gait: pacing Never Summer 100k

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Kristen and her friends picked me up at the Denver airport and we started driving towards the mountains. As soon as we got to Ft. Collins she pulled over and let me drive. She must of known that the next few hours would be through the very windy roads of the canyon. Every turn was gorgeous. When we pulled in to the Gould Community Center parking lot, we all thought… this is it? We were in the wild!

Kristen checked in and I went with her to the Park Ranger table. He asked if we had any questions so I asked what to do when we saw a bear. He didn’t think bears would be much of a problem. And to just make noise and back away. What we should really be cautious about was the MOOSE. He said slowly back away while keeping your eyes on them and if they start to charge, weave in and out of trees so they would get stuck.

With that advice we headed in to Walden to check in to our hotel and get dinner. Thats when we ran into this guy-

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Apparently Walden is the Moose viewing capital of the US! After dinner we got to bed early as we had to get up at 3:30 AM! I woke with the runners and drove them to the starting line. Along the drive we saw a Moose crossing the road! When we arrived it was still dark, but there was a full moon.

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I watched the runners check in and helped where I could (I couldn’t really).

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They were excited… nervous… and ready to run!

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This was the second year of the race and they had about 300 starters! A small crowd for a road race, but a big crowd for a crazy hard 100K.

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And they were off!

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After the runners were off they had a pacers and crew meeting. The meeting was mostly useless. They talked about where we could meet runners and that was about it. I had been tasked with getting to the Canadian Aid Station without the car, but they were little help with this. I asked around for rides, but no one seemed to be able to help. I did get some help reading the park map and finding out how to get to the mountain lake to see Kristen at mile 10. After the meeting was over I headed up to the lake.

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The park ranger had asked what type of vehicle I was in so I got a little nervous to continue up the dirt road. So I parked at the second lot and started walking up the hill. Soon I discovered that the hill was a mountain and it kept going. A car came up the road and I asked for a ride. They were more than happy to give me a ride and it turned out it was a father/daughter spectating crew also from Washington, DC! Once we got to the top parking lot it was another mile hike up, but it was worth it. The lake was beautiful! There were some spectators there and they said that only about 10 people had gone by. So I posted up and cheered for runners in the most beautiful spot.

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Soon enough I see Kristen running around the bend. She stopped to chat a minute and I realized she was very muddy. I asked if she fell. Nope, just lost her shoe in mud and had to dig it out and clean it up before putting it back on. After a picture she was back on her way.

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I chatted with some other spectators and made some more friends for a ride back down the hill. They then offered me a chair to watch the runners pass by at about mile 18. It was still before noon, but already getting hot in the sunlight. Kristen came running down the hill and kept going… little did she know within a mile she would have to run straight up a mountain.

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It was now around noon and I since I woke up at 3:30 am knew I would be up until at least midnight I decided to grab lunch and take a nap back at the hotel. I felt kind of bad as the runners were running and I was going to go eat and nap, but I wanted to be the best pacer I could be and the other places to crew were not as easy to get to. I stopped at the best gas station ever and filled up on gas and water. People said hydration helped with altitude so I wanted to drink up. After a sandwich and water I tried to take a nap… it was more like laying in bed, but I think I slept for 20 minutes or so. Then I packed up my running gear and headed to the Finish/Start line to try to find a ride to the Canadian Aid Station. I pulled in and saw an older couple I had seen earlier in the day. I asked if they were going up there and they were not. Then I see a guy sitting in a pick up truck. With all hope gone I ask him if he was going up to Canadian. HE WAS! I jumped in and we rode about a half hour up to the Canadian.

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Once we parked it was a mile walk in to the station. I arrived a little before 5. Kristen told me to be there by 5:30 so I was feeling pretty proud of myself. I’m not one to talk to strangers and I had been making friends all day. When I arrived there had only been a handful of runners pass through, so I knew Kristen would be a few hours later at the earliest. I settled in and enjoyed nature and the occasional runner passing through. There were quite a few people there both volunteering and crewing. I kept eating and drinking water so I would be ready at any time, which lead me to having to find the bushes a few times.

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Then the sun began to set. The mountains lit up, I heard someone call it mountain glow. By this point I had learned that both of Kristen’s friends had dropped from the race. One had called up to get the car keys and the other came through the station in a pickup truck. All reports were that it was a tough race. A few runners came through talking about how they had sat on the trail for a half hour waiting for a bear and her cubs to move along!

