Writing, Running, Being.

The finish line is a shifty Thing and what is life, but reckoning?
Ani DiFranco

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

To the Soldier I Didn't Thank in the Liquor Store

"Ma'am" is not what aged me tonight.
And it wasn't the lackluster glance the cashier gave my ID as I placed it, unprovoked, on the counter.
It wasn't the realization that at eight o'clock I was already yawning that hard.

It was your uniform-
not the official one.
The inferred one.
The cliched garb of a desperate GI:  High and Tight, Ed Hardy, bedazzled back pockets with imitation iPhone fading,
cologne that whispered "I am so fucking lonely."

It was the "I have seen so much of this" that poured years on my heart while predicting your next words, knowing you would hold the door for me.
And I,
All yoga pants and tangles, glasses, tee shirt, no bra,
six-pack, microbrew, IPA
Uninspected ID awkwardly pressed between my lips
Cringed because I had to walk before you.
Display myself in appreciation of your service

"Ma'am" again.
I should have known.
I'm too presumptuous,
I looked at you again, not as an angry feminist-
though strong legs and a scowl can be misleading.

I found myself in a rocking chair cross-stitching a still life of boots and dog tags beneath an American flag.
In an alternate universe, I am your mother,
weeping when you stand chiseled and stone-faced, ready to disappear into a sandstorm.
As you're swallowed by a sea of pixellated desert camo.
I am your mother but you don't know it because you're looking me up and down as I pass you, saying something else I've heard before but am pretending I haven't,
smiling politely.

I didn't thank you for your service
or the door
but maybe I expected you to to absorb it in the same way you expect those synthetic pheromones to work tonight at the bar.
I didn't thank you because I couldn't.
Maybe there were too many words clogging my throat and there wasn't time to sift through them for the right one.
Excuses, I know.
As your mother, I thank you for your existence, your humanness, your smile, strong hands
I appreciate your cells and all they do.
But I just can't understand why you're dying.

I can't understand the Skoal or the 40s or the bombs
I hate that you're going out tonight
to burn up your insides and hollow out your heart
because it's considered a conflict of interest:
Too vital.
Or not vital enough
to the mission.

But the girls in their jeans and heels will smell you.
They'll be looking for you
Already poised for the pickup
with a list of things they can take from you.

I can not be anti-war
If I myself, partake everyday.
If it's my only way of acknowledging the greater good.
I can not be anti-mirror;
I have to, unflinchingly, address my own reflection when it shows up High or Tight.
I can not be anti-door
Because I too, flirt with them daily.
I can not be anti-rocking chairs,
or Guns.

I can not be anti-flag
But I am anti-anything that drapes the lifeless body of a young person who was only trying to go somewhere and be brave.

I am anti-blood stained Ed Hardy after last call
Because you're supposed to be brothers
I am anti-synthetic pheromones
because it will likely work in the end,
but not necessarily to your advantage.

I am anti-ma'am
because, Fellow Traveler,
We might have known each other's names, had Life or Tonight panned out differently.
You can not reach everyone. You can not learn everyone's name. You can not expect everyone or anyone to be your friend or to open doors for you.
There are too many of us: Me's and you's running around everywhere. To liquor stores, speaking only in winks and head-nods, smiles, scowls, eyerolls, dumping judgements with drones because we want to appear openminded.

Of you,
I have only the opening scene of your evening and an armload of stereotypes to apply to the rest of it.

Of me,
You have only a glimpse of my ass, carried pretentiously out the door by yoga pants.
That, and the "Thank you" I didn't say.

And I can't blame you for "ma'am" or "bitch" or whatever you said.
I shouldn't have assumed, Fellow Traveler, that we couldn't speak the same language.
Or that yoga pants are synonymous with "Namaste."

Monday, January 19, 2015

Resolution Poem

Run more miles, paint more trees
Give more fucks, eat more peas
Laugh louder, walk taller
Smile bigger, grow smaller

And by the time I finish this poem
it's next year again and we are commending ourselves
for leaving the Christmas lights up all year long.
Now all we have to do is turn them on.

It's next year again
and my hair is longer
and my hands are farther away.
But my bootstraps are still wet
from puddle jumping.

