Saturday, December 29, 2012

Jimbo’s Boxing Day Madness FA 2012

Artwork by "Jimbo" 
Woke up at 6am the day after Christmas to the sound of a cold rain on the roof…. I thought to myself, are you really going to do this??  The forecast called for heavy rain and the possibility of tornadoes.  Sounds like a great time for a run, right??  Actually in some crazy sort of non-normal way, I was looking forward to it!

Met up with Bill and Jim and we carpooled in the horrible weather on the new toll road to Sanford.  Saw about 5 wrecked cars on the way there from hydroplaning.  One car hit a power generator sign which probably read “keep safe speed, water on road”.  Another was a company pickup truck which had drove over and had gotten stuck on the median wires. “hello, boss?  Um yeah, I am going to be late, and I wrecked the truck…”  Others had just run off the road into the grass at a high rate of speed.  Scary stuff!

We made it to Kiwanis Park with plenty of time to spare.  We moved our stuff to the protection of the shelter.  It was still raining and was cold!  43*…  I had a coat that was huge on me and said “Waterproof” so I was betting that it would work great.  Opted to wear the capri length shorts instead of the longer pants.  I knew the longer pants would be soaked in no time!

Jimbo started the countdown and at precisely 9:00am he said “go” but we all kinda stood there wondering who was going to get out first – just like the name of the race - LOL WTF?  Took several seconds for us to move out of the shelter and onto the path.  I managed to get out with the “lead pack” and was feeling pretty good.  We started talking on who was going to go how far and at that point I was thinking I could “easily” get a 50K.  Yeah, That was the plan!  After all, who on earth runs a FA without going the ultra distance?

I felt great that first lap and came in first place for that first lap.  “chicked” the entire group!  Woo!  It was not .25 miles later that I got “Shick-ed” by Trever, and he thought that pun was pretty awesome.  Indeed it was!

I ran the next couple laps alone, and soon realized my “waterproof” coat was getting quite heavy and was not living up to its name….  Returned to the shelter and bummed a trash bag from Bill.  Sometimes it’s not the coat or the tech wear that works the best, but a 25 cent trash bag… 

I was running a pace that felt good to me, but it was miserable cold and lonely.  I didn’t want to speed up and run with Trever, or I would not be able to make it the distance, but running alone was not workin for me either.   I started slowing down some waiting for the chance to run with Gene.  I knew from experience that running with him is a lotta fun.  It was at this race last year that we met and I have run many miles with him since then.  

Now many of you can remember a lot and put it into a great race report, but I am not as talented at remembering as most…  Some things are kinda a blur with the cold weather and short mile loops…  *no wonder people question my sanity* so the things that follow happened, but the order might be a little off ;)

Jimbo left to bring his dogs home and *insert accent here* “get a kettle” for hot chocolate.  Gene and I were joking that he went home, sat in the lazy boy in front of the fire, talking about what fools we are running in the rain – LOL!  He eventually came back with the kettle – that hot chocolate hit the spot!  Warmed me up and provided energy for the next few laps.  

People brought in cookies that were on the table and every few laps it was customary to grab a cookie or 2 for the trail.  I bet I ate nearly a dozen.  Hey, they were small!

Gene caught up with me and we ran and ran/walked together.  Wasn’t long before the conversation turned to “ultrarunner” talk and his humor kicked in.  Now I cannot remember all his jokes, but there were times I was laughing so hard that it was hard to run – it was good!

He made this amazing vegan soup which I sampled somewhere around lap 10.  It was very tasty.  It was super hot which helped again with the “trying to stay warm” theme of the day.

Meanwhile it was still pouring out.  At times it would let up *some* but then the bottom would drop out again.  I was in the shelter when it started to thunder and pour down again.  I decided to wait out this big rain event for a little bit before heading back out.  I think I waited 20 minutes or more before going back out.  

Gene and I headed back out – this time with him sporting a kilt and a BRIGHT green shirt and bright compression sleeves.  We were a sight.  He in his kilt and I in my trash bag.  LOL!  The rain was starting to taper off, and the wind was picking up a bit. Some local folks started to come out walking on the trail, and we were getting some concerned looks from the passers by.  Nothing to be concerned with, this is perfectly normal, right? ;)

Each time we came back to the shelter, we needed to record our lap on a score card.  With each passing lap, it was getting harder to open the sharpie and write the line.  By the end Gene was doing the writing.  I had very little dexterity in my hands because of the cold.  I was wearing gloves, but they were soaked.  I took them off at one point thinking it would help, but it made it worse, so I continued to run with the wet gloves on.  At least it offered protection from the wind.

With each passing lap, our pace got slower, we ran less, and laughed more.  Finally for our last lap, we decided to walk the last lap as our “cool down” (as if we were not already frozen enough)!

