Thursday, October 2, 2014

Hinson Lake 24 Hour - September 27 and 28, 2014

At the start - see the purple hair? didn't think so - ha!
This marks my 4th year running Hinson Lake.  Its one of those races that will probably be on my yearly race list til I can't run anymore.  For me, and for many, its like a tailgate party / reunion with running involved.  

This year was very different for me.  My kiddos / family were not with me and I not camping - Drew had gotten hurt a week prior and I knew that if I took him that he would shoot for that 50 miler again and get more injured... so they spent the weekend with their cousins.  I also opted not to camp this year and found a hotel instead.  

I arrived at the lake by 11:30 Friday to claim a prime 8 x 8 piece of real estate next to the trail.  NCRC banner was proudly displayed there Saturday too!  The rest of the day I literally put my feet up and chilled with many running peeps.  We talked strategy and what our plans were for the race.

My original plan was to go for 110.  Why 110?  In ultrarunning magazine there was a top 25 list of women who ran the farthest in 2013 in 24 hour events.  Number 25 came in at 106 miles.  I wanted to be on that list for 2014.  I figured 110 would get me on that list.  

But then Kevin wrote up this article that lit a little fire under me....  114.6 was the course record?  hmmm...  what is another 5 miles?  So yeah, I started dreaming big.  I set the bar really high - knowing full well it would be tough to achieve but none the less, I set that goal.  I only shared that goal with a few people.  24 hours is a long long time and anything can happen.  I would go into it like I did last year "cautiously optimistic"  #gobigorgohome

We ate at the Moose lodge Friday night at the spaghetti dinner.  It was good.  I ate there the year before too.  Its nice that it was so close and cheap!

*note to self*  book a hotel BEFORE the race.  Drove around looking for a place that had vacancy  for about 45 min - lol!  oh well....  found one that didn't seem to have bedbugs and settled in for a nap before the race the next morning.

Changed up my routine *just* a bit.  Still did the braids but added in 2 purple extensions - thought it might bring me a bit of luck - lol!  

on the run selfie with John n Dan :)
Woke up, got everything together and headed over to the lake.  Now if there was a way to somehow calm the nerves those few hours before the race... that would be amazing....  

Before too long we were all at the start listening to the briefing.  I was concerned that it was going to be crowded with Jerry opening the field to everyone who was on the wait list.  It was about 350 people who started - up from about 275 from last year.  That was not really an issue tho.   It was a bit crowded for about a mile, but after that it thinned out and it was go time.  

I had the opportunity to run with so many people.  Love this event cause you can see the fast people when you get lapped and the slow ones when you lap them often.  Its crazy tho, the ones who are about the same pace as you?  Ya miss them - cause they are always just ahead or just behind by a little bit and you all are keeping the same pace.  I didn't see Steve all day, and only saw Tim twice... 

my favorite pic from the day :D
I kept to what worked well for me.  A protein drink every hour, water n s-caps.  When noon-ish came around I backed off and slowed it down to not get too hot.  Still, I think I got a little dehydrated.  I didn't pee for about 3 hours even though I was drinking a lot and even carried a handheld.  

I made it to 50 miles in 10:30.  Not my PR of 10:15 (during CR24 last year) but I was at least on track for 100+

Bout the time the sun started getting lower in the sky I started picking it up some.  Bout this time Colin came around and I started running with him.  His pace was slightly faster than what I was doing and it is what I needed - a good pacer!  I needed to run a little faster to make up some time going into the dark.

half way there - livin on a prayer!
I think it was about mile 60 where I started to have some issues...  I downed a sweet tea figuring I needed the sugar and caffeine.  About 3/4 of a mile back down the trail I told Colin to keep going cause I was going to be sick.  And indeed I was sick.  I was along side the trail having a sweet tea reversal.....  First time this had happened during a race.  After, yes, but never during....  I knew it wasn't good....  

One kind Good Samaritan stopped and "held my hair" - she said I am sticking with you and making sure you get back in.  Her name was Jessica and I was thankful that she was looking out for me. 

Once I was done we started running again.  Actually I felt better and we ran walked the rest of the way in.  I got to the aid station and took some water, but it was not sitting well.  ugh.

cleaned up - trail love - ow!
I went out for another lap and it was dark. This year the moon was not out like it was in previous years.  I didn't bring a light with me.  *genius*  On the front half it wasn't so bad but around the back stretch I ended up catching a root and went down.  I skinned my knee and was covered in blood an dirt.  :/  Trail Love!  I should know better... oh well... 

I actually then sat down to evaluate where I was at. I was shaking and my stomach was a mess.  I knew there was no way to reach that 114.6+ goal.  Even 100+ was out of reach.  I took a couple more laps then grabbed my flannel and sat with the BCRT for a while.  I was shaking.  I couldn't control my body temp.  ugh... sometimes that happens when I am completely exhausted.  I knew my day was done........
I was tired, cold and sick.... still smilin tho.

I soon left and went back to that same hotel to get a shower and a few hours sleep.  Woke up feeling much better. 

Came back in the morning and logged about 3 more laps and finished with just over 70 miles.  

Went to breakfast with Steve, Tim and Patrick in Sanford.  We were starving!!  For me its 100 calories per mile - so yeah, about 7000 calories burned!