It's next year again
And I've turned shy smiles into storms,
pretty faces into mountains
which I've run up and down searching
for signs that point somewhere other than back home
Only to obey the ones that say "keep running."
I've turned possibilities into oceans
in case I need a place to drown
or to send back my regrets in the bottles they came in.

It's next year again
and there have been too many yous with too many hands,
handing me hot irons and saying "don't touch."
I save my skin for the splinters I'll score from slamming too many doors
Another year's worth will open anyway.

It's next year again
And despite the miles and mountains
I've pounded with tired feet,
I am still here.
Attempting the awkward pose that promised peace.
Watching the sun set and rise in the same moment
where beginnings and endings swirl together.
Brain spins, pen spits, feet slip, heart shits.
I scold myself for contemplating immortality as though I have a choice.
So I slide into the vortex for a slow spin toward death.

I fend off failures with my feet
While eager hands clutch meager winnings.
I utter my resolve and thus entreat,
Life to fill its middle with beginnings.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Meet Rhonda, the Ramblin' Van!

I have picked up a little trick from Brian: Mental Manifestation. He's always been really good at it. Focus on what you want. Put the vibe out there, into the universe and you can make things happen. Get what you want! Sign up for my 8 week program for only $699.99 and I can teach YOU how to make all YOUR dreams come true.

Just kidding!

No, but really I can manifest things with my mind. Like this beauty: Ramblin' Rhonda, the 1988 Dodge Ram camping van. I have wanted a van for.ev.er. I started focusing on it hard, thinking it would be perfect for Colorado road trips, especially trips that involve ultra running. Except we had no money. Just the power of the mind. I kept checking craigslist but everything decent was way out of our price range. Then I saw Rhonda. Big, red, roomy, Rhonda. Her curves enticed me, her voluptuous physique reeled me in, her burgundy stripes and matching plush interior called to me, suggesting we belong together. Annnd the price was right. Especially after a friend committed to buying Esteban (the little white truck who is even older than Rhonda).

It was raining the night we met her. I climbed in and immediately felt safe, warm and happy. Literal shelter from the storm. We played around inside, spun the captain's chairs, folded the bed down, listened to rain-on-steel, and then took her for a drive. I had already decided she would be mine.

Rhonda, like me, was made in the eighties. Perhaps that is why I connect with her. We could have been sisters or BFFs, except she stayed in the eighties and I evolved with the years. There is an air of nostalgia upon entering this van. Even if it's an era you've never known, nor spent significant time. You just feel all the good memories pouring over you when you sink into one of those big velvety seats. Her tape deck, wood paneling, and ambient red interior lighting just says it all. Rhonda knows how to ramble.

If Rhonda were a woman, she'd be the "I'm big, I'm bold, I'm beautiful" type. She would hunger for adventure. She would dance her ass off at weddings and alone in her kitchen. She'd have long maroon finger nails and she would call everyone "honey." She would be a "yes" girl. Up for anything. Looking for a good time, a partner in crime? Call Rhonda. She wouldn't be a shy girl. She would eat lots of fried things, even in front of the boys. She would sing the blues at karaoke night and out-drink all the rednecks. Shut the place down. Everyone would love Rhonda. Everyone would want a piece.

She looks so at home in the driveway and I know she will be even deeper in her element once she's out on the open road catching bugs on the windshield, driving us to places we've never been and dropping me off on trails I've never run.

Mental manifestation works. But you have to want what you want for the right reasons. You can't be too materialistic. I can be greedy. I wish and want and hope. But you can't mess with the power of mental manifestation. You can't use it for everything. You have to use your powers for Good. She might not be the youngest, hippest van on the market. She's probably not the most efficient, aerodynamic or even aesthetically pleasing thing with which we could choose to adorn our driveway. It won't be easy to financially keep up with her insatiable appetite, but there is something special about our Rhonda.

And here's some more Bob Dylan for ya :)

Monday, May 9, 2011

Collegiate Peaks 50

My regular race reports are pretty boring. And I forgot all the trail names and significant climbs and altitudes anyway. First I'll tell you the final stats.