I was happy with the 20 miles, all things considered.  Sometimes you need to re-evaluate mid run and this day, it was indeed the best idea to cut back on the miles, run with a friend, and try to not get hurt.  I injured my ITB at this race last year for racing at the end.  At least this year I “Did Nothing Foolish” – lol – maybe it was foolish to start it, but it was a lotta fun.

Even with the low miles I managed to get first woman overall :D  I think that was because there were a LOT of DNS….  It would have been nice to have the crowd we had last year, but the die-hard crazies that were there had an awesome time.  *BTW, I am sitting here typing with the sniffles and sneezing… wonder why that is??* 

Thank you Jim for putting on another great FA event.  All the best to you in CA.  I have enjoyed getting to know you over the past few years.  Running at Pilot Mountain will be one of my fondest memories.  You will be greatly missed in this running community!!  Glad there is Facebook to keep us posted of your Rocky Mountain adventures :D 

Thank you to Brick City Running who will carry on the CRAP fest as well as Boxing Day.  You might want to contact someone in CA for the shirt artwork for 2013 ;) I hear its pure awesomeness. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

OBX Marathon. November 11, 2012

Second time at OBX.  I loved this marathon 2 years ago.  Its mostly flat, “just one hill” at mile 22 and at a place I love to visit.  

This would be a test run for me to see how much work I have yet to go for my BQ attempt March 2013.  

We made the last minute decision to change from a hotel in Currituck to a camping site in Kitty Hawk.  Forgot about Jordan (our dog) and how we would need to take her with us (oops!)   The hotel was not pet friendly.  We found an awesome site in Kitty Hawk - full hook ups for $40 bucks a night.  Pets welcome - AWESOME!

We planned to leave around 11 on Friday, but things happened and we were not able to leave until 2:00.  We also took a wrong turn (rather, we didn’t turn) and added another half hour to the trip...  We finally crossed the bridge from Manteo to the OBX, and the whole island went dark.  Literally all the lights up and down the coast and several miles inland were without power.  We were driving down US 12 hauling a 21 foot camper, looking for a campground we have never been to, with no streetlights and no stop signals.  It was a mess!  We got to what we thought was our campground to find out we had already passed it a few miles back.  We turned around, and found the place and set up our site in the dark.  Yes, it was a stressful day....  But just as we were finishing up, the power came back on - YAY!!  We went out for dinner at The Outer Banks Brewing Station.  

Saturday morning Andy, Kayla and Drew ran the 5K.  It was great to be an observer as opposed to being the runner.  I loved cheering them on.  Drew came in first for the Surrette family, followed by Andy and then Kayla.  So proud of them!!

We went back to the camper for a bit.  Joey came by for a visit, then we went to the beach for a while.  The kids waded in the surf and looked for shells, but it was pretty cold!!  No swimming or playing in the waves this visit!

Later that night we went to Kitty Hawk Baptist where they had a spaghetti dinner for the runners.  We had gone there in years past, once for my 13.1, and again 2 years ago for the 26.2.  Awesome meal once again!  It was followed by a short service which was awesome.  I left there with Hebrews 12:1-3 in my heart - “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”  The pastor kept saying “run with endurance”.  I hid that in my heart for Sunday.

Sunday morning I was ready!  Put on my kilt and met up with the other kilted runners at the start - Joey and Karla.  We planned on staying together.  My goal was 3:55 which I thought was attainable so I knew I might be a little ahead at some point.

We started off together at lap one.  After that I started pulling ahead some.  Not much, but I felt good and wanted to “bank some time” if at all possible.  I had my music on and was focused on the race.  

My husband and I had sat down the night before and plotted out all the stops he would make while I was running.  I saw him and the kids every 4-5 miles up until mile 17.  It was awesome to have a cheering crew :D  I also traded hand held bottles when I saw them.  I would trade in my ‘used’ handheld, and they would have another one filled with water, and the pouch filled with gu’s and s-caps. Awesome deal!  

I started to feel a little “off” around mile 10.  Something wasn’t quite right and I didn’t feel so well.  Not sick, not stomach or digestion related but it kinda felt like it does just before you get the flu. I kept at it though my pace had slowed some, but not much.  I was not sure if it was running the hills in the woods, or how I felt, but I was losing some time.  I took a quick pee break around mile 12 and when I got out of the porta potty there were Joey and Karla.  

We passed the halfway point just over 2:00.  I was bummed realizing that it would be a long shot for me to reach 3:55 and not feeling well.  I stayed with them and was maybe 5 seconds behind them at most.  I didn’t want to let them out of my sight.  I kept thinking “Run with Endurance”  I was kicking myself for not finding a Sharpie and writing that on my left arm before the race, but yet, I kept thinking of it.  

