Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A Sneak Peak of Javelina Jundred 100 miler 2009

This coming weekend I will be running my 3rd hundred miler this year and my first Javelina Jundred 100 miler. I am excited but also nervous. 100 miles is far!

I have a team of pacers from Arizona lined up: “E”, Nikki and Renee and know I am in good hands. I am excited to meet them and know we will have lots of fun during the second half of my 100 miler.

If you want to check up on me during the race, there will be a live webcast which can be found here or at this website:

Every 15 miles (each lap) runner’s progress will be posted online. I have been assigned Bib number 174. I somehow feel I may have been this bib number before (I guess this is not overly surprising considering this is now well over my 70th event).

I will be wearing a costume including a grass skirt, Hawaiian lei, flowery gaiters, flower headband and my bottle will be decked out with a flower lei as well. My test run this past weekend with a grass skirt was successful so I am pretty sure I will be comfortable enough for the 100 miler.

In addition to the costume contest I also will be participating in a clinical study. A brief description of the study provided by the race director when soliciting for volunteers is as follows:

Tamara Hew DPM, PhD from Arizona State University will be conducting a study on hyponatremia (low blood sodium) at this year's race. She was at the Western States Endurance Run this summer conducting the same study and would like to obtain more data. The study would require four small blood samples (1 pre, 2 during, 1 post race), urine samples, sweat collection, and weigh in's on a digital scale after each loop. Her team is experienced and efficient, so it shouldn't adversely affect your race. Participation in the study will help the ultra endurance running community at large by determining how much salt is lost and how much needs to be replaced in order to prevent the development of life-threatening hyponatremia.

Having corresponded with the race director and Tami (how she spells her name) I am in the study. I know this study might be a bit challenging not only for the blood collection and wearing a 4X4 inch patch but also because they want to collect all our pee throughout the race. But I am one of three women who are willing to do this. This is good because many times in clinical studies men and women respond and are different, so at least in this study we ladies will have a bit of data collected.

In addition to my costume and the study I am most nervous about the creepy crawlies on the course. I have sent way too many e-mails to the race director asking about snakes, scorpions, pumas, bears, hantavirus, javelina’s and other animals that might attack, eat or kill me. Jamil has reassured me that so far no runners have been eaten or attacked by creatures. Sadly I am back to nervous because my pacers did a test run on the trail this past weekend and suggested they ran into a “snake”. I assume they meant a poisonous snake. Then on Sunday I was chatting with my friend Jamie and she suggested during the race she saw a Tarantula. Spiders were not even on my radar and now I have a confirmed sighting, eek!!!

Well, I have my flight, hotel, car and race entry arranged and paid for so I am committed. I fly to Phoenix on Thursday afternoon (on my favorite carrier Southwest) and arrive at Pheonix in the evening. Friday mid-day I head to the race site to volunteer for several hours. Then I will pick up my packet, partake in the pre-race pasta party and attend a presentation by Caballo Blanco one of the characters in “Born to Run”.

Then bright and early Saturday morning (although not as early as if it was on the east coast) I have to get up to run the race. Oddly enough while nearly everyone else in the US will get an extra hour of sleep on Saturday night. Oddly enough because this race is in Arizona, I won’t get my extra hour until flying home. I know I will need this extra hour after running for many hours on Saturday and Sunday.

Introduction to my JJ100 mile Pacers: Renee

Here is a picture of Renee at the recent Race for the Cure in Arizona. Renee is the runner on the far right of the picture (the Bib ending in 133).


Name: Renee

Occupation: Software Consultant

Years Running: On and off for 15 years

What is the Farthest Distance/longest time you have Run/Raced?
PJ Changs Rock and Roll Marathon

What motivates you to Run?
Love of the outdoors and the ability to stay healthy

Top 3 Favorite Athletic Accomplishments:
1000 Stair Climb in Bisbee, AZ
PJ Changs Rock and Roll Marathon
Finishing every race event I've signed up for.

Do you have any Previous Volunteer Experience (pacing, crewing, coaching) for marathons/ultras?
No, this is the first time I've signed up as a pacer. I'm truly looking forward to the experience.

What inspired you to volunteer to be a pacer?
When 'e' sent out the email about your participition in the JJ100, I just kept thinking what better way to help out a fellow runner. The fact that you are running all those miles is such a motivation to me.

If a bear, snake, puma, javelina, scorpion, bear… jumps out of the bushes ready to attack during JJ100 how will you respond:
a) protect my runner
b) abandon my runner
c) knock over my runner in hopes it will gobble her up, then run away

If its a puma, we'll both spread our arms out wide so we appear bigger. If its a snake or a scorpion, we'll run way around it. If its a bear or javelina, you're on your own. :)

Any last minute words of wisdom:
If you envision an event that is important to you, it will become reality.

Introduction to my JJ100 Pacers: Nikki

Here is a picture of my pacer Nikki during the Ragnar Relay earlier this year....
Name: Nikki Kuretich

Occupation: CPA (Let's NOT talk about our love of numbers for 15.4 miles!)

Years Running: 1.25

What is the Farthest Distance/longest time you have Run/Raced? 20 miles - 15.4 miles of it was the Pemberton Trail, the one you will be experiencing over and over again at the JJ100

What motivates you to Run? Food, I like to eat. The more I run, the more I get to eat.

Top 3 Favorite Athletic Accomplishments: Completing my first 1/2 marathon in January of 2009, finishing my second 1/2 marathon in September of 2009 with greater ease than my first, and running the farthest distance I've ever run and being able to walk to the car to go home afterward.

Do you have any Previous Volunteer Experience (pacing, crewing, coaching) for marathons/ultras? No.

What inspired you to volunteer to be a pacer? You and the other J100 runners! What a truly amazing and inspiring accomplishment!

If a bear, snake, puma, javelina, scorpion, bear… jumps out of the bushes ready to attack during JJ100 how will you respond:
a) protect my runner
b) abandon my runner
c) knock over my runner in hopes it will gobble her up, then run away

Sorry runner Tammy, it's between b) and c), except for the scorpion. I'm a wimp when it comes to critters and creepy, crawly things- every women for herself! I might be able to keep a level mind with the scorpion, unless there's a lot of people with black lights out there - in that case - you 're on your own!! Pumas and bears...oh my - if we see one of those - we both need to go to the aid station!!

Any last minute words of wisdom: Good luck and have fun!! Oh - and watch out for the jumping cactus.

Introduction to My JJ100 Pacers: "E"

Name: Elizabeth "e" Diethelm

Occupation: Graphic Designer

Years Running: I'm working on my second year of running.

What is the Farthest Distance/longest time you have Run/Raced? I did my first marathon last year at the Tucson Marathon. I'm doing Tucson this December to see if I can better my time.

What motivates you to Run? At first it was the camaraderie of my newly found running buddies—and it is still is a major motivator—however, this year I've found the "sweet spot" where you feel really great after a long run. It took me a year to get that "runner's high" but now that I experience it on regular basis, I'm really enjoying running.

Top 3 Favorite Athletic Accomplishments: 1. Finishing my first marathon (Tucson) last year 2. Winning my age division for a single scull at the Marathon Rowing Championships on the Cane River in 2006. 3. Getting first place at a mountain bike race (when I was in my early 20's) in the White Mountains (in AZ) . I've had a ton of sports activities and events over the years but I think running is going to be my favorite and I'm pretty sure that some of my upcoming running events will end up as favorites.

Do you have any Previous Volunteer Experience (pacing, crewing, coaching) for marathons/ultras? Nope. You're my first victim : )

What inspired you to volunteer to be a pacer? Although this year will only be my second marathon, I have been thinking about going farther next year. Perhaps entering my first 50k and/or 50 mile. I can't think of a better way to learn more about what it takes to prepare and do an ultra than to pace someone that has a few of these ultras and many marathons out of the way. I was actually looking up 50k races in the Western part of the U.S. when I came across the Javelina Jundred. I used to bike, hike and run Pemberton trail on a regular basis so I was immediately interested and started looking on the pacing forum. I scanned through all the chicks needing help and decided on you because you were traveling farther and you just sounded like a genuinely nice person. I was thinking that it might not be a good idea to be the ONLY pacer. If I'm going to run 50 miles I probably should just sign up and get the shirt. I immediately crafted an e-mail to my "Peeps" at RC3 (Running Chicks of Cave Creek) to join me and pace a lap. I think I said something about this poor East Coast Chick who is going to be freaking wiped after running 47+ miles on her own and how we need to adopt her and make sure she makes it AND has fun... or something like that. I know I just have to throw out the challenge and someone will step up. I wasn't surprised when Nikki and Renee responded. If I were not pacing at JJ100, I would be doing a long run with Nikki. We're running buddies training for Tucson and Nikki has that "sign-me-up" "go-get-'em" attitude (love that). In fact, when I started training for Tucson, I thought I was on my own as my previous running buddy was out for this year. Nikki started running with me and she said (paraphrasing) "You need "Chick" support and I don't think you should run the marathon alone". She'll be doing her first marathon but she trains like she's done this all before. Your going to love having her pace you as I love having her as my training buddy. And Renee is truly an inspiration to me. I recently learned her age after she ran an event and we were combing the results board for her name. I couldn't believe it when I saw her age and STILL do not believe that she is "xx" years old. She puts the younger women in our club to shame by always stepping outside her comfort zone to get better. She is going to be a great last lap "Angel".

