Thursday, August 31, 2006

Am I a real bike rider now?

So according to my friends who ride their bikes a heck of a lot more than I do, I went through a bike rite of passage yesterday. My friend Bill claims that it must happen in front of a large group of people containing many attractive members of the opposite sex, but alas mine was mostly a solitary experience.My rite of passage looked a lot like this, without the fire...

Anyways, what does Bill know? Last month, one week before the last triathlon he did, he drove into his garage, forgetting that his $2500 carbon fiber bike (I don't even know what that means, but it sounds fancy) was on the roof. It would have been fine probably. But his first reaction was to back up. So after driving his bike into the house, he then backed up over it.

Anyways, I have been riding my road bike for my three mile commute to school lately. I just got clipless pedals for it in July (can you tell where this story is going yet?). The bike store guy apparently has superhuman strength and cranked those suckers down so hard that I couldn't get them off to put on the old pedals to make riding to school easier. They are more comfy with my bike shoes so I have been taking this opportunity to get used to navigating the throngs of ipod-listening/cell-phone-chatting/why-bother-looking-when-I-cross-a-street undergrads while clipped into my pedals.
My fugly building: the ceremonial site

Anyways, I am finally pretty confident with them... I don't fear my dirt alley or sharp corners anymore... I "scrape the mud off" when I pedal. Well yesterday, I was running late. I pedalled my butt off to get to school. Finally I arrived to the building where my office is and I am slowing down and crossing the grass to the bike racks when I realize...

"$%#$^ I am still clipped in!"

There was this moment of "Can I still get out of them?" followed by resignation that I was going down. It seemed to all happen in slow motion and then a


I fortunately landed on the grass and was wise enough not to try and break my fall with my arm, so the only thing bruised was my ego. If this had happened five minutes later when classes got out, I would have indeed fulfilled Bill's prophecy. Fortunately, only a few souls witnessed my moment.

I flopped around for a moment or two trying to clip out while on the ground and then I gave up and took off my shoes. Then I had to clip them out with my hands - a girl walked by me with a knowing smirk while I sat there in my socks trying to unclip my shoes from my bike.

I would feel like a real bike rider, now that I have suffered this humiliation, except that:

1. The reason I am riding my road bike to school is that I have a flat on my hybrid bike and I don't know how to change it. Theoretically I know how to change it. I just haven't done it. And I insist on trying to do it myself before bringing in people who actually know how to do it. But I have been too lazy to take the time to sit down and figure it out.

2. The reason I was running late? I had to run to the bike store on my way to school. Why might you ask? Because my tires desperately needed air and I couldn't figure out how to fill them up with Presta valves. I got to the bike store and it took longer than expected because apparently I put my front tire on backwards the last time I took it off to stuff my bike in my car so I got a lesson in the proper way to put my tire back on (it still seems to me that it shouldn't matter which way I put the tire on).
Thanks a lot, Mr. Presta Valve, for making me have to walk into the bike store, yet again, looking like an idiot.

But in good news, I have discovered how much easier it is to ride my bike when the tires are actually inflated properly!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Apparently hell has frozen over...

I am running on Nikes again. If you asked me last year about Nikes, I would have said that they are the worst shoes on earth. I don't get all the fugly feet problems many runners get. I haven't had a blister in years. My days of losing toe nails ended long ago as well. Nikes caused more foot grossness than any other pair of sneakers I ever had in my entire life.

So when I was at the best running store in the whole wide world while I was home for my cousin's wedding, and the guy said "Why don't you try these?," I had no qualms saying "I don't think so. Me and Nikes aren't good friends." But he insisted. He said they have changed. In fact, he never ran on Nikes and now he is. He was cute, so I humored him. And. They felt good. Real good. I tried on Mizunos, Brooks, even the new version of my current Asics Nimbus, but these felt by far the best. I wanted to love any pair BUT the Nikes. But not even the Asics, in the cool purple and gray, could top the fugly Air Zoom Precept (mine are blue instead of green).

As if I needed proof to how much better these shoes are working for me than the the Asics, I did a ten miler on Sunday in the Asics and I felt creaky. I came home and put and ice pack on both the top and bottom of both my knees and ace-bandaged it up and iced. Today, I did another ten miler in the Nikes. The schedule only said six, but my regular running buddies who are marathon training were running ten. During the peak of marathon training, six and ten miles became oddly interchangeable. I mean, it's only four more miles! So mentally I was set to do another ten miler. My body disagreed, but my knees? Nary a peep from the knees. They were very happy knees today. And all because of my shiny (literally) new Nikes. Although oddly, I ran Sunday at a 10:15 pace and today at a 10:35 pace. But I blame that on me not being in shape to run two ten milers with only a day in between.

