Quest For Higher Mileage

I'm not quite up to 60 mpw yet but I have pretty consistently been getting in more than my old weekly average of 27-30.

Weekly Stats for July and August:

July 2nd-8th= 51
9th-15th= 53
16th-22nd= 41

So other than the week of Burning River I have hit 40+. I'm pretty content with that. Nothing really nagging me. Last week I would get odd knee pain every 20 minutes or so briefly on my road runs but my run with Daisy today I didn't get it at all. Just some residual tightness from last night's 5k. Guess you can teach this girl some new tricks. Higher mileage and so far I am getting faster in the short stuff. I hope that means good things for the long stuff too!

We are off to Albany Friday to visit friends. Hopefully I'll be able to get in at least 40 miles. I don't know what I'll do without all my social runs! I swear every run for me lately has been a social outing. I guess I'll have a lot of quiet time to plot next week :) Hopefully our hosts will put up with my running if I get up early and get it done before the day really starts. I'm also hoping to get in some strength work and some serious yoga stretching next week! All that free time is going to be so nice!

Just one more week

Shortly before the 2-mile mark at last weeks 5K (Thanks for the pic B!)

Last night was the third and last race in the NERC series. My goal going in was to shoot for 20:20 and try to win the race depending on who showed up.

I arrived way later than intended due to a "fire drill" at work (not an actual fire, thankfully). Solar Squirrel kindly stopped at Kohl's to pick me up some running socks as I had forgotten those in my morning rush. I presented for work again Monday in Kansas City and was a bit out of it after not arriving home until after midnight Monday night.

I was super late, still hadn't changed, but I did manage to suck down a gel at 5:50 again on the car ride to the race. Not my ideal pre race scenario. I squeezed in a brief 7 minute warm up consisting of jogging around the parking lot, signing up, and changing socks then heading to the start line with AP and Solar. I wanted to show Solar the metal stakes that we had to navigate and looked to my right as we passed all the people lined at the start and muttered something like "oh great" as I recognized the female who had won the Flag Day 5K in 17:02. Hmm yeah not really going to be going for the win with her there. I wonder what she is training for that she would be out at a small race like this on a muggy wet night. Salty had wisely decided racing the 5k in mud and slop wasn't in her best interest. We missed having her there but hopefully her track attempt went well!

So with a briefer than anticipated warm up we lined up towards the front left again and we were off. AP jumped ahead of me this time and I just tried to keep my pace even and not let him get too far ahead. I told him my goal was 6:26 pace. Definitely wouldn't break 20 unless we went for it and since I knew I wasn't racing to win I might as well lay it out and see what I came up with. The race wasn't quite as crowded as last week but I was still dodging high schoolers left and right. I passed the girl I was pretty sure won the race last week and figured my pacing must be pretty good as she ran 20:22 last week. I felt pretty strong and finally broke away from the pack and had room to breathe as we closed in on the first mile. And I heard 5:50 something. Shit I am not supposed to be this close to 6 flat. Nothing I could do about it as I crossed my split was 6:07 and I gritted my teeth and did my best to keep AP in my sights still.

I knew it was only a matter of time before the 6:07 bit me in the ass so I did my best to hold on and run strong. I knew that I needed to cross the 2-mile by 12:52 to have any hopes of breaking 20. I kept even with a few high school boys and as we came out of the woods heard "2nd female." Once again wasn't sure if that made me happy or not. I knew that meant I had to push so as not to lose my place. We passed an older gentleman who they had start early. He is 83 and has run something like 2000 races in his time. I told him good job and the kid next to me asked "Him or me?" I replied "Well both of you" at our pace I guess he didn't hear me and he replied "What was that?" and I told him "That man is 83!" then I let him push ahead. Talking was not going to work last night. We came through the second mile at 12:52. I knew it was a stretch that we would break 20 because I would have to pick up the next mile from the 6:44 I just ran to a 6:26. Not likely as the boardwalks were all damp and slippery and that damn hill was waiting for me at the finish.

But I tucked in and pushed the downs. Almost bit it on the boardwalk and opted to jump off and run through the mud puddles instead. Definitely lost speed here but better than slipping and falling. I kept pushing all the way to the bottom of the hill. I knew the girl who won last week was on my tail as I had heard cries of "go Liz" all along the course from people that weren't talking to me. AP was behind me but calling out that I needed to push. He passed me coming up the hill and urged me on. Despite this being my third week on the course I still have a hard time knowing how much is left until I hit the 3-mile marker. I got peeved as a man told me "19 even" thinking that maybe he was the 3 mile marker and then passing the marker 30 seconds later. When he said 19 even I thought I had a chance to break 20 but I wasn't quite there yet and did my best to pick it up when I finally did hit the 3 mile marker with a 6:47 and finished the last .1 in 38 seconds about 3 seconds ahead of the girl who had won last week. AP definitely helped me up the hill again. Glad I pushed it enough to not get caught.

My effort was good enough for 2nd female overall and 20:17 (watch time). I'd have to look but I believe that's my second fastest 5k ever. Now if they'd just have one more race next week I know I'd break 20 and win ;) I took 4th female in the first week, 3rd last week, and 2nd last night. All 3 races I managed to place 1st in my age group, which is nice.

