Interstellar Adventure
Adventure: the pursuit of life — Daniel Roy Wiarda

And then there was the time...

Friday, September 30, 2005

I had to refer back to Your Questions for a topic for today's post. Indigo asked: Let's hear a story from your childhood, anything totally embarrassing you did as a kid that you thought for sure you could get away with????? Ah, my formative years. I was a rather sheltered child. My dad was a doctor, my mom a stay-at-home mom. There were strict rules about who I could go out with, you know the 'We want to know who, where, why, what and how.' for every movement I made. I had a few close friends, rather four to be exact. Heather, Jill, Leigh Ann & Becky. I was closer to Heather and Jill. I spent just about all my free time between third grade and my senior year in high school with Heather, and the others would rotate in and out. Heather's parents were even more strict than mine, and so were Jill's. Very religious and all that. One weekend, we plotted our 'night out'. It was my brother's 9th birthday, and I didn't want to be anywhere near the house with him and all his little baseball friends having a birthday party. Jill wanted to hang out with her boyfriend that she wasn't allowed to see. Our grand plan? We would tell our parents that we were spending the night at each other's house, when in reality, we would stay out all night long! How stupid can a couple of 15 year old girls be! We met up at the mall. Each of our respective parents dropped us off, thinking the other parent would be picking us up a couple of hours later. Little did they know. We walked around the mall for a little bit, then back through the neighborhood to her boyfriend's house. Chris and his friend Don Eric came out with a six pack of Lone Star Light, and we headed for the local elementary school playground. I had known Don Eric since first grade, and he was kind of a dork. Jill and Chris had transferred in during Jr. High School. So, we're at the playground, drinking the crappiest beer made on earth. Chris and Jill are making out over by the slide or something. And there I am, trying to make conversation with Don Eric. I think he had been drinking a lot that night, because he starts trying to make out with me. Uh, no thank you. I was totally not going to make out with this dork! I finally got Jill's attention and made it clear that we needed to head out, so we started walking back towards Chris' house. When we got there, we were hanging out by his garage, just talking and listening to some music. By this time I don't even think it was 10 pm. Chris' step-mom comes walking out the back door and looked at Jill and said 'Your dad's looking for you. You two better scoot.'. Uh-oh. Something in our ingenious plan had gone wrong! We decided to go to her house, and as we walked, we thought up our cover story. We got back to her place, and her dad was soooo mad. We tried with the cover story of 'Well, we changed our minds about where we were going to stay, and we went to see a movie, and we just got out.' Yeah, that didn't fly. He griped at Jill until she was in tears, and I was scared out of my wits too. Then he put me in the car and drove me back to my house. I was never more fearful of going home. Once I was inside, I was glad that my dad was out of town. My mom had obviously been crying, and was alternating between 'Thank God my baby's home.' and 'You're so lucky I don't kill you myself.'. I tried to play it cool like 'Oh you're making a bigger deal out of this than it is.', but that wasn't working very well for me. I ended up being grounded from everything for the rest of the school year, which ended up being about six weeks. I could go to school, swim practice and ballet, but other than that, no phone, no TV, no movies, no friends, no nothing. Straight home and into my room until dinner, then after dinner, straight back to my room. The really embarassing part though? As if getting caught wasn't enough, my mom has to heap more embarassment out on me. In my room I had a big poster-sized laminated board that I could write on with those dry-erase markers. All of my friends names and phone numbers were written on that board. Along with anyone that I had ever met even once, and happened to get their number. My mom called every single person on that list asking if they knew where I was. Some people didn't even remember me. Others were 'Gosh, no ma'am. We hope she's OK.'. Because of course my mom was in tears while making these calls and trying to find me. So, every time I saw any of these people over the next couple of weeks, I got the 'What the heck happened that night?' question. Trying to explain how Jill and I were really bad liars was excruciatingly embarassing. And how did we get caught you wonder? Well, turns out that Jill's dad called my mom and said 'What time should I pick Jill up tomorrow?'. My mom responded with 'What do you mean, the girls are spending the night at your house.'. The jig was up at that moment. They looked for us for two hours before Chris' step-mom talked to us. I had been caught doing stupid things before, but that was probably the biggest one. At that time, I resolved that I wasn't ever going to try to break the rules again, because no matter what, I always, always, always got caught. I never ever got away with a 'stunt', as my dad like to call them. So, for the rest of my high school years, I only went where I said I was going, hung out with who I said I was going to hang out with, and called if I changed plans or moved locations. Yeah, I didn't have a lot of dates. Well, except for that one New Year's...

