Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Trail Running Involves Risks

Michele gave me a copy of  a great trail running book.  It has all types of trail routes to try with included maps.  As I read the first paragraph on the first page I laughed right out loud!  It reads:


Well, let's see - Falling on Rocks - Kris has taken care of that one SEVERAL times!  Turning an angle - We have all done that many times.  Breaking Bones - Luckily none of us have done that yet  (knock on wood), and then Getting Lost - Only once did Michele and I get lost but we knew we were on the trail system somewhere... A great Blog entry to re-read.

So the reason I laughed so hard when I read this, was because that on today's trail run....we DID get lost!!!  And unlike the first time, we had no idea where the trails were!!!

THE PLAN: Run Buck Tail, Shane's Loop, Pop out onto Rocky Canyon Road (yuck) then down Shaw Mtn Road (double yuck) and finally back into the trail system at Fort Boise.  The plan doesn't always turn out as we think it will.

Mountain Cove trail is a real pretty run.  I have always liked it. Today we even saw a mother deer and her fawn leap across the trail.  Unfortunately we couldn't get the camera out of our packs in time.

And her we go once again, the first mile running on the trails is always so tough!  We parked at the lower parking lot and it was exactly a mile until we reached the really steep hill that leads to the Buck Tail trail head.  Steep hill = walk break!!!

We were uncharacteristically quiet on this run.  I don't know if we were all tired or just miserably out of shape.  I know for me it was both!  I was tired from our Eagle Green Belt run two days ago and I am still miserably out of shape.  Michele was breathing really hard too.  She said to me, "At least YOU have a reason to be out of shape."

For some reason, Kris wasn't tired at all.  She kept exclaiming how "GREAT" she felt.  What had gotten in to her?  Also notice in the picture my new running pack.  Michele no longer has to be my mule.  I got a sweet Nathan Hydration Pack.  It worked out great!

Up on Shane's loop we stopped for a water and breathing break.  Kris said, "THIS is my favorite spot!"  So she posed for a shot.

 Then Michele had to copy cat her.

I decided I am going to call this "confession hill".  Michele had a big one to reveal!!

At the Crater Crawl race we received a cute little gift bag in our race packet.

 Inside it was some small packets of shampoo and conditioner.

This morning as we stood on "confession hill" Michele asked us if we used ours yet.  Kris had, I hadn't.  Well, Michele confessed that she had used it to.  However, she thought it was sunblock - and she rubbed it all over her arms.  It was then that she realized it was a strange consistency, and re-read the label. Not sunblock Michele - SHAMPOO!

We then spent some time adjusting my pack.  It was hard to get it to the right setting so that it didn't shake a lot.  Michele helped by tightening some of the straps for me.  Finally we got it perfect!  Kris mumbled that I just needed to be fatter and then it would fit just fine.  Michele then told Kris that if she ever quit running she would probably be 400 pounds. Kris responded with the usual, "Shut your face."

After laughing like a bunch of junior high girls (I wonder if other trail users really worry about us), we resumed our run.  Happy day!! It was mostly downhill from here until..... we dropped down onto Rocky Canyon Road.  Time for fuel!!

Both Michele and Kris were super jealous of how easily I can re-hydrate on this run.  No hands!!

We felt so much more energized after we fueled up.  We were able to run down Rocky Canyon then up to Shaw Mtn Road without walking or resting at all.  Along the way we spotted a fox!!  This time we were able to get out the camera because he held still and stared at us for quite awhile.  He was quite vain and seemed to WANT his picture taken.  Kris thought he looked like a hyena


 At the top we visited a nice man who was watering his garden.  He was a runner as well.  He proudly declared running 33,000 miles and 25 marathons.  What an amazing feat!  We were dreading running on the pavement down Shaw Mtn Road, he told us of a secret - there is a short cut back tot the trails so we could avoid the road! 

But there was a big gate and do not trespass sign.  He assured us not to worry about that and to go ahead.  Avoid the pavement?  You don't need to ask us twice.

We headed down the really steep trail, giddy with excitement at our new find.  "He said turn right at the creek."  Michele reminded us.  We stopped, there was no more trail and we had no idea which way to go now.  We wandered around for quite awhile.  Of course Michele kept reminding us, "He said turn right at the creek."  But there was nothing resembling a trail!

We finally found this and it sort of looked like the remnants of a trail. But it quickly disappeared.  Michele insisted once more, "He said turn right at the creek."  So we went back to that spot to turn right.  Kris kept yelling from the back,  "OK Sacajawea, I'll be Clark.  You lead the way!!"

