Thursday, December 31, 2009


A Happy and Blessed New Year to all my Family and Friends!!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Scrooge, Here

The Hub and I have decided to forego Christmas this year. No family coming, we already spent all our money on vacation in October and a new bed a couple of weeks ago, enough's enough.

All the adults in our family decided years ago to not get gifts for one another and just call. Gifts went to the kids when they were little, it turned to money as they grew up. Now that they're all adults, they get what all the other adults get, a card, and a phone call, if you're lucky.

This year, we're not even doin' the cards. Heck we aint' even doin' a tree or ANY kind of decorations. Do I look at other Christmas decorations and lights somewhat wistfully? I'd be lying if I said no. Do I miss dragging out all the boxes, spending hours upon hours decorating a $100+ tree and the house? Heck, no! And I won't miss all the hours I would've spent putting all the crap away.

So this year, we're hum buggin' it, and I don't mind one bit.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Desert High 50k

Ridgecrest, California
Sunday, 12/06/09

Fashion Report: Black capris with a blue stripe down the side, light blue tech shirt, bright yellow Moeben sleeves, hot pink sports bra, hot pink gaiters, blue and gray Mizuno trail shoes, baby blue hat

I participated in the 30k distance of this race last year and enjoyed it so much, I decided to go back this year for the 50k. My aunt and uncle live in Ridgecrest and my dad goes with me, so he and I get in some much needed father-daughter time, and we get to see family, too.

I live in Northern California, and Ridgecrest is way down at the other end of the state in the Mojave Desert (do the Tehachapis ring a bell with anyone?), about 12 hours away. Dad and I left around 3:00 Thursday and drove halfway before we got a room for the night, then took off the next morning for the second half of the drive. My uncle, in an effort to get out of having to visit with us, decided to go in for hernia surgery Friday. However, being the devious persons that we are, we forced ourselves upon him by visiting him in the hospital. He was only allowed to stay one night, so he had to come home and face us Saturday and Sunday. (Grins to Uncle Wayne!)

On Saturday, my aunt and I walked to the town’s annual Christmas faire about a mile away, which gave my legs a chance to loosen up. It was really windy, and I was hoping against hope that it would die down before the next day. My aunt made a great baked spaghetti casserole for dinner Saturday night, and I did my best to eat as much of it as possible.

Before dinner, I went to race headquarters and picked up my race packet. There was lots of people waiting in line, so I struck up a conversation with the two guys in front of me. One had run Western States before, and both had run AR50 (American River 50 Mile), which I plan to run in April. It was nice to get some more insight into the run, which ended with one guy saying, “You just have to come to terms with the fact that the last few miles are going to suck.” Okee dokee!)

I slept remarkably well Saturday night, and woke up Sunday ready to face the run. Got myself dressed, ate a bowl of oatmeal, and waited for nature to take its course. My dad got up to use the bathroom at one point and asked if I wanted him to sit up with me, but seeing as how it was around 5:30 a.m. and there was absolutely no reason for him to be up, I sent him back to bed . . . much to his relief, I must say.
(Finish line workers braving the cold)

It was quite chilly when I got to Cerro Coso College, where the race is staged. The cement pad going in to the gym (which was open for bathroom use and for people to hang out) had quite a layer of ice on it. The edges had thawed and there were lights along the outer edge of the iced areas, and someone was standing there to ensure people were aware of the ice. Regardless, as I was heading down the steps back to my car, I heard someone bite it - hard. Whoever it was, he or she had to have done themselves in, and I could only imagine how much they were gonna hurt once the shock wore off.

The early start was suppose to be at 6:00, and around 6:10 they took off to cheers and horn honks from those of us waiting for the 7:00 a.m. start. I stayed in my truck with it running and the heat going full force. No reason to hang out in the cold! A little before 7:00, I double-checked my gear, then headed to the start line. Directions were given, a short prayer was said, and with a countdown, we were off.

This course, although at some elevation (2500 feet at the start) and with a couple of long uphill hauls, doesn’t have the intense climbing that I usually encounter on trail runs, so it’s a good place to set a PR. My previous PR had been in July at SOB (Siskiyou Out Back in Ashland, OR), which I finished in 7:39 and some change - a really good run for me. My verbal goal for this race was to finish in 6.5 to 7 hrs, but I was secretly hoping to finish faster.

One of the great things about this race is that the distances between aid stations are fairly short, with the longest being around 5 miles. I wish, however, that they allowed drop bags. I use my own fluid mix during runs, and with no drop bags, it meant I had to carry it all with me. This allowed very little room in my waist pack for anything extra (like my Mojo Clif bars), so I was hoping against hope that the aid stations had foods that would agree with my stomach. They were well-stocked, and I subsisted on bananas, potatoes, and a few pretzels for the entire run. At one station, I stared longingly at what looked to be homemade brownies and at miniature Snickers (I LOVE Snickers!), but with heartburn just a stupid food choice away, I reluctantly walked away from both.

About 1.5 hrs into the run the winds picked up with a vengeance, and never let up the rest of the run. It was awful. 90% of the time it was a direct headwind or was coming at you from the front left. My uncle emailed me on Tuesday after the race and said their paper indicated the winds were blowing at 30-40 mph with gusts of 55 mph. Did I already say it was awful? The couple of times I remember it being at my back, we were, of course, going downhill. Gee, thanks. At times, it felt like you were pushing against a wall, with the wind buffeting you all over the place. When it was coming from the front side, I’d find myself half turning my body trying to protect myself. I finally gave up trying to keep my hat on, and eventually tucked it around my waist pack.

The aid stations workers were da bomb. Those poor folks, all bundled up against the wind and cold, kept us going while trying to keep food and drinks from being blown off the tables. And the Christmas station was back! Christmas bobbles and stuffed animals lined the course beginning less than a 1/4 mile from the station, and just as you got to the station, there was a length of PVC pipe covered with gold garland arching over the course. The only bummer about the station was the guy who, with very good intentions, said, “This should be the end of the headwinds, folks.” Alas, he was wrong. :o(

There was a point where I was getting really mad because of the wind and curse words went flying. But I realized it was wasted energy and wouldn’t change anything, so I changed to positive thinking as much as possible. Also, because this an easier course, you’re never far from other runners, so there was a lot of commiserating with one another.

One thing that brought a smile to my face - at the M11 aid station, a group of women came in just behind me. Of the 4 or 5, it sounded like only one had ever run this distance before. One of the newbies says, “We’re all Mile 11? Great! Only 20 miles left!” I thought, “Hope you’re that cheery come Mile 20!”
(Look! Two feet off the ground!)

Despite the wind, I was doing really well. A little before Mile 20 or so, I could feel my legs tiring, but I was still able to effectively execute my run/walk up the hills without much ill effect. I was doing my best to take in food and fluids on a regular basis, and felt it was possible to attain my secret goal. . . . Then M28 came and it all began to fall apart. I’ve hit walls before, but it’s always come on gradually. This time - WHAM! It felt like it came from out of the blue. Even though there were only 3 miles left, I knew it was going to be a long 3 miles. Thankfully, there was a good downhill section, but I even had to resort to walking some of that, which was a real bummer since that’s where I (along with most people) can really make up time.

All the aid stations have signs indicating what mileage its at in the run, as well as the distance to the next station. With this race, there’s one final aid station at M29.9. Even though I knew the last station had been at 25-something, in my “you have nothing left” state of mind, I asked what mile we were at. One lady says, “24.9.” Well, I guess my head almost flew off my neck I turned it around so hard, and the other lady manning the station started laughing like crazy. The first one says, “No! 29.9! 29.9!” and the other says to me, “Oh, you should’ve seen your face!” I told her, “Well, I thought I was in hell for a second!”

There was a group of about 4 or 5 of us who left that station at the same time, and one guy, doing is best to urge me along, ran with me for a few yards saying, “Let’s go! Only one mile left. We can do this! Don’t go crazy and go too hard. Let’s just get this done.” Well, he had a little more oompf in his legs than I did, and it wasn’t long before I let him go on his merry way. From that point, I leap-frogged a few times with a man and woman who were running together, each of us intermittently walking and running.

