BoxerRunner100

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The first week of July I decided it was time to refresh my twitter handle. My handle, MarathoningMom, while I liked it was established early on in my marathoning venture.  I have since conquered many marathons and taken a leap into the ultra marathon world.

I love having stretch goals in front of me as daily reminders.  All my work passwords are running related and typically include the next distance I am seeking.  It keeps it real and fresh for me! We all know the mental aspects of running are just as important as the physical aspects.

So I decided on BoxerRunner100.  The handle combined my love for my rescue boxers, running, and my ultimate goal of achieving a 100 mile race…one day!  Perfect! Literally, a few days after I made the change I was on a run with my dogs, found 1/4 of a $100 bill (I have  been picking up change on runs all year), and returned some escaped dogs to their owner.  All in the matter of 6 miles.

I am typically not a suspicious person and I don’t read my horoscope. The irony and timing of these events just makes me think the running Gods sending me a shout out and a stamp of approval on my new goals! 🙂 As far fetched as it may seem, I am going to glean what I can from this and am taking this as a positive sign! Good things must be in my future!

Had any running Karma sent your way recently?

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Ragnar Napa Valley: Recaps from my fellow BadASS Mother Runners

imageThree plus months have passed and I have yet to recap my Ragnar Napa experience. Perhaps, the delay is due to the fact I did not want to acknowledge the experience, with five months of great anticipation, had come and gone.  What I have come to know, in the months proceeding our 205 mile journey from San Francisco to Calistoga, CA,  is that our Ragnar experience was just a kickstart to a wonderful relationship with 11 fellow mother runners.

Despite being separated by many miles and numerous state lines, we continue to engage in daily dialog with each other via our private Facebook group, emails,text, skype, and even an occasional conference call.  Technology is great!

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It was a tremendous honor to be selected as a participant on this team! I will forever cherish the memories or our CA weekend and look forward to creating more memories.  In less that 5 months, almost 1 year to the day we found out we were selected for the team,   8 of us will be gathering in Pittsburgh, PA for the Pittsburgh Marathon weekend. While we will certainly miss SBS, Dimiity, Kelly, and Lisa.  They will not be forgotten and will certainly be there in spirit.

I thought the best way to recap the weekend was through sharing the official AnotherMotherRunner.com Ragnar Napa Valley recaps.  While this was a team effort, each of us had our very own unique personal experience. We covered the gamut with racing highs and racing woe’s. Enjoy the race recaps from my fellow team mates.

AMR Blog Post– Ragnar Napa Valley: The Mother Runner Recap

AMR Pod Cast#129:Napa Valley Ragnar Relay

My pictorial recap!

Van #1-Erin, Dimity, Jen, Kelly, Kim, Lisa.  Kicked up off bright and early Friday morning!

Van #1-Erin, Dimity, Jen, Kelly, Kim, Lisa. Kicked up off bright and early Friday morning! We stayed at the lovely Marina Motel, San Francisco.  The gardens were beautiful and the staff was so accommodating to our needs and our over sized vans!

Van #2- Sarah, Me, Mel, Laura, Jodi, Smitha.  We got to sleep in and start running early afternoon ( In the HEAT!)

Van #2- Sarah, Me, Mel, Laura, Jodi, Smitha. We got to sleep in and start running early afternoon ( In the HEAT!)

The "Mother of all things Relay" We were so fortunate to have Mel, whom has numerous relays under her belt, in our van.  Seriously, thinking she brought everything we could possibly need!

The “Mother of all things Relay” We were so fortunate to have Mel, whom has numerous relays under her belt, in our van. Seriously, think she brought everything we could possibly need except a portable air conditioner.

Crossing the Golden Gate  Bridge on the way to our first exchange

Crossing the Golden Gate Bridge on the way to our first exchange.

Van #2- READY!

Van #2- READY!

Team shot minus Mel.  Perhaps one picture too many! But hey life was good and we were happy!

Team shot minus Mel with one of our numerous sponsors NUUN. Perhaps one picture too many! But hey life was good and we were happy!

After heading in the wrong direction from the exchange, as a result of my poor navigation skills, we finally got back on track to met Mel at exchange #8.  To make matters worse due to road construction  Ragnar decided to make the transition area “floating”.  Basically meaning you would meet your runner along a unmarked half mile area.  CONFUSING FOR ALL! We waited, and waited with no signs of Mel.  Whom decided because it was only three miles not to take her phone, garmin, or water.  What could possibly go wrong?  Well, due to the unmarked transition and no team in sight Mel kept running.  Cannot say I blame her I would have done the same thing.  After much waiting and contemplating, we decided we would set Laura off on her leg (we did not want her to miss her miles) and we would head to the next transition and hope Mel was there.