It was amazing how many people said to us “nice kilts” or “nice skirt”.  That was fun and the encouragement along the course was uplifting.  There was one guy who was cheering for someone one not too far behind me - maybe a couple minutes or so, but every 4-5 miles he would be there, hitting on a huge cowbell with a  drumstick (with good rhythm I might add), huge red curly hair, and a sweater 5x too small for him with his belly hanging out (on purpose I would hope).  It was humorous every time I saw him.  Had to laugh - Loved it!!!  

I stuck with Joey and Karla for the next 8 miles.  Around mile 20  said to Joey, “I might not be able to sub 4, but do you think I can get a PR?”  He said “sure, but you cannot slow down” (My PR from before was 4:06:50)

That was all I needed.  I picked it up again for the last 6 miles and started pulling away from them.  It was a tough grind but I had a goal.  Not my original goal, but it was something to strive for.

By now we had been in the sun for a couple hours and it was much hotter than I expected.  I was going through water faster than I thought I would.  At what I thought was an aid station I got the top off my handheld and was hoping they would pour water in it.  Well, my mistake, it was a beer stop!  I put the lid on my water bottle and drank the half cup of beer anyway ;)  There was a water stop another mile ahead where I did fill my water bottle to the top :)

I was at the bottom of the bridge just about to make the assent when my iPhone started playing the next song on my playlist.  It could not have been timed any better - Tom Petty’s “Runin Down a Dream”.  Wow.  I kept my cadence to the beat of this song and it brought me all the way to the top.  Awesomeness indeed!  The only part that was not so awesome is the 23 mile sign was not posted on the bridge.  I had planned on hitting it with my hand, but it was not there this year.  *sigh*

One thing that my ultra running has helped with during this marathon is that I was able to pick up the pace again, even in the tough last 6 miles.  I passed more people in this section of the run than I did anywhere else.  I was hoping to pick up a running partner somewhere along the way, but none were to be found...  well, at least until the last .4 miles.  There was a woman about my age who was walking.  I said “come on, lets finish this up”  We ran strong, step for step for a long while.  Many people cheered us on seeing how we were pushing each other along and working it!  She said “I wish I could just see the finish line!”  I told her “It is right around that corner”   She ended up taking off when she saw it.  I did too, but I saw my family right there cheering me on - I ran at them with a big ARGGGGG (see photo above) and gave my son a high five.  That was a great moment having my family be there for me at the finish.  I looked up at the finish saw the time of 4:05 something on the clock and knew I had just worked my way to a PR!!  I crossed that finish line one very happy kilted woman :D

I finished, received my metal, and someone walked me over to a shady seat where I could get a drink.  I was pretty dehydrated, but I didn’t realize it at the time.  I met up with my family at the back of the finish area where the kids and I stocked up on “free” coconut water.  Andy joked with me saying that I nearly got my race fee covered in how many coconut waters I had ;)  (BTW, that has been a drink of choice of mine for several years).

We hung out for a bit with Joey and Karla afterwards, took a few pictures, got some free food and beer then decided to call it a day.  

We got back to the camper and I took a quick shower.  I had had a LOT to drink after the race.  Still, I hadn’t “gone” yet.  When I finally did, it was by far darker than it should have been, freaked me out actually.  I think this was the most dehydrated I had ever been during a run, and I was drinking a lot.  Later that afternoon my stomach was a mess....  I think I took in too many caffeinated gu’s during the run.  I don’t take in caffeine normally, and to have this much at once really messed up my gut.  I will leave it at that.....  

We hung out at the beach for a good long while.  Saw other marathoners limping around out there.  We talked some, congratulated each other and kept walking.  It was a good afternoon.

Went back to the campground, had dinner, and called it a night.  The next day we packed up our things to head out of town.  Last stop though was Jockeys Ridge.  I was really sore and had no expectations of climbing the dunes, but ended up doing so anyway.  It was a great way to end the vacation.  

I forgot to stop my garmin when I finished so my time read 4:30 something when I plugged it in :s  I hate it when I do that!  The data that was pretty cool though was showing that I was able to hold my pace for 6 miles and most significantly for the last mile.  My time did not slow down for the mile of the assent of the bridge.  That was awesome too :D

But the most awesome part of all was a few days later when I received an e-mail from Bruce Bokish with the  OBX marathon official results:  4:04:41.1  Rank: 7 F-35 to 39  woo!