So in response to Joe's post, there are machinations afoot to run the Toronto Half-Marathon in October. As long as Lisa will be back in the country. I think Mark might be joining in the fun. And Teresa might make a guest appearance as well. So even though I shouldn't be running at all, I am now in half-marathon training mode. The one thing I don't like about races in Canada is their insistence on marking the course with kilometers. Silly Canadians.

I am contemplating defending my title as the fastest 20-29 year old woman at the Pufferbilly Days 5k (I won that sucker with an impressive 29:10 time - fear my speed). But I have been pretty slow these days, so I don't want to run a 5k unless I think I have a chance of PRing.

There is also the Capital Pursuit, which is a fun fast 10 miler (my average pace last year was 10:15 and I limped the entire second half). But I am slower now than I was last year at this time. I know it is stupid to not run a race because you will probably not go as fast as the last time, but what can I say? I am silly like that.

I put this in the category of "related to running" because our lovely relay volunteer Caroline is the librarian in charge of one of the world's largest collections of Proust materials (and to think that she slept in my car and stood out in the rain for us!). I just saw "Little Miss Sunshine" and it was perhaps the best movie I have seen in a while. I laughed and laughed.

K, new thread...

Ok, time to talk about new things. What upcoming races are on the schedule for everyone? I have a 5k in about 2 weeks, and a 10 miler in October. I'm also looking at a half marathon in November; I'll post more about that when I figure out if I'm going to actually do it. So what are you all running?

Monday, August 28, 2006

More pics up

I've gotten more pics posted. At some point in the near future (probably starting next week), I will start putting the pics in some semblance of order, and putting comments, names of people, etc, in the album.

Just a reminder to those of our teammates who haven't sent me your pics yet, c'mon, don't be shy. Send them on over!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Caution: Riding your bike in Ames may be hazardous to your health.

So I found out today that Chrissy (pictured above on her leg where she was chased by horses) got hit by a car on her bike yesterday. On the day after her 20th birthday. Five weeks away from her first marathon. I saw her today and she is doing okay, besides having a bruise the size of, well, her entire thigh and not being able to turn her neck. She is up walking around, and hopefully will be running soon.

Someone hit her while they were making a lefthand turn at the intersection of Grand and 6th. How do you hit someone when you are turning left? I mean, don't you look before turning? Apparently they took her right out - she went flying across the hood into the windshield and landed in the street. She was fortunately wearing both her helmet and her backpack, which she hit both the windshield and the ground with.

One of my professors got hit by a car on his bike too and spent a while in the hospital. I have had a couple close calls myself where I have skidded out from having to slam on my brakes so hard. I don't ever remember having close calls when I lived in Champaign-Urbana, nor did I know anyone who had been hit. I don't know if Ames drivers are just totally oblivious or what!

Around the university, I actually feel like there is hostility towards people riding their bikes. I can understand there are a lot of jerks who ride their bikes on sidewalks and paths at stupid speeds, but there are a lot of stupid pedestrians who walk right out in front of you when you are on the bike paths, usually chatting on their cell phones, totally oblivious. On weekend nights, on those scattered occasions when I do hit the bars in town, I usually ride my bike (hey, it's better than driving my car), and I encounter packs of frat boys on the bike paths who will not allow me by. I want to yell "Dude, I could take out your little sorority chick girlfriend with my bike right now if I wanted to - she would be a minor bump in my path!"

But my all time favorite is when they make fun of bike helmet. The exchange usually goes something like:

"Hey, bike rider! Nice bike helmet!"

Are these kids 13? I mean, who makes fun of someone wearing a bike helmet? Sheesh!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Wild West Relay, 2 days after: What about energy bars on a stick?

Scientists go to the fair!

When I realized Mark would be hanging out in Iowa for an extra day, I thought "Hmmm, what can we do? Aha! The Iowa State Fair!" I mentioned this to Mark and he seemed eager to see the Butter Cow. Teresa and Chrissy also wanted to go and Laurie was going to join us later with her husband, so we had a mini-team reunion (two days in a van with each other was apparently not enough time!)I don't remember much about the state fair, besides eating. Chrissy and I got deep fried Oreos. Teresa consumed a (veggie!) corn dog. And Mark got medieval on that turkey leg. Such healthy runners we all are!

For a much funnier analysis of the Iowa State Fair, visit my friend Finn's blog.

