Posts Tagged ‘trail running’

My curlers didn’t fall out. Yep, that was one of my main concerns as I crawled on my hands and knees through cold, wet mud last Saturday. But I almost didn’t run the Eugene 2012 Dirty Dash.

Once upon a time, (like 6 months ago) Tanya, one of my bestest running buddies, announced that the Dirty Dash was coming to town in honor of her birthday and we should all register. In a moment of runner snobbish seriousness or mommy-brain-fart or whatever, I didn’t sign up. Then, as it happened, there appeared an extra ticket and the next thing I knew, I was showing up to carpool to a filthy, obstacle course 5K with a beer sipping aid station dressed in curlers, an apron and wielding a mean Scotch-Brite sponge. 4 sponges, actually, one for each of us on the June Cleavers Team.

We will clean you, we will. But oh, is that a cake with a Barbie in it?

Looks like we’ll have to back up again. About that cake…. Even though I wasn’t planning on running the dash, I WAS planning something dirty…a dirt cake for the dasher-birthday-girl. What started as a chocolate cake with cute little candy rocks for, uh, rocks,  peanut clusters for mud and crushed Oreos for dirt became a slightly-freakish-double-decker-girl-jumping-out-of-a-cake dessert that only a dirty dasher could love. Alas…the process.

Babs and her junk. Uh, candy.

Curlers? Check. Short pointless dress? Check. Botox perma-grin? Check.

In this situation, I’m sure Barb is glad she doesn’t have “realistic” anatomy or, well, you get the idea.

Ta-da! It’s Cake Barbie. (Which is way better than Rockstar Barbie or even Malibu Ken)

Meanwhile, the shiny clean Junes get ready to head out. (I have a running skirt on, just in case you’re thinking I went with JUST the apron.)

Obviously the “after” picture. We had mud in places we didn’t think there could be mud. Ever. But had a completely riotous time. My favorite part was singing happy birthday to Tanya as we crawled under large irrigation pipes through a 30-foot mud puddle on our bellies.

Later that night, Barbie got the ax. With her red gummy worm boa in tact, she smiled through it all.

Hey, chocolate is chocolate, right?

I have to say, the Dash was a blast. I climbed over hay bales, slippery walls, up and down rope ladders, through pipes, over pipes and under pipes. I hopped through tires, had a few sips of beer at the “aid” staion and crawled through more mud. I took a freezing cold shower with my clothes on with 50 other people and can’t remember when I’ve laughed so hard. And yes….there was running. The running was awesome! There were many many people who showed up for the fun, the mud, the beer and the adventure. But many of them were not runners. “Hey!” We said to ourselves, “We kick ass at this part!” as we passed group after group of mud zombies.

And, while we lost a few along the way, for the most part, our curlers stayed in.


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Two quick things before I launch into my latest soap box…Sorry in advance for subjecting you to photos, once again, of me in that striped headband and my Lithia Loop Marathon shirt. I DO have lots of other running clothes, but these are just my absolute favorites.  And, for the full meal deal on the Ridgeline Ramble, see my race report post from today as well! 

I love it when you find someone at the end of a race that you can pace with – you push each other to the end, finish together and feel like you’ve known them for years. Saturday, that person was Liz. I knew I could keep up with her because I trusted my training. (See number 9 below)

So, I haven’t raced in over a year. And, while I have signed up for the McKenzie River Trail Run 50K on September 8th, I plan on running a few trail halves, and maybe a trail marathon, before hand. The Ridgeline Ramble 20K Trail Race was first on the list. Wow. It was an amazing day. It was amazing because  I felt trained. I felt qualified. I felt like I belonged there. It’s strange, even though I’ve done many races (most longer than 20K), I can honestly say that I felt the most ready for this one. Having had to start from square one after several months off last summer due to my myriad of foot injuries, made me a new and better runner. I got an awesome do-over.