Was it what I had hoped?  No, it wasn’t but I wasn't too disappointed, especially with at PR

I learned a few things:
  • I am coming back from a 2 year ultrarunning streak and trying to build up speedwork for shorter distances.  It is not the usual building up to the 26.2 distance, I came off a 100 mile run in April.  
  • I am 2 years older and just a smidgen faster than I was at this race in 2010.  
  • Compared to how I did 2 years ago, I ran the first part faster in 2010 (sub 2) but ran the second half stronger in 2012.  Endurance?  Strength?  Wisdom?  Maybe a little of each. :)

Lets see what this winter holds.  Tough training?  Yes.  Early mornings?  Yes.  Hill repeats?  Yes.  Mile repeats?  Yes.  Will it hurt?  Yes.  Will it just really suck some days?  Yes.  But guess what:  it will be the only way I get to Boston.  Bring it on!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Women's only 5K Greensboro, NC. October 6, 2012

This is the one race that I have been “so close” to the podium in the several years I have run it. This was going to be the year that I was hoping to break that streak and finally make it.

I hadn't been training for a 5K. Haven't run a competitive 5K in 2 years actually. I had just come off of an easy summer running schedule, physically and mentally preparing myself for the training I knew would come during the fall and winter for the BQ attempt in March. So for me to think that I could just get on the podium without seriously training, might have been a stretch, but hey, that is how I think. I have a goal, and as always, want to achieve it.

The morning started off cool but sunny. A great day for the run! Met up with the Yum Yum Ya Ya's team – They had asked me months earlier if I would join and I said I would love to! Love me some Yum Yums hot dogs! :D

We took a few pictures and proceeded to the start. I had 6 songs on my iPhone that I had picked to try to keep my cadence at or around 180. I haven't worked much with my cadence like this in a race, but I knew my normal cadence was about 165, well below the optimum 180. I was hoping this might give me a little something to focus on while running.

Before I knew it, the gun went off and we started. Slight down hill, right into an uphill grade. I tried to keep a steady pace as I knew I would have to hold it for the entire 3 miles. I kept my eye out around me for “people who looked like they were in my age group”. It really did not matter too much though as the field spread out quite quickly. 

I can't say there was one person I tried to keep an eye on. I was racing myself and trying to run to the beat of my music without getting my heart-rate too much over 180. About halfway through we looped back and the walkers were cheering the runners at the front on. That was awesome. The cheering kept getting louder, and I wondered why, until a 9 year old passed me. WHAT! Well, she was my “new goal” stick with her. Holy smokes she was fast. I did the best I could to stick with her, but she stayed well ahead of me. It was about this time another woman was trying to go around me and I was not about to let her do that. (sorry!) She looked older than my division, but still, it gave me that push I needed to power up that last hill to the finish. There was one other person who finished just ahead of me that passed me about 2 miles in that I was trying to catch, but didn't. I finished up that hill with the screaming crowd and nearly passed out at the finish. I had given it my all. 23:33. I hoped it would be enough to make that podium.

I heard the announcer saying the names and places of the top 20 finishers. I kept listening for my name and sure enough “in 18th place, Amy Surrette with a time of 23:33” woo!! I posted the result on facebook and went in search of the results to see the places.

When I got to the board, they had just posted the first sheet. The first thing I noticed when I saw my name was 4 in the division slot. I looked again and saw the person who finished 1 second ahead of me was in my division and came in 3rd. I was so disappointed. Missed it by one second!  I had a bit of a pity party for about 15 minutes, then pulled myself together and realized that even though I didn't train for this run, I was nearly contending for a podium finish.

Next year. Yep, next year will be another opportunity. I will be in the Masters division, I will train for this one, and Lord willing I will finally know what it feels like to be on the podium and not one or 2 places away as I am so used to.

Not many races have “gotten under my skin” like this one. I have come so close so many times here, I just have to one day finish this “unfinished business” with this race and be able to walk away from it. Until then, I will continue to return in my quest to make it to that podium :)

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Hinson Lake 24 hour September 29 - 30, 2012

Ahh, my second year at Hinson.  Goals this year were way different from the year before.  Last year I was going for as many miles as I could, this year my goal was to run 39 miles for my 39th birthday.  Looking to have some fun and run some miles with a good group of friends :)

We arrived Friday afternoon and set up the camper in the back 40 of the lodge. Several runners had already arrived and were setting up camp.  Others continued to arrive after we got there.  After we got things set up, many of us met up at the local Italian Restaurant for dinner.  We took up the entire back room!  Hey, we have to carb load somewhere, right?  Might as well do it with friends :D

After eating we went back to the lodge. It was then I decided to make the short drive over to Ellerbe to talk with the folks who's dog bit Joey and I in June.  They still had not paid the balance of the medical bills, and I was ready to move on from that mess, but they had to finish the bills first.  I got to their house and they were home.  I didn’t dare step out of the Jeep into the yard that had way too many animals in it.  I called them and she came out and talked with me.  After talking for an hour about many things, I drove away with the balance of the money they still owed for the medical expenses, and a final feeling of peace and closure from such a horrible accident, that should have never happened....  