Mark left the next day, but not until coming to terms with my dog (Mark is not a dog person):
So, what's next? I think I told about 10 kabillion people that I was going to stop running after the relay to let my hamstring recover. The thing is, my hamstring didn't bother me the entire race. Not even after climbing the equivalent of Iowa's elevation over my three legs. At the beginning of August, I decided to cut my losses on the triathlon training for the Cyman this weekend because I didn't want to be hobbling on the run, which should theoretically be my best part. So now I feel like a wuss because the hammy only mildly bothers me occasionally.

And I feel even wussier because right now that I backed out of the tri, because I added the Toronto Half-Marathon on the calendar for October. I am not registered yet, until Lisa figures out her schedule for that weekend. Since Lisa missed the relay because of the terrorists, we needed to find another event for her to flex her new long distance running muscles on. And since the CO trip was supposed to be our once-per-year hanging out time, and Toronto is much cooler than Iowa, I decided a long weekend was in order. And anyways, I have a bone to pick with Toronto.

Well, I think I don't have anything much else to say about the relay. Oh except for this - I e-mailed the captain of the Sunflower Striders over a week ago to congratulate them and he finally got back to me. The reason it took so long? Several of their team members stayed in Colorado to run the Pikes Peak Marathon this past weekend. Now those are some ballsy Flatlanders!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

WWR Day 2 (II): Please don't let me see another granola bar ever again...

So, yay we finished! We rolled into the finish at about 11:30. Because three other Flatlander teams came in ahead of us, we knew we weren't getting any awards. Those of us in Van 2 went to find some much needed food. At that point my body didn't know if it wanted to sleep or eat. I went with "eat." Finding a place to eat lunch in downtown Steamboat was perhaps the most excrutiating experience ever. I wanted to yell at all the tourists "We just ran here! From Fort Collins! Don't make us wait for our lunch or this could get ugly!" Halfway through my lunch, I transitioned from "eat" into "sleep" seamlessly, while propped up on my elbow over a half-eaten bowl of pasta.

So, what can I say? The Wild West Relay was loads of fun, despite all the setbacks at the beginning of the trip (I'll say it again, @#$%$^ terrorists). I am glad everyone got along, considering most people didn't know anyone else on the team before embarking on this adventure! I was the captain and I only knew three other teammates personally! But you figure, anyone who signs up to run a 200 mile relay over the Continental Divide with a bunch of strangers is a special kind of crazy (although not nearly as crazy as the ultra teams!) and thus we all fit right in. Yay for science nerds!

And as a tribute to our achievement:

Next up: Our day at the fair (not at all running related, but one third of team went, so it belongs here :-))

Sunday, August 20, 2006

WWR Day 2 (I): So this is why a 200 mile relay is hard...

After we handed off to Van 1, our first priority was going to sleep. So we drove ahead to exchange 30, which was essentially a field of sage brush. We plopped our mattress pads and sleeping bags down on top of the surprisingly cushy and fragrant bedding. I was practically unconscious when it started drizzling. Then it started coming down a little harder. It never poured or anything, but it was wet. Al braved it outside in the sleeping bag. Jessica and Melissa curled up under a tarp. Anna had scored the spot in the van (everyone else wanted to stretch out). I thank Pete for setting up his shelter, which I groggily crawled under with my sleeping bag. I think we finally all got to sleep at 3:30 am or so. We decided to be up at 5:30 so that we would be ready when Van 1 came. Since they had been running fast and these legs were flat, we didn't want them to run into Exchange 30 and find us still asleep. Pete set his alarm. Unfortunately it was on central time, so at 4:30 it went off. I was the only one who heard it and then I was paranoid that there wasn't an alarm set for 5:30, so I slept fitfully for the next hour. We got up just as the the first runner from Uline ran past the campsite.

When I first decided I wanted to do this relay, I was training for a marathon, so the mileage was nothing. The elevation and hills, well that was the challenge. I wasn't quite ready for the revolt of my body as I tried to get it ready to run a mere four miles on maybe 2 hours sleep over the past 30 hours and with only one and half good meals during that time. I know I was not the only one who got up and felt like their stomach was having a party. But yet we soldiered on!

Joe finally came running up to the exchange after a long hard leg and Van 1 was finished! Joe handed off to Al, who began his ascent of Rabbit Ears. Al was a rockstar, climbing up this pass while the rest of us were ready to die. Well, at least I was :-) At this point, the faster teams had begun catching up, so I had no clue who was ahead and who was behind us and we all just wanted to finish. The Sunflower Striders had yo-yoed with our Van 1, but they came through Exchange 30 with a 15 minute lead on us, and our Van was never able to catch them. In fact they increased that lead by another 15 minutes in the last 6 legs! They were kickin' butt as we were running out of steam. I have to laugh that, at one point early on, someone (I can't remember who) said "Well, maybe since they are older, they won't have as much endurance as us."