Time: 10:43
Place: 10th female
Age: 2nd under 30
Elevation: ~8,000-9,400 (4,700 feet of elevation gain/drop per loop)
PR (in Colorado)

It's really hard for me to remember what I was thinking at every mile.
Was it hard? Yes. It always is.
There were also times when it was easy. Sooo easy. Those are the miles that just float by like clouds. The ones where you're surrounded by mountains and trees and blue sky. SO blue. And the sun is in your eyes so bright... and you think it might be Heaven that you are running through. The river flows, dances over rocks and you feel just as fast and graceful.

The harder miles offer different scenery. Just feet and the dirt beneath them. Just you, looking at your feet. Telling them keep going. Fighting with them. The sun bearing down like a hundred pounds on your back. A far away voice telling you to drink. Why haven't you peed yet? Another voice telling you to walk. Stop. Another telling you you're too late. The real race is over. They finished hours ago. Straggler.

Then you find someone and you roll along together. You grunt to one another. Comment on the weather. Encourage him. Relate to him. Feel pain with him. Experience endlessness together. Make a friend. If you act okay, you are okay. Feel better. Move on.

Use the good times to get ahead. You have to take advantage of them. You have to leave the others to get ahead. You know they'll turn up later. It's still a race. It's still a race so your feet keep moving.

The days before the race, you never actually believe that it will begin, much less end. The first miles are the same. It will never really be over. The finish line seems as far away as retirement, grandchildren, death. You just can't picture it. But you believe in it. It comes, eventually. I sign up for these things because I hate when things are over. I am here to experience endlessness. I am also here to embrace endings.

I turned my iPod on sometime after the halfway point and listened to this Bob Dylan poem for over an hour. First it gave me things to think about. Things that kept my eyes off my feet as they focused on a bigger picture. I listened until the words left and only rhythm remained. Just something to keep my legs turning long after my mind had shut off. But the moral was always there. Use Life. Strip it all the way down to the good stuff. See everything and soak it up. You can't go everywhere. You can't experience everything but if you can squeeze every drop out of the moments you have then you're as rich as any world traveler. You might not get to climb every mountain, but you can climb this one. You can experience this trail. This dirt. This mile. This is a day, a race, a place that belongs to you.

It is not all physical pain out there. Sometimes it is only in your head. Sometimes there is none at all. Just bliss. Floating, flying, forgetting... But to me, the pain is the best part. The pain cave is the one place where you know you are safe. You are safe from endings because the end doesn't come when wished for. It comes when you're busy loving and being too loved. Your demons and snakes, things like death, debt, guilt, fat... can't get you in the pain cave. It hurts, but if you can find Peace in there, then you are free.

Bob says it all here.

Thankfully, the Collegiate Peaks were the view, not the course. This is the starting line.

This is me and April, my wonderful crew, before the race.
Going to races with a girlfriend is so fun! We talked about boys, applied moisturizing facial masks and listened to Amos Lee and Bon Iver in the hotel room the night before the race. Ahh, just like high school. It really took my mind off being nervous.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Cheyenne Mountain Trail Race

The Cheyenne Mountain Trail Race was Saturday at the Cheyenne Mountain State park in Colorado Springs. There was a 50K and a 25K race. It was an inaugural event and I was really excited to run the 50K. Can't miss an ultra or super fun trail race in your own town, right? I hadn't run at the state park much, even though it's only 5 miles from my house. I ran the 50K course (just 1 lap of it) last Saturday and ended up buying the Colorado State Park pass that day.

I awoke the morning of the race to my favorite running weather. Overcast, chilly and a chance of rain and snow. The race didn't start until 8AM and was less than 10 minutes away so I got to have a pretty relaxing morning. The 50K race started first and we had 70-something runners. The course was really fun. There were all different types of trails to experience. Some were quite technical and steep, some were smooth and mellow, it was a good mix of up and down, woods and prairie. And there were great views of Cheyenne mountain and Norad. The mountains were all gray and misty. Gorgeous scenery!

Here's Jonas before the race. One of the race's sponsors let him borrow that cow hat.

