Saturday, June 28, 2008

Here Kitty Kitty!

It was bound to happen sooner or later. Leanne and I were about 6 miles into an 18 miler on cross-country ski trails at Blacktail when it happened. We were in the middle of animated conversation and laughter, and both of us suddenly stopped. Leanne asked, "What kind of animal is that?" My brain was running through the list - bear, dog, deer, coyote, etc. Finally, we both arrived at the same conclusion - MOUNTAIN LION! It was more scared of us than we were of it. It took off running, not so gracefully as I would expect. It was big, with a very long tail.

We quickly turned around and headed in the opposite direction, feeling excited and freaked out. We took another logging road that took us deeper into a dark wooded area. That's when we started seeing regular lion tracks, then bear tracks, then bear poop, then lion scat, and then fresh lion scat. By this time, we decided we'd shown enough bravery for the day, risks outweighing the beauty of the trail, and turned around. We did get our 18 miles done on an alternative route, and were pleased with the adventure. My family had mixed feelings about the whole encounter - especially my sister who has decided I've gone completely insane.

The North Face Sailfin hydration pack was awesome once I got it situated. There's a couple internal storage pockets big enough to hold a small first aid kit and gels. I also used a camping stuff sack for food, S-caps, and PB&J sandwich that fit nicely under the bungee cord. I think a rain jacket or pullover would carry well there too. The 50 oz. bladder was just enough for today, but we'll have to plan future training routes around a vehicle to refill.

Last, my asthma is completely out of control. Probably due to allergies, and maybe stress, but I have a feeling it's contributing to the low energy and insomnia. Running today was tough, and the aftermath coughing and burning is worse. I've got to see the doctor this month anyway, and will get it checked out.

And, I forgot to post this last week - congratulations on the new job, Melissa!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Mixed bag of information

The Western States 100 mile race, which Danni has been preparing for since December, has been cancelled due to the California wildfires. She handled it pretty well - or maybe she's in shock. Either way, there will be no cyberstalking the runners this weekend.

Updated review on the Fuel Belt Excursion. I still find this one comfortable, with little bouncing. The negatives I've discovered include 1) it's a one size fits all, and I've got it cinched as small as it will go, 2) because of #1, and my summertime smaller weight it no longer fits, 3) because I cinched it so tight, the velcro has pulled and finally gave out. I was running along and suddenly the belt just flew off. I've debated finding someone who actually can sew (not me!) to replace the velcro and reconfigure it to a smaller size. The problem is finding someone, and not having a hydration system while it's fixed.

My solution was to shop. Probably not such a good thing based on our budget right now, but luckily I have an understanding husband who doesn't want me to die out there from dehydration. So, I found the North Face SailFin. Not a waist pack, because I want something that can carry a few extras during Swan Crest this year. It's a women's pack, so a much better fit than my last one. I'll try it during my 20 miler tomorrow and see how it goes. I've gotten used to monitoring my fluid intake with bottles of Heed, so I'll have to be more aware of drinking regularly. I also will only be able to take water so the bladder doesn't get all gross. Hopefully, I won't miss the Heed and the S-caps will take care of electrolytes.

More miscellaneous information..."So You Think You Can Dance" could seriously hurt my running ability. I can't seem to prevent the inevitable attempt to try out any interesting choreography myself (even though I'm too old and too inflexible to do it properly). My mind still thinks I can do the moves, and then I'm hobbling around the next day. And, the movie "White Nights" is on tonight. I'm dating myself, I know, but this remains one of my all time favorite movies. What female could resist Baryshnikov dancing to "My Love is Chemical?"

Enjoy your weekend!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Summer adventures

So much to do and not enough time to blog. Here's a recap of some of the fun things.

A week ago, I went to this performance. It was primarily to support our friend Kelly who dedicated herself all year to attending weekly hula classes despite a very busy work schedule. She was beautiful on stage - and we were very proud of her! I wish I had some pictures from the evening, because the costumes were great as was the music, performances, the whole experience. Nice to see something of a cultural event in MT. Emily cooked a couple of us another tasty dinner beforehand, and I got the joy of dancing with her son Oliver throughout part of the performance. Fun times.

The next week was busy with running and helping Danni prepare for the Herron Hustle. I took Friday off from work, and did a 20 miler starting at 10 am to see how I'd handle the heat. I've committed ? (that might be too strong of a word since I have yet to send in the registration) to doing the HURL 50k in August. I've heard it's a tough course especially due to the exposed trails and heat. Other than some sunburned areas, my body seemed to hold up ok. I used Heed, Hammer gels and S-caps during the run with no stomach issues or cramping.

That night, Danni and I marked the 5.5 mile course. She was a smart race director and had attached ribbons to clothespins, making it easier to mark and then clean up later. We loaded up the cars with water, tables, race goodies, etc. and planned to meet at 6 am the next morning to set up for registration. Danni did a great job organizing this debut race and it was a total success. Over 70 people competed and most were very pleased with the course, exposure to new trails and the gorgeous view. I got to be the sweep, which was an awesome experience despite traveling on very tired legs. It was fun to see the speedsters cruising by on the way to finish, but even more exciting to see first time runners and/or hikers really pushing themselves to meet personal goals. One woman was very happy to have hiked a personal best in distance. Her enthusiasm and attitude was so infectious that I just had to give her a hug!