I eventually pulled away from them, and once I hit the last downhill section, I let it go. My dad, who had showed up about an hour or so earlier so he could take pictures, saw me coming and stood out in the middle of the road snapping away. Because he had been chatting with the folks around them, they knew my name, and as I ran toward them, they were all yelling, “Go, Leslie!” It was really cool to hear.

The end of the race takes you back through the parking lot and up what is an imperceptible incline. Imperceptible, that is, unless you’ve just run 31 miles and your legs are like jelly. But I refuse to walk through a finish line, and I gave it everything I had those last yards, finishing in 6:39:29, a distance PR. (This smile took a bit of effort.)

My dad gave me a big hug, and I told him, “I think I’m going to puke or poop all over myself. I gotta sit down.” We headed to my truck, and my poor dad, he got to watch me start to shake like crazy, beginning in the legs and working it’s way up. I sat on the bumper and he kept asking, “What can I do for you, sis? What can I do for you?” He got me the rest of the Mojo bar I had in the truck, and once I got that down, I started feeling a bit better. (There was a bit of an updraft behind the truck.)

After a walk to the bathrooms, we headed back to my aunt and uncle’s house, where I ended up having all three of them standing in the dining room watching me shake while I ate a banana. My aunt says to me, “And you pay to do this?!?” Yep!

This is a great run, but you definitely have to like the desert and not mind using the bathroom behind a see-thru bush. I intend to go back next year, the run’s 25th Anniversary, and hopefully Mother Nature will be a little kinder and keep the winds to a low roar.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

How Many Male Cats Does it Take to Start a Good Ole Cat Fight and Pissing Contest?

We've acquired 2 more cats. I'm blaming at least one of the acquisitions on Shorty. I came back from Conference in August and he says, "You know that orange and white cat? He's eating here now." (deep breath) Come to think of it, I can blame 3 out of 6 on him. two years ago, I came home from Conference and we had acquired two kittens. Maybe I should stop going to Conference . . . . . .

But I digress . . .

The other is our neighbor's cat, who we now affectionately call Mister Mister after mistakingly thinking he was a girl (the neighbor told us he was a she) and calling her Missy Pants to begin with. The neighbors apparently couldn't care less 'cause he's with us all the time. The orange and white cat? He's Chico - because he really belongs to the Mexican family up the road, which family obviously doesn't give a whit about him, as well, because he, too, spends all of his time at our house. Plus he's never been de-balled, which will be taken care of soon.

So we are now a family of 6 male cats. One very old guy (19 1/2), one middle-aged guy, 2 youngin's, and 2 hanger-on-ers. As in the two-legged world of males, the 4-legged world of males are now strutting their stuff and be the alpha male. Well, all them except our old guy who is confounded by all this in the first place, and Ziggy, our middle-aged guy who, smartly, seeks refuge as often as possible in the field across the street. I foresee issues . . . lots and lots of issue. Lord, give me strength!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Mile Stone

Another benchmark in my running career - I hit 50 miles in one week for the first time this past week, with 36 of them happening Saturday (24) and Sunday (12). Yee haw! And except for a slower than normal 12 on Sunday and some leg tiredness, I'm none the worse for the wear. Now, however, I'm in taper time, so won't be seeing those numbers again for a few weeks.

Thursday - Six Rivers Running Club 5k Turkey Trot. PR'd this last year, but I have a 10-mile run tomorrow. Coach Bill will be running it with me Thursday and he helps me push myself, so we'll see what happens.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Another Fine Lesson Learned

Of course I've known forever that I would have today off work. One would think that I would be smart enough to say, "Hey! I'll do my 20-miler on Wednesday instead of having to do it at Conference over the weekend!" Well, I didn't think about that until Karen suggested it last night. I had a pretty exhaustive XT day yesterday, but I thought, "What the heck. Let's give it a try anyway." Well . . . . I made it 12.5 miles today. My legs were beat. . . up. My quads hurt so stinking bad, there was no way I could do anymore climbing. If I could've run on a rolling trail, I know I could've finished, but the climbing - ugh! Now I'll have to gut it out down in Rancho Cordova, either on the road or on a treadmill. {sigh} My own stupidity never ceases to amaze me.

Monday, November 2, 2009

A Whole New Journey

November 1 is here, and thus begins my journey to my first 50-miler in April, the American River 50-miler, or AR50. Well, that's a whole 5 months away!, you say. But believe me, those 5 months are going to fly by, and before I know it, I'll be doin' some serious butt clenching and second guessing of myself while standing in the dark at a starting line in Sacramento with lots of other people. I have two 50ks planned between now and April 10, Desert High on 12/06 and Hagg Lake on 02/20, the latter of which will be my last long training run. It's funny to think that a 50k distance is going to be a training run.

I spend a lot of time envisioning myself crossing that finish line in April, with my buddy, Karen, by my side (my pacer for the last 20 miles) and my husband, Shorty, and (hopefully) his sister, Kim, waiting for me. To be able to share this experience with all of them would be wonderful.

I'll probably pop back in here every now and then to bore you with the details of my training, but if you're reading this blog, you probably don't mind.

Yep, the next few months are going to be quite a journey.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Big Sur Trail (aka Dirt Road) Marathon

I’m not sure how Enviro Sports can call this run a “trail marathon,” because it most assuredly is not. Had I taken a closer look at the site before signing up for the race, I would’ve realized that when I read “follows the Old Coast Road," so that's my fault, and now neither here nor there.

Usually, I’m very quick with reports and have a great time writing them, but this time ‘round is different. Except for a few of the people I met, I did not enjoy one single moment of this race, except for maybe the first 5 minutes.

It was hot. Temps were in the high 80s before noon/before I reached the 2nd aid station after a 5.88 mile climb, and eventually reached the 90s. Eighty (80%) percent or more of the race was completely exposed with little to no wind. The front/back (it was an out and back) was like being in an oven. Toward the end it was hard to even catch your breath it was so hot, and you could see the heat vapors coming off the dirt road and embankment.

I’m spoiled by the aid stations provided by PCTR and SOB. The aid stations, though superbly manned by folks who had to stand all day in that heat with no shelter, had pretzels bites with peanut butter, trail mix, and bananas. With a mouth as dry as the Sahara Desert, bananas were my saving grace. Also a saving grace was that they had enough water that I could dump it on my head and down my back at every station, which provided limited relief.

It was hot (did I mentioned that already) and there was no ice to keep anything cool. There wasn’t even any ice at the finish line for folks. About 6 or so miles from the end, during a 2.7 mile climb, I came around a corner to find Tim, an aid station worker, running down the trail with a gallon of water looking for people who needed assistance. I was doing fairly okay, but since my hand-held was empty, I filled it up. I had another bottle with Succeed Ultra. He left the jug on the ground for the two or three runners who were behind me and, thankfully, practically marched me up that hill. I power walked with him for about a mile before I couldn’t keep his pace anymore, but he said folks were coming into the station speechless with heat exhaustion, and he, who was a very fit runner, talked about how brutally hot it was.

I normally am a very good downhill runner, but by the time I got to the last 2+ miles, which was all downhill, I could barely run. I’d run as far as I could until I thought I was going to lose my balance, then I’d walk, then try running again, then walk. My main goal was to stay ahead of a young man who’d I’d played leap frog with the entire race, and to keep the older gentleman ahead of me in my sights. If I could see him, I could finish because I knew he was going to.

When I came across the finish line, I was so exhausted I could hardly talk to the gals who gave out the finishers’ medals. I just wanted to sit down in the shade and try to pull myself together. You had to cross Hwy 1 to get back down the hill to the staging area, and it seemed to take forever to walk those extra few minutes.

I sat down for a few minutes before I felt composed enough to at least walk to my car and get my chocolate milk out of the ice chest, then just sat at one of the picnic tables with my head in my hands. The medics had two runners laid out on tables, one with oxygen, both with solar blankets. I have no idea how many others needed medical attention. One of the medics found a little bit of ice to put in a baggy for the back of my neck and gave me their last bottle of ice water.

Just to back track a little - talking to the medics was probably the highlight of the entire race. Three cute dudes who were chatty, nice, and comforting. What more could an overheated (in the wrong sense), exhausted gal ask for?

I probably sat around for about an hour before I felt comfortable that I could drive the 45 minutes back to Monterey. I had planned on trying to drive back to my brother’s, 4+ hours away, but that wasn’t going to happen. Luckily, I was able to get a room at the same hotel where I’d stayed the night before.

