Friday, October 12, 2012

Adventure, Bears and Lost Oh My!

Adventures, Bears and Lost Oh My! 

After spending 6 very fast paced days in Colorado I was back on a plane to return home. I was only home for 10 days to get some last minute things tied up at work and to repack for a much longer visit. Before I knew it Brian, Casey (our OCD rescue dog aka my running partner at home) and I were in the VW heading back out. We left on a Friday after work and were at Paul and Judy’s front door by Saturday evening.

Getting there is half the fun!

Things were very low key for us and I continued my training and altitude acclimation. I hadn’t even really thought about my upcoming 100 mile run! Before I knew it we were on our way and headed to Steamboat Springs! The day before we left I packed all of my drop bags with the gear I would need at the designated check points. I was sent an email the day before telling me that my race number could be found online. Cool that means I can have all of my drop bags labeled and ready! 
 Photo: SDC12036

The drive to Steamboat Springs was beautiful! We took the route thru Fort Collins. The guys made stop along the way at a VW store; they seemed to be enjoying it while Judy and I sat back at the vans eating the fresh pumpkin Whoopie pies! We continued our journey and drove thru the large burn area that occurred earlier in this summer. WOW!
 When we arrived in Steamboat Springs our first order of business was to get some lunch. It really sunk in when Paul raised his glass at lunch and said whatever it takes you will finish this! My stomach sank and I felt like I wanted to run away.  After lunch we needed to find the place where we pick up my race number and drop the gear off.  There were no signs telling us where to go! After making a phone call to a friend we finally found where we needed to be. 

Upon picking up the race number I was told my race number had been changed! Really? Then don’t send an email out with the numbers posted! Things were starting to add up in the wrong direction. I had my picture taken for search and rescue (With as accident prone as I am, this was probably a good idea!). I then proceeded towards the race director since there was no indication as to where we need to take the drop bags. As I asked I had to take a step back. Wow, he’s already drinking heavily! Another bad sign when the RD is wasted before we even start. Already I was not impressed with this event. But, I did get a sweet pair of socks! We hung around for the pre-race meeting since it was a first and we had no indication on what to expect we thought it would be a good idea! It was a total waste of time! I think about 5 minutes was spent on course markings and then it really didn’t help.
We ordered a pizza for dinner and headed to the State Park for a night of quiet sleep. The really nice thing about this race was we didn’t start until 8 a.m. so we didn’t have to get up at the crack of dawn.

And we’re off!
We arrived at the start and hung out in a warm building. Minutes before we began the RD made an announcement that they had an issue with some of the drop bags. The bears had gotten into some of them and the aid station food. What the heck? Really? And I turned to Judy and said well it would be my luck that I’m included in this. Judy and Paul gave me a good luck hug and Brian gave me a hug with a kiss. Off I went, the adventure has begun! We started off with a 2 mile power hike UP a double black diamond ski hill! It was so long you couldn’t see the top! This is actually a good thing for me and keeps me in check. It was work and I just chugged up the hill. Once we made what looked like the top we had a bit of flat but then we were back to climbing UP again!! I made it to the top as the morning sun was peeking over the mountain! It was beautiful and the air was crisp. Once I hit the top we went along a service road. It wasn’t long before we came to a fork in the road. I stood there for a minute looking and wondering which way do I go? Everyone else went right and yes I followed. BUT, I saw a yellow confirmation ribbon as soon as we turned. Okay we are on the right path!! Yay! After running for a couple of miles I wasn’t seeing ribbons. I asked someone are we going the right way? His reply, I think so. We came out to a ski lift area and I was with 30-40 of my best friends I didn’t even know. A lot of people turned left to go up the mountain. But after a few minutes everyone stopped and we started talking. We are lost! We have no idea where we are! Someone in our group had a cell phone  and another guy had a cobbled map. The guy with the cell ended up calling the race director directly telling him we have no idea where we are! After over an hour of talking, wandering and just staying as a group together we finally made it to the aid station! The wrong way but we made it there and added a few miles to our little journey. You don’t even want to know the words I was saying out loud. Many of them were four letters! Once back on track I settled in and started getting into a groove. 