After the race, available members of our running group had a small send-off for Danni (on her way this week to the Western States 100). I had "Danni beer" as opposed to "Leanne beer" on ice for a toast. Drinking beer from Hammer Nutrition cups at 10:30 am was a nice touch. The combination of 31 miles in 24 hours, sun exposure, and beer had me almost falling asleep in my burrito lunch, and I completely crashed for a couple hours that afternoon. Ask my husband, I rarely take naps, so it was quite an event. Sunday, Steve and I used our Glacier park pass to get in a little hiking. We drove to Avalanche Campground, but I was annoyed by the absolutely crazy amount of tourists in less than 5 minutes, so we turned around to Deb's "secret place" for some quiet trails. Yes, mom and grandma, I take the bear spray as you can see in the picture above! Perfect weather, few people and a quick hello from the tiniest Bambi I've ever seen, perhaps with the craziest eyes as well (at least in the picture.)

A couple of extras:

Chris - I felt the same way about HEED for the longest time. Eventually, I decided I was going to force myself to like it since it is absolutely the only thing sold around these parts (Hammer is an area company.) Then, a crazy thing happened - I gradually got used to the taste and because of the low sugar, it NEVER makes a mess of my stomach unlike Gatorade and other brands. I do supplement with S-caps on longer runs which have completely solved my cramping issues. Do whatever works for you, but maybe it's just an acquired taste?

Danni - have an absolute blast at Western States! You have done a great job preparing for this event, so go out and kick some trail butt!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Friday night around 10:00 pm Leanne, Danni and my co-worker Gretchen (picture below) went for a run so that Danni could get an idea of the headlamp portion of Western States. Leanne brought us adult beverages for post-run consumption. Gretchen's husband did ask her if this was some strange initiation into the group. If so, she passed and it was great having her join us.
Read Danni's blog for more on this run and our day in Glacier... I've added some pictures below of the Avalanche run. The first is a glimpse of the beautiful weather we experienced,

The next is Danni crossing one of several streams, one of which is actually the trail. We eventually just gave up and plowed through the mud and water. The last is yet another badge of the trail. I just can't seem to avoid it.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

June in Montana

Yes, the snow caused problems, but I couldn't help put on running clothes and play in it, smiling the entire way. It was refreshing, but also sad knowing I'll be leaving the cabin in July. The day was a good memory to keep.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Sometimes, our pursuits get the best of us. David Horton, a well-known ultrarunner, and someone I find interesting, was planning to run a speed attempt of the Continential Divide Trail this summer. Conditions were so bad, life-threatening in fact, that he had to bag it after day one. You can read more about it here. I'm sure it was a hard and disappointing decision to make, but a good example of when it should be ok to quit.

This weekend, I experienced my own ups and downs. Saturday, a small group of us set out to search for the real route to Blacktail. We started with a 13 mile out and back which didn't give us what we were looking for, so Danni and I went back up for another 16 miles. All of us were annoyed at the mess the logging business makes of trails. Even the usual route was torn up, making it difficult to run in places, much less ever take a bike up there. We weren't much more successful finding a direct route to Blacktail due to the general destruction of the area. We caught glimpses of trail and old ribbons, but finally turned around when we got too cold and were running out of water.

It was also cold and windy along the west side ridge. I felt like a popsicle up there, and had a moment of panic thinking of Chris's Ironman hindsight on the correlation between the frequent need to urinate and hypothermia. I'm sure that wasn't the problem, but I was so cold my mind had me convinced. It was a good (read warm) feeling to start back to the car. My total mileage for Saturday was 29, Danni - 32, which seems like a lot, but hiking the uphills, eating/drinking regularly and the s-caps helped enough that we could run most of the 7 miles back to the car.

Sunday morning, I planned to get up at 6 am to meet the running group for a short trail run. As I got out of bed, my whole body initially rejected the idea. I snuggled back in with Steve, but then got guilty feelings. Ruth and Deb usually drive in to town for our Sunday runs, and they had found a great new trail somewhere along Hwy 35. Since they make the effort each week, I felt better doing so as well. My legs finally loosened up and we all met for a 5 miler. It was tough going. Nothing really hurt, I was just tired. And so hungry. And then irritable.