I had gone into this race confident that I could complete it in 5 to 5.5 hours. I drank 130+ ounces of fluids and took 7 S-caps and neither was enough. Finished in 6:23. The course was hard, but only because of the hills. Probably 80% of the time you were either going up or pounding your way down. There was very little flat. Compounded with the heat - well, ‘nuf said.

Modified To Add:
After reading this over and over, I keep trying to be more positive about this race. Unfortunately, the heat took the joy out of the whole thing. I felt worse at the halfway point of this race than I have at the end of any race in a very long time. If I could count on weather cooperation, I would go back and try, try again. But with Central California (I grew up 2 hrs south of Big Sur), it can be a crap shoot weather-wise this time of year.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Headwaters = Hell??

Did 20 miles on the Elk River Trail in the Headwaters Forest today. Man, am I beat! After the first 3 miles, you climb for two miles on switchbacks, do a half mile loop at the top through the Old Growth, then back out for an 11 mile round trip. Plan A was to run the switchbacks 3 times, so we stashed extra fluid at the bottom. Once we got to the top, we decided to do the loop 3 times. Karen was in "The Zone," was just cruising, and I eventually lost sight of her. I forgot how many loops I'd done, so I went ahead and did another. I was about halfway through when I realized Karen had gone back down the hill. Oh well. I knew she'd figure out I wasn't behind, and sure enough, about 1/4 mile back down, here she comes back up, worried. Sorry!

At the top of our second climb, I told her there was no way I was doing that again. No frigging way! Luckily, she felt the same way, so we decided to do 6 loops at the top, but only got through 3 when we both said enough's enough and headed back down. It's so steep much of the time going down, that you actually smile at the few inclines - for a second.

It also rained, which felt wonderful when it was hitting you, but once it stopped, the humidity - Ugh! I ran almost the entire 20 miles sans shirt because it was just too humid and warm. Poor Charlie Dog, he practically ran us over when we got near the creek each time. And when we got to the pond area, I wanted to jump in the water with him!

So now here I sit with my feet up 'cause their killing me, thinking about all the cold watermelon I have cut up in the fridge. Yum! Here's a graph that shows what the climbing is like. I don't know if the elevation is right, but it gives a really good picture of the climbing.

Karen is a really good running partner. I think we're pretty equal, but she can run hills like nobody's business, even when she's tired. She's like the damn Energizer Bunny. (Must be a family thing since Kate is, too.) That's what I will be counting on with her as my pacer at AR50.

Friday, September 4, 2009

It's Craziness, I Tell Ya, Craziness

Well, I did it. I signed up for my first 50-miler, the AR50. I don't know what came over me. When I went to hit the "Send" button for the final registration, my heart was pounding so hard, it was ridiculous. But the sucker cost me $12, and I'm telling you all, so I can't back out now.

We'll see how it goes!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

A first for me yesterday. At Mile 13.5, about halfway through the first of what was suppose to be three climbs up #12 and through the keyhole, I had a complete and total meltdown. My legs were absolute toast, and I sat down on the side of the trail and started blubbering like a baby. Unbelievable. After a few minutes, I tried to pull myself together and start climbing again, but I realized it just wasn't going to happen. So much for 22 miles. All the lifting and moving of office furniture, equipment, and boxes of files last week, on top of keeping up with my running and x-training, finally caught up with me.

I got about .10 back down #12 when I see Karen and Charlie running toward me, and I almost lost it again. God bless, Karen! She gave me a hug and said, "Let's just walk." We went a little bit further before I finally said enough's enough, and she and Charlie escorted me out to the trail head where I got another hug from Karen before she headed off her merry way and I dragged my sorry ass to the car. I managed 16, but they were brutal.

Emailed Coach Bill and he sent me a reply of DO NOT RUN TOMORROW! YOU'RE BODY IS TELLING YOU IT NEEDS A REST! Yes, my friend, it is. Even today, I feel worse than I did after SOB. Just utterly and completely exhausted. Guess if you're gonna fall apart, it's better to do it now rather than right before Big Sur in three weeks.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Cross Training and Moving - One In the Same?

One of my bosses is retiring and the other is moving to another office 'cause the building we're in - and which they own - has been rented out in whole. I've spent the last month+ prepping for this move, and beginning yesterday we've started moving all this crap. So my question is: Does lifting full storage boxes, filing cabinets, over 1,000 pounds of law books, going up and down a flight of 17 stairs, and jumping in and out of the back of a pickup truck constitute cross training? I sincerely hope so.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Bonk-A-Bomb, Bomb, Bomb

Today - my longest run since SOB - 20 miles. I did every stupid thing you could do. Bad nutrition management, too many miles in brand new shoes, no Body Glide for under the arms (ouch), not enough fluid intake toward the first part of the run, kept going when I knew I should've stopped - - too many miles in brand new shoes. Stupidity in its grandest form. But hey, we all do it at one time or another, right?

On the upside, we ran Headlands for the first time in a long time. And funny, the first time up the switchbacks, it felt tough, but Karen and I agreed that the second time up seemed easier. I told her it was the delirium.

So next up, Big Sur Trail Marathon, September 26. It doesn't look to bad with regard to elevation, so I'm hoping I do well. Keeping fingers crossed.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Who's Watching You?

Take a look around you. In your everyday life, your work life, your social life, who’s watching you? Your child? A co-worker? The young man bagging your groceries? The young woman ringing you out at the department store? Every single day, and at many moments throughout the day, we have the opportunity, known or unknown, to mentor someone, be it for a life time or but a brief moment.

There are four specific women who I have been blessed to have as mentors. Each one in their own way has opened my eyes to the possibilities of my life, to the rewards of persevering even if when you want to quit, of obtaining a dream that seemed out reach.

Marlene Birnie came into my life in November 1987, a few short months after I married and moved to Humboldt County. I had begun working as a receptionist in my first law office in October, and Marlene was hired about a month later as the secretary to Attorney John Davis. Since John’s office was directly off the reception area, Marlene was given the desk behind mine. I was 21 years old, newly married, living in a new town eight hours from my family, new job, and no friends. I cannot recall every little detail, but it wasn’t long before Marlene befriended me and became not only a surrogate mother but a good friend. Always quick to laugh and share a joke, she was a stronghold for me during some very hard times. With no family at the ready, I turned to Marlene often during my year of working with her, and many times since, for her level-headed and thoughtful advice. When my mother died, Marlene’s steadfastness and compassion helped pull me through a treacherous storm. I am sure she never considered herself as being a mentor, but she was. I learned from her the importance of being truly present when a person is in need; of not just offering verbal support, but a shoulder, an ear; of allowing people to have their hurts and pains, while at the same time letting them know that when they are ready I will be there. Thank you, Momma-Seeta.

Catherine Culver came to work at our office first as a temp for me while I was on vacation. Upon my return, her temporary position was turned into a full time position, and thus began what I know will be a life-long friendship. We complimented each other in so many ways during the time we worked together, each not minding certain jobs and duties that the other couldn’t stand. It was a great partnership. Without a doubt, Catherine is the reason I am where I am today with regard to my profession and that I have accomplished so many goals. She is the consummate professional, and from Day One, intentionally or unintentionally, began developing in me a desire to become a better legal secretary. It was Catherine who encouraged me to study with her for the CCLS exam, along with four other members of our association. It is Catherine who told me, “Yes, you can do it!” when I was asked to run for president of our association, and then provided me with much needed support and experienced advice in her capacity as governor and a board member. It was Catherine who applauded and encouraged my decision to run for governor of our association, and it was Catherine who continued that encouragement when I was considering the position of LSS Probate/Estate Planning Section Leader.

Catherine not only instilled in me a desire to continue improving myself professionally, but also showed me the importance of looking professional, as well. She is the one who, without words, made me understand that if you want to be treated professionally, then you must dress the part, and that first impressions are important. If you were to walk into an office and see two equally competent secretaries standing before you, but one is dressed in slacks and a blouse and the other in jeans and a cotton pullover, who would you most like turn to for assistance? Who would you think is more competent and knowledgeable? I will forever be grateful for the impact she has left on my life. Thank you, Friend.

