Down and Dirty… Tough Mudder, Charlotte, NC Recap

I can honestly say I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I registered for the Charlotte, NC Tough Mudder as part of deal with my buddy Kathryn.

KMac & JMart Save the Light Half Marathon 2013 Folly Beach, SC

KMac & JMart Save the Light Half Marathon 2013 Folly Beach, SC

She agreed to run the Twin Cities Marathon with me if I would do Tough Mudder.  DEAL! I registered and then read and watched the obstacle videos! Artic enemia, electric eel, electric shock therapy… what had I gotten myself into? I did not fret to long as I was excited about a new challenge and a running buddy for my fall marathon.

Team #BAMR Bad Ass MUDA Runners was officially formed and the recruiting for additional team members began. We recruited 12 team members but lost 3 prior to the event.  We were 9 members strong on race day!

Team #BAMR

Team #BAMR

crossfitHaving never participated in a mud run I had no idea what I was getting myself into or how to train.  The running was a no brainer for me it was the sheer lack of muscular strength that was of concern.   Luckily Kathryn had that figured out for us and talked me into a trying out Raleigh Crossfit. I had heard of Crossfit, seen numerous tweets about it but honestly had no idea what it was.  I went into my trial class not knowing what to expect (or what to wear) and left KNOWING I would schedule my foundations training ( to learn the 9 fundamental Crossfit movements) and add Crossfit to my weekly training routine.  I was hooked from day 1. I maintained my marathon training and incorporated in 3 Crossfit training days.  I love CF so much I have actually dropped a running day ( 3 post CF marathons completed and no regrets). The addition of CF to my training regimen has been  very beneficial to me.              ( perhaps a future post)

Obstacle recap, of the ones I can remember, from the Charlotte, NC event. Weather was overcast, chilly upper 40’s.

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  • To get to the starting line you must scale a small wall.  Don’t let the size fool you! I had a friend fall, crack a rib, and tear her intercostal muscle on this very wall. In complete BEAST mode she completed the course with the help of her team.  You go Sarah S! The day of our race, the medics were tending to a fellow mudder whom had injured themselves attempting the wall.  Be careful!
  • Running- the running between the  obstacles was similar to single track trail running.  Uneven surfaces, roots, rocks, holes, you name it.  Luckily, I had spent many miles on the trails during training. Tip: Leave the asphalt when you can and train on single track trail
  • Kiss of Mud– surprisingly I was able to  to do on my hands and knees based on height of the wire

    Mama Bean loving Mud Mile!

    Mama Bean loving Mud Mile!

  • Glory Blades– no issues with a foot boost, from team mate,  to pull myself to the top and and slide down the other side.
  • Arctic Enema– mentally and physically HORRIBLE! The freezing water completely stunned me, I could not catch my breath.  I pulled myself together, went under the wooden plank only to be welcomed by huge ice cubes on the other side. When I made it out I had an full body ice cream headache.  Torture! Thankfully they had Mylar sheets to help warm you up.  All I could think about was those poor people on the Titanic. Tip: close your mouth,  jump out far, to get to as close to the plank wall as possible.  
  • Cliffhanger– must have been a none event.  I don’t even remember it.
  • Warrior Carry– no problem, got practice with this in crossfit. I proudly carried Kayla whom is 2 inches taller than me! Tip: have team wait to distribute carry based on size and weight.
  • Balls to the Wall– no problem, due to notches in the wall for foot placement.  I was actually surprised they were there.  Would be much harder without.
  • Hold you Wood– no problem, the name of this obstacle brought many laughs and crude comments from our co-ed team with only 2 male members.  
  • Mud Mile– FAVORITE!  I found slugging through, and sliding into  the cold mud fun.  There were plenty of fellow mudders available to pull you up the dirt mound as needed.  
  • Berlin Walls– this one takes team work to hoist team mates up high enough to pull themselves over the wall. The drop from the top to the other side can be intimidating thankfully the landing is softened by a think layer of mulch.  Tip: don’t rush your drop from top of the wall.  Attempt to execute a safe landing.
  • Boa Constrictor– no issues other than being in a confined space. The pipe was so small I could not crawl on my forearms.  I had to side crawl.
  • Just the Tip– I did not make it past the first section and dropped into the cold green water.  Possibly easier without gloves.  Our 1 team mate who made it the entire way was glove free! Way to go LIZARD!

    Lizard!

    Lizard!

  • Electric Eel- UGG! Dive in FAST, low,crawl, shimmy, whatever it takes as low and fast as you can to get out.  It sucked! It was worse for some than others.  It was not as bad as I thought. I feel like having on two shirts help insulate me from the shocks. Tip: wear two shirts, keep you mouth closed and head down. 
  • King of the Mountain– Fun! team work is needed to boost each other up some of the bales.  Tip: use the twine to help pull yourself up.
  • Cage Crawl- I am very comfortable in the water so I had no issues with this obstacle.  Due to my layers of clothing I felt like I was floating.  For those not comfortable being on their back in water this could be tough.
  • Walk the Plank– Close your mouth, exhale from you nose ( or hold it) and JUMP! I forgot to exhale and got muddy water up my nose YUK! No fear of moderate heights no issues.  
  • Unknown Cargo Net Obstacle- Jump across water to a cargo net. If you miss you go in the water.  I caught the cargo net but lost my grip and fell into the water.  My left shoulder has hurt ever since:(   Way to go Sundrop and J-Wow for mastering this one!
  • Funky Monkey– HARD! After teammate slipped off first rung and fell onto her back on the metal platform (Thankfully she was fine) I decided it was not worth the risk.  I jumped into the cold water and swam across. The bars are slick and placed 1.5 feet apart. Way to go J-Wow who effortlessly tackled this obstacle!
  • Everest– I made it on 1st attempt! Thankful for the strong volunteers at the top who caught me and pulled me up.  Tip: seek out the group of volunteers that look strong enough to hoist you up. 
  • Electroshock TherapySUPER HORRIBLE! I swear they “juiced” up the shock on this one.  They hurt!  To make it worse the ground was thick, slick mud.  I kept falling and had trouble getting up (envision the person in the horror movie running away and they keep falling…that was me) . To increase the fun they placed  a huge hay bale, that had to be scaled right in the middle of the shock torture.  Scaling a hay bale while getting shocked non stop was ridiculous.  I finally make it over the bale only to face plant into thick mud. At this point, I was laughing out of fear I would never make it out.  Finally, I made it.  We were all so disoriented, we did not realize Mama Bean was stuck not able to get over the bale.  Fortunately, she decided to go around.  Sorry Mama Bean:( Tip: attempt to go as fast as you can.  Find mental strength in knowing this is the last obstacle
DONE!