I knew the course wouldn't be fast last night and the slippery boardwalks definitely slow you down so I am pretty happy with the results. I need to work on going out a bit more conservative obviously because 6:07, 6:44, 6:47 is not the ideal way to run a race, but I think that third mile is deceiving. I do feel like I ran it stronger this week despite it being 4 seconds slower. I just think the dry course last week made it a lot easier.

Unfortunately I don't have another week to give the 5k PR a go as I need to get ready for the Punxy 50K on September 8th and the North Country Trail Marathon the weekend after that. My legs were extremely tight after last night’s race so I think I need to give them a break from the all out 5K efforts and get back on the track. I am happy with the results from the past three weeks. I know if I went to a road race 5K I could break 20 at my current fitness level, I'll just have to be content with that until I get the opportunity to actually get out and do it. I liked this format of having the race three weeks in a row. I think 5Ks are much easier if you are doing them once a week. Randomly throwing in a 5K during marathon training is much tougher than focusing directly on the 5K distance, I think that's why it is easier for high school studs to crank out good times. They are racing at least one 5k every week and their mind and body is more used to the all out effort of a 5k.

Photos for the months of June through August 2007

What's that you say do you do anything besides run? Here's some photographic evidence I've been saving up :)

Smores Party and Browns Game Photos

High School Friends Wedding, Ben Folds Concert, Cousins Birthday, and July 4th Parade Party

Cutest Kid Ever

GMR 2007
Yes I realize I never did finish my recap, so you'll have to settle for photos!

Another Running Lesson Learned

Although eggplant may be a tasty dish, not a wise decision the night before a long run.

What a difference a week makes

Last Tuesday was the first of 3 5K races in a small local cross country series. I have been aiming to PR in the 5K oh since I last PRed in 1996 at States my sophomore year with a 20:03. A bit frustrating to go from serious promise of closing in on breaking 20 and possibly even breaking 19 to all of a sudden struggling to break 21 my junior and senior year and struggling to break 22 and sometimes 23 in college. And at $3 a pop this cross country series seemed like a good opportunity to see where I'm at and try for the elusive 5K PR.

So last Tuesday I lined up with about 150 other runners, the majority male high schoolers followed by female high schoolers in hopes of cranking out a good 5K. Weather was not ideal. Hot and extremely humid, but I was ready to give it a go. Or at least I thought I was. The start was fast, grassy, and crowded. A large number of high school boys and girls crowding the course and going out like gang busters. I got pulled into it a bit and had to dodge several course markers at the first turn as the crowd kept trying to turn into the markers. It was impossible to see the little metal stakes until you were right on top of them because of the crowd. You felt a little bit like a pinball bouncing back and forth. Finally we made the turn though and headed straight into the woods. The trail here is bridle and plenty wide for 2-3 runners but with all of the young studs going out like mad it was crowded and you definitely had to play dodge'em the first mile or so. Lots of times I was "off roading" it along the side and dodging trees to get around people.

I was Through the first mile in 6:30 and I felt okay. Not great but passable. I was drenched in sweat from my warm up before the race even started so I am sure I looked pretty bad at this point. After the mile the trail headed into open field. The sun was beating down and I did my best to hold pace. Spectators were shouting out 3rd woman as I passed and it just frustrated me because I didn't want to have to work to hold anyone off. I wasn't there to race for place I was there to get a good time and as 13 minutes came and went and I still wasn't at the 2nd mile marker I knew my finish time was not going to be where I wanted it. It was hot and I was running out of steam. I really just wanted to quit.

But I pushed on, disappointed with my second mile which was 7:19. I hoped to rally and pick it up. We headed back into the woods and hit a few stretches of boardwalk. There had been freak storms earlier in the day and the wood was soaked and slippery. I could feel myself slowing down with the fear of slipping. I looked to the side of the boardwalk but there was no real good ground so I couldn't jump off the boardwalk to pick it up. About 4 minutes into the last mile I got passed by a high school runner. I didn't even attempt to join her. I was spent and just waiting for the end of the race. I had to chide myself as just a few nights previously I was encouraging runners at mile 91.3 that they only had 4.5 to the next station and here I was ready to quit after 2.5 miles of a 5K.

And then we came to the hill. Who the hell puts a hill in the final quarter mile of a cross course? My spirit was broken and I glanced backwards over my shoulder, looked at my watch, and gave up and started to walk. There was no way I was coming close to the time I wanted, I was spent, and there were no girls behind me. I had no shame and was ready to walk my ass up the hill to the finish. A male runner caught me and encouraged me to kick it in with him. I looked over and realized I had given him a buck before the race when I overheard him say to his friend he thought the race was $2 and didn't have a third. I thought shit this guy has come to earn his dollar and I did my best to truck up the hill to the finish with him. Hitting the third mile in 7:58 and finishing in 22:31.