Got back to Hinson and was quite happy!  Shared the news with the circle of friends who were camping there at the lodge.  Some couldn't believe I went on my own to square up the debt, but they were happy that it was over too.  Hey, it needed to be done, so I did it.  

In true ultrarunner style, we retreated to our tents and campers by 9:45 to try n get some sleep.  OK, so we don’t know how to party the night before, but we sure do for the next 24 hours!

I woke up well before my alarm and got dressed.  Got the kids up and had them get ready as well.  It was just me and my kids this weekend - Andy had to work so I had to play both runner and mom during this event.  I knew it would be kinda hard to balance, but was willing to do it as the other choice was not attending at all...  

My kids were way excited to be at Hinson.  Last year they had a great time and logged many miles. It was a race they talked about all year and how they wanted to go back again. They each had goals this weekend and were ready to reach them!

8:00am and the race is underway!  The kids and I started out together, but Drew and Kayla took off and left Ashlynn, Jordan (the family dog) and I behind.  Drew’s goal was to run 50 miles, up from 50K last year, Kayla's goal was 26.2, and Ashlynn's was a 10K.

I started off slow with Ashlynn and Jordan.  Took the first lap at a walk.  We took another lap together then went back to our canopy so Ash could rest.  I was hoping that Kayla and I could rotate watching Ashlynn but Kayla was quite interested in logging the miles early on.  I was happy that she and Drew were running, but it was hard to play mom when I wanted to run...  So that is how most of the day went.  I would go out for a lap or 2 when Kayla stayed with Ashlynn, then we would switch.  

I slowly started logging some miles.  One thing that was fun was getting to go out and run with some folks that I don't get the opportunity to run with very often.  I logged some miles with Mark and Tim who I am friends with on facebook but had not met in person before.  It was an awesome thing! I even ran one fast lap with Bobby.  Most definitely my fastest lap of the day.  My heart wanted to run like that all day, but that was not my goal.  I also had to keep track of my kids. I didn't get the chance to run with everyone I had hoped to, but was at least able to say hi to most everyone.

Night started to fall, and I was still a ways off from my 39 miles.  Kayla had gotten in her marathon and was helping at the aid station, Ashlynn was chillin at the canopy, and Drew was still running.  He was closing in on his 50 miles.  I was waiting by the canopy for him for quite some time, waiting for him to run by, but he hadn't.  I had someone run by saying that Drew was looking for me so I went out for another lap looking for him.  He was waiting for me on the bridge at the half way point.  He was getting tired.  I told him he was 4 miles away from 50 miles but I could tell he was done.  He came to the decision to stop at 46 and what I thought was great is that he was not disappointed that he did not make the full 50.  He said that will be next years goal :)

Joey arrived during the late evening and Ashlynn fell asleep on his lap.  The day had worn her out.  She  covered a 10K. I was able to get in a few miles while she slept with him.

Joey and I ran my 39th lap together and I called it a night.  Tried to fall asleep in the chair under the canopy, but a cool breeze had picked up off the lake and I took the kids into the camper with me to finish out the night. 

Early the next morning we headed back down to the lake to see who was still running and to take down the canopy.  Lots of people were still movin.  Relentless forward progress...  Pure awesomeness in motion!  I started taking down the canopy when Rebecca came by nearly in tears saying “Amy, I am going to make my 40 miles just this lap to go!”  If anyone knows about running and crying its me (flashback to U100).  I stopped taking down the canopy and said you got this and I started running with her.  We took off jogging down the path, me in my flip flops and jeans and Rebecca in her running attire on this last “banana lap”  It was awesome!  I hadn't planned on running any more that day, but I couldn't let her go on her own!  We finished up on the other side of the lake, she dropped her banana when the horn sounded and we walked in happy about another great Hinson Lake 24 experience!  Congrats on a great finish Rebecca!  So proud of you and your accomplishments.  You have come a long way girl! You are a huge inspiration to not only me, but to Kayla as well.  She looks up to you a lot!

Now the real work began, had to tear down the canopy and the pop up camper.  This is the third time I had to do this after running an ultra.  Last year after the 100k at Hinson,  again at Crooked Road after 83 miles and again now after 40+.  Sometimes I think the real endurance comes after the race and pushing forward doing all the other stuff that needs to be done.  ;)

Got everything packed up and met up with a few folks afterwards at the local Shoney's over race talk, bacon, eggs and chocolate milk  :) 

Another great Hinson in the books.  Thanks to Tom who puts a great race together each year.  My family and I are looking forward to 2013!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Kal-Haven Trail and then some FA unassisted

I am not exactly sure when the idea came to me to run the Kal Haven trail again.  I joked with my sister several times since the first time I ran it last year saying that I would run it again, but start at the Kalamazoo Valley River trail and make it closer to a 50 miler.  ;)  

The invite came in the mail earlier this year to attend my cousin’s bridal shower.  I had the idea to attend on the back burner for weeks.  I was not sure if we would be able to make it.  Finally, the Friday before the shower we decided to make it a go!  The trip would be for the shower, a 4th of July party, and in my mind, a 35+ mile run to South Haven.  My family just did not know it yet.