Thursday Thirteen

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Thirteen things on my mind today: 1. Elle and Zed stay with their dad on Wednesday nights. When my phone rang at 6:30 this morning, I got worried. Evidently Elle started throwing up this morning. Surprisingly, her dad called into work and is keeping her home today. He stopped by and got some anti-throw-up medicine for her, so hopefully she'll feel better today. I don't want to have her throwing up still tonight. 2. We got a cool front! It was 62 degrees outside this morning! Today's high is going to be around 75! I wore a sweater to work! 3. Yesterday, my sister finally uploaded some of her art work. It's really just her class work exercises, but I think it's fantastic. The one I linked to is my favorite, and I have dibs on getting it framed and hung at my house after she has her final review. Be sure to check out the other works she has posted. There's not many yet, but I'm so blown away by her talent. I love you B! 4. My doggies are so slobbery. I was on the phone last night and Wrigley kept trying to lick me. She also has really bad gas. Worst gas I've ever known for a dog to have. 5. Our newspaper has changed their puzzle/comics section this week. I don't think I like it. They've made a lot of changes to format in the whole paper over the last year. Some I like, some I don't. We'll see if this one lasts. 6. My marathon of course. I feel like I'm beating it to death though. 24 more days! Over the day I waiver between excitement and dread. I'll be fine, I know! 7. My house is bugging me. The thing is I've had a bunch of stuff on a 'list' for a long time. I think after this 'running' stuff has 'run' through me, that's the next thing I'm going to tackle. I'm going to bust out some paint on my walls! 8. I need to go see my Grandaddy in Houston. I haven't seen him since last November. How is it that life flies by so fast and we don't know where the weeks have gone? He'll be 81 this November. I'll have to tell about him sometime. He's very special to me. 9. Elle and Zed are in my ex-brother-in-law's wedding this weekend. Elle is a flower girl and Zed is the ring-bearer. They're both excited. I was originally supposed to do a reading in the wedding, but my Ex kinda screwed that up. What's even funnier is that last month his brother asked if I was still doing the reading. His family is bizarre! I could be closer to them I guess, but I just feel like they didn't do a whole lot to support my marriage ever, and I'm mad about that. 10. I have my divorce papers sitting, ready to be signed. I need to have them reviewed by my dad's lawyer, but other than that, it's almost over. It feels so anticlimactic. 11. I need to get my oil changed and my car inspected. 12. Along with last night's cool front, we got a heck of a thunderstorm. Lightning flashing all around and the wind blowing hard. I love thunderstorms. 13. I need to get a manicure. I painted my nails last weekend, but I need someone to do a better job shaping my nails. They can leave my feet alone though. I need those callouses until after my race. Then I'll get my feet back to baby-smooth.
Links to other Thursday Thirteens!
1. MommaK @ Petroville 2. Leanne 3. E @ Retrospect 4. Uzi 5. Crusty Crone 6. Mary @ Elsewhere 7. Keb @ What the 8. Jessica @ Daydreams & Musings 9. Rashbre Get the Thursday Thirteen code here! Leanne says: Thirteen things is all I ask for, and what do you get in return? Linkage! If you do it, leave a comment here and link me to your Thursday Thirteen. I will be sure to update my entry with links to yours, and then you can continue the chain if you like! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Twenty-Six Days and Counting

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Including today, I have 17 more workouts remaining. Today's was easy in comparison to what I've got ahead of me. This morning was a mere 4 miles, completed in 45:54, plus a 1 mile warm-up/cool-down. My right glute/hip was bugging me again despite stretching, so I will be calling Dr. Pain to schedule some torture therapy sessions between now and race day. I have more speed work to look forward to on Thursday. The dreaded Yasso's-kickin'-my-assos. And my longest run, 4 hours or 20-22 miles, this weekend. I'm thinking I'll be running longer than 4 hours in order to get the mileage in. The plane tickets are purchased and the hotel is booked. So, there's no chickening out now. I'm alternating between feeling excitement and dread. I know that this last part of it is mental, and I've been feeling mentally exhausted the past couple of weeks. I'm starting to come out of that, trying to visualize a strong race and the finish. When I'm having a good run, I try to memorize that feeling for use at a later time. This last weekend my sister asked me what I think about when I run that long. I told her I couldn't remember, because honestly, I can't. I only use my headphones when I run at the track. During my long runs I leave them behind because they aren't allowed at the race. The time from my long runs just kind of runs (excuse the pun) together and turns into a large blank for me. I go into a sort of trance. I'm aware of what's going on around me, but it's almost an out-of-body experience. I feel relaxed and I look down at my watch occasionally, surprised about how much time has passed. Before I know it, I'm done. Hopefully the race will be that way too. I've been studying the course (this is a link to a PDF document) and starting to visualize and plan how I will run the race. I'm not thinking about my time goal as much anymore, and instead focusing on getting across that finish line. Part of that visualization includes my friend Judy, waiting for me with a big hug and my Tiffany's finisher necklace. My very first 'blue box' item! There's supposedly a concert afterwards, but they haven't announced who the band is yet. The countdown continues!