Exchange 31 was where the fun times really began. The Tour de Steamboat was going on at the same time. Paul (the race director) mentioned this in his last set of announcements but said that should only affect the faster teams. We weren't fast (we finished in the middle of the pack), but we got an early start so Jessica and Pete had to contend with bikers going up Rabbit Ears as they were doing their legs, all on the same side of the road. At least we were early - the runner from 8 Hos and Their Joes said that he had to run up Rabbit Ears, with the bikers whizzing down Rabbit Ears.

Melissa was off in the bushes at every exchange, emptying what little was in her stomach. I was visiting the portapotty at every exchange (sometimes multiple times). We were in good shape. Yeah. Pete finished up his leg with this little blonde chick blowing by him on the downhill (she said to her teammate after she finished that she was using Pete as her "rabbit"). He handed off to Melissa. We checked in with her halfway on her 5 mile, -7% grade leg. She was doing okay so she finished barrelling down the pass (in 40 minutes! Melissa's 10k time is 58 minutes in the real world!) with a last minute race against Team Hasselhoff.

She handed off to me and this was really the longest four miles ever. It was raining and every time a truck passed me by I was getting soaked. It was a flat four miles though and I chugged along. Once I started running, my stomach finally decided that it wasn't upset, but that it was starving. Towards the end the Sole Sisters started gaining on me. With a quarter mile left, she was right on my tail and I gave it all I could to at least keep up with her the last bit, but I didn't have it in me. Plus, bad running music was on the ipod (note to self: remove all Gillian Welch from ipod when running). I finished pretty close behind her and passed off to Anna, who went on to finish us up. Even though, my last four miles felt like they took an eternity, my overall pace was about 10:30 again, which I am more than happy with.

Again, Anna had the challenge of navigating the streets of Steamboat to get to the middle school. Even with the map in hand, she got a little lost. Anyways, the rest of the van drove to the middle school, we all got on our t-shirts, and when Anna came up to the track, we ran it in with her, finishing the whole thing in 28:38, which was way beyond my expectations.

I was thinking we might cruise in in 30 hours, so an hour and a half ahead of that was awesome! We were a half an hour ahead of what Paul had predicted for us pre-race, so that was cool too. We were the 10th team to come in chronologically and we finished about smack dab in the middle of the pack, both in the Flatlanders division and for the whole thing, which definitely ain't bad for a group of people used to oxygen in their air!

Next up: Sleep, Food, Sleep, Sleep, Food and Sleep at the same time.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

The Official Relay Baseball!

Or just that baseball that Caroline ran across in the big truck before we left. It didn't appear to belong to anyone on the team, but we didn't really know what to do with it. So at the airport as I was leaving I saw it and thought it would be cool to have everyone in the van autograph it for me. And then we came up with the idea of mailing it around and getting everyone's signature. So I will get this process started hopefully very soon.

FYI I do not have a camera, so the baseball pictured here is actually one autographed by the 1927 New York Giants that only went for $2000 at auction, so nothing like the value that this one will have once it's made the rounds.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

WWR Day 1 (III): Full moon running...

As we were waiting at Exchange 18, our Van 1 arrived surprisingly early. And it occurred to me that there weren't any other Van 1s around. And apparently, this photo showing Shaun blowing past the competition shows why... Our Van 1 kicked some serious butt! I leave it to one of them to talk about those legs if they are so inclined... All I know is that there were blue fingernails and vomiting involved. Anyways, they finished off 44 miles. The net elevation gain was -900 ft, but there was 3900 ft of climbing involved.

(As I noted before, I never take photos and the photographers in Van 2 haven't sent their photos to Joe yet, so all I have to illustrate these posts are mostly Van 1 photos.)

I figured at Exchange 18, the faster teams would start catching up with the slower teams that started earlier. But we were waiting and Team #9 Uline were the first ones by. They were also Flatlanders, but they started a half hour ahead of us, so we were still ahead of them. They sent their girl off up the 8.8 mile 1700 ft climb of Leg 19. Then the girl from the Ultra team "Will Run for Snacks" steamed into the exchange and handed off. A few minutes later, it was Joe! So at that moment, we were the third runner! We had managed to blow by all but one team that started before us and left behind all but one team that had started with us. Of course, our Van 2 pace was about a minute slower than our Van 1 pace, so there was plenty of opportunity to be overtaken.