She started to move through the weeds..... Nothing.  Everything that looked like a trail only lasted a few yards!  AAAAggghhhh, how do we get out of here?  Now most normal people would have turned around, went back the way they had came, and written off this short cut as a NO GO. Well, none of us are like most people.  We were determined to figure this out!!  It's equal parts curiosity, stubbornness, and stupidity.

After wandering around through weeds for what seemed like forever  I just wasn't sure where to go.  Kris finally tromped ahead and yelled, "Follow me I will be Sacajawea!" and Michele kept saying "He said turn right at the creek."  None of us decided to just go back the way we came.

We found a way to cross the creek and come out onto the other side.  It was a lot of tall weeds and NO trails.  We knew the general direction of the main trail we were looking for, so Kris decided we were going cross country on our OWN TRAIL!

It turned out fine and we found ourselves right where we wanted to be.  It was fun to get lost.  We haven't had that kind of adventure in quite awhile.  It made our run memorable and fun.  We were prepared with plenty of water and fuel so there was no fear of DIE-ING!!  When you are prepared getting lost turns into an adventure instead of terrifying danger with no thoughts of survival (just like the time Michele and I got lost on Femrite).

It was a fun day.  We ended up with 7.7 miles.  The funny thing is that it took us over an hour and a half!  That's because we "adventured" in the weeds for so long.   We talked about how tired and worn out we seemed, even at the first mile.  Kris laughed and said, "I felt great the entire time!"  With a smile she added, "I had an energy drink before leaving my house!"  That got us all laughing again.  Had I known she was buzzed up on Rip Its, I may not have so readily followed her through all of those weeds after all!

Well, until next time....

Monday, July 22, 2013

Hot Air Ballons and Alligators

Today was a day for new discoveries.  We had heard that there was a greenbelt trail in the Eagle area, but we had never really investigated it.  Last week I took my kids down there for a walk.  We were able to go a mile in and then out.  It seemed like there was a lot more trail to do!  So I convinced the sole sisters to check it out with me.

We met at Merrill Park at 7:00 AM.  Well, 7:15 since I had a late start and terrible construction to maneuver through!  We crossed the small foot bridge and headed left.... here we go!

It was so wonderful!  There is a lot of tree canopy so the vast amounts of shade made the run cool.  For once we weren't wilting in the heat! Especially after Saturday's HOT Crater Crawl.  We ran along a part of the river and it was mostly a dirt path.  Anyone who runs long distance knows that dirt surface versus cement or road surface.... dirt wins EVERY time.

We got to run right by the landing pad for the Hot Air Balloons that decorate the Boise skies every summer morning.  One of them looked like it was going to land in the water.  But thankfully it did not.  Michele got a picture of the one that looks like Kris' swim suit.

This portion of greenbelt was not heavily populated.  We only saw a couple of people the entire first few miles.  It was quiet (well we weren't but the surrounding area was), you could hear the river, it was shady and cool, the trail was was wonderful!!

All of us had planned maybe 6 miles today.  But once we got on this trail, we HAD to see where it led to.  None of us wanted to turn around until it ended or joined a trail we were familiar with.  Because of that we ran all the way to the Glenwood Bridge in Garden City.  That meant we would be closer to 9 miles!  Whoops.

Because of the increase in mileage, I knew I would have to do the way back much slower with a few more walk breaks (my stamina is still pathetic).  This turned out to be a great idea because we got to enjoy the scenery and landmarks more.  For instance....

Look!  It's that stacks of rocks that the "rainbow people" make!  If this joke doesn't make sense to you, you need to read back at the blog from march.  Then the joke will make sense! I did learn from my friend that they are actually called cairns.

There were several really neat bridge crossings. We stopped at my favorite one and took a couple photos.

As we were finishing the run, we started to get quieter.  Usually we are very chatty.  I can tell that we are getting tired when the chatter begins to die down.  I looked at the river and saw a family of ducks swimming in a line.

 "Alligator!"  Michele yelled. 

Then quickly she realized they were ducks.  Kris started to tease her by reminding her there are no alligators in Idaho rivers,  when all of the sudden, off to our right I saw....

I couldn't believe it!  That sure surprised all of us!  We had to stop and get photos of this for sure!  No one would believe this!  Guess Kris was wrong......

We ended up with 8.7 miles in total.  More than we planned but definitely worth it.  It was a real enjoyable run and definitely one we are all planning on doing again.  And in case you are wondering.....

that's not a live alligator!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

We Survived the Crater Crawl!!!

