Friday, December 28, 2007

2008 Goals

Thought I'd post my goals for the year - make 'em more real:

February - Clam Beach Run, 3/4 miles (didn't happen; sick)
03/22/08 - Pirates Cove 30k Trail Run
05/24/08 - Forest Park 50k Trail Run
07/12/08 - S.O.B. 50k
10/10/08 - Bizz Johnson Marathon

If I can accomplish all that, I can do anything I set my mind to.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

My "Kids"

Many of you are aware of my love for cats. We chose early on in our married life to not have children; therefore, I have filled that void with 4-legged hairy creatures instead. We now have 5 cats, with the 2 newest additions having been adopted last August (much to my surprise when I came home from an out-of-town conference).

Our last additions are above on the ottoman (l-r): Oscar and Wilson.

Our other 3 are on the couch (l-r): BK, a feral kitty we captured, neutered, and released, and he chose to stick around. It took weeks of coaxing and a few cans of tuna, but he finally decided to trust me, and 2 years later, well, as you can see, he makes himself right at home. Still a little sketchy at times, but I guess that's to be expected when you've spent most of your life just trying to survive from day to day. Fatso, our old guy, about 17 1/2 years old. The biggest love you'll find, especially if you have a lap available or are standing in front of the heater. Warmth is his best friend these days, cold's an enemy to the ole arthritis. Ziggy came to us about 8 years ago from our vet. He had wandered into a vacationer's yard. He was scrawny, all ears and eyes, and a belly swollen from undernourishment and worms. Of course I couldn't turn him away! After free worming and lots of love and food, he has turned into the gorgeous cat sitting on the chair arm with Wilson,shown in the prior post.

People have asked me what my "name" means: Fat=Fatso, Ozz=Ozzy (one of the best cats I've ever had and who had to put down last year), and Zig=Ziggy.

Yes, I will have to be careful, 'cause I could definitely one day be the old "cat lady" at the end of the street with 14 cats running around!! . . . . sad, but true . . . ;0)

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Random Thoughts

Let me introduce you to a couple of my pals: Ziggy aka Tony Ma-Rony (L) and Wilson (R). They are 2 of 5 black cats who call my house "Kitty Nirvana."

It's storming like crazy here this week. Gonna be some wet runs. I imagine most of you are getting yourselves and/or families ready for Christmas. Good luck with the crowds out there!

Big controversy has been the switch from CoolRunning to Active. It has not gone well and, needless to say, many CR people are abandoning ship. Many of us have headed over to, which is turning out to be a really nice site. I think one guy is basically handling all the traffic, and all I have to say about that is, he must be a computer superman. I think it's safe to say he's been bombarded with CR folks who are pissed about the ragtag conversation. But enough ranting . . .

For the next couple of months, I will be getting myself ready for my first trail run of the 2008, the 30k at Pirates Cove in Sausalito, CA, put on by Pacific Coast Trail Runs. If you ever have a chance to participate in PCTR event, do it! They have, by far, the best aid stations, Wendell and Sarah are outstanding, and the whole thing is a great experience. I've participated in 3 (?) of their event so far and will keep going back.

Goals for the rest of the year include gearing up for my first ultra trail run in May, the 50k at Forest Park in Portland, OR, then the 50k at Salt Point in Jenner, CA, and then the Bizz Johnson Marathon (trail) in Susanville, CA. (yes, i live in california!). If I can make it through those four, I'll be one happy camper, and will achieved what to me only two years ago would have seemed the impossible.

Closer in time, though, is a trip to Prague in January. Oh yes - snow, snow, snow. And yes, I'm gonna try to run in it. I can't go almost 2 weeks without running and be ready for a 30k in March. Ain't gonna happen. So we'll just have to see what happens.

For those of you brave enough to wade this these random thoughts, you're strong people! I don't post in here much, but will try to from this point on and keep you - okay, me - apprised of my progress. As I lay in bed writing this, I can hear the storm - to read, lots of rain - goin' on outside. Should make for a cold, wet run in the dark-early a.m. hours.

Hey - thanks for checkin' this out!