So what did I do wrong?  I keep thinking about it....  too high of a goal?  perhaps, but it wasn't within reason on a perfect day.  Looking back I should have run a even slower between noon and 5 and drank more.  I think I got dehydrated and that is what got me throwing up after picking up the pace again.  

Love this sign - and the 'graffiti'  ha!
Overall I am happy with the run.  I had a good time.  I ran with some great folks, and even though I got sick, I still logged over 70 miles.  I can't complain.  Am I disappointed?  Yeah, a little but not much.  It wasn't a DNF. I finished strong after a nap.  I am very grateful for the health and strength to run.  I can do all things through him who gives me strength. 

Til the next adventure - *cheers*

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

"The March" 50K - July 19, 2014 - Fort Bragg, NC

Say the phrase "Death March," and most Americans respond with a single word: Bataan. When Japanese troops overran the Philippines in 1942, they forced thousands of GIs and Filipino soldiers to march across 60 miles of the Bataan Peninsula in tropical heat with little or no food and water. Hundreds of Americans and thousands of Filipinos died in the five-10 day trek that came to be called the Bataan Death March, one of the greatest atrocities ever perpetrated against American fighting men.

But there was another death march inflicted upon American POWs during World War II -- a journey that stretched hundreds of miles and lasted nearly three months. It was an odyssey undertaken in the heart of a terrible German winter fraught with sickness, death and cruelty. Though experienced by thousands of GIs, it was all but forgotten by their countrymen. The events has been called various names: "The Great March West", "The Long March", "The Long Walk", "The Long Trek", "The Black March", "The Bread March", and "Death March Across Germany", but most survivors just called it "The March"

On July 19th we paid tribute to these soldiers at a 50K race in Fort Bragg on the All American Trail called "The March"  

Woke up at 4:30 to leave for the race at 5:00.  I thought it was going to take about an hour to get to the start, but after plugging it into my GPS I realized it was 1:45 - oops!  Oh well.  We still made it there in plenty of time for the start :)

Went and picked up my number at packet pickup - Each runner had the name and serial # of one of these POWs on their race bib. I number 34 - Francis B Iyall #19096566 US Army.   I got a bit choked up seeing the name and # and running in honor of him.  I pinned the number on my shorts and gathered with everyone to hear the pre race briefing and start.  

At the start
I had no expectations for this race.  I am not as fast as I was last year but I knew I could do ok.  I saw the plaque for the first place female and yes, I really liked it but knew it would be a long shot at it.  Thought about giving it a try tho so that was in the back of my head....

I started off with everyone and headed down the 5.5 mile trail to the first turnaround.  Stayed in the "first female" spot for about 2 miles then I backed off the pace some and started to get passed.  I was ok with that.  

Got to the turnaround, filled up my handheld, got my number punched to prove I actually ran all the way there and headed back.  

On the way back to the 'start' and before the 10 mile out and back - I was thinking that I needed to stop at the Jeep to get some music.  I was not running with anyone, I left my phone in the car, had no music, and my Garmin died at the Relay in MI so I was running "completely naked".  So that was the plan, get some music and try to find some motivation!

That is until I hear someone yelling behind me "we are coming to get you" or "we are after you" or something like that...  It was Mark and Tim running up the hill.  I yelled back at them that I would wait, but it was really going to mess up my time - ha!

Start/Finish aid station from the 5.5 mile side
They started walking when they reached me then I stayed with them.  I realized right away that their pace was quicker than mine was running alone...  That was a good thing.  I needed some company and someone to keep me goin.

We reached the start/finish aid station, filled up our waterbottles again, then headed back out for the long out and back.  Mark started telling me about the goals I didn't even know I had.  ha!  It was good running with them.  Learned a new song, we sang some familiar ones...  He just kept saying, "better save some for the last 10 miles cause we are kicking it in from there".

Saw a HUGE spider while running - you know its big when you are running and still see it - ha!  Lots of ants on the course too.  LOTS!

Before long we saw the leaders coming back from the turnaround.  We timed it from when the first woman passed to the time we got to the aid station - to see how far ahead she was of me.  

The 3 of us out there - Mark, Myself and Tim
We got to the last aid station and Ginger marked my bib to once again prove that I ran all the way to the end.  Filled up with gatorade and kept going.  

The first place woman was 9 minutes ahead of me.  I was currently 6th place.  So, the goal was set.  Time to kick it in.

Now most people know that once that last corner is turned with me, and I know that finish is nearing, I am ready to be done.  Call it what you want, Barnburning, or "Walshing it"  somehow I get the energy to get to that line strong.

After that farthest aid station, Mark and I took off.  Tim fell back - what I didn't realize at the time is that he rolled his ankle, not just once but twice!  :/  That is why he fell behind.  

We were running all the hills and making some great time.  With about 8 miles to go The clouds started thinning and with 7 miles to go we had blue skies.  It.  Was.  Hot!  It was a delicate balance between overdoing it and pushing the pace enough to make up some time.  

Peace out - runnin in the hot sun!
With each mile, Mark and I were passing more and more people.  At the last aid station, before the finish, someone said that the #2 woman was not doing too well and was dehydrated and was pretty much walking it in.  :(  At that point I was in #4 spot.  