The journey to the Long Lake AS

Approaching Long Lake aid station went fairly smoothly. Until that is about a mile from the checkpoint. I caught up with 4 other runners at a turn. They were standing there trying to figure out which way to go. Straight or do we turn left??   I looked at the sign and it said long lake go straight. My best guess was you go straight since our aid station said long lake. They went with me! Luckily I was right!!! So as we moved along to the aid station we began talking. It was so nice to have people to chat with! We were introducing ourselves to each other and where we were from. When I told them who I was the other girl in our group went nuts! She said Oh my god! Seriously! I thought you were miles ahead of me! Holly and I have the same coach, Paul. We were supposed to meet up last year but, we didn’t get to. We chatted like to young teenage girls, exchanging stories and training. It was wonderful and the miles passed quickly! We got in and out of Long Lake together and decided to stay together.

Long Lake to the High School

Holly and I left together out of the aid station. The 2 other guys hung with us as well. We talked about our jobs, family, traveling and getting lost that morning. You really cherish conversation with others when you are on the trail for 6 -8 hours at a time without seeing crew or family. This section by far was the prettiest section of the race! Fish Creek Falls was spectacular! Luckily a guy in our group told us to turn around and take a look behind us! Thank goodness we did! We saw the most incredible waterfall in the background! We also had areas that we were on rock with a rock wall on one side and a sheer exposed dropoff right next to us! Very cool! And all I could think of was Judy not liking this area! Holly and I decided we would come into the High School together side by side. My crew was tracking me online and noticed that Holly and I were checking in at the same time. Paul hoped we had connected and were running together. Yes! We are! It was all downhill to the school so we were running a lot. We had cars telling us how great we looked! I laughed a lot and Holly was a great running partner! As we came into the high school It was more like a pit stop at Nascar! They got me in and out so quick!


High School to Olympian and on my way to Cow Creek

 Leaving the High School to head to Olympian was not marked well! Luckily Paul scoped this out before we got there and knew where to go. We could have a pacer for the 1 mile section thru town. Paul ran Holly and I to the next check point. Quickly I went thru Olympian checking in and out but, I had to take a deep breath, another big ski hill climb! It was 82* in town, a bit warm for me.  Holly and I started the climb together but, I ended up out climbing her and we were separated. So I was by myself and basically alone. I knew my crew would be at the next checkpoint. This section had a lot of climbing up, up, up! When I got to where the major climbing ended I had to go right to start a loop. My crew would be waiting halfway around that loop for me. Just before starting the loop, Clark (another friend) was leading the race! We stopped for a second to talk. Clark gave me positive words, we fist bumped and pressed on!  Getting to Cow Creek was a wonderful sight and so was my crew. 

 Photo: Me and my new friend Dusty Rojewski...this flatlander kicked my butt up this hill!