DONE!

Enjoying the warmth of the finishers tent

Enjoying the warmth of the finishers tent

My random tips:

  • My only injury...random

    My only injury…random

    CLOTHES-Wear old clothes and shoes they will be NASTY! I wore long sleeve compression shirt under my team shirt.  It kept me warm and was a great barrier against the mud and shocks.  Capri pants and high socks! Its not the best look going but it provided a great protective barrier from scrapes and scratches.  We had BadAss Socks 🙂

  • GLOVES- I wore them and was glad I had them.  Half the team had them half did not.  Really no advantage just preference.
  • HAIR-If you hair it long wear it up or braided.  If you hair is short like mine…brace yourself for a seriously bad,muddy, hair day.
  • SHOES-We did not duck tape shoes.  Just tie tight and double knot.  Nobody lost their shoes.  The trails were littered with duck tape that fell of peoples shoes.
  • DROP BAG- Bring flip flops to wear after you toss your shoes, towel to dry off with after the COLD rinse down, change of clothes. Qtips to get a jump on your ear cleaning. $ if you want more beer or food. Phone so you can take post race photos ( we did not take on course..too risky)

    @Dunkyourkicks for pediatric cancer!  Great cause!

    @Dunkyourkicks for pediatric cancer! Great cause!

Overall thoughts– For me Tough Mudder is a “One and Done”.  It was fun, a good experience, new challenge,  but I did not finish with a strong desire to do another one.  It was a great team effort and I am most grateful for the friendships I enhanced and developed with my awesome team mates. I don’t think I have ever laughed so hard in my life. Tough Mudder is truly is a TEAM event.  Recruit as many “like minded” people as you can and stick together!  No team? No problem, there are plenty of volunteers and mudders at the obstacles helping each other out. The support is amazing!

Was it the toughest most physically and mentally demanding thing I have ever done? For me no. Ultra/marathon running and some Crossfit WODs(work out of the day) are far more physically and mentally challenging…FOR ME. The experience is so personal based on an individuals physical condition, experiences, and fears. For someone with fear or heights or water I think Tough Mudder would be mental torture.

Tough Mudder is a a quality event that will not disappoint! Give it a try! Getty Muddy! You really don’t know what you are capable of until you give it a try.

Thanks Tay Tay for the great collage!

Thanks Tay Tay for the great collage!

J-Wow (advid Mudder) surprised Southern B by showing up the the morning of the event...

J-Wow (advid Mudder) surprised Southern B by showing up the the morning of the event…

 

The SURPRISE got even better as J-WOW revealed he was not only their to support her on her 1st TM but he was part of the TEAM!

The SURPRISE got even better as J-WOW revealed he was not only there to support her on her 1st TM but he was part of the TEAM! We were so glad to have him! Especially SunDrop whom was the lone male team mate!

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Reversal of the “Disney Curse” & Running REDEMPTION in 2013!

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613 miles from Orlando, I shared in the joy and excitement of my sister Laury’s REDEMPTION RUN at the Disney Half Marathon!  She finally got it done! Whoo Hooo!

Her quest started with the 2011 Disney Half Marathon, which she missed due to being extremely anemic. It was to be a family event, between all of us, we would cover participation the 5k, half and full marathons.  Unfortunately, I, registered for the marathon,  feel ill to a HORRIBLE upper respiratory infection and could not even make the trip.  The 2011 Disney running weekend did not happen for either of us!  Laury recovered enough to make the trip as a spectator and cheered on the rest of the family (Sister Amy’s 1st Marathon)

Dinner Animal Kingdom Rain Forest Cafe after 2012 Disney Half Marathon/Goofy Challenge

Back with  vengeance, we registered for 2012 determined to make it happen. I registered for the Goofy Challenge ( half and full marathons) and Laury for her first marathon!  We were going to make it happen in 2012! Even if it meant wearing rubber gloves and surgical mask to fend  off germs.  Fortunately, it never came to that.  But Unfortunately, Laury fell victim to the dreaded IT BAND aggravation.  UGGGGG! Once again, Laury traveled to Orlando as a spectator…two years in a row! The good news in all of this is she was able to speak with a wonderful Run Disney representative who after hearing her story and clearly feeling sorry for her deferred her 2012 marathon entry to 2013!  This was so awesome considering the deferral period was long gone. She was not giving up!

My Fav picture!

My Fav picture 2012 Disney Marathon/Goofy Challenge!

Bummed not able to pace my sister in her first marathon, I was thrilled to take on the challenge of pacing my brother-in-law Jon in his 1st 26.2.  We had a great run and Laury…once again  a spectator happily greeted us at the finish line!

2013 was to be Laury’s year!  She was not going to miss this race again!  She was feeling great, injury free and then…the fever, raspy voice, labored breathing, tightness in the chest started 6 days before her THIRD attempt at a Disney race.  Monday, she called me and delivered the news she was not well.  Of all things chest congestion a runners nightmare…you need your lung capacity.  Having just run/attempted (whatever you want to call it) the PineMountain40 (My PineMountain BEATDOWN)  with compromised lung capacity I URGED her to go to the Dr and NOT make the same mistake I had.  She heeded my advise (major win for me since those whom work in the medical profession love to self diagnose and think they are fine) and went to the Dr. The Doc diagnosed an upper respiratory infection and prescribed meds  that in turn got her TO and ACROSS the finish line.  FINALLY! SHE DID IT! A Disney Half Marathoner Finisher. Third time is a charm:)

Disney Curse BROKEN! REDEMPTION run complete!

Disney Curse BROKEN! REDEMPTION run complete! 2013

She was elated and so was I… many miles away! I only wish I could have been there for her, as she has been for me,  to hug her sweaty neck! Way to go Laury!  You did it!

For me, one of the greatest joys of running is sharing in others milestones and  victories!  I  glean energy and motivation from others conquest and successes.  Today was no different, my excitement was such you would have thought I had completed the race myself.