I met Denise Lopes through the CCLS study group in which I was encouraged by Catherine to participate. Our friendship developed slowly within the group, but blossomed over the past couple of years when we began traveling together to Conference, she as LSI Historian for Mary Rocca, and me as governor of our association. Denise is a small but mighty force. She will defend you to the end, but will also, in her quiet way, let you know when perhaps the decisions you are making or the actions you are taking are not the most prudent. Not one to speak out of turn, she quietly observes and gives grounded, well thought out advice when asked, and I have turned to her often for that advice. I have learned much from Denise about guarding one’s tongue and really, truly thinking before opening one’s mouth. She, too, has taught me much about being a true professional, as well as nurtured my desire to continue to improve myself in my profession, and has helped guide me to an understanding of, “If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything.” She has been a very calming presence in the midst of some stormy times in my life these last few years, and she has taught me the true meaning of friendship. Thank you, Miss Denise.

Last, but most assuredly not least, is my mother, Yualene Gleason. Words cannot begin to describe this truly remarkable woman. Although not diagnosed until a number of years later, my mother became afflicted with rheumatoid arthritis, along with at least two other types of arthritis, at approximately age 22 after having two children she was told she could never have. For years I watched this disease wreak havoc on her body, put her through unimaginable, agonizing pain. Through it all, her one goal, her one desire was to protect her children, to not let the disease rob my brother and me of our mother, and when she had grandchildren, rob them of their grandma. She was a woman of unwavering faith in her religious belief, and never once did I hear her ask, “Why me?” Through surgeries, infections, hospitalizations, tortured and twisted hands and feet, my mother bore her pain and suffering with grace and dignity.

Over the years, many people have expressed to my family that it was my mother’s grace, dignity, selflessness, and compassion toward others that helped them through their own times of trials and tribulations. But to me, her most selfless act came the day I married. A few short weeks before, she had had surgery on both feet to fix a horribly painful condition called hammer toes. The surgeon broke both of her feet from the arches down, cut the tendons to straight the toes, then inserted pins through ends of her toes into her feet to hold everything in place. These pins stuck out of her toes by approximately 2 inches. On the day of my wedding, while being walked down the aisle by my brother, the incisions on both of her big toes split open. It wasn’t until my husband and I had left our reception a few hours later that she told my dad she needed to go home because she was in so much pain. She did not say anything sooner, lest she somehow mar my wedding day.

My mother died in 1989 when I was 23 years old, just as we were embarking on a new, and what I am sure would have been a wonderful, adult mother/daughter relationship. To this day, I feel the hole that her passing has left in my life. However, in the short 23 years we had together, she taught me the true meaning of humanity, compassion and love, and to never give up no matter the obstacles or the pain. As I write this, I am about to embark upon my first 50k ultra trail run. 31.06 miles. A distance my mother could never have comprehended being able to walk, let alone run. I will cross that finish line because of her, I will cross that finish line for her.

All four of these women - my mom, Marlene, Catherine, and Denise - have touched my life, been my mentors, mostly, I am sure, unintentionally. I am honored to have them in my life, and to each of them, I will forever be grateful and thankful.

Every day we have the opportunity, knowingly or unknowingly, to mentor someone, be it for a life time or but a brief moment. Take a look around you. In your life, who’s watching you?

(Written in April 2008, submitted to and published by The Legal Secretary Magazine)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Pics from SOB Run

If you're so inclined to view them, here are pictures the professional photographer took at SOB, and which we are able to download at no cost. Very cool.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Siskiyou Outback (SOB) - July 11, 2009

Overall - 152/164
Age - 30/34

Fashion Report: White short sleeve tech shirt w/pink piping around the sleeves and neck, hot pink sports bra, black shorts, hot pink gaiters, dirty used-to-be-blue Mizuno trail shoes.

Last year, this race kicked my a**. Royally. It was my second 50k (31 miles) in two months time, and I was ill prepared for what was in front me. Consequently, I was met by the Grim Sweeper and pulled from the race at Mile 21.9 for not meeting the cutoff time of leaving the aid station by 11:45, let alone even getting there before that cutoff. I wasn’t even close.

This year I was going back for revenge, although about six weeks ago, I was seriously worried about my abilities and, quoting from my own blog, was afraid that mountain was “going to eat me alive.” Between gall bladder surgery and an ankle that had been acting up, I was feeling “weak.” (That’s for my buddy, Denise.) However, the further I got into my training for this run, the more confident I began to feel, with finally my main worry being the altitude. My mantra going into this race was “Stuff Your Face with Food” and “Relentless Forward Motion.”

The Siskiyou Outback (SOB) 50k meanders off and on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), starting at 6500' feet and climbing to 7100', with 4200' of elevation gain between. On Saturday, my buddy, Karen, her daughter, Kimber, and I made the 3-hour drive from Eureka the Ashland, OR, with two soon-to-be well-deserved stops along the way: the DQ in Cave Junction for an ice cream cone, and Harry & David’s in Medford for fruit, Jalapeno Moose Munch, and dark chocolate truffles (yum!). Karen’s sister, Kate (an amazing ultra runner), was planning to meet us in Ashland after driving 6 hours from Northern OR; ironically, however, we came behind her on I-5 just outside of Grants Pass, and she followed us to Harry & David’s.

After a short shopping spree, we headed on to Ashland, checked into the Manor Motel (very cute little place), drove the short distance to town to pick up our race packets at Rogue Valley Runners, the running stored owned by Hal Koerner, Mr. Western States 100 winner himself (FYI - He completed the race in 16:24:55, and finishers 2nd-5th place finishers did it in less than 17 hours. Ho-ly crap!), on to pasta at Martinos (or something like that), then back to the motel to rest up and get ready for the next day.

Saturday morning dawned too early (as usually) at 4:30 a.m., as Karen and I were taking the 6:00 a.m. start to ensure finishing within the 8.5 hour time limit. Kate wasn’t participating in the race, but since she’s getting ready for 100 in the Hood in September, was going to drop us off, go do her 20 miles on a section of the PCT that Hal had told her about the day before, then pick up Kimber and meet us at the finish line in the early afternoon.

It was cool up in the mountain, but we knew it wouldn’t be long before it warmed up. (Actually, it stayed very pleasant the entire day with a nice cool breeze.) The early field looked small compared to last year, but with a ring of a cow bell, we were off. We hadn’t gone far when I had to chuckle. Last year, I wasn’t even out of the parking lot when I had a wardrobe malfunction. My outer sock (I wear 2 layers) slipped down into my shoe. I should’ve known then that it was a portent of things to come for that race (mental eye roll).

But no slippage this year, and Karen and I chatted easily as we moved along with the crowd. Toward the bottom of the first service dirt road, we took a right-hand turn onto the trail with Karen leading the way. It was pretty cool to look up and see the snake of runners ahead of us. We had a gentle pace going with a number of folks behind us, but since we were all trying to get our breath under control due to the altitude, no one seemed in a real hurry. Part way up our first climb, Karen dropped into the 20/20 run/walk combo we’d been practicing, and I followed suit. The guy directly behind me asked to pass, which put a new guy behind me, Steve. Steve was from Jackson, Missippi and another sea level runner.

At one point during a walk/run combo, and after the first aid station at Mile 2.7, another runner or two asked to pass, Karen, Steve, and I stepped over, I popped in behind the last of the passers, and Karen ended up somewhere down the line. I would see her only one more time during the rest of the race.

I’d actually like to stop right here and say a huge, huge THANK YOU to all the aid station workers at SOB - along with all the other races in which I’ve participated. If you’ve never participated in a trail run, especially an ultra, I cannot begin to tell you what a God-send these folks are. They spend hours manning these stations, providing food and fluid. I mean, we started our run at 6:00 a.m. These folks were out at their stations much earlier than that, finalizing all the preparations. We, the runners, could not do what we love to do without their aid and support. So a BIG, BIG THANK YOU to anyone who has ever worked an aid station.

Siskiyou Aid Station, 9.1 miles into the run, provided comic relief and the first opportunity to rummage through our drop bags. All the guys were dressed in drag, including one guy who had on some “sexy” lacey, nighty with tennis balls for breasts. On the second time through, I told him he had the boobs of a 12 year old girl. But I digress . . .