I took the first 8 mile section of the course pretty easy. The runners didn't spread out as much as I had expected, but it wasn't congested either. My favorite trail on this section was Blackmer loop. It was pretty heavily wooded and had some cool boulders with trees growing out of them. That Mother Nature is one hard woman to figure out. I can slave over my vegetable garden for months, investing in the finest soil, racking up the water bill, talking and singing daily to my plants and nothing grows except like four leaves of spinach and some squash, but trees can grow out of boulders?!?! Amazing. I really enjoyed the climbing on this section. I stayed pretty relaxed and enjoyed the cool weather. The climbs were broken up nicely with some fun descending. At mile 8 we ended up back at the start/finish area and then headed to the south part of the park for another loop/lollipop-thingy on some different trails. I got to see Brian and Jonas at the 8 mile aid station. Jonas was wearing a medal from the kids' race and ringing a cowbell. Cute!

I dropped off my jacket and picked up a bottle of Perpetuem. Brian told me there were 5 women ahead of me. Then another one passed me while I was talking to him. I made a goal to pass two girls and get into the 5th spot. The weather stayed cool and cloudy. It started snowing as I headed out on this second 8 mile section. The wind on the more exposed, southern part of the park was pretty brutal, but we didn't spend much time there before going up into the trees again. My favorite trail on this side of the park was the North Talon trail. It was a white rocky trail that climbed to the top of an amazing view of the mountains. I wish I had brought the camera. The descending on the Talon trails was roll-y and fun. I picked up the pace here and passed a few people. The Turkey Trot trail (I think) brought us back to the start/finish area again. This was the halfway point and I didn't get to see Brian here, but didn't really need anything so that was okay. Now it was time to head back to the north part of the park.

I was sort of dreading going back up the climb that I enjoyed so much the first time around. I was really surprised at how much the runners had spread out. There was nobody around and it got lonely and stayed that way for a long time. I was frustrated with how slow I was running and how tired I felt. I wasn't even at 20 miles yet! I took a caffeinated gel and kept plodding along waiting for it to kick in. At about mile 18-19 I started to see the leaders coming down the lollipop "stick." It was fun to see people running fast and I tried to feed off that energy and pick up the pace. It worked for a little while, then I entered the loop part of the lollipop and got lonely again. I got through the loop just fine, then it was my turn to run down the stick and see the people behind me. That and the descending got me feeling good again. I saw Brian and Jonas at mile 24 and got and a refill of Perpetuem (caffeinated!) to get me through the last 8. The winners of the 50K were coming in just as I was heading up Talon for the last section.

That Talon climb was really hard this time! I walked through a few spots. The leading women were running down the hill to the finish. The first 2 were within less than a minute of each other. The one in second place was only 20! She was absolutely adorable and each time I saw her she was wearing a huge smile and greeting us slowfolk...while running really, really fast. I slowed down a ton on the Talon climb and the loop portion of that lollipop. There was no one around me...so I thought. I started to get comfortable there thinking I had a nice cushion to still make top 5, then I heard some voices on the switchbacks behind me on South Talon, a little more than 5K from the finish. I was pretty sure one was a woman's voice so I picked it up, ran through the aid station and used the gravity of the descent to try to get a bigger lead. I looked back a few times and didn't see anyone so I still thought I was okay. Then with about 1/2 mile left, knowing I had gotten slow again, I looked back again and saw a woman. Crap! I was pissed at myself for slowing down so much. I got super anxious and didn't want it to come down to a final kick into the finish so I gave that last 1/2 mile everything I had left. I ended up only beating her by about 20 seconds. Yikes!

I was 5th woman, which I am pretty happy about. The first 4 ladies were all super fast. The winner was just under 5 hours and 4th place was still over 30 minutes ahead of me! I want to be able to compete at that level... I'm working on it! My time was 5:50:36 and was a significant 50K PR for me. Most of the credit for that goes to the fast course, but hey, a PR is a PR right? And a PBR is a great recovery drink, of which I would partake later that night.

I stole this photo off the race's website. Although I do look haggard, it's the only one of me not heel-striking or appearing to be 50 lbs overweight. Does anyone want to join me in establishing a support group for women (okay, men too if there's interest) who have been emotionally damaged by race photos of themselves? Seriously... ever feel like your race picture depicts two pigs in a lycra sack running in opposite directions rather than you running with grace and speed?