Cow Creek back to the Olympian

As I came in my crew had me sit for a minute. I fixed my shoes since they were too tight and hurting the tops of my feet. My heel was also starting to hurt but I wasn’t complaining about that. I got some food and drinks but then the EMT happened to see me. I didn’t know there was an EMT at this checkpoint. He asked me some questions and I tried answering as best as I could. He made me sit out for 20 minutes eating and drinking since I had stopped sweating. I was not happy, but Judy assured me that this could save my race. As soon as I thought I was good I headed back out since it was getting close to dark. Paul and I estimated I would be at the Olympian Center around 10 p.m. I also promised them that I would come in with an empty backpack, eat all the food they sent me with AND take salt every half hour! This is a huge challenge for me. There are some things I didn’t realize I would encounter while out on this section. Suddenly, I saw something up ahead round and black! Oh Crap! A bear and I’m by myself! A lot goes thru your head when you’re tired. I kept an eye on this animal but, as I got closer the bear turned out to be a big black COW! Whew! I didn’t like this section of woods and thoughts of cats, bears and whatever was out there! I am constantly looking down on the trail and someone took the time to make the cow pies into smiley faces! Funny! Further down the trail, I turned a corner and came face to face with another big cow! My reaction, Hello! I walked around it and really picked up the pace! Just before getting off that trail and back to the dirt road someone in the dark yells to me what is your number? My number, what and where are you? He turns his light on and I say umm…. 279. The road section is a long downhill. I start running and letting gravity do its thing, just cruising along weeeeee! As I cruise along I am passing people, this feels good! As I run along on the road something or some animal is crossing in front of me. It’s smaller but what the heck is it??? As I go by I get a good look at it. Oh wow! It’s a huge porcupine! That’s cool! I continue on running and pass another runner. This runner asks me if I saw the two bears cross the road in front of him. Ummm…. I tell him dude those weren’t bears. He says they weren’t? No, they were porcupines. Oh! Is the reaction I get.  I motored on and had a mission on my mind. As I get close to the steep ski hill descent I have to stand there and decide which way to go. I figure it out and as I get closer loud music is playing and I hear the announcer calling off drink specials. The ball fields are all lit up and I can see there is a game going on. Starting the descent I have to pick my footing carefully or I will end up taking a nice tumble to the bottom. The loud music is taking my mind off of what I have to do and I’m actually enjoying myself! I’m kinda dancing and getting myself down the hill. I want to yell to Paul since I know he’s waiting down there “I’m coming!” But, I know he can’t hear me. And I don’t have my cool green light with me. So, they don’t know I’m almost there. When I get into the lit area they have a look of shock on their faces while I’m smiling and glad to be checking in. Paul says “Way to go, nice job and we weren’t expecting you for another half hour!” Yeah, I was a little scared by myself! This checkpoint you have to run thru a building. I check in and Brian has a yummo McDonalds cheeseburger waiting for me! I take it as he takes my backpack from me. I have 1 mile to the next checkpoint and Brian tells me he will have my gear ready for me at the High school. Okay great! Paul is with me and we check out, getting back on the course. I’m chatty, I haven’t had company in a long time. I also ask what is going on with the ball field and he tells me it’s a kickball championship. That’s weird I haven’t played kickball since I was in elementary school! I eat my cheeseburger while we walk quickly along.  Luckily again Paul is with me, I have no clue where to go and the course is not marked too clearly thru here. Brian drove ahead of us to let Judy know I was on my way and to get my gear ready for me. As I came into the High school things are crazy! The football game is just getting over and there are people everywhere! I check in and out with Judy in tow. Ahhh…. Finally a buddy for the rest of this journey!

High school to Long Lake

This is where things start to get fuzzy. As we left the high school we had to be careful to not get hit by a car. All I remember is following Judy thru the crowds of people. I was looking forward to getting out of the madness! The night time running was much more difficult since you really couldn’t see the markers. Judy and I did miss a turn and ended up having to back track a little. We were headed back to Fish Creek Falls and I kept saying I wish you could see this! It’s so beautiful! Once we got to the trail all you could hear in the darkness was waterfalls! Whenever we made a turn I remember Judy saying does this look familiar to you? I don’t know its dark out. But, I kept saying I think so. I really don’t know how we didn’t get off course! Judy also asked if I wanted to run and I kept saying no. It was all uphill and my stomach was not happy. Judy was awesome and we talked about a lot of things to pass the time. When we got to the rock trail with the rock wall on one side and the sheer exposer on the other side I noticed Judy hugging the wall. Once we were thru that section Judy asked me “Do I want to know what was over the edge?” I laughed and said no, you don’t want to know. Things really started going south for me and this is when you know your friend truly cares for you! Judy was reminding me to eat and drink a lot. She had suggested for me to take a latte flavored GU. I got it out and ate it BUT, my stomach really rebelled! I started throwing up. Thank goodness there was a tree right there! I hugged that tree for a good ten minutes. After my stomach had settled down I instantly got cold since we were up on a mountain and it was cold with a stiff breeze. Luckily before I left the high school Brian tied a pair of warm track pants around my waist. It was decided I needed to put them on. Now, this was fun. I had no coordination and remember sitting on a rock trying to get my pants on. I was facing the trail and my back was to a huge drop off. Luckily I didn’t fall backwards! Judy saw me struggling with the pants and took charge dressing me. I felt so helpless! I also kept saying we have a stream crossing up ahead. It’s not big and you shouldn’t get wet. Sorry Judy, I think I mentioned that stream crossing 100 times. Eventually we did cross it. But, all the while if it wasn’t waterfalls we heard it was babbling streams. It was so dark you could see the stars well. At one point I looked up and saw a bright light thinking it was the aid station wayyyyy up there! It wasn’t, it was just a star or planet. But, things were really messing with me. When we reached the aid station I told Judy look to your right and you’ll see the beautiful lake. Oh wait, it’s dark but, I said it’s really beautiful! She took my word for it. We came into the checkpoint and Judy took care of everything. I was so cold here I ended up grabbing a warm hat out of the homeless pile of stuff! Judy made a funny comment about how I looked but, I was warm! I still have that hat for a souvenir! We checked out and headed for the infamous bear invaded check point. I will say the workers at Long Lake were awesome and took good care of their runners! Off to the next check point!