I got there Saturday afternoon and spent time with the family.  I dropped hints that I wanted to go to the beach while we were here and mentioned in passing that I would like to run there, just to see what the reaction might be.  Karen seemed pretty neutral on it, so by the time our plans were made and Monday evening rolled around, I was preparing to run the Kal Haven trail unassisted.  

The Kal-Haven trail is a 33.5 multi use trail. It is usable for all non-motorized bicycles, hiking, and snowmobiling when there is a 4-inch snow base.  No horses.  It was once a railroad.  Its surface is crushed limestone with a few miles that are asphalt around Bloomingdale and South Haven (which hurt the legs after being on the soft surface for so many miles).  There are 7 primitive restrooms and water pumps along the route.  

I woke up before my alarm before 5:00am.  I got up, had a quick ‘breakfast’ of strawberry milk, got my things together and about 30 minutes later was ready to go.  I had 2 - twenty oz handhelds, and each pouch was packed with 3 gu’s.  I had a little zip bag of s-caps in there as well.  I wore my spi belt which had my ID, a credit card, some cash and of course mace and a knife.  I carried my Medoc hat clipped to my belt in case I needed it as a sun shade, but starting this early, I didn’t want to wear it.  I had a pouch on my arm for my phone/iPod so I could listen to some tunes, take pictures, and post updates.  

I stepped outside and was amazed at how humid it was!!!  The past few mornings had been great, with low humidity and cooler temps.  Not today.  It was mid 70’s, cloudy, and holy humid.  I checked the radar and there was rain to the north, but it did not appear that it was going to reach the trail.  

I left my sisters house and headed up the road to the trailhead.  When I arrived, I took off my tank top as it was already soaked with sweat from my ‘warm up’ ha!   I tucked it into my spi belt.  I took a picture of my adventure, posted it, and I was on my way.  

Right away I realized that i forgot something very important.  Bug spray!  The deer flies were HORRIBLE!!!  They are not quite like horseflies, they are smaller and swarm by the dozens.  They were really throwing off my mojo.  I was trying to keep a good pace and focus, but the dumb flies kept following me!!!  It was better when the trail came to a clearing, but when I was in the woods, they were really bad.  

The first few miles were humid.  I was soaked with sweat very early on and it was not evaporating.  It was about 5 miles in that I heard what I thought was rain.  It surprised me as I thought the rain was not going to be an issue.  I kept going, listening to what sounded like a downpour.  Up ahead I saw the trail was soaking wet.  *ahh*  it took me a minute, but I realized it was the irrigation system for the cornfield right next to the trail.  I had no idea how much water came out of these things!  It looked like a double size fire hose watering the trail!  I had no intentions of getting this wet so early.  It was so humid, I would never dry....  All I could do was go as fast I could through the spray.  I ended up getting wet, got mud on my legs from the trail, but overall, it was not too bad.

I took a picture around mile 9 when the sun was peeking a bit through the clouds.  I was thankful it was a cloudy day, or it would have gotten hotter, faster, and with the humidity it would have been awful.  It was great to hear the bing of everyones comments on the picture encouraging me along.  The trail was quite lonely and the encouragement was awesome :)

At mile 9.6 along the trail (about mile 11 from my sisters house) I saw a sign along the trail pointing to a gas station in Kendall.  I looked down the road and saw the station.  This was good, because I had not planned to stop until Bloomingdale.  I had grossly underestimated how much I would drink.  I was nearly out of water and was only 11 miles in.  I jogged down the road to the gas station.  Inside were two retired aged gentlemen reading some magazines.  They said hi and I asked where the gatorade was.  One pointed me over to it and we talked for a bit.  He seemed really nice - kinda like a grandpa.  He asked how far I was running and I told him all the way to South Haven.  When he gave me my change he leaned over the counter slightly, held my hands, looked me in the eyes, and told me to be careful.  I told him I would.  He wished me the best and I was back out on the trail.  

The trail did not have many runners, walkers or bikers on it at all.  One biker passed me early on in my run, and she passed me again several hours later.  She smiled and said “great effort runner!”  That was the first bit of encouragement I had heard on the trail, and it was welcome!

Up ahead there were 4 walkers.  They were walking and chatting and quite honestly had no idea what was going on around them.  I kept gaining on them and when the time was right I pulled my best Laura and said “on your left please!” For a brief moment I felt ‘fast’ and it made me feel awesome.  Guess what, I scared the daylights out of them.  They had no idea I was there.  After a brief chat and “holy smokes you are running that far” I continued on.  