I passed both her as well as couple more folks in those last hot miles.  Mark pulled ahead of me, never to be seen from again - lol!  He was strong on the hills but I wasn't.  Needed to powerwalk up them in order not to overheat.  

I was thankful for the mile markers on the side of the trail.  With very little math, I could figure out how many more miles it was to the start - without that, I would have been completely "naked and afraid"  HA!!  ;)  Seriously, it was cool in some ways not to have a garmin, but knowing how many miles I had to go is a very good thing.  The start finish was at mile marker 5.5.

near the finish
I saw the last marker at "6.5 miles" and knew it was only a mile to go.  I started getting really excited.  I knew this was a big PR for me, even on a difficult course.  I saw the radio tower, then the aid station tent. 

Just before reaching the finish I was handed an American flag to carry to the finish line.  I felt very blessed to have the opportunity to give tribute to the brave POW's that endured "The March". I got a bit choked up running to the finish thinking about it and running through all the flags.  

Came in to the finish to a cheering crowd.  It was amazing.  I was handed a dog tag medal for finishing the event.  Very unique token of accomplishment for a race that goes just beyond me and the runners that ran it.  

finishing strong
I sat down in the shade and chilled with peeps for a long time.  I cheered in fellow runners as they came in.  Many had PR's that day :)  I was tired so I cheered from a borrowed lawn chair - lol.  Those last 7 miles took it out of me, with increasing my speed and the heat of the sun.  Tell you what, it was great to sit with my running family n talk for a while before heading back home.  

Oh, and that first place female?  She rocked it!  I congratulated her at the end - she stayed 9 minutes ahead of me.  I was matching her pace for those last 10 miles.  Thats pretty cool.  :D

I looked up the info on "my soldier" when I got home and this is what I found: 

Name Francis B Iyall
Birth Year 1913
Enlist Date 04/17/1942
Enlistment Place Tacoma Washington
Term Duration of War, Plus 6 Months
Nativity Washington
Race + Citizenship White, Citizen
Education 4 Years High School
Civilian Occupation Semiskilled Lumbermen, Raftsmen, And Woodchoppers
Marital Status Single, Without Dependents
Enlistment Source Civilian
Conflict Period WWII, World War II
Rank Private
Service Army
Arm Infantry
Organization Rifle
Parent Unit 0168
Unit Type Group Regiment Commands System
Detaining Power Germany
Camp Stalag 20a Thorn British Poland 53 18
First Report 02/17/1943
Last Report 01/30/1945
Area North African Theatre Tunisia
Source Official Sources
Status Liberated or Repatriated
I thought of both of my Grand dads when I was out there and the service they gave to our country.  One was a Marine, the other in the Army.  Both served in WWII.  I am grateful to them, and to all those who have served their country in the armed forces.  
I loved this race.  I loved running in Fort Bragg.  It was the sandiest trail I have ever run on aside from running a few miles on the beach.  It was hard.  My calves and hamstrings burned and days later my legs are dotted with what I think are ant bites.  I wouldn't trade it for anything.  It was an amazing experience.  
Thanks to Mark and Tim for motivating me and keeping me moving, moving faster, laughing and singing.   Good times on that trail.  
Thanks to Veronica - the race director - great event, very well organized, great aid stations and fantastic volunteers!

Til the next adventure - *cheers*

fueled by gatorade, 2 gus, many s-caps, pbnj's, pretzels, chips, water and one really hot espresso love hammergel at the last aid station - ugh, gross! It worked tho!  I rarely drink gatorade but with it being so hot I did this time.  It worked.  Post race recarb of Oberon from my hometown in MI. 
Me, Mark and Tim
Chillin with this crazy crew - lol!  too funny!
Grateful finisher (with an Oberon in hand)

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Third Coast Relay June 28 and 29 2014

The Gluteal Fold - "Legend", Dragon", "Dave" and "Cougar"
So what did you do over your summer break?  Go for a long run and travel with strangers?  Yep!  That is one of the things I did, and this relay is the place I did it :)

So I get this group facebook email mid May saying "hey!  anyone interested in doing Third Coast Relay in Michigan as an ultra team?"  The email came from a friend I had just met at Umstead 100 in April.  I was volunteering out there and every time I would see him out on the course he was happy, singing and yeah, all this in a kilt (and yes, he finished the race with an amazing time)!  I was like yeah! You bet - sign me up!  I added my sister in on the conversation thinking she would want to be part of it - I know she would want to drive or something!  She has been big into helping at many ultra events and this would be a great opportunity to both spend time with her and run!  

So long story short, we didn't find enough for a 6 person team, or even a 4 person team.  So we signed up as a 3 person ultra team for 209 miles.  Now I am an ultrarunner and have run a lot of ultra events and 24 hour races.  I was not going into this blindly, I knew it was going to be one heck of a challenge but insanely fun at the same time - if that makes any sense at all. 

So - here it is - myself, someone I just met a few months ago named Joe, and his friend Dave whom I had never met before, and my sister all embarking on a 209 mile journey in a Chevy Trailblazer.  I.  Was.  Excited!!

