Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Where Have I Been?

So, it has been quite a while since my last post about the Mystery Mountain Marathon back in October.  Wow, as I write that I find it hard to believe that it's almost been two months.  Well, here's the deal:
I have been in a running funk lately, longing for a normal (non-ultra) training plan.
What ever happened to the weekends of 10mi long runs?  I don't want to spend my entire day on Sunday running when there are so many other things to do.
Am I giving up on running?  HELLS NO!  I really just want to get back to basics.
I want to improve my form, speed, and work on other parts of my body as well.
That's all, and I've found that I (me personally) do not have enough time in the week to do this while training for an ultra.
Could I find the time?  Probably.
Do I want to sacrifice other things to do it?  No.
So, where have I been?

On the weekend of November 5-6th Alabama became my destination of choice.  Somehow I was elected the GUTS aid station crew chief or something like that.  In the weeks leading up to the race there was a good amount of behind-the-scenes work that had to happen such as, but not only:
Organizing volunteers.
Making a mix CD (that I never got to play).
And then my favorite, buying the food for the fried egg and cheese and sometimes bacon and sometimes Spam sandwiches.
This is only part of the supplies.  After posting in FB I had to go out and buy was a good thing I did too!
All in all I had a good time getting the stuff ready for the trip, right down to packing up all of the stuff in the “Sawgger Wagon” and making it fit like a super big jigsaw puzzle.
The Swagger Wagon loaded and ready to go.

I don’t really know how to describe the next 30 hours so here is a list of the highlights:
  • I picked up Shannon at o’dark thirty on the side of the road near his crib in Marietta.

Pinhoti trail blaze.
  • The only real highlight from the first aid station was seeing all of my running friends HAPPY.  And runner #59 of whom we shall never speak of again.
Like a witch stirring her cauldron of eye of newt...I mix the HEED...

Joel T. - all systems go!

  • After breaking down, we went to the Mellow Mushroom in Oxford where Shannon used his good looks and artful skill of persuasion to convince them to let us fill up our water jugs…30 or so gallons in all.
  • Now, this is funny.  Once we headed out, following Len to the Pinnacle aid station, Shannon and I decided that it would be funny to throw Lionel fake signals as we travelled down these back country roads.  I would turn the left blinker on for 90sec…the right for 30sec…the hazards for 10sec…and then I would just do it completely at random.  It was funny, especially when Lionel started flashing his headlights and began signaling back.  (Maybe you had to be there.)
  • On the rock dirt road up to the Pinnacle it was decided to give the swagger wagon all it had.  The tires were spun many times, and though it may sound like abuse we actually had a reason for doing this. If we hadn’t Lionel would have never found the aid station. He simply followed the burn-outs.
Pretty rocks and trees at The Pinnacle.
  • When Meltzer came through I offered to fill his water bottle.  I did this as fast as I could, and even still he was anxiously waiting for me to screw the cap on.  Really?  75miles in and you are just itching to run…AWESOME!
Look how awesome The Pinnacle aid station looked at night!
  • I think I made about 985 fried egg and cheese sammies.  100 of these were charred and Shannon ate all of them…dang…it actually became a joke when one would accidentally end up a little toasty.  I would hand them off to Shannon and he was like “I can’t eat any more.”
I love awful pictures of myself!  (Frying eggs.)
  • Three of my most uplifting moments were seeing Joel T, Jason S, and Jason R come through.
    Joel just looked strong…he owned this race.
    Jason S was just smiling as he strolled in with Wayne…you couldn’t help but to smile back.
    Jason R was the last through…dude gave it 100%...what an inspiration.
  • After we packed everything up and started down the dirt road.  We smelled gas and thought it was just the generators.  At the end of the road we both were having trouble breathing.  I went to the back and some knucklehead placed the gas cans on top of the equipment, they fell off and started leaking all over the swagger wagon.  We had a 2 hour drive back to Marietta and had to go the whole way with the windows down freezing our butts off.  Mama Kim didn’t kill me, though I thought her husband was going to…
    P.S. The swagger wagon is now called “The Tanker”. 

This trip got me to thinking.  Thinking a lot about running.  It added to my funk.
Shannon and his favorite "Industrial Skyline Sunrise" photo.


Welcome to the finish line!
On November 19th my friend Bobby organized the Duncan Ridge Trail 50K/30K and, well, I decided to volunteer for this with Anna.  The aid station we were working was at the ‘low point’ on the Coosa Backcountry Trail in Vogel State Park and we would be assisting the runners on their return.
This race was rather uneventful with the exception of a couple of things:
  • This crazy dog belonging to some hikers came out of nowhere and ate all of the stale peanut butter and jelly sandwiches off of the table.  The owner was pissed, but all Anna and I could do was laugh at it.  It was just so cute!  PLUS Anna got to make more PB&Js!
Playing Angry Birds with Anna.
(Photo: Chris L.)
  • Sometime late in the morning this older couple came up to me and we started talking about the race.  The woman says to me that they are there to see their son and that he knows one of us.  So, of course I asked who their son was, and when they said Willy, my eyes about popped out of my head.  In a burst of excitement I was like he’s already gone through!  And off they went to congratulate him at the finish!  I thought that it was awesome they came out for his race while they were in town for Thanksgiving.
  • Between the 30K and the 50K runners we had some down time, so to keep ourselves occupied I decided to try out my Steripen.  A Steripen is a water purification thing that allows you to treat a liter of water in about 90sec.  So, Anna scooped me some water from the nearby stream, I zapped it, then I drank it, and no adverse side effects.
Tempting fate...
  • There was one runner of particular note that came through.  He was near the end of the middle of the pack, and this was his first 50K.  After talking to him we found out that he had only run a half-marathon before this.  What a ball-buster of a course for your first ultra!  AND the best part was that he was all smiles!  I could not believe it.  It was so awesome!
  • Eventually it was time to shut down.  But where are the sweepers?  No one knows what happened to them.  We left at 7:00pm and some people went back to check on their car at 8:30pm and there was still no sign of them.  Apparently they made  it out OK, but it is still a mystery what happened (at least to me).
Our awesome campfire dinner of Stove Top Stuffing and cheese burgers.

The following morning we ran / hiked the Coosa Loop ourselves.  I love this trail though it is one of the hardest in Georgia.  At the top of Coosa Bald and Slaughter Mountains we were met with some pretty dense fog, rain / sleet, wind, and some chilly temps.  It was strangely eerie and out of all of the nicknames we heard from the runners the day before none were more fitting than “The Evil Forest”.

I absolutely love our trips!!

Life is way too short to not enjoy yourself...make faces...laugh :-)

Coosa Bald.

Slaughter Mountain.

Spooky Sign.

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