As we were waiting SBS found a penny! She was so excited! She also instructed Laura on her first "pop a squat"

As we were waiting SBS found a penny! She was so excited! She also instructed Laura on her first “pop a squat”

RE-UNITED! We found our Mel.  Hot, frazzeled, and worn out we found our girl at the next exchange! Such Relief! We did contact Ragnar Race Command  to seek assistance of a lost runner and they were ZERO help!

RE-UNITED! We found our Mel!  Hot, frazzled, and worn out we found our girl at the next exchange! Such a Relief! We did contact Ragnar Race Command to seek assistance of a lost runner and they were ZERO help!

Smitha and I waiting for Laura after her first run!

Smitha and I waiting for Laura after her first run! It was HOT!

Finally off on my first 9 miles leg.  So HOT!  the spectators with the water sprayers were the BEST! The second time I saw one of the groups I had the m snap this photo!

Finally off on my first 9 miles leg. So HOT! the spectators with the water sprayers were the BEST! The second time I saw one of the groups I had the m snap this photo!

Before he handed me back my phone he snuck in a quick selfie! So great! They made my day!

Before he handed me back my phone he snuck in a quick selfie! So great! They made my day!

Re-united with Van 1 at exchange!

Re-united with Van 1 at exchange!

Aaron at the community center saved me by having batteries for my headlamp!  ( Next time I will keep batteries out of lamp for travel, and bring extra)

Aaron at the community center saved me by having batteries for my headlamp! ( Next time I will keep batteries out of lamp for travel, and bring extra)

Laura and I attempting sleep in the field of the community center.  I am pretty sure SBS was snoring! That woman can sleep anywhere!

Laura and I attempting sleep in the field of the community center. I am pretty sure SBS was snoring! That woman can sleep anywhere! Perhaps it was her Saucony body suit!

Ready for our second legs in the very very early morning!

Ready for our second legs in the very very early morning!

 

Great 9 mile run.  Super treat was watching the sun come up and finishing in the vineyards!  Or is it a "Wine Yard" as Smitha called it lol!

Great 9 mile run. Super treat was watching the sun come up and finishing in the vineyards! Or is it a “Wine Yard” as Smitha called it lol!

Laura eventually got some sleep!

Laura eventually got some sleep!

After 30 hours of awake time, I took "Personality rest time" My eyes were open but my mouth was shut!  Powering up for our last legs of the relay!

After 30 hours of awake time, I took “Personality rest time” My eyes were open but my mouth was shut! Powering up for our last legs of the relay!

"Smitha would you like some?" "No Thanks what is that Fat M&M's?".....I proceeded to almost pee myself in laughter.  My sweet little Indian Princess had never seen a Peanut M&M!  Life altering moment!  We had hours of laughter at her expense! Forever referred to as FAT M&M's!

“Smitha would you like some?” “No Thanks what is that Fat M&M’s?”…..I proceeded to almost pee myself in laughter. My sweet little Indian Princess had never seen a Peanut M&M! Life altering moment! We had hours of laughter at her expense! Forever referred to as FAT M&M’s!

Wasting time at possible the worst exchange ever.  A dusty field, no shade, and a bunch of honey buckets ( Port-0- Potties)  We passed time by bartering Fat M&M's for whatever we could get!

Wasting time at  the worst exchange ever.   A dusty field, no shade, and a bunch of honey buckets ( Port-0- Potties) We passed time by bartering Fat M&M’s  out for whatever we could get!

The day was getting hotter by the hour! Quick group shot before sending Jodi off on what turned our to be a horrific leg!

The day was getting hotter by the hour! Quick group shot before sending Jodi off on what turned out to be a horrific leg!

Me and the vines.  It was so hot the camera was even sweating!

Me and the vines. It was so hot the camera was even sweating!

Killing time in Calistoga! What a cute little town  We did not stick out a bit in our tutus

Killing time in Yountville! What a cute little town We did not stick out a bit in our tutus

After Jodi's horrific hot run and reports of Ragnar rationing water at the aid stations  The Mother of all Relays (Mel) declared WAR!  She stormed the local grocery for water, ice , and ziplock baggies.  If Ragnar was not going to take care of the runners we were!  The runners were all so appreciative! ( We did call Ragnar race command and they did respond saying they would get more water on the course)

After Jodi’s horrific hot run and reports of Ragnar rationing water at the aid stations The Mother of all Relays (Mel) declared WAR! She stormed the local grocery for water, ice , and ziplock baggies. If Ragnar was not going to take care of the runners we were! The runners were all so appreciative! ( We did call Ragnar race command and they did respond saying they would get more water on the course.  Just poor planning as they forecast had not changed)

 

Finally, we set our sights on Jodi! We were so relieved to see her!