I was already carrying a 26 oz bottle of fluid in my waist pack, but after thinking about last year, which was so warm, and some discussion with Karen the night before, I opted to go ahead and pick up another hand-held, just in case. I was bound and determined this year to not cut my own throat by being under-hydrated or under-fueled. I already had my Ultra powder in my bottle, so I handed it off to an aid station worker to fill with water while I filled my sandwich baggy with pretzels, potatoes with salt, fig bars, and a chunk of banana. With everything all set, I took off with Steve in tow and began the climb out of Siskiyou. We weren’t far up the service road when I had to visit the little girl’s room behind a tree. Steve offered to hang onto my hand held and kept marching up the road. I soon caught up with him, and he pointed out that Karen was up ahead of us. I yelled out something out to her (can’t remember what), and I was greeted by the world renowned single finger salute, to which I had to yell, “Is that your number of friends or your IQ?” I’m sure she smiled at this (‘cause she loves me), but that was the last time I saw her until the end of the race. Later, I would find out that due to Steve’s unwelcome assistance, he had thrown her mind off of what she was doing at Siskiyou and ended up leaving her salt pills behind. She ended up with the squirts, which threw her race off by a good margin. (Sorry, sweetie!)

The next aid was Wrangle Gap (12.5 miles) where two sisters were hanging out to provide water and Gatorade. These ladies are a hoot, and I thanked them profusely for being there for us. It was some where between here and the turn around at Jackson Gap Aid Station (16.4 miles) that Steve and I ended up getting separated. He was a nice man and I had been happy to have his company for awhile, but by this point I was ready to be on my own, with my own thoughts.

Jackson Gap Station can be seen long before you get to it, so it’s fairly deceiving as to how far away it is. Between Wrangle Gap and Jackson Gap, I couldn’t help but ruminate on how by this time last year I was failing in a really bad way, from nausea to dizziness to an inability to run hardly at all. A radiologist name Phil had stayed with me for quite a bit of the run last year and I know it was because he was very worried about me. (How I ended up with these guys hangin’ with me, I have no idea. I seem to recall another guy named Russ who tagged along with me for the final 3 miles of my first 50k at Forest Park. ;o) ) This year, although I was by no means fresh, I could run, I could breath, I could enjoy myself and it was, well, a remarkable feeling.

The trail from Wrangle to Jackson is also one of the prettiest sections as you are afforded breathtaking views of alpine meadows and the mountains beyond. Last year there was quite a bit of snow, and although it was cooler this year, there was only one small strip. At Jackson, although it was windy and cool, the workers, along with the runners, were in great spirits, and they readily filled my hand-held while I stuffed my baggy again. I asked the time, and was extremely encouraged to find that I was well ahead of the cutoff time of 11:45 - the cutoff for going back through Siskiyou Gap. I gave the puppy dog there a couple of good scratches and pats, and I was once again on my way. And again I thought about last year. It’s downhill leaving Jackson, but by that point last year I was such a mess, I couldn’t even think about running. This year, I grinned like a fool as I ran down that service road.

The return trip took us past the sisters at Wrangle Gap again, then onto a long stretch of single track, technical trail - and this is where I started having problems with my IT band and the sides of my calves. Much of the trail slants to the left with little room for error or you’ll go tumbling down the side of the mountain. Every downhill stretch put unwanted pressure on that band and, I guess from the slant, the sides of my calves, especially the left, started to feel the pressure. I stopped a couple of times to massage the band in the hopes that it wouldn’t get any worse, and although it talked to me the rest of the race, it never became a big issue.

There are also a couple of good climbs through this section, and I moved over a number of times to let faster runners pass. One guy told me, “Oh man! You were my rabbit! But you’ll catch me on the down hills.” I didn’t see him again ‘til the end, but I could definitely relate to the “rabbit” remark. Often if I’m struggling a bit, I will fixate on one person ahead of me and do my best to keep them in eye sight. It helps pull you along, forcing you to keep moving.

At the encouragement of both Kate and Karen, I had decided to leave my Garmin behind so as to not fixate on pace and time, so it was hard to judge the distance between the stations. Just when I was wondering when I’d reach Siskiyou Gap again, there were signs that read “Feeling Hungry?” “Too Tired To Be Naughty?” “Take a Break” “With a Bagpiping Hottie.” I could then hear the band playing, and finally popped out of the trees into the aid station - where I was once again greeted by the cross-dressing workers. They had a great little bluegrass band playing, and it really helped lift the spirits. It had also warmed up a bit, so I got a worker so soak my Coolmax Bandana with water, while I ditched my hand-held and filled my baggy, then took off for the final 9 miles.

As I said before, Siskiyou Gap is where I was pulled last year, so I was facing unchartered territory. There were a couple of short, nasty climbs out of Siskiyou (well, they seemed nasty ‘cause I was so tired) that I opted to walk. Two guys, then a third guy and a girl, then a 4th guy passed me. I began incorporating my run/walk climb to the best of my ability, and ended up passing 3rd and 4th Guys, albeit at no great pace. They remained a short distance behind me, but not so far that we couldn’t commiserate with one another. 4th Guy and I ran down into Willamette Meridan Aid Station close together, where the worker informed us that it was three miles to the next aid . . . and it was all up hill. Those, my friends, were the longest three miles of this entire race. Karen had told me about it last year, but until I actually experienced it on tired, worn out legs . . . . ho-ly crap. I stayed in front of 3rd and 4th Guys, and I remember at one point one of them saying, “Is this climbing ever going to end?” Man, it sure didn’t seem like it. There was very little of that three miles I was able to run, but I tried as often as I could.

Just when I thought the climbing would never end, we popped out of the trees onto a fairly flat single track that ran along the end of the mountain. I could see the aid station in the distance, and my remark to the great guys who greeted me was, “those last three miles sucked!” They smiled, filled my bottle, told me I only had another 2.6 miles to go, and encouraged me to get moving. I asked the time, was very happy to find out that I was more than half an hour ahead of the cutoff time of 1:15, thank them for being there, and took off for the final 2.6 miles. I would hit one more aid station with the workers greeting me with shouts of “Good job, 206!” and fresh cold watermelon (YUM!!), and sooner than seemed possible, I could see the service road on which we’d started our run.

With shouts from a couple of guys telling me I was only .80 away from the finish line, I hit that road and incorporated my run/walk as much as I could until I topped out onto the pavement where I dug deep and started running as hard as I could without puking all over myself. I was actually getting goose bumps with the realization that I was going to finish this race. . . . . . .Then I rounded the corner and saw the clock at the finish line. I was going to finish this race in less than 8 hours.

To cheering from the crowd and the announcement of my name and number, I crossed the finish line in 7:39:13, had my finisher’s medal hung around my neck, and got a huge smile and hug from Kate who, with Kimber, was waiting for Karen and me at the end. I cannot begin to express the overwhelming feeling of not only finishing, but in beating my time from my very first 50k (Forest Park) a little over a year ago by more than hour.

This race is a turning point for me. Up until now, I have had some pretty big doubts about my ability to participate in ultras. As I said, my first ultra in May 2008 ended up with me finished in 8:45 and barely able to walk, my second at SOB last year found me pulled from the race at Mile 21.9. This year - WOO HOO!! Those doubts have officially been erased by this finish, and I am so very ready for my next challenge!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

It's An Emotional Marathon

I know. The title. WTH now, you ask.

Well, first and most importantly, last week, after two weeks of trying to get him better, we had to put to sleep one of our kitties. Even up to the end, the vet wasn't 100% sure what was making him so sick, but we finally said enough's enough. We just couldn't see putting him through anymore crap. It broke our hearts, but it was the right thing to do.

BK was a feral who adopted us 3 years ago, and with whom I literally spent hours and hours getting him to trust us. He eventually did, and ended up being just one of the sweetest cats ever. He soon learned that life inside was much better than life outside, and took to sleeping on our bed for hours on end with our old guy, Fatso. We affectionately called them the Bed Sluts. I'm sure gonna miss that guy and his "kitty rain dancing."

Second - SOB is this weekend. Ack! Ironically, after all my boo hooing in a previous post, it's not the mileage I'm so much worried about anymore, it's the altitude. Bleck! Anybody got an extra oxygen tank? I remember that "somebody sitting on my chest" feeling from last year. But then I eventually bonked so bad, lack of oxygen was the least of my problems! This year my mantras are "keep stuffing your face with food" and "relentless forward motion." Inadequacy in the fueling department last year is what completely derailed me.