During  the middle of the night and we were basically on a forest service road and thing s got really interesting after we left Long Lake. I thought it was all downhill but, it wasn’t.  I thought about my warm cozy bed a lot! I was so sleepy and at one point Judy gave me a Vivarin   to help wake me up. The stars are so incredible!!! You feel as if you can just touch them! There was a couple of time we shut our headlamps off just to admire the stars! I felt as if it took forever to get to the next check point and I really don’t remember much except walking, walking and walking in the dark. To our surprise we never had any large animal encounters! I was disappointed. At every checkpoint Judy was awesome she took care of everything. While I sat down I put my head in my hands and remember Judy calling my name. I’m awake just really tired. This check point was interesting to say the least! The workers were kind of clueless. They brought my drop bag to us but they said there was a slight problem with your bag. Oh really? The bears got into the bags here and of course mine was included! My gear was soaking wet! There was no way I could wear the stuff I had in there. I ate more ramen noodles while here. The broth tasted good and it stayed down. A guy passing us said 17 hours for 50 some miles??? I’ve never been that slow, this is the shits! Funny!
I had some hallucinations going on but I swear what I saw, I saw!!! And I can still see it in my head today! I saw lights off to the side thinking it was the upcoming aid station and then the lights would go out. I kept thinking right around this corner is the next check point but it wasn’t.  Then, I swear I saw a guy up ahead in the road leaned against something and he had a flashlight. He would turn it on and then off. I told Judy about this but she kept saying nothing is there! He’s right there don’t you see him with his flashlight? Why is her there? I never came up on him. But I guess the best one was near dawn when I saw the Garden of the Gods! Judy said what??? Don’t you see the Garden of the Gods? It looks just like it. It wasn’t there it was some aspen trees!!!
The night seemed to go on forever along with the forest road. I wish I could say I was feeling awesome but I wasn’t and I had a fear of not making the next cutoff.  This is when I had it in my head I wasn’t going to make and why continue suffering? I dropped at the next aid station, do I regret it today? Yes, but I don’t see how I would have made it regardless. I’m so thankful to have Brian support me doing these things. If it wasn’t for Brian, Paul and Judy I don’t know if I would have made it as far as I did they were the best crew I could have and did a great job! I would not recommend this race to anyone!! The course was supposed to be 101.9 miles but ended up being over 110 miles not including the miles we ran while lost!!! I know of a lot of disappointed people that ran this race. Even the experienced people that are good at running 100 milers struggled and were frustrated.  This by far was the toughest run I have ever done but, the altitude did not bother me.
I have to look at the positives of this event. I met some great people, made some new friends and repaired another friendship. I saw some beautiful sections of Steamboat Springs that will be in my memory forever! I even laughed a lot and had many smiles along the way! Paul and Judy are so caring and did all they could for me. Anything can happen at a 100 mile run and sometimes things are just out of your control.