We sent Al off with a command to catch the cute girl running for Uline. She was just plowing up that hill. With her 15 minute lead, Al would have had to be a monster to catch her. He was montrous enough to catch the runner from "Will Run for Snacks" though, putting us as the second runner. This was mildly surreal. The Uline van stopped a lot for their runners, so we sometimes were the first van at an exchange. Hey, at least we got to christen the portapotties :-)

Al did an awesome job climbing and handed off to Jessica, who chose to utilize the bear bells on the dark forested roads of Wyoming. We could hear her coming a mile away - I think she practically drove herself batty with those things. Needless to say, no one else used them. She passed off to Pete (this would be the "I own this!" leg) and he got to do 7 miles as the moon was finally coming out. The road shoulder in Colorado was teensy, and he had to jump into a ditch at one point to avoid a semi. At this point, we were still the second runner on the road, so all the traffic was not used to seeing a bunch of crazy runners yet.

Melissa did her leg and handed off to me at about 11:30. Before my leg, I was falling asleep and just kept thinking how long 7.4 miles was going to take me. But the second I started running, it was awesome. The weather was magnificent; the moon was out; the cars yielded to me; I even felt like there was enough oxygen. My first mile was at a 9 minute pace. I knew that wasn't sustainable, but during the whole relay, I had very little control over my pace at any point. Plus, the Sunflower Striders were not too far behind us when I started. After my first mile, I could see their runner's light far behind me. I never once saw the Uline team, so I really felt like I was running alone in the middle of the night. I took a Gu halfway, but the second half of the run, my body started to remember that it had been up since 4:30 am after a very restless sleep. The Sunflower Striders were pretty determined to catch me (they could sense the weak one in the pack :-)), and their speedy #9 got out halfway in their leg and ran with the woman running my leg to get her to do a little more running and a little less walking in her run/walk strategy (at least that is what another team told me). They ended up catching me with a mile left to go. She never got very far ahead of me in the last mile because she was run/walking it (What is it with me being caught by run/walkers! How pathetic am I?!). But I was pretty pooped at that point. I finished up and handed off to Anna. My overall pace was 10:30 or so, so I was definitely happy with that. Anna had the hard job of navigating the streets of Walden to the HS, but she made it and handed off to Teresa, finishing off our second set of legs of 37 miles and 3400 ft of climbing.

Next up: Sleeping in the rain. Good times!


On the right, under the "Race Related Links," you will see a link to pictures from the race. I am collecting pictures from everyone on our team who took them, and am putting together a big album.

Right now, I have pictures from Me, Danielle, and my sister, and Mark just emailed his to me today, so I will get them in there tonight. Everyone else who took pictures, send them to me!

I will also be emailing this URL to the team so everyone can see it, since I know not everyone checks the blog.

Once we have all the pictures in one place, we'll work on getting them organized and having captions for each one.

Hope you all enjoy!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

WWR Day 1 (II): Okay, now we're really climbing...

Van 1 (above: Teresa, Chrissy, Mark, Joe, Laurie, and Shaun) finished up after 27 miles and 900 foot net elevation gain (that is almost the elevation of Ames!) and handed off to our Van for our 24 miles. Al (#7) had his only non-climbing run of the day and then the rest of began running up the 2400 foot net elevation gain we needed to get up. Van 1 gave us a lead over the Sunflower Striders (the only other Flatlander team starting in our wave), but their super fast #9 runner was the one who finally caught us. Melissa (#10) was the only one on the team with a "Very Hard" leg for their first leg, but she rocked it and then handed off to me.

Wow, after all that I can finally talk about running. My leg was 4.8 miles with 524 feet of net elevation gain. The first three miles was gradually climbing but rolling with the last two miles just up up up. The first thing I noticed when I started was that I really like oxygen. I wasn't running very fast at all and I could not push anymore since my lungs were burning. I was also very glad I brought my own water, since I was wetting my mouth every few minutes. I got passed pretty early on by a speedy dude. The weirdest part of this relay was that I started with no one in sight ahead or behind me. Sort of hard to get into the racing mode!

Anyways, with a mile left, the girl from the Iowa Flatlanders (who started a half hour before us) started gaining on me. Her team was very nice and offered me water, although I had my own (to which they said "we have cold water!" I think they just wanted me to stop since their runner was stopping ;-)). At this point, after almost a mile of climbing, my butt and calves were burning. There was no way I could speed up to stay ahead of her for a whole mile. She was run/walking it this whole time, but apparently she did that faster than I ran :-) A few minutes after she passed me, she started walking again, I looked down at my Garmin and saw I was doing 17 minute miles (!), and decided to walk (figuring I could probably walk just as fast) until she started running again (about a 100 feet). Then, like a beacon in the fog, I saw the dude calling out which runners were coming and I was able to pick it up until the end (with a little help from Abba on my ipod). I wasn't able to catch her, but I managed to accomplish my goal of being under a 12 minute pace for this leg (I finished in 57 minutes with an 11:52 pace). My legs were burning when I finished that leg. The good news was that this was by far my hardest leg, so I was psyched to have it done.

