Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Gosh, is the race here yet?

Holy Crap, We Run A Lot
Saturday, June 2nd
The weekends are starting to run together.  My life can be summed up in a few simple words.  Work, sleep, eat, run, study, spend time with John and his kids (my favorite part)….then repeat!  This weekend was no different.  It feels like every trail run starts at the “butt crack of dawn” and my body is instantly tired at the thought of putting trail shoes on my feet at 6:00 a.m.  Of course, we start the runs early to avoid heat stroke, but sometimes I think a stroke would be worth the extra sleep.  Okay, I’m not serious but I am tired.  John and I knew we had a very early trail run scheduled with the Burning River 100 training group on Sunday.  We decided to sleep in a little and hit the trails at the “butt crack of whenever we felt like running” those dang bug invested trails. 
I am a creature of habit when it comes to breakfast.  I wake up and eat breakfast immediately.  I eat Mango Chobani yogurt, a bagel with peanut butter, a banana, and cup of coffee almost every day.  I have never been a person impressed by expensive gifts, but I am the person that notices random acts of thoughtfulness.  For example, I told John I’d like some bagels, Chili Cheese Fritos, and Coke Zero while I’m at his house.  I substitute the Coke for coffee while at John’s because he doesn’t have a coffee maker (I also don’t know how to make coffee, but know how to stick that Keurig pod in the slot like a Starbuck’s barista).  I go downstairs for my pre-run breakfast.  I open the door to get my Coke Zero and what do I see inside the fridge?  Yes, Mango Chibani yogurt is waiting for me in his fridge.  I did not ask for this yogurt, but he saw it in my fridge a week earlier and made a point to get me some.  I noticed that you noticed, John!  You got some huge bonus points for that one, my dear!  I pounded down some food like a linebacker.  John probably ate some cereal and a tiny grape.  I am amazed how much food I eat before and during a run compared to John.  He knows what works for him.  I know what works for me.  Apparently, eating a side of beef and a pound of potatoes is what works well for me. 

Exhibit A- "Make My Butt Tight Enough To Crush Walnuts"

We parked at Boston Store and ran one of my least favorite sections of the course.  The truth is I have a lot of sections I dislike (pretty much because I don’t like trails all that much).  However, I do really like the Towpath sections.  I’m pretty certain most hardcore trail runners just threw up reading that last sentence since the Towpath is pretty much a road.  Anyway, we ran the section I’m calling the “Make My Butt Tight Enough to Crush Walnuts” which starts at Boston Store, goes towards Blue Hen Falls, goes through a hilly and cruel section that makes a good Christian want to curse or question why God created hills, towards Snowville Road, and back.  We added some more miles on the Towpath because I needed a break from anything that involved trees, mud, pine cones, chipmunks, bugs, or water.  John and I started down the Towpath.  I ran ahead towards Lock 29, saw John along the way, ran towards Boston Store, and then back towards Lock 29 to meet up with John and finish our run.  I logged about 22-24 miles. 

We had a really nice time on our run.  We don’t talk a lot which works for both of us, but there was one topic of discussion that proved both interesting and funny “Things you can say on the trails that would also be funny/suggestive in the bedroom with a partner.”  O.K., now let that topic marinate for a little bit.  Trust me; you can come up with some hilarious phrases.  John and I crave Coke during and after our runs.  As a result, we rarely make it home without making a pit stop at a convenience store or local drive-thru.  Today’s stop was McDonald’s where I added a healthy six piece McNugget to our order and John got French fries. 
I like being with a person that enjoys going out on dates.  Typically, we relax on Friday evenings or do something with his precious children.  On Saturdays we often run, get cleaned up, and go out on a date.  John is not a fan of chain restaurants.  He does a wonderful job finding fun locations that support the local community, give me a chance to dress up a bit (and not look like a sweating trail hog), and we get to reward ourselves with fabulous food.  Did I mention John likes to order dessert at restaurants?  Did I mention I’m pretty certain this makes him perfect?  We enjoyed a lovely dinner at http://www.100thbgrestaurant.com/100thbg/.  After dinner, we laid out the supplies we’d need for the Burning River 100 group run the next morning and got some much deserved sleep (after watching a Boston Celtics game, I’m sure). 
Holy Crap, We Need More Sleep
Sunday, June 3rd

We woke up at half past an elephant’s butt.  I mean, a little after 4:00 p.m.  Of course, I ate breakfast.  We got ready and were out the door by 5:00 a.m. to meet the group.  It was exciting to see many familiar faces from last year’s training runs, and thrilling to meet some new people training for the race this year.  We met up with the group a little before 6:00 a.m. at Station Road Bridge.  We carpooled to the start of our run, Harper Ridge.  We trotted along and the run went by quickly thanks to some great conversation with Bob K., David S., Charlie B., Kimberly D., Mark P., Joan C., John H., Matthew M., Radames C., Jim C., Mike S., Michele F., Jared (Mr. Lyme Disease), George T., and several more (that weren’t appropriately tagged in the Facebook photo).  It is pretty common knowledge that runners are often comfortable discussing farts and poop.  I’ve found trail runners are even more comfortable graphically discussing poop and thoughtfully demonstrating farting while running.  For the record-I have never and do not ever plan to fart while running with a group or a friend!  I think we were running for about fifteen minutes and the topic of pooping was on our radar.  Now, this group was clipping.  Typically, you run slower on trails than you run on roads.  I mean, the terrain slows you down.  Nope, this group was bouncing along doing 9:00-9:30 minute miles through sections.  Now, that may not sound fast.  However, it is fast on a hilly course when you are praying to sweet baby Jesus you don’t fall flat on your face in a pile of horse crap covered with flies! 