Friday, December 7, 2007

The race was Sunday, November 11, 2007. I had signed up for this race about a year ago, wanting one of the really cool finisher’s medallions designed by a local artist. I had no idea how big the race was until Friday when my husband and I were at dinner and our waiter remarked that he’d read in the paper there were about 5,000 participating. I think my eyes just about popped outta my head. I’ve never participated in an event that big, so it just made things a bit more exciting for me. (I believe the 5,000 consisted of the Fun Run, 10k, and HM.)

We had left Thursday after work and drove about half way to Monterey and arrived there mid-afternoon on Friday (a straight-thru drive takes about 7-8 hours). After finding our hotel, we took off on foot to find the Expo Center, also the starting line, then headed back to our hotel and drove the 15 minutes to Carmel for a walk around town and dinner that night. Really great, intimate little place called Casanova. The building has a wonderful history - - and the menu and wine list carry a hefty price tag. Let’s just say it’s the first wine list I’ve ever seen make my husband sweat! It’s the kind of meal you do once in a decade to give your pocketbook time to recover. But then again, it was Carmel and nothin’s cheap in Carmel.

We spent a good part of Saturday at the Monterey Bay Aquarium and walking around Monterey, and then spent the rest of the day/evening at the hotel relaxing. I’d started coming down with a cold earlier in the week, and by Saturday it’d become a full blown chest congestion/infection and I was feeling pretty crappy. The weather started turning on Saturday, as well, and a look at the weather report indicated showers for Sunday. Great! Oh well. I’d be sweaty anyway, and like my daddy always said, “Ain’t no soap in the rain.”

Sunday morning I was awake well before my 5:00 alarm and basically laid in bed for an hour listening to my husband snore. When finally I couldn’t take it anymore, I got up and started getting ready with a face wash to wake me up, a couple of Luna bars, and a cup of coffee to get things moving. A long look out the window confirmed that it more than likely wouldn’t rain, but it would probably be breezy and cold, so I decided on a long sleeve tech shirt (which would later be a mistake). I almost always wear long pants (unless it’s summer) ‘cause I don’t want to scare people or lead the pack in the wrong direction with my blindingly white legs.

I had been debating for the better part of a week whether or not to use my Camelback waist pack for hydration as opposed to relying on the Gatorade at the aid stations. Basically, I didn’t want to look like an idiot with it. However, I knew what worked for me, how often I needed to drink, etc., and whether or not it looked stupid, I was going to use it.

Hub and I took off about 6:20 to head the 6 blocks to the starting line. It was easy to find - follow all the people dressed in running clothes. After finding my corral and standing around for a few minutes, Hub took a picture, kissed me goodbye, I took off for a warmup, then . . . . waited. Unfortunately, I chose to wait right over a sewer grate, and every so often a not-so-pleasant odor would waft it’s way through the air. A small group of people commented on the smell when they finally figured out where it was coming from, and I jokingly asked the guy, “You thought it was me, didn’t you?”

In that position, we were at a slightly higher level than the three corrals in front of us, so we could see the expanse of people in front us. It was pretty cool. At some point, it drifted back through the crowd that someone was singing the National Anthem, not that we could hear anything. When the crowd roared, we knew he/she was done. There were a few inaudible instructions (think adults talking in the Peanuts cartoons), the gun went off . . . and we stood there. It took me 3:17 from the time the gun went off until I crossed the mat. I know that in bigger races (i.e. Boston Marathon, etc.) this is nuthin’, but it was new to me.

The bolters were speeding off and the crowd slowly began to spread out. A couple of blocks into it, I heard my name being called, and looked over in time to see Hub on the sidewalk taking pictures. We passed a McDonald’s, which evoked a few comments, and began winding our way through various sections of Monterey before heading off to run along the ocean bluff. Before the bluff was a tunnel we had to pass through and everyone yelling as they went through . . . then you could hear the sounds of a bag piper on the other end. What a neat surprise! He was one of 4 or 5 different “bands” that were set up along the course to provide entertainment. One band was set up on a corner turn . . . next to a small hotel that had put out a sign reading, “Shhhh - people are sleeping.” Guess someone didn’t get the message!