Finally, we set our sights on Jodi! We were so relieved to see her!

 

SBS looking BadASS after her 11 miler! We were all so  Proud of her!

SBS looking BadASS after her 11 miler! We were all so Proud of her!

After SBS Beasted her 11 miles in the Sauna, due to temps and time Ragnar gave us the option to skip to the next exchange.  We took the option!  Smitha and I ran the final leg together!  Warrior paint and all ( not whiskers) were were ready!

After SBS Beasted her 11 miles in the Sauna, due to temps and time Ragnar gave us the option to skip to the next exchange. We took the option! Smitha and I ran the final leg together! Warrior paint and all ( not whiskers) were were ready!

Probably the most entertaining 5.3 miles of my life. Singing, dance running and entertaining the cars stuck in traffic!  We finally made it! Smitha , sandbagging, most of the run finally "Let it Go" and we sprinted to the finish!

Probably the most entertaining 5.3 miles of my life. Singing, dance running and entertaining the cars stuck in traffic! We finally made it! Smitha , sandbagging, most of the run finally “Let it Go” and we sprinted to the finish!

DONE! 205 miles!

DONE! 205 miles!

Delayed several hours due to the heat, and Ragnar running out of finisher  medals…it was not the finish any of us had envisioned.  But we were done! We did it together and had a blast!  Unfortunately, we had to cancel our dinner plans and head straight for our hotel 2 hours away.  We would have to wait to toast our finish at another time! ( all the more reason for a reunion)

Glowing from her finish! Mel popped our tops in our fab accommodations! I seriously considered sleeping in the van! Instead we toasted to our wonderful journey with Smitha, Lisa, and Laura!

Glowing from her finish! Mel popped our tops in our fab accommodations! I seriously considered sleeping in the van! Instead we toasted to our wonderful journey with Smitha, Lisa, and Laura!

All good things must come to an end.  Van clean up!

Sad faces…All good things must come to an end. Van clean up!

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Quck stop in San Fran to pick up our luggage at SBS's friend Amy who let us store our luggage in her apartments.  So helpful! We said our good byes to the those headed to the airport!

Quck stop in San Fran to pick up our luggage at SBS’s friend Kate who let us store our luggage in her apartments. So helpful! We said our good byes to the those headed to the airport!

Sharing my Hoka love with Smitha!

Sharing my Hoka love with Smitha!

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Rounded out the trip by spending the afternoon and evening  with my Van 1 peeps!

Rounded out the trip by spending the afternoon and evening with my Van 1 peeps!

Tremendous thanks to Sarah and Dimity, AnotherMotherRunner.com, for pulling together this amazing team of 11 mother runners.  This trip will forever hold a special place in my heart not only for the experience but most of all the friendships it kickstarted! Love to all my BAMRS! Cannot wait to see you in May!

Check out recaps from fellow blogging team mates:

Project Lovely Laura A four part mini series recap! 

The Faux Runner- More Fat M&M’s and Wine Yards!

Two Princesses on the run- The one and only Princess of Ragnar 🙂

12 Reasons to love the Ellerbe Marathon

In February, I  stumbled upon the Ellerbe Marathon while searching marathonguide.com for some local races I could run as part of my CedarIsland40 training.  I had never heard of the Ellerbe Marathon nor had any idea where Ellerbe, NC was. After reading the reviews, I was fully convinced Ellerbe was worth the 1.5 hour drive from Raleigh to get in some training miles.  I submitted my paper registration via snail mail and was ready to go!

12 reasons why I loved the Ellerbe Marathon…

1. No traffic, no crowds, no lines, no nonsense, and plenty of parking. Race day packet pick up.

Mount Pleasant Community Club- packet pickup and post race lunch

Mount Pleasant Community Club- packet pickup and post race lunch

2. No Porta Potties, real facilities, plumbing, and running water!

The real deal! Race day dream come true :)

The real deal! Race day dream come true 🙂

3.  NO line for the women’s bathroom. I was so shocked I had to take a picture.  As you see there is no wait for the ladies room.  BONUS!

No wait for ladies room!  Men's bathroom line.

No wait for ladies room! Men’s bathroom line.

3. 7:50 am we headed to the start. No maneuvering needed you just found your preferred spot among the 75 runners ( 3 walkers started early)

starting line

starting line

4.  Mark Long, Race Director, gave some brief instructions, recognized some fellow veteran participants.  Congrats to Rick French who was lined up for his 21st Ellerbe Marathon!  After completing just one I can honestly say that is a big freaking deal! Hats off to Rick! No timing chips, not race mats, Mark set us on our way with a “Ready, Set, Go”  Simplicity at its best!