If a bear, snake, puma, javelina, scorpion, bear… jumps out of the bushes ready to attack during JJ100 how will you respond:
a) protect my runner
b) abandon my runner
c) knock over my runner in hopes it will gobble her up, then run away

I have to reword this question. What you mean to say is:
If a pack of Coyotes, rattlesnake, javelinas, mountain lion or Bobcat jumps...

First, I've lived in Arizona for almost 20 years and I've experienced all of these animals and critters with the exception of a mountain lion (Thank God!) The scorpions will all be squashed by previous runners. They're small and you really only need to worry about them taking a siesta in your shoes. It's not good to blindly put on your shoes after they've been sitting on the ground in the desert or even outside in your garage (as I've learned). Rattlesnakes.... well, you might be on your own as all snakes still freak me out. However, I'm good at spotting them and I do know that they respond to vibrations and usually will slither off the trail if they feel you coming. Javelinas you can SMELL from a mile away. They won't charge you if you ignore them or throw them some of your energy bar. Coyotes are hungry but would prefer an easier kill like a bunny (probably taste better). They tend to slink off into the darkness when humans are around. If it's a mountain lion or bobcat then I would have to say "C"! Just kidding... cats like me and I'm sure they won't bother us OR they will have already picked off some faster ultra running prey.

Any last minute words of wisdom:
1. Enjoy the awesome weather here in AZ. You'll be getting a Vitamin D overdose!
2. Drink water way before you are thirsty. The dryness of the desert will suck the moisture right out of you.
3. Wear lots of sunscreen and prepare for some funky tan lines.
4. Be nice to your pacers!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Marine Corps Marathon 2009-Part 3 (the second half of the marathon)

With some characters along the course...I love the spectators who dress up or in some way stand out from the crowds.

The hot dog and banana folks completely cracked me up and may be something I need to expand my running attire to include in the future.

In fact, next year MCM Marathon is on Halloween so I may have to kick it up a notch by actually investing in a real costume to wear. I think it would be very cool to run as a mascot although in that case I would have to hope the weather was not too hot.
Here you can see Imelda and I beating the bridge.

In fact we beat it so badly I would suggest we beat it then starting calling it names!

I think after we passed this point was the first time Imelda was 100% confident that she would be assured of beating the bridge as well as finishing the race.

I was so proud of her!

One of the perks of the MCM is novel views of the various monuments and historic sites because of running on the roads. Here we are on the 14th street bridge with the Jefferson Memorial and the Washington Monument.

The one bummer about being on this bridge is that it is long. I guess one might get an impression of how long this bridge is when stuck in traffic, but running the mile long span may be even longer!

This picture was taken while I was waiting for Imelda by the bridge at the Pentagon. This is when tragedy struck and for the rest of the race we tried to resolve this issue unsuccessfully.

But in this picture I had no idea of the upcoming crisis and was just appreciating the cute puppy and wishing I was the puppy and thus being carried instead of having to run the rest of the race and subsequently back to the car.

By the end of the race I had petted at least 15 dogs. I was kind of bummed that Gilligan did not come to the race; however, the one year he came to cheer on runners while my sister ran MCM in 2002. It was a challenge to convince him to keep moving from spectating location to location throughout the city, so since then he has cheered me on in spirit.

After finishing the marathon runners are given a space blanket, a medal and then the opportunity to get a finishers picture. Sadly my first two years I somehow missed this. But now I always make sure to get a finishers picture. And I have gotten smarter in that I find a willing participant to take my picture with my own camera so I can post it immediately and share it with my friends and family.

I really love this marathon and think it is wonderful to run on such a historic and lovely course.

Haines point is a section of the marathon that has very few spectators and other than beautiful views of the Potomac River does not have lots to see and do. But the runners around us were upbeat and positive and there were several bands and DJ’s along the course to keep runners entertained.

Along this section the runners had spread out a bit which made for easier running. Also by being a bit spread out it was easier to spot other runners. I ran into my friend Carolyn G. She and I have run numerous races and sort of ran one training run together. We ran quite a bit of Umstead 100 miler in 2009, the trail section of JFK50 miler in 2008 and our training run was hill work at Harpers Ferry several winters ago. It is really nice to run into friends during events because she and I were able to catch up for a while. I also learned she is a statistician at the USDA. Apparently mathematicians and statisticians infest marathons and ultra’s including my friend Leo L., Quicksilver and Jamie D. to name a few. We also chatted about our upcoming ultra plans including my JJ100 starting Saturday, 6 days after MCM and her plans to run the Potomac Heritage 50 km at the same time. Carolyn also mentioned she is on the waiting list for Umstead (30th or so) but I was able to tell her last year they made it through most of the waiting list as my friend Angela was nearly last on the wait list and ended up being notified about her acceptance in late Feb. I think because Umstead 100 has a very generous refund policy injured or ill prepared runners are more likely to bail out which hopefully is true again this year. Pretty soon Imelda was nearly out of sight and I realized I needed to put some pep in my step to catch up to her.

As we finished Haines point I was able to tell Imelda that for sure she had beaten the bus. We could leisurely stroll through DC and still make it. But alas we had a finish line we wanted to make it to. As we approached the Lincoln Memorial Imelda mentioned she might like a bathroom break. I asked if she was up for a 300 meter detour for a real restroom. Unfortunately upon arriving at the public restroom at the base of the memorial the line was INSANE!! It was probably 15-20 people long that we could see. Having been in this restroom which has about 10 stalls but typically 7 are working, I made the executive decision that we would be online for about 20 minutes and the patrons did not look ready to push us to the front of the line. So we headed back onto the course mission not accomplished. But we did get a picture in front of the memorial for our effort:-)

Back on the course we ran up Independence Avenue which was lined with lots of spectators. The tree’s were bright orange and yellow with a perfect blue sky. It was a great day for running a marathon! We chatted with other runners. We met a bunch of runners who were so sweet including a lady Lindsay and her aunt who were running the marathon together. It was Lindsays second marathon but her aunts first. I mentioned it was Imelda’s first and made sure to tell everyone they were looking really great and that they should not worry about the bridge. Sadly I think there is a lot of energy wasted worrying about the bridge because a big deal is made about it. For the runners at our pace, by this time it was obvious they were going to make the bridge with plenty of time to spare. Lindsay had heard me talking to my friend Mike about JJ100 (who I ran into after Imelda and I returned to the course from our failed bathroom attempt) and was amazed by the fact that I had run previous 100 milers and was running JJ100 only 6 days after the marathon. She was so cute and amazed I could do this. But I told her it is all a matter of perspective because there are plenty of folks who do 5 or 10 kms who cannot imagine running a marathon. So it is all a matter of perspective.

As we continued up Independence Ave we passed a set of about 3-4 porta potties. There was a line of 10-15 runners including several men. I asked Imelda if it was okay that we continue on to a museum but warned her we would get searched and it might take a bit. But I also mentioned nothing good ever comes from men on line for porta potties. She agreed that we could head into a museum so we scurried into the museum of American History. After a quick security screening, we made our way to the bathrooms which were not very far from the entrance. After a nice and refreshing bathroom break we slowly headed back onto the course. While inside we also stretched a bit (and by “we” I mean Imelda) and I refilled my bottle. Imelda headed out while I asked a gentleman to take a picture of me inside the museum. I think Imelda still did not believe we were going to beat the bridge closing.