Joe n Karen chalkin the ride waitin on Dave
I left for Michigan Wednesday evening, drove through the night, (napped at rest areas) and arrived in MI at my sisters sometime around noonish.  I showered, took a bit of a nap, then drove to Grand Rapids to pick up Joe.  Not an awkward moment at all.  We had a great conversation all the way back to Kalamazoo all related to what I will call "2:00 am ultrarunner talk".  Yes, the weekend was off to a great start!

Dave was supposed to arrive Thursday but his flight was cancelled and he had to rebook on Friday.  So Karen Joe and I packed up everything in the Trailblazer and set off to Grand Rapids again to pick up the last member of "the fold" Gluteal fold that is.....  

While we were waiting for his flight to come in, Joe and Karen started to decorate the trailblazer with window chalk in the cel phone lot.  Someone was questioning us about it - asking us if we were coming from or going to "The Electric Forest"  We were like huh?  um, no, we are going to run a race....  We did a bit of research on what exactly the "Electric Forest" was and HA!  We mighta fit right in LOL!

Sole Sisters! @ the airport waitin on Dave
Anyhow....  Daves flight came in, we picked him up and we went for dinner #1.  Apparently the wait staff had been talking about the trailblazer in their parking lot and wondered who in the world it belonged to...  "who does that" was their words - Before long it was known that it was us and wow....  yeah.... more laughter!  One of the guys wanted to follow us on facebook but we were kinda like um, just look it up on the website...  

Even at packet pick up, the check in people were not sure what to think of us.  "oh, so YOU are the 3 person team?!?"  She came outside to inspect to see that we had all the proper safety equipment.  She gave us the GPS, the bin full of shirts and stuff, and sent us on our way.  :)

Now we let Karen book the hotels for us.  We were booked at a travel lodge in Holland.  Tiny room with 2 double beds and "little miss sunshine" (or not so much) at the desk - lol!  It was humorous.  Had to  say...  There was also this lady (man?) there in a pink bathrobe who loved to talk - to anyone - about anything....  oh my goodness she (he?) was funny....  lol!  Dave had my golf club with him and he had everyone convinced that we were heading off to a golf tournament - ha!

We went to Meijers and got all the stuff we needed for the run.  We worked on our shirts and stuff for the race for a while then we went out for dinner number 2.  

Race morning!!  My alarm woke us up with the sound of "Crazy" by Gnarles Barkley - how fitting!  Got everything packed up and the "lady" in the pink bathrobe wished us well as she talked with us  as we were packing the trailblazer.

At the start :D
Before too long we were in Holland state park - we pull in and we start to get some looks.  Like - who in the world is that - looks...  hmmm  was it the deer butt as our mascot on the front of the trailblazer? or "Gluteal fold" written on the windows? or Joe blasting "Parking Lot Party" through the pieced together sound system from Goodwill?  May never know....  Regardless - we were all happy, the cleanest and driest we would be for 2 days and ready to start this epic event!

We took a few pics and I headed over to the start.  There was some chatter going on about teams and I kinda hung back and listened a bit and someone asked me about my team and I said I was on the 3 person team.  They said "oh!  so you're one of the stupid people on the 3 person team!"  wow!  I don't think she meant it the way it came out but it was a bit surprising at her delivery of it.... 

The horn went off and we all started - too fast, yes but we all started.  I hung out in the back but still everyone was blasting out of there at an 8:00 pace.  Sorry ya'll I have a few more miles to cover so ill be back here!  

I ended up running with a girl who seemed to be really struggling with it.  I ran with her - told her to relax, take some deep breaths, your doing great...  stuff like that.  She was part of a work team who signed up for the relay.  She did a great job on that first 4 mile leg :)
Dragon n Cougar selfie

Got to the exchange and passed it on to Joe and he took off.  We had a bit of a system going.  Karen was driving and signing everyone in at the exchanges.  When the person came in  from the exchange they went to the back of the trailblazer to lay down and chill, eat, whatever, and the "on deck" person would be in the passenger seat getting ready for the next exchange.  

Karen had the "magic hand" - LOL!  no really!  She would make sandwiches at the exchanges and magically a sandwich would appear out of the abyss of sweaty shirts, socks and other things hanging from the bungees of the back of the trailblazer.  ha!!  BBQ or mustard?  cheese please!

I think it was exchange 4 I missed an arrow and missed the turn to the bridge.  It was myself and another girl who missed it...  we turned right and backtracked about a quarter mile.  Not a big deal but still - ugh!  Frustrating..... 

Dave in his jorts
My next exchange was number 7.  I really missed an arrow on that one....  It was myself and another guy from another team and we went about a mile too far north - we missed a left turn somewhere along the way...  we called our teams and they got us back on track, but not before missing out on some time and cooking in the sun with no water....  it was a 8.9 mile section and we ended up running 10.5 instead....  after that point I started running with my phone and a picture of the map on my phone so I would know better where I was at.  Still, it was frustrating that the course was not better marked...

Anyway, we had a lot of laughs and met a lot of cool people that day - pretty soon people were excited to see us - cheering when they saw the Gluteal Fold pull up, and asked us to turn up the music when we got to the exchanges.  :D

Dave in his bowling shirt
We were holdin our own.   We were not at all in last place and still had good energy from it being the first day and just the excitement of it all.  