We would stop along the way to get water and make sure we still had everyone in our group.  I ran with the group for most of this run, but got the opportunity to run one-on-one with John for a nice section too.  Well, I guess we weren’t running one-on-one because we had another person running with us.  This guy was super nice.  I believe he knows more about Lyme Disease than any other person I’ve ever met.  Did you know Lyme Disease is very prominent in Delaware?  Did you know Pennsylvania has a lot of Lyme Disease around the Presque Isle area?  Did you know deer get most of the “bad reputation” for Lyme Disease, but white mice actually carry the disease too?  Did you know New Jersey has a lot of Lyme Disease?  See, we learned a lot.  Basically, I learned I don’t want a tick to hitch a ride on any part of my anatomy.  I don’t want to get Lyme Disease.  I don’t want to visit New Jersey.  Seriously, we got to run with some great people.  Thanks Jared for a fun run!  Also, thank you for keeping me company on that Towpath section when everybody took off like a white mouse (without Lyme Disease) on a motorcycle.  The last section of the run was on the Towpath.  Jim C. is such a strong runner.  He had that group bouncing down at 9:00 minute miles.  I was pretty much shot from the run yesterday and I didn’t have enough food in my system to plug along any faster.  I fell back a bit and just went to my “happy runner place” which really means, “leave me the heck alone and let me focus” and please for the Love of God don’t talk to me until I make eye contact with you or don’t look like I need to punch a gorilla with a phonebook. 

I need to brag on John once again this week.  As mentioned before, he had major back surgery about seven months ago.  Inevitably this has impacted his speed.  In the past, he was on target to complete Burning River 100 around 24 hours.  Currently, there are numb portions of his lower back and legs he still cannot feel.  However, that dude laces up his shoes almost every day and pounds that pavement and/or trails relentlessly in an effort to train for Burning River.  I cannot imagine how difficult it must be to have your entire life change overnight.  One day you are perfectly healthy and running carefree.  You have a back surgery and BAM everything is changed - the next time you run your legs don’t feel the same, you can’t run as fast, and you cannot do one dang thing about it.  I am a control person.  I pride myself on being able to handle any situation through determination, hard work, grit, stubbornness, and shear meanness.  So when I’ve tried to imagine what I’d be like if my capacity to run was changed overnight, I’m not sure I’d be as determined and fearless as John has been.  I am so proud of him! Really, I don’t think I’d have the gonads to push like he pushes.  He has a lot to process on these runs just dealing with his body feeling differently.  It says a lot about a man when he won’t sit around feeling sorry for himself and complaining how life dealt him a bad hand.  John is forging ahead through his training.  He probably won’t have a 24 finish time (crap, who does…I sure won’t and I’ve never had a major surgery).  However, I have no doubt he will finish.  If shear desire, determination, hard work, and ambition can be put to the test…John will pass the test with flying colors.  The dude is more stubborn than me, which should put this into perspective.  I am more of the silent stubborn type.  I come off as carefree and fun.  I come off as the girl who just enjoys running and smiles all the time.  Trust me; there is a stubborn streak in me that runs deep.  I never give up.  I never give in.  My point-my stubborn streak looks like a stream compared to John’s stubborn ocean.  Again, I give him a lot of credit and I’m darn proud of what he is attempting.  Yes, most girlfriends would think he was nuts and discourage him from running.  Not me!  He needs this race and I get that loud and clear! 
On our way back to John’s house we stopped at some convenience store.  From the outside it looked like they would only sell lottery tickets and cigarettes.  Thank goodness they actually sold Coke, 100 Grand candy bars, and Cheddar and Sour Cream Ruffles (I was not in the mood for Chili Cheese Fritos and decided to branch out to another equally disgusting chip).  We quickly got cleaned up, picked up John’s kids, and headed to Akron for the Akron Children’s Hospital 5K race.  All four of us ran the race. John ran with his son, Andrew.  Andrew did an amazing job! I mean fantastic!  This was his first 5K race and he finished around 33 minutes.  I walked the race with Karina.  She was absolutely precious the entire race.  I have to admit John’s kids are two of the most even-tempered and loveable children on this planet.  Karina and I were dead last in the race. However, we had a lovely time playing 20 Questions while walking through Glendale Cemetery.  She also did some impressive cartwheels across the highway while the police car (sag wagon) was following right behind us.  She is a super trooper.  I was very proud of her.  The dog race was starting in the other direction as we were heading toward the finish so Karina and I dodged some dogs.  As we approached the finish John and Andrew came out to run across the line with us and all four of us were focused on crossing the line …HOWEVER, beautiful Karina’s ever keen eyes spied a man on the sidelines wearing a cowboy hat and she began yelling, “Hey cowboy!  Hey!  Hey cowboy!”  I looked at John and started cracking up.  We crossed the finish, got some food, relaxed a bit, and headed to Luigi’s for a nice celebratory dinner. 
Basically, this was the perfect weekend with wonderful people from start to finish!  I’m a lucky lady.  Happy trails….