Laury’s REDEMPTION run was DONE!  The irony in it all, is that just this morning (while Laury was making her way to the 5:30am start) “I” received notification at 4:46am that I had been “un-wait listed” and moved to a participant in my own personal REDEMPTION run ..The North Carolina Fat ASS 50K. (Thanks Nathan @SocialShark for telling me about #FatASS50k)    Wow! Irony, coincidence, Divine intervention…I am not exactly sure. I will take this as a sign that my quest for a personally satisfying ultra distance was meant to be!

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Cheers to you Laury, for a long overdue, job well done and well wishes to those seeking REDEMPTION in 2013!

Sargeant Laury!

Sargeant Laury!

My Pine Mountain 40.. Beatdown!

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On December 2, 2012, I attempted the most physically and mentally challenging endurance run of my life… The Pine Mountain 40 put on by the Georgia Ultarunning & Trailrunning Society.

pine-mtn-elevation-charge

Jason, a 3 time Pine Mountain finisher, by far has the best description of the race I have ever read.  So good I had to share……..

“Even for well-rested runners with fresh legs, the Pine Mountain 40 Mile Trail Run is a beatdown.  To use a familiar ultrarunning comparison, running this particular race is like being pecked to death by baby ducks.  The Pine Mountain course takes place on mild-elevation rolling hill terrain that does not feature any major notable obstacles, and runners do not face any steep mountain climbs, treacherous river crossings, or drastic temperatures.   Instead, the 40 miles of this course are home to countless minor aggravations that gradually accumulate to the point where motivation and fortitude are reduced to a frazzled exhaustion.  It is the little things that kill, and any small rock that catches the toe of a trail shoe, any tree root that is hidden underneath a pile of leaves, or any unstable slick stepping stone on a short creek crossing might be the final straw that causes a smiling runner to throw his or her hands up in exasperation and explode into profanity.”

Best Pace Scenario: Pine Mountain 40 Mile Trail Run 12/2/12 (Race Report).

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Custom T party favor!

Jason’s detailed blog post were the extent of my research leading up to this race. I knew it was going to be a huge challenge but I must have mentally blocked that from my prefrontal  cortex ( portion of brain responsible for logic and reasoning)- issue #1.  The Pine Mountain 40 was a great way to end a very busy fall running season (3 fulls & 1 half marathon), and to celebrate Laura’s ( #BRF’s -best running friend & 50 States partner ) 40th birthday!  40 for 40!  It was so cute and catchy I could not turn her down.

In 2012, Laura and I traveled together to completed the Walt Disney World Goofy Challenge, The Blue Ridge Relay, Wineglass Marathon, and Richmond, VA Marathon.  We had checked off three states in 2012 so the opportunity to cross off a 4th (GA) was very enticing.  With Laura’s famous quote, that seems to fuel all of our running registrations, “We will be trained” we committed to our first ultra marathon….without a lot of thought (prefrontal cortex issue #2)

Laura & Jenn

Laura & Jenn

Ten days prior to the big event I came down with a horrible upper respiratory infection.  I  battled through it and in hind sight should have gone to the doctor.  The lingering cough, that left and returned few days prior to the race, later caused me some major issues on race day.  Being the hard headed (red head trait), determined individual that I am  I was not going to let some pesky sickness stop my quest for 40 miles (prefrontal cortex issues #3).

We road tripped down to Pine Mountain, GA, a 8hr trek from 703724_10200152136989070_1045115297_oRaleigh.  Laura rented us an awesome cabin just a few miles from the start.  We arrived in Pine Mountain, a very quaint and friendly place, just in time for the annual Christmas parade. We thought it was a great welcome!  We stocked up on supplies at the local grocery and then headed to our cabin to relax by the fire and await our 7 am Sunday start.

029One of the best decisions made (outside of inviting Dan and PJ:)), was inviting David!  David an accomplished ultra runner  cyclist, and world traveler signed up to be the official “ultra virgins” pacer!

At 7:00am, in 50 degree temps, we hit the trail for our 40 mile adventure.  We started towards the back of the pack hoping the other 150 or so runners would clear a path through the ankle deep leaves. The first section of the trail was a great stretch of running with minimal obstacles. I did not feel particularly well and was winded early. I hoped this was nerves and would pass.  Initially, I  welcomed the frequent walk breaks up the inclines but soon found I was much more comfortable running.

We made it to the 1st aid station (Fox Den Cove- 5.9 miles).  I was thrilled to see and briefly speak to  fellow “tweep” Kristin , whom was one of the unfortunate runners to be stung by the un-expectant swarm of yellow jackets. Fortunately, we missed that early torture.  We topped off our water and kept rolling.

The following  9 miles were sheer mental torture.  I am typically a sickly optimistic person but the negative thoughts of DNF(did not finish) were running ramp-id in my head. I have NEVER battled this nor ever considered dropping from a race. My breathing was labored and the uphill hikes were proving to be my biggest challenge.  They took everything I had.  I would have paid big money for a pulley system to drag my ass up the hill sides.  David, so kind, slowed his pace to stick with me and offer his ever helpful coaching and mental support.

025My struggles, both mentally and physically continued, as  I lagged behind and  eventually caught up with concerned trail mates David and Laura at the 3rd aid station (Dowell Knob-14.3 miles). My words were few and Laura knew me well enough to know I was struggling.  As Laura expressed her concerned  that I was going to end up with Pneumonia, one of the jovial GUTS volunteers chimed in  “Hell, it is way cooler to say you got pneumonia  running an ultra than just laying on the couch”  Oddly enough, I had to agree with this wise volunteer.  It was at this moment, I knew I was among fellow “bad asses” and I was going to give it all I had.  When ” all I had” was gone that would be the end of my race.   I am a huge proponent of “run your own race” so I encouraged Laura and David to go on without me.

With my much improved mental attitude, I pushed on.  I convinced myself to “live in the moment” and try to enjoy the sights and serenity the trail had to offer (despite the ever present pesky rocks, roots and inclines).  The day was nearly perfect despite the climbing temps.  The 70 degree temps were unwelcome but better than rain.  As I made it toward the 4th aid station (Rocky Point – 17.8 miles) I noticed my fingers were beginning to swell like sausages.  This was un nerving as this has never happened.  I had been hydrating with nuun, taking electrolyte tablets, and fueling with my cliff bars, and pretzels but obviously with the heat it was not enough. At the aid station, another wonderful GUTS volunteer told me to load up with some salt and suggested the bake potato pieces dipped in salt.  Yum, those were the best cold bake potato pieces I had ever eaten in my entire life. I swished them down with some Coke like “cola”…ahhh best Cola I have ever had and I was off.