So that being said, I think I'm as ready as I'll ever be for that beast of a mountain. And I WILL be back here saying, "I DID IT!"

Monday, June 22, 2009

This past week was my first ever of 40 or more miles, topping out at 46. Yee haw! Of course, I wasn't so excited the last few miles of my 22-miler on Saturday, which is my longest run since my marathon last October and during which I developed a nasty blood blister under a callous, nor my 10 on Sunday (whose idea was it for the back-to-backs anyway). All in all, I'm quite pleased. . . . . . now if only I can figure out how to take Charlie Dog with me to SOB so we can stop for those most important doggie drinking breaks . . . .

Monday, June 15, 2009


Photobucket (Picture taken with mouths full of cake) Saturday, my niece, Brandi, and her fiancé, Josh Hanks, tied the knot. It was a really beautiful wedding, and I am very proud of what she and her friends accomplished with a rather limited amount of money.

This was a very bittersweet day for me. I held it together until the time came for family pictures, when it hit me hard how much I wish my mom could’ve been there. She loved her grandchildren with ever fiber of her being, and they her. Through some troubling times for my brother and his kids, she was their rock. And though they were young when she died (I believe Brandi was 6 and Cody was 4), they have never forgotten her.

Some of the most precious moments for me were watching Brandi and my dad dance together, and Brandi and her dad dance. The other was when my dad and I were leaving to go back to the motel. He was in some pretty bad physical pain and needed to go. We’re were almost to the truck when I heard a loud whistle. I turned around, and it was my brother trying to get our attention. And here running down the road toward us in her wedding dress was my niece, wanting to say goodbye to her Poppa.

Brandi and Josh, you are wonderfully beautiful people, inside and out. I give you all my love and know you will have a happy and fulfilling future.

Shackleford Trail, Ft. Jones, CA

My trail run Saturday. Where do I begin? My dad and I traveled to Etna/Ft. Jones for my niece's wedding. When we got to town on Friday, we went and found the trail head so I'd know where I was going the next day. The whole area is very beautiful. It's in the Marble Mountains in Skiskiyou County. Without knowing the trail, I had figured on about 5-5 1/2 hours for the 20 miles. I had planned on 5 miles in/out twice. However, once I got going, I realized this was going to be quite the trial. This trail was so rocky, it was ridiculous. It's a great trail for hiking and horseback riding; but running, especially with a time constraint? No. I finally gave up after 4.5 miles and no less than 8 water crossings, not counting the 5-6 feeders.

So with the water crossings and 20 miles of running, I wanted to keep my feet dry, if possible. Stupid, I know. But being totally brain dead, I had failed to tape my feet properly, and having them wet for a 20-mile run would've caused some real problems. However, it was on the 2nd or 3rd crossing going in that my right foot ended up nice and damp. On the way back, I was a mere .5 miles from the end, I am at the second to last crossing, I'm on a rock in the middle of the creek. It's not deep, about ankle deep. I decide to go a different way than I initially wanted. Took a large step to the left, my foot slipped on the rock, and (in my best Howard Cosell) DOWN GOES LESLIE! Slammed into the rocks on my left side, and for awhile I thought I sprained my left wrist. Yeah, I was a happy camper. It took me 2.75 hours for the 9-mile round trip. I'd say of that mileage, only about 3-3.5 miles total was runnable. When I run the Arcata Forest, I can do 10 miles in about 2:15, 2:20.

So I'm a bit irritated, to say the least, since I need to get 20 miles in and I'm on a time limit with my niece's wedding at 5:00 p.m. I head back down to Etna, having decided to finish up the last 11 miles on the highway (it's not a busy highway). Not challenging like trails, but at least I'd be getting the miles on my legs. Two problems, I'm totally and completely pissed off, and it's a 45 min drive back to the motel where I have to change my soaking wet shoes and socks and retape my feet. All in all - about an hour between runs. Plus the sun has decided to come out. Plus it's the freaking road. Plus I could feel a blister forming anyway. Plus, plus, plus . . . I started the run hoping my attitude AND the run would get better. Uh, no. The longer I ran, the hotter I got, the hungrier I got . . . the more pissed off I got. I finally turned around at 4.5 miles. From about Mile 6.5 on, it was sheer hell. I was thisclose to trying to flagged someone down to give me a ride back to town. It . . . sucked . . . sucked . . . sucked.

Once I staggered back to town, I hit the restaurant by the motel, and first thing asked for the largest glass of chocolate milk that they had and proceeded to chug it almost in one long gulp. I'm not sure I could possibly ever have a worse run. . . . . . . . nope, just not possible.

Until I can get some pictures posted here, you’ll have to settle for looking at them here:
Shackleford Trail

This was a gorgeous trail, and I will definitely go back for a leisurely day of hiking/running.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

This morning while doing hill repeats on The Hill, a family showed up - Dad, Mom, Kid about 9 yo, and two dogs. Now this is not a nice hill by any means. Three years ago before I started running, I could barely make it up it without feeling like I was going to die. The parents seemed to climb it fairly easily, but the kid, not so easy. He's huffin' and puffin' pushing his bike, and I'm thinking, "This doesn't look right. Here's a young kid who should be in fairly good shape, yet he can hardly make it up this thing?" Sad state of affairs, too many hours in front of the TV or video games, I assume. Hopefully, the family morning walks will continue, and soon he'll be fairly flying up that hill - walking, not riding. Cripes - I couldn't imagine trying to ride a bike up that thing!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

45 Lessons Life Taught Me

Written By Regina Brett, 90 years old, of The Plain Dealer, Cleveland , Ohio

To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 45 lessons life taught me. It is the most-requested column I've ever written. My odometer rolled over to 90 in August, so here is the column once more:

1. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.
2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.
3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
4. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and parents will. Stay in touch.
5. Pay off your credit cards every month.
6. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.
7. Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.
8. It's OK to get angry with God. He can take it.
9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.
10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.
11. Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.
12. It's OK to let your children see you cry.
13. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it.
15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don't worry; God never blinks.
16. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.
17. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.
18. Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.
19. It's never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.
20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer.
21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don't save it for a special occasion. Today is special.
22. Over prepare, then go with the flow.
23. Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.
24. The most important sex organ is the brain.
25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.
26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words 'In five years, will this matter?'
27. Always choose life.
28. Forgive everyone everything.
29. What other people think of you is none of your business.
30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.
31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
32. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
33. Believe in miracles.
34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn't do.
35. Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.
36. Growing old beats the alternative -- dying young.
37. Your children get only one childhood.
38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.
39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.
40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's,we'd grab ours back.
41. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
42. The best is yet to come.
43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
44. Yield.
45. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift."

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Am I Good Enough? Am I Trying Hard Enough?

Do you ever feel that maybe you just aren't good enough? That maybe you just aren't trying hard enough - but you're not sure what more you can do? My buddy Karen's sister, Kate, who is gearing up for another 100-miler in September, came down over the weekend to run her required miles of 30/20/20. Karen and Bill, our coach, were going to run with her for most of her miles. I was suppose to join them, but due to being forced off running for a week, didn't happen.

I talked with Karen today and she told me that although she hadn't run the full 30 with Kate on Saturday (she and Bill split this, I believe), she had run the balance of the mileage with her the rest of the weekend. And she felt great the whole time. While she's talking, I'm thinking, "Are you kidding me? How in the world did she do that?" Don't get me wrong, I most definitely don't begrudge her that stamina, but I feel so - how do I put it - weak compared to her, and it's stupid, because I know it's not warranted.

I have to keep reminding myself that the first 2 months of the year I was sick as a dog with my gall bladder and recovering from surgery, that during that time I definitely lost out on a lot of training, and that I'm still in the "come back" mode, sort of. But when I hear her say that SOB is going to be a cakewalk, I want to scream - not at her because I'm very proud of the strong runner she is becoming, but at myself because I'm afraid that $%^*& mountain is going to eat me alive.

I have to keep reminding myself of my proud finish at Redwood Park just a couple of weeks ago, that I'm getting more in tune with my hydration and nutrition needs, that the training this time around is going to be more complete. But sometimes all the positive talk you give yourself can't be heard very well over that son of a bitch negative voice, and it sucks.