Laughter - lots of it.  Oh and snorting?  yep!  that too!  In addition to a great running workout it was also a great abs and face workout from all the laughing.  My word I have not laughed that much in so long.  And the things you learn from Urban Dictionary......... lol!  nuff said.... 

I can't tell you how much we laughed at the looks we received from people - mainly about the deer butt on the front of the ride.  I wish we had a camera recording all the reactions and could make a compilation of looks cause it was hilarious!  The best comment?  We were driving through town and the wife says "what is that"  husband says very nonchalantly "that's a deer butt" - like its something he sees everyday - lol!!!

from David: it was when Amy was running on day one in the afternoon and it must have been a van change area, because this guy was talking about a 4 person and a 3 person team...why would people even do it w/that few"?...from my golf swing I interject "they must be crazy" which he states "yeah, they're all wearing their ultra shirts and eating their gels"...of course I have to add, "well when it's this hot you'd want to run in some quality wicking gear."...then he adds, "when do they sleep"?...again unable to pass it up I say "well I hear that ultra teams will have driver"...naturally he replies "they'd have to, because how else will they sleep"? All the while he's wearing his performance Chicago Marathon shirt. 

Joe Go Mojo Juz
One of these legs I ended up running some with trekking poles for about a mile.  It wasn't bad.  It did take some of the weight off my legs but it was kinda hard to use them on the shoulder of a road - part in the gravel and part on the road.  I would also slowly go insane counting one two three, one two three....  lol!  I had a group of guys at a gas station look at me like I was crazy as I was running by - chick in a kilt with the number "420" pinned to it, running with trekking poles.  Told them I was running to Traverse City just to add to their confusion - ha!

Now at this point it is getting to be late afternoon.  Its hot and humid for Michigan this time of year.  We have not been dry since the start of the race.  Joe keeps changing shirts after every leg and wrings out the "Joe Go Mojo Juz" out of his shirt - AKA sweat - ha!!  I had "Dragon Lady Juz"...  All of our kilts were so wet from the sweat but hey, this team sticks together and takes one for the team.  Awesome "wicking wear" I think not...  The Trailblazer is getting a certain funk to it with all the wet runner gear hanging from various parts of the vehicle.  More of the air freshener trees are being opened and hung up but to no avail.  We did not use air conditioning just because keeping the air moving was a better option than cold stank air.  

ahh, much better! White Lake
Another awesome Dave addition - Girlfriend/wife to boyfriend/husband after I told them we were a team of three  "how can they run that many legs?" BF as Amy is coming in "well look at her"...GF "she has legs of steel"...BF "well that's how you run ultra's"...  ;)

oh - is this a good time to mention "the pillow?"  We had one pillow in the back that we all laid our weary heads on after each leg.  There was so much Juz / DNA  all over that pillow but by that point we didn't care... we had a soft and relatively dry place to lay our heads, oh and beach towels to go with it that were just as funky.  I used one to stretch out at most every exchange.  Couldn't sleep but it felt good to stretch out...

I managed to find a place to jump into a lake to rinse off and man it was re energizing!  Got some of the funk knocked off and ready for the next third... 

The sun was getting lower in the sky and we knew the work was going to start.  Had to keep the spirits up and keep goin.  This is the point where you go, ok, what was it I was thinking?!?  but you don't say anything and just suck it up and keep going.  Each of us was dealing with fatigue and different running related pains and issues.  Mine was blisters.  Meh, so it goes....  I was also kindly reminded by Dave to change out of my wet clothes to avoid any "issues"  AKA UTI's or certain infections from wearing wet clothes all day - um yeah! good call - lol!  Yes, I changed out of my wet clothes.... only to get another set wet again....

I had "the windmill" lap.  The sun had already set and I had several miles to cover on dirt roads with windmills around.  It was eerie to be out there at that time of night, watching the blades turn around and the night sounds and to be completely alone.  I am not a fan of running alone at night, but I did a lot of it during this race.  I did my best to keep up with some of the other runners but they had "fresh legs" and were running stronger than me at that point so I was on my own.  

Lake MI near Manistee
At about 2am a storm came up.  It started lightning and Joe was out there running.  The next few hours are brought to you by rain and sweat.  We were so soggy!  The kilts were soaked and weighed a ton.  Chafe?  Yeah, we were all getting chafed in various places and various degrees of severity.  

I ended up running through a waterfront town at about 5am in a monsoon.  Best part of it?  The sun was coming up!!  "cue the tune "here comes the sun"

I ended up jumping in lake MI between exchanges for another rinse off.  :D

This is where things get a little "fuzzy".  Joe Karen and I went on to the next exchange while Dave ran.  it was a longer leg for him so we drove on, parked and I set a timer for 30 min so we all could sleep.  It was about 10 am and the first sleep I had since yesterday morning.  We all crashed hard for those 30 min, woke up and moved the van closer to the exchange sign.  I got out and someone said "your guy is coming up the hill!"  I went from a dead sleep to OH NO I have to run NOW and I don't even have my shoes on!!  I went into an adrenaline rush getting things together, then within a minute someone said - oh wait, thats not him.  Wow...  What a relief but man was I jacked up!  