I was toasted. It's been a long time since I felt so shitty after a 5k. It took me forever to recover as I chugged down cup after cup of lemonade. I finally forced myself to go out for a cool down and put in 10 wimpy minutes and was then convinced to do the 1 mile fun run as a cool down with Tanya. It took us over 11 minutes. We stayed around for awards. We watched as they handed out all the high school awards and then waited for the "old people" awards as all those 21 or under cleared out. I got first (of 4) in my age group, 4th female. But I was extremely disappointed with my time and my efforts. It felt like I took a huge step backwards since a month ago when I ran 20:44 at the Flag Day race. It felt weird to run with a bunch of high schoolers and realize that I am in such a different place in my life now, but I'm still chasing after the same goals in running.

After the letdown of last Tuesday I decided to get in a short fartlek workout which ended with some hill sprints Friday in hopes of doing a little better at race number 2 last night. I actually got out of work on time and got to the race with about 45 minutes to prepare. I was surprised to see the main lot was already full. There were a ton more high schoolers there last night. Enter the third time in the last few weeks that I haven't felt like the young sprite I usually am. Nothing like a bunch of 14-19 year olds to make a 25 year old woman feel ancient. (Don't worry I am not concerned about aging. I have a feeling I'll welcome each new milestone, I just thought it was interesting that in the span of a week three events happened which for the first time actually made me think about how many years I have been alive and realize that I am far beyond those days when I was 16)

I got my little orange flag to indicate I'd paid my $3 and wasn't a bandit then sprayed on sunscreen and took down a gel at 5:50 PM. I made a trip to the ladies room and started my warm up a few minutes after 6. I kept it easy on the warm up and did the 1 mile loop that is also the last mile of the 5k. I wanted to plan my attack so that I hopefully wouldn't run another near 8 minute mile. I also wanted to test my racing flats out on all the terrain I would see. I had worn my trail shoes last week and had hoped that I would be able to wear spikes this week but with a few pavement sections and the boardwalks spikes were out so I pulled out my racing flats (which I've used twice, a track workout that left me with a huge blister on my ankle and the Chicago tri in 2005).

I realized the last mile is a bit downhill for a stretch and that the boardwalks were runnable last night. This lifted my spirits. I eased my way up the final hill and noted my split from the 3 mile mark to what would be the finish and decided I should be able to do that final .1 in 35 seconds despite the incline. Then I headed out on the first mile of the course. Wanted to test the trainers on the grass. The grass was long and I could definitely tell it wasn't going to be a fast course even though it was dry last night. I paid attention to the twists and turns in the woods so that I could hopefully run the tangents and not waste too much energy running wide around the curves. As I headed back towards the start and out of the woods a helpful volunteer let me know I had 7 minutes. Plenty of time for one last stop at the ladies room. I managed to get in a 24 minute warm up and was at the line with about 1 minute to spare.

I knew AP was supposed to be there last night but there were a little less than 300 runners so I wasn't looking to find anyone. I lined up towards the front left. I decided I wanted to run at the left hand side as we entered into the staked path that curved left then right. Once we headed into the left turn I would gradually head right and hope to cut right directly after the last stake. Avoiding a tall mans elbows at the start we watched as once again a large group of HS runners took off at a sprint. I wanted to keep it even. My plan was to treat the night like a hard tempo run. Try to run even splits around 6:30-6:45 depending on how I felt. I maneuvered the first curve almost as planned but still had to dodge a stake before breaking free of the stake confinements. As we headed down a stretch of grass into the woods I heard "Is that you Liz?"

It was AP. He had perfect timing because I was about to pick it up to try and get ahead of some runners before we hit the path but he distracted me and I chatted with him as we entered the woods. I let him in on my plan and he told me he would do his best to keep me on track. Having him there I was able to talk and I think that kept me from going out too fast in the first mile. We were moving and passing tons of runners. We would both look for openings and often AP would call out when there was a clear path I could get through. It was kind of funny to be racing with all these high school kids and here I am chatting like I am out on a social run. Telling AP the race plan and letting him know if we were about to hit a hill or a turn.

We came through mile one right on pace at 6:39. I told AP that was perfect, now we just had to hold it. I was worried. This was 9 seconds slower than last weeks first mile but I knew going out too fast would end in disaster just like last week. We continued to pass tons of runners as we headed back into the woods. A couple of close calls on the downhills. One hill I thought for sure I would end up in the river as I watched a tall runner blaze by me at full speed. We exited the woods while passing a young blond girl and I heard "3rd and 4th females"called out to us.

Here we go again,
I thought. But I felt so much better last night at this point than I had last week. I felt strong and AP kept encouraging me and telling me we were definitely on pace. I wasn't sure I believed him. I had a hard time believing I was holding 6:40 but I would just keep pushing and try not to let him get away from me. As we came to the one water hand off I told him I was going for water but unfortunately I was on the left and water was on the right. AP was johnny on the spot and got a cup and handed it to me. At this point I felt a bit ridiculous, my own personal cup grabber, who did I think I was, Lance Armstrong? But I was definitely grateful. That sip of cold water was the best!

As we crossed the park entrance I knew we were nearing mile 2 and was a bit disappointed to hear the man there calling out 13. I thought for sure this meant my second mile was again going to be over 7, but thankfully my math skills while racing are poor and we hit mile 2 in 6:43. I was so happy. I knew it would be tough to hold that pace but I was ready to kick it up a notch. The hills haven't been my strength so I told AP I needed to pick it up through this section on the downs and flats so that I had a bit of time in the bank for the final hill.