I was feeling better, not optimal, but enough to keep going.  I reached the first time cut off at aid station #5 (TV Tower- 22.82 miles) with time to spare (not much but it was time) . At this point, I knew I was close to 26.2 miles, a familiar mileage accomplished many times.  I was determined at minimum to reach 26.2 and claim my Georgia marathon! My spirits lifted and I found energy from my new “line of sight  marathon goal”. and the fellow runners.  Just when I thought I was alone, and possibly the last person on the trail someone would appear.  After long stretches of solitude, just seeing another person was a welcome sight.  David, from Woodstock, GA, was so kind stopping with me when I found myself dizzy and just offering a smile, when times got tough.  We did not exchange a lot of conversation but were a support system.

Double sprained ankle? Sure does not look like it.  Go Amy! pic by Liza AuYeung

Double sprained ankle? Sure does not look like it. Go Amy! pic by Liza AuYeung

Amy M., Atlanta, seemed to appear out of nowhere. This was Amy’s 3rd Pine Mountain 40 and she was running on a double sprained ankle.  Can you say “BAD ASS!”.  I cannot even imagine.  Amy and I shared the portion of the trail with the seemingly endless creek crossings. I am happy to report we both stayed dry!  Amy’s determination to run through an injury inspired me to keep pushing.  Thanks Amy!

At aid station #6 ( Rocky Point- 24.2  miles)  David and I were told we made up some time.  That was great news.!  We had 60 minutes to cover 3.52 to reach aid station #7 (Dowell Knob 28.4 miles).  This was  doable and I was confident I could cover the additional 12 miles after the next aid station to finish.  At this point I was  not concerned with the 10.5 hour cut off. I just wanted to run across the finsh line…no matter the time..

As I approached aid station #7 (Dowell Knob 28.4 miles) I noticed  a male runner who had been ahead of me sit down…I thought odd perhaps he is quitting  As I approached the food table, the kind GUTS volunteer informed David and I we had missed the time cut off by 12 minutes.  Uggggg how did this happen? I was shocked.  I had just found my rhythm and clearly lost track of time.  I had long given up on my Garmin that could not keep up with the terrain and lost at least 30 minutes of time.  Ironically, the same volunteer who made the funny comment about me coming down with pneumonia Is the guy who told me I could not go on.  I was stunned, I knew I could make the last 12 miles and now I couldn’t. My race was over BUT I had more to give.

My first comment was “Dang, this is my first ultra, I would have at least liked to have made it to 30 miles” they laughed at me and said ” Congratulations!  You are an ultra runner!”  I know anything over 26.2 is considered ultra distance but there was something psychological about hitting the 30 mile mark.  I considered hiking up to the trail head to get in my final two miles but I risked my ride back to the finish and it was a little crazy.  Finally, I embraced it…I didn’t have to run anymore…so I treated myself to some M&M’s!  Ahhhh they were good!

The Finish! Congrats David and Laura 9:22:48

The Finish! Congrats David and Laura 9:22:48

There was comfort in numbers, as I sat with my fellow “pulled” runners waiting for the remaining runners.  I was happy to see Amy approach.  I had not seen her for some time and was wondering if her ankle had gotten the best of her.  Next was Paige, from Atlanta, and then Rhonda a fellow Raleigh-“ite” and the Co- Race director for the Umstead 100.  Rhonda and I had passed each other several times throughout the day. She was struggling with an injury and bad cramping but kept pushing!  It wasn’t until we were “pulled” that we made the Raleigh connection.  Rhonda, with all her ultra wisdom, educated me that that I did not have a DNF, I did not quit, I was pulled due to time cut offs!  This was comforting as I was trying to process what had just happened.   Her next question to me was ” Why did you chose this race for your first ultra?”  Prefrontal Cortex issue #1….enough said!

I am at peace with my Pine Mountain 40 attempt! I did

Perhaps the smartest thing I did related to this race....soak my feet and legs in the COLD mountain water!

Perhaps the smartest thing I did related to this race….soak my feet and legs in the COLD mountain water!

not give into the negative mental tourture!  I did not quit!  I gave it what I had in my that day!

Pine Mountain 40 is the hardest most mentally and physically taxing thing I have done outside of two natural child births.  They say that God erases the pain memory of child birth so women will have more than one child. God clearly must do the same for ultras!  On the way home, I was planning my “ultra redemption” race with my sister, fellow ultra runner Amy!  –(wait listed- Mangum Track Club Fat Ass 50k) I’ll be back!

Thanks GUTs for an awesome ultra experience!

See ya on the trail!

“Struggling and suffering are the essence of a life worth living. If you’re not pushing yourself beyond the comfort zone, if you’re not demanding more from yourself – expanding and learning as you go – you’re choosing a numb existence. You’re denying yourself an extraordinary trip.”

 Dean Karnazes, Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner

Laura & David Packet Pick  Up

Laura & David Packet Pick Up
Cabin!

Cabin!

Heart Shaped Tub in the Master Bed Room!  Too Funny!

Heart Shaped Tub in the Master Bed Room! Too Funny!

My running widower Dan!  He is awesome!  Thanks Dan!

My running widower Dan! He is awesome! Thanks Dan!

Grocery closed on Sunday.  Dan & PJ got dinner supplies from Family Dollar! It Rocked!

Grocery closed on Sunday. Dan & PJ got dinner supplies from Family Dollar! It Rocked!

So tired...I could not even put my compression socks on right!

So tired…I could not even put my compression socks on right!

She had me at “Wineglass”……Wineglass Marathon Weekend

She had me at “wineglass” and “girls weekend“…

Wineglass girls weekend….

NO BRAINER, it had my name all over it!

“She” being my BRF (best running friend) Rebecca had her sights on an awesome girls running weekend to re-ignite her running.  This would be Rebecca’s “Come Back” / “Post Baby 26.2!”  I was so excited to have my BRF back I would go anywhere with her!  I was mentally signed up  hearing “wine” and “girls weekend” The fact the weekend entailed running a marathon was merely a bonus!