I was once again running out of water.  I was awaiting the next water pump or gas station.  I knew it was coming up, but was not exactly sure how far.  There was a house along the trail and someone was outside.  I came up to him and asked if I could fill up my water bottle at the hose and how far the next gas station was.  He said sure and the station was about a half mile up the road.  His wife was outside as well and asked how far I was running (as she lit up a cigarette) and could not believe I was running all the way to the lake.  He handed me my bottle back and they wished me all the best.  

I started running again and sure enough, there was the gas station.  It was about my halfway point, and was the only place that I had originally thought I would get water from.  I went inside, got some ice for my water, a coconut water and a chocolate milk.  When I was paying for my things, one of the clerks saw my back and said “wow, you got bit by a lot of deer flies”  um, yeah...  Like I didn’t know...  

I took my stuff outside to a picnic table, stretched some, drank my milk and got ready for the second half.  I carried the 2 handhelds, and somehow finagled the coconut water container for several miles in one hand too.  

It was by this time that the clouds had gone away, some of the humidity had lifted, but the sun was hot.  

I’ll tell ya, I was so annoyed by the deer flies.  In the sun I had refuge from the flies, but cooked.  In the shade I had refuge from the sun, but not the flies.  Somewhere along this stretch, a biker said to me “the flies sure are bad!”  “I said “yeah, have any bug spray?”  On the inhale from asking the question I inhaled one :P  I was coughing and spitting and I am sure it was a sight, but the guy had some bug spray!!  wooo!!!  He pulled it out of a pouch on his bike and sprayed my back.  He mentioned how bad the welts were as well.  The spray stung, but I was hoping it would work.  I thanked him and was on my way again.  The bug spray did not keep the flies away, however, it did keep them from biting!  I became amused watching the casual bikers go by with a swarm of flies behind their head/neck/back.  I wondered if that is what I looked like too.  If the bikers could not out bike them, I know I had no chance in out running them...  :P

I stopped at another gas station, got some ice cold water, and filled my bottles.  It would be my last gas ‘aid station’ stop.  

I was staying well hydrated in the heat, despite sweating so much.  I had to ‘go’ again.  This time there was not a gas station or primitive rest area for miles...  I was soaking wet with sweat and was thinking how much of a pain it was going to be to try to work with the wet, tight fitting, shorts...  I kept running while looking around for “a spot”.  It was then that I recalled an article featured in Ultrarunning magazine April issue.  It was entitled “how to pee standing up”  Yes, it was geared towards female runners and gave advice on the seemingly difficult task.  My running partners and I talked about this article a few times on our Saturday morning runs.  None of us were brave enough to try the task that particular morning, but here in the hot sun and with my fading sanity, I thought I would give it a try.  I peered up the trail and didn’t see anyone, looked back down the trail from which I came and saw no one there either.  There was a log right off the trail which I put my right foot on (kinda like Captain Morgan, but with my right foot instead of the left), moved the bottom of my shorts over, and went!  Ya know, it was not a 10, but I would give it a solid 9.  None got on my shoes, socks or gaiters and my legs stayed dry as well.  Not bad for the first time!  With that done, I got back on the trail feeling pretty good about what I just accomplished.  LOL!!  Yeah, I know, its the little things sometimes...  

In the first half I saw 2 bikers and 5 walkers in 19 miles.  It was a very lonely run.  This half of the run there were more people on the trail.  Not like a Saturday morning at Umstead, but there was a little more life out there other than the deer flies, however, iIt was tough going and was taking much longer than I anticipated.  I was hot, tired, lonely, and my right IT band was starting to flare up.  All I could think of was hurry slowly, but hurry....  I may have whimpered along here saying “remember, you did this for fun!”  There was one section that was very open and was incredibly hot.  I ended up walking most of it.  Where was the irrigation system when you need it?  ;)  There was a tree - actually a grouping of huge weeping willows with a picnic table under it.  It was SO tempting to stop and take a rest.  I should have at least taken a picture, but I didn’t :(

Somewhere along here I stopped at a water pump and filled my bottles again.  They were not the easy ones like at Umstead where you lift the handle and it comes out with a ton of pressure.  Nope, these are hand pumps.  It took a few good arm movements to get the water to the surface then a few more to fill the bottle.  Felt like I was wasting what little energy I had left!