I don't need to go into detail, but there are moments in time when I realize that it's best for me not to be in the company of others. This morning, post run, was one of them. I've started to enjoy running with others so much, that I haven't noticed my recent lack of solitude. But, the truth is, sometimes, I just need quiet and to be quiet. That shouldn't be up to others to understand, interpret or regulate. So, I apologize to the group for taking off abruptly post run. I think I had reached some personal limits, and hunger was making the monster come out. I'll try to gauge this better in the future, and hopefully, I didn't offend anyone.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

My secret love

Is anyone else watching this show? I thought it was going to be cheesy and was really opposed to watching it. Then, I secretly got sucked in. Well, it kind of is silly, but there are some really talented people auditioning. Plus, it just reminds me of a long ago time. The pressure of auditions, learning routines quickly, the awesome feeling when choreography finally comes together, fun costumes, injuries, grief, etc. It just makes me ridiculously happy.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


Anyone suffer from it? Since I was young, I've struggled with sleep. My brain has never been able to shut off. I learned early on that I didn't need the amount of sleep that others do. However, I need SOME now and my body is not cooperating. For the past three weeks, I've tried everything - home remedies, reading in another room, lowering room temperature, avoiding caffeine, avoiding exercise too late at night, writing down my worries, etc. I've tried running less mileage. I've tried running more. I seem to finally drift off around 2am, but my sleep is still restless. I don't sleep in on the weekends, so my schedule stays about the same. This goes on for several days, then I'll hit one night where I actually sleep a full 6-7 hours. Unfortunately, that one night doesn't make up for the last ten nights. I'm soooooo tired. Any ideas - at least ones that do not include drugs, prescription or any other kind?

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Girl Power!

In previous posts, I've mentioned the Foys to Blacktail Trail development. The plan is to develop a well marked trail system from Herron Park to Blacktail Ski Resort. Last year, a group of us ran/hiked our way up to Blacktail, about 13 miles. At the time, none of us, except probably Jandy, our guide, were well-prepared in terms of fitness or fueling. A few of us were nauseous, especially during the last climb, and pretty wiped out at the end.

Saturday, Danni and I decided to repeat the adventure, but this time round trip. Leanne wanted to do one way, so we all left at 7am to drive up to Blacktail in order to leave her car (and aid station) at our turn around point. We drove back down and left Herron Park not entirely certain of the exact trail or mileage.

The first 7 miles were familiar, but after that, it was a bit confusing to figure out which trails and logging roads to take. Leanne was nice enough to leave markers for her husband, who was going to follow us up by bike. Around mile 8, we ran into some women on horseback, who attempted to help us with directions. These were not the only people to warn us about the potential for snow higher up. We continued to follow a logging road until it completely dead-ended. Blacktail was on the other side of the ridge, so we decided to head straight up to "see what we could see." At this point, (see picture below) Leanne's phone rang with a clear - I am so lost - message from her husband (His actual message used more powerful words and captured the frustration much better than I can write here). He had also reached the dead end, but turned around to head back the same way.
At this point, I think Leanne and I were a bit concerned about a) being lost, b) running out of water, c) ending up in Lakeside rather than Blacktail and needing to hitch a ride back to town, but also really wanting to reach our goal. Danni, as usual, was optimistic that we would figure it out, so we kept trying. That's when we saw a trail buried under a logging mess. We climbed over trees, lost the trail, went back down to the logging road, followed that awhile again, realized it wasn't taking us anywhere closer to Blacktail, and reconvened to discuss the options which were now, turn around and go back another 10 miles or try again to find the darn trail. The next picture shows Blacktail teasing us in the distance. Again, we attempted to follow sporadic trails, more determined and this time successful. Eventually, we hit a familiar sight - a yellow property boundary sign for national forest service land. As you can tell from the picture, we were very excited. We continued on, carefully maneuvering over the winter's many fallen trees (another picture below), finally ending up on logging roads heading straight for the radio towers at Blacktail. It kept going and going and going. By this point, we had already gone 15 miles, and I had to break it to Danni that I would not be able to do a return trip. I wasn't prepared physically or mentally to do a full thirty some miles. She was still determined to make a solo return trip. Danni and I knew from last year, that the last mile or two would be singletrack trail straight up to Blacktail. And that's where we hit the snow. In all fairness, we had been warned. Naively or hopefully, we expected a little snow, but not the deep field of snow.It was tough at times to see any trail, so I tried to envision where one would probably go, looking ahead for clearing in the trees that might indicate a trail. Honestly, if I hadn't been on the trail before, I would have been really discouraged and possibly fearful. Not only was it steep, but the snow was so deep in places that I'd posthole to my hips. By this time, my shoes and socks were soaked, my legs were starting to hurt from being scraped by hard snow, and we were all out of water. I kept watching my Garmin, moving forward, knowing that at 6700 feet we should reach the top. I was so happy to see the flags and gravel road when it appeared out of nowhere. I let out a series of WooHoo's to alert Danni and Leanne, and got to take a rest and pictures as they too reached the top. The first picture is of my cold, dirty and bruised legs after the snow. The next ones are of Leanne and Danni reaching the top. I think I can speak for all of us that we were excited about the ups and downs of our day and proud to have continued on despite the series of setbacks. The entire trip one way ended up being 18.3 miles, a whole lot of elevation gain, and took us over 6 hours. Danni too, decided that it was enough of an adventure, choosing to ride back with us. My hope is that we'll figure out where we got off track, and be able to complete the full out and back at another point this summer. Thanks Leanne and Danni - it really was a great adventure!