It was a no brainer without much discussion The Wineglass Marathon weekend was etched on our calendars, flights were booked,  and reservations made. Corning, NY here we come!  Our fellow BRF Becky gladly joined along with BRF Laura my college buddy, 50 states partner. Laura  in the past 18 months had drug me to ( DC, TN, AZ, FL) for marathons and convinced me to run a 40 miler with her in December. I knew she would be all in. She is like “Mikey” she will do anything!  I guess she probably says the same about me.:)

Please pardon this interruption for a              

  PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT:

Super BIG shout out to my loving, extremely goofy, and super supportive husband, of 17 years,  DAN who has supported my running efforts from day one!  I am forever grateful of your support !  You are my motivation! 🙂

Me and Dan after my 1st 1/2 Marathon 2/2009

Another bonus of this already fabulous girls running weekend was the fact it gave Laura and I the opportunity to check off the state of New York. When we decided  to run a marathon/or ultra (ultra was not part of the original deal) in every state we decided there could only be one marathon per state and no repeats. It is the only way we will get them all done….before we die/or die trying 🙂  So we passed on the option to enter the NYC Marathon Lottery.  The Wineglass Marathon was our New York Marathon. While the NYC marathon remains on my top 5 must run bucket list it will just have to wait.

September finally arrived and the “Southern Invasion” crossed the Mason-Dixon Line and landed in Corning, NY!  Whoo Hooo!  With all ALL my BRF’s in tow it was going to be an amazing weekend……and that is was!

Southern Invasion!

Rebecca (yankee transplant to NC), Me, Laura, Becky!

We arrived Saturday am and were immediately blow away by the beauty of the area. The air was crisp, the sun was shinning, and the leaves were just starting to turn.  It was amazing!  We left upper 70’s in NC to 50’s in NY.  It was GORGEOUS!  The Marathon is a huge event for this area.  There were welcome banners in the airport and even a welcoming station for the runners.  Wow!  These people really rolled out the red carpet and we had not even gotten out of the airport.  We knew we were in for an amazing weekend in the finger lakes region of NY. It is a must see and do!

Becky checks out the course map as Rebecca, superstitious, REFUSES to even glance at it. (check out awesome cinch sacks we got…great quality)

We hit the expo to start collecting all the amazing schwag the WGM has become known for.  The regional marathon gets high marks on being a fast course, BQ qualifier, and an AWESOME unique glass finishers medal, and a spectacular finish line “spread” of just about anything your heart desires.  They must add hospitality to this list.  Everyone we met was so excited we were visiting and were just so friendly.  I am typically the dead give away anytime I leave the south “You are not from around here, where are you from?” My southern accent, which I will still argue is not that strong 🙂 is always a dead giveaway.  So we got to meet lots of people from the area.  You know southerns we will talk to anyone.

Back to the expo.  The WGM organizers and travel and tourism folks were well coordinated.  We picked up our bag, shirt, and bib at the YMCA which happened to be beside the Corning Museum of Glass, which as a marathon participant we got reduced admission.  Unfortunately, we did not have enough time to visit….we needed more time.

Becky and Rebecca headed to the Heart of Corning for swag!

Next, we were instructed to take a short walk across the bridge into the heart of Corning to  pick up our WGM wineglass and bottle of champagne made specifically for the weekend.  Wow!  We also got a sample of Poppletons  Harvest Wine Cake the official WGM Cake which was amazing…we bought 2! They ship!

We were totally in love with the area and had not been there but a few hours.  Next we hit Market Street Brewing Company for super yummy appetizers and liquid carb loading!

Her 2nd round next to our 1st! Clearly she was seeking carbs!

No names will be mentioned but if one of my BRF’s would hydrate while running like she does at the bar her performance just might soar!  hehe   While we were carb loading, my Corning “admirer”  paid us a visit.  We met Jimmy earlier on Market Street after he remarked on my cowgirl boots..  Jimmy professed is love for me and wanted me to move to Corning.

Me and Jimmy my new friend!

Jimmy  is know by all the locals as he spends his days cruising Market Street on his mountain bike with his  police scanner.  If you are in Corning make sure you speak to Jimmy he is so kind and has a HEART of GOLD!  Watch out Dan!

Looking down Market Street

Market Street was so beautiful and full of unique shops, glass galleries, eateries etc. You can spend an entire day window shopping, eating, and drinking!  We hit Sorges, a local Italian eatery for homemade pasta to continue the carb load.  It was AMAZING!  We got there just in time.  As we left there were hoards of people waiting for tables.  Next we hit Wegmans for food and water.  Wegmans was huge and smelled so good!  It smelled like thanksgiving! I had fall on my mind.

Thirsty?

I purchased my typical “big gulps” that everyone makes fun of me for.  I consume a lot of water carefully enhanced by my favorite electrolyte tabs NUUN!  Which is officially pronounced “Noon” but Rebecca calls them  “Nuns”  We find them to be rather “heavenly” so the divine reference works for us!  We need all the help we can get!

Just as Laura and I we were settling in for an attempt at a good nights rest, Rebecca visited to inquire if either of us had extra running skirt or shorts. WHY?   Becky, bless her heart, forgot her running shorts.  Can we say CRISIS!  We were in small town America which is void of Starbucks on every corner, Target, or a sporting goods/running store open past 5:00pm.  So off to Walmart they went.  Becky returned with some Danskin Capris one size too big that she swore fit her.  She thoroughly entertained us for the next half hour modeling all versions of her race day apparel. Underwear, no underwear, underwear over the pants etc…..Just when we thought her apparell could not get any worse she pulled out her “toss sweater” she was going to wear to stay warm pre-race.  Dear God! A time machine must have been involved!

Becky’s time machine

Becky clearly took a trip to the late 80’s early 90’s to resurrect this golden beauty. We rolled in laughter at the fact she still had this sweater and worse yet she allowed it to take up space in her luggage. Our laughter just fueled her love affair with the sweater….so Becky being the REBEL that she is wore it pre- race then CHECKED IT!  Please someone call Stacy and Clinton we need an intervention!  No time for that we had a race to run!

Classic! Becky’s Time Machine Sweater and her TUB of vaseline. What is wrong with Body Glide? xoxo

We took the bus to the starting line and were able to hang out in a garage with heaters and chairs.  This was luxury (minus the porta potties!)  It was cold outside, perfect running weather.  We were excited and ready!  The course was beautiful!  It was flat with two hills, which I would argue don’t even qualify as hills.  I would call them slight inclines.  The rural route was beautiful, peaceful and generally serine with impressive crowd support for such a small regional marathon.  I enjoyed almost every mile…some more than others.  I had told myself early on that finishing was my objective.  I traveled too far to be bummed out by missing a time goal.  I was running for the shear enjoyment of it!  Stress free with a little pain here and there.

