Saturday, December 8, 2007

Ain't nothing wrong with the Bighorn

Last weekend, I checked along with seemingly thousands of others to see who got into the WS100. Really, I only checked twice but felt that was enough. I was sad for some and selfishly happy for others that didn't make it in. I won't go into the politics of raffles and amazing runners who didn't get in because that's already been discussed on many other (more informed and intelligent) blogs. I, myself, was not in the raffle, didn't even consider it because I want to run Bighorn.

Bighorn was my first ultra, I signed up for the 50 miler in 2006. Really I signed up for the 50 miler in 05 and dropped due to injury, dropped in 07 due to training weeniness but nevertheless 06 was the year. And I love Dayton Wyoming. It is the quintensetial Wyoming town, unassuming, friendly and proudly without a bit worldliness. And what can you say about the Foothills Campground? That place (minus the sketchy shower situation with spiders) is awesome. I think it's a whopping $17 a nite and the folks there are so kind and accomodating. Finally, an ultra that doesn't break the bank. One year that I didn't attend, a miracle happened as I got a call that I got a room at the b&b in town. What? A bed? shut up, but wasn't to be, as that was one of my no-show year. I should have gone, just for the bed.

The drive over from Jackson is nothing short of beautiful. Through Yellowstone, out the East Entrance to Cody and beyond. Forget how long it takes and it really doesn't matter. When you live in Wyoming, the one thing you are used to is long drives. We drive 90 miles to go to Sams Club and the mall and it's not even that good of a mall (Idaho Fall - pay attention here!).

The prerace film is a masterpiece; a little hokey and terrifying all at once. I am fine with the hyponatremia talk and all the other issues that can come up running distance. What I am not cool with is the rattlesnakes. One of the reasons I moved to Wyoming and Jackson in general is that there are no poisonous snakes here. But our neighbor the east cannot say the same thing. So rattlesnakes lazily nap across the trail, gross. The only saving grace I have is that without any trackspeed (or slow twitch) muscles, I have ample time to assess the upcoming trail and if there is ever a race I don't zone out on, it's rattlesnake alley. The other thing I learned (maybe from the film or maybe from me frantically typing in seach values like "rattlesnake bites & Bighorn trail race" is that rattlesnakes usually don't tag the first person, that person just pisses it off. It gets the second person. So, if you never like the go first when you are running with someone, this is the time to jump up there.

So that's about the only thing bad about the Bighorn. Everything else is sublime. Let's start with the race director, a wonderful woman whose name escapes me. I read a hilarious letter to the rd of the Bridger Ridge Run about how to judge the quality of a race by the race director. It's here. The essense of the letter is that if you have one of those skinny, tall, crew cut guys that would be just a comfortable in the back jungles of borneo with a knife in his teeth race directors, the race is gonna be hard and the snacks are probably going to blow. But, if you have an normal american woman, there's probably going to be plenty of bacon and possibly fresh baked cookies (that's right hot cookies).

Also, the Bighorn starts Friday at 11, who knew? That way, we all have to run through the nite (that means you Karl M). I have grown to love nite running, but it took a while to shake the hibbey jeebies out me (and rattlesnakes sleep in holes at nite, right?). So you finish sometime Saturday (nite for me) and still have Sunday to limp home. I love this race! And, unlike the Bear, which starts on Friday for religious reasons, this just starts on Friday.

So, WS100 folks who didn't get, quit whining and sign up for the race with no paparazzi but plenty of pork products. I will be there running my favorite trail (who am I kidding, I will be walking). It's a beautiful thing to coming running down the Tongue River Canyon in a sweet 90 degrees (Chicago take note), dodging rattlers and running to cookies. PS there's a nice bbq in the park at the finish and sometimes the guy at the last aid station has wine, what could be better?

See you there. Sign up is February 1st.

Friday, November 16, 2007

White as snow

Now that summer is over, I decided to start a blog. Really, summer in the Tetons is over on July 5th but I had things to do. In my blog, I will offer nothing important or earth shattering so tune out now if you are looking for enlightenment because the best you will get here is a good fart joke. But whenever I run, I have good thoughts, some maybe even good enough to write down.

You see, every morning, I check other people's blogs. They are people I have met at races and their friends. All about running, mostly aboutultrarunning but also about their lives. Blogs are the unnaughty voyeurism of our time and I think that's cool.

So now, a few things about me. I'm a runner. I get to add ultrarunner as I just did my first 100, GT100 right in my own backyard . I am a stickler about monikers but only for myself, call yourself whatever you want. I had done 50 milers and 50ks for about the last year but it wasn't until I did a 100 that I let myself order Ultrarunning Magazine (until then I was relegated to Trailrunner) (another side note: I am looking for some past UR 07 issues if anyone has them). I run all year, mix in some skate skiing, swimming and road biking (but not really on the road riding, I really should clarify-I have a rode bike). I do most of my running solo and I try to make it to the most amazing places along the way, which my area has an inexhaustible supply of. Along the way, I usually get myself into some sort of scrape or two, hence the blog.