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Hate Trail Running + Register for Burning River 100 (again) = Goal-Oriented Moron

I trained for the Burning River 100 last year and successfully completed the adventure within the 30 hour time limit.  I crossed the finish line and said, “I will never run this race again.  I am done.”  Shortly after uttering those words I puked pancakes all over my friends, passed out, and received a very expensive taxi ride ($565) to the local bar for vodka.  Wait, that is not correct.  I got a very expensive ambulance ride to the hospital where I received four bags of IV fluids, got to urinate in a bucket, and had electrodes attached to places only strippers expose for free.

The first three days after the race my legs looked like a pregnant elephant that was attacked by an angry peacock.  I was a hot mess of nastiness.  However, I started thinking about the fun moments during the race.  Approximately five days after the race I decided I needed to battle Burning River once again for several reasons.  First, I trained and completed the ENTIRE race with my friend last year.  I made a promise we would stay together no matter what during the race.  If he struggled…I stayed with him.  If I struggled…he stayed with me.  I have since learned people should never run a 100 miler with a friend.  We never argued….ever!  However, running a 100 mile race is an emotionally and physically daunting undertaking.  Trying to anticipate and accommodate the emotional and physical needs of another runner while working to keep yourself alive is darn near impossible.  Clearly, it is possible because we did it.  However, it was not pretty!   Second, I am a very independent woman.  Honestly, the majority of my independence and stubbornness stems from necessity.  However, the past two years has heightened my independence.  I survived a divorce from a man that liked me, but never loved me all that much.  I did not accept a dime in alimony, retirement funds, or savings accounts.  I kept my house, I pay my bills, I go to graduate school, I train for races, and I still manage to not be bitter.  Basically, I rely completely and totally on me, myself, and, I.  This past year I had a couple life transitions I didn’t expect.  I thought my life was going to be one way, but realized it was not.  There is no need to provide details because this is water under the bridge, but I felt like a kid dropped in the middle of a desert without any prayer of getting out alive.  I had to totally regroup and refocus.  I emerged victorious once again.  I am not good at many things, but I am dang good at surviving and then thriving.  I say all this to explain that I had a burning desire to conquer the Burning River 100 again this year.  I have some things to prove to myself emotionally and physically during this race.  My goal is to have a better finish than last year and not make a trip to the emergency room. 

Setting the Stage for the First Trail Run (of the season and as a couple)
Currently, I am dating a wonderful man who is also an ultra runner.  John has run the Burning River 100 twice and is running it again this year.  We live about an hour apart, but make a point to spend Wednesday evenings together.  Typically, we run and have dinner.  We also spend our weekends together.  Since we are both running Burning River it makes sense for us to train together.  We both prefer road running, but are goal-oriented and stubborn enough to grit through trail running.  We have run roads together numerous times and have a nice time.  Neither of us is overly chatty when we run.  Typically, I listen a lot to talkative people during a run and will add little comments or ask questions.  Well, I believe John is the same way.  Basically, we run side-by-side without talking much.  Honestly, I think it is pretty sweet and peaceful.  I do not feel pressured to fill the “space” with chatter and he doesn’t either (I’m guessing).  We are content just running and being together.  Don’t get me wrong, we’ve had some very interesting conversations on the roads.  John has a wicked sense of humor, which brings out my wicked sarcastic side.  Therefore, the majority of our conversations shall remain sacred because I know people from my dad’s church are going to read this blog and I don’t want them thinking I’ve purchased a one-way ticket on the crazy train to hell.  I haven’t people, simmer down! 
I don’t want to disclose portions of a story that aren’t mine to tell.  However, I do have to brag on John for a moment.  About 7 months ago he had major back surgery and now has an impressive titanium rod in his back.  After the major back surgery he had TWO (yes, two) vascular surgeries.  The poor guy had a blood clot in his leg the size of Mississippi.  Would most people be running after such major surgeries?  No!  Should John be running after such major surgeries?  I’m sure most doctors would say, “Heck no!”  Should John be running an ultra after such major surgeries?  I think most humans on this planet would say, “Heck no!”  However, you just need to meet John for ten minutes and you’d realize this is a determined, independent, and fearless man.  You simply need to step aside and watch him do his thing.  He may have been knocked down, but he has never been knocked out.  As a result, the stubborn mule has his own battle with Burning River. 
Yes, we have two fiercely independent and goal-oriented people running a race because they have things they need to prove to themselves.  We are not running the race together.  First, I like him too much and I think he’d kill me.  Second, I like him too much and I think I’d kill him.  We have agreed to train together (when possible) and recover together after the race.  Thank you in advance, Dad for agreeing to take care of two smelly and exhausted humans!
I do not run trails throughout the year (because I hate them and roads are everywhere).  I start running trails the end of May each year to prepare for the Buckeye 50K and Burning River 100.  Waiting until late May allows me to focus on my marathon schedule (Boston, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati or Cleveland).  My first trail run of the season was on May 23rd.  I ran ten nasty and hard miles.  I hated every moment.  Trails are hard, y’all.  I mean really hard!  Roads are a piece of cake compared to trails!  John’s first trail run since the 2012 Burning River 100 was going to be this weekend. 
Showtime: Act One-Saturday, May 26th