Mark Long, Mangum Track Club, giving us our race briefing and start

Mark Long, Mangum Track Club, giving us our race briefing and start

5. 26.2 rolling miles! Minimal to no traffic. Majority of the traffic were the volunteers keeping an eye on the runners.

somewhere around mile 6

somewhere around mile 6

6. Simple…run into traffic and follow the yellow arrows.  Admittedly, I was a little nervous being responsible for finding my way along the course but it was very well marked with yellow arrows.

on course arrows

on course arrows

7. What comes up must go down! Awesome downhill segments.  Great reward for the many uphill climbs.

Start of long downhill stretch around mile 11

Start of long downhill stretch around mile 11 ( not certain)

ahhh downhill!

ahhh downhill!

8. Awesome aid stations and super friendly volunteers.  ICE cold water, oranges, pretzels, etc. Extra Bonus points for ICE cold water!

Aid station at the bottom of "Hannibal".  Any hill with a name is not good! In the distance is the highest point in Richmond County.

Aid station at the bottom of “Hannibal”. Any hill with a name is not good!  David and I were surprised we had completed it.  It was not nearly as bad as what we had heard.

9. Sheriff assistance at major road crossings/intersections (there were two the entire 26.2 miles) You just have to love that this is considered a major road crossing!  In all seriousness, I think it is awesome that Mark and Jerry had the Shefiff department monitoring these crossings ensuring our safety.  THANKS!

major road crossing.  Believe it or not, they actually had to stop traffic for us.

major road crossing. Believe it or not, they actually had to stop traffic for us.

10. More downhill! Trust me it is a VERY WELCOME site along this course.  I was really excited for this one in the last 3-4 miles.

downhill Selfie

downhill Selfie

11. Post race grub! Good ole southern fare…chicken and dumplings, role, and sweet tea! It was super yummy protein and carb reload.

Finish line meal

Finish line meal

12. Super nice laid back friendly runners!  I met some really cool people.  Early in the race, I recognized Clay, a fellow blogger whom had commented on one of my previous blog post.  We made the connection, chatted a bit, and covered some of the early miles.  I eventually dropped back, but always had Clay in my sight.  Around mile 11, I met up with David.  We ran, (walked) and chatted for the next 12 miles.  Wow, the miles just flew by!  Thanks David I really enjoyed your company! David and I , always had Clay in our line of sight.  We joked he was our unofficial pacer.

Clay, Me, David...FINISHED!

Clay, Me, David…FINISHED!

You simply cannot go wrong with Ellerbe. I approached this marathon( #16) as a training run with support.  I was very relaxed, not worried about negative splits, pace etc.  I walked the hills and whenever I was tired.  I felt great! With my approach,  I was able to take it all in and enjoy the beautiful surroundings.  It was a beautiful day!  It heated up into the low 70’s towards the end but the course offered lots of shade so it was bearable.

The course is challenging.  Of my 16 marathons, this was the most difficult from a course/elevation perspective. My opinion is that Ellerbe is much more difficult than Big Sur.  I lost my garmin data ( not really sure how this happened) from Big Sur so I cannot compare the elevation charts side by side.

Ellerbe Elevation

Ellerbe Elevation

If you are looking for a challenge, or wanting to push your comfort zone give Ellerbe a try.  I promise you will not be disappointed!

2nd place female in my age group! I proudly accepted my pottery mug make by http://www.semperfipottery.com/index.html

2nd place female in my age group! I proudly accepted my pottery mug make by http://www.semperfipottery.com/index.html

Due to my Ellerbe participation, I was unable to run Ella’s Race.  In Ella’s honor, I wore her favorite colors of pink and purple and dedicated my miles in her memory.  When the miles got tough, I would reflect on Ella’s relentless fight against her cancer.  I know Ella was shinning down on all of us on Saturday!  Please consider a donation to  The Cure Starts Now Foundation…Curing Cancer, One Child at a Time

Head to Toe, Pink & Purple in honor of Ella!

Head to Toe, Pink & Purple in honor of Ella!

 

Twin Cities Marathon & Another Mother Runner CONNECTION!

9th State and 14th Marathon! Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon, Oct 6, 2013

TClogo

Why Twin Cities?  I lost count of how many times I was asked this question leading up to the marathon and once we arrived in MSP (Minneapolis-St.Paul).  “You came from NC to MN for the marathon?  Wow!”  Yep,Twin Cities Marathon has been on my list of “must dos” since I decided to conquer all 50 States…before I die, or die trying. Little side note- RIP, Joy Johnson, 86,  whom died a day after running her 25th  NYC Marathon. What an inspiration! I always tell my family, If I die running, know I died doing what I love.