MONSOON Juz Dave n Joe
The temps had dropped about 20 degrees and the wind had picked up.  We were still wet from the rain and tired and fatigued and the shock of thinking Dave was coming up the hill.  I started shaking from the cold and put on my flannel shirt.  I went over to the grass and actually started with dry heaves - ugh!  not good Mav.... not good....  It was indeed a tough point for me....

I drank a protein drink and started my next run in my flannel shirt.  The van passed me about a mile in but by then I had warmed up and didn't need it anymore and gave it and my hat to them.  It was actually perfect cooler running weather and I felt really good.  I crushed this leg - even with the hills I ran it all and smoked the downhills. 

That was the re energizing that I needed to move forward.  A good strong lap.  We were all tired but in good spirits and playing good music and laughing to keep it real. 

The next leg tho I was in for a surprise.  I started out feeling good and was running the first 3 miles at a decent pace.  Then came a hill.  One that didn't end.  It was 1.25 miles long and I was mad.  I ended up double flipping off the hill when the trailblazer went by - I thought of Meredith when she ran Badwater and was flipping off the sun - ha!  A lot of good it did, but it made me feel better.  Got to the top and finally was able to run again.  

Somewhere in here is another "random conversations overheard from other people" - There was one guy who was waiting at the exchange and this is what he said:  "I only got 3 hours of sleep last night" hmmmmm.....  Dave starts singing "Don't go cryin, to your mama" lol!  sorry buddy, but what I woulda given to have 3 hours of sleep that night!!

I had 3 legs to go -  I got out of the trailblazer and was shaking again like I was when the front went through that morning, but now it was hot and humid again.  I knew it was not a good thing at all.  I was tired, fatigued and couldn't regulate my temperature.  That had never happened to me before...  I didn't freak out, I knew what I needed to do to correct it, kept calm and did it.  My goal went from trying to keep up with the other 12 person teams to finish and stay out of the medical tent.  I drank a LOT of chocolate milk, water, s-caps, advil and got in the sun to warm up. 

The last 50K+ or so we had a good system down.  We checked on each other often during the legs and refilled water bottles, and poured water on the runners head and back if needed.  It was hot, the sun was back out and we had to be careful not to get dehydrated.  

Yes, we were running the same race, but yet, it was different game.  Running with a 12 person team and a 3 person team are 2 completely different strategies.   If I was on the 12 person team I would run my heart out and be fast, but since I am on a 3 person team, I need to be in a different mode, to cover those 75 miles, endure...  and make it to the end in one piece more or less. 

Finally we made it to the last exchange - we sent Dave off on that final leg and we went off into Traverse City to find the finish!  Of course we got lost, even looking at the map, but managed to find it.  That got Joe and I worried that Dave might miss the turn as well.  So we went up the street to see if we could catch him at the turn.  Soon we realized that far too much time had gone by for the short leg that he had to run.  He should have finished by now.  Also, the one team that we passed a couple exchanges ago - was finishing - we had made a lot of time on them over the last few miles and knew he missed the turn....

Several search crews went out looking for him, but in the end Karen found him several miles down past the finish and the final (missed) turn and brought him in :)

The 3 of us finished up that race together - with all the wrong turns we covered closer to 215 miles - in 36 hours!  wow.  Joe and I covered about 75 miles each and Dave about 100K.  He got first pick and chose the least amount of miles - smart man!!  I had the hills - go figure :/

There's a great saying from ultra legend Jenn Shelton that Dave has used several times "it's not acquired skill or comfort, but idiocy that makes life's best moments"!...she goes on to say that "even idiots know when to accept help from others"!!   This was definitely one of my life's best moments!

Team Gluteal Fold at the finish
National Lampoons Mitten Vacation team was there at the finish cheering us in.  That was really cool to have them there.  We got to know several of their runners over the past day and a half and they were a fun team.  They also had beer at the finish and offered us some.  New friends with beer.  What's much better than that?  :)

We hung around and chatted with them in a happy, sleep deprived, accomplished zone.  Later the 4 of us took a literal polar plunge into Lake MI there at the bay.  I SWEAR there was still ice in that lake!!!  It was actually probably good on the sore muscles to have that ice bath afterwards.  

We found our hotel - and this one was a really nice one!  Yeah, it was a Motel 6 but it cost less than the one in Holland but it was a much nicer room - bigger, hardwood floors, a big fancy shower - and no people wearing pink bathrobes greeting us at the door - ha!

We got cleaned up and went to dinner - of course we get there at 9:50 and they close at 10.  The wait staff was not amused.  After they heard our story, they were better with us showing up so late - and funny if the bartender didn't bring up that Electric Forest event again?!?

Grabbed some DQ for dessert then crashed.  

Now where was that........ 
The next morning we tackled the stench that was the trailblazer.  wow.  we did some damage to that ride!  We sorted out everyones stuff and tossed a bunch of junk.  That ride will never be the same!

We went and got a huge breakfast and started the drive back to Grand Rapids to drop off both Dave and Joe.  We laughed a lot, took down a lot of notes about the weekend, talked about what songs missed our weekend play list that should have been on it, but mainly enjoyed the company of friends that just got to know over the course of a few busy days. 