After the race, I wanted to hang out, but it was cold and windy and Jonas had fallen into a cactus and Brian had had enough of him. They both needed naps so we went home. Carrabbas catered the race, so I took home a plate of grilled chicken marsala and salad. It was really good! I took an ice bath and then tried to sleep but couldn't. That night I went to a party and stayed out til after 2AM dancing my ass off and partying like a frumpy mom in the midst of an early-onset midlife crisis college girl and realized that was a great way to train for 100s. My legs are feeling pretty good now. Tight, but not too sore.

Oh! I forgot to mention that I won a drawing that paid back my entry fee! How cool is that! Especially since we are broke and I paid for the race with a credit card and then neglected to tell my husband about it (we are so anti-credit card! I had major guilt about that). But it's all good now thanks to goSonja's blog! Thanks Andrea and Sonja. A heated argument about money has been avoided in my home!

I wish I had more pictures of the race, but since I don't, here is a completely unrelated video of Jonas singing his favorite song "Move It." He actually begged me to take this video and share it, so don't accuse me of exploiting him.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Rocky Raccoon 50 mile report

A picture of the trail from the race's website

Guess what! I finally PR'd in the 50. I ran Rocky Raccoon in Huntsville State Park, Texas on Saturday. My time was 9:18. That's over a 3hr PR for me. Part of it I feel like I "bought" by traveling to Texas to run on a fast course, but there were a lot of other things I did differently that worked too.

Half the battle was just getting TO the race. It snowed in Texas and a lot of people didn't make it because flights were cancelled and roads were closed. Snow is pretty rare for Texas so when it happens, they shut 'er down! I was staying with my friend Bethany in Austin, which got about 2 inches. We had a hell of a time getting her son to his aunt and uncle's house before heading to the race. The highways were littered with cars in ditches. We almost joined them when we drove down a hill on the way out of the aunt and uncle's subdivision. We couldn't see what was at the bottom of that hill, but soon found out it was a ravine with a car in it. There were several firefighters standing around looking at it, and all the other cars that were stranded on the patch of ice we were now sitting on. But there was no one at the top of the hill to tell new drivers not to drive down. They just stood around, collecting us for proof of the storm of the century. We were yelled at to "GO HOME" but when we asked for suggestions, none of the authorities could give us any. Bethany suggested having a person, or maybe a sign at the top of the hill warning people to turn around, but that idea was shot down. Oh well, logic isn't always the answer. Anyway, we made the turn-around and got back up the hill safely. We went back to Bethany's house to nap until the sun melted all the ice and then we drove to Huntsville on clear, dry highways.

Here's a picture of the snow that shut Texas down. Haha! Ok this is an exaggeration, it was slightly worse in some spots.

Race morning was pretty cold. I think low-30s. When the race started, I got behind a group of chatty girls who seemed to know what they were doing. They were holding a really comfortable pace and I decided I would stay there for about an hour. The race was three 16.7 mile loops and we hit 5 aid stations in each of those loops. That is a lot of aid! I skipped through the first few because I had a pack with plenty of water and a bottle with Perpetuem. I took the first loop really easy.

There was one part of the course that had a little 3ish mile loop. I got confused the second time I hit the Dam Road aid station (coming out of the loop) and didn't realize it was the same aid station I had gone through in the other direction 3 miles ago. I asked a volunteer which way the 50 milers were supposed to go (the 100 mile course was slightly different) and he must have thought I was coming IN to the station and directed me to run back the way I had just come. I knew that didn't sound right but did it anyway. I soon realized I was stuck in that loop (on the far left of the map) and had added about 3 miles. Doh! So when I came through that aid station again, I asked a race official and he said to just cut it out on the next loop since I did it twice on this one. I was really grateful that he allowed me to do that. I was fully prepared to run 3 extra miles and felt that I deserved it for being so stupid. This is not the first time I have gotten myself stuck in a loop. Just ask my sister Teresa about our 5 hour Christmas Eve trail run at Clinton Lake in Lawrence. We call it the Groundhog Day run (like the movie).