Bart Man! Big Sur Expo 2013

Bart Man! Big Sur Expo 2013

 Back to Twin Cities- Bart Yasso, whom I may be a tiny bit obsessed with, raved about Twin Cities in his book My Life On the Run. If by the way, you have not read this book you are totally missing out. After reading about just a few of Bart’s 1,000+ competitive adventures and being thoroughly entertained, I decided any events he put on a  “must dos” list would be added to my bucket list.  Thanks BART! Your recommendations have not failed me yet.

1st time meeting Dimity&Sarah Country Music Nashville Marathon 2011

1st time meeting Dimity&Sarah Country Music Nashville Marathon 2011

Additionally my fav gals, Sarah and Dimity of AnotherMotherRunner.com (whom I am a self proclaimed “SUPER FAN”), raved about their 2012 Twin Cities Marathon Weekend experience.  Little did I know, prior to registration and arrival, we would share a very special AMR connection. More on that later I promise…

So, Twin Cities Marathon landed on my 2013 race calendar.  Laura (my 50 States partner,  BRF, and recent newlywed) was consumed in her hectic personal life and for the first time in three years could not commit to a fall race. The beauty of our running relationship is that when we decide to do a race we don’t deliberate and ponder we “JUST DO IT” often via just text communication.

Airport Selfie headed to MSP!

Airport Selfie headed to MSP!

Luckily, my long time buddy Leigh, intrigued by my 50 states quest, was ready to tackle her second marathon.  No convincing needed she signed up, booked her flights and our hotel! MN Bound!

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

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

 My second recruit,BRF and Raleigh-CrossFit buddy Katherine, begrudgingly agreed to tackle Twin Cities (her 3rd marathon) if I would do Tough Mudder, Charlotte, NC with her in Oct.  Being an endorphin junkie, perhaps under the influence of an endorphin high, I did not hesitate and signed up for Tough Mudder.  AFTER, signing up I viewed the videos….Artic Enima, electrocution, etc. What had I gotten myself into? Clearly, I had not learned my lesson. (Pine Mountain 40 Beatdown)  Oh well, seemed like a great trade off and opportunity for a new adventure. Sadly, Katherine, fell victim to an ITband injury and had to cancel running Twin Cities 😦   On a happier note, we did conquer and survive Tough Mudder- Charlotte on 11/3.  Blog post coming soon!  

Expo Selfie

Expo Selfie

Leigh and I arrived in Minneapolis on Friday afternoon and headed straight to our hotel, Residence Inn at The Depot, walking distance to the start line!  We unpacked and laid out all our running gear (a running travel tradition). Nothing was forgotten…always a good sign!  Ready for lunch we walked across the street to The Crooked Pint.  I promise not to bore you with what we ate all weekend but I have to tell you I  had not idea how much Minnesotan’s love their tater tots!  Never having a tater tot that did not come out of a freezer bag, I found the Jumbo, house-made tater tots with Serrano peppers, bacon, and cheddar to be a delicious welcome to this first time Minnesota visitor. Hence, thought #1 I could live here! However, a diet of tator tots is likely not in my best interest.

imageAfter our late lunch we headed to the expo at the St. Paul River Center.  This was Leigh’s biggest marathon and marathon expo so we put a strategy in place to make sure we covered it all.   After we got our bibs, we headed to the furthest corner to start our expo journey. We were both really excited to visit the AnotherMotherRunner.com booth.  Boom! Right before our eyes it was the first booth we saw! We practically ran into as we rounded the corner.

AnotherMotherRunner.com CONNECTION! Amy ZP, JoAnne, Me, Jess, Leigh

AnotherMotherRunner.com CONNECTION! Amy ZP, JoAnn, Me, Jess, Leigh

The minute we reached the booth,it was  an instantaneous party and the beginning of our AMR CONNECTION! I can only imagine how loud we were or how this looked to the other expo visitors. JoAnn and I quickly made the connection that we had exchanged tweets days prior to the expo. Got to love social networking!  We shopped, shared stories of our AMR connections to Sarah and Dimity, took pictures, got restaurant referrals, exchanged contact info etc.  It was like we knew these ladies all our lives!  Amy ZP floored us when she  extended Leigh and I an invite to her pre-marathon dinner at her house. Despite only knowing these ladies for 15 minutes, they were no longer strangers, they were Another Mother Runners so we  we said YES!  We agreed we would firm up details Saturday via text.  JoAnn passed along some restaurant referrals for dinner and we reluctantly pulled ourselves away from the booth to explore the rest of the expo!  imageimageWe hopped in a cab to the Happy Gnome for dinner.  The Gnome, was packed,so we headed to the bar in hopes of scoring a table.  As we waited, we were so surprised when a cute Minnesotan couple tapped us on the shoulder and offered us their table. Why such kindness? They insisted we have the table so we took it.  Thought #2- I could live here people are so nice. Leigh and I were both blown away with the hospitality we had encountered over the past few hours. I had no idea how friendly Minnesotans were. Honestly, really never had a reason to think about it.  So being the good southern gals that we are we had the waiter deliver drinks to the nice couple ( who ended up sitting beside of us) to thank them.  Only to have them send a round back to us 🙂  Crazy! Full from lunch, we decided to share bacon wrapped Elk loin. Yum! The Happy Gnome was awesome its a don’t miss if you are in St. Paul.