Also, I am incredibly honest, in that cringey embarrassing sort of way. I am forever re-thinking a conversation to see the errors of my way. No way to take it back (I do a good bit of apologizing because I am woman and should know better) but it was probably true anyways. Wish I had another ounce of editing power though.

So you got it - I am an honest farty runner. Oh, I forgot to talk about what I do. I am a CPA, dork in every way and proud of it. I don't dwell a lot on work in conversation or writing. I am not sure I believe those people that say "I would rather be working" and better yet, "I love coming to work everyday". I bet the boss is always within earshot when that crap flies out of their mouth along with the flying monkeys. That's not to say I don't enjoy the challenge of my job, but I am lazy by nature, the hours during tax season are daunting and really when you think about it, work takes away from me playing outside. I would rather live like the euros who stress a steady supply of food, fun, friends, family and 8 weeks vacation.

So I wanted to start my blog off with some amazing experience; something worthy of a first post. Alas, I have nothing. You see, adventures take energy and enthusiasm, both of which are lacking in my arsenal during these down months. And I let that be. I try to find no harsh judgement in my 8 hours of Project Runway repeats on Sunday afternoon, curtains closed, phone on silence, prone on the couch. I go to work on Monday and nod my head in agreement when the others talk about doing absolutely nothing over the weekend.

That being said, that was Sunday we were talking about. On Saturday, I went for a hike in GTNP (Grand Teton Natl Park) with my friend, Keith. The hike was over 18 miles and we wondered if we would make it to the lake before our self induced turnaround time. We had to drive to the park (15 minutes from Keith's house on the Elk Refuge), park where the road is closed for the season, then bike about 3 miles to the Jenny Lake and finally start our hike. All in reverse on the way back before the 5:30p darkness. We got to the park around 8:30a which we figured would be the earliest you want to start the bike in November.
Conversation was flowing; Keith is a renaissance man, forever learning and finding new interests (too much work for me). And it seems that he has a bit of a twisted side and I found kinship in that. We were in deep snow towards the end, 12-18 inches, as we climbed. Our plan (okay this is starting to sound like an adventure) was to dip in Lake Solitude with we got there. So for the last mile, I had been mulling over the prospect of getting naked in front of Keith.

A sidebar here: I always make a joke to people that stay at my house that eventually, through no intention on my part, they will see me naked. I have lived alone most of the last 20 years or so and I sometimes forget to close doors or to go in another room to change. But this was different, it wasn't the cloaked in slinky darkness with some nice back lighting as I slip into a hot tub like for the latest Ludacris video. It was stark white snow (matching my overall anti-tan contrasted only by the dark stubble on my unshaven legs) and it was a bright sunny day. The only thing I could hope is for Keith to develop snow blindness.

Also, there's no good way to get out of a jog bra, unless you're Olga. There's some twisting, a little turning, the wretched bend over and finally when you have it up around your throat and the oxygen level is so low you are seeing spots, it might come off. I won't even touch the pants/shoe combo because I am always that yahoo who thinks that I can take my pants off without taking my shoes off. Do you know these people? I'm one of them, forever hopping around, bound at the ankles, before taking a sudden gasp inducing fall.

And it's not that I have personal feelings for Keith, he's a friend with a wonderful girlfriend that lets him go on outings with someone like me. It's just he's a guy; a member of the opposite team and he could tell others what he saw.

But it was a Festivus miracle!! We got to the lake (3 minutes before turnaround time) and found it frozen over. I faked disappointment and took credit for wanting to go in "totally didn't think it would be frozen". So we took pictures and started back. The return trip was quicker but more monotonous. I thought how much faster it would be if we were running (isn't that what all runners think on hikes?), but Keith has bum knees, so we walked.

We got to Jenny Lake where we had left our bikes and suddenly we were challenging each other in that 7 year old way to go swimming in Jenny. It goes like this:
"love to get in there"
"Yeah, I don't need much encouragement"
"Don't make me do it"
"I'll do it if you do it"
"Let's do it"

You just
escaped the prospect of full frontal nudity above treeline in broad daylight only to agree to it again. Unbelievable. But at least we had some stumps to sit instead of an open snowfield. Everything came off, I eased into a comfy 58 degree water which sucked the oxygen from my lungs and set me on a nice course to hyperventilation. Keith took the direct route and dove in but I didn't want to get too far from my stump. We got out, highfived and got our bikes. It was cold and dark with freezing rain on the way back to the car, but all worth it. Bonus, the toenail that I had been nursing since the race popped off in the cold water. I saved it for some voodoo earrings I want make when the other nail comes off. Twisted, I know.