Upon reaching the first aid station, I was happy I’d dealt with my own hydration as it was pretty much a congested affair. There were plenty of tables out with lots of water/ Gatorade, but it seemed like almost everyone stopped at the first couple of tables, creating clog. I smiled to myself, took a swig off my GU2O, and passed on through as quickly as possible. It was shortly after the first aid station and about 4 miles into the run that we started seeing the Corral A runners coming back. If you’re interested in the race results, you can see them here: The winner was a 22-year old young man who finished in 1:04 - a blistering 4:53 pace. Unfathomable to this here 41-year old fairly new runner.

At the turn around point, I started getting hot and was regretting my long sleeves. Nothin’ to do about it now except push the sleeves up and pick up the pace. At the next aid station, I doused my head with water, but forgot to take out my one earphone I was using with my iPOD. I think it’s a gonner. I was having a hard time breathing due to the chest congestion, but kept it at a manageable, albeit uncomfortable level, with my inhaler - and I was getting some pretty good practice in hawking loogies! I also started getting a hot spot on my left big toe, but these days I’m a Blister Queen and, knowing there wasn’t a whole lot I could do about it now, just kept going.

There’s a Marine Corps Station in Monterey, and young men and women were positioned all along the route as traffic patrol/control and time callers. At about Mile 10, the young man called out the time, and I pretty much knew there was no way I’d make my self-imposed time limit of 2:20 or under. I felt like I had a 10 pound weight on my chest, and not being able to get a good supply of air in was a hindrance (at least that’s my excuse!).

When I finally was able to see the finish line, I pushed it as hard as I could, finishing in 2:22:34. Hub was at the finish line snapping pictures like crazy, and since this was the first race he’d ever seen me run, was sort of emotional over the whole thing. It was pretty neat. I felt sorry for the young lady who was trying to remove my timing chip ‘cause my leg was shaking so much! We were then herded through the food lines, which went relatively fast considering the number of people and on to find our finishers shirts (Marines were walking around with armfuls handing them out).

I got my finisher’s medallion (which is very cool) and shirt, and I now have my first HM under my belt. I’ve done a few trail runs for longer distances, but they are two different animals, at least to me. I have to say, I prefer trail running, but this race was so much fun, I’d definitely like to participate in it again.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Trinity Alps Trail Run Pics

Finally! Pictures of our August trail run! Here's my friend, Karen, and Coach Bill. They're smiling so big 'cause we've only just begun!

We were afforded some absolutely spectacular views!

Karen cooling herself on the way back down.

There were two lakes at the top that we were able to reach. About a mile beyond the ridge in the pic to the left is another lake, but it was getting late in the day . . . and we didn't feel like scrambling over granite to find it. Maybe next time!

Me on the way down (below left). Coach Bill gave us cooling bandanas which save us! God bless Coach Bill! The run would've been pretty miserable and hot without those.

I'm still trying to figure this whole posting this out! The picture below, if you read my last post, you will know that Karen got stung by something. I'm trying to get it out of her butt and while laughing my own butt off and begging her not to pass gas while I'm in sucha vulnerable position!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Canyon Creek Trail Run - 08/25/07

Okay - I’ve been reading everyone’s adventures from the weekend. Guess I’ll elaborate on mine and provide pics later.

I had to get up at 4:30 to be at Karen’s house by 6:00. We had about a 1 ½ to 2 hour drive ahead of us, and we were on the trail by 8:45. There were three of us: me, my friend, Karen, and our coach, Bill. For about the first ½ hour or so, we were plagued with bugs and flies attacking us, but once we started climbing in elevation, they went away. Prior to that, it felt like they were trying to invade every open orifice. It was very irritating. Also, it wasn’t long before we felt the affects of going up in altitude and the weight of our packs. We had each filled our bladders to capacity (60 to 72 oz), and were carrying a little bit of extra “food” and some emergency supplies, just in case.

A month or so earlier, Coach Bill (as we affectionately call him) had given each of us one of those cooling bandanas. Those things turned out to be a blessing in disguise! If you don’t know what they are, they are a bandana shaped in a triangle with a piece of chammy cloth in it, and have a slit at one side. You can either just wet them down and tie them around your neck, or you can fill them with ice, put the chammy side to your neck, and as the ice melts, it keeps you nice and cool. It wasn’t long before we soaked ours and began using them. They made a HUGE difference with regard to keeping us as cool as possible, and Karen and I kept commenting on how wonderful they were. If you run in the heat, I HIGHLY recommend these things.