Saturday arrived and we had no plans other than dinner with our new St. Paul friends. We shared text throughout the day and firmed up our dinner plans. Leigh and I worried what if they got caught up in the moment and invited us to dinner and now regretted it.  Little did we know the St. Paul gals were having similar conversations wondering if the Carolina girls(Leigh&I)  would really show up.

Sara and her AWESOME Sauce photo bomb. Rambling Rose Tri, Raleigh, NC

Sara and her AWESOME Sauce photo bomb. Rambling Rose Tri, Raleigh, NC

JoAnn texted Sara(AMR.com) and told her Leigh and I were coming over for dinner.  Sara’s comment,that I found highly flattering and funny was “Jenn is AWESOME-SAUCE”  Not sure what awesome-sauce is but this SUPER-FAN  will take it! Leigh and I were so excited to have dinner with the gals and their families.  Whenever one of us would get a text we would say “Is it from our new friends”  Just too funny!

We had time to kill before dinner so we decided to explore Minneapolis, by foot, since we did not rent a car. Typically, I rent a car, for some reason we opted out on this trip.  If I were to do it again, I would likely get a car.  First stop was Marshalls, which was the best Marshall’s I have ever been to.  We loaded up on awesome workout gear, which we have not been able to find in our local Marshall’s.  The best find of the day was a Life is Good Social Networking shirt for Leigh whom is an avid around town cyclist at home and whom does NO SOCIAL MEDIA. There was no passing up this shirt. SCORE!

This was made just for leigh! She bought it!

This was made just for Leigh! She bought it!

marshallsOne of my favorite all time comments from Leigh is ” Talk to MY FACE, not my FACEBOOK”  That so needs to be a bumper sticker!  Me on the other hand loves all forms of social media!   Leigh is a master shopper, so I found a nice leather chair in Marshall’s and took a social media break. I had to rest my legs…after all we were running 26.2 miles in less than 24 hours.

Next stop was the two story Target for provisions and h2omore shopping for Leigh, I forgot shopping was one of her skills:)  I got my traditional “big gulp” of water.  For some reason, part of the tradition, is I drink it straight from the bottle. I see no reason to  break tradition at this point.  After shopping we headed back to the hotel rested up and got ready for dinner with our St. Paul Friends.

Cab Selfie on way to dinner at Amy's

Cab Selfie on way to dinner at Amy’s

We were greeted by Amy who said “Can you believe you are at a strangers house for dinner?” I stated that Leigh and I laughed about it being the setting for an Another Mother Runner murder plot. 🙂  We all laughed  at the re-telling of how Leigh and I came to be dinner guest.  Everyone was so welcoming.  We shared great food, drinks, stories, and laughs!  It was like we had known everyone for a lifetime. Thought #3- I could live here. These people are so awesome!

Eric&Amy our adorable host

Eric&Amy our adorable host

Amy & Shannon sporting their compression gear!

Amy & Shannon sporting their compression gear!

Dinner Crew!

Dinner Crew and our New St. Paul Friends!

Shannon & Jo

Shannon & Jo

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end we had a big day ahead of us. We said our goodbyes and planned to hook up after the marathon for the post party at JoAnn’s. Wow! The most hospitable people I have ever met. Thought #4- I could live here! This neighborhood is precious and my neighbors would be great!

JoAnn, insisted on taking Leigh and I back to our hotel in Minneapolis (30 miles round trip).  There was no arguing this with her as she wanted to drive us along the marathon course route.  BONUS! I always drive the route and due to lack of car I had not seen any of the course.  Despite the darkness, we got a great personalized breakdown of a good portion of the course and the area. What a great night! JoAnn shared she had given AMR Sara the same course preview last year.

6:00am came to fast!  Fortunately, we were only several blocks from the Metrodome. The sun was shinning (rain was in the forecast) and temps were in the 40’s.  Perfect day for running. Finding our way to the bag check and starting coral was painless due to awesome volunteers. I did spot coffee, water, and pre-race snacks for the runners but we did not partake.

At the Start!

At the Start!

Off and running!

Off and running!