All the while I kept looking for the tell tale sports bras in front of me who were in 1st and 2nd but couldn't see them. I was content to hold onto third and just keep running strong. I wanted to be sure no girls passed me in the final mile last night. I pulled in front of AP for a bit here but would hear him calling from behind, "great job," "good pass," etc. I just kept focused and tried to pass as many guys as I could. As we neared the turn to the hill I must have subconsciously put on the brakes a bit in fear of what was coming because AP caught me here and encouraged me to pick it up for the final push.

I kept him in my sights and tried to run like I was back at Euclid Creek doing hill sprints. I pushed hard and couldn't believe it when we crossed mile 3 in 6:43. I knew it was less than 40 seconds to the finish now if I could push it. I had seen my dollar friend ahead of me the whole race. Thankfully I didn't need him last night as I hammered it in to finish in 20:45 (watch time) (official time 20:46).

I was really happy with this finish and felt worlds better after the race than I had last week. I can't believe the difference. I guess sometimes you have to have a bad race to put the good ones in perspective. Went for a 24 minute cool down with AP then we waited around for awards. I felt bad AP had probably slowed down a lot to help me but turns out despite us coming in 68 and 69 overall he got 2nd in his age group and was only about 20 seconds behind 1st in his age group (who I think may have been dollar guy). I snagged 3rd overall and 1st in my age group again. I was only 20-25 seconds behind first and second who both ran in the 20:20s. Next week I'd like to see if I can take them down. Although I know overall I may be worse as Salty is coming and she's out to grab the win and a perfectly executed 5K plus MT might come and she's been rocking it too. I think I can up the ante a little and squeak out a 20:20. Not sure this course lends itself to a sub 20 for me but I am feeling confident I will break 20 soon.

I'd have to say despite last night not being a PR this was probably the best executed 5K I have ever done. Pretty damn near even splits. That's the way they should all be! That's the tenth time in my life I've run sub 21, 7 of those being my freshman and sophomore years in high school. Now I just have to get that pace from 6:41 down to 6:26!

If you're going...

So I let the cat slip out of the bag on Michelle's blog. I figure I better post the good news now before you do the detective work to find it out yourselves.

My ultra running pal rootsrunner recommended that I be a marathon pacer this year for the group that he has paced with for the past few years (and was Rookie pacer of the year for his first year with them). I got an email from the man in charge asking for some various information about myself a few months back and was told that I could possibly be pacing the Detroit marathon on October 21st.

So when I got an email last week asking if I had the 21st open I replied that I did as I was expecting to pace for him. He calls and we chat and he brings up the fact that my two most recent good marathon times were at Pig and Boston and that my ultras and trail hill experience will come in handy. In my mind I am thinking "Detroit doesn't have hills". But I assured him that I can definitely handle any hills thrown at me while pacing.

He then informs me they want me to be the 3:50 pacer at this years Nike Women's Marathon in San Fransisco! I cannot even begin to explain how excited I am. I will be all decked out in Nike Gear and will even get to try out their Nike+ software. Oh and did I mention I am going to San Fransisco! My last trip there was my senior year of college and I only got to see China town so I am really looking forward to seeing more of the city. Hopefully my expo duties will allow for some sightseeing time.

I'm nervous as it will be my first official pacing experience. Rootsrunner has already informed me I have to be rookie of the year, no pressure! But I am confident I can run a 3:50 pace comfortably even with the hills on the course. I'll be trying to do all my long runs that aren't trail at this pace so I get it engraved in my leg muscle memory. This also means I am going to bale on racing Towpath and going for 3:25. I don't want to risk not being recovered in time for my pacing duties (2 weeks later).

But! I am going to San Fransisco and it looks like this will be an awesome experience for me. Can't wait to get my Tiffany's necklace at the finish line! Hopefully I'll see some fun bloggers there and maybe I'll even get the honor of being your pacer!

Two Trail Freaks

I'm playing catch up here with the blogs but despite being busy with Burning River I have actually been doing a little bit of running and racing and I even have some awesome news which I will share in a post soon. In the mean time let's talk about the Twilight Trail 8K I did last Thursday with my gals.

I've been looking to do more trail races and get back into my cross country roots a bit. The Twilight Trail 8K was perfect as it is run in North Chagrin which is one of my regular stomping grounds and I knew the course well.

Of course Cleveland decided to bust out our first serious rain of the season around 4 PM. Wind was blowing everywhere and I watched as rain droplets floated up instead of down and we got a bit of a shock when we briefly lost power due to a very close lighting bolt. Also got to watch as nickel size hail impaled cars below and water was running over steps like a waterfall. I was swamped at work due to a new mail server sucking up half my day (what fun) and didn't get out of here until 30 minutes after I had wanted to.

Of course traffic was backed up like it normally would be at 5PM and I was worried about making it to the race on time. I called Solar and told her to leave my shirt at the start and I would just start running as soon as I got there. Fortunately for me quite a few other runners were stuck in traffic and they postponed the start. So I managed to arrive in time for a short warm up before we watched the first few waves of runners start.