I had been to the lower portion of the Trinity Alps a couple of times, but it had been well over 10 years. Karen and Bill had never been to there. The trees and vegetation soon thinned enough that we began being afforded wonderful views of the Alps, which are truly awe-inspiring. Their make-up is mostly of granite, and the jagged formations that are made as the granite is chipped away is incredible. Words can’t describe the beauty. Bill and Karen, especially Karen, just kept commenting on what an awesome sight it was. You’d come around a corner and there in front of you would be another grand view granite peaks rising 6,000 feet plus above your head. Absolutely incredible.

Due to the rise in elevation and some pretty hazardous footing, most of the climb up was hiking, with running interspersed here and there. We were constantly reminding each other to eat and drink, ‘cause if your body failed out there, it’d be quite the feat getting search and rescue to you. After a few hours of climbing, we soon passed the tree line and popped out onto massive amounts of granite: boulders, slabs, rocky pathways. The trail markings at that point consisted of rocks piled in stacks of 3 or 4. Sometimes we had to look around for the next pile to ensure we were on the right path. There was quite a bit of climbing up and over slabs of granite, and again, the altitude was a factor, but didn’t slow us down a whole lot.

We had begun wondering how close we were to the lake when Bill says, “I see water!” and there it was! This lake was absolutely stunning. Clear, deep water. Granite peaks rising right above our heads. It was an absolutely magnificent site. And standing there, we realized, those peaks right above our heads - those are the ones we had been pointing out waaaaay down below. And now we’re standing right under them! We had climbed to approximately 6,000 feet, traversing grades that were at times 17% to 19%. I couldn’t help but comment that merely a year ago, I could not have seen myself making such a climb. At least not without feeling like I was going to die. There 4 or 5 other people up there, but we were all spaced far enough away from one another that we didn’t infringe on anyone’s solitude.

We refilled our water bladders and sat around for about half an hour or so until the purifying pills took affect. I stood in the water for most of that time cooling off my tootsies. When it was time to go, we all changed into dry socks, soaked our bandanas, I soaked my shirt and hat, and we were off. We had given ourselves a set time to head back out so that we didn’t get caught in the dark. We were well ahead of schedule, so we decided to climb a little bit further “just to see.” Well, we hadn’t gone far when Bill said, “There’s more water!” What? We thought there were only two lakes: the one we were at and one about a mile farther that was suppose to be fairly difficult to get to. Turns out there are two lower ones and then the upper, hard-to-get-to one.

At this second lake, there were a couple of guys fly fishing, way down to the right, we could see three or four people camping . . . . and two naked guys sitting at the lake’s edge. This wasn’t as pleasant a site as I had hoped for when Karen said, “Hey, there’s two naked guys.” She tried to get a picture, but after I saw what I saw, I think I’ll burn the picture.

It’s from this lake that you can take off and try to scramble over cliffs and crevices to get to the third lake. It would’ve been a fun adventure to try, but we didn’t have the time. However, we decided to go along the edge as far as we could, and Bill and I took off at a jog since it wasn’t too rocky. We hadn’t gone very far when we heard, “Leslie! Come back here!” We started back, and here comes Karen sort of limping. “Something stung me in the a$$!” What? Karen’s allergic to bee stings and carries an epipen. This quickened our pulse a little bit. We go running back - - well, Karen has on these colorful running tights - - something stung her just below her right butt cheek and left a stinger! Must've thought she was a flower! Every time she tried to take a step, her tights pulled the stinger. So here we are, I'm kneeling behind her with the back of her pants pulled down trying to find the spot. (I did, 'cause she yelled when my fingernail passed over the stinger). Bill's trying to be polite and keep his head turned, I say, "Whatever you do, don't pass gas," we're laughing so hard I can barely work on the stinger, and some guy starts coming up the trail at us. So Karen and I move off to the side, but she can't pull her tights back up 'cause of the stinger. The guy's limping 'cause he twisted his ankle pretty bad, so he's not moving very fast. And to top it off, he’s kind of curious about what’s going on. I’m thinking, Dude, please just get by us! Once he did, I went to work on the stinger with some tweezers Bill had in his trusty Leatherman, and Voila! I got it! Karen never experienced any shortness of breath, so we have no idea what got her.

