From the Back of the Pack
I might always be in the back of the running pack, but I'm addicted to it! When I miss more than a day it affects my energy, attitude, and the rest of life in general! I have had a lot of "character" building runs in the deep snow, extreme nose hair freezing cold, ankle high rain, and gale force winds over the past twenty five years and find some of those days to be the most peaceful rewarding outings of all! I'm one of those runners who is slow and steady, but goes forever and ever without ever getting tired.
July 11, 2011: Tim Krohn's Awesome Adventure!
Today is the reason for this whole trip - The Big Five Marathon. We began with a 5am watch up call so that we could have breakfast and have a ride from our lodge, Ravineside, to the main lodge, Lakeside, and start line. June is winter in South Africa and any time without the sun can be downright cold even if the temperature isn't below freezing. We all bundled up in our fleece, gloves, and knit caps just to go to breakfast. We stayed that way until the race at 8 am when the full marathon began. The half was 15 minutes later and that was followed by the 10 k another 15 minutes later.
We lined up at the start line following some last minute instructions, such as when the rangers say stop - stop - since the elephants and lions have made an unexpected move to the course. The rangers spent the night watching the elephants and lions so the likelihood of stopping the race temporarily was quite small. The rangers even baited the elephants with some pelletized hay that the elephants really like in an area of the reserve a long way from the course. The lions even killed a two wildebeest and one impala in the middle of the night, so they were quite satisfied and spent the rest of the night and day sleeping.
The weather was clear, freaking windy and cold. The debate each us had was what to wear. I chose my running tights, two tee shirts, and my biking windbreaker. One guy dressed in a zebra suit, or what we called a zebra suit - black and white shorts, jersey, and head bandana with strips and patterns. Good thing the lions already ate.
10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 bang the race began promptly at 8 am. We took off down the dirt road. The course was very well marked with kilometer signs counting down from 42. At every intersection there arrow signs and arrows made of course white sand also pointing the way. I felt very good and refreshed from a week off from training. I started slow from normal my starting position near the back of the pack. I soon made my way my running spot in the race. Shortly after the start, we cross through the elephant and lion gate. Our running shoes protected us from the electric current in the wires laid next to the horizontal poles in the gate.
Soon we passed out into the prairie like veld. The wind blew in our face, on our backs, on our side depending on where the course took us. The sideways wind would blow us off course it was so strong. At mile 2 my GPS watch peeped with the message that my data storage was full and it shut down. Moral of the story - empty the storage every so often.
By the time I got to the out and back leg of the course I was in 20th place out of some 70 plus marathon runners.
The next major feature of the race was "the hill". This little beast was a drop in elevation of 450 meters in 3 kilometers (1485 feet in 1.8 miles). Some parts of it had a 45° slope. For maybe a kilometer they had paved it with cement to prevent erosion. Very steep indeed. I ran down the hill using quick baby steps. At the bottom was another aid station. It was here that I felt my first leg cramp. It just was a ting that quickly went away.
Following the hill was "the sand" - nice loose sand to make for hard running. Think of running on dry beach sand. This lasted for 3 or so miles. I treated myself to a power bar at the halfway sign where one the cheetah brothers stopped to sniff and mark it while we watched on our route inspection the evening before. At the bottom of the hill 4 guys about my age caught up to me. For about a mile I was able to stay with them. Then they slowly left me behind. When this lower loop was completed we had to go back up "the hill" on the same road we went down. One had to be careful going up on the steepest parts or you could tip over backwards. I caught up to and passed one of the 4 guys who passed me in the sand. From there on the two of us played leapfrog until near the end of the race. I would pass him on the uphills and he would pass me on the downhills.
After "the hill" should have been a pleasant run, but since my calves were cramping up I had to run-walk the last 9 miles. But I still had my leapfrog partner and a 2nd guy. The last mile was mostly level or down so those two were able to keep getting further ahead.