The course is just as described America’s Most Beautiful Urban Marathon! The course completely lived up to the description via TCMevents.org.

With mile after mile of parkways, lakes, rivers and tree-lined boulevards, the scenery can’t be beat. Add 300,000 screaming fans, 10 Cheer Zones, over a dozen course entertainment acts, and you’ve got an experience that you’ll never forget.
Somewhere between miles 5-6

Somewhere between miles 5-6

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The point to point course course winds around four beautiful lakes and along both sides of the Mississippi River. The course contains a few rolling hills; but with a starting and finishing elevation of approximately 840 feet and no climbs over 100 feet long, it’s nothing you can’t handle. 
The might Mississippi

The might Mississippi

The final stretch races past the clanging bells of the Saint Paul Cathedral and downhill onto the spectacular view of the State Capitol and the finish line!

The course will not disappoint!  Crowd support was HUGE! If you desire lots of support this is the marathon for you.  I would argue the crowds are bigger or equal to the Marine Corps Marathon.  There were VERY few spots without spectators. As a serenity runner, I found the crowds to be overwhelming at times. I learned to really appreciate the crowd free zones. Certainly, not meant to be a negative comment it is just based on personal preference. The course is flat.  Much flatter than I expected.  I would not classify this course as rolling hills( based on what I train on).   My hips reminded me most of the 26.2 miles I was running flat. The occasional incline was a welcome relief.  I do love to run some hills!

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Thad & Eric

I spotted Eric and Thad ( Amy and Shannon’s husbands) very early whom were spectating and cheering from their bikes.  They yelled encouragement every time they saw us. It was so great. Around mile 5 we found Amy and Shannon on the course.  We pinged back and fourth and finally joined running forces somewhere in the second half.  Somewhere before the half we saw JoAnn, Holi,and Jess.  Perfect timing as I was in need of a pick me up.  As wonderful as the course , weather , and general surroundings were I was not feeling my best. Surprisingly, Leigh and I ran the majority of the race in silence (anyone who knows us finds this SHOCKING!).  We were both silently struggling but doing our best to take it all in and enjoy the experience.  We agreed early on we came too far to impose ourselves with time goals.  Our #1 goals was to finish and enjoy! That we did! I have to thank our St. Paul friends for their on course support. They were the ENJOYMENT factor! Every time we turned around they were there!  1,215 miles from home and we have our own pack of roving  fans! “Go Carolina Girls!”  I can still hear Jess ” GET DOWN!”

While running I snapped this pic of our cheer squad!

While running I snapped this pic of our cheer squad! Mother Runners Rock!

We did not HIT the Wall at mile 20 we ran right thru it!

We did not HIT the Wall at mile 20 we ran right thru it!

Summit Ave! Still Smiling!

Summit Ave! Still Smiling!

St. Paul & Carolina Gals!

St. Paul & Carolina Gals!

I cannot say enough about this course. The locals embrace every aspect of the marathon weekend.  They have huge parties in their front yards with inflatables for the children.  One house had several large tents, picnic tables and were having a huge pancake breakfast! Too bad we could not stop in for some additional carbs. The mid race drizzle did not negatively impact the spirit of this event.  Rain or shine…twin Cities Marathon is a celebration!

Mother Runner Fans! post doughnut hole stop!

Mother Runner Fans! post doughnut hole stop…hence JoAnn’s full mouth. Roving fans need fuel too!

We happily crossed the finish line! Marathon #14 (Me) and #2 (Leigh) were done! Fantastic race!

DONE!

DONE!

imageWe met up with our St. Paul gals to celebrate!

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Another Mother Runner BOND!

Another Mother Runner St. Paul and Carolina Gals!

I can honestly say what started out as an Another Mother Runner CONNECTION through the miles transitioned to an Another Mother Runner BOND! These ladies(and gents), all of them, got me through!  I am forever grateful for the memories and new friendships!

JoAnn braved the traffic and picked us up and transported us to her house for the after party celebration.  We enjoyed awesome BBQ beef, chips, sweets, etc! It was a great way to top off an awesome day!

Jo's post marathon Bash!

Jo’s post marathon Bash!

Mike, Peg, and Jo!

Mike, Peg, and Jo!

imageAfter a great celebration, JoAnn once again insisted on taking us back to Minneapolis.  But oh no we could not go empty handed..she send us with a bottle of wine. Simply amazing! Never ending hospitality! Thought #5- I could live here. I am nice and cozy. I don’t want to leave, or for this weekend to be over.

Leigh and I were so grateful as we reflected on our Twin cities experience. I told Leigh this was a once in a life time marathon weekend experience that would be hard to top!