Once the sun went down it got cold fast. By cold I mean around 50 degrees, but it felt COLD. I was wearing shorts to run in, but had packed my jacket and gloves and quickly put them on. I moved over by the grill and warming candles to stay warm. I found two other pacers also trying to stay warm. Around 10 pm I decided maybe I should eat some real food and had one of the cheese quesadillas they were preparing, then some pretzels and some chips. I guess when I got cold I went full out ultra.

After it got dark all we could see coming down the hill was the headlamps. Which could be confusing, sometimes four lights turned in to one runner. And then out of the darkness came three runners… and one of them was Kristen! It was so dark that I had to walk right up to make sure it was here. Kristen looked at me and said “It is so HARD” and gave me a hug. If you know Kristen she never says things are hard, she usually says “suck it up” so I knew it must of been hard.

My adrenaline was pumping at this point. I had thought about what would happen if she came in and wanted to drop from the race since I had seen so many people going down the mountain in the back of a truck, but ultimately I wanted to help her finish and was excited when she was ready to keep going after only a few minutes and a few bites of food.

Kristen wasn’t able to run anymore at this point, but we were fast hiking and I warmed up pretty quick. Even though it was dark it was fun and we saw varied landscapes. Like the rest of the race, the race wasn’t always on actual trail. We went through tall grass, tall trees, water crossings, muddy paths impossible to go around and straight up 2000 feet. I kept seeing shadows moving only to find out that it was just me moving and the shadows of little shrubs on the trail. Luckily the only wildlife we saw was a small mouse.

I sang and told stories and got Kristen to tell stories. For me the time passed fast. We were keeping to around 18 min miles, which doesn’t sound fast but try walking a mile straight up hill in two inches of mud! I did the math in my head and knew if we kept the same pace Kristen would have no trouble finishing in 23 hours, which was the cut off for qualifying for Western States Lottery. So we kept going. A few people passed us looking strong, but we also passed several people who were really struggling. One guy said he hit the wall… this was around mile 62… I think he did pretty good holding of the wall till then.

Kristen didn’t take much time at the aid stations we passed though. I grabbed some gummy bears at one but otherwise didn’t eat much. The final station was a little over 2 miles to the finish and we didn’t stop at all.

We ran a little in this last section, but I think this section lasted the longest for Kristen. It started to rain a little and we were so close but we couldn’t really see any signs of the finish. It was also the least interesting terrain because it was along the road and a more accessible path.

After five hours of speed hiking we finally saw the lights of the finish line and we started running again. I started cheering and broke off to the side as Kristen made her way through the finishers shoot in around 22 hours and 13 minutes.

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We went inside the rustic community center for a bit, but soon headed back to the hotel because it was 4 AM and the finishers breakfast and awards ceremony was at 9 AM. Although I showered that night, my toes weren’t quite clean for a full week after.

I know this was a long one, but it was a long race! If you ever have the opportunity to crew or pace at a ultra trail race I highly encourage it. Its motivating and inspiring to see all the runners and you get to hang out in beautiful places while congratulating yourself for not being quite as crazy as all of those runners. Check out Kristen’s race report here.

make: tassel key chain

There is this store in DC called Salt & Sundry. They carry adorable stuff. Home decorating and entertaining stuff mostly. I always go in thinking that I will be getting something. I recently went in looking for a birthday gift and did my normal, “everything is so cute”. Only then to look at the price tags and gasp. Much of it is handmade so I do understand the  time and effort that goes in to making something by hand, but I can’t bring myself to pay some of the prices.

All of that to say I saw some cute leather tassel key chains today. They were leather and had a cute little metal number attached. So when I saw they weren’t $10 but more like $75 I was determined to come home and make my own. I kind of eyeballed the whole thing so I don’t have detailed instructions. I cut a rectangle, measured off the top section and drew a line, and cut strips to the line. I used leather glue and started by rolling the leather around a folded piece to attach the tassel and then just kept rolling to the end. The glue I used stuck pretty quickly, but you might have to hold it rolled up for a few minutes.

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I attached my key chain and ta-da! Fancy key ring for free! Well for free today and since I bought this leather over 5 years ago from a scrap bin, and the glue and scissors were also pretty old and well used I say it was for well under $75.

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gait: training to pace

I bet you’ve been wondering what I was training for now. Sorry to keep you waiting. The truth is I don’t have a race on the calendar, but I have been training. My sister Kristen the Crafty Runner is running the Never Summer 100K in Colorado and has invited me to tag along. While I won’t be running 64.2 miles through 14,000ft of vertical gain and descent, I have agreed to help pace her for the final 14 miles of the race. These final miles will not only be on a trail in the Never Summer Mountains on the Northern border of the Rocky Mountain National Park and the Medicine Bow Mountains, but also most likely in the dark.