It's all about the party!

Monday, September 26, 2005

First of all, thank you all for your thoughts and prayers for my family. My uncle that lives closest to the coast had some minor mess, but no damage to his house. They got a little bit of rain, and their electricity got knocked out for a bit, but other than that, they're all safe and sound. My grandaddy and other uncle also fared well. A couple of small branches missing from the trees, but didn't lose a single shingle. Up here in Dallas, we didn't get any of the forecasted rain, and only some minor wind. I have a lot of leaves in my yard, and a few houses in the neighborhood lost a couple of branches, but other than that, we're just fine. Friday night I went to go see Coldplay with my girlfriends. It was an awesome show! I didn't get home until nearly 1 am, but not for lack of trying. The show was sold out, and the parking lot was a fiasco. Saturday morning it was so hard to get out of bed. My alarm went off at 4:15 am, and I finally rolled out of bed at 4:30. Our long run got changed to Saturday morning because of the threat of Hurricane Rita. And, instead of running a long out-and-back course, we ran short 4 mile loops. Two miles out from the store and two miles back. It actually wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. I managed to get in 17.7 miles in 3:40. I also ran the entire time. All my long runs the last couple of weeks have had some walking and moaning. I didn't do that much moaning this time. Just a little talking to myself at the very end. Saturday afternoon involved an ice bath, a shower, lunch and a long nap. Followed by lazing around for the rest of the day. It was wonderful. Sunday we had Elle's birthday party. Just the family, minus my brother. I don't know whether he didn't get the message or what, but he failed to show. It's a shame, because I made a great spread! Waffles with strawberries, whipped cream and homemade syrup, scrambled eggs, sausage, milk, orange juice and coffee. I got a little 'Princess for the Day' tiara for Elle and Anna. Anna is my sister's roommate's daughter. They have a great time playing together. I also got a boa and some fluffy slippers for Elle. She looked adorable! She ate all her breakfast, and about 5 link sausages. She loves those things. Then we opened presents. She got some clothes and a movie, but also a new soccer-ball charm for her charm-bracelet, and a new bike! This one doesn't have training wheels though. She's been begging me to teach her to ride without training wheels. Anyone have any tips for this, let me know, because I'm not sure how to go about it.
Then, my sister, grandmother and I played a game of Scrabble. My mom came in and took over for my sister after awhile, and she's the only real competition in my family. I still won though. My grandfather just pestered us. 'That's not a word!' Um, yeah, grandpa, it is. I have a degree in English for Pete's sake! QUA is a word! But of course I had to look it up and prove it. We have to use two different dictionaries though. My new one has more 'modern' words, but not as many words total. The old dictionary has some 'archaic' words. I need to break down and buy an official Scrabble dictionary. But the old one has sentimental value as it, and the Scrabble game that I have, belonged to my great-grandmother. My mom and I used to play with her all the time. Sunday afternoon was actually quiet. Then Elle, Zed and I went to dinner at Spaghetti Warehouse. We sat up in the caboose, and we got the waiter to sing Happy Birthday to her. She was pleased as punch to be sung to by the waitstaff. Anyone takes me out anywhere for my birthday where they sing to me, and it's gonna be ugly. I just want the dessert.