Here is a list of reasons why I’m a better runner than a year ago:

1. I got humbled by injury and time off. You don’t miss it till it’s gone. Since I’ve been back to running, I have had NO complaints. I’m thankful each day I get to run. What a gift.

2. I cross train. Something was bound to break down with just running. I am surprised I went so long. Swimming is my cross training sport of choice. I go at least 3 times a week. It stretches everything out and I love using the pull buoy and paddles to work my core and upper body.

3. I got a coach. Well, not just ANY coach. The most incredible coach: Cathie Twomey Bellamy, owner of Eugene Running Club. I’m tearing up just typing her name. Simply put – she GETS me. All of me…my running, my weaknesses, my strengths, my quirkiness, my humor, my inner dialogue, my insecurities, my dreams. I have never had anyone who was in total understanding of my love of running while at the same time such an expert at helping me achieve my goals. And what a friend.

4. I LISTEN to my coach and followed the rules. (Because it’s not enough to just have a coach.) Especially when I was in the beginning of my back-to-running program, Cathie would tell me to report in on my runs and be uber honest – “Like I’m-staring-into-the-whites-of-your-eyes honest!” It was hard to admit when something hurt after running 5 minutes then to be told to back off or not run the next day. That was harder than hard. Like impossible. But I had trust. And it worked.

5. I lost 10 pounds. I didn’t try to really, I just quit eating most things with gluten and kept up two sports with biking thrown in on the side.  I don’t do a lot of substituting with gluten-free products. I just stay away from a lot more processed foods. Miracle is, I don’t really crave them now. It doesn’t feel like a struggle. I’ve always said bagels beget bagels. You have one on Monday, you want one on Tuesday kinda thing. I’ll have a burger and a beer on Saturday now and then and then I’m good to go for a while.

6. I have built a better aerobic running base. I used to go out and run 3, 4 or 5 mile runs during the week with a sort of lame speed workout consisting of 4 miles total (either a tempo, some intervals or mile repeats) and a long one on the weekend. Now, a speed workout is no shorter than 6 miles and my mid-week runs are easier, but longer. I’m running 40 mile plus weeks and feel great. Previous times I’ve tried that things fell apart and everything hurt.

7. I’m really enjoying running with lots of different people. How does this help your running, you ask? I’m not exactly sure, but it keeps things a-changin’. Some folks I run with are a bit faster, some are a bit slower, some go early, some go late, some go long, some go short, some are long-time runners, some are newbies. While I still cherish my solo runs, all of these friends share themselves liberally with me, so I really ENJOY their company and all the gifts they give me in my life.

8. I’m not so freaking anal about my training. Even though I have a coach and a big fat training plan for the 50K, I don’t feel tied to it like some sort of life-line that, if pulled, would send me flying and sputtering like a balloon loosing air darting across a room. I hook up with friends and work in my plan. Even with my full-time mommy, house boss job and trying to build RMR, I’m more flexible. Night swimming, post-drop-off running, running with kids on bikes, half a run with one friend, the other half with another, getting up at 4:30am to get in more mileage…all of these work ok if I just stay calm and keep running. I even take an extra rest day here and there when plans fall apart. The difference though is that it doesn’t leave ME falling apart mentally; worried that I’ll get behind.What I get is rested.

9. I’m learning to trust my training. I’ve often said that, but rarely actually felt like I could trust it. Building a base has made me stronger.

10. I’m looking inward, not outward for my rewards. I am happy with my accomplishments and like to share them, but, in general, I feel less of a need to plaster details about every single workout on Facebook. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fun to see people comment, laugh, offer support, lend a listening ear or be there to commiserate –and I am doing that on occasion–but right now it just feels nice to sit and treasure it.

I would love to hear what makes you a happy runner or a strong runner?

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What fun! Seriously, the 2012 Ridgeline Ramble was a hoot. There were many reasons for this day being one of the freaking best, so here they are! (Sorry, you know how I love lists.)

1. The weather was perfect (around 50, cool and cloudy with a promise of sun)

2. It started with awesome running peeps!

Carpooling with Ellen (right) was a fun treat and how can you see Piper’s awesome smile at the start and not have a fab day?!