The finish line was a joy to see and cross as I used whatever was left in my sore legs run the last 50 yards. I finished in 5 hours 24 minutes and 3 seconds. The winner, who was English and had only done two other marathons, finished in 3 hours 35 minutes. The last person to finish was lady from Israel finished in 7 hours and 35 minutes. I finished 26th overall, 20th for the males, and 2nd out of 8 over sixty. The results site has 73 finishers.
Then we had lunch.
We hung out for the rest of the day and then had dinner where we had interesting conversations. I had a very interesting conversation with a young ranger and the park event manager about South Africa before and after the fall of apartheid and the world.
October 28, 2010: Race for Raptors
I am looking for a few runners who would rather help at the Race for Raptors November 13th at Hawk Ridge instead of running it. There are some "key" jobs I prefer to put runners in so it flows more smoothly!
You will still get a headband if you volunteer and be in the door prize drawings!
Please email me at email@example.com or reply to this if you are interested!
October 2, 2010: Kickin Leaves Duathlon
This event is a must for your bucket list!
Since it's inception, I have faithfully done the Grand Traverse every year on this day...this year I decided I'd try the kickin leaves duathlon because of all the positive things I'd heard about it over the past couple of years.
I did it...and every one was right...it is an outstanding event catered to everyone from the beginner to the expert!
This event is billed as a 3 mile trail run, 10 mile bike, and 3 mile trail run...well...that's kinda close...what it really is ends up being a 2.5 mile mostly paved trail like the Munger with a very short stretch of snowmobile trail, a 10 mile or so bike on a newly paved busy road.
Finding the hospital was easy, finding the event was a trick...a few of us drove around for awhile before locating the actual event which was hidden behind the hospital. Once I found it, I went in for day of registration which was very quick and contained really helpful and knowledgeable volunteers. I got a nice little bag and my shirt is being mailed. The shirts were very attractive long sleeved dark green with a neat logo on them.
The morning started out a bit nippy at 40' or cooler with full sun, and luckily there were bathrooms and a nice warm spacious area to change in if need be.
There were I believe well over 80 people and teams that competed in this event. The teams were wearing the same type of number except for the tiny sticker on them that indicated the category, so it was next to impossible to tell if someone on a team was passing or if it was just some fast person doing the whole thing. Some of the people on teams actually said they were on one as they flew by me!
The initial run started on the driveway and ran down into the paved woods trail which eventually turned off into a dirt snowmobile trail and then back onto the paved Munger like trail again. The signage and volunteers out there were amazing! There was absolutely no way anyone could get lost on this course because there was either a sign or a friendly volunteer throughout the entire course! I like idiot proofed courses: )
The course was pretty flat for the most part with a few gentle climbs thrown in. We were literally kicking leaves during quite a few parts of the run...great name for it whoever picked it out! There was one waterstop with water and some unknown beverage that I was not going to try until the man gave it to me without telling me if it was water or something else...it was herbalife or something I finally found out after volunteers called it Gatorade and I could clearly tell it was not Gatorade. One of my pet peeves when running a race is a volunteer who either just gives you something without telling you if it's water or something else and a volunteer who tells you it's Gatorade or Powerade when it's something else like Barfima...(Ultima). For me...if I take something not on my "approved list"...it could cost me an unwanted trip to the biffy!
During the run I felt that sudden urge to pull over into the woods for a deposit. The feeling continued to grow and I even asked one volunteer if there was a bathroom...I started seeking out makeshift biffy spots in the woods to pull over to and then realized I was almost back at the transition area. My plan was to stop at the biffy but when I stopped running, the urge thankfully left my body.
After the run, which went ok once I warmed up...I even picked off a few people...I headed to my bike. I was wearing biking shorts and a long sleeved wicking shirt and had planned to put on mittens, biking gloves, change shirts and put on my yellow jacket...well, that all fell to the wayside ...I just grabbed my mountain bike, my helmet and took off! As a side note, I wore the socks I just purchased, a pair of bamboo wool ones from Jarrow's store after Lisa talked about them and affirmative...they are incredibly awesome!!
