Adventures In Running

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Pony Express Volunteer

I volunteered a week ago at the Pony Express 50 and 100 Mile Trail Run. I was so excited to be out there again – even bought myself a tent and sleeping pad.

I arrived Thursday afternoon and talked to Davy Crockett for a while. He was pretty bummed because his van had died a few miles pack and that was messing up a lot of his race plans. He said talking to me helped calm him down – so at least I was a little useful.

We set up a start corral and I was trained in the maintenance of the port-a-potties. And these were very portable potties. Emptying those was one of the highlights of the next morning (insert sarcasm here). Can I just say – I couldn't believe that: 1) someone actually took the liner out without replacing it with a new one and 2) people continued to use the potty after that and didn't seem to notice pee dripping all over the tent.

Enjoyed visiting with campers/runners as they arrived and had a nice reunion visit with Jim Kern, who I ran with for 15+ miles during last year's race. Jim and I helped hand out packets and tried to make ourselves useful. I then proceeded to lose my Jeep keys down the back of my dashboard – which resulted in several hours of frustration until Jim Kern and Craig Lloyd retrieved them.

Had a nice visit around the campfire that night. Some people had a longer visit since they got drunk and told loud stories until Davy finally kicked them off to bed late at night.

The next morning I was up at 4:15 and we started handing out race packets. There were four races starting at 6, 7, 8 and 9 a.m. We would give a little pre-race speech and then send the runners off on their respective races.

Jim and I broke down the starting line (with the help of some other volunteers and race crews) and headed out for a day on the trail. Jim was trying to find one group that rented a satellite phone and had forgotten to pick it up. I cheered racers on as I passed them and then worked at Simpson Springs calling off race numbers and directing runners for a couple of hours.

The rest of my day was spent driving back and forth checking on runners and trying to motivate them. I did some chauffeur duty for a woman that forgot to fill up on gas and needed to get her sons out on the course as pacers. I gave words of advice. I admired runners for their fortitude.

It was a great day and so much fun to volunteer for the race. Ultrarunners are a different breed – but such a nice group of people to hang around with.

Halloween Half Marathon

I agreed to run the Provo Halloween Half Marathon with Leslie Peterson on October 29, 2011. Luckily, Leslie picked up my packet at the fiasco they called packet pickup. And Harold drove us up the back side of the Alpine Loop to the start at Aspen Grove and we were able to sit in the warm car until the race started.

Leslie ran the race as a clown and I was a running ladybug. It was a lot of fun seeing all the runners in costumes.

We took it easy on the first five miles which have a lot of steep downhill and didn't want to blow out our legs. It was a beautiful day up the canyon and we enjoyed running past Sundance Ski Resort and then down into Provo Canyon. A couple of miles on the highway, then they moved us over to the Provo River Parkway.

My legs were feeling strong and I was running fairly well. My endurance improved a lot the past month or so.

About mile 9 Leslie started struggling and told me to not wait for her, so around mile 10 I took off and ran alone the rest of the race.

I finished in 2 hours 35 minutes. Not racing at all because I had a 50K the next Saturday - but just enjoying a beautiful fall day with a great running friend.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Vehicular Fun on the Pony Express Trail

Last Thursday afternoon I headed out to the Pony Express Trail to help volunteer at the Pony Express Trail 50 and 100 mile races. I ran the event last year, but was not in shape to do it this year and wanted to be part of the fun.

As I pulled into the campground, I saw the race directory, Davy Crockett (also known for running incredibly extreme and crazy distances) sitting surrounded by two tents and a bunch of gear. I asked him where his vehicle was and he mentioned it was the van that was broken down on the side of the road about 3 miles back. Apparently some hoses were not fully tightened when maintenance was done on it and the bumpy roads caused the oil to drain out and ruin the engine. Not only did he have that stress added on to all his other duties that weekend, but had to run in to the camp and get friends to help him transport all the race gear.

After setting up my new tent and campsite, I helped Davy with some of the starting chute setup and visited with other runners and race staf as they arrived. When it started getting dark, I went to change out of shorts and into sweatpants and threw my keys up on the dashboard of my Jeep. Imagine my horror as I watched the keyring start sinking into the corner of the dashboard and grabbed futilely to try and save my keys. No luck. Everyone wants to be far away from civilization with no way to start their vehicle – right? Jim Kern (my racing companion from the year before) had some tools and I tried in vain to take apart my dashboard. Jim tried again later and was more persistent than me. Prayers were answered when he finally somehow found the keychain wedged in a metal compartment (they would have never been visible). More prayers were answered when Craig Lloyd was able to get his skinny fingers in there and unwedge the keys.

Of course, my stress level was very high because I had called a neighbor to see if they could find my spare key and he looked in the places I asked him too and could not find them. My sister was willing to help me out by searching and driving me around as needed, but I was glad I did not have to do that. Imagine my chagrin when I got home on Friday night and opened the first drawer I had asked the neighbor to look in and saw the spare key laying out in the open. (Never ask men to look for something – but they are great at being willing to help out).

Friday morning, once the race started, Jim Kern put my dashboard back together (I only have 8 screws missing a home now) and we were taking down the starting area to move the materials further down the race course. Jim tried to start his truck and the battery was dead. It took him quite a bit of work, but he finally was able to get the truck started and he drove off wondering if it would start again when he needed it to.