What a great idea for a race!!  Michele is so good at discovering these out of the way obscure races.  Either it is a gift or she has too much time on her hands.  Regardless of the reason it turned out to fit perfectly for the theme of this months run......

It was EXACTLY two months ago TODAY that I had an 8 pound tumor the size of a football removed from my abdomen.  Recovery has been progressing better than expected.  So to celebrate my 2 months of being "tumor free" we teamed up to run this race. 
I had a good friend of mine make us shirts just for this occasion.

Michele and Kris felt they were going to be TOO HOT! So they "modified" their shirts.

 Race morning started out like it usually does for me.  I wake up, get ready and then drive 25 minutes to Michele's.  This time, my son Hunter joined us.  He has been training hard all summer to be ready for his senior XC season.  I was excited that he was joining us.  I love sharing my love of running with him.  He even agreed to wear a shirt!

The hour drive from Michele's to the race start began like it usually does, Michele and Kris yelling at each other.  They were fighting over the designs of how they had cut their shirts and whose was better.  Kris ended the discussion with her traditional "Shut your face!" And we hit the road.

None of us had ever been out to these crater rings.  In fact, we never even knew they existed until now.  Michele had written down DETAILED directions for us to follow.  That can be dangerous seeing that the last time we drove somewhere far with detailed directions....we got lost.

But as we drove we noticed that the race directors had placed very helpful signs along the road.
"We can just follow those."
"No!  We must follow Michele's written directions!!"

Though the way seemed long, we made it there with no problems.

We checked in and got our race numbers.  We were numbers 10, 11, 12, 13!  How cool is that?  The people at check in were really nice too!  They asked about our shirts and even applauded when we explained what they meant.  That was super nice.  Then Michele and Kris decided to get a drink of this pink liquid that they had available.  They didn't even know for sure what it was.  The guy jokingly said he was "Jim Jones" and "Have a drink of my Kool-Aid."  Okay, that guaranteed that I was NOT having any.  Michele had no idea what that joke meant and she took a big drink.  So, did Kris.  They did act a bit funny afterwards, but neither of them died.  (If you aren't sure who Jim Jones is, ask google).

We had some time to kill before the start.  It was warm.  Kris is showing us how "Desert-y" it is.  Then we had Hunter take a few pictures of us.  He purposely took the photo when Kris wasn't ready!

Finally, it was 9:00 AM (late for a race start in these temps).  The gun went off!  Well, actually it was a P.E. whistle, but the same thing really right?
I forgot to check the temperature at race start, but it was pretty warm.  We didn't take off too fast.  This was a recovery run for me and I knew I wasn't racing today.  Since Hunter wore our bright pink team shirt we could see him for quite a while.  He looked good and was in the lead pack.
 Our first aid station was at the first crater. 

We are very sweaty already!  See how Kris' arm is glistening?  It was warm out there in the Idaho desert today!  After this stop, was a pretty good uphill so we enjoyed a walk break.  As we were walking a lady came running down the hill going back towards the start. 
"Did we make a wrong turn?"  I asked.  No we couldn't have.  This lady was fast, but she couldn't be done already!  We couldn't figure out WHAT she was doing, and we never did find out.
The second aid station was manned by two young boys.  They looked so happy to see us and started to hold out their water when we were still at least a tenth of a mile away.  I love to see that kind of excitement in serving others!  As I took a water, I stumbled on a rock.  Then Michele did the self same thing.  We stopped to drink and wait for Kris who was just a few steps behind us.
"Don't worry," the boy said, "Everyone trips on that rock."
"Why is that?" Michele asked him.
"Because it is a  magic rock." He said smiling.
Silly boy, he did not realize that it was because he was standing ON THE ROCK!  We all stumbled when we reached for the water! 
Slowly the trail became more and more covered with rocks.  Big lava rocks.  This is the danger zone for Humpty Dumpty.  She did not want to take a fall today.  So she started to slow down and be more careful.  Michele and I kept our speed.  Kris said we are rotten friends for leaving her!  But she said it with a smile.  I think it makes her madder when we run ahead, then stop and wait for her to catch up, and take off running again right when she catches up.  So we just kept plugging along at our pace.
The last aid station was wonderful!!  We were very warm at this point.  They had shade and chairs and icy cold water.  They were playing music too.  Ironically the song they were playing was "Some Like it Hot" by Robert Palmer.  So funny!  The man at the aid station was very kind.  He kept asking us if we were okay or if we needed to sit down.  The shade and cold water was just what we needed for the last 1.5 miles.
It's funny how running in the heat can take such a toll on your body.  I was feeling so drained at the end.  But we could see the finish line.  I knew I could make it with out any more stops.  Michele started to slow down a little.  At this part of races, I just am like a horse who "smells the barn".  I have no other focus but to finish and I just push it in.
We all did MUCH better than we thought we would.  It was in the mid-80s at the finish.  Hunter, who we should refer to now as "speedy" got second place overall!  He finished in an amazing 41 minutes!!  That is incredible considering the terrain and heat!