In traveling along this trail, I ran under three sets of high voltage power lines.  Hearing the buzz of the electricity running through the wires was kinda an eery feeling and made me run just a little bit faster under them ;)

In getting closer to South Haven, there was much more bike traffic.  Most of the bikes were rentals from the beach.  Had someone ask how far I was going and told him I was 33 miles in and couldn’t believe it.  Had one older man on a bike go by and asked me how I was doing.  He said he was heading to South Haven, but would come back to check on me.  Sure enough, a few miles later he did.  He also said “you don’t look as bad as I thought you did”  LOL!!!  Guess running in the heat makes one look weary.  I also had a refocusing of sorts when I realized I only had 2 miles to complete the trail - I could smell the barn!!  

I heard a sound coming up from behind me of a motorized vehicle.  I turned and looked and it was a policeman in his patrol golf cart.  He waved, flew by me and in the process kicked up a TON of dust :P  There were some bikers ahead at the bridge that saw what happened, and talked to the officer before I got there.  They let him know that he literally left a runner in the dust.  When I caught up to the bikers, they told me that the officer said he was sorry for kicking up so much dust and to apologize to me.  He didn’t realize that is what he had done...  hmmm.

The bikers went on and so did I.  I was within a mile of the finish.  The trail became asphalt and was a hot, hard surface for running.  I came up that hill to the park entrance and was ecstatic!  I made it the length of the trail!!  Wooo!  But that didn’t last for long.  I still had more to go to make it to the beach.  My water bottles were empty.  I was hot, tired, dusty, sweaty and thirsty.  Now I was on asphalt at 2:00 in the afternoon with a 98 degree sun blazing on me.   

My Garmin died while I was making my way to the beach.  Once again, I outran the thing!  It quit at 37 miles.  I had to walk over the drawbridge, and nearly got sick with how much it was moving with the cars driving over it.  I continued my way through the town and anxiously awaited seeing the lake.  The closer I got to the lake, the heavier the traffic and people.  Straight ahead I saw a parking lot right at the beach.  I started running again :)  Ran right down to the sand and had to walk another ¼ mile along the water to get to where my family was waiting for me.  

I saw my kids swimming in the water first, then I saw my sister who greeted me with a huge hug!  It was so great to see them!!  My mom and dad were there as well along with my nieces and nephew.  

I had my sister take a picture of me with Lake Michigan in the background.  THIS was the unfinished business I had from the actual “Kal-Haven Trail Race” I ran in March 2011.  I ran all the way to Lake Michigan, yet, I never went to see the lake or get a picture.  This was the reason I ran the trail again.  To get this picture :D

I took off my dusty gaiters, shoes and socks and found my feet in pretty good shape.  There was plenty of dust and sand in my shoes from the trail but no blisters!  

I slowly waded into the water with my running clothes on.  It was nice and cool - perfect for tired, sore muscles.  I took my time getting in - I did not want to go into shock from being so hot to cooling off too fast.  I chilled out for a little while thinking about the morning and early afternoon and taking it all in.  

I finished my swim, limped out of the lake (my ITB was in extreme pain), and headed home - this time in the passenger seat of my sisters Trailblazer ;)  No, I didn’t feel I needed to run back.  I will save that for another day - lol!

It was overall a good run.  Conditions were less than ideal.  It was 95% humidity and cloudy at the start with temps in the mid 70’s.  By the time I was done it was almost 100*.  I severely underestimated how much I would drink.  I had planned on refilling my 2 water bottles once at the halfway point, when in actuality I filled them both 5 times, with either water or gatorade, plus drank chocolate milk and coconut water.  I went through all my gu’s and most of my s-caps.  As far as fuel goes, I planned that pretty well.  Another gu would have been nice near the end.  I am thankful for no blisters despite the gritty trail.  I will lose one toenail, which just happened to grow back from U100.  My right IT band was very sore for the rest of the day and into day 2.  The pain was nearly gone by day 3 and was navigating the stairs again like a pro.  

Running an unassisted long trail run was tougher than I anticipated.  I was not quite prepared for the loneliness.  When you run a race, you are surrounded by people and can usually find someone to run with, even if it is just for a while.  Talking with someone sure makes the miles go by faster, and knowing someone is right there with you is good too.  

I enjoyed people posting to my page on facebook.  The ones that really stood out were the ones that came after I posted the picture at 28.5 to go:  
~  Keep those legs turning gal!!! We are cheering you on!!!
~  The key word there was "moving" . . . slow or not, just keep moving!  
~  Keep going! Great job!  
~  Go, Amy, go! And smile!!!  
You offered encouragement and it made me smile each time. It meant a lot!  

I also think now that all aid stations are awesome - even the ones with just pretzels and water.  Ok, so some aid stations might be less than ideal, but hey, its better than nothing!  Using water pumps and gas stations adds more to the travel distance, not to mention your time.  

If you are an ultra runner and you have the chance, go out and do a long, unassisted run.  I learned a lot and will carry it with me into my training runs as well as races.

*run happy*