Final bit of fun – I was driving back and forth on the road and had told myself I would turn around for good when my tank got half empty. (75 miles back to the nearest gas station). My blood pressure was once again challenged when I noticed my gas indicator had dropped from just over half a tank to one quarter tank in a five mile stretch. Did I have a hole in my tank? How was I going to get back to civilization without running out of gas? I drove on to the 50 mile finsh/turnaround to see if I could bum some gas off of anyone and Brad was able to give me a couple of gallons of gas. Of course, it turns out my panic was unneeded because the gas gauge was acting up and the two gallons of gas actually put me back to ¾ of a tank.

Ah – the fun of vehicle problems when you are out in the middle of nowhere….

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Sweeping the Mountain View Trail Half Marathon

On Octboer 15, 2011 I was able to volunteer at the Mountain View Trail Half Marathon on Antelope Island as the sweeper. I think sweeping is fun in races for a variety of reasons:

  • You get to start late
  • You are expected to finish last (or near the end)
  • You avoid the crowds at the start of the race
  • Volunteering helps you appreciate Race Directors and the volunteer efforts

Actually – if you have never volunteered for a race and have run in several races, can I just say, "Shame on you!" I think volunteering should be mandatory for every 5 or 10 races that you participate in. People who never take any effort to thank the volunteers as they race by need to quit thinking of themselves and do so. (Note: If you are winning the race at the moment, you can do this later. Since I will never win a race – this is not an issue for me.)

Beautiful drive up to the island. It was going to be a nice, sunny day. The race started at 9:00 a.m. and I got there a few minutes before to hassle Jim Skaggs about his Buffalo cap. (A treasure I found up in Yellowstone and felt was totally appropriate for the RD of the Buffalo Run). Once the race started, I waited about 12 minutes and headed out myself.

The race starts with a loop around the White Rock Bay campgrounds and then cuts over to the trails by the buffalo pens. After a bit on the jeep trail and some bushwacking, at mile 3 you turn onto the Mountain View Trail and follow it out to the Ranch. I started out running 3 minutes and walking 1 minute and figured I would probably catch the last place runner by Frary Peak. The trail was reaping the benefit of a wet spring and summer and was pretty overgrown. Some of the grassy sections has grass over my head and it was like running in a tunnel. A neat feeling to be totally surrounded and you basically could only see a few feet ahead. The sunflower sections were more painful and I was surprised I wasn't really scraped up when the race was done. They were pretty – but I could have used a little less pretty.

Nice sunny day, great temperatures and the legs felt strong. At the first aid station at mile 5 I asked where the last place runners were and was told they were 2 miles ahead. Mentally, that let me know they were probably less than a half mile ahead. Volunteers rarely get these things right – unless they say 20 seconds or something like that. When I reached the next aid station at Frary Peak, I could see a couple about 100 yards ahead – so knew that my guess was much closer. Talked with the volunteers at the aid station for about 5 minutes to allow the runners to get farther ahead and then headed out again.

About one mile from the finish I finally caught the runners and they asked me to go ahead. Since they were looking strong, I took off again. I finished sweeping the half in a little over 3 hours. Not bad considering how many times I stopped to let the runners get a head start.

Ate some hamburger, then switched over to driving a bunch of runners back to the start in Karen Skaggs' pickup truck. Helped take down the course and then Jim dropped me back at the start. It was a wonderful way to spend the day. Out of cell range, in the sunlight, outdoors and no buffalo scares.

To finish off the day, as I drove out of the campground, an antelope slowly sauntered across the road about 10 feet in front of me, so I just sat there and enjoyed watching it.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


Everyone has struggles in life. That is what makes life interesting. I will admit that when I am "struggling" I really wish I wasn't. Aren't we all that way?

I have struggled with running this year. Last year I could run 13 miles without walking. I was doing 10-11 minute miles easily. I ran several marathons and completed a 50 mile race. While I was not in top physical condition, I was pretty proud of myself and had all sorts of goals for improving speed and conditioning in 2011.

Then I got sick. Running the Goofy Challenge (half marathon + marathon in 30 hours) while dealing with bronchitis and other infections was fun – but I paid for the fun later. My lung capacity decreased. I felt awful for a couple of months.

I decided a full-time job plus marathon training wasn't enough. I added a part-time job on top of that. Add on the fun of many stressful 70+ hour weeks at my full-time job and I quit running for a few months.

Oh – did I mention the tendon problems in the right ankle? And spending time in boots, braces, tape jobs?

Needless to say, 2011 has not turned out the way I wanted it to be.

However, I also have a dream. It is a dream I have had for many years. That dream involves completing a 100 mile race. I want (okay – I covet) a 100 mile finisher belt buckle. Is it because I think belt buckles are cool? NO. It is part of the dream. To finish 100 miles means I will have conquered myself mentally and physically. I will have done something that an extremely small percentage of the world's population has done. It will take time. It will take suffering. It will involve struggles.

So – while right now I wish I wasn't struggling – I am dreaming of voluntarily putting myself through serious struggles. I can't explain it – it just is.

My current struggles include depression. After weeks of "just not feeling right" and insomnia – it finally dawned on me that I had forgotten about my ongoing battle with depression and that it was time to get back on medication. I hope that between medication and working out – that I will get back on track really quickly.


Because I signed up for the 48 Hour Race at Across The Years in Phoenix, Arizona starting December 29th. That belt buckle is going to be mine! Wouldn't that be a great way to end the year and start a new one?