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Here is what I’ve been doing to prepare:

Running a weekly long run on the trails of DC– Discovering some new trails have been fun. Predicting how long it will take me to run the new trails has been challenging. The trails range from wide and very runnable to rocky and rooty and from well marked to questionable. But overall DC has some great trails in the middle of the city. Certain areas of the trail are pretty empty while other areas near parking lots have a lot more people. This morning I was cautioned that there was a naked man running ahead… luckily I never found him.

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Running hills– Running hill repeats and some running incline on the treadmill.

Running with a water backpack- I’ll have to carry my own supplies so I bought a Nathan’s  water backpack and have been running with it to practice. Its less annoying than I expected and there are so many pockets! Quick tip on eliminating sloshing- hold the water bag upside down and suck out all the excess air!

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Running around my apartment with a headlamp on- I’m not about to try trail running in DC by myself in the dark, so I haven’t found a good way to practice running in the dark. But the headlamp seemed pretty comfortable to wear so thats a good start.

Running in humidity- We don’t have a lot of altitude in DC. Often my minimum elevation for a run is zero. But I heard that running in humidity is actually a good proxy for running at altitude and DC has a lot of humidity.  I’m not sure how much science is behind this, but I’m rolling with it.

Running trail races- Twice I’ve travelled outside DC to do a trail race. The first was 10 miles and the second a 10K. While these shorter races will be a lot different from an Ultra, they gave me a little insight on sharing a trail with others and race atmosphere.

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Cross training- I’ve been doing some weights and just took my first FlyWheel class.

Talking while running or not talking- What I’ve read on pacing is that they might want you to talk to them or may want you to be quiet. So during my weekly group run I’ve been trying to read what others want… haha just kidding on this one. I’m not sure how to prepare for this.

Have you ever paced someone or ran a mountain trail race? What else should I be preparing for?

make: felt succulents

This past year I’ve become a terrible succulent owner. My succulents keep dying. I think the main reason is the light situation in my apartment.  We have morning light and not a lot of room by the windows so I’ll blame the light (and maybe a little bit on my sporadic overwatering).

So when I heard about felt succulents I was pretty excited to try making a plant that I couldn’t kill. There are plenty of tutorials out there if you need step by step instructions, but I’ll just share with you my interpretations.

My first attempt I just used the felt I had on hand. And it wasn’t exactly succulent colored. for the turquoise one I cut two sizes of petals/leaves and made a peak on the top. After creating a core I used a hot glue gun to glue the leaves on working in a circle. For the spike one I just cut tall triangles and glued them together in the same fashion.

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Then at my friend’s bachelorette party we did breakfast crafting. One of her other friends brought some amazing supplies. She had four colors of green felt, two types of moss, and little flower pots to put our creations in.

We cut styrofoam balls in half to fill the bottom half of the pot and then covered the ball with moss. I started with a little mossy spikey thing then decided to try a tall skinny plant. For the tall one I cut skinny strips that tapered at the end. Then I folded the bottom half in half (hotdog style) with glue to give each leaf a bit more support.

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I then made a wider and flatter guy. I made the core out of a rectangle piece then glued the rounded petal shapes around and around.

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I arranged my three succulents on top of the moss and added a little glue to keep them in place.

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Here is to hoping I can keep these guys alive!

make: bridal embroidered dish towels

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My friend Catherine is getting married! For her bridal shower I bought her a rolling pin off her registry, but wanted to add something a little more personal. I decided on embroidering some dish towels early on, but it took me a while to figure out what to put on them. I settled on a love theme and sketched a design on the towels using a water soluble pen.

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I picked thread colors to match the towels and got to stitching.

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I used the same split stitch for the whole design, with a few lazy daisies to decorate.

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make: Birthday T-shirt

For Brian’s birthday I decided to design him a logo. He has been sporting a beard for about 4 years and gets way more complements on it then I ever do on something I do with my hair. So I decided to incorporate it in to the design. And he turned the big 30 this year so his birth year and place were obvious additions. I designed it in SketchbookExpress and used the freezer paper method.

The small survey letters and numbers were a little harder to cut out. Luckily they smoothed themselves out when I used paint.

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This was the first time I used my white fabric paint, but it turned out great against the heather blue shirt.

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take: 3 ways I’m like my Mom

  1. I like to make things.

When we see things we like we try to figure out how to make them ourselves. My mom is very talented in all things sewing and quilting and most other handicrafts. One year for  Christmas I received balls of yarn, needles, and an instructional CD-rom. I didn’t know how to knit, but my mom was right in guessing I would enjoy learning how. Then two years ago I received fabric and a pattern for my birthday, now I have a new wall hanging!