 Michele, Kris and I did pretty respectable as well!!

Jodi - 1:08:53  26th place overall  11th female
Michele - 1:09:02 27th place  12th female
Kris - 1:11:08 29th place  14th female

I am very proud of all of us!!  And boy did we sure stink afterwards!! I haven't sweat this much in a race since Robie, 2012 (the worst race ever thought up by ANYONE!)
We collected our race shirts, which I am pleased to say are quite nice looking.

The race volunteers asked what we thought of the race.  While Michele and I raved about how well run it was and how great the aid stations were, Kris added, "Next year can you take a bulldozer and plow off all of the rocks."  That was met with dead silence.  Some people don't know what to think of Kris whether she is serious or not.

We were happy as we loaded in to the car.  What a fun adventure.  Then Kris announced....
"You are NEVER to ask me to run another race in the desert!  Especially if there are lava rocks!"
Michele laughed and said, "Well, you can always say NO!"

I am happy to have climbed a great hill in my recovery (literally).  I have now successfully completed a very challenging 10K.  I remember back to pre-surgery discussions with my doctor.  He had warned me that recovery would take at least 6-8 weeks.  I am so thrilled that I have defied those instructions and exceeding their expectations.  I attribute a lot of it to the shape I was in before I went under the knife.  It has also helped to have such an amazing support system. 

I now can honestly say....Running has saved my life!

I had to end with one final picture.  There are many things about this picture that I loved and NONE of them were planned!
1) We are positioned shortest to tallest
2) The photo shows the evolution of our team shirt; from whole, no sleeves, mostly cut apart, to finally completely gone
3)  We look like we could be Hunter's back up singers or support team
4) and most importantly, not only are we all ALIVE....we are still smiling!!!


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Seven weeks, seven miles, seven piles of horse poo!

This week marks SEVEN WEEKS since surgery!!  We had our weekly trail run (which is SO wonderful to have again) and happy day  Kris joined us finally!

We opted to run Veteran's Trail in Eagle.  Michele needed it to be a bit longer so the plan was to do two loops. 

As we approached the trail head, the main gates were still shut.  Michele started to wonder aloud and then to worry as to why they were still shut because it was LIGHT OUT!  I swear she does this every time we run this trail and we start early.  Kris assured her and REMINDED her that they usually open it by 7:00 AM.  Sure enough as we started to run we could hear noises behind us of gates being opened. 

We started the run off right away with a narrative as to why Kris' right butt cheek hurt and why it was then going to slow her down.  She water skied the night before!  So she was sure she would be slowly us down.  Unfortunately, at this point, I am the one slowing us down.  And that's a new place for me to be in.

Next we discussed the different shades of our skin.  I haven't been out much so I have NO color.  Kris has a nice sun-kissed tone to hers, and Michele is SUPER tan!!  Even small children at the zoo point it out to their parents when they see her!

This trail loop is tough.  It is mostly uphill with few breaks.  We took it easy and started climbing.  Within the first half mile we encountered an long row of seven pieces of horse poop.  It was fresh and quite odorous!  I was leading and did the standard warning callout, "HORSE POO!"  Then hopscotched over it.  There was a trail run a while ago when Kris kicked the poo, even after we did the call out.  Happily I heard a call back from behind me a few seconds later, "I didn't kick it!"
(Link to the day Kris kicked the horse poo... HERE)

Making it to the top is a great VICTORY!!
We posed for a few pictures.  This is actually
our really sneaky way to take a long break!

Headed down now, there are a lot of blind corners.  As I headed around one I saw a biker right away.  I called out "BIKER!"  This ended up scaring the biker and he tried to get off the trail as fast as he could, almost wrecking in the process.  When I stepped off and said, "I'm just letting the runners behind me know you are coming."  He laughed and rode on.  Later, we came around a corner and could hear, "Off the trail, get off the trail."  Michele thought someone was yelling at us.  Turned out it was a jogger with a very well trained dog.  She and her dog politely waited for us to pass.

