This is not a picture of me, but it felt like me. I learned really just how white I am a couple of weekends ago when I donned my running skirt for the first time since last year. I am like blue-white, so white you can see veins and so happy to let the skin breathe. You get used to 4 layers of clothes everyday that you feel jubilantly naked when you get to wear just one layer.
Tax season ended, anticlimactic as always. Glad to be done and have life back, but there's always a few days of wandering around lost with so much free time on my hands, but one adjusts. And I had made a last minute decision to do a race inFruita, Colorado on the 19th of April especially with all the training (not) that I had done this winter. So I signed up for the 50 miler, really begged my way in after registration had close.
I was running around the day I was going to leave and ran into my friend Kathleen that I did the BMT with. It took me about 15 seconds to talk her into coming with me. We decided that things like a last minute trip that you can say yes to makes being single without kids really sweet. We hit the road around 4, hoping to get to Vernal, Utah, a singular scary place to go but still about halfway there. We made it at dark after dodging deer on the descent into Vernal only to find most of the hotels booked because of their recent oil and gas boom. Finally found a room available,got in one hour of Blades of Glory and slept.
Lazily woke up the next morning and got on the road after a ginormous breakfast at Betty's Cafe (highly recommend it) complete with sides of biscuits and gravy and two kinds of breakfast meats. We made it to Fruita around noon and met our friends Kris and Julie who were also doing the race and letting us poach their campspot. They had gone for a run near the starting area, but I didn't want to ruin my streak of nonrunning days leading up to the end of tax season which was at about 8.
Fruita is unbelievably beautiful with red rocks, slick rock, amazing trails and the Colorado river flowing through. I guess it's becoming the mecca for mountain biking but I think it's a great trail running destination as well. The temp was perfect, 60-70s with a strong wind. Kris cooked us dinner of grilled cheese and soup and we hit the sack.
Race started at 6:30 and we got there at 5:30 and hung out in the car. We saw Ryan Burch who had done a couple of the same races, didn't know him just knew who he was. He put on an amazing display of sunscreen application; had to have lasted a good 35 minutes, every nook and cranny. I saw him after the race and not a bit of sunburn and I can't say the same thing. My friends Greg and Dana from Colorado were up randonly to mountain bike the same time so they greeted me at the start with a hug. I helped paced and crewed Greg at Leadville last year where he was 24th in his first 100. It was great to see them.
Race got started and Kris, Julie and I ran together for a while and then Kris had to go faster because he can and he was doing the 25 miler. We all started together but the 25 milers were doing 1 lap (which was a series of loops within the lap) and the 50 milers would do 2 laps, the second being run in the opposite direction which for someone like me (whose not always paying attention) is like running a completely different trail. I was thrilled to be outside after the long winter, stomping some dirt and also realized I was feeling damn good.
Julie and I ran the first 20 miles together and a great woman joined us, never her got her name though. I was amazed when she told us this was the longest she had run and she had MS. MS, along with Parkinson, are my feared diseases; the ones I don't want (not that you want any). I was interested in the disease and how she dealt with it and especially how she ran with it. She was so open to my questions and shared a lot of information on diet, stress and sleep that is probably good for all of us to strive for. Needless to say, that section passed quickly and she went on ahead to finish her first 25 miler in fine fashion.
I was moving well, running the flats, walking the small hills. My Achilles was quiet, the calves behaving and the stomach was bomber, of course supplemented with the required crystallized ginger that I am never without. If you have ever been offered ginger during a race, it might have been me. I am a big fan. So we get to the last aid station before the end of the 25 miles and it's a hot heinous climb out. The tough part was coming up, running back to the start, seeing your friends, your car, your flip flops, cold beer and eschewing all that saying "thank you, may I have another?".
The last 1.3 miles are on a dirt road and you can see the people heading back out. I counted up the girls ahead and thought was somewhere 6th or 7th, not that I cared just counting. I also saw my pal, Steve Boyenger from Boise, Idaho. Steve has volunteered at the top of Fred's Mountain for the Targhee races that I have done three times so it was great to see him out. I knew he was at least 2 miles ahead of me so I wouldn't be able to catch up and chat.