Course Map

My pace slowed a bit in the beginning of the second loop but I didn't need to walk. After about 30 miles I picked it back up. I started eating some of the food at the aid stations. Mostly oranges and pretzels. It really helped keep my energy up and gave me something to look forward to. I was still taking Hammer Gel and Perpetuem, but not as many gels as I normally take. The oranges tasted soooo good! I got to see Bethany at the end of each loop and she helped me change socks and shoes, get food and whatever else I needed but couldn't think of at the time. She was a great crew! At the end of the second loop I really didn't want to go back out for the third. I was super tired and my legs were really tight and achy, especially the quads. But Bethany said she would see me in just 3 miles at the Nature Center aid station so I decided to take this loop station by station to break it up mentally. I told myself to keep running until Dam Road, which would be about the 40 mile mark and then I could incorporate some walk breaks or do whatever I had to to make it to the finish. I had time to walk the last 10 miles and still make a significant PR.

I made it to Dam Road, running the whole way and started feeling good again. I took advantage of that and picked up the pace. Mentally, it really felt good to know that I was "allowed" to walk at this point, but I was still running... even faster than I had run the earlier part of that loop. I have NEVER felt that good at mile 40. I have always completely fallen apart by then and had to walk/shuffle to the finish. This time I felt like I was flying. I wasn't afraid of wasting energy because the finish was so close. I saw Bethany again at the Park Road aid station just 4.4 miles from the finish. I figured THIS would be the stretch where I would completely bonk since I hadn't yet. It had to happen sometime.

It was really hard leaving that aid station because 4.4 miles is close, but can also be reeaaally far! About 1 mile out of the aid station a blister I had been ignoring for 20 miles popped on my toe. It stung like nothing I have ever felt before! I took off my shoe thinking there was another one that needed to pop. I checked it out and couldn't tell what was going on. It was really sore and tender. I barely touched it and almost screamed because it stung so bad. I thought about running the rest without the shoe, but knew that would take forever and might not hurt any less. So I shoved the shoe back on and thought "It's only pain." That's what my dad says. Luckily the excruciating part only lasted a few minutes. The pain dulled down and I could run normally. I had 3 miles to go and this section was an overlap where the people coming out of the start/finish aid station were running the opposite direction. Most of them were 100 mile racers. I took my mind off the distance left by focusing on and greeting each runner that I crossed paths with. I thought about how many miles they had left and my ~3 miles didn't seem so bad. Once I made it to 48 miles I picked up the pace again. When I started to hear the sounds of the finish line I sprinted in. I was very happy with my race and my PR. I won't get another chance to run a course this fast for awhile and I feel like I did a good job taking advantage of it this time. Bethany was there to greet me and it was so good to see her! As I was leaving the race, the race director's wife called me over. Turns out I won my age group! I got this cool piece of pottery made by the Tarahumara tribe. Isn't that the coolest award? I love it! We drove back to Bethany's house and I got to shower and sleep. Sort of sleep.

My cool age-group award

Thanks Bethany for your hospitality and great crewing! Did I mention she's like 8 months pregnant? And was willing to drive my ass all over Texas in the snow and then wake up at 5:30 to crew me for an over 9 hour race! Now that's a good friend!

Official time 9:18:39
36th/166 Overall
7th/54 Female
1st Age (18-29)

Here I am looking haggard but happy at the end of the race.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Ponderous Posterior 50k

I sort of let my blogging goal go down the crapper toward the end of the year. It's definitely been awhile! I set the timer for 15 minutes because well, I can do anything for 15 minutes right? So I'm going to push through and type until it beeps.

Running has been going well for me. I don't have any known injuries right now so that is exciting. I am going to run the 50 miler at Rocky Raccoon on the 5th of February. It's coming up quickly! On Saturday I got to run an awesome event called the Ponderous Posterior 50k right here in Colorado Springs. The event was part of a Fat Ass 50K series which means it is sort of an unofficial race, or run. I wasn't sure if this was supposed to be a race or not but it doesn't really matter for me anyway. When I run long distances, I have one speed. Finishing speed. There is no difference between a race effort and a training run effort when I run ultras. It's all just...slow.