As I said earlier, what started as an Another Mother Connection quickly transitioned to an Another Mother Runner BOND!  The connection of runners, especially mother runners, is something very special.  Its hard to put to words…..its an experience!

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

~Cheri hill Lombardo

Thanks for the memories St. Paul friends.  We are looking  forward to our 2014 running reunion weekend!

Plane Selfie we sent to our St. Paul friend to say good bye!

Plane Selfie we sent to our St. Paul friend to say good bye!

Thought #6- I could live here!…. Reality, I would miss my family, and truth be told this SOUTHERN BORN and raised North Carolinian who does not even own anything close to a winter coat or snow gear would not survive the first day of fall…much less winter.  I now have some great friends in St. Paul and have a reason to visit!

Finished product! I surprised Leigh with one as well!

Finished product! I surprised Leigh with one as well!

As a thank you for the fabulous hospitality, Leigh and I sent our St. Paul gals personalized water bottles from aquavation.org.  Aquavation, a personal favorite, is a gift that keeps giving! Aquavation donates 20% of each bottle to a designated charity partner.  I designated Blue Ridge Boxer Rescue as the beneficiary.  Fitting since we are all dog lovers!  Check out aquavation.org!

shot of my computer screen.  Image printed on the bottles

shot of my computer screen. Image printed on the bottles

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Umstead trail run Misadventure..

I gave full disclosure to my running buddies that I have yet to run through Umstead State Park without getting LOST a.k.a temporarily misplaced. So why would this run be any different?

I carefully planned out our 13 mile route, via mapmyrun.com,  all within the beautiful 5,579 acre park (it is so hard to believe it is nestled between Raleigh and Cary). I emailed the ladies the plan and gave them full warning of what we were getting ourselves into.

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email text- Whoo hooo ladies this won’t be easy but DANG we can accomplish anything after this. I am sickly looking forward to the challenge. I will print directions, I get lost in umstead so keeping us on track will be a joint effort

In an effort to break my temporarily misplaced streak, I jotted down the names of the trail heads, turns etc onto an index card.  I sealed the index card into a “snack bag” to keep it dry.  We were not going get lost! YES, I could have used the  mapmyrun.com app for my smartphone. Call me old school, I am kind of partial to my index cards.

It was a crisp morning with temperatures hovering in the low 30’s.  Great running weather. We were off!  Caught up in jibber jabber we missed the first trail head. Ooops not off to a good start.  Only 3/10 of a mile off course we circled back and jumped onto Lobllolly single track trail. It was awesome.  Becky, our clumsy running friend, inquired if we would have to cross any streams.  I quickly respond No 🙂  Wrong, we crossed two streams and all remained dry!  The trail was beautiful and we all stayed upright.  This was a major accomplishment given Becky’s tripping history on flat roads, and the frost covered wooden bridges.  We were loving it.  We transitioned to Company Mill trail which was just as wonderful.  Why have I never run these trails that are practically in my backyard.

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We were in our groove taking in serenity of the trail and were “on track” or “on trail” of where we needed to be.  After a VERY long down hill, 10 miles in,  we hit our first unplanned obstacle. The trail was completely covered with water.

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We were perplexed, dumbfounded, and in utter disbelief.  We just laughed wondering how this happened.  This was not just a little high water this was a freak-in river.   If it was the middle of summer perhaps we would have sloshed through but it was hovering around freezing.  Knowing we just came down a VERY long downhill we pondered our options.

Katherine surveying our options

Katherine surveying our options

Determined, to cross the creek/river Katherine spotted a crossing via two fallen trees.  Katherine, crossed the slippery moss covered tree to the opposing bank and went to investigate the second crossing.  Upon inspection, what we thought was a second tree crossing was just a “forest mirage” that upon a closer look was just river sludge that looked like a log.  She successfully trans-versed the slippery log back to where Becky and I were watching in amazement.  Katherine is “BADASS”, and she has the nerve to call ME crazy!

Katherine's unplanned high adventure

Katherine’s unplanned high adventure

Katherine investigating the second crossing which ended up being a "forest mirage"

Katherine investigating the second crossing which ended up being a “forest mirage”

With Katherine safely back, there was only one way out…up the VERY long hill! At the top of the hill, we spotted, a little too late, the trail washout sign. Duh!

Duh!..spotted a little too late.Trail wash out warning sign!

Duh!..spotted a little too late.Trail wash out warning sign!

048We laughed at ourselves!  What else can you do?  What an adventure!  I could hardly contain my giggles. We were having so much fun.

Surprisingly, without a trail guide/map,but some input from a few friendly runners we found our way back to our cars!  Our planned 13 miles turned into 14.25 miles! Not too bad!

Great adventure girls! I can hardly wait for our next adventure!

Happy Trails!

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!

“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

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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!