Goal:                    Run 10 Miles on Trails
Location:             Boston Store to Snowville Road (out and back)
Things We Learned During This Run
  • I hate trail running.
  • John hates trail running.
  • John hates heat.  Heat makes John cranky.
  • I like heat.
  • I need to eat while I run.  Not eating makes me weak and cranky.
  • John doesn’t need to eat as much when he runs.  I am still amazed how a 6 foot 3 inch man can fuel on energy gels and a 5 foot 2 inch woman could eat a house.    
  • I hate bugs.
  • We both hate hills.  We are both pretty verbal about our distain for hills.   
  • I trip a lot on roots. 
  • John can curse and run at the same time. 
  • I don’t give a rat’s anus about speed or minutes per mile on trails.  John is more precise about minutes per mile. 

  •   John can do math in his head very quickly (minutes per mile + terrain considerations + barometric pressure + hydration + time needed for gastrointestinal issues = approximate finish time).  I am pretty sure he can give you the statistics (split times and average pace per segment) for every Burning River runner over the past five years.  My point?  John is crazy smart. It is sort of like running with an Ultra Running Rain Man.  He knows every part of the course (past, present, and future).  He knows the miles for each section, the aid stations, when you can get crew access, when you can get pacers.  I know nothing about the course changes this year, but I’m sure glad he knows and is willing to share his knowledge.  I worried about every single course detail last year.  I guess I got burned out on planning everything.  I’m going to show up on race day and follow the plastic plates with arrows.
  • I always run behind John during our training runs.  I am sure many of you just gasped from shock.  I am known as the Alpha Runner among those that I’ve trained with over the years.  I like to lead and I’m comfortable being the leader.  I may run steps ahead, feet head, or miles ahead.  I must admit, I don’t mind giving up my Alpha Runner title.  John, thanks for taking the lead.  However, I do have a really nice butt and you may want me to run ahead every so often.  The “scenery” won’t disappoint, my friend!  I have provided the “Bradley Butt Beacon” service to many runners in my day.  I’ve led people to marathon PRs with this free public visual pleasure service. 
  • I am a really bad hydrator!  However, when it is 90 degrees I need more than one water bottle.   I must repeat to myself, “I will not get dehydrated.  I will not get dehydrated!” 
  • I love my new Fuji Racer trail shoes!  In general, I hate trail shoes.  I have been running trails for THREE years and this is the first time I have a pair of shoes I don’t hate.  Yes, that means I ran 100 miles in uncomfortable shoes last year.  Yes, we know I’m insane. 
  • We survived!  We tolerated a crappy dinner at Main Street Grill in Canton and relaxed the rest of the evening. 
Showtime: Act Two- Sunday, May 27th
Goal:                     21 miles
Location:              Burning River Section One
We were supposed to meet the Burning River 100 training group at 6:00 a.m.  I live about an hour away from the meeting location, which means we needed to leave at 5:00 a.m. (wake up around 4:00 a.m.).  Neither of us slept very well the night before.  We learned numerous glasses of tea at dinner keeps John awake.  I learned a Starbuck non-fat/no whip white chocolate mocha is like giving cocaine to a donkey and expecting it to relax.  I was wired that evening and couldn’t sleep a wink.  I did enjoy Froot Loops at 2:00 a.m. 
Needless to say, we decided to abandon our plan to run with the Burning River training group.  We decided to run together after some decent rest.  We were starting at Boston Store and going out for 10 miles and back 10 miles.  Well, we made it about 1.5 miles out and were D O N E….done!  John turned around and started back towards Boston Store taking the roads.  I don’t know the roads very well around there and I sure as heck wasn’t hitting those trails for another 1.5 miles back to the car.  Since I don’t know my butt from a hole in the wall, I started following John out of the trail and down the road towards Boston Store.  I believe John wanted some time alone.  I was so happy to be “released” from the trail prison and shot down the road like a rocket.  I really didn’t know where I was going, but John told me to keep going straight.  I figured I couldn’t screw that up too badly.  I didn’t!  I arrived at the car without needing a police escort.  We were both pretty silent after the run and I thought we were headed back home.  I had emotionally accepted we weren’t logging 20+ trail miles and was content to head home for the day.  John was not willing to “throw in the towel” and he drove us to the Towpath where we could run some more miles.  I actually commend John for having us log some more miles that day.  This gave us an opportunity to run side-by-side and ponder this crazy goal of running the Burning River 100.  As I’ve mentioned earlier we are pretty content running without talking much.  Today, I think we both used this time to reflect, ponder, and refocus.  He knew I’d never give up running this race…I have too much to prove to myself.  I knew he’d never give up running this race…he has too much to prove to himself.  However, you had two people running side-by-side sweating like two whores in church really determining the “how” and “why” are we doing this to ourselves for the next two months.  We did discover a few things:
  • John really likes the 24 hour endurance runs on paved surfaces.  Basically, you run as far as you can for 24 hours on a paved bike path.  You have the thrill of endurance running, but you eliminate all the crappy trail terrain stuff he hates.  The more he talked about this race the more I look forward to registering for the May 2013 event.  I think I could rock at this race!  John has done very well at these events and I know he’ll do very well when he runs in May 2013.  He is the race director for the fall North Coast 24 Hour Endurance Run http://www.northcoast24.org/ Since he really enjoys this event the mystic of trail running has faded for him a bit. 
  • Bugs are insanely attracted to me and the Towpath has a lot of bugs!
  • Bikers are not always friendly, but I feel it is my personal mission to make them say “hello” and be friendly.  I often lose this battle, but I fight a good fight. 
  • I may never run another 100 mile trail race after Burning River 100 this year.  Yes, I am registered for Oil Creek 100 in October.  I will reevaluate that goal after this race. 
  • John may never run another 100 mile trail race after Burning River 100 this year.
  • We both know “never” is a bad word to say.  We both know we’ll probably run more of those races and complain about trails during the training.  Time will tell. 
  • We both needed an attitude adjustment about trails.  If we don’t adjust our attitude it is going to be a very long and miserable two months.  Also, if we don’t adjust our attitudes we probably cannot run together.  Therefore, we decided to throw caution to the wind.  We are going to keep training, change our attitudes, modify our expectations, and enjoy (tolerate) this journey.
This is exactly what we did.  John continued his weekly training.  I did the majority of my mid-week runs on the trails.  I decided I was going to enjoy the trails….I did! 
Here’s to next week’s eventful update….

