower across the room from me.  Keepin' it classy.  Of course, I was passed out hard and had no idea what was going on around me, but Geof kept an eye on me :)
After some time, I woke up to the sound of loud, cheering voices, "Go get Paige, Brian's here!!"  I sprang up as best I could and hobbled around the corner to the entrance...he made it!!!!  Holy hell, he made it!  I was so spent, dehydrated, and so foggy from my nap that I couldn't form tears, but I was so happy that, were I in a normal state, I would have been bawling.  Finisher rate for CHUGs? 100%!!!
Kelly, Brian, Brian's Buckle, Me, My Buckle, Geof (there is also a good deal of stank in the picture, but it's sort of hard to see because of the glare from our buckles ;))
So, let's see.  It's been precisely one week since we set out on this journey, wow.  Time flies :)  I had such an incredible time and looking back I am astonished at how well I executed my 'plan'.  I vowed to keep it much more simple and not stress the small stuff, or even the big stuff.  I managed to keep my head in the moment, my stomach in check after my little potty dance at Maidu II, and I only fell once on the entire course, bam!  Also of note, I never cried, not once.  This is a first for me.  I always find myself reduced to sleep deprivation tears during these races, even during 50 milers.  It's annoying as hell and really zaps my energy.  Somehow, remaining in the moment allowed me to work through things better and never get caught up in anything too much.  Taking the preemptive nap at Mountain Lion Knoll helped enormously, I'm sure, by avoiding getting into a serious sleep debt situation, like at Rocky Raccoon (where I totally lost it and fell into a deep, dark and lonely spot).  Having Gretchen's very upbeat and fresh personality with me when I hit that brief but very low low at Maidu really changed things for me and got me back on my feet fast (literally!).  Thank you Gretchen for giving up your weekend for me!!  I loved having Geof's Uncle Steve there to witness his first ultramarathon, and that I was able to give him a pretty good experience by being in such a good spot most of the time.  I hear he's chomping at the bit to do it again, for Geof's next race!  Heck yea, Steve, and a big thank you for all your help out there, and for also giving up your weekend so I could run around in the woods!  And, of course, where would I be without my number one, Geof?  He was only three weeks out of his Leadville finish, but he toughed out those final 33 miles with me, after having been up all day and night for me.  How'd I get so lucky?!  Thank you, sweetie :) 

One, two, three times a one hundred mile runner.  Third time's the charm :)

And now for some final, closing thoughts on the 2010 Rio Del Lago 100 Mile run:

Fact: Tri Berry Gu tastes exactly the same coming up as it does going down.  Not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing...
Fact: I run way better after 40 miles.  It hurts less.
Fact: I've never felt so good running 100 miles.  Heck I've never felt so good running 10 miles.  That's effed up.
Fact: It really is easier to be a chick...when your nails fall off you can just paint the nail bed :)
Fact: Sharkies are multi-colored.  I really thought they were blue, and as soon as I realized they were multi-colored, they tasted different...
Fact: Glow stick necklaces make you run faster, and pee more often.
Fact: RDL is hands down my favorite 100 mile race so far.  I think I will be back to this one :)  That stretch along the American River totally makes the race.
Fact: Brian is a 100 mile runner now.  Welcome to the club, m' man...so what's next?? :)
Fact: When other people fart on the trail, no matter how out of it I may be, I will laugh every single time.
Fact: I've never...evacuated...my colon so much in one 28 hour stretch.  WTF?
Fact: The one thing that I went into this race with an issue with (my right ankle/calf), and truly thought I might not finish because of it, never once actually bothered me, and the slight swelling was gone by the time I finished.  It's a mystery.
Fact: I'm not proof-reading this before I hit "Publish", sorry, it's just so dang long of a post now!
Fact: If you've made it this far, thank you!  I love my readers!!
Fact: RecoFit calf sleeves are the best piece of running attire I own.
Fact: I smelled like total BUTT by the time I finished.  I think Geof was offended by my stank...
Fact: This belt buckle totally kicks ass...


P.S. I am most definitely losing my left toenail, but I may get to keep the one on the right.  I had an enormous blood blister under my left big toenail; it lifted my entire nail from the bed...can we say, disgusting?  The right wasn't nearly as bad, and already looks infinitely better.  Toenails, who needs 'em anyway?

Check out Geof's crew report from the race HERE.

Crash, out.

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