The PP50K was organized by Tony Krupicka and a local ultra running group called CRUD. I believe it was Tony who chose the course. It was great! It started at a local runner's house and went through Garden of the Gods. I hardly ever run there so right off the bat I got to experience new trails in my own town. We were running through the park at sunrise so the rock formations were all red and glowy. It was beautiful. I enjoyed hearing the comments from the runners who had come from other towns. We climbed up Rampart Range Road which is a long but fairly mellow climb. Then we dropped into Williams canyon. This trail had snow and ice and I fell behind the group I was running with here. I am pretty inefficient at getting myself down a mountain, especially in those conditions. Gotta work on that. We connected Williams to Waldo Canyon (which has one of the BEST views in town) and ran that loop, ending in the trail head parking lot. Here I met Brian who refilled my water and gels and took the layers I had shed. The next section was brutal. We crossed Hwy 24 and climbed up Long's Ranch Road. Long's is both steep and long. It is about 3 miles and climbs 2000+ feet. And it also happened to have about a foot of snow. That climb is really hard without snow, but with snow, it almost made me cry! The faster guys, who started an hour after I did started to catch me on Long's. First to cruise by was Matt Carpenter, making it look easy. I cursed to myself as I watched his skinny butt scurry up that hill without visible effort. Then a couple of other really fast guys whose names I don't know. Then my friend Doug, who was running his first ultra-distance and keeping up with some amazing runners.

The climb up Long's was worth it because it led to one of my favorite trails. First we got to descend through the Experimental Forest which was another new trail for me (yay!) and that trail shot me out onto Barr Trail, about 3.5 miles from the bottom. This is one of the most popular trails but it wasn't crowded this time (also yay!). I actually went really slow down Barr Trail because it was icy. I could have just stopped and put on the yaks but I thought "nah" and just slowed down over the ice. From the bottom of Pike's Peak, I took the road down to the Iron Spring where Intemann Trail started. I met Brian here to get some more water and gel.

The next section, Intemann Trail traversed Manitou Springs over to Red Rocks Open Space. I had run sections of this trail, but much of it was new to me. I was super grateful for the course markers the CRUD people put out because the trail led to a couple neighborhoods and then picked up again in some inconspicuous spots. I most likely would have gotten lost without them. Finally I started to recognize the trail and made my way into Red Rocks Open Space. There are tons of trails in Red Rocks, and you could take any number of different routes to get to the same place. I was doing great, following the course until the very end. The trail I was on connected to the main trail (the one with all the sport climbing routes, I'm not sure what it's called) and I looked around for a course marker that would tell me to go up or down. I didn't see one, so I figured I was over-thinking it and I should just take the obvious route. To a super tired runner with 29ish miles already in for the day, the obvious choice would be DOWN the hill rather than up. So I ran down, crossed the parking lot, Hwy 24 and Colorado Ave and took Pike's Peak back to the house. Apparently I had taken a wrong turn and cut about 1/2 mile off the course. Oops! I felt kind of bad about that, but it was a pretty laid back, informal event and they told me not to worry about it.

After I finished, I was looking forward to seeing Tony K. and Scott Jurek and their fast buddies come in and hopefully get to meet them and thank Tony for the awesome event, but Brian and Jonas were there to pick me up and they were tired and hungry. So instead of meeting some ultra-running legends, I decided to pick up an order of food poisoning at Rudy's and spend the rest of the weekend with my head in the toilet. Ew. Nothing like food poisoning when you're already dehydrated, right?

Anyway, it was a great day. One of the things I love about Colorado Springs is that you are never done exploring the trails. Like many other outdoor enthusiasts that now call themselves Coloradans, my husband and I are transplants. Not particularly stoked on the political/religious climate here; there are times when we feel like shaking Colorado Springs and saying "Look what you have! Don't destroy it!" There are times when we've even threatened to leave. Then it's a run like this one that lets you know you couldn't. A run that assures you you're in the right place.

::I stole the picture from the CRUD email. Hope that's ok! I tried to take a video with my cool new Flip camera going up Long's but apparently I need another lesson in turning the thing on! Oh and results: I finished my abridged version of the 50K in 7:08. Garmin read just over 30.6 mi, and most people had just over 31. The course had over 7000 feet of climbing so don't judge me too harshly on that time! The fast guys of course added extra miles just for fun and they finished around 5:20. And my friend Doug? Who's never run more than 20 miles? Finished in 5:43! That guy needs to sign up for some ultras now! Oh and the blog's time? Went way over 15 minutes! But I needed that timer to get me started.::