We pulled into the airport and there was this old guy directing traffic with those plastic eyeglasses and fake nose thing on - Joe said "oh, and you think you're funny?" hmmm  maybe you had to be there - ha!  Maybe it was the lack of sleep or the high of the weekend, but man it was all good.  

Got back to my sisters house and chilled for a little bit - well, right up until I saw there were huge storms on the way and I realized that I was not going to get any sleep and head home, that I needed to pack up my stuff and get going sooner rather than later....  sleep?  what is that?!?  I left for home at about 6 that night.  Took a few sleep breaks at rest areas along the way and made it home to North Carolina the next morning.   The days leading up to the race and for a few days after, I did not get much sleep at all.  I think it turned out to be 3 nights sleep within 7 days?  The other nights were catching a few naps here and there either in my Jeep or in the Trailblazer during the race.  Seriously sleep deprived, that's for sure!

Not sleepin, just stretching out with my old flannel on
Someone asked me at one point later on in the race if I would do this again.  I said don't ask me that now, wait a few days.  It was hard.  There is no doubt about that.  It was also an incredible experience that I wouldn't trade for anything.  I can't wait to run with these guys again - hopefully sometime soon. 

The race was great.  It went through some beautiful country.  The weather was hot and humid and this coming from a Carolina girl.  Cant predict weather and you have to work around that...  We got really good at taking the maps with us once we missed a couple turns.  We were not the only teams to get lost.  The course was not clearly marked in many places.  That is one thing that we talked to the race directors about at the end when Dave was lost.  It was frustrating, that even with the map, that he missed a turn.  The maps were not all that clear.  What is done is done, but I hope for next year they come up with a better system to mark the turns. 

We were sweaty from the time we started til that final shower in Traverse City.  I ended up getting blisters which I haven't had issues with for a long time.  I am guessing its cause of the heat and sweat and just the hours of "time on feet"

What did we eat?  Sandwiches!  I only had one gu and that was cause I was in a pinch and missed drinking a protein drink before the run.  I had some leftover Chicken Parmesan - with my fingers - cold from the cooler - cause we didn't have a microwave or utensils.  lol!  It worked tho.  Of course we had the usual cookies, crackers, twizzlers, etc.  I had some Gatorade, generation UCAN,  coconut water n such.  If I were to do this again I would have more protein drinks with me and find more solid food that I could stomach well.  I didn't eat as much as I should for the length of this race. 

"Old Reliable" - and we are not just talkin about the Trailblazer - lol!  Yep, 'Cougar' Karen was our old reliable - filling our bottles, making sandwiches, and recording every lap time.  Loved that she was part of the experience!  We couldn't have done it without her!

I have not been on my feet for that long for a race.  In some ways it is "easier" and some ways it is "harder" than running 24 hour or 100 mile event.  Yes you get breaks, but your legs get cramped up and its hard to get moving again.  Its more fun cause you are with people who keep ya laughing.  

Ultra Team Champs!
From the think tank of Dave - "funny thing, and this was evident even among other runners, is that 99% of what we do is only understood by maybe 1% of the me it's what "ultra" means...a kind of fringe existence where we playfully move the needle around the exhaustion meter, while finding comfort in discomfort, and making friends w/the's the meditative state that we find when our mind goes quiet and our body takes over...for us these events are our reward and the real challenge is the return to doing "normal" stuff...see philosophers were just early adrenaline junkies!!"

Would I do it again - yes I sure would!  Looking forward to the next ultra team relay!  


And here are the post scripts.  Random musings from the relay road that didn't quite fit into the official report but couldn't be left out:

Its like Rudolph, only, different - ha!
Juz - Kinda like 'Juice' but different - it described anything wet during the race.  eew!

"Distance Runners Do It Longer"

Joe's Stop Sign Conversation!!  - from Joe himself:   Amy was running into the darkness and it was indeed getting dark...the exchange was in the parking lot of a church...I had just decided it was time for a little "Don't Be a Hero" - Hero I had my Spider-man shirt on and started preparing for my next run...I was on the ground stretching when a car pulled in and was flying...Dave was in my general direction and I stated that I thought that car was traveling pretty fast through a parking lot...I thought that maybe I wouldn't get hit (being it was dark) if I were stretching next to a stop sign...turns out it was a road not the parking lot the car head turned onto...and my outloud internal banter went on to talking about the importance of a stop sign and if they were confused as to the meaning of the sign all they need to do is read it...but in Amy's case...if they read it backwards...the meaning changes...POTS and Amy's bib number is 420...what does it all mean? I finally removed my carcASS from the ground to make my way over to the exchange...there a lady said "Now just don't trip me when you pass me" all of my infinite deliriousness murmured..."I can't trip you I am Spider-Man and am hear to serve and protect..." one guy heard me about died so the lady asked me what I had said...feeling to shame...or maybe anything...I let her know...Amy approached and I was on my way...possibly 2 miles (who really knows anymore) I was approaching a runner and a I called out..."Mom is that you?" the response was "Is that my fourth son Joe?" I don't know what her third son who was biking thought of it all...but we had a good chat and kept pressing on...cannot remember context but I told her that I would play Lynyard Skynard -Call me the breeze when she came into the exchange...I broke that promise...not intentionally

Mr. Sunshine at the gas station! 