The race turned out to have a fun format. The race was "age graded" with the older runners starting first, then progressing through age/gender groups that typically would be faster. First one to the finish line wins. Solar and I signed up for the team competition as did Daisy and MT. My friend BB was also out running solo. Still not sure how teams were awarded places whether it was combined time or place but we were (mostly) there to have fun so I just worried about running a good race.

Daisy had made us up some fun shirts to wear. Solar and I were "Two Trail Freaks" and MT and Daisy were "Pimp my Stride." For some reason no other teams were wearing matching outfits. :)

Dr. Louis snapped some pics for us as we lined up to get going. Our tentative plan was to stay together for a few miles then speed up or slow down depending on how we felt. We took off relatively quickly and caught the group who had left 1 minute before us just in time to cross the stream. Many runners were pussyfooting around here but I blasted through. The water was low and I barely got my feet wet. I didn't want to waste time here when I knew there was a huge incline coming up that would cause us to slow way down. And boy did it! Our first mile was over 8 minutes.

After that we settled into a groove. I felt good despite the humidity. MT felt better. I did my best to keep up with here but after 2 miles I let her pull away. I kept her in my sights figuring I would catch her on the down hills by squires. I typically can gain 20 seconds on her in a good downhill section but not that night! I never did close the gap on her. I ran as hard as I could for 8K and with the hills, humidity, and mud I was pretty happy with the results. My watch time was just over 37:05. (Mile splits: 8:16, 7:47, 6:58, 7:08, 6:54 (.9)) So around 7:30 pace. Not blazing fast but I am happy with it.

This race was well stocked and we were delighted to see that in addition to the typical post race fare there was also plenty of cold beers! I decided beer sounded much better than a cool down and grabbed one. MT would have none of it though and wanted to get in a proper cool down. I replied I'd cool down as soon as I finished my beer. And we did. Although we were all so sweaty and hot I don't think it can really be called a cool down.

We got back just in time for awards and were elated to find out that MT and Daisy got first female team and Solar and I got 2nd! Good enough for $25 gift certificates to Second Sole. Added bonus BB came in 3rd overall female! We were so excited they had to ask us to quiet down as you couldn't hear the rest of the awards over us. Ooops!

We hung out and chatted with some other tri/running friends before finally calling it a night. I'll definitely do this event again. Despite the humidity and the slight advantage to fast master runners we had a blast and the post race fare and goody bags were awesome!

Two Trail Freaks Ready to Run

Teams look best in wife beaters!

At least I'm not the only OCD one!

Ready to start

All Done

Happy to be done!

1st and 2nd Female Teams

Excited to get $25 gift certificates

And Now for Something Completely Different

A little reminiscing.

For those that aren't aware I met my husband the night of an alumni event called Greek Sing at our Alma Mater Heidelberg College. David came back to see his frat in action and I snuck into the Aptonalton after party although it was closed and I was not yet a member of the Aps. My sorority sister Clover just posted these little gems to You Tube who coincidentally was the one who let me into the party that night. I have her and my good pals Ang and Dusty to thank for meeting my future husband that night!

I definitely think these vids are worth a peek. Especially the Ap videos. Still proud to say those are my brothers. Oddly enough someone just posted video of the 2006 Greek Sing and it looks like these boys are still up to the same antics.

Thanks Clover for posting these!


In Aptonalton,

Without Further Ado:
My Frat at Greek Sing the night I met David

The Kung Fu Fighting Vid is definitely worth a view too!

My sorority at Greek Sing the night I met David

Yes proud to say I was one of the two in charge of Greek Sing for our sorority that year. LOL we went with an island theme. Props to anyone that can pick me out of the crowd ;) I think I can say that for the first time in my life I feel a little bit old. It's hard to believe this was almost 7 years ago.

Fiesta on the Burning River Part Deux

Wow. What an amazing weekend.

I took Friday off to stock up for the aid station and to get my place ready for my family to arrive. I finished all of that just in time for a 3 minute shower and we headed to the pre race dinner to let my folks meet some runners and to let my dad go check out our aid station and decide on our plan for lighting everything the next night.

Got a call from Roy that he needed someone to go out and remark a section of road on the Brandywine loop as he had marked it on the left instead of right. For those of you not aware of Roy's dedication to having this be the best marked course around I think this is a good example of it. For him to be worried not because he was afraid there were no markings but because a small 1/2 mile section had the markings on the wrong side of a road which runners would likely run on the left anyways was impressive to me. So my parents and my sister drove over with me to remark this little section. After a bit of confusion we got ourselves aligned correctly and got the markings moved to the right and put new ground markings out as the brief but torrential thunderstorm from Thursday night had washed the originals away. Thankfully we checked the road all the way to the dead end as someone had removed the pie plate marking the turn. We got that righted and checked all the other turns in this section before heading to Boston Store for a quick restroom stop. There we met a couple who had rode their bikes to dinner and stayed too long and were now making their return trip in the dark. I hope they made it safely. They commented that the BR100 markings were keeping them on track.

After that we made a quick stop at our aid station locale and scoped out the planned set up. We noted that the area we would be stationed smelled quite foul. Nothing like the smell of compost in the wee hours of the morning!

We headed home and I finished making my stations signs as I enjoyed a glass of Merlot my husband kindly picked up for me.