Heading back on the course I suggested to Imelda our potty break probably added less than 10 minutes to our time and I was quite confident the folks on line for the porta potty were still on line (and were going to have significantly less pleasant conditions than us!). As we headed up to the Capitol it was obvious most runners were starting to struggle. But Imelda was running really strong. She was keeping a very consistent pace and while it was obvious she was experiencing discomfort she was powering through it. I told her so and she was so sweet and said she appreciated my words of encouragement.

As we rounded the turn to head down Independence Ave I saw a really cute Samoyed which I needed to pet. Imelda continued on while I got my doggie fix. Prior to Gilligan I had a Rescue Samoyed who was the polar opposite of Gilligan in energy but very similar in temperament. Snowball had boundless energy for the first 10 years of his life, the next 2 years he was a “normal dog” and his last 2 years he did slow down and sort of had as much energy/activity as Gilligan at his most active. After a few minutes I realized I needed to catch up to Imelda again so ran pretty fast.

I really like the section of the Marine Corps Marathon that goes by the Mall. There are many spectators, the views are wonderful both heading towards the Capitol and then heading back to the Washington Monument and of course we go by many of the Smithsonian Museums which are very pretty. Running along we passed by a lady dressed like a dinosaur which was really funny. Then there were the hot dog and banana costumed spectators. It was pretty amusing. Of course I stopped for pictures!

At mile 19 Imelda stopped to stretch and put on some icy hot. Then we had a very nice marine take our picture. By this time I think Imelda knew she would be finishing the race. It had only been a little over 4 hours since we started running and she had plenty of time to finish.

Chatting with other runners, appreciating the views and appreciating the numerous cheering spectators we continued on our journey. As we approached the Washington Monument I stepped off course briefly for a picture while Imelda continued on. It was obvious she was starting to get tired and was in pain but she was doing an amazing job continuing to run strong. As I caught up to her I think she finally realized that we had less than half a mile to the bridge and plenty of time to spare.

A drum band along the course was providing a steady beat to give us energy and encouragement. I filmed for a bit then caught up with Imelda. As we approached the bridge Imelda finally acknowledged we no longer had any pace worries and could enjoy the rest of the race. We got a picture in front of the “Beat the Bridge Sign” then continued on. A little ways across the bridge I knew there was a great view of the Jefferson Monument and Washington Monument. A nice runner took our picture then we continued our long ~1 mile journey across the bridge.

The bridge section ended with a small incline. Finally Imelda was wholeheartedly embracing the “walk the hills” philosophy. So we walked it. Passing by the Pentagon we had a small downhill and were on our way to Crystal City. This section was fun because we could see other runners heading towards the finish line. The energy of the crowds, the knowledge we had less than 5 miles to the finish and of course knowing we had beaten the bridge gave us a much needed boost.

On the “out section” we determined we were behind the 5:30 pace group. Because of our break at the Lincoln Memorial and subsequently at the Museum of American History we had no idea where we were with respect to this pace group. We also saw lots of runners we had met throughout the course. We saw Lindsay and her Aunt, several of my Marathon Maniac friends and so many others. Also along the course were my friends the Knutsons from Fleet Feet Running Thursday night fun runs (as well as from EXPO Friday morning when we arrived early in hopes of being first in line). After a quick picture, it was time to catch up with Imelda who was hauling.

Heading into Crystal City I spotted the Annapolis Striders table with tasty treats. I stopped by briefly for a pretzel and to chat with the runners who I vaguely recognized from the B&A trail marathon (which is definitely in my top 10 marathons). After chatting for a bit I realized I needed to catch up with Imelda. In this section we also had our second opportunity to toast our victory with the Harriers Beer group. I got a picture with the beer advertisement sign but elected to skip partaking in a frosty treat as the first and only time I took advantage of the beer in this marathon (2005), I ended up puking after I finished and subsequently puking in my car (thus explaining my need to have a puke bucket in every car). I did however grab a handful of pretzels to share with Imelda who was by this time well ahead of me. (Note to self—I need to stop loitering on the course!)

The crowds in this section were amazing and kept us moving. And of course the runners heading back to the finish line yelled all sorts of encouraging things. Crystal City is pretty cool because they have a block party from the early morning until about 5 in the afternoon. They have bands scattered throughout the city, lots of fun things going on and rainbow colored flags lining the street.

By this time I was embracing my new nickname “Hula Girl”. About 50% of spectators read my name and 50% called me hula girl (with a slightly higher % of kids calling me hula girl). The cheers and encouragement provided so much energy and made this section go quickly for me at least (well that and all my side trips).

Near the turnaround I decided all of the Gatorade and water was hitting me and I needed a potty break. I mentioned to Imelda my need for a potty and she suggested she would be up for a break as well. We spotted a Quiznos and started to head towards it. But it was dark. Luckily Chipotle had left their light on for us and we decided to head inside. With several stalls, hot and cold running water and the ability to take a moment life was good again. After finishing our business and a quick application of icy hot for Imelda it was time to get back on the course and to finish this marathon. One picture at the restaurant and a picture taken by a spectator with Crystal City as the backdrop it was time for me to catch up with Imelda again.

Heading out of Crystal City past the Pentagon towards the finish line it was obvious we were going to break a 6 hour marathon with a significant margin. Although Imelda was starting to struggle a bit, she was still jogging. During hills she would walk up but on flat sections she would jog. After a brief pit stop near the pentagon at a less than productive porta potty break it was time to continue our journey. I suggested to Imelda that we were all in pain and that when looking at other runners she was doing really well. She was for the most part jogging and continuing to pass runners.

As we passed mile 25 disaster occurred. I saw a friend ahead of us from the New River Trail 50 km: Dale (who had a T-shirt on that said Team Wildlife). He and I chatted and I got a picture. I had sped up to chat with him and did not realize Imelda had passed me. So after chatting I stopped and started looking for Imelda. While runners pass me I cheer them on. I vaguely started worrying she might have headed towards the many porta potties so I waited in this area for about 5 minutes. I even started walking backwards on the course looking for her. Finally I gave her a call (on my crappy phone which drops calls, chirps incessantly even when you are on the phone and basically is worse than two soup cans and a piece of yarn for communicating!). I drop into voicemail. This is not good.

Imelda calls me back and says she is by the porta potties that are at about mile 25.5. But I am by the porta potties by mile 25. I am about to have to start sprinting like Hussien Bolt. But it is the end of a marathon! I pass under the bridge where I believe she passed me while I was chatting with Dale. She gives me a call and mentions she is at the Arlington Cemetary Bridge. This is a good half mile ahead of me! I continue sprinting as best I can. Garmin clicks off 11 minute mile, 10 minute mile, 9 minute mile, 8 minute mile. At this point I start breathing heavily and am struggling for the first time in the marathon. But spectators are impressed with my burst of speed. I continue on and get to the bridge. I stop and look around walking forward and backwards a bit in hopes that Imelda has stopped here to wait for me. But, alas no Imelda.

I get a call on my phone. Imelda has crossed the finish line. I have .2 miles to go. I resume sprinting up the last bit of the race in hopes of catching Imelda in the finishing chute. But of course I need a picture or two approaching the finish line. Then I have less than 100 meters and I run across the finish line. Alas I unfortunately do not run into Imelda here. But I do see my friend Mayra. We get a picture together. And I see many of my friends I met along the course in the finishing corral. I get my space blanket. Then I get my finishers medal. Of course I get a picture receiving my finisher’s medal. Then it is off to the Iwo Jima Memorial for my finisher’s picture. Because there are such huge crowds at the finish I cannot find Imelda. I am a bit bummed out.

As I am wandering around cursing out my phone which will not let me make calls without chirping or having static (or even being able to hear because of so many runners chatting) I run into my friend Barry the juggler. We chat about upcoming events and he wishes me luck at JJ100. I also run into my friend who interviewed Imelda and I during the race. Apparently during my fits and spurts during my attempt to finish the race I have passed then unpassed him. He apparently saw and chatted with Imelda after she finished and may have even finished very close to her. Unfortunately I never do catch up to Imelda. By the time I call Imelda and can hear what she is saying, she is at her car. She sounds good and is excited to have finished her first marathon.

Having been last at many events (several of which were this year), I head back onto the course to cheer on runners. As I exit the finishers area I head over to the Reston Runners Tree. I hope to find Cindy and my stuff. But in fact I find nothing but a tree. No Cindy and no stuff. I am a bit alarmed because I had a good jacket and a pair of pants and am a bit chilly. I take a spin around the tree trying to see if perhaps my bag has migrated to the back. But there is nothing there. Giving up I call Cindy on the same crappy phone that will not let me speak to Imelda. I struggle with the same beeping issues, static and silence. I leave a message for Cindy in hopes that she has taken my bag since it was tied to hers.