"you need to leave my property now. Get your keys and go!"

Epic deuces in the woods that allowed all of us to run another 50 miles 

The lady at the gas station wondering about Cougar and Dragon, (our names on our shirts) She didn't even want to know!  She just said go have fun - lol!

The dog that ran with the National Lampoons Mitten crew for like 5 miles.  Then the cops/animal control showing up after both the van and the dog left...

Parking Lot Pilates and Hot Yoga
Amy drinking some of someone's Oberon in the bowling alley parking lot between exchanges.  *cheers* and *thank you*   

Dave telling Amy something then saying "oh yeah, I better tell your sister cause you suffer from 'cant remember s#!%' " LOL! yes, he wasn't with me too long but figured out real fast that I have a horrible short term memory - especially when sleep deprived!

...the elderly couple that saw Karen and Amy and Joe in his towel next to the "Epic 3-way (relay)" sign... That couple was awesome! How could we forget her "what the hell is that" look vs his "go get 'em boy" look!!

Joe's epic kilt "flash" at the bowling alley everyone was scared of, ha!! 

Kilt flashing!!
Joes story about that - Joe's Flash: The sun was beginning to set on the first night when I had my opportunity to run through a small town...I ran with a runner from another team for the first nearly 2 miles...we were in some tree covered trails and the breeze was wonderful...when I was feeling confident I took off...the trees were gone and so was the breeze...I ran through the small town...the entire town and headed towards my this point I had such bad chafing around my waist I had been placing the GPS in the pocket of my kilt (which is of an ideal location) as I was getting closer to Dave...I began to pull the kilt to gain access to my pocket and GPS...and a wave of WHOA!! crept over the the moment I didn't think about was there first time so close to a kilt....accessing the pocket does not reveal anymore skin than not accessing
the countless people tailgating for potential "anal encounters..." and watching people take pictures of the rear end of our vehicle while in motion!

Joe - How do you think that iHome would have worked for our music component?? Haha! Amy - um - not so much - goodwill sound system was much better!! Epic win!!

"Having a dirty mind makes ordinary conversations much more interesting"

Rain Run #1 from Joe: I had a long run and it was my witching hours run...the temperature was finally down enough to feel a bit better out on the road...I caught up to my brother and mom...they changed roles of biker/runner...we chatted and I kept pushing began to ran but not terrible and it didn't last felt kind of good...I met my crew and only had maybe 1.5 mile left...I continued my path of running destruction...and it began raining again but a little harder (at this point nothing can really bother me) was slightly uphill and I was approaching a turn to my finish...a van ahead of me was approaching the intersection as I was and so I decided to walk (for safety reasons...who knows how visible I really am and its 2:00am ish....and what if its not a 3rd Coast Team)...the van hits the breaks open the door while still moving screaming at me...Come on man! You can do it and stuff like that...I was deer struck confused...this was no relay van and I wasn't really hurting just was planning on walking until the van past and it was raining good...well I started running again...and they cheered...and i was wet and confused...

Rain run #2 from Joe - The morning had finally arrived...I was happy to run my little just over 3 miler...but was tired of all the wet sweaty clothes etc...I was beginning to battle with whether or not to put that freaking kilt on was heavy of sweat and rain...and I was complaining...but I did and took off...the temperature was descent and it said it was nothing but a downhill run...well that was not entirely about a solid 3/4 mile incline and one long downhill followed by vanishing point straight flat...and you couldn't see the was in another small town and as I approached...the skies turned angry...(never upset the race gods)...I could finally see the van...until the downpour flash flooding...the sides of the roads were a stream...and no one wanted to sign me into that exchange...
How I thought I would have enough time to make a video of us running to a song on video star - HA!  aint nobody got time for that on a 3 person team!  Did manage to shoot a tiny video in the bowling alley parking lot.  Not at all like I was hoping it would be but least its something!  VIDEO

Joe and Dave made fun of me for getting rained on, so I used my essence of wetness to unleash a deluge in their transition...

Lost Lyrics - from moves like Jagger - supposed to be 'kiss me til your drunk and ill show you...' well what we heard was "kiss me on my junk and ill show you" - LOL! bet you will never listen to that one the same way again - HA!

or THIS!  HA!!  From Joe - I had one 6.1 mile run in great running was Sunday morning...and I was flying through all that was flat and downhill...I was running through a town that had some construction around a turn...they had the little speed detector device that displayed your current speed...I was feeling a little saucy and crossed the street and took off at it...when I passed it was I disappointed to realize the display was only on one I rounded the bend I noticed...2nd CHANCE!!! but also that there was a SUV behind me...I couldn't let that SUV take this moment from me and took see my all out sprint 27 mph followed by the SUV 34 mph

...or the music component: how we won't listen to certain songs the same..."that was a cold one"...etc...or the 4 person team that couldn't finish because a runner dropped (yet another testament to will vs reality)...

The trailblazer
3 Way Relay

Gluteal Fold
and yes, this goes with deer butt on the front of the ride

Runners tank sunburn anyone? Cheers!