At that point, we decide to head out and caught up real quick with Limper Dude. He was camped at the lower lake and was suppose to leave the next day. We politely asked if there was anything we could do to help him, and he says, "Actually there is. There's something you can carry out for me." His 5-lb. beer cooler! What?!? Karen - be she ever so tactful - says, "Sorry. We're running. That just wouldn't be possible." Good luck, though!

The trip out was much quicker than the trip in. It’s always easier to run downhill! There were still a lot of rocks, boulders, etc., we had to climb over or run over, so easy does it was the name of the game. By that time, though, my stomach was sort of nauseous from eating mostly Clif bars, shot blocks, and having the GU2O in my water, so I was moving a bit slower. Bill and Karen pretty much left me in the dust. They’d get a certain distance ahead of me, then wait for me to catch up. Personally, I think they did it so that they could have rest time, ‘cause I would barely catch up with them and they’d be off again. ;o)

At the every end, I was by myself for a good distance. The footing was easy, but my legs were getting tired and, even though a detour into the woods helped relieve some of my stomach discomfort, it still wasn’t 100% . I reverted to singing out loud to myself for motivation to keep running, and stopped at the last water crossing and just stood in the water for a few minutes to cool off my feet. I have figured out that my trail shoes are too small, because coming downhill, my toes were crammed up into the toe box and towards the end were getting pretty sore. The cold water felt like heaven. I finally rounded a corner, and there were Karen and Bill, sitting on a log waiting for me. They were yelling at me like I was crossing a finish line and telling me, “Smile for the camera!” It was a hoot.

Karen had the trunk of the car popped open before we even got to it, and the first thing I did was chug down half a big bottle of ice cold water. OMG! I don’t think pure, cold water has ever tasted to good! No additive, no iodine taste (from purifying). Just plain cold water! YUM-MEE!

We changed clothes and headed home, stopping in Willow Creek to scarf down burgers and fries, hoping our odiferous bodies didn’t offend anyone sitting nearby. I have to figure out other easy, non-sweet, foods to carry besides Clif bars, ‘cause I got to the point where I absolutely could not chew up and swallow one more bit of bar. Yuck! I tell ya what, that burger and fries were like manna from heaven!

Not only was this the longest run (okay, hike/run) I’ve done to date, but it was the first time I’d done a run longer than 16.6 miles that was simply for the joy of trail running. No training, no race. Just pure fun. We had an absolute blast and I’m ready to go again at any time!

If you’re ever in this area, I cannot recommend enough that you give this trail a try. It is truly a spectacular place.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Salt Point Trail Run

PCTR Motto: Runs That Aren’t Races in Beautiful Places

My self-imposed time limit for this race: 4 hours. Did I make it? We’ll see.

My running buddy, Karen, and I took off about 8:15 Saturday morning for the 4-hour or so drive to Santa Rosa, stopped for the obligatory coffee and bagel before heading out of town, one restroom break down the road, and didn’t stop again until we hit Hank’s Creekside CafĂ© in Santa Rosa sometime after 12:00, where we ate like little pigs. I guess we were hungry! BTW - If you’re ever in Santa Rosa, you have to check this place out. I heard about them on FoodTV. Fantastic cinnamon walnut French toast! YUM-MEE! And Karen’s pancakes were quite edible, too.

With full tummies and some cash burning holes in our wallets, we set out to find Fleet Feet. I was curious about how a gait analysis was done. Well, the sales guy (young and quite a cutie) had me run on this short "track" in the store, told me which shoes he thought would be best (not as scientific and engrossing as I had imagined), and, a couple of other items and $125 lighter, I left the store with a new pair of trail shoes that are an entire size larger than what I’ve been wearing. (Side Note: Needed the larger size ‘cause I have a pair of custom orthotics that I had resurfaced with thicker padding, and they and my feet won’t fit in my old shoes. I must say, the extra cush feels good!)