The adventures keep coming


August and September were never ending adventures and memories!!! I have to start from the beginning of August since that’s when it all started. I’m just sitting down catching my breath and I can’t believe it’s over!
August 4th I received a phone call from my friend Judy after I had just finished up a hot run on the trails. She was asking how my run went and what was I doing in two weeks.  My reply was I have a 10 hour long trail run that Paul had already put on my schedule.  I knew she had her upcoming 100 in Leadville that weekend. She asked if I would be interested in going out to pace her. I was excited and said absolutely! Judy said think about it and let me know tomorrow. Two hours later Brian came home from work and I had a plane ticket bound for Denver! I called Paul and Judy to let them know my arrival and how excited I was to help Judy with her journey.
My training was kicked up a notch since I knew I would be pacing Judy at altitude and facing the demons that had kicked my butt the previous year.  But, I was also excited to see how the crewing side sees things since I never see this side of races. The days ticked by but it wasn’t long and I was on a plane headed for Denver. I knew that once my plane landed I would hit the ground running and I wouldn’t stop until I came home for a few days. Since I knew I would be traveling back out there at the end of the month I took all my gear that I would need for the second trip as well and left it all out there ahead of time.
Paul and Judy picked me up at the curb and I was there! I was stoked to see my friends again and be back in the mountains! We had so many things to talk about and the chatter was nonstop! Since I had worked that day and gotten to Denver later in the evening I was tired and went to bed soon after we arrived at their house. But, not to say I wasn’t up the next morning and getting an altitude adjustment with Paul! Up and dressed the next morning we headed out the door to climb up Mt. Chitaqua. This was a steep trail up, up, up! My heart was screaming for oxygen! Once we made it to the top I could see everything! Even Pikes Peak! Oh… I love the mountains and immediately felt at home and happy to be back! We hung out there for only a few minutes and then began the steep decent back down, running! Talk about waking up and feeling alive! We made it back to the house got cleaned up and packed the car to head to Leadville!
 When we left the house Paul said we are eating our way to Leadville! Cool, sounds like fun to me!!! The drive there we drove thru the Waldo Canyon burn area along Highway 24. Wow, is all I can say! One of my favorite trails will be closed for a very long time! Our first stop was the Donut Mill in Woodland Park. Now, this is a donut shop!! The donuts are HUGE here!! I will say yes, I ate my whole donut! As we continued on our next stop was in Buena Vista for lunch. I was still full from that donut! I had a cup of soup that was outstanding! We walked down to the river area where they have a kayak course but with the river low from it being so dry there wasn’t any action.  Next stop Leadville!!!  Paul and Judy rented a house to stay in close to the start/finish and town. Also they were sharing it with some others friends of ours John and his wife Wendy who was also running her first 100 miler.  Amazingly Judy was super calm and relaxed! Friday was spent getting up and going for a run around Turquoise Lake with Paul and Judy walking.  Leadville is at 11,000 ft so once again altitude training.  Starting out I was sucking wind and struggling. I let Paul do all the talking. When we turned around to go back my breathing leveled out and I was able to run all the way back to the car. I just started feeling better. The rest of the day was spent relaxing and getting Judy checked in for the next day. I got to know Wendy much better on this trip. Judy and Wendy both seemed relaxed that is until closer to evening. I could tell Judy was getting nervous so I offered to take over the cooking/kitchen duties. I really enjoyed it!