Monday, February 27, 2012

Team Bradley 2012 Crew Volunteers Needed

Family, Friends, Co-Workers:
You are well aware I like a challenge.  I am running the Burning River 100 again this year.  The event takes place on Saturday, July 28th – Sunday, July 29th.  I had the BEST crew and crowd support of any runner last year…thank you!  I’m securing volunteers again for this year!  Yes, I am Type A and plan ahead very early. 
I will chronicle my trail tales starting in April right after the Boston Marathon.  I promise a hardy helping of humor, humility, and honesty.  http://www.burningriver100.blogspot.com/
Crew Volunteers
If you are interested in receiving additional information about volunteering for my crew, please email at
hopebradley26.2@gmail.com or text me at 330-819-6846.  As a crew member you don’t run with me….you help me at the aid stations and ensure I stay alive.  I will have detailed information by early April to those interested. 
Finish Goal
I am registered as a USA Track and Field participant.  This means I will not have a pacer, cannot use a Garmin watch (stopwatch only), and cannot use music.  My goal is to finish the race in 24 hours or less.  I am permitted to change my mind mid-race and “drop” as a USATF runner and run as a regular participant.  I actually plan on deciding by July 1st if I’ll run as USTAF runner.  As a result, I’m also securing pacers.
Pacer Volunteers
If you are interested in being a pacer, please let me know.  I’d like at least 4 pacers.  I need people that are strong trail-runners and can easily cover 15-25 miles of trails.  I need at least one of the four pacers to be comfortable/experienced with running at night.  If you are not scared of your shadow, bats, and coyotes let me know if you would be willing to pace at night.
Personal Promise
I strive to be the friendliest and kindest runner on the course.  I do not take my pain or frustration out on my volunteers.  I simply require everyone to tell me I look fabulous at all times.  If I look like “death” I completely expect you to lie!  If you can’t lie….just keep your mouth shut! 
Save the Date Volunteer Thank You Party
Sunday, August 5th, 2012
Plan on relaxing, eating, and laughing!  The party is my way of saying “thank you” for sacrificing your time to help me reach my goal! 
Run for fun,

Monday, June 20, 2011

Survival of the Fittest Weekend Recap: Friday, June 17th and Saturday, June 18th

This weekend was a hot Crockpot full of crazy trail adventures.  I'm not exactly sure where to start.  I would like to preserve the dignity of Steve, but I’ll find it very hard because when you spend hours/days with a person not much is sacred.  I should probably recap Steve’s week for you before blazing ahead with my running rampages.  On Saturday, June 11th Steve got the flu.  This “crap-a-palooza” continued all week!  Imagine being sick for an entire week, but knowing you have to run 15 miles on Friday and 35 miles on Saturday.  Yep, it would suck. 

Steve is a well-educated mechanical engineer (although he works in business development because he could talk an Eskimo into buying ice).  Engineers are an interesting breed of people.  They are the most linear thinkers on this planet.  A linear thinker must process each thought by carefully following cycles or step-by-step progressions where a response/action to a step must be elicited before another step can be taken.  A linear thinker could never go from Step A to Step C (bypass Step B)…their heads would explode. 