3. Shuttle!

It smelled like sweat and we hadn’t even started running yet – love it!

4. I got to see old friends and they welcomed me with loving arms, smiles and stories of the past year!

I trained with Gary a few marathons ago. I felt like I was in high school bouncing on the school bus yapping away.


5. It was the first race I’ve done in over a year, so I was a bit wide-eyed and psyched up. (aka, got in the porta-potty line immediately!)

Danuta and I ramble-blabbing before the ramble run. (Sporty jacket, girlfriend)


6. It was a small, friendly, well-organized race (thanks to Eclectic Edge Racing!). Volunteers were great!

We are so lucky to have this trail in our own backyards! It’s nice to race at home.

7. And lucky # seven…. I felt READY to run, to race even. I placed 4th in my age group and I’m so happy about that. I felt strong and capable the entire way. This is a new feeling for me…to trust my training. I hadn’t toed-up to the line since recovering from my slew of foot problems, but I felt ready and oh so lucky to be running.

8. I trashed my quads! I know, this seems like an odd thing to be excited about. In my last podcast with Carolyn about her journey to the Western States 100 Endurance run, she talked about her current strategy of trashing her quads on the downhills. In other words, let your legs fly!

I leap-frogged with this gal, Liz, during the first half of the race and we finished really strong together. I noticed that she was a fast downhill runner, so I got inspired to trash away. It worked! The best part was that my quads weren’t really too bad off. I’ve been running lots of downhill lately, so they were surprisingly ready for me.

9. My buddies placed! Almost as much fun as running is cheering for your friends. Steph and Carley  (a new RMR Thursday group gal) both placed in their age group. Nice job, ladies!

Here’s Steph – who is one cool momma. We used to watch our now 8 YOs run around as toddlers, now they watch us run races!

10. We are so enjoying this new face and amazing woman share herself with us on our Thursday morning runs. And looky-here! She’s a winner!

She’s told us alot about herself in those wee hours, but she forget to tell us she’s fast!


My training plan calls for back-to-back runs now, so I ran again on Sunday, the day after the race. Of course, it was slow and short, but I was so excited to get out there….still high on Saturday’s fun!

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Cutie Pie Carolyn Keeping Warm in the Car

Brrrrrrrr! But beautiful.

The Fall Creek Run Around 20 mile race made for a fun, low-key, chilly, hilly morning. My buddy and ultra mentor, Carolyn, and I headed up to the reservoir at about 9:15. The race started at 10:00, so we grabbed our bibs and hopped in the porta-potty line for a quick pee.  I ran into my friend Laurie of the fab blog [Mis] Adventures of a Jogging Stoller Mom while we waiting in line. We chatted for a minute, risking frozen hands to grab a quick photo. She’s speedy, so I knew that would probably be the last I saw of her.

Laurie & I in the porta-potty line. We can smile in the freezing cold, but the guy behind us would have no part of it.

As I headed back to the car to stay warm and wait for the start, I heard someone mention “soup at the finish” over the loud speaker and made a mental note.

At 2 minutes to 10:00, we all moseyed up to the start. William from Eclectic Edge Racing gave a us a short briefing to be safe and sounded his little hand horn. After a quick and slick mile around the park, we headed around the lake for a little 19-mile loop. Although my butt was frozen as were my hands and my toes, it was sunny. Getting my feet under me and thinking about how to negotiate the ice and snow patches made the first 5 miles go by quickly.


The next 5 miles were snowier, less sunny and steeper. I hadn’t really studied the route much, so I hadn’t realized the first half was going to be quite a bit up hill. The road was pretty cambered in parts and at one point I found myself doing a little impromptu “soft shoe” as I slid toward the shoulder and  ditch. Carolyn took a bad fall on the ice as did the gal running next to us. Up ahead a tall guy in short shorts took a nasty spill as well. I figured I was next, so I tried harder to stay on the shoulder where there was more snow and my shoes could catch a better grip.