 We all headed off to bed early that night since we had to be up at 3 a.m. to get our runners to the start! Judy was nervous! I gave her one last hug at the start before she began her adventure.  As the start gun went off the runners took off into the darkness.  But, something was different. I wasn’t headed into the darkness with the runners. I was part of the crew. Okay so what’s next? What do we do now? I’m not used to this. Paul and I headed back to the car to head to the first checkpoint.  John followed us to Mayqueen to crew for his wife Wendy.  I couldn’t believe all the action that was going on! When we got to Mayqueen, oh my things were buzzing and the runners hadn’t even gotten there yet. It was also still really dark and cold! I grabbed what I thought were mittens but they happened to be my running toe socks! Crap, oh well they will work. As we waited I was shivering. It was cold! Paul and I dropped our stuff that we carried around for Judy and then wandered to where we could see the runners come in. This was cool! I was able to see the front runners come in! It wasn’t long and Judy was coming in just as it was getting daylight. I grabbed her backpack and water bottle. While she checked in Paul filled her backpack and water bottle while I walked with her to where Paul was after she checked in. She handed us her headlamp and took a layer off. She was off and headed to Fish Hatchery while we got back in the car to head to the next check point.  As we waited at the Fish Hatchery, I saw so many things! I also saw people I knew come in and head back out. This was so crowded! Once again we got Judy in and out and back on the trail.
The next stop was on the side of the road. After this stop it would be a long time before we saw Judy come in at Twin Lakes. Talk about crazy! We waited for quite a while, taking naps, reading books and people watching. While taking a nap at one point someone asked us to back the car up a bit so they could park in front of us. I had to wake Paul up since he was on the driver seat. When we thought it was getting closer to the time Judy would be coming in we walked over to the check point and waited some more. I chatted with a few people I knew while waiting. Paul was a nervous wreck and was pacing back and forth waiting for Judy. The realization started to hit me that I would be pacing soon and I would have to face Hope Pass once again! But, things changed when Judy came in. She was having severe back pain. We got her sitting in a chair. We tried stretching her back out. As she checked out we walked with her and not knowing what was going to happen. As she left I followed behind her down the trail. My thoughts were I have the wrong shoes and no water, I felt Judy really needed a spotter. As we got out of sight I caught up with Judy who was bent over in pain.  As she stood there for a minute she decided that if she were to get up Hope Pass she might not be able to get back down since going downhill was very painful. She turned around and decided to call it a day. I carried her backpack for her to relieve some of the pain. As we came back Paul was waiting for us. We all walked back to the checkpoint to let them know she dropped. We headed for the car and talked with a few people along the way. A decision was trying to be made do I have Paul drop me off at Wynfield and I try to pick up another runner to pace or do I do something different tomorrow. Wynfield is craziness to get to and it takes over an hour to just get there. We decided to hold off til the next day. We headed back to town to get cleaned up and relax a bit.
We went to the finish line later that night to watch the first four runners come in. This was something I have never seen before and it was exciting. We chatted with people we knew while waiting and I have to say Scott Jaime’s puppy Livvy is so cute! I talked with Scott and his question was why aren’t you out there pacing someone else? Paul’s answer was “she’s doing the Leadville Marathon course tomorrow morning” for a long run. 
The next morning we were up before the sun came up so I could go for a run. I was all set Paul and Judy drove me to the start line and I set out power hiking the all uphill trek that I had. As I was doing this they were driving the car ahead of me while I followed them. They would drive up the road and stop to wait for me to get to them. When we reached a point on Mosquito Pass that the car couldn’t go any further Paul ran with me to the top of the pass. We turned around and ran back to the car. At this point I refueled and Paul got back in the car and drove to the next spot. The miles seem so much longer out there!!! The second half of the run we were supposed to run around Ball Mountain. Again, the car was parked and Paul ran with me for this stretch. We made a wrong turn and instead went up and over Ball Mountain! It was pretty cool! It was just tricky on figuring out how we were going to get down. Once we reached the car again Paul got in and drove away while I ran behind. This time the running was all downhill! I had my Ipod with me and was listening to my music while running. As I came into town I thought we were supposed to turn but we kept going straight. I ended up running back to the house and almost ran right by! Luckily Paul yelled at me to stop! I was tired but it was a good run.

 Photo: SDC12009
The next day we were leaving to head back to Paul and Judy’s house but decided to do Mt. Sherman before heading out. This would be my second 14’er that I have done and I was excited to do this! This climb was fun! Even though it was hard work and super windy the views were incredible! Luckily Paul yelled and pointed out the mountain goats in the saddle. It was a cool sight! The wind was so strong there were times I thought I was going to fly away! Reaching the top of the mountain was a feeling of accomplishment!! We took pictures and headed back down. Running of course! I worked on my downhill technique. As we got off a majority of the mountain Paul had ran ahead of us, while Judy and I stuck together. With about a mile to go, we had a boulder field to hike thru. I was just telling Judy about how I was going home without doing major damage to myself. Just as I said that I got my foot hung up on a rock and went down! It felt as if it was slow motion!!! When I fell I hit my head on the rocks. My first reaction is that’s going to leave a mark! Judy freaked out asking if I was okay. I said yes but wow it really rung my bell! She had me sit for a minute. We laugh about it now referring this from a scene out of Tommy Boy. She was trying to get me to put pressure on the spot that was swelling. I’m lucky I didn’t hit my temple! I just missed it! As I went to put pressure on it I kept missing the area saying here? And Judy saying NO up/over! We walked back to the car, as we got closer Judy was yelling at Paul to get some ice! Paul was whooping it up and saying Live Action! As we got closer Judy was saying Dusty hit her head get some ice! I kept saying I was okay. We got some ice out and hit the road to go back to Palmer Lake. It was a quiet ride and we were all tired! I had a nice shiner to take home with me. It felt like a whirl wind non-stop trip! That next day I was back on a plane and headed for home. But, only for 10 days and then I would be back to Colorado!