I’ve always gotten along with engineers because they are darn handy to have around.  If you give an engineer a paperclip, Hubba Bubba Bubble Gum, empty hairspray bottle, old cell phone charger, and a deck of cards they’ll create a pair of shoes and a jet engine.  I say ALL this about engineers and Steve’s linear thinking so you’ll fully appreciate the efforts he made to prepare for Friday and Saturday’s trail run.  Steve realized the “earthquakes” were still happening in his “southern hemisphere” and completed STEP A by contacting an endurance nutritionist to talk about proper food intake/hydration during a 100 mile race.  STEP B was contacting his doctor to get medication to stop “crap-a-palooza”, but he was sadly informed the flu had to “run through him” and advised to consume clear liquids for 48 hours.  Of course, STEP B was not a satisfactory answer.  Steve proceeded to STEP C by explaining his goal of completing the Burning River 100 and his plan to run 50 miles during the weekend.  Always the engineer…he was seeking clear-cut answers.  The doctor’s response to Steve’s training goal was, “Um, that may be difficult!  Take Imodium AD.” 

Do you get a clear picture of the gastrointestinal challenges were fighting against here?  Well, we learned the hard way……the colon always wins! 

Friday, June 17th
Headlamps, Coyotes, and Tree Toilets

  • We got off to a rocky start because we were supposed to leave at 5:00-5:30 pm, but didn’t leave until after 6:30 pm.  It takes us about an hour to reach the trails and then another 30-40 minutes to drop off our supplies at aid stations. 
  • We got lost because anything that involves the Cuyahoga Valley National Park system is confusing as a bug in a ballerina costume.  I’m still perplexed why these darn parks can’t have addresses with clearly defined Garmin locations.  Come on, Ohio!  We finally managed to drop our supplies off at the various aid stations along our route. 
  • We are high-maintenance trail runners.  The entire trunk of my SUV is full of supplies (coolers, duffel bags, Ziplocs, Tupperware containers, food, towels, any type of ointment known to man…You name it and we’ve got it!)  Yes, we actually use all the crap we bring.
  • This was our first trail run trying Hammer Perpetuem for our primary source of fuel.  I hate it!  Won’t drink it again.  Drinking that stuff is like wearing white pants the day you start your menstrual cycle…mortifying and tragically disgusting. 
  • Steve had not eaten much at all on Friday.  What he did eat was ready to “roll” by the time we started running.  Of course, Mr. Linear Thinker thought about how much toilet paper he would need (8 sheets per poop) and carefully placed the TP in a Ziploc bag that he carried in his trail belt.
  • We both hate bug spray.  We act like absolute children spraying that stuff on our skin.  We dance around, complain, cough, and frown.  Really, you’d think we were applying acid.  We look like two squirrels being chased by toddlers.  I’m proud to announce we decided to have a “personal growth” moment and used Deep Woods bug spray.  We only complained a little bit….right, we complained a lot!  
  • I spilled an entire bag of Hammer Perpetuem in my car.  Apparently, I cannot open a Ziploc bag and place the contents in a water bottle to save my life.  It still looks like Scarface was selling cocaine out of my trunk.  

  • Poor Steve was doubled over with stomach cramps by mile three…as the miles progressed the pain got worse.  The second I hear him burp I know we are going to be walking for the next five minutes while his tummy settles.  If he burps and doubles over….add twenty more minutes of walking and a Tree Toilet (poop stop). 
  • It was a blessing we ran in the dark because the poop stops were necessary on Friday evening.  He either stopped once or twice to “christen” a tree.  My favorite comment was, “Hope, start humming when I tell you to hum!  Can you hear me?  Are you humming?”  My second favorite comment was, “Hope, we can’t run in these woods for awhile.  We have to wait until the raccoons find what I left behind.  I don’t want to run past there and see what I did.”  I almost crapped my pants laughing.  I’m amazed how Steve kept his sense of humor and good temperament during this run.  Thanks, Steve!  

This sign should be posted in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park after the experience this weekend
  • Trail Tip-If you keep your headlamp “on” when you poop in the woods…people CAN see you!  If you run with me and keep your headlamp on…I will sneak a peek. 
  • I’m not a very good nighttime trail runner. I’m like a deer on Dramamine because I’m all wobbly and uncoordinated.  I’m not one bit graceful.  Steve can bounce over the roots and rocks like Bruce Lee battling a dragon.
  • I often wonder why God created bugs.  I really don’t see the purpose in the stupid things.  Clearly, we have to wear headlamps when running at night and the bugs fly right in your freaking face/mouth.  I will ask God very poignantly (when I get to heaven) why he created bugs, poison ivy, and cats.  I will also ask why he created mice, allowed a person to create Crocs, and why Mikhail Gorbachev was cursed with that nasty birthmark on his head. 
  • We heard COYOTES in the woods.  Yes, COYOTES were howling like they wanted to eat our legs for dessert.  I’m pretty sure they’d eat Steve first because he’s bigger.  I don’t think they’d waste their efforts on me, but I could be wrong.  The COYOTES sounded pretty close.  As I’ve mentioned before, I like to be the “alpha runner” and run in front at all times.  During our COYOTE invasion I had absolutely no problem letting Steve lead.  He ran like a bat out of hell.  His stomach issues were suddenly better and his feet were flying.  My favorite part of this adventure was when Steve picked up a giant stick and ran for several miles looking like a wild caveman prepared to kill a wildebeest.  Thanks for having our backs, Steve!  Mr. Linear Thinker made a point to find a park ranger on Saturday and asked the appropriate way for us to handle coyotes if we see/hear them again. He’s a planner….gotta love it!   Apparently, they are more scared of us.  I find that very hard to believe!  
  • He had a long night, but never complained
  • We successfully finished our 15 mile run without falling, crying, or quitting.  We got back to the car safe and sound, went to our homes, slept, and got up to run again the next morning. 