Yes...I have a road bike...yes..I chose to take the mountain bike instead...yes...it probably cost me at least 10-15 minutes if not more. I was being passed by men who were nearly 70 years old on road bikes...need I say more? I did pass quite a few people on Mt bikes so that was comforting!
We biked on a main highway with fast traffic whizzing by but the bike lane was thankfully very wide and newly paved. I felt extremely safe because there was a volunteer at virtually every road that a car could possibly come out of and police and volunteers at any intersection. Kudos to the race director for having so many great volunteers out there...I would have to say this course had more volunteers than any other race I've been to...they were all very friendly, encouraging, and doing their job well! In other bike/run events, I have almost been hit by cars because of a lack of volunteers and planning!
None of us could figure out how there could be a headwind both on the way out and the way back again. I thought I was imagining it until a few others said the same thing to me! There were quite a few participants wearing headphones with music turned up rather loudly. This was a problem on the bike portion as I or others would yell on your left and they would not hear us...even when next to or directly behind people they could not hear. I am thinking maybe the race directors should rethink headphones on a busy highway??
I went into the transition zone with no plan and then decided to shed the shirt and sunglasses along with the helmet. After the bike, I went onto the run again and wow was it ever tough to get those running legs back again! That interesting "urge" to make a deposit in the woods started to reoccur, my hip was really tight and a few other issues. After looking around and discovering the only two women anywhere near me were younger and older, I decided to stop and stretch a few times.
I finished the event in about 1:33, not too impressive...it was fun and short though. I'll be curious to see just how far back I was in the run and bike times when the results come out. I know I at least beat two women in my age group...I had the largest and most competitive age group as always too! The 60+ men had a rather competitive age group too!
After the race, we were treated to a free yummy meal of sloppy joes, chips, baked potatoes, pickles and cookies! How cool is that?!
The awards were held shortly after the final finishers came in. Awards consisted of really neat shaped bottles of Maple Syrup! The top female and male finishers got a basket of stuff. They also gave away some nice quilted things in a door prize drawing.
If you are new to biking and/or running or an old pro...this is an awesome low key event to do...it is easy, can be done as a team or individually, and the course is extremely user friendly!
Too much paved running on this course for me though so I'll go back to the Grand Traverse again next year. I'm still happy I did it this year!
August 8, 2010: Bountiful Boulder!
This race in my opinion is one of the most efficient, well run events I've ever been to. Sharri Olson has been the race director for as long as I've been doing it and this was her first year passing it on to a different person...I was a bit concerned that the "well oiled" race may not measure up to the past years because she was in a different place than the race and unable to assist in any way. Much to my delight, Wendy, the new race director carried on Sharri's impeccable tradition!
I felt a bump as I began my journey race morning and pulled the car back into the garage to inspect....my bike helmet was the object under my tire and it suffered zero marks or cracks from the "accident"! The foggy, drizzly drive to Brule was visually challenging, yet the race destination provided just a shady, cool setting with some humidity.
The Brule River Lions 2 mile or 5 mile trail run attracts a competitive friendly crowd. Parking is easy, registration is slick and cheap...$12 ahead of time and $15 day of, shirts are usually unique and neat...this year's was a fish with running shoes!
The race starts on a dirt road at the top of the hill and goes about 2.5 miles before going into the wide scenic ski trails. The race is a good one for beginners as it is easy for a trail race with excellent footing, flat or downhill terrain with just a few "blip" uphills, and freshly mowed grass. The fresh torrential rains provided some wet spots which were easily avoided. Friendly water stops are scattered along the course in at least 3 or 4 places along with idiot proof course markings, mile markers, and even a 4 1/2 mile marker!
Winners of the 5 mile race who were Jarrow Wahman (his dad and wife ran too! ) and Amanda Lepisto (her dad always runs), received a high tech jacket! Age group first place winners receive a nalgene water bottle and 2-3rd place in the age group get to pick a pair of socks! The 2 mile gets awards and all the kids under 12 receive ribbons too. The new race director was just as efficient as Sharri had been getting the plentiful door prizes started immediately after the last runner finished and awards right afterwards!