 Photo: SDC12016

Thursday, October 20, 2011



The day after Leadville at breakfast Brian, Judy and Paul were strongly encouraging me to find another 100 race. They all have been very supportive of me. I started thinking what was out there before the season ended. I quickly came up with Oil Creek 100. The positives, I knew the course and it wasn’t far from home. My biggest concern was could Paul and Judy join us for pacing duties? Since they would be travelling to North Carolina at that time it worked out that they could be there for me.  I sent the race director an email with my dilemma since I noticed the race was full. He told me to go ahead and register. Okay step one done! I’m in and actually excited.


 Brian and I left Friday afternoon to get to PA.  The trip was uneventful except that Brian had a nice head cold and I drove most of the way there. Along the way we stopped at a travel plaza on the toll road for a bathroom break. We could smell the Cinnabons as we walked out and I mentioned how good they smelled. We threw caution to the wind and turned around to go back in the building and get one. Why not? I was running 100 miles the next day, I’ll burn it off. We did share one between the two of us and it was oh so good! We decided to go tent camping since the weather was supposed to be spectacular. We have a tent that goes in the back of my Avalanche, so we are up off the ground. We got there around 8 p.m. and went in to get my number and stuff. We set the tent up in the parking lot for the night. This would make for an easy morning since the start time was 5 a.m. We headed off to bed all comfy, oh wait Brian immediately started complaining his ass was touching the bed of the truck. It wasn't long and the mattress was totally deflated. Also, the temps dipped into the upper 30's low 40's! So it was cold and very wet from dew. We didn't sleep very well that night. I got up the next morning before the alarm went off and walked into the school where it was warmer, to get ready.  I came back to the truck to grab my drop boxes and take them where they needed to go.  Brian and I headed for inside the school where we would wait until it was time to start. As I was eating a bagel I discovered that my Garmin was missing! I dropped it by accident, someone found it and gave it to the race director. I found him and retrieved it! Whew! Soon we all were headed outside to start.


Brian was standing next to me and the next thing I know everyone is taking off. Oh, the race has started? I kiss Brian quickly and I'm off! I run relaxed and feeling good except for one thing, the guy near me must be terrified of bears he has freaking bear bells on and within a half mile is already driving me nuts! Ching, ching, ching, ching.... Grrr.... He and I are together for at least 2 miles. In the meantime while I'm running Brian went back to the truck to get some sleep, since it’s going to be a lonnnnnng day.  I hit the trail still feeling awesome and holding back. It's dark, really dark and I know it’s going to be for a while until daylight. I make my way on the single track with lots of others and passing is hard to do. This is a good thing for me since it holds me back even though I'm chomping at the bit to go faster. I try to relax! I'm motoring along quite well and tell myself all I have to do is keep my feet under me and life is good. I go by the first water only checkpoint there is a volunteer standing there.