Fueling up on peanut butter and cracker
Saturday, June 18th
That Which Does Not Kill Us Makes Stronger

The Beginning
  • We got off to another rocky start.  Our goal was to start at Pine Lane and run to Happy Days, Pine Hollow, and Covered Bridge.   Again, I cannot figure out how these trails connect to save my life.  We even went to Pine Hollow to drop off supplies and then realized it was the “blind leading the blind” and we should just run the trails we know.  We are both looking forward to the next training run with Jim Chaney on Saturday, June 29th because we’ll figure out those tricky trails.  We dropped supplies at Pine Lane, Boston Store, Snowville Road, and Station Road.  We packed a ton of supplies, but still ended up bumming water off a gracious trail runner that had extra goodies stashed at Snowville Road.  Trail runners really are the nicest people on this planet…they’ll help anybody!
  • We arrived at Pine Lane around 9:15 a.m.  A super fast and beastly group of men from Vertical Runner emerged from the trails sweating and panting like dogs in heat.  Those men were insanely and scarily fast.  Steve and I continued to apply every type of lube, ointment, and spray Walgreens has to offer.  We mixed that stupid Hammer Perpetuem drink for our water bottles and I gobbled down another granola bar. 
  • Steve’s stomach was still having major issues.  I got the bright idea for him to take two Imodium AD gel caplets.  He was hesitant at first, but y’all know I’m persuasive.  He downed those pills like a college student playing beer pong.  The “poop stopper” pills become our biggest mistake of the day.  Actually, they plugged him up for at least two days…they work! 
  • We were about three miles into the run when I heard Steve’s feet stop moving.  I looked back and he was already doubled over with stomach cramps.  This was not a good start to the day.  The miles continued, the walking stops due to tummy issues continued, the sun continued to sizzle, and the day continued to get longer. 
  • Steve managed to run (with some walking) until mile thirteen.  He made a couple Tree Toilet stops, but was unsuccessful.  We learned Imodium AD doesn’t take the “feeling” of having to poop away, but it takes away your capacity to “produce” the poopadoodledoos. 
  • At mile 14 we stopped and sat on a random bench we found in the woods.  I was not in the mood to finish this run.  I was worried about Steve and knew we still had 21 miles!  I knew the rest of the afternoon was going to be long and difficult, but I’m amazed how he kept going.  The poor guy was sick and he never once gave up.  Amazing.  I was just drained around mile 14, but I have some strange endurance ability to get boosts of energy that just propel me forward.  Around mile 15 I got my boost and I was ready to roll for the rest of the 20 miles, which helped me take care of Steve for the remaining miles.
The Middle
  • We kept plugging towards Station Road, which included another unsuccessful stop at a CVNP port-a-john.  I must compliment the CVNP port-a-johns because they have plenty of toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and a can of spray air freshener.  I was standing a respectable distance away from the port-a-john when I heard Steve say, “You better start humming.  Can you hear me?  Hum!”  I just walked farther away and started laughing because he mentions humming every time he takes a poop stop.    
  • Steve exits the port-a-john and says, “Hope, I feel like I won the Velveeta Cheese Eating Contest.  I’m bound up!”  I about fell over laughing.  You could tell he was miserable, but he smiled and we kept on running.
  • We arrived at Station Road, which also has amazing bathroom facilities.  I can tell you about every single bathroom stop from Squires Castle to Happy Days.  Since Steve and I are super organized/anal I’m sure we’ll eventually develop a “Cuyahoga Valley National Park Sanitary Station Ranking System” in an Excel spreadsheet.  I’m sure our spreadsheet will have a sorting system to analyze the cleanliness, spaciousness, odor, lighting, additional amenities (air fresheners), etc. of each location.  Y’all may laugh, but that would be handy information and I bet you’ll send me an email requesting the details. 
  • Steve was starting to worry me around mile sixteen.  His eyes were glassy, his skin was clammy, and he was pale.  I made him eat some food and refilled all his water bottles.  We sat for a little bit and he eventually regrouped enough to start the 19 mile adventure (and I do mean adventure) back to our car. 
The End
  • Around mile 22 things went from bad to worse.  Steve was getting dizzy and had lost every single ounce of energy he had left.  My heart was breaking for him and I just wanted to get him to the car.  At that moment, I wished I was Joan Jetson and had some floating car that would teleport us back to the start.  Instead we started the walking portion of our journey.  Steve almost passed out and he sat on some steps along the Cuyahoga Valley National Park’s version of Mount Everest.  I swear, some of these trails are beyond hilly…they have MOUNTAINS!  Bless his heart, he was immediately attacked by about 15 mosquitoes, but didn’t have the energy to swat them away.  I asked him to walk in front of me or next to me for the next couple miles.  I needed to keep an eye on him.  I was 100% certain he was going down the side of the trails if I wasn’t careful. 
  • He was pretty queasy at one point and I suggested he stick his finger down his throat and just “take care of business” and see if he felt better.  The poor thing didn’t have enough food in his system to even “close the deal” and I just felt so bad for him. 
  • We had several other moments where I thought he was going to crash to the ground, but we managed to forge ahead…I’ll spare all the details.  Just know that Steve was in bad shape, but that man never ever gave up.  We may not have covered all the miles the way I had hoped (running), but the miles were covered.  I’ve got to give him credit because most people would have just quit.  Honestly, he should have quit….but he didn’t!  I admire that tenacity/stupidity in a person. 
  • We finally made it back to Boston Store, which meant we had 4 miles to our car.  It was getting late and we didn’t have headlamps because we should have been home hours ago.  We ended up walking Riverview Road to 303 back to our car.  We arrived at the vehicle around 9:30 p.m.  
  • We made our traditional stop at the BP on 303 for junk food.  Well, I got junk food and I got Steve a Sprite to settle his tummy. 
  • If training for an ultra is about “time on your feet” then the run that should have taken 6 hours and ended up taking 12 hours will definitely get us ready for a 250 mile race! 
I learned several valuable lessons from Saturday’s run:
  1. Do not let a person run 35 miles if they’ve had the flu all week. 
  2. Steve is more stubborn than I expected.
  3. Silence is golden.  We walked for hours in total silence.  You know you are “trail compatible” with a person when you don’t feel the pressure to “fill the silence” with chatter.  I’ve always believed more is said in silence than with words.  Saturday we proved we trust each other, we watch out for each other, and we don’t need to talk to understand what the other person is feeling. 
Steve, thanks for hanging in there when ever ounce of your body wanted to give up. 