Dana crewed me like a champ, I hit the head hoping for glory, but no luck, it would have to happen out on the trail. She filled my bladder, scolded me for not bringing it in empty, Kris gave me gels and I headed back out, no thoughts of stopping. I did feel bad for my friends that they would have to wait 6+ hours for me, but not that bad. First lap, an even 5:30. The race has about 4000 feet of climbing per lap, I like a little bit more because I suck on flats.
Lap 2 - it's heating up and I knew I was going to get into my head sooner or later and that's not a good place to be when it's hot, you're alone, fatigued and had a ways to go, but I still felt pretty good. And get this, I run into that .01% ofultrarunners that are a-holes. I see this guy ahead thinking maybe I can run with him so I catch up with him and here's how the conversation goes:
Me: "Hey, how's it going?"
Him (ahole): "Slow"
Me: "I think you're doing pretty good"
Him: "No, slow"
Me: "Well, if you are calling yourself slow and i am running with you, then you're calling me slow too" (totally joking)
Him: "Well if shoe fits"
Me: "Well, you are gonna have to be slow alone today with your bad juju" and went by him.
So I kept going and keeping in mind I always have the arsenal to call on, which consists of little prizes or things that keep me going. My arsenal consisted of my ipod (only for truly desperate times), green apple powder for my water (I decided I could have that with 10 miles to go), and some food items that I love. I set my sights on two girls ahead of me, just keeping them in sight for far away company. Get back to the aid station I had left 12 miles ago and there's Steve there. I chatted with him and he said he was going drop. I didn't see anything wrong with him and told him that. The car was there to take him back to the start but I talked him out of it.
So we headed out walking and the 2 girls I passed right before the aid station passed us back but I didn't care, I had some company. And good company at that, Steve's the perfect race companion, equal parts funny and positive. We spent the next hour nonstop talking and walking. He caught me up on his Western States training, a few races he had done this year and his friend Sweatpants, who cracks me up. We just made it from aid station to aid station, the talking trickled but not the companionship, it makes all the difference in the world. I love being the middle/back of packer because you get to talk and meet people. I asked Kris, who had a great, fast run, if he met anyone that day and he said no one was talking, what a shame.
It was a great day and I was glad to be outside for 12 hours of it. 12:12 to be exact, we ran it in and got a few finish photos. My loyal friends were waiting for me to finish. Steve had to head home to make it back to work by 11 the next morning, so we said quick goodbyes. And me, with my keen sense of smell for the beer cooler found it, but it was stocked with NA beer, whatever, had one anyways. Julie was there and she had gallantly headed back out for lap 2 with a painful IT band and pulled at the aid station I met up with Steve, 31 miles of great running.
So here's the crackpot of it all. My longest week of running this winter was about 25 miles, longest run 18. and I felt better in this race than I ever had in an ultra. The runs I did this winter were short in length but I was pushing myself more because I had less time (think frantic running). Then, I went to aslideshow last week that Eric Orton, a local trainer, was giving about his time with the Tarahumara
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with ScottJurek , Jenn Shelton and some writer a few years back. He thought about what made them great runners and said that they did less, more often (think bursts of speed in their ball game), no junk miles and more speed and hill work. Without knowing it, I think I had done that more out of need than intelligent choice. Now, I just need to continue to do that.
And on another completely different topic, you are know looking at newly ordained Reverend Lori Bantekas. I was ordained (online for free at http://www.themonastery.org/) with the Church of Life and for perpetuity, I can perform the following services:
Weddings,Funerals, Baptisms, Last Rites and my favorite, Exorcisms. I cannot perform circumcisions though. The website gives instructions and suggestions for each of the services along with links to purchase all the accoutrements I would need. I am considering getting the parking placard because I hear you can park anywhere with those things. The only two tenets that church asks
that I follow are: promote freedom of all religions (check) and to do that which is right (struggle everyday). I will be marrying some very good friends soon, an honor for me. And that I become a reverend in the process is cake.