But to end this post on a positive note - I had a great 5 miles this a.m. with hill repeats, and besides that fact that I was desperately beating a path to Safeway at Mile 4, I felt really good.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Os Trigonum Syndrome

What is Os Trigonum Syndrome?

Often, people don’t know they have an os trigonum if it hasn’t caused any problems. However, some people with this extra bone develop a painful condition known as os trigonum syndrome.

Os trigonum syndrome is usually triggered by an injury, such as an ankle sprain. The syndrome is also frequently caused by repeated downward pointing of the toes, which is common among ballet dancers, soccer players and other athletes.

Yes, it appears that I have yet another ailment, and the doc thinks it is the thing outlined above. My eyes rolled back in my head so hard they almost stuck in that position while I'm telling myself, "This is a joke, right?" For those of you who don't know, I've had a bad ankle ever since I missed a step going into our garage and ended up with a Grade 3 sprain some 11 odd years ago. Yeah, that one hurt. However, since I started running, my ankle has actually felt better. Go figure.

Now, fast forward a couple of years, or back up a few months, whichever floats your boat. My ankle has been bothering me for awhile (okay, maybe longer than awhile . . .), but it was never so painful that I couldn't keep running (said with absolute seriousness, hand over heart) - except for the times when walking down stairs I would catch my heel, forcing the toes down. I cannot even begin to describe the pain, except to say that it took everything inside me to not pass out or puke the few times I did this.

Anyway, decided to finally get it check out. Took three weeks to get into the ortho who was least likely to say, "No more running! You're going to ruin your knees! Or your hips! Or your uterus is going to fall out!" After lots of twisting, turning, and 4 (4?) x-rays, he pronounces os trigonum. The cure - first let's try a cortisone shot and no running for a week. The no running for a week is mentally hard, but I can deal with it. The cortisone shot - holy mother of flying monkeys!! The shot itself didn't hurt 'cause he injected a numbing agent first. But when that numbing agent wore off around 9:00 Monday night - !!!!!!!!!

So now we wait until Tuesday and I start running again. If the ankle is still bothering me, I will get referred to another doc who will more than likely discuss my only other option - shaving down the bone. Now doesn't that sound like fun? Suffice to say, half or more of my running year would probably be in the toilet. Somehow I don't think that doc would say, yeah, I just shaved a bone down, now go out and run 18 miles!

And as Leslie's World Turns, These are the Days of Her Life - stay tuned.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Redwood Park 30k Trail Run, Oakland, CA

Date of Run: May 10, 2009

I’m a little late on getting this report done, but I have not slowed down since I ran this race. Geez! Barely have had time to breath let alone write a race report.

Okay, let’s get the important stuff outta the way first:

Fashion Report: Dirty olive green trail shoes, hot pink and white (colors swirled together) Dirty Girl gaiters, black shorts, short sleeve white tech shirt w/pink piping around arms and up shoulders, hot pink sports bra (my “racin’ “ bra), white Zombie Runner hat, and blue Coolmax bandana.

I arrived in Berkeley on Saturday and did recon by driving from my hotel to the site. Google directions sucked and not only sent me down the bumper-to-bumper 405, but also indicated the park entrance was on the right side of the road as opposed to the left. However, once I got there and there was no other entrance within two or three miles, I knew it had to be it. And luckily, I had enough map information to find a much easier route back to my hotel and to follow the next morning.

The race was to start at 8:30 sharp and I like to be early, so I was on the road by 6:30 for the short 20-30 minute drive. Not far from the site sitting at a red light, a young woman in the car next me caught my attention and asked if I knew where the park was. I asked her if she was running the race, which she was, so we caravanned there, where I ended up shuttling a couple of people to and from the entrance so that I and they could pay the parking fee once the booth opened up.

The day was looking to be beautiful, and at the last minute I remembered my Coolmax bandana in the car, and not long into the run I would be very thankful I had. I ended up wearing it most of the race.

There were four distances available, 10k, 20k, 30k and 50k, and approximately 350 runners in attendance, with a large portion of those running the 10k. I was running the 30k, so I would be running the 20k loop first, then coming back to the start area to complete the 10k loop.

Now PCTR is known for their tough, technical runs, and this run would not disappoint in that arena. Thankfully, my coach sent me some pre-race info (I suck at reading the elevation charts) and pointed out the big climbs at the start of the race. That being forefront in my mind, once we got started, I walked the entire first half mile or so as it was just a big ole long hill and I didn’t see any sense in killing myself to get up it. A couple of ladies behind me were chattering about this and that, then ended up talking about their respective 100 milers and whether or not they were going to do another one this year. I still shake my head in wonderment at those folks who can run that distance.

I have problems keeping up with nutrition and hydration, so for this run I opted for a large bottle so that I could actually see how much I was drinking. My goal was to drink at least half of my bottle of fluids ever six miles, but a good portion of the 20k loop was exposed to the direct sun and it didn’t take me long to get hot. By the time I reached the first aid station, I’d drained about 2/3 of it. The fantastic folks at the station filled me back up, drenched my bandana in water, I filled my baggie with PBJ, bananas, and Gummie bears, and set off again, forcing myself to walk and eat. I underestimated the distance from the second aid station to the start area, and ended up not taking enough food with me; however, I did determine that greasy potato chips do not sit well with my stomach, and from now on I will be sticking with PBJ, bananas, and Gummie bears. That, in combination with my new fluid (Ultra) and half a Phenergan before the start of the race, kept my usual nausea at a minimum. What a blessing!

I had a blast on the 20k loop. Most of the difficulty was that it had rained the week before, and with the mountain bikers having come through, the mud had dried in various forms and you really had to watch your foot. But it was a good combination of climbing, descending, flat, and technical. I finished the first loop in a little over 2 hours, and was hopeful that I could finish the entire run in 4 hours or less. However, that was before I began my encounter with the 10k loop.

Wendell and Sarah are the great folks who own PCTR, and they have a mischievous (aka sadistical) side when it comes to setting up their runs. My legs were getting tired by the end of the 20k, and I believe this was due in part to not eating enough between the second and third aid stations and getting behind on my salt intake. In starting the second loop, I began thinking, hm, this isn’t too bad yet. A young woman in front of me kept varying walking and running, and my goal was to keep her in sight . . . that is until I encountered the first of three (4?) monstrous climbs. It wasn’t so much that they were long, but those suckers steep, and the first one had a lot of rocks and roots imbedded in the ground. I wasn’t the only one who thinking, “You have got to be kidding me!” A couple of others around me were grumbling and cursing, and one guy (we’ll call him Red Shorts) slogging past me on a climb and commented, “Yeah, French Trail is notorious.” You got that right! At one turn up a hill, I looked down at some tree roots to watch my footing, and I swear to you, the formation of the roots looked like the front of a skull that had been buried in the dirt up to its nose. You could clearly see the eyes and nose sockets, and I thought, how appropriate for this section!

Although the climbing was tough, I had a blast with the downhill sections and was able to make up quite a bit of time there. I ended up passing Red Shorts and made it my goal to keep him behind me. That incentive pushed me a number of times on this loop, and I’m happy to say I finished a decent distance ahead of him. Also, with about a mile to go, I ended up passing on a downhill a couple of women who had overtaken me on one of the climbs, and stayed well in front of them to the end. One of them found me after the race and commented that she wished she could run downhill as well as I did, which made me feel really good.

In the end, I finished in 4:15:04 and am very, very happy with that time. The official results on the web site are wrong, indicating a finish of 4:16:38 and behind one of the women I passed on the downhill section and stayed in front of the rest of the run. I know I finished in 4:15:04, because not only did I have my Garmin for time tracking, but I specifically zeroed in on the timer so I’d know my exact finishing time.

Although at the finish of this race I couldn’t comprehend doing another 30k, I recovered fairly quickly (thanks to handfuls of peanut butter filled pretzel bites!) and would definitely like to tackle the 50k on this course.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Time for a Change

Decided it was time for a change to the old blog site. One thing I can't figure out is how to put a picture up on the very top without it TAKING UP A HUGE PART OF THE TOP.

Another change is the way I'll be training this year. After two years of me asking, "How come we're not running for mileage (as opposed to time)?", I will now be running for mileage on my long runs, followed by a medium run the very next day. Hopefully, this means I will do better this year and not feel like dying at Mile 18+ or so.