Happy Trails…

Friday, June 17, 2011

Weekend Recap & Random Ramblings: Saturday, June 11th and Sunday, June 12th

  • Steve and I ran 20 trail miles on Saturday and another 20 trail miles on Sunday.
  • Steve had some tummy issues, which we discovered was the flu.  However, he never gave in or gave up.  He is the essence of grit, stubbornness, and determination.
  • I still have all my toenails.  I have a lot of dirt under my toenails, but that's nothing hot pink polish can't disguise. 
  • Steve lost another toenail that had been hanging on for dear life since the Flying Pig Marathon.
  • We both learned a 4 hour trail run can turn into 6 hours when your body is tired and hungry.
  • We met with an endurance nutritionist to help us figure out the best fueling plan for our long runs and during the race.  We were pretty much doing EVERYTHING wrong. 
  • Steve craves Lay's Potato Chips around mile 15.  I crave Chili Cheese Fritos around mile 18.  As a result, we make a stop at the BP off of 303 after EVERY single trail run. 
  • We both adore A1 flavored Beef Jerky!!  It is a little piece of leather heaven in my mouth.
  • Steve could drink enough water to drown a camel.  I need to drink WAY more water....I will spare you the details of our urine color. 
  • I am a VERY friendly runner.  I talk to every single person I pass on the trails.  If Steve finds my "perkiness" annoying he's done an excellent job not letting me know.  He did ask if I was going to say, "Would you like cream with your coffee?" 
  • The bikers on the Towpath from Station Road to Brecksville are RUDE.  We made it our personal mission to extend perkiness and kindness to every single person as they pass.  They failed to see the amusement. 
  • The bikers around Boston Store are friendly! 
  • Yes, I still have poison ivy...it continues to spread...I continue to complain.
  • I hate bugs!  Bugs love me...I continue to complain even more! 
  • I still adore road running.  Steve could abandon the roads forever.
  • Yes, I get a shower and shave my legs before every trail run regardless of the start time. 
  • No, I don't have a single washcloth in my house that is still white.
  • I'm pretty certain we both wear cologne during our trail runs...this could be the cause of the bug issues. 
  • I am an "alpha-runner" and ALWAYS have to run ahead of Steve.  It is the "deal" we have and he just agrees.  I do give him the lead every so often, but it kills me.  I just like being in front...always have...always will.
  • Even though we train on Saturdays and Sundays we have never missed a church service.  We found a church that has a Saturday night service.  We have NOT abandoned our priorities!
  • Steve talks more than me!  I'm a listener and he's a chatter during our runs.  Except if I get "on a roll" just watch out and I'll talk your ear off.
  • Every runner has a "shut up threshold", which is when you know the other runner is struggling.  Your job is to run beside them and shut your mouth!  I have found Steve's "shut up threshold" and he found mine last week.  It was around mile 20 and I was starving....no words needed to be exchanged.  However, we just ran next to each other and finished off the miles.
  • I love the heat!  The hotter the better.  Steve, does not agree.  
  • We both like to eat!  Really, we can pound down food like two linebackers!  
  • Steve can pee in the woods like he's power-washing a tree.  I am terrified to pee in the woods because I don't want poison ivy anywhere near my "lovely lady" parts.  I don't even want to think about mosquitoes!!!! 
  • I have heat rash all over my chest.  I'm vain and hate this beyond explanation.  Yes, I went to a dermatologist to get cream.  No, the cream has not worked.  Yes, I'm still annoyed! 
That's all for now.  I'm sure more adventures await this weekend.  Happy trails...