I then wander down to the finish area. I am a little worried because I am getting chilly and I have no extra clothing since my drop bag is gone and Tristan has my long sleeve shirt and I have no idea where (or if) he is at the race. After a few minutes I stumble on Tristan which is good because I at least get my longsleeve shirt. But I am bummed to hear Tristan has parked the car even further away from the finish line than usual. It is past the State Department on the corner of 22nd and F. I will have a 1.5 mile hike after the last runner comes in. Luckily I am an ultra-marathoner so I can handle this.

Wandering the course backwards, I see many of my friends finishing. When runners have their name on their shirt I cheer them on. Runners who have distinguishing outfits get personalized cheers as well. I clap for everyone and hoot and holler a bit. Tristan brings out the big guns, the cowbell so we ring that as well. Tristan and I stand in front of the DJ for a while and listen to the music, dance in place a bit and cheer on runners. We then continue our journey and end up turning around about mile 25.

I find this part of the race is most emotional for me. I am confident in my marathoning ability just because I have done so many. But many of these folks are probably going further than they ever imagined and are plodding along with guts, grit and determination. They definitely will finish the marathon and should be proud. Several runners notice my medal and congratulate me. I, of course, encourage them to finish this marathon so they can earn their own medal.

Slowly the line of runners slows to a trickle. It is past 3 p.m., but because of chip timing I insist we stay until 3:25 for those folks who started in the appropriate corral. I run into my friend Carolyn from Virginia Happy Trails (who I ran with at Haines Point). We chat for a bit and I introduce her to Tristan. I think they have met and Tristan confirms this when he suggests she ran Umstead. We chat about running in general and then she heads to Crystal City and Tristan and I head to the Arlington Bridge.

About 3:30 the police escort, buses, ambulance and many other vehicles pass by. So Tristan and I start our long journey to the car. Crossing the bridge I remember how many times I have done this with Tristan and my mom. I take a few pictures and appreciate the beautiful weather we were fortunate to have. At the Lincoln Memorial I take a few pictures then use the ladies room. There is no line this time!

With my Garmin (which was started at the race beginning—not when I got off the Rosslyn Metro Stop) reading 31.5 miles we arrive at the car. I am tired but feel really good. MCM was a good training run for Javelina 100 and I had a great time running with Imelda. I loved seeing all my friends and making lots of new friends along the course. Overall it a very successful day.

Tristan drops me off at the Metro where the truck is. I drive home and realize that while my sparkely fanny pack has my license, meds, a bit of money and credit cards; it does not have my house keys. I go over to my friend Karen’s house and luckily she is there and has a spare set of keys. To multi-task I ask her if she wants to take the dogs for a walk. And I ask if she has a large suitcase I can use for Javelina 100 in Arizona because while I am packed my usual strategy of having Tristan carry some of my stuff will not work for JJ100 which he is not coming to. She gives me the house keys and says she will bring over the suitcase when she brings Simba to join Gilligan and I for a walk. After nearly 12 hours, I am able to return home.

I put on a pair of pants, grab a jacket and it is time to walk Gilligan. I don’t mind Gilligan’s super slow walking pace and we leisurely stroll around the block. It continues to be a beautiful day. Tristan arrives home with our dinner and joins Karen, Simba, Gilligan and I on our walk.

After dinner I take a long shower, pack a bit more for Javalina, and hang up my running clothing which Tristan had washed while I showered.

It was now time to taper for Javalina or maybe it was now time to recover from MCM. It’s a tough call!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Marine Corps Marathon-Part 2: The First Half of the Race

I LOVE the Georgetown portion of this race. The fans are so sweet providing all sorts of tasty treats and drinks. You can see my dilemma when having to decide between a bottle of champagne or my hawaiian themed water bottle.

Since I have a 100 miler next week, I elected to stick with water and gatorade, but it might have been more fun with a little bubbly!

Here is a cute dog along the course. He was really huge and very sweet. He was about 150 lbs and was supposed to be a great pyrenese and collie mix. There were many dogs along the course but naturally I am attracted to large doggies.

This dog was really soft and so sweet. During my petting session, he almost stepped on my toe but luckily he kind of ended up just leaning on me. I am not sure I would have been able to continue the race if he stepped on me because he was really big!

Here is Imelda and I with another cute dog along the course, the Georgetown Bulldog. He was really huge and very sweet as well.

We actually had two poses with this doggie, one just standing there, then we decided to strike a runners pose, which he was happy to do!


In the downtown Georgetown Area I was spotted by my friend John "the Penguin" Bingham. I have met him at numerous race EXPO's and saw him speak at the Fleet Feet pre-marathon event last year. He is a really nice person and so encouraging. I have read all of his books and think they really are very motivational regardless of ones skills or ability.

Tristan was along the course right before the Kennedy Performing Arts Center.

In his hand you can see the sign he was holding up for runners and in his other hand he had a cowbell. Of course this inspired me to yell "More Cowbell" as he jogged alongside us. You can't have too much cowbell in life.

It was nice to see Tristan along the course.

Marine Corps Marathon holds a special place in my heart. Every year my mom came out to cheer me on, it was my first marathon and it is just a beautiful course that showcases the monuments, statues and highlights of our nations capitol. I imagine I will run this race for many years to come.

Perhaps after Imelda's legs become painful she will be on board to make her yearly tradition and join me!

This year (as you might notice in my previous post). I decided to start a new tradition...wear an outfit. My ensemble consisted of a hawaiian lei, grass skirt, and flower pony tail holder. Even my new handheld water bottle was decked out in hawaiian gear. This was in fact a test run for my Javelina 100 costume because I am hoping to be a viable contestant for winning the costume contest. I am thinking with a few extra's that weren't a part of my MCM outfit/ensemble, I might be a contender for the female competition.

While slowly inching up to the start line I chatted with my friend Barry the juggler and we discussed upcoming events. He mentioned Harrisburg Marathon in 2 weeks is his next event. I confessed Javelina 100 was my next event next weekend. We will see each other at Richmond in 2 weeks then after Philly his running season is over until National (which we both will be running). I introduced him to Imelda and mentioned it was her first marathon. In fact when I chatted with most everyone I brought up Imelda because I wanted her to have all sorts of words of encouragement and positive "Juju" as my friend Lisa calls it.

After crossing the starting line (20 minutes after the first runners), it was time to start running. Unfortunately this race starts on an uphill. I kind of forgot about this (or else my sense of hills is all screwed up now). But we powered through them. As we jogged the first incline we ran into Peter W (Disney, JFK50 miler, Umstead 07, Reston Runner...). I had forgotten Peter knew Imelda from the year Imelda crewed with my sister Cindy that both Peter and I were running JFK50 miler. Peter was looking good and was running strongly. With Peters concurrence, Imelda was convinced we should walk all the hills. Slight inclines we would jog, but real hills I refused to run up as I have a big event coming up.

When not walking the massive hills in Rosslyn/Clarendon, we were jogging 10-11 minute miles (which was a bit fast), but I was comfortable and I could see Imelda was quite worried about making the bridge crossing. Also the crowds in Rosslyn really provided so much energy I did not want to be too cautious. All of the spectators were so encouraging and enthusiastic. Having done so many marathons, both small and large I think there are pro's and con's to both. But in large marathons, you cannot beat the energy and excitement provided by people lining the streets!

The first mile flew by and pretty soon we were climbing another hill. During this mile a very nice gentleman came up to us and interviewed us on his camera. I believe a youtube interview may be online at at some point. It was pretty cool to be interviewed and lots of fun to meet another runner who had a very similar attitude to running as I do--it's all about having fun and meeting people!

Continuing up the hill we arrived at our first water stop. Deciding to ensure I was properly hydrated I told Imelda I was going to get some gatorade. She also got a cup and we drank up. In fact at most aid stations we drank at least a cup or two of gatorade and every few aid stations we would refill our water bottles. This meant we kind of spent more times in bathrooms (and getting to bathrooms) than many other runners but on a positive note most of our pottie breaks were in real bathrooms with running water. I love real bathrooms and I think I have a convert who also likes real restroom:-)

As we crested this hill I told Imelda the majority of the hills were completed. We had one hill to get upto the Key Bridge and another hill to get to the resevoir, but the 2 mile long uphill was a thing of the past (well until next years race). Coming down Sprout Run Parkway I chatted about what to expect from the course and just really appreciated the view. The leaves are getting close to peak. The sun was shining brightly and it was a great day to be outside doing something with 30,000 of our closest running friends!