At mile 26 the run down Market Street to the finish was amazing.  It was a straight .2 shot to the finish.  The trees lining the street were beautiful…almost as beautiful as the finish line!  Whoo Hoo Marathon #9 done and it was AWESOME!  Check out the bling!

By far the coolest most unique finishers medal I have ever received. Made locally in Corning.

The spread of food and drink was amazing chocolate milk, soda, hot chocolate, fruit, bagels, cookies, hot soup, etc. They even had a pizza oven on the street pulling out HOT Pizza!  I had to take a picture cause I figured nobody would believe it!  Not even the Disney Marathon Weekend can top this spread!

We got our grub on then headed back to the hotel to get cleaned up….we had wineries to visit and the clock was ticking!

Beckys “golden beauty” is OLDER than the young ladies who took our picture.

We cleaned up fast and headed to some local winerys. 1st stop Castel Grisch, Watkins Glen, NY.  We were looking super sassy in our Its all Good We Ran Today Tees from AnotherMotherRunner.com !

Castle Grisch

Lakewood Vineyards

2nd stop was Lakewood Vineyards.  Tammy took awesome care of us!  We tasted some fabulous wine (purchases were made) and  ate some chesse curds (1st for me).  Tammy sent us across the lake to  local eatery The Stonecat Cafe.  Our meal, all supplied locally, was amazing! If you are in the area its a don’t miss!  We headed back to our hotel where we ate our Harvest Wine Cake and toasted to a job well done! 1 Boston Qualifier, 1 recent Personal Best, 1 Post Baby Marathon, and 1 running for the sheer joy of it!

We wrapped up our weekend with quiche and coffee at Poppletons Pastries (YUMMY).  Jimmy spotted as he rode by on his bike and and came in to say hello!

We  had some time to kill before our flight so we headed down the street to Vitix Hot Glass Studio.   They were busy working on new pieces.  I finally, got my glass pumpkin!  Everywhere we went in Corning were these beautiful glass pumpkins. I had tons of fragile stuff in my suit case already (medal, wine glass) what was another breakable item.

Unfortunately our weekend had to come to and end.  We did not want to leave.  There was so much to do and see but not enough time.  Our families and job were waiting for us back in NC!

The Wineglass Marathon is a topnotch event! Add it to your running bucket list….I promise it will not disappoint!

“Space Goats” Strike Again….Adventures along the Blue Ridge Relay 2012

Last weekend I participated in my first running relay!  What an adventure living in a van for 37 hours with 5 fellow runners.  The Blue Ridge Relay relay starts in Grayson Highlands State Park,VA (near the base of Mount Rogers- VA hightest peak) and ends 212 miles later in  Asheville, NC! (the mileage varies year to year due to course adjustments)

I joined the 12 persons Designated Drinkers Team, an established relay team who have run the BRR year after year.  Last year, The Legend of the Space Goat was formed. The history of the Space Goat is cloudy at best…the only thing we know for sure is the name morphed out of the description of two of the hardest running legs that are famously deemed “Mountain Goat Hard“.    In 2012 we kept the legend alive with our “alter ego” The Space Goats.  Like Superman, the Space Goats appear out of nowhere perform good deeds, BAAAA, and usually leave without a trace.  Most never knew they encountered The Space Goats….while others only  knew by the “Space Goat Tag” on their van.

Meet the Space Goats of Van 2

Here is my pictorial recap of an awesome running adventure

Sara (van 1) kicked off the relay for us  at 10am Friday at Grayson Highlands State Park  in VA.  Sara also earned accolades for assisting  fellow space goats with various aliments. Melinda’s GI stress and Dave’s two dog bite attack. Thanks Sara for keeping Melinda and Dave in the mix. (update…the wonderful BRR Directors were able to locate the dogs and confirm they were current on their rabies shots.  No Rabies shots for Dave!)

Sara kick’in off the 1st leg for Designated Drinkers!

As Van 1 ran the first 6 legs of our relay we (Van 2) headed to exchange area 6 Bald Mountain Baptist Church, West Jefferson , NC.  On the way TheSpace Goats were called to action when fellow runners of  TEAM 621 Ninga were in need.  The Ninga’s van was stuck in the culvert along a winding mountain dirt road.  While our goat strength was not enough to free the van, luckily they were assisted by a very kind local resident ( ”  people of the woods encounter 1″) who attempted to pull them out.  Unfortunately, they had to go to plan C and call a tow truck. The Space Goats, transported Team 621 Ninga’s next two runners to the  next exchange.  Apparently, this was most helpful since Team 621 Ninga came in 9th out of 141 teams!  Way to go Ninga’s.

SAVED! 2 runners from TEAM 621 Ninga- Columbia, SC being transported Space Goat style. I am sure they will never forget….

11:00am with one save under our belt and time to kill we  took the opportunity to find some food. Our Male van mates ensured we never missed an eating opportunity, THANKS.  We enjoyed some really yummy pizza in Jefferson, NC at Pizza Plus the home of .30 cent Pizza! Not only was the pizza good but we were thoroughly entertained by “People of the woods encounter 2”  Tommy and Chelsea.  They were the nicest, simplest people who were very excited to share the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains with a bunch of  running city slickers!  Tommy talked our ears off.  We found a fast friend in Tommy and a “moonshine” hook-up.  While we passed on the moonshine, we were sure glad to have Tommy on our side.

John Loaf”in with Tommy & Chelsea

Pizza Plus, in true Space Goat fashion, offered a much needed electrical outlet, for our very own lactating BAD ASS MOTHER RUNNER  Melissa “MAAA MAAA Goat”.  Deamed Bad Ass for just signing up to live in a van, run while lactating, a sheer 7 months after giving birth to her second child.  Simply Amazing!  Did I mention she forgot her battery pack for her breast-pump and remained completely calm (hence the need for the electrical outlet). Luckily, a fellow space goat from the Ultra Team- Where the Hell is Van 2, continuing the Space Goat saves theme,  just happened to have an extra ac/dc adapter so now she could pump while we rolled down the road.  No pumping and dumping here!  She was able to store the ‘liquid gold” in our cooler.  Had Lance Armstrong been with us I am sure he might have partook (cheap shot…but I hear he ate breast milk ice cream as part of his performance enhancing rituals)  Melissa was my 1st recruit to the Another Mother Run club!