I handed off to Anna, and even with her fractured elbow, she totally smoked the Iowa Flatlanders and at least one other team on her leg, so she more than made up for my slowness! Anna passed off to Teresa for Van 1 to begin their climbing and we went and ate lunch at the Potbelly restaurant. That lunch tasted really good. And it was our last real meal until the end (if I had thought about it that way, I would have eaten a lot more!). We did a really pretty drive up to Exchange 18 in Wyoming, where I was finally able to get ahold of my sister and beg her to find a friend to volunteer for us, since we were one volunteer short now and that was a disqualifiable offense. $50 later, we had us another volunteer and I could finally relax a bit. I crashed on a nice little spot down by the river and even though I didn't sleep well, it was really nice to relax and listen to river. I woke up and we waited for Joe to come running in to pass off to Al for our second set of legs.

Next up: Full moon running.

WWR Day 1 (I): The ascent begins.

So 5am we all stumble out of the hotel. We were supposed to be at the start at 5:30am (an hour before our wave) to check in. I put directions in the binders in everyone's car. But apparently at that hour, north and south were confusing concepts. Caroline, Jessica, Anna, Melissa, and I arrived at the start just at 5:30. Then we waited. Then it was 5:45. I call the others and apparently they are ten miles south of Fort Collins. The start was two miles north of Fort Collins. Well, maybe at like 6am, we were all finally together at the start. After doing all the various check-in things, we were ready to roll about ten minutes before the starting time.

And in a somewhat anti-climactic moment, Teresa and the seven other runners in our wave were off! I will leave it to a member of Van 1 to talk about the first six legs. In Van 2, our morning consisted of getting lost several times, Pete warning he might become belligerent if there was no coffee soon, and finally finding our way to the route and hanging out at the little restaurant at the Red Feather Lakes junction for a few hours. That is where we met our companions for Legs 6-12, 8 Hos and Their Joes. They were very nice folks.

In the meantime, Caroline (yet another saint on our trip), was driving down to Denver to pick up Lisa, who I later found out, after calling her dad, was on a plane to Chicago, not to Denver. Stupid. Fucking. Terrorists. Caroline got to do a lot of scenic driving that day!

Next up: The ascent really begins.

There's a runner coming... we think he might be British

Great job everyone! It's starting to seem like a distant memory now that I'm back at the old desk again but what a memory! This has to be my favourite quote from the relay - I must look or run more British than I thought, how else could they tell? Other memorable quotes include the guy who thought that our team "should be disqualified for being too young" and the other guy who asked if we could "slow it down a bit, we don't want to be the last team into Steamboat Springs", both on Shaun's 2nd leg when he was blowing the competition away.

Thought I would get in on the pictures as well, I think this says it all more or less...

WWR Day 0: Stupid *&$%^& terrorists,

After crashing for our last full night of sleep for awhile, the four of us awoke and started pre-race preparations. The three of us girls all took ice baths (what can I say? we are masochists) then we went to find yet another yummy restaurant to eat at and then went shopping. Ten gallons of Gatorade from Target was probably a little excessive. Then, instead of being reasonable and going to Safeway, we went and gallavanted around Whole Foods buying organic apples and peanut butter. Whole Foods has its critics, but for a bunch of Iowa kids who only have a natural food store one tenth the size of WF to play in, this was like a trip to the amusement park. Whole Foods was the last good thing that happened that day.

On our way up to Fort Collins, I get a phone call from Lisa. Apparently, after spending three hours in the security line at the Seattle airport, she missed her flight. Stupid British terrorists. And the British just had to pick August 10th to arrest them. So since everyone and their mother missed their flights, standby was a mess too. It was not looking good. I called up Anna, one of our volunteers who was traveling with Melissa, and said "Hey, I know you have a fractured elbow, but can you run if necessary?" She was awesome and totally stepped up to the plate to run 14 miles at the last minute. Did I mention she had a fractured elbow? This whole time, I was still hoping Lisa might at least make it on Friday and even if she couldn't run officially, she could at least run my 7.5 mile leg with me at midnight.