During this downhill Imelda and I were moving pretty quickly. As per my Garmin we ran a sub-10 minute mile. I was a little worried but figured Imelda was not having any trouble thus why fight gravity? We had a few other sections when we would move pretty quickly and I noticed Imelda would head out of any stops (bathroom breaks, water stops or stretch breaks) pretty quickly then slow down after a bit. I definitely think breaks early on give you lots of energy.

Running along the Potomac River was beautiful. This year the sky was bright blue and the reflections of the changing leaves were spectacular. Unlike last year when the river was covered in fog and we could only see the tops of the spires at Georgetown, this year we could see all of the buildings (although last years fog really made for an interesting and almost surreal view).

Heading up the hill to the Key Bridge both Imelda and I started getting warm, so it was time to jettison our layers. I was pretty happy about this because initially the forecast was a high of 62 which for me is long sleeve/long pants weather. But I think it was closer to 65 and thus comfortable running skirt and short sleeve weather.

Going across the bridge the view was really pretty. DC to the right, Georgetown to the left and runners all around. Immediately after crossing this bridge we headed right and faced other runners completing the "resevoir loop". In this section we saw many runners including quite a few we knew. My sister and her running friend Donna passed us about mile 6. Reston Runners: Anna, Tim, Ellen and others also passed by. A bunch of my marathon maniac friends passed and a few 50 staters were mixed in.

Running along we passed by the Georgetown University Band who were playing fight songs enthusiastically. And I even got a picture of myself with the Georgetown Mascot while Imelda ran on ahead.

Just past Georgetown University we continued along the canal and split off from the out and back and entered the loop. The C&O Canal is very pretty and this section is very flat. But alas during the first 8 miles of the course, there are a smattering of hills, so this flat section did not last too long. But this hill at the turnaround provided a much needed walk break. So we walked up it with purpose.

After reaching the top of the hill I mentioned to Imelda up ahead on the left there would be screwdrivers, mimosa's and bloody marys. Some of the runners behind us were excited to hear this but were incredulous and suggested they thought only mile 20 had adult beverages. I indicated that at least last year, there were folks out with very yummy drinks and treats and hoped this year they would continue this tradition. In just a few moments we arrived at the Georgetown "Rogue Aid Station". Imelda grabbed a Mimosa while I got a picture with me and a bottle of champagne. Life was good!

Everyone around us were in really good spirits. It was still early in the race, but it was a beautiful day and both runners and spectators were so encouraging. Heading past the resevior we started on the steep downhill. But there was a really cute large great pyrennes/collie mix dog. I needed to pet it. But Imelda realizing I am easily distracted moved along. Using gravity to my advantage I moved forward fast to catch up to her. This was about the 10th time in this race I had to catch up to her and throughout the day I would find friends all along the course. Thus for me it was a bit of a reunion run.

Getting close to Georgetown University I convinced Imelda we should get a picture of both of us with the Mascot, so we did. Then it was time to run up the hill to get into DC. I was glad to see Imelda was embracing the ultra creed of "walk the hills" so we did walk this section. Climbing the hill I was delighted to hear my name and realize it was John Bingham (of the John "The Penguin" Bingham fame). I got a picture with him and was flattered when he said he remembered me from last year and several other events. He is really sweet and such an inspiration!

I caught up to Imelda as we were starting to get into the shopping district of Georgetown. Because of all the gatorade and water we had been pounding down, I had to use the facilities. I asked Imelda if she had to go. We decided it was time for a bathroom break. The lines for the porta potties were insane. But I knew there are plenty of eating establishments and bars with real restrooms so I suggested we head to a bar or restuarant. We or I should say I decided I had a meal at Dean and DeLuca several times and recalled a bathroom. It was time to find this bathroom. Heading into the grocery store section we were sent to the back. What I had forgotten was that it was a single toilet bathroom in the far back of the store. Alas there was no line so we were in luck. Pretty soon we both were finished with this business and it was time to resume the race.

After just a short jaunt through large cheering crowds it was time to head into the heart of DC. A steep downhill and we were along the potomac river heading towards the Kennedy Performing Arts Center.

Imelda and I hear a male voice yelling "Go Tammy, Go Imelda". It is Tristan. He is holding up a sign that says "Run like a bear is chasing you". It has a pink bear so he is yelling "Run like a pink bear is chasing you". I made this sign several years ago for the Disney Marathon. So far I have not run like a pink bear is chasing me. Nor have I been chased by a pink bear.

Imelda takes a picture of Tristan together. While doing this a runner yells to Tristan "Give that girl a hug". I get a hug which is nice. I am not too sweaty. Which is nice for Tristan. Then we get a picture of Imelda, Tristan and I. Tristan then runs alongside the course for a bit with us. He runs past the Performing Arts Center which is about 400 meters. During this he is ringing a cowbell. Of course I have to yell "Give us more cowbell". What a classic phrase. I even show Tristan how you can really ramp up the cowbell but end up with ringing in my ears for a while after this.

After Tristan splits off I warn Imelda the race is about to take a turn for the worse because we are heading towards Haines point. I tell her in the old days this section was mile 17-20, but now it is mile 11-16. I mention it will be lonely and desolate but indicate it will not be as bad as the night she paced me at Umstead 100 miler when we might have seen 4 other folks during the 5 miles and 2+hours we were running in the rain at 2 a.m. Having this as our baseline I think makes this section less miserable.

Pretty soon we are approaching the halfway point. After a quick cup of gatorade and capping off our water bottles it is time to finish off this marathon. Our gun time is about 3 hours. Considering it took us about 20 minutes to get across the start, we guestimate our time is about 2 hours 45 minutes. We are right on target for a 5:30-5:40 marathon and have created a huge buffer for getting across the bridge. I am confident we will beat the bridge, but I am not sure Imelda believes me.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Marine Corps Marathon: Exceeding My Expectations--Part I

With my friend Mary K. from the Reston Runners. We ran many miles of VT100 miler in July together. She is really sweet and an super runner! She always has a positive word and encouragement for everyone and she is always smiling and is enjoying being out on the course:-)

With my friend Amanda from many marathons including: Delaware, Frederick, Bob Potts, Lower Potomac, B&A Trail, George Washington Birthday and many other local races. Amanda is so sweet and such a great friend! I was really lucky to see her twice this MCM because I also saw her at the EXPO. It is always so wonderful to see her because she is so upbeat and kind!

With Imelda and her friend Imran at the start of the race. Imran was such a great sport. He had forgotten his jacket, but he still walked Imelda and I to the starting line for her first marathon. This was a 30+ minute, 1 mile (one way) journey. He seemed very nice and I believe he was successful at seeing Imelda finish!
With Imelda at the start of the marathon. What you can notice here is that there are almost no people behind us (between us and the starting line). In fact there was pretty much my friend Barry (the juggler) between us and the sag vehicle that follows the last place runner
Here I am just a few feet past the starting line with Molly and Miles, the mascots of the marathon. I think it is cool that there are multiple mascots and I really like that there is a girl role model/mascot: Molly!

And of course I always love critters, whether dogs, cats, chinchilla's or mascots.

Every marathon I am in I realize how incredibly fortunate I am. I have great friends, my health and the ability to regularly do something I love that is good for me.

Today I ran MCM with my friend Imelda. It was her first marathon. And she finished in a great time of 5:48! Sadly a slight mixup in the last mile had me scrambling unsuccessfully to make up nearly a mile in just a few minutes. My time was 5:51. But for the first 25 miles we were together and I know I had a wonderful time!

In addition to running with Imelda, I was lucky enough to run into many great friends before and during the race. After an uneventful metro ride in, I run into my friend Amanda P. from many local marathons. On the walk to Imelda's hotel I am surprised to hear Jim A from the Reston Runners and a bunch of other Reston Runners heading towards the "Reston Runner Tree" at the start/finish. And at Imelda's hotel I run into Pat B, the race director of the Washington Birthday Marathon.