The last encounter of note was with two bikers.  We always step off the trail for bikers, whether it is downhill or uphill.  So we all stepped off the trail for these two gentleman.  As the passed by and thank us the second biker said to Michele, "Thanks Babe!"  Wow.  She was getting hit on. It must be the suntan.

After loop number one we re-hydrated and discussed our plans for loop number two.  I wasn't sure how my endurance would be.  I decided I would run it backwards and then meet up with them, turn around and finish.  Kris decided to go with Michele.  The way this trail looks is almost like a lolli-pop.  SO we ran the first .6 miles together before we split off.  I was in the back with Michele leading.  I thought I was walk a lot.  Turned out I was feeling okay and decided it would be fun to run right on Kris' heels and talk to her.

First I commented how Michele was leaving her behind.  "Look at that, she isn't even looking back to see if you are still coming."  I did this for a minute.  Kris was having a hard time running because I was making her laugh too much.  Then when the hill got steeper I broke into my version of "eye of the tiger".  That did it.  Kris was laughing and yelling at my to be quite!!!  It was fun, for me!

We split off after that.  I headed right and they turned left.  Now it has been a while since I'd run Veteran's.  And even though I had just ran it with Michele and Kris, I still got turned around and messed up.  I ended up on their trail just ahead of them.  So I decided to just stick with them after all.
The funny part about doing this loop twice was that we got to hopscotch over the seven piles of Horse Poo not once, not twice but FOUR times!!!

Victory to finish!  I was happy that I was able to keep pace with my Sole Sisters after all I have been through!  It was neat to look at my watch when we finished....7.77 miles!!!  Seven was a big deal today!!

Friday, July 5, 2013

I'd like a double order of ENDURANCE....PLEASE!!!

Happy Fourth of July!!!
For the past two years, Michele and I have gotten up VERY early and ran the foothills on the morning of the Fourth of July.  We have done the same loop each time.  I was NOT going to let my recovery cancel this annual run!  So we scheduled it again.  When my alarm went off at 5 AM, I hit snooze and wondered to myself, "why did I set my alarm today?"  When it went off minutes later I remembered!!  Oh yeah!  Trail run!!!
The sunrise on my drive in was beautiful! A part of me wished we had left even earlier so we could have this view in the foothills instead of on the road.  But it was hard enough for me to get up wen I did, so 4 AM would've probably never happened!
I still can't wear a hydration belt, so Michele had to carry my water again.  Maybe, I'll never be able to wear the belt again....(wink wink).
The trail we run is one we have done hundreds of times.  I started out pretty good but I sadly confess that I WALKED every hill.  My teenage son (who runs) says "walking is for quitters!"  Well, I would change it instead to "Walking is OK."

The route we run includes Buck Tail and Shane's Loop.  We run Shane's Loop Counter clockwise.  The last uphill on the loop is known (to us) as Rocky Balboa's Hill.  One time when I decided to run the whole thing (it is super steep) Kris sang "Eye of the Tiger" as I did it!! 

Well there was no on singing "eye of the tiger" as I WALKED up Rocky's hill.  I cannot wait until the day when I will run it again and I expect the song to be sung at full volume!!!  I will also do this EXACT pose at the top!

All in all, we both lacked a lot of endurance today.  I started to get so tired that I started tripping a lot.  On one stumble I did a leaping, twisting, dance move that made Michele gasp out loud.  She said she truly thought I was going to fall.  Well, I haven't bitten it yet on the trails and I hope never to do so (knock! knock!).  And IF I ever do.... I hope Kris isn't around to see it.  If so, she will most likely remind me of it every time she sees me!

It was warm when we finished.  I was beat.  This was my longest run since surgery, both in distance and in time.  At least I know I can make it on the 10K we have planned for on the 20th.  I have quite a surprise lined up for that race!

After, we finished Michele starting looking for rocks.  It made for a nice cool down I suppose.
Her Indian name could be "She who picks up rocks"

She is actually painting them for grand-kids.  Should look cool.
And so, I keep carrying on.  Taking recovery one step at a time.  Walking more than I'd like, but running more than I could have hoped at this point.  In the words of Rocky Balboa himself:
"The world ain't all sunshine and rainbows. It is a very mean and nasty place It will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me or nobody is going to hit as hard as life. But it ain't about how hard you're hit, it is about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward, how much can you take and keep moving forward. That's how winning is done! "