I've also decided to take medium steps instead of big steps this year, meaning, I am going to alternate running 30ks and 50ks in an effort to build stamina and speed. After having to ditch the Pirates Cove 30k on 03/21 (due to gall bladder surgery, ane now we're going to Australia for two weeks!), my schedule looks like this (fingers crossed):

May 10 - Redwood Park Trail Run, Oakland, CA (30k)
July 11 - SOB, Ashland, OR (50k)
Oct 24 - Whiskeytown, Redding, CA (30k)
Dec 6 - Desert High, Ridgecrest, CA (50k)

SOB kicked my butt last year, so this year I'm out for revenge. (God help me at the 7,000 foot level.) Desert High, I had a 30k PR last year, so I'm ready to kick it up to the next level. Wish me luck!

Monday, March 9, 2009

The Body Beautiful

Four weeks ago tomorrow, my gall bladder was removed after years of being told that I had acid reflux. While this is probably true to a certain extent, the removal of this offending organ has caused me such great relief as can only be known by those who have suffered from the same problem . . . of course, while bringing about a whole new set of problems due to the removal. Let's just say that the ole bod is having to learn new ways of dealing with such things as French onion flavored Sun Chips. Alas, those have been added to the "Do Not Ingest" list, at least for the time being. The problem - great waves of nausea. And while I admit that I gave it the ole college try (are these really what's making me sick?) and ate them no less than 3 times within a 2-week period, each time I had the same unfortunate reaction.

Other foods have caused similar problems, but I can only hope that, with time, things will get back to some semblance of normality, but without the awful crap I was went through for 7 weeks before the doctors agreed that, yes, Leslie! It IS your gall bladder! (7 weeks of health hell, thousands of dollars, and at least 3 unnecessary tests - well, at least to me unnecessary - later, they finally agreed with me.)

I believe that being in such good shape helped me bounce back quickly. However, the muscles around my poor belly button area have not bounced back quite as quickly as the rest of me. When one looks at oneself in the mirror and sees 3 small incision and one a little bigger than small, and one has no more gall bladder-induced pain, one has a tendency to say with great gusto, "I am back!" And then one goes out and does too much too soon and ends up having to console oneself with Vicodin (which is a really nice way to console oneself, if I do say so myself . . . and I do.)

So what's the crux of all this babbling? My belly button hurts, that's what. I'm having to get back into running at a slower pace than I anticipated, and that sucks. My first day of trail running in a month this past Saturday, followed by an evening of consuming an unfortunate amount of alcohol (something rarely done by me), which forced me to shake my booty - and thereby my tummy - on the dance floor of Steve and Dave's Bar, has put my belly button area out of sorts and set me back probably a good 3-4 days in recovery. I'm not looking for sympathy as I have single handedly caused my own misery. I just needed to vent for a moment.

As Albert Einstein once said: Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Opening a Can of Worms

I've thought long and hard about whether or not to put my personal political opinions in print here as my blog is 99% about running and "light" subjects. However, for once I feel that I cannot keep my mouth shut. Some of you who read my blog will mostly certainly disagree with me, but I hope we can agree to disagree and still respect one another.

To throw some numbers out there and put things into perspective, consider the following:

If you deposited $1 million into a pot every day since the birth of Jesus (whose birth is a fact, whether or not you believe he is the son of God and I do), you would still not have enough to pay for the stimulus package:

2,009 years x 365 days x $1 mill = $733.3 billion (give or take a hundred thou).

I'm guessing that when you get to a certain point, the word "trillion" is just that, a word, and not one that is too awfully important. At least not to those in the seats of power.

In less than 2 months, Mr. Obama and the Democratic Congress have managed to double the national debt. Where is the money coming from? How will be repaid? How can he justify his desire to take from those who have worked damn hard for what they have and give to those who haven't? Ever hear of a little thing called a Ponzi Scheme? Sounds suspiciously like what Mr. Obama is doing. For those of you who have children and grandchildren, the burden he has created will rest squarely on their heads, as well as their children's heads, and I am so very sorry for them.

A quote by the late Dr. Adrian Rogers, 1931–2005

"You cannot legislate the poor into freedom by
legislating the wealthy out of freedom. What one
person receives without working for, another
person must work for without receiving.

The government cannot give to anybody anything
that the government does not first take from somebody else.

When half of the people get the idea that they
do not have to work because the other half is
going to take care of them, and when the other
half gets the idea that it does no good to work
because somebody else is going to get what they
work for, that my dear friend, is about the end
of any nation. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it."

Furthermore, a quote by Gerald Ford (14 July 1913 – 26 December 2006) , the 38th President of the United States, in his Presidential address to a joint session of Congress (12 August 1974) : "A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have."

Mr. Obama is fast moving our country toward a socialist society. One need only look at the history of Russia to understand, with extreme clarity, that socialism doesn't work.

I am truly afraid of the direction our country is headed and can only hope that the eyes of whose who have the power to make change are opened wide before it's too late.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Wasting Time

At Conference this weekend, the motivational speaker on Sunday was a Life Counselor. One of the things she talked about was organizing your time and reflecting on how much time is wasted in a day. How much time do you spend looking at personal emails at work? How much time do you spend on emails period at work? How much time is spending doing personal work as opposed to REAL work?

That being said, I'm writing this at 4:30 in the afternoon at work whilst reflecting on those questions. I'll get back to ya with some answers . . . after I check my emails.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

For Those Crappy Times on the Trails . . . .

On Saturday, Karen and I hit the trails for the first time together in what seemed like forever, and it was the first time I'd run in almost two weeks due to an ankle problem. I did much better than I anticipated, although my HR got up there pretty good a few times. The ankle was definitely sore after the run, but the rest of me felt great. It was absolutely gorgeous - suppose to have been a high of 68 . . . somewhere, which is a nicer temp than we get during the summer months. Just goes to show that Mother Nature does have a warped sense of humor.

So I have to share what happened while we were running. Okay - Karen was going to be speaking at a friend's memorial service that afternoon. Wendy was one of her very best friends, and she died the day after Thanksgiving at the age of 47 from lung cancer. Never smoked a day in her life, but grew up in a smoking household. That's the background. So Karen's been nervous as heck about talking, and worrying that she'd start crying. I told her, so what? Gives you a good excuse to inject some humor by saying, "Hold on folks. I need to blow my nose or there'll be snot everywhere." Keep it simple, keep it to the happy memories, and take deep breaths whenever you need to. Don't drink any dairy or caffeine beforehand, wear flats so you're not trying to bawl and balance on heels, wear waterproof mascara.

So at one point in the trail, she has to use the bathroom. No problem, that's why we carry baby wipes and baggies. About an hour later, we bump into to our coach and we're all running together. About half an hour after that, she has to go to the bathroom again. Bill and I walk a little way ahead to give her privacy. We're standing there talking AND we're downwind of her. Yeah, not a good place to be. Dang, girl! What the heck did you eat?? Pretty soon I hear, "Leslie, can you come here." Well, in all her nervousness, she has diarrhea and needs extra wipes. I tell Bill to go on if he wants, we're gonna be awhile, and he leaves. Then she says, "I need help!" She didn't look around her very well before squatting, and consequently there were some fern fronds in the wrong position when she went to the bathroom. While she's trying to clean up, the fronds, which now have poo on them, keep hitting her! She has poo on her shirt, up her backside, and every other way. I'm trying my best not to laugh, but it's impossible. She ends up having to strip her shirt off, and she turns around and I'm having to wipe various places on her backside where the fronds have smacked her, and in the midst of this, Charlie, her dog, decides he's going to walk through where she just went to the bathroom, and the fronds hit him in the face! I swear, there was poo everywhere! It was hilarious, and it provided the laugh she needed.

Luckily, she had a jacket with her that she was able to put on, we got Charlie wiped down, too, stepped back into the trail, and there's some guy standing there with lime green sleeping bag over his head. Just standing there. I had seen him walk toward us, but he stopped just on the other side of the stump we were working behind. Charlie instantly goes into the defensive mode, and the guy's all, "Hi!" O...kay... We hoofed it out of there sort of quickly.

Cripes - what a welcome back to the Arcata Forest!!