Headed to bed and set the alarm for 8:30 in order to make it out to Shadow Lake for it's shutdown to grab a tarp and 10 gallon jugs from my friend Karen who was in charge of that station. I just missed the last runner but had fun catching up with Karen and some other TNT friends then got in a nice little hike with Karen and her son to take down some course markings. The runners were through her station quick but she did have one drop (She was mile 18.4).

I headed home after this with intentions of taking my family to Chipotle as my dad still hasn't tried it but arrived home to find my parents out walking (their cell phones with me in the car) and my sister starving. We hopped in the Ford and set out to find my parents. We found them on their way home from Wendy's and picked them up. I also wanted to head out near Chipotle in order to search for some chili pepper boxers for our aid station blow up doll "Pedro" at Target. KT and I got some Chipotle to my dad's chagrin (they had already eaten) and then we went to Target. No chili pepper boxers so we bought some white ones and my mom decorated them. We packed up the vehicle with all our goodies and headed out around 3:45 PM so I would have plenty of time to set up. I was worried runners might be in earlier than 9 minute pace since they were through mile 18.4 so quickly.

Turns out I need not have worried. Our aid station was set up and ready to go shortly after 5:30 and here I was with tons of volunteers and no runners. I was so grateful for every ones help. I even had a friend drive a tent and camp stove all the way from New York for this. That camp stove was a big help as we had many runners who would come through requesting something hot in the wee hours of the night and morning.

Volunteers Treetop, Happy, and B Bop that I had on tap to work later in the night came out early to donate a cooler and check out the site in the light and were kind enough to pick up a bike and go check and update course markings from 88 to our station. They even answered a distress call and went to help out at Boston Store before returning to help me out at 1:15 AM.

B50 and her husband showed up with citronella candles and helped to blow up the all important Pedro. B50 and my parents and KT worked on setting out food as AP, Treetop, Happy, and B Bop mixed up the heed, Gatorade, and water jugs.

Set up went so smoothly we didn't know what to do with ourselves. All my help was raring to help out the runners. Our station became the hang out place while members of the race committee waited for the front runner to come in and we stopped to take pictures with Pedro. PR with her broken leg came out and was in high spirits waiting to record those runners and kept the spectators in line for me and away from the runners food ;) So we just hung around anticipating the call that would come from Leo at mile 88 to let us know when we could expect the first runner.

Once we got the call we prepared for Mark to come in. It sounded like he was moving and I knew from Buckeye 50k that he would want to be in and out quick and would rather get his own food while we fill his bottle and his pacer attends to his needs. So Solar heated up some soup, we got the PB&J ready and labeled a cooler full of ice. My mom pulled his drop bag and we waited for Patty to ring her cow bell announcing a runner was on their way in.

Mark blasted through the aid station. His pacer Kam shouted for his drop bag and that he needed ice and water. I didn't think there was time to fill his bottle the old fashioned way so I dipped it straight into the ice water and twisted on the lid as I watch mark scoop a handful of noddles out of a cup and slurp them up. For those that wonder what the leader of the race has in his mile 91.3 drop bag apparently just red bull. He popped the tab and we watched as red bull sprayed out the top before he gulped down half the drink and grabbed a pb&j square and was on his way down the trail. In all the excitement I forgot to call Mel and tell her Mark had come through. I made sure to tell Vince to tell her I was sorry when he called to ask about the front runners.

We all got pretty excited at this point only to sit and wait for a few hours before the next runner came through. It was another SERC runner, Tim Clement and he was also through our station pretty quick. His wife and family were there and my second shift of volunteers had come in but my first shift were still there wanting to see more than just one runner.

The 2nd runner through mile 88 still hadn't shown up so we were starting to wonder about him. Leo had called to let me know he had wanted to stay longer at his station but his pacer had urged him on informing him he had 3 minutes to get out of there. I decided to make a quick bathroom stop and of course as I jetted into the bar with KT and Daisy we saw headlamps booking down the trail. Turns out this was a young 17 year old who was on pace to break the USATF 100 mile record for his age.

GH had showed up to take over for PR and my dad had headed home to keep my husband company until his shift at 4:45 started the next morning. A few more volunteers trickled in including Brett and we were definitely well manned for the number of runners coming through. I think some of the volunteers just came to see what a runner looks like at 91.3 and surprisingly most of them didn't look too bad!

The Race Director and Volunteer coordinator showed up and Tanya bless her heart remembered I needed two more medium t-shirts. She was so organized and on top of things. Not only an amazing ultra runner but a wonderful friend and hard worker. She put her all into this race and I hope she was happy with the outcome. I mentioned to them that we had a runner that was MIA who should have shown up a long time ago. That we knew he had a pacer but we were tempted to send a volunteer out to find him. Just as we were about to send out the crew our runner turned up. He was walking slowly and was ready for a nap. He wanted to DNF but his pacer told him to sleep it off and see how he felt in a few hours. He had over 8 hours to get out of the aid station and could crawl in and still finish so we got him a sleeping bag and set him up on the hammock. We found a long sleeve for his pacer who offered to help us if we needed her and eventually asked for a blanket and laid down with her runner to get some shut eye.