After a quick potty break at the Holiday Inn, Imelda, her friend Imran and I head towards the start line. It takes us about 20 minutes to get to the Reston Runners Tree where we see my sister Cindy and a bunch of Reston Runners. After several group pictures the large group of runners heads to the start. Imelda and I slowly walk to the start but I realize my 20 oz of gatorade is hitting my bladder. Seeing a set of porta potties that are moderately obscure I head over. There is no line, the potty is immaculate and fully stocked with about 20 rolls of toilet paper. I guess my 70+ endurance events have given me "spidey" sense about less used facilities.

Upon arriving at the starting line, Imelda and I have a discussion about how we should get to our corral of 5:30 or so. We can either walk about 800 meters to our place in line or we can stand on the side and wait for the 5:30 pace group. Since I am lazy (and hoping to taper for JJ100 next week), I am hoping for the latter. We decide to stand near (~300 meters) before the start line and wait for runners going our intended pace. While waiting we see many Reston Runners, many of my friends wandering about. Pretty soon the race starts and we see thousands of runners passing by us as they start their 26.2 mile journey. Sadly we do not see Cindy.

Finally after ~15 minutes we decide we need to start our race. We have seen pace groups up through 5:00 hours and our side of the street has no more runners. My friend Barry the juggler is one of the final runners on our side, which is our cue to start the marathon. After a few pictures we are on our way; ready to start the Marine Corps Marathon 2009.

Since I am tired (because I had to get up at 4 a.m.). I am going to make this race report in multiple parts but I will say as usual I had a GREAT time!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Pre-Race Rituals: Marine Corps Marathon (MCM)-My 6th MCM

With Bart Yasso at the Fleet Feet Pre-Race presentation/book signing. Each year Robyn and Chris the owners of Fleet Feet invite a famous runner to present and participate in the Thursday night fun run immediately preceeding the Marine Corps Marathon.

This has included Dean Karnazes, John "the Penguin" Bingham and this year Bart Yasso.

All of the invited speakers have been really nice and such a treat to meet.

It is neat to meet running legends. And of course during the fun run we can ask all sorts of questions. I like to ask questions because that is how I learn how to improve my running experience.

This was my first time arriving super early for the EXPO in hopes of being the first person online. The gentleman in the middle, Syd, was first, but I was top 5. This is the first and only time I would be in the first 10,000 of runners in this event!

I had alot of fun arriving early because I got to meet and chat with this group of hard core runners.

My friend Dane R, was at the EXPO signing his book, "See Dane Run". I got a signed copy for a friend who will get it this christmas.

Dane is really nice and I have run into him during numerous marathons as well as seeing him at a variety of presentations and book signings. In fact a few years ago I was fortunate enough to have Dane come to give a presentation to the FDA Statisticians and CBER personnel.

At the EXPO I saw many friends. I was really thrilled to see my friend Amanda who is in the Air Force. She and I have run numerous marathons during the past 5 years.

In fact at the Lower Potomac Marathon I think we ran at least 13 miles together, several years ago we ran most of the Washington Birthday Marathon and we ran many miles of the Bob Potts Marathon the weekend after my mom passed away.

Amanda is always so nice and it was a treat to run into her at the Marathon EXPO!

The mascots for the marathon are so cute, so clearly I needed a pre-race picture with them. In this picture you can see Me with Molly. Molly is cool, because she emulates "girl power".

This year will be my 6th Marine Corps Marathon (MCM). This marathon was my first marathon back in 2004. Since then I have run over 50 marathons, 10 fifty milers, 5 50 kms and of course five 100 milers.

It has been a great journey!

Oddly enough my first 50 endurance events had the first 26.2 miles in perfect weather. Morerecently this statistic has been ruined by more rainy events then perfect weather days.

Luckily MCM this weekend is looking to be near perfect with highs in the mid-60's and sunny. Even better my upcoming 100 miler, Javelina Jundred 100 in just one week is also predicted to be pretty good weather with mid-80's and sunny.

I am very excited about running the marathon and know I will have a great time. I may be running with Imelda who paced me at Umstead in 2008 with my sister Cindy as well as crewed for me at JFK50 in 2007. Imelda and I have run together before at Reston's Fall into Winter in 2007. We had lots of fun running together for that 10 km, so I know our paces match well.

Yesterday started my pre-MCM marathon ritual of running the Thursday night Fun Run at Fleet Feet Gaithersburg. Fleet Feet hosted a book signing and presentation by Bart Yasso which was a real treat. I have read his book but it is fun to hear about other runners experiences and he has had many adventures. After this it should go without saying that we headed to Brusters for half price banana split night with Gilligan.

This morning I took off for packet pick up at the convention center. Because there was a "super sized" goody bag for the first person in line, I decided to head to the EXPO early. Alas the first folks on line arrived at 3:30, which is hard core! I arrived before the building was open but had to wait until metro opened (sadly there was no way I was going to drive to DC at hours of the night/morning). Hanging out while waiting was nice because I was able to meet a bunch of other runners who clearly were very excited about running. By being 5th person on line, I also had a GREAT place to watch the opening ceremonies which made this early start well worth it.

At the EXPO I was fortunate enough to run into my friend Amanda from the GWBirthday, Bob Potts, Lower Potomac, B&A Trail marathon and many other local events. I also saw my friend Dane of See Dane Run Fame. We caught up briefly and it was great to see that he is recovering very well from his late summer accident. I am looking forward to seeing Dane many times next March when he will be lapping me multiple times at Umstead 100.

Walking through the EXPO I was also able to purchase a bunch of last minute items I need for JJ100 next weekend. Having realized that I will be running in a warm and sunny climate I needed to get a visor and a second handheld waterbottle. I think I am now set for the race and now just need to pack my bags. That is what I am going to start right now because I now have less than 5 days to pack, one of which I will be running a marathon...eek!!!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

New River Trail-Part 3 The Tunnel to the Finish (Mile 24 to finish) Now with pictures!

Partaking in the aid station treats...all the aid station volunteers were so nice and the homemade goodies were really yummy! Here you can see several runners enjoying the various yummy treats and beverages in the very well stocked aid stations

Does it say we are not supposed to lie down and sleep on this bench?? Well, if I want a nap, I am going to take a nap! This little park was attached to a hike in campground. But this park was only open during daylight hours. And it had several rules including no swimming and no sleeping. This park was kind of challenging to get to because you had to walk down a set of stairs to get closer to the riverside.

My personal barking section as I approached the finish line...these dogs were really encouraging as was their master. And they were pretty close to the finish somewhere between mile 29 and mile 31 and were able to report this to me.
Evidently, the dogs and the lady were family members of another runner as they (and their runner) crossed the finish line about 50 minutes after I finished.

After the finish, savoring my victory! And of course showing my ability to stand. I felt really good throughout the entire race. And I was so happy to finish this race with only a little bit of rain and relatively warm.

After the race, the post race homemade soup, a small walk on the New River Trail and a frozen yogurt to celebrate, we had to go to a pet store to replace Gilligans leash. In the pet shop there were two baby (6 week old) chinchillas for sale. They were so adorable! I tried to convince Tristan that he should get me the pair as a finishers chinchilla. Sadly he did not get me either or both chinchillas (which I would have named New River and Chandler Creek to commemorate the race:-).

After seeing the “light at the end of the tunnel”, I knew I was well on my way to a successful finish. I was feeling strong, enjoying the race and finally the weather was looking a bit better. While not sunny, at least the sky was getting brighter and it was not feeling as damp and humid.

Jogging from the tunnel to the bridge that crosses the New River I had a major internal debate that nearly got violent. I wanted to take all my clothing that was tied around my waist (a jacket and a long sleeve shirt) as well as all the raingear (poncho, hat and my bandana) and jettison it at the mile 25 aid station. But I was not positive I would not need anything, hence my heated internal debated. I ended up deciding during this section I should leave my poncho, hat and bandana at the aid station for the nice volunteers to take to the finish. And I would keep my long sleeve shirt tied around my waist. Then I would get rid of most of my extra stuff but I would still have a bit of a safety blanket if it did get colder.

I was sorry to be leaving Chandler Creek because I knew the downhill section of the course was coming to an end. Also the creek was very cute and I liked the little rapids we would run by occasionally and how it was only 10-20 feet wide, thus meeting my description of a babbling brook. Pretty soon I arrived at the railroad bridge. I took several pictures before, during and after I crossed this ~500+ foot long bridge. The bridge still has a section of trestle that looks like a typical railroad bridge. The remainder of the bridge is surrounded by a wooden fence about 4 feet tall. I am not sure why it is so high, but I liked this fence as I did not worry about inadvertently stepping a foot or two left or right and then falling into the river. During the race I felt very strong and was not overly worried about stumbling but sometimes I sort of trip unprovoked.