 I cross the bridge and head up the short hill. Now I'm on level ground and cruising easily along. That is until a half mile after the bridge. I think I clipped a rock and went down. It's not unusual for me to fall. This fall did ring my bell a bit. I sat up and someone asked are you ok, I replied yep. I went to brush the dirt off my knee oops it wasn't dirt! I could see my entire knee cap and part of the joint. I said some not nice words and threw my water bottle. I was more mad than hurt. I didn’t cry, it wasn't supposed to be like this!  I knew at that point I was done! I got up and started walking back to the water only aid station since I knew there was a volunteer there. As I walked along many runners asked if I was ok my answer NO! I did see a few people I knew along the way and I told them to keep going! As I made it back to the water only point another guy missed the turn and landed under the bridge I had to go over. The volunteer was rushing to help him not knowing that I was coming back for help. This guy was shaken but not hurt badly. As I got on the bridge I announced it that I was going to pass out. I had 4 runners catch me as I went down. The weird thing was I could still hear what was going on around me. They got me over the bridge and sat me down to assess the situation. Some of the runners were trying to hand me first aid, but this gash was beyond first aid. Once I felt up to it and shooed all the runners away instructing them to go do their run, the volunteer walked me down the trail to the bike path. I felt fine to walk and even considered continuing.  He was telling me had driven his truck down to this area the last 2 years and this year this year he decided to take his bike. His thought was these are 100 milers they are careful and no tragedies have ever happened this early in the race. He got on his bike to get help and I started walking to the start finish.


It was dark, cold, wet and did I say dark? I was hearing funny things in the woods which was freaking me out and freezing to death! I must have walked a mile before the EMT's found me. They put me in the golf cart and drove what felt like 90 mph to get me to the school. Once I got in the school they looked at the knee, I got many of odd looks. They said the ambulance will be here shortly. I adamantly said NO I'm not taking an ambulance, I'm not dying.  One of the EMT’s instructed a girl to take my blood pressure she said I can't take it I've only done this in training! I was thinking, really? You won’t kill me. This is when I wanted Cara there she would have done it without hesitation. So someone else luckily stepped up to the plate. I also called Brian at this point using someone’s cell phone. He didn't recognize the number but, luckily he answered it. I told him to come up to the school I was inside, I had a little accident.  By the time he got there they had me all packaged up and they had officially pulled me from the race by pulling my tag off my number. I really wanted to get back out there. I signed the paperwork that I refused an ambulance and was released.


We walked back to the truck and still had to tear the tent down and throw all the crap that was in the front seat in the back. The tent was soaked from the morning dew but, we decided we would dry it out later. Once everything was packed up we were able to go to the hospital which was literally a couple of blocks away.  While we drove there Brian told me I needed to call Paul and Judy to let them know what happened. As I called using my phone Judy answered thinking Brian was calling in with a race report. So she answered the phone all happy and chipper not realizing I was on the other end. At first she was confused. Why aren’t you running, hang up the phone and get going. I explained I had a little accident and was on my way to the hospital. She had the same reaction I did and once again the not so nice words were flying. I explained what happened and they said they were still coming. My thoughts were good, because I needed them for support! We walked into the hospital at a good time. There was no one else there, so I got right in. They took me and kept Brian back to take care of the paperwork. The nurses were so nice and made my side trip no so bad. I was still shivering and cold. They gave me blankets to warm me up but I also think I was in a bit of shock as well. They got me somewhat cleaned up and I was headed to x-ray for some lovely pictures of my knee. When I came back Brian said oh no! What? You didn’t get a chance to do your hair! No I didn’t. The dr. came in and they had to basically flush my knee out. I had so much trail dirt in there. He was pulling out leaf stems and had to cut some of the tissue away since the dirt was ground in! I had Brian take a picture of the gash before anything was done so that we would have pictures to share. The hospital staff was shaking their heads at us since we were anxious to share it on Facebook. The flush was not fun and for a few of the stitches the numbing medicine wore off that was painful!!! 9 stitches later I was patched back up and released.  While we waited for Paul and Judy to get there we were able to get my drop boxes, get a campsite for the night and my pain medication. They arrived later in the day and we had a fun day despite me not finishing the 100 miler.  
The next few days after that were not fun! We drove home and basically spent it on the couch. My knee was swollen and I could barely walk. It was almost a week later before things started to look better. As each day goes by I’m feeling better and I’m actually already up and running again. My season is over for 2011 and I’m looking forward to 2012!! I’m hoping that I have paid my dues and my string of bad luck is over!  I’m not even thinking of another 100 miler at this point, I’m just trying to enjoy some down time and giving my body a break. With that said my next big race will be April 15th 2012 at Forget the PR in Ohio.