The top ten or so runners came through shortly after each other. I was amazed as my friend Dawn who was running her first 100 came in first woman and looked like she had just started running. She was in her sports bra and steam was coming off her body. I wish I looked that hot after 50 K let alone after 91 miles!

I loved that we got to individually help each runner and how each had their own little quirks. I feel like that is really what the 100 mile is made up of. All these individuals and their own quirky personalities and stories all come together with one common goal.

At one point a local runner came in and was sitting down and we mentioned he was 10th into our station but would be 9th going out as the 4th runner was sleeping. He exclaimed "Who's sleeping, Bonehead? Get his ass up I'll drag him out of here" He was a riot, even going so far as to try and find the runner on his way out. We had cleverly hidden the hammock behind a tent though.

I was worried about the 1:15 shift to come as it would only be 4 of us but luckily my sister decided to stay up and record runners numbers so the 4 of us could handle taking care of runners needs as they came through. Treetop, B Bop, and Happy really came through. They are all in CTC and I had never met them before but I was proud to have them as my volunteers. They were top notch attending to runners needs quickly and efficiently.

Eventually our sleeping runners pacer gave in and let him drop. They politely asked us to keep an eye out for any runners crew who might be going to the finish but I had my dad take them straight to the finish to get some hot food in them and get them out of the cold.

I could spend time talking about each runner and each individual who came through or helped in the night but I would be afraid I'd forget someone important. I think the major change we saw was once the sun came out. Runners looked a little bit happier and stayed a little while shorter. It was like the sun gave them a new start and they were ready to get on towards the finish.

One that stuck out was a guy who came in with his pacer and needed a rub down. He said he couldn't stomach any food but took us up on some hot chocolate and laid down on the hammock. We provided his pacer with "the stick" and with my handy roller massage tool and she rubbed him out and let him rest a bit. Happy noted he had been laying down for awhile and we talked to his pacer who was worried about him. She was parked at our station and hadn't planned on running the last 9 with him but I told her to have the finish line give me a call when she got there and my dad would come pick her up and bring her back. Happy finally convinced the runner to have some grilled cheese and we were able to give him a pair of gloves for his cold hands and send him on his way. Hours later his pacer showed up and hollered to me that she had made it back and her runner had finished. B Bop had evidently gone to see the finish and had offered her a ride back. I was seriously so lucky to have such wonderful volunteers helping me out. I don't think any of them realize what a difference they made out there this weekend.

Jen and Bloggister came at 4:45 to help and my mom, dad, and KT were there too. Lou who had planned to help ended up pacing his buddy in and coincidentally ran through our aid station shortly after 4:45 AM. Bloggister showed up early to get a run in and then did an amazing job manning the soup and pop for runners. My dad took charge of coffee and grilled cheese. My husband had kindly sent some turkey, ham, bread, and cheese and we were able to offer runners some protein if they wanted it. TRitt had bought eggs on his way and one runner did ask for an egg and cheese sandwich.

I think this far into a race probably everything tastes good or nothing tastes good. Most runners opted for grilled cheese, soup, and cola. A few went for cookies or gels and one lady stocked up on peppermint patties, stuffing her handheld pocket to the brim and having me squeeze a few extra into her shorts pocket. Jen, my dad, and I sustained ourselves on any of the grilled cheese that got burnt.

Solar and MT showed up around 7 AM to get in their run. They brought us hot coffee and I asked them both to pace in some of the last runners. I hope they enjoyed the experience. I am sure the runners were grateful. What male ultra runner wouldn't be thrilled to have hot female runners pace them in the final 9 miles?

I had the pleasure of walking with the young ultra stud Josh for a few minutes as he made his way out of our station. I was so happy earlier in the night when I checked in on him to find he was still going strong. I was starting to worry about all of my friends as we kept hearing of more and more drops. I jogged back to the station to check in on Fred. He was still feeling feisty and when I asked him if I could get him anything he decided a nibble off my ear sounded good. I laughed and pushed him out of the station, obviously he was not feeling one bit worn out. Flo you need to keep an eye on this one! Kurt O came through and was obviously in a lot of pain. I gave him our familiar greeting "HARD CORE!" and we ushered him out and on his way.

Eventually we got the call from Leo that the last runner had come through his station. Number 59 and he was moving well. Throughout the night many runners had commented that the distance from 88 to here was by far longer than 3.3 so I held out hopes that each of the runners would make it by the official 8:23 cut off but knew if they were there before 8:35 I would let them continue as I had an inkling the next aid station would be closer than 4.5. Luckily I didn't have to make that call and the last runner now number 126 came through at 8:13 AM. We got him out of our aid station as quickly as possible and on his way to the finish. 70 runners had made it to our station and only 2 dropped. I was disappointed we couldn't get them moving on towards the finish but at the end of the day it really is their decision, not ours.

The supply trucks were ready to get moving and they took all of their supplies out of there quickly. Bloggister, my mom, KT, and I tore the rest of the aid station down while my dad headed out to tear down course markings on the way to the final station. Bloggister did the work of 4 men or more and I cannot tell you how screwed we would have been without him there. Once we got everything loaded I headed to the finish line to find Solar and give her her keys and to watch the last few runners as they completed 100 miles.