As I neared the end of the bridge, my friends from the first aid station were “hootin and hollarin”. They were really enthusiastic! I grabbed my cup which only said “Tammy” and drank several glasses of Gatorade and ginger ale which continued to be my favorite beverage of champions. I also nibbled on some pretzels and a bit of banana. Having the finish line in my sights I did not spend much time here. But I did confirm the nice volunteers would transport my bag (which I had added my poncho, hat and bandana too) to the finishline. After grabbing a victory cookie and thanking the volunteers, I was on my way.

Exiting this aid station I had another decision (running would be so much easier without having to make decisions!). I had to pee but dislike pit toilets (which there was one right by the aid station) but I also dislike porta potties (which there was one about 800 meters from the aid station). What to do, what to do. The pit toilet had no one in the ladies side. But alas I decided to press my luck and continue on to the porta potty. Running along I was able to see runners getting on the bridge who I passed over the previous few miles. My impression was that most of these runners were slowing down, although I know I was picking up a little speed.

When I finally arrived at the porta potty I was a little worried. There was a gentleman on a bike right in front of it. Had I just gotton on a line 2 people long? I asked the gentleman if he was waiting, but he pointed to the sign about the campground that may have been the reason for the porta potty and said he was reading it. I was in luck. A few moments later I finished my business and was back on the course for about 5 steps. The riverside hike in campground and park had a pretty funny sign about “No sleeping” and “No Swimming on the park side. I thought it would be pretty amusing to take a picture of me sleeping in this park during the race. Sadly I was alone so it had to be a self portrait (thus of marginal quality). Even worse getting down to this little park with the bench involved about 25 steps down a rickety stone staircase. But of course I will do anything for a picture. Getting down to this bench was kind of challenging due to the 26 miles on my feet as well as the not so regulation stairs. But getting up was even more challenging. But alas I perservered!

After my little junket down to the river it was time to get back to the business of finishing this race. The next 3-4 miles passed rather quickly. The New River is rather wide at this point. The other side had a variety of houses, pastures and farms. The side of the river we were running on had the river on one side and woods on the other side. It was very pretty and many of the leaves were changing color.

During this section I started to have a leg/calf cramp in my right leg. I was kind of bummed out. I had been taking in potassium via bananas and Gatorade during the race. And of course I regularly eat banana splits at Brusters Ice Cream and Yogurt on bring your own banana night. The cramp was not too bad but definitely slowed me down a bit and worse worried me. It was pretty far into the race so I decided to just push through it rather then take an Advil to see if meds would help it go away. Pretty soon I was at the 1.7 mile to go road crossing. I decided to try to work my cramp by stretching my legs. As anyone who reads my blogs regularly may know, I don’t stretch. In fact I don’t warm up or warm down either, but that is just me and it seems to work. I am not sure if stretching my leg helped, or even if I was doing it right. But I was doing it with another runner, so I felt a little better.

After about 1-2 minutes I powered on. At this time I had no idea of the gun time (which was the only relevant time since we did not have chips). But I knew I was going to be over 6 hours. I was a little bummed but pleased to be so far under 7 hours which made up for my bummingness. In this section I passed a lady with two dogs on the course. The dogs were barking and I suggested to the lady, that the dogs were cheering for me. I passed the farms, where the trail gets really close to the road, then veers off and pretty soon I realized I was at the New River Trail Park in Fries. There was the tent, finish line and lots of people. A nice runner had walked out about 400 meters and indicated the finish line was right there and offered encouraging words. This was really nice.

Finally I was approaching the finish line. A bunch of people were there cheering. The race director, some of my friends I had met before the race, a bunch of volunteers, a few folks I had seen along the course (evidently crew of other runners) and even some random spectators. While busy taking pictures of the finish line (and me finishing) I never took a glance at the clock to see what my time was. I was happy to be finished and I knew my time was a little over 6 hours! A PR by nearly an hour, wahoo.

After crossing the finish line, I took a picture of my view of the finishline. Then a nice lady and volunteer, Anita, who I had seen at a few locations throughout the race insisted on taking a picture of me with both her camera and subsequently her camera. She was so SWEET. I also got several pictures with Annette Bednosky who asked me how I keep such a positive attitude during my run. I wasn’t sure how to respond except to say that my time of 6 hours and her typical 50 km time of 3-4 hours mean she is working a lot harder at finishing while I am working a lot harder at having a good time! I also suggested a bright pink outfit and a sparkely fanny pack helps as any time I get down, I just look down and see my outfit and it makes me happy.

Finally, after such a great experience, the icing on the cake was my friend Joe coming up to me after I finished for a hug. He is such a great guy and I was so pleased that he finished his first 50 km in good spirits and with a very respectable time of just over 5 hours. He suggested I was one of the highlights of his race, but realistically he was one of the highlights of my race! We got several pictures which I had to apologize for perhaps smelling a bit and being a bit sweaty. He then had to head back to Richmond to rejoin his family. Hopefully next year he comes back to this race and brings his family. Maybe next year his young children can watch and babysit GilliganJ

After finishing I decided I would cheer on runners until the 3 p.m. cutoff. I knew soup, bread and treats were going to be provided until 4:30, so I did not have to hurry to the post race food hall. I walked the course backwards for a bit cheering on runners. Then I wandered around aimlessly chatting with other runners and spectators while runners finished. At one point in the race I was dead last. While waiting for finishers I was shocked to realize how many people I passed. I guess slowly from about mile 15 I was inching my way forward (or were runners inching their way backwardsJ).

Everyone at the finish line was really nice and it was refreshing to be able to hang out while others completed their journey. As I waited I learned no one had dropped from the race. I thought this was cool because VT50, my last ultra had a significant drop/DNF. And even the tails for trails 40 miler also had a fairly high drop rate (hence my top 3 female finish position). We learned this when the final aid station van of volunteers made it to the finish. With this van came my stuff. It was nice to grab my extra shirt and my pants and put them back on to keep warm particularly since Tristan seemed to have disappeared.

This begins my saga of worrying how I will get to the hotel and subsequently home in Maryland. Tristan was supposed to get back to the race location by about 2:30. It was approaching 3 and there was no sign of Tristan. In fact it was not until 3:20 that Tristan finally made it back. Luckily I had enough stuff to keep me warm and I could have gone to the firestation for the post race festivities. Alas keeping myself occupied after the race was only part of my concern. My bigger concern was how to get home and what had happened to my Gilligan and husband.

After cheering on the final runners I headed to the firehouse for a bowl (or 3) of soup. I ended up eating only chicken and dumpling soup because it was my favorite. One of the other soups had beef and since I really enjoyed the chicken and dumpling I stuck with it. I also scarfed down the really yummy homemade bread. The wheat bread was delicious and I had many pieces.

At this time (during a break in my marathon soup eating), Tristan finally arrived. He joined the runners, volunteers, spectators at the firehouse and enjoyed the soup as well. We hung out for a while chatting with Anita and Jay Finkle as well as several others who had run or volunteered at the race. It was a really nice way to end the race.

On our way back to the hotel, Tristan and I decided to walk a bit more of the New River Trail. We ended up in the section by “Cliffside” which is where the turnaround was. Tristan agreed that the course was very pretty and by me pointing out places along the way, he realized he could have seen me multiple times during this race.

Finally after walking a bit over a mile, we turned around and headed back to the hotel. Our final stop on the way to the hotel was for some frozen yogurt and to a pet store to get Gilligan a new leash (apparently Tristan lost it during their hike). In the pet shop I was lucky enough to pet a pair of baby chinchilla’s that were so cute. I tried to convince Tristan that a finisher’s chinchilla or two would be awesome. Apparently I was not very convincing or else my performance was not up to finisher chinchilla standards.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

New River Trail 50 km-Part 2 the Tunnel to the Tunnel (Mile 11-22)

The aid station volunteers taking great care of the runners
Homemade bread, yum!

My friend Joe heading back to the finish line..Go Joe!

The aid station at the turn around. It was nice to have a small break here before heading back to the start/finish line.

Dealing with the rain as best I could complete with my poncho. Luckily the rain did not last too long nor was it too heavy at any time.