Anyways, this was only the beginning of the mess. Silly me, I actually had an hour by hour schedule for coordinating people on Thursday. Lisa was supposed to meet Al and Caroline at the airport. Al and Caroline happen to be the only two on the entire trip without a cell phone (get with the ages people!). I paged them at the airport with a message that Lisa wasn't making it, but they didn't get that message. So they waited around. Meanwhile Joe is waiting around the train station, the rendevous point with Melissa and Anna. Except the train was stuck somewhere. They were supposed to get in at 7 pm and didn't actually get in until 11:30. At the end of it all, Joe, Caroline, and Al drove up to Fort Collins without the girls, and Jessica (saint that she is) drove all the way back down to Denver at 11:30 to pick up Melissa and Anna.

I would like to note that we actually were going to decorate our vehicles, but once everything started going downhill, that sort of became unimportant. So we were like a stealth team, keeping our scientist identities secret from the rest of the world. Except, of course, for when we were wearing our bright yellow scientist t-shirts...

When we went to sleep that night at 10, only 7 members of the team were actually in Fort Collins. Nerve-wracking? Yes, one might say that. But if I have learned anything in life, it is that things usually work out. At 5am the next morning, all 12 team members and one volunteer stumbled out of the hotel to load up the vans.

Next up: We send Teresa off to begin getting our asses over the pass!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

WWR Day -1: Where's the air?

I stole that tagline from the team that won our division.

Anyways, I guess the best place to start is at the beginning! Bright and early on Wednesday morning, Teresa picked Mark and me up at my house and we headed down to Ankeny to pick up Laurie. Then we had ten hours of quality "get-to-know-each-other" time driving out to Boulder. The most interesting part of the trip was seeing a massive cow statue on a flatbed truck go across the overpass. You couldn't actually see the truck so it just looked like a big cow going over the highway. I am sure Mark has now seen more of Nebraska than he could ever possibly want to see.

We got to Boulder and Mark and Teresa went for a run. I personally preferred to live in total ignorance of how much running at altitude was going to suck. As we watched the sun set behind the mountains we thought "Why do we live in Iowa?" We headed to downtown Boulder to find some dinner. Man, the food was good. In Ames there are maybe two interesting restaurants... I don't think Iowans are reknowned for being culinary adventurers (my roommate always orders chicken fingers and french fries when she goes out to eat).

Anyways, on the ped mall in Boulder, there is a statue of a runner with a really pained look on his face. We hoped we didn't look that miserable when we started running...
Next up: How terrorists fucked everything up.

Monday, August 14, 2006

We did it!

For our legions of faithful fans waiting to hear how it went, we did it! It was crazy and insane and awesome and I can't wait to do it again next time. :)

I'm sure people will be posting stories over the next week, and pictures will start showing up online shortly, too. In the meantime, the results can be found here. I think we did pretty excellent for a first time out trying a race like this for most of us.

Hooray for Back Off Man, I'm a Scientist!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Go West, Young Man

I totally stole that picture from one of Lisa's prior posts, but it still makes me laugh. Anyways folks, the adventure begins today as I pick Mark up from the airport. We have never met so thank goodness the Des Moines airport is small :-) Then off to Colorado tomorrow morning! I am excited now. I am feeling good - I ran three miles yesterday and today in 28 minutes, so I am glad I can be fast (for me!) if I want to...

Okay, three things about me that you will learn after spending 30+ hours running with me.

1. I am incredibly anal. I made a binder for each vehicle. There are tabs. My roommate said "Do you need to have these or is everyone going to make fun of you?" And yes, it is the latter.

2. I never take pictures. I always have the best intentions, but I managed to come back from my first marathon with a total of two pictures, and I am in neither of them. One is simply of the cool bridge in Duluth that moves up and down. So, I depend on the rest of you to take pictures. In fact, I even put a disposable camera in the crate with the stuff for each van so that there is a camera at all times (although I imagine several of you will bring your own).

3. I talk in my sleep. A lot. And sometimes I am verbally abusive to others in the room while I am sleeping. I have also been known to let out a blood-curdling scream (I did wake myself up when I did that). Sometimes I will even sit up and have a conversation with you that is only semi-coherent. So I am really just hoping I don't say something incredibly embarassing with so many people to hear :-)

And just because they crack me up, here are two more posters that are somewhat running related...

Sunday, August 06, 2006

On the road...

Err, well, in the air. Umm, well, almost. My flight is at 11 a.m., about 12 hours away. So right now I'm obviously avoiding packing for a few more hours.

I hope everyone has safe travels during the week. See you all Thursday!

Making treadmills fun!

The gym provides me with my only occasion for watching cable. Today on VH1, they were talking about this video, and I thought "This totally belongs on a running blog!"