I got to the finish line and chatted with the 2nd place 17 year old runner, with Josh, with some of my friends who were not able to make it to 91.3 but had come back to cheer on those runners who had made it to the finish. I got to officially meet Tony the tiger and congratulate him on his amazing finish. He had come through our aid station hours earlier with his pacer and they had both decided to toss their shirts on the way out. I hear sensationally red resisted the temptation to turn Tony into a human Popsicle when he went through 95 ;) I cannot tell you how great he did. When he came through our station he had a huge scrape on his shoulder and his poor pacer stumbled over his foot trying to help him. I can't imagine how much that hurt!

The finish line announcer made an announcement when there was 1 hour to go and I realized that Solar and MT were still out there with their runners and that Kurt O still hadn't come in. I still miraculously had energy and I decided I would go back out to check on Kurt and see if he would like some company the last few miles. I started my watch so I would be able to estimate distance to the finish for runners as I worked my way backwards through the course. I didn't have to go far before I found Kurt. He was almost to the road making his way up a very technical section or rocks. I asked if he wanted company and he said no. He was in too much pain. I cheered him on and watched to make sure he made it past the dangerous rocks and the sheer drop off. Then made my way back along the trail to see if any other runners needed my help.

I passed two runners and let them know the time and about how far they had to go, assuring them they had plenty of time to make it to the finish. Both turned down my offer to accompany them so I continued to move backwards. Shortly after I found number 126. He looked to be in good spirits and took me up on the offer to join him as he made his way to the finish. I had been running 15 minutes and we had about 40 to make it to the finish. Plenty of time! He said he was completely exhausted and was worried if he ran he would collapse. He honestly looked really good. He was coherent and talking to me like he was just out for a hike. We made our way through the technical rocks and reached the road as the rain started to come down hard. I knew we could walk slowly and still finish but I tried to keep my walking brisk and we chatted all the way to the finish. He even managed to pick up the pace and run in. It was very neat to be able to watch as he finished his first 100 miler attempt in around 29:42.

We stuck around for the awards and finally made our way home. I tried to stay up until David got home from work but fell asleep reading. I dreamt of aid stations and my blogging friends who were out on the course. I guess after being up for 30+ hours and being at the race for over 15 I had aid stations and running friends on the brain :) I took a 2 hour nap and then we played some games before sending my parents and sister home to Michigan. I slept like a rock Sunday night.

I still can't get all the runners out of my mind. What they accomplished is just so amazing and I was definitely inspired. I still don't think I want to do a 100 miler any time soon, but I can definitely see how one would get inspired to do one after seeing this event.

Hopefully I'll have more pictures to post soon.

Congrats to everyone who was involved in this race, the runners, the committee, the aid station captains, and the volunteers, it really is quite amazing how an event like this gets pulled together.

Some links to some runners and volunteers race reports, all of who did a great job summing up the weekend or will be summing it up soon! (much better than I have here)
B Bop
Sensationally Red
Chef Bill
Really a Runner

Fiesta on the Burning River

That's right kids this weekend is Cleveland's inaugural 100 mile race, the Burning River 100!

No I'm not running it but I will be spending a fair amount of time helping out. Last fall I was out and about with some of the race committee running on the trails that would be incorporated into the Burning River course. This fall I'll be manning the aid station at mile 91.3. It's been exciting to watch as this whole event got put together. I know there has been a lot of man hours put into this and I hope that the outcome shows it.

I've been doing my best to help out since I know so many volunteers have given their time to help me in all my races. Plus I just love the ultra community and this is a great way to see everyone out there this weekend! Even though at mile 91.3 they may not be up for a chat we'll get them full of some grub and on their way to the finish.

Since mile 91.3 is obviously so late in the event we will be out there all night! There for the first runners to come through around 6:30 PM and there for those cutting it close to the 30 hour cut off at 8:20 AM the next morning. We'll be stocked to the max with Gatorade, Heed, Water, ice, pb&j, soup, and other goodies that the race provides us. On top of that our specialty will be some fiesta style food like tortilla chips and perhaps some tortillas and fixings. We'll be close to stores so we may even be able to fill special requests if given a heads up and if the stores are open.

Many people are helping me out so that hopefully our aid station will be the best out there. I can't thank them enough. I'll be there all night and will get to rotate my time between my SERC pals, my CTC pals, some ultra pals, and my family. That's right I even conned the rents and my sis into helping!

Our theme will be Fiesta on the Burning River so we'll be blaring calliente style music all night and will be wearing sombreros and serving everything up with fiesta style flair. It should be a blast.

Last night I printed and laminated signs for all the aid stations and tonight I will be heading out to help mark the course with MT and RH. This event is definitely keeping everyone busy!

The race got a plug in the Plain Dealer and on the local WKSU station. Some of the facts in the article were a bit off. Fred Davis certainly is not your normal joe and the burning river may be his first 100 of the weekend, but it's certainly not his first ever :) But it's pretty exciting having such a big ultra event right here in Cleveland so we'll overlook the details ;)

Good luck to all those running this weekend! I am sure I'll miss someone here but special good luck to all first timers (Mike and Dawn!). Good luck to fellow bloggers Josh and Rob. Have fun pacing Kim! We'll see you all at mile 91.3! We'll be sure to save some salsa for you ;)