Maaa Maaaa Goat happily models her breast pump!

When we finally arrived at exchange area 6, with hours to kill, we tagged a few vans,

got tagged, “doubled it down”,  and played a mind expanding time killer game we learned from Laura “Most Talkative Goat” called F*#k, Save, Kill. (did I mention we were in a parking lot of a Baptist Church)

In deep thought…Laura introduces us to our “mind expanding” game

Laura claims its a well know bar game, but none of us had heard of it.  It was very entertaining and we certainly entertained the teams around us.

Finally it was time for Van 2 to Run!  Mark Cox, our amazing Team Captain, ran it in

Mark Cox..passing the band to Van 2

and passed along the  BRR arm band to Van 2 runner # 7 Melissa “Maaaa Maaaa Goat”.

The early afternoon brought temperatures in the 80’s along with the famous humidity of NC.  While temps in the 80’s were not ideal we were fortunate it was not as hot as it had been the week prior with temps in the 90’s.  The Space Goats were prepared with lots of cold water, gatoraide, Nuun tablets, Rusty’s stash, and ice cold disposable towels. In true Space Goat fashion we shared our water and  towels with fellow runners struggling along the course.  All were appreciative and we are confident we got one struggling girl, in tears, safely to the next exchange.

“MAAA MAA Goat” rocked her run!

I am pretty sure I looked like MAAA MAAAA goat 7 months after I gave birth (My Space Goat Dream)

Melissa despite the heat had a great run and passed off the BRR band to  runner #8 Laura “Most Talkative Goat”.  Laura in an Olympic frame of mind smoked her run and blamed her faster than planned pace on “getting caught up in the Gold or Silver moment”

Laura our Talking and Caring Space Goat!

Humble “Quiet Killer Goat” kicked major ass on the road!

Next up was runner #9! Melinda “Quiet Killer Goat”  survived 37 hours with her VERY obnoxious and loud van mates, fought off stomach issues, and quietly slayed all of her runs.  One of which was Mountain Goat Hard! She was our secret weapon…quiet yet deadly.  She even claimed a kill (no animals were harmed) on her last leg and adorned a feather as her prize!  Melinda, Bad Ass Mother Runner, and  my second recruit to the Another Mother Runner Club!

“Quiet Killer Goats” prize from her run

Testosterone time, as runner #10 John “Life Saving Goat” finally hit the street.  We are so proud of our fellow Space Goat John who assisted a fellow runner who collapsed from heat related issues a mile from the next exchange.  John  quickly came to his aid, flagged down passerby for help ( who happened to have ice in their car), iced his wrist, neck and elevated his feet.  John stayed with the unresponsive runner until medical assistance arrived.  John you are amazing!  We are so proud of you!  “Space Goats Save Lives”

Eagle Scout and “Life Saving Space Goat”

Patiently waiting at exchange 11, we got word from a fellow runner that John was delayed due to assisting a runner. Next up was  Runner #11 (me) Jenn “2nd Most Talkative Goat”.

6.2 miles, Hard, but Beautiful!

I was setting off for the first official leg on the beautiful, historic Blue Ridge Parkway.  Fortunately for me, temperatures dropped rapidly and cooled off nicely….I was set up for an awesome run!

Holy Hills& Mountains, I did it! with Laura and Melinda upon my finish

Runner #11, Rusty “Beer Goat” , whose favorite carbs come from a can, was fired up and  donned in his run kilt ready for action!  Not only do Space Goats save lives but we ” never sacrifice fashion”

“Beer Goat” always planning his liquid carb loading “I don’t run for another 7-8 hours”

Rusty finished strong  and transitioned us into and extended break where we gassed up the van and grabbed some FOOD.  Next on the agenda was SLEEP!  I am unsure if anyone slept but we did get 2 hours of REST at Newland, NC Post Office exchange.  1:00 am arrived faster than we desired but the Space Goats were ready for our night runs!

Jenn and Melissa!

John and Laura with her famous $6 headlamp. We are unsure if we could really call it a headlamp.

2:00am ish illuminated Space Goats Rusty and Melinda

Our night runs were peaceful and quiet. Continuing the supportive nature of being a Space Goat we voluntarily accompanied our night runners so nobody had to run alone.  “MAA MAA goat” ran 3 accompanying night legs displaying true Space Goat Spirt and badassness (ok it is not a word but you get it).   Our goat calls “BAAAAAAAAA” were most helpful at night to identify our runners approaching exchange zones.  Near dawn John “Life Saving Goat” had a not so pleasant “people of the woods encounter 3”.  This poor resident was not very happy with the noise the relay participants that had kept her up during the night.  John, a gracious southern gentleman, apologized on behalf of the participants of the   Blue Ridge Relay.  Courteous Space Goats!

7:00am ish- Night legs done we headed to the final team exhange zone at a Baptist

FOOD

Church in  Barnardsville, NC.  These church members rolled out the red carpet and welcomed runners with a hot pancake breakfast, real bathrooms, tent for sleeping, or better yet  a padded church pew for sleeping.  These people were simply amazing and hospitable!  THANK YOU!  We fueled up, and got some rest.  Some got sleep, I got 2 hrs of REST. Most Space Goats chose the padded church pew, one lone goat, skipped the food and went straight to the tent for sleep. She  had the tent all to herself.  Clearly, the quietest she had been in 24 hrs.

Laura “Most Talkative Goat” in her private sleeping quarters

Space Goats, Rested, fueled, ready to run it home to Asheville!

Saturday morning brought drizzle, sporadic down pours, and cooler temps.  Awesome running weather.  Van 1, had endured much excitement during the night assisting the Ultra Team- Where the Hell is Van 2? with locked keys in their van, and Dave’s dog attack.  Two dogs attacked and bite Dave.  Fueled with Space Goat awesomeness…..he outran them.  Way to go Dave!  Feeling giddy, our van mates pranked incoming runner and Team Captain, Mark Cox, by lifting the hood of the van faking a breakdown.  If only I had captured, Marks expression as he ran by. 🙂

Van 2 was off, as Melissa ran the hardest leg of all a Mountain Goat hard 6.5 mile climb!  Delirious The Space Goats cheered and entertained all runners on the mountain goat leg.  We were thrilled to have fellow Ultra Team runner Hazel to cheer!  Things got a little crazy as we entertained!  We are sure that we made a difference for all the runners out there.  We certainly had fun doing it. Scenes from Mountain Goat leg….