In very related news, also on VH1 (it's like an accident - I can't look away!), Tina Yothers was on Celebrity Fit Club. And she did the quarter mile fitness test in 2:08. I feel the need to go find a track and do this right now, because there is no way in hell Tina Yothers is faster than me! I haven't run only a quarter mile in forever, so I am sure that I could run it that fast, but the fact I am a solid ten minute miler makes me doubt that... When we get to the track at the middle school at Steamboat, I will make sure to do a time trial :-)

Saturday, August 05, 2006

That sucked.

Today was my last long run before the race, an 8-miler. Note that Danielle referred to 8-milers as "easy" in her last post, which is hilarious because, in my world, 8-milers still count as "hard as shit."

And I wish I could sit here now and say that I soldiered on and ran it anyways, but actually my strength failed me around mile 4. My legs felt like lead, my sides hurt, and my ankle was I had to stop and go home. Boo.

Man, I hope I don't suck this bad next week.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Running nerds...

So the nice part about this being a running blog is that I don't feel embarassed about posting on a Friday night. Of course I am at home! Saturday mornings are long run days! I have to be up early! So I am sitting here with ice packs on my knees killing time, and doing this is more interesting than TV...

Anyways, after my run tomorrow morning (which will only be an easy 8 miles - meaning I am not going to push very much), I am more or less resting up until the relay. On Thursday I did a double run simulating my two first legs of the relay, a 5 miler at 2% grade on the treadmill in the morning and a rolling 7.5 miler in the evening. That probably wasn't smart - I know better than to think that I should be doing anything resembling hard training the week before a race. I am not going to get any better at this point and I am just going to tire myself out. And here I am sitting with ice packs on my knees as proof of why one doesn't do that.

Sigh, I have come to accept that I am just going to be slow. I don't have any doubts that I will be able to put in the miles without walking, but I haven't done a single run faster than 10:30 pace since I got back from FL/IL, so at altitude, I will settle for a sub-12 minute pace. So frustrating! I mean my 20-milers during marathon training were at about 10:30 pace and now that is the fastest I can go? Well, I have also decided that after this relay I am officially taking at least a month off to see if I can get my hamstring and knees to feel better. I was going to do a triathlon at the end of the summer, but when running is your best discipline and you can't run, that won't be fun. So next year that tri is mine...

Even though my knees and hamstring hurt, I am excited we are only a week off! I made the mandatory signs for our vans tonight. Should we decorate our vans? I am not creative so I leave that up to you all... And if Laurie wants her SUV decorated :-)

Because my first run will be at roughly 1 or 2 pm, I have been watching the weather like a hawk. It makes me happy how much the heat drops off as we go up. A week off, the weather forecast is:

Fort Collins Mostly Sunny 94/60
Exchange 6 Partly Cloudy 85/53
Exchange 12 Mostly Sunny 80/49
Exchange 18 Partly Cloudy 82/50
Exchange 24 Mostly Sunny 80/45
Steamboat Mostly Sunny 83/51

Oh yeah, by virtue of being the first team alphabetically in the first category alphabetically (Flatlanders), we get to be Team Number 1! How awesome is that! Plus, apparently all the Flatlander teams will be 1-10, so we know who to keep our eye on while we run :-) Yeah, um me and my twelve minute miles are going to be passing people left and right...

To end this post that is way too long already, I have to rant about how our washer/dryer seems to know which socks of mine are expensive running socks. It never mysteriously eats some random pair of white cotton socks. Nooooo, it eats one of my wicked awesome Smart Wool running socks which I have run every race in in the last year and a half. Fortunately I have two pairs, but man, this is driving me crazy... (I heart google images)

Work is killing me

I have only gotten to run twice in the last week and a half. I've had to work 10-12 hours a day for the last two weeks in preparation for taking next week off. I haven't had a vacation since Christmas, so I'm way overdue for some time to relax. But this was not how I wanted to go into it.

I am going to try a few double runs in the next few days, and then get a few runs in when I get to Colorado. Hopefully I won't break into little pieces during the race.

Boo last two weeks! :(

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Secret Mission

Hey Team, did you know that Denver Airport is home to this seriously creepy mural and a host of weird conspiracy theories?

Yeah, apparently, there's a secret base underneath DIA where the Queen of England and the Bushes and a bunch of others are going to relocate when the End comes. Nuts? Probably. But don't tell me these images don't kinda sorta give you the willies in a big way.

So if we have some time to kill while we wait for people to meet up, what say we go on a little mission to check it out? Hopefully the we wont come across any secret Freemason rituals and get abducted or something.