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Preparing to celebrate my brother’s graduation back in 2007

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Showing off handmade items at the Chilhowee Fair

 

2. I like denim.

My mom has always had a thing for denim. Denim jeans, jumpers, dresses, capris, and shirts. While I’ve always liked denim jeans recently I’ve acquired several denim shirts and just the other day my mom told me about the new Gap denim dress she got while I told her about my new Gap denim jacket.

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Posing at the State Fair with her award winning denim skirt

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Wearing a denim shirt while touring around the National Mall

 

3. I can’t say no.

We are both hesitant to say no to anything. From helping a friend with a sewing project to volunteering. But I also think that is where my willingness to explore new places and try new things comes from (and willingness to sing with the band).

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Singing along with the band 

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Traveling through Germany, one Christmas Market at a time

 

make: Custom tote bags

For my friend Jenn’s Bachelorette party weekend in Nashville I volunteered to make bags. I ordered canvas bags from Totebagfactory. They were decently priced and pretty good quality. They aren’t see through and the paint didn’t really even bleed through. They also have nice handles. The only problem with them was I ordered them about a week before I needed them and ended up having to stay up late finishing them instead of having a fun crafting Saturday.

My initial idea was to paint them, but then I started working on the design and everyone (Ok Brian and my friend Catherine) liked the design with everyone’s names the best. Adding people’s names would make painting a lot harder. So I thought of doing iron on. I ran by staples to pick up the special paper only to find out that the printer in my apartment building wasn’t compatible with the paper… ok back to painting.

I made the design using Microsoft Publisher. Catherine had sent me a design idea and I went with it. Its loosely based on a Fender guitar pick. The Nashville is a script and all caps for everyone’s name.

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I cut the guitar pick design out of plastic since I would be using it on all the bags. I started painting the gold with a foam pouncer while Catherine started cutting out everyone’s names. Since we would just be using each name once we just cut it out of regular paper. I also cut out Nashville out of the plastic, but it didn’t work out that well. The first one I used the pouncer brush to paint and it bled bad. So after that I used a paint pen and drew the Nashville that way. It was still nice to have the stencil to follow and it made all them come out uniform.

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To save time and to add some style we didn’t cut out the middle’s of the letters. I used the paint pen again for the names. Luckily all it took was overnight for them to dry then we filled them with bachelorette party essentials like advil and nail polish.

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take: Nashville

A few weekends ago I headed to Nashville with seven friends to celebrate our friend Jenn’s upcoming nuptials. We got an amazing Air BnB in East Nashville that was retro cool. I really liked the East Nashville area, some of the spots we checked out:

  • The Pharmacy, Burger Parlor and Beer Garden– Great burgers and beer in a casual cool setting. We sat on the porch which was great, half inside and half out. The staff was great too our waitress gave us suggestions on going out in the area.
  • Lockeland Table– This was our nice dinner out. They had great cocktails and delicious food. Another awesome waitress. She gave us detailed descriptions of most of the drinks and food and told us of a dance party going on that night in the area, which we hit up and had a great time.
  • No. 308– We stopped here on our walk home from the dance party. The music the DJ was playing pulled us in. Great atmosphere and great dancing.
  • Barista Parlor– I went with one friend early Sunday before the rest of the house got up. The whole side of the parlor opened to the outside and it was a beautiful day. We both got ice coffees and shared a doughnut and breakfast bagel. They were both delicious and the place had so much character.

But a Bachelorette party to Nashville is not complete without heading down to Honkey Tonk row. Broadway. We didn’t realize when we booked the trip, but Nashville is currently the bachelorette party capitol of North America. You couldn’t turn around without seeing three or four groups of ladies. We didn’t have matching shirts, but everyone else did. Our favorite places downtown were:

  • Acme Feed & Seed– We stopped here for lunch and drinks and they had a live band and we liked it so much we came back later for drinks on the rooftop and then dinner again downstairs. You order at the counter and they bring your food to you. They had a great selection of southern food with creative twists.
  • Robert’s Western World– The Bride-to-be had good memories of this place from a prior visit so we headed back. It was dirty and gritty and great. The band on stage was dressed in retro country attire and they played one of my favorite songs “The Battle of New Orleans”.
  • Johnny Cash Museum– It was a little expensive, but a nice museum. They kind of glaze over the bad times of Johnny, but also focus on some other little known facts. I liked how they had lots of interactive exhibits.
  • Mike’s Ice Cream– A few of us stopped in here one day because it was HOT out. We all got two scoops, but quickly figured out that one would of been enough. The ice cream was delicious and we all finished, because we didn’t want to throw any of the deliciousness away.