After Fleet Feet, we did some more "necessary shopping," (you just gotta love Trader Joe’s!), headed west toward Jenner, then north to Fort Ross. The drive from Santa Rosa to Jenner is nice, and the drive up 101 on the coast is always beautiful; however, when I’m a passenger on windy roads, I’m prone to car sickness. I think I may have turned a little green at one point, ‘cause Karen rolled my window down and appeared to have a look of "You’re not gonna throw up in my car." Of course not! It’s just that the French toast, coffee, bagel, chips, carrots - they’re a little unhappy at the moment . . . but do you have a barf bag, just in case??

Once we got to Fort Ross, we went looking for the starting point of the race, which was Gerstle Campground. We got out of the car and WHAM! The wind was blowing so hard, you felt like it was going to lift you off the ground. But what a sight! Spread out before us was a totally unobstructed view of the Pacific Ocean, complete with a rock full of sea lions . . . who we couldn’t hear barking

because the wind was blowing the sound away from us. Little did we know how much inspiration that sight would bring us the next day.

After finding our hotel (Fort Ross Lodge - very nice proprietors), we settled down to plates full of my rice goulash, Karen’s refreshing fruit salad, and chunks French bread, followed by PJ’s and a bizarre - but very good - movie, "Requiem for a Dream." (For the record, Ellen Bernstyn is fantastic in this movie.) Alas, we had to forego the wine that would have been a perfect compliment to the meal and settled for what else but refreshing water!

At bedtime, there was some debate about when we should get to the campground the next morning. I preferred to err on the side of caution and get there early so we’d be assured of close parking. As it turns out, by the time we got there around 7:30, the lot was more than half full. Karen, bless her little heart, has graciously agreed to listen to me on this point in the future . . . . now if only I could get my husband to listen to me . . . but I digress. Before leaving for the run Sunday morning, we did the obligatory wait-around-and-pray-for-movement scene. And just in case you’re waitin’ with bated breath of over this - things moved along quite well, thank you very much!

(My running buddy, Karen) Once we checked in at the run site, there was little else to do but hang out and wait for the start. We did, however, meet one other lady from our area, and I hope we meet up again at future runs. Wendell (he and his wife, Sarah, run the PCTRs) gave everyone a pre-starting gun pep talk and reminded us about following the correct color of ribbons (lest you 26k and 11k people want to do the 50k!) and watching for turn indicators. He also announced that of the 150 participants, 9 were doing the 50k, about half of whom were attempting their first ultra. How exciting! The countdown began and we were off!

Karen and I had decided to start toward the back of the pack so as not to get carried away with ourselves and the excitement and expend too much energy at the beginning. We had only gone a few steps, however, when a guy in front of us stepped in a hole in the road and appeared to twist his ankle pretty bad. I have no idea if he continued, but an injury right out of the chute - not the best way to start one’s day. Not far up the paved/graveled road, we took left-hand turn and hooray! Trail! (Me!)

Soon we were on single path trails, pushing through low bushes, stepping over roots and rocks, gingerly climbing over a downed tree (which, on the second go-around, would add insult to tired bodies), then facing the treaded climb. Looking back, I wished I had thought to time our climb up this monster ‘cause it seemed never-ending. However, we did our best to slog/walk the thing with Karen commenting, "You realize we have to climb this again." Ugh!

Suffice to say, we were oh so happy when we popped out at the top onto a prairie. And we knew it was a prairie ‘cause not only had Wendell mentioned the prairie as the marker where the respective "K’s" split, but there was a sign that said, "Prairie." See, we may just be smarter than we look!

From this point almost until we started the second half of the run, Karen and I were pretty much by ourselves, and we had a blast! For the past 8-10 weeks, we had been training on the same group of trails over and over and over and over and . . . well, you get the picture. It was exhilarating to experience different terrain, different scenery! We fairly flew down the hills, taking turns at the lead, calling out "Rock!" "Root!" "Big freakin’ hole!" and at one point, "DITCH!" We monitored each other on fluid and fuel intake and, depending on how we were feeling at the moment, sprinted away from one another, and then wait for the other to catch up. At one point, Karen had to take a bathroom break. There she was in all her glory, I casually looked up the trail and, "Oh, hi!" There was nobody there, but the look on her face was priceless. I’ll probably pay for that at some point, but it will have been worth it.