A first for me was when I was the very first person drawn for a door prize!! I won a hanging basket full of flowers! There had to be over 25 door prizes ranging from solar driveway lights to shirts, hats,gift cards to Target, and more!
After the race, the crowd heads to the town hall area for a BBQ put on by the Lion's Club and huge garage sale put on by a local church! The church sale has been a "jackpot" for me every year! This year I scored a Packer Jacket and Sweatshirt!!
Kudos to the new race director, Sharri trained her well and all the wonderful volunteers! This is one event to check out sometime!!
June 15, 2010: Aqua Fest 10k
Ok...I thought...a 10k trail race on a Tuesday night at 6:45 in the rain ...in Rice Lake Wisconsin...who my age would possibly go there that is fast...I should go...I'd have half a chance slogging and placing for once! So...Laambeaux and I headed out...
It was a wee bit longer drive to the Tuscobia Trailhead than I had thought...when we got there it was still raining lightly and they had little ez up's for us to stand under...
The race director was totally awesome with his communication and friendliness...I was impressed...the registration went very smoothly too...the price was sure right...only $13 preregistration and either $10 without a shirt day of or $18 with a shirt! The shirts were neat looking too...bright red with silver lettering!
I registered, went to my car to put my running stuff on and discovered I had forgotten the socks I planned to wear...oh well...the other ones worked ok...
Prior to the 10k there was a 1/2 mile kids fun run which was very cute and had quite a few excited little ones participating in it!
As people were lined up for the 2 mile and 10k which started together, the race director was giving out instructions and the first clap of thunder was heard...he gave a slight look of concern, then continued giving instructions and the runners were off...
He was kind enough to let me start 5 minutes after the rest of the runners to avoid Laambeaux tangling with the feet of others..
As we started, the rain became torrential and the thunder more frequent it continued until mile 5 or so...I think this will go down as my 4th scariest character building event in the history of my athletic events.....the course was a mix of puddles, some gravel in spots, grass, and some mud...pretty good footing overall though...it was a flat course or kinda slight uphill on the way out with one big up and downhill during the first and last mile. The miles were marked and there were two water stops that we hit on the way out and back again.
My pace was decent for me considering the conditions...I could breathe for once and until the last two miles my butt issue was not painful! My time was not reflective of the pace due to one extra long Laambeaux pit stop, a very interesting dead squirrel on the path that needed some serious canine investigating, and a few water stops.
After the race there was nothing to eat at all that I could find, awards did happen fairly quickly though, I discovered that my age group unfortunately was what appeared to be the largest one of all...the other runners were very friendly before and after the event...one guy even ran it pushing a baby jogger...that was tough on the mushy wet trail!
Ok men...time to skip to the next paragraph...or it will be TMI for most...it was raining so hard that I actually had to pull my running skirt up a few times because it was so waterlogged despite the wicking fabric...and to my horror, the feminine hygiene product I began the race with was absolutely nowhere to be found when I finished up...I have to wonder if it slid down my leg or just got waterlogged and plopped out onto the trail??? Embarrassssssing?????
Ok men ...you can read again... I decided to leave shortly after I finished because I felt like a wet sponge ...and so I could drive in what daylight remained...about 3 miles from the race I saw a large deer in the road...for whatever reason, I did not stop or honk...I just ended up hitting it!!! I felt horrible and this is the first time I've EVER hit a deer even though I have been awfully close many times. I hit it's hip or butt and it continued into the weeds on the other side, my thoughts were not about my car or myself...just about the poor deer....I did not see it again...I think maybe subconsciously I didn't brake because of the wet roads... I called the police because I had no idea of what to do when you hit a deer...the dispatch woman was really nice and told me her daughter had just called her because she also ran the race I did...that's small town for ya! The pictures of the minimal damage to the car and of the soggy race will hopefully be posted here by Kris soon as I have no posting abilities!
I think if a group wanted to go do this one next year I'd do it again...otherwise it's just too far to drive for a 10k and a shirt! Very cute, well organized, cheap event !!!