Beautiful running man!

hmmmm…strip tease?

Sleep deprivation causes odd behavior or was this a modeling post for Athleta Sportswear

The finish of Mountain Goat

Melissa “MAA MAA Goat” slayed her run and passed 4 runners!  Amazing! Way to go to MAA MAAA!  Next we sent Laura “Most Talkative Goat” off on her dream run…9 miles down hill where she maintained a 7:30 pace!  Melinda “Quite Killer Goat” ran strong on the 2nd Mountain Goat leg and finished strong with a super huge smile of accomplishment and a prize!

Thrilled to be DONE!

John was off and endured torrential rain and cold temps.  Luckily it was his shortest run of the relay and he was able to burn it out!

Holy Hill……

I was off for my last leg once again on the Blue Ridge Parkway, only 4.2 miles but the first 2 were all uphill! I endured, with the finsh line on my mind and burned it out and passed the BRR band to Rusty for the 6.6 mile Glory leg!

We quickly made out way to the finish line to greet Rusty!  Rusty brought us in strong in the pouring rain and cold!  Designated Drinkers a.k.a Space Goats  finished  Saturday 5:56pm with the official time of 31hours and 56 minutes! Average pace per mile 9:05, 95th of 141 teams!

Running in the Glory Leg with Rusty! Where are our fellow Designated Drinkers Team mates…..Mellow Mushroom bar?

While we did not capture an official title, we are ALL WINNERS for SURVIVING!

Space Goats (minus Melinda) at the finish. Poor Melinda was seeking sanity was searching for her family!

Our Men and family welcomed us at the Finish!

My 1st Relay experience was over the top! As my 9 year old would say “Epic”.  I had a blast!  My team was awesome and most importantly my van mates made the experience memorable and highly entertaining!  I gained 4 new nutty running  friends! ( I knew Laura and Rusty prior to our adventure)

While the hours were long, the miles hard, the comradery shared among fellow runners was priceless!  Thanks to all for an amazing relay!

The Asheville night life was not spared from the Legend of the Space Goat. Great job MAA MAA!

Now  as Tommy would say……time for some much deserved “loaf’in” BAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!

My runs were dedicated to a dear friend Graham Edward Beacham, whom was called home after a tragic car accident Wednesday prior to the relay. An avid outdoors man, I know Graham would  appreciate the beautiful scenery and quiet of the mountains just as I did.  I cannot think of a better way to reflect and pay respects.  I know I made him proud!  Love and miss you dear friend!

Second Wind Toast for Graham and a job well done!

Rest In Peace Dear Friend……

Shout out to AMY!…My ULTRA Running Inspiration

I am so proud of my sister Amy who completed the Hot Asphalt Lenoir County Ultra Run, organized by RacENC Saturday night.  Note I said last NIGHT not DAY……

This ultra, with 14  local runners,  organized by the local run club was an effort to enjoy a long distance run in their own back yard. Probably better described as in their  “back forty” given the fact their route was a rural, flat, route through eastern North Carolina farm land.

Amy and Ashley…..Smiling and mile 15

They did it simply for their love or running. My hat is off to all of them!  I honestly could not get excited about running 42 flat, asphalt miles, in August with NC heat and humidity.  If that is not challenging enough, they started at 5pm Saturday and ran into the early Sunday  hours.  Not only was it hot but it was dark!  Impressive!  Way to go K-town runners!

Amy, is my inspiration! I have her to thank for inspiring me to push beyond  my  two mile treadmill runs. She almost killed me on our first summer run in 2008.  A very HOT, flat, asphalt run with no water or distance plans (classic newbie mistakes).  Neither of us know how far we ran that day we just know we did it!  She pushed me through to the finish! That was the start!

We planed to train for  our first half marathon February 2009! Living 1.5 hours apart, we shared our training via phone and facebook! 1/2 Marathon day  arrived and unfortunately Amy was sidelined with an injury.  Not letting injury get her down, Amy rallied the family to  support me on race day! Amy was on every corner with one of her crazy signs. She organized the family and had them strategically placed along the course.  It was wonderful and a memory I will cherish forever!

Family Supporting my 1st 13.1!

That November, Amy and my kids ran me across the finish of my my first Marathon(OBX) 2009.

Earlier that day Amy concurred the OBX half marathon! Once again she rallied the family to travel to support our efforts. (Those who know her will agree….when Amy speaks…People Listen)

Amy continued to support and encourage me as I finished another two marathons.  Finally,  we planned to run the WDW Marathon, her first, January 2011.  Keeping with tradition, it was to be a family affair, however this time we would be joined by additional family members (sister Laury, Mom,  and brother-in-laws Lee and Jon).  They were tired of the sidelines and wanted part of the action.

Ready for Disney Marathon Weekend

Unfortunately, I was unable to make the marathon due to a HORRIBLE  upper respiratory infection.  I was so bummed not to cross the finish line with Amy in her first marathon.  I was forced to track her via internet from home.  I could hardly contain my excitement for her!  I was so proud of her and her accomplishment!

Fresh off her marathon high, we planned to run the Tobacco Road Marathon in March. FAIL! She got super sick and was unable to run!  Was this some type of omen?  To date, we have yet to run a race together.

Amy & daughter Chole WDW Marathon Finisher!

Amy’s Ultra finish is a great reminder that you can accomplish anything you put your passion  and energy into! I am excited to join Amy in her “Ultra Greatness” as I tackle my first 40 miler in December (Pine Mountain 40)  Perhaps, our race calendars will collide and she will join me              ( hint..hint) 🙂

Although our race calendars have taken us on different paths and distances, one thing remains the same… I can always count on Amy to raise the bar and push me beyond my limits!  I am forever grateful for your support.  Without your push, I would have never discovered my love and passion for running. Thank You AMY!

My daily inspiration…..given to me by Amy!

“Its that bond for female runners that makes me want to be a better runner- to push me a little harder” ~ unknown

Lets re-enact this photo with Pine Mountain, GA in the background!