We finally reached at our first aid station, gulped down some HEED, loaded our ziplock baggies with pieces of PBJ, potatoes, and some candy (thanks for the suggestion, Kate! a.k.a. "katemd" and Karen’s sister), and took off again. I started feeling a hot spot on my left foot, so I slowed down. Karen was doing really well and asked if I minded if she took off down the trail. Heck, no! Go for it! See ya at the bottom! She fairly flew away from me and graciously waited at the bottom where we crossed the road and were blessed with a beautiful view of the Pacific Ocean. I parked my butt on a log and quickly addressed my foot with moleskin (aaaah!), then we were off for a couple of miles of bluff running. Being as there can be anywhere from a 10-20 degree difference between up on the mountain/hill and down on the bluff, the breeze and coolness was a blessed relief.

After twisting and turning, avoiding rocks, climbing into and out a ditch, greeting other participants and regular trail walkers, and trying to avoid over-exuberant dogs who wanted to run with us, we reached the starting point, the second aid station, loaded our baggies, and took off for another round. Remember the downed tree we had to climb over the first time? Well, this time it was pretty much sit and try to swing your leg over without getting splinters you-know-where.

From this point on, we had off and on contact with other runners, including a few 50kers who were only halfway through their run. We met up with a gentleman named Ken from Livermore who was with us for most of the hike up the Monster Hill. To paraphrase him and how we were feeling at the time, "I’m in my 40's but my brain thinks I’m still 25. My body is winning the argument."

By the time we crested the top and the prairie again, I knew this last leg was going to be hard for me.

I had been trying very hard to monitor my fluid and fuel intake throughout the run. However, due to a misunderstanding on my part of recommendations by my coach, I was getting depleted of electrolytes, etc. My legs, especially my thighs and hamstrings, were really beginning to ache and were h-e-a-v-y, but it was easier to run than walk. Karen was getting tired, but was still feeling good. We wound our way around the Prairie, headed back into the forest, and then down the hill with Karen leading the way. At points where the trail steepened, I would zig-zag my way from side-to-side, trying to alleviate some of the pressure on my quads. At one point, Karen stopped at a trail sign and said, "It’s the pygmy forest!" I told her if I stopped, I’d never get going again. Let’s keep on movin’!

She slowly pulled away from me at this point (good for her!), and I pretty much concentrated on keeping a forward momentum going.

When I finally popped out at the bottom and reached the bluffs again, there was no question in my mind that I would make it. I was slogging along through the high grasses toward the edge of the bluff when I looked up and there was Karen, waiting for me. What a gal! She asked how I was doing, and I think my comment was, "I just want to get this over with." She stayed with me almost the entire rest of the way, but pulled ahead of me once we reached the parking lot, which was "within spitting distance" of the finish line. It was at this point that I looked at my Garmin and realized that I had about two minutes if I wanted to reach the finish within my self-imposed time limit. I tried to pick up the pace, had to walk a few feet up the last climb, then ran as fast as my legs would go, finishing in . . . . . 4:00:06.

Once we stopped, the results of my misunderstanding regarding fluid, etc., hit me. I have a benign tremor on my left side that is exacerbated under certain circumstances. Well, guess what? I started shaking a good bit, at which point the "mom" in Karen kicked in. "Sit down. You need fuel." She brought me cup and after cup of HEED and a couple of hand-fulls of food, all of which after about 15 minutes worked their magic. Thanks, Karen!

Tired, but happy, we had our picture taken at the finish line, trudged back to the parking lot, hit the lodge for a quick shower, then started on the 5+ hour drive home.

Salt Point was my longest run to date, and what a time we had! Both of us were sore and stiff the next day, but agreed that we definitely want to do this run again. As for me, for the first time in my life I’m pushing myself past my comfort zones, relishing the sense of accomplishment, and looking forward with great anticipation to my next milestone.