We plodded along in the snow and ice until about mile 13 or 14. Carolyn is better going up  hills, so I watched her slowly slip away ahead of me. We rounded the lake’s corner and down we came at a nice downward slope for the next 4 miles.  We got pretty spread out and I found myself running alone with the cold, white trees. It was a gorgeous morning. While I tried to keep my eyes on the snowy shoulder of the road, I managed to look around now and then at the winter wonderland we don’t often get in this part of Oregon.

mmm mmm good

The last mile and a half was uphill. I didn’t need that and was tired by then. My long runs lately had been only 15 milers and I had not been doing much in the hill department. I was stoked to be done and ready for my soup. Campbells never tasted so good.

Fleece, food, friend, finish. The best!

While I would love to be able to keep up with her, I sort of like it that Carolyn has been about 10 minutes faster than me in our last few races together. That means she’s there to cheer me through the finish line. She placed 1st in her age group and I placed third in mine. Hey, not bad for a chilly day in the woods.

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Skweet Bottle Wash Experiment - oh so cleeeeen

When I got back into trail running a little less than a year ago, I mainly used hand-held water bottles for up to 10 mile runs. But when I planned a longer run one day, I decided to dig out my hubby’s Camelbak to give the hydration system a try. It was nice having my hands free, but the pack had been sitting around a while and no matter how much I cleaned out the bladder, the taste was horrible. Plastic-semi-gunk taste – bluck! I have since bought a Nathan Hydration Vest and so I sort of gave up on the Camel until I planned a long trail run with 3 other gals, 2 of whom hadn’t been on trails before. One of them asked to borrow the Camelbak. I had another hand held I was going to lend out as well, but then remembered a friend let her dog drink out of it the week before on a long run. (Not a huge deal, I’m a dog lover, but boy, I had some cleaning to do if I was going to let these ladies borrow my stuff.)

Enter Skweet sport bottle wash – 100% biodegradeable, non-toxic.  A local super star master’s runner and coach Mike Blackmore who reps the product turned me on to it a few months ago, but I hadn’t tried it yet. What did I have to lose? I lined up all my bottles and the gunky Camelbak and followed the easy instructions to wash it all up:

1 tsp. for each water bottle

1-2 Tbsp. for the bladder

Fill with water, swish-shake-squeeze through drinking spout on the bottles and syphon out through the bladder tube.

Then came the test – refill and taste the Camelbak water…… drumroll please…..delicious! Cool! It tasted super clean and there was no plastic or soapy taste. Love it!

Here are some links to get you going:

Learn more or order online at Skweetclean.com

If you live in Eugene, contact Mike Blackmore of Blackmore Massage to get it locally.

Got a gadget to recommend or trick up your sleeve you want to share?

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Wild Oregon Spool Goat (Awesome)

I’ve come to realize that I say “awesome” too much. After watching myself on video, I noticed  I also say “fantastic” and “gorgeous” too much. I guess it could be worse. I could be saying, uh, well, I say those words too, just not on this video (well, there is one). Anyway, here is the 4th installment on my way to the Siskiyou Outback 50K. This one takes you to Mt. Pisgah, Eugene, Oregon for a 26 mile trail run full of hills, flowers, mud and the words fantastic and gorgeous oh so many times. Sorry for the lame quality. I used my iPhone’s video app. (Honey, I want a 4G for my birthday, k?)

Things I learned about myself from this run:

  • You CAN do it, no matter what it is.
  • The Nathan Hydration Vest for women ROCKS!
  • Chips are still my favorite source of salt
  • Sipping water and grabbing a little bite at each mile keeps me hydrated and fed (gummy bear, gu, pbj, water)
  • Chi running is great to practice on trails
  • I’m good at jumping over snakes
  • My mantras are going from hard core stuff like “Suck it up woman” to things like, “Relax, enjoy it, do it”

Question for you…What have you learned about yourself lately on a run that pushed you?

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