I made it through the tunnel in one piece, without any incident or getting kidnapped by aliens or attacked by a serial killer (I think) and it was time to proceed with the next part of the race.
The first part of the NRT50 km obviously was slightly downhill as we were running alongside the New River and were passing by small rapids as we ran down stream. On the other hand, our journey along Chandler Creek was upriver. The incline was pretty minimal but it definitely was there. We passed several small rapids and wound our way along some very pretty scenery. The course passed cow pastures (complete with cows), pine forests, desiduous tree's changing colors and lots of farms and single family cabins along the river. It was very pretty even though the weather was not optimal.

During this section of the race, I started seeing the front runners coming back. They were running super fast. Some of the runners I recognized from other events, blogs or perhaps "Ultra running" nagazine (or as Tristan who speculates I am addicted to running calls it "Ultra High"--based on this addiction he also calls Running World "High World" and Running Times "High Times", hrmph!!).

Pretty soon I was arriving at mile ~11 aid station. The volunteers here were super nice and helpful. They refilled my waterbottle and chatted with me as I made some executive decisions about what food and beverages I wanted to partake in. Again, knowing I would be returning I asked to mark my cup and wrote "TA". Sadly sharpies were not available and I was having a terrible time of marking my cup thus I sissied out and hoped no one else had my poor handwriting or the same first letters of their name. Although I certainly would not mind sharing since I am sure in many ultra's I have "shared" with others as well as perhaps the ground! After marking my cup it was time to fill it with gatorade, ginger ale as well as some coke. I was feeling good and was pretty happy because up until this point we had only had a few sprinkles and I was really enjoying the race. I grabbed a cookie for the road as well as a piece of homemade bread. My cookie selection was the orange cookie with nuts, which I assert was pumpkin nut but may have been something entirely different. Regardless the cookie was REALLY good. The bread was also really good and I was glad I was running a 50 km to make up for all the treats I was eating along the way.

Just after I left the aid station it started raining a bit heavier. Of course I come prepared, so I grabbed my poncho and put it on. Sadly I would put on and take off my poncho multiple times during the race as the rain would increase and decrease. This same issue occurred with my hat. I really hate hats, but to keep rain out of my glasses I have to use a hat. Thus I would take off and put on my hat as though it was my full time job! This section of the course was very cute with lots of farms and cows and horses along one side of the trail and the river on the other side. The changing tree's, critter infested landscape and cute little rapids made for a very pretty course that kept me entertained.

Soon enough I was heading to the “turn around” aid station at mile 16. I was so excited to be past the halfway point and was well ahead of my goal of 3 hours 40 minutes at this aid station (I think I arrived about 3 hours 25 minutes). I was feeling really good and decided after I left this aid station, it was time to put some pep in my step.
At the Aid station I helped myself to some Gatorade, ginger ale and coke while the super nice volunteers helped fill my waterbottle. It was raining pretty hard at this point and I was in no hurry to leave the protection of the tent (even though I had my poncho on). One of the aid station volunteers was the nice lady who helped me pick out my mug (and answered many of my questions at the packet pickup site early in the morning). She was really nice but I forgot to ask her name. I nibbled on some pretzels and banana’s for their salt and potassium and continued to chat and procrastinate. I really was not looking forward to heading back into the rain and hoped it would slow down a bit or ideally clear up!

As I finally decided I had to head out of the aid station, I grabbed a fresh made cookie. This time it was chocolate chip. I was running along and after a few hundred meters started munching on. It was the BEST chocolate chip cookie ever! I considered heading back to the aid station for seconds but realized I would then add several hundred meters to my race as I was well clear of the aid station. What I should have done is negotiated with a runner heading to the turnaround and ask them to snag me some cookies and I could wait for them. Or else have the runner convince a volunteer to catch up to me with a cookie (or 20) in hand. Alas I did neither and now will just have to wait a year for the tasty cookie!

Continuing on my journey I passed a few runners heading for the turn around and encouraged them. Since I was about 600 meters by the time I ran into a runner I did not say anything like “You are almost there”, because in my world you better be able to smell to cookies, hear the volunteers or be mere steps to the location before “you are almost there” is uttered. Of course in hiking I am always telling people it is just around the bend, just another 10 minutes or only 1000 feet until you clear the cloud cover but in hiking it is different!

Because I had decided to speed up a bit, I was catching runners slowly but surely. Each time I passed a runner I offered encouragement and a few times I told them I was training for JJ100 (Javelina Jundred 100 miler) and was trying to challenge myself with a bit of speed when I was tired. Some of the runners I had leapfrogged a bit at the beginning but then I started catching up to runners who were new to me. Many looked really tired and as though each step was painful. I know I will be feeling the same way in just a few weeks at JJ100.

This part of the course was downhill until just past the tunnel, so I took advantage of gravity lengthening my stride. I also got a bit warmer and luckily the rain stopped so I was able to take off my poncho. I kept it out for a while but after a half hour with no rain, I tied it in my bandana to my fanny pack. I was really glad the rain did not last too long and there really was no torrential downpour. Apparently Tristan and Gilligan did experience torrential downpours where they were only a few ridges away but that is their punishment for not staying around to cheer me on and bring me treats along the course.

On the way back because it was an out and back, the course was identical. But the views dramatically different. On the way out on this section, I saw little waterfalls, faster runners and the “front” of various items. On the way back the sights included the rapids, the “backside” of items and far fewer runners. One cute park about 1 mile from the turnaround had a very small park and camp Virginia State Park campground. It looked really cute and I considered heading over to the campground to forage for some food from campers. Alas in the interest of time I continued on. Well I should say after a potty break, I continued on. This potty break was a bit of a bizarre experience for me. There were two gentleman cleaning the Virginia State park latrine. There was a distinct male and female side although it was a pit toilet (my least favorite!). But since we would never be too far from the river, I was using the bathroom facilities. The gentleman in the ladies room asked if I would mind waiting a few minutes. I kind of didn’t know how to respond since I was sort of in a race. But sort of nodded my head and shrugged my shoulders. The ranger in the men’s room said, “if you want to use this side, I am done”. I leapt at the chance to use a facility sooner rather than later. Also I was curious if men have it better and welcomed the chance to scope out the place. I was a bit disappointed in that it looked like the women’s side, but alas it was what I needed. A few moments later I was back to running.

Very soon (less than 1 hour after leaving the turn around) I was shocked to arrive at the mile 20 aid station. I was flying! And I was feeling really great. At the aid station I used my “TA” cup and filled it with Gatorade then ginger ale. I feasted on some pretzels and banana’s then grabbed a piece of homemade bread and a cookie for the road. After thanking the volunteers I continued on my journey happy to be about 10 miles from the finish line.

I continued my quick pace running fast enough to feel like I was moving but not fast enough to get out of breath. I was having a great time and really enjoying the course. The fall foliage was gorgeous. The river was very cute and made my favorite soothing sound…babbling brook noise. And I pretended as though all the horses and cows I was seeing along side the course were cheering for me.

As I ran this section I decided while I was on pace for a sub 6 hour 50 km, I wanted to have a good time and was willing to sacrifice some time for a good picture/video. So I decided I was going to create a “Blair Witch Project” spoof in the tunnel. I created my skit in my mind including my lines in which I would say hello to all my pets/husband and tell them I love them. And of course I would allude to the fact that over 100 runners had set off for the New River Trail 50 km but I hadn’t seen any runners for hours (it was my movie so I could take artistic liberty). Sadly as I approached the tunnel there was a bicyclist who I was a little worried would get into my shot (or I would totally freak out) so my movie got edited a little for time. But for appropriate lighting I had to get my tiny petzl e-lite and put it on. And I needed to change my camera to movie mode.

At the tunnel I created a lead-in video explaining what I was doing as well as to test out my lighting (since I was in charge of lighting, directing, acting, catering, etc. for this feature). When I played back my movie on my camera I could see myself and hear what I had said. So it was time to be in my first feature film. Alas somehow my movie will not play on my computer even though it will play on my camera (stupid electronic stuff!). But my 1 minute short had me in my featured “Mocumentary” about the tunnel. I did try to sniffle a bit and considered owning some snot a la Blair Witch project, but in the end I decided that without a solid 6 figure salary to do this, I would just let my extraordinary acting ability be sufficient. Since my movie did not come out (well except for a black screen in which you can hear me but not see my face illuminated by my elite petzl headlamp) I now have a goal for next year. After this attempt at changing my profession to cinematographer, it was time to continue my journey to the finish line. At the time I thought my movie had come out and was going to catapult me to fame, glory and a new profession so I was pretty excited. This added even more pep to my step.