Friday, September 23, 2005

Seven years ago today I was blessed with my beautiful baby girl. She was a 'no pain' baby...I was induced, and I asked for my epidural early. In fact, I was asleep when the nurse came in to tell me she had called the doctor. Anyway, without revealing too much detail, my friends with kids all hate me when I tell her 'birth story' (we women do that you know), because it was so quick, easy and painless. A perfect way to bring 6lbs and 12oz of beauty into the world. Happy Birthday Elle! She's a free spirit in the truest sense of the word, and lives 100 miles an hour. She has more energy than I have ever seen in one human, but at the same time, she falls to sleep in an instant. She's full of joy, love, hugs, kisses, laughs, smarts, sweetness, and mischief. Yes, I can see that twinkle in her eye and know she's up to something. She's also an expert hula-hooper...it was her talent at her school's talent show. She even taught me how to hula hoop! I was also tagged by Barry over at Last Home with a meme. I thought it was appropriate for today: 7 Answers to 7 Questions! 7 things I plan to do before I die: 7 things I can do: 7 things I cannot do: 7 things that attract me to another person: 7 celebrity crushes: 7 Things I say the most: 7 bloggers I am tagging: Please keep my family in your thoughts. I have many relatives in Houston. Those closest to the shore have evacuated northward, but not far enough for my liking. My grandaddy and uncle are the closest — 50 miles inland. My grandaddy is old, and since my grandmother passed almost two years ago, he has rapidly grown more frail. I called him Wednesday and asked if he was leaving. He said 'Sugar, I've lived in this house for over 30 years. I've weathered many a storm here, and I'm staying put.' I knew he wouldn't be going anywhere. He's the best man I know, and I hope that he stays safe. Have a great weekend guys!

Meanwhile, back at the track...

Thursday, September 22, 2005

You'd think that running around in circles, or ovals really, would make me dizzy. Maybe. I need to add some more songs to my MP3 player. I'm getting tired of some of the music that's on there now. Today's ten (10) miles just kind of flew by though: 10 Mile Repeats 10:59; 11:08; 11:00; 11:06; 11:01; 10:51; 11:01; 10:54; 10:41; 10:04. Total run time: 1:48:56. Average pace: ~10:50. Then, I looked at my training schedule when I got into work. Yeah, I was only supposed to run 8 miles this morning. But hey, that little bit of extra is going to make all the difference come race day, I just know it. I'll only be able to finish because I did those extra two miles today. I got a lot done last night. It was quiet, but I enjoyed it. Elle and Zed spend Wednesday nights with their dad, so I can actually hear myself think. I folded about four loads of laundry, hung up all my clothes, and then went to dinner with myself and a book. Treated myself to a small piece of baklava and Turkish coffee (with sugar) for dessert. I found part of the floor in my daughter's room. She and I will find the other part tonight. Played with my doggies for a little while. Wrigley is so disgusting. She's a slobber-bone. It's like getting slimed. I tried to watch some TV, but I fell asleep with Wrigley at my feet and Tori by my side. They're so snuggly. Now I need a nap. But coffee is just going to have to do. And yogurt and granola.

Why is it?

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Why is it that when you think you're doing the right thing, it can still feel wrong?

Everything you wanted to know, then some

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

((CURRENT. ..)) Current Clothes: black khakis/jacket and sheer cream top Current Mood: sleepy Current Music: none Current Hair: my own :) oh, it's down Current Smell: Bath & Body Works Aromatherapy, Eucalyptus Spearmint Current Desktop Picture: Zen Garden Current Favorite Artist: Monet Current Favorite Group: not a 'favorites' type of person when it comes to music...I like a little bit of it all Current Book: 100 Strokes of the Brush Before Bed Current CD in CD Player: Depeche Mode (in car) Current DVD in DVD Player: none Current Color Of Toenails: Electric Blue Current Refreshment: Aquafina & Jello pudding Current Worry: Not really worried about anything. ((FAVORITES. ..)) Color: Blue Foods: hummous Drink: martini Album: Varies by mood Shoes: My shiny black stiletto sandals Candy: Dark Chocolate Animal: dogs TV Show: ER, Nip/Tuck, Rescue Me Song: There are so many! Vegetable: spinach Fruit: strawberries Cartoon: Tom & Jerry ((ARE YOU. ..)) Understanding: To a fault Open-minded: Most of the time Arrogant: occasionally Insecure: about some things Interesting: I'd like to think so Easily Amused: Very; sometimes I'm the only one laughing Random: Frequently, it's my ADD Hungry: Just ate a veggie burger and fries Friendly: Most of the time Smart: Of course (see, I am arrogant) Moody: Occasionally Childish: I can be A good kisser: Never had a complaint Independent: Very Healthy: more healthy than I used to be Emotionally Stable: Most of the time Shy: No Difficult: I can be Bored Easily: Depends on what I'm doing Messy: sporadically Thirsty: depends on what for Responsible: most of the time Obsessed: with??? Angry: not anymore Sad: sometimes Happy: the majority of the time Hyper: I can be Trusting: I'm skeptical at first I think, but my trust can be earned Talkative: Yes ((WHO DO YOU WANT TO. ..)) Kill: No one Slap: There are a few on the list Tickle: my kids Look Like: I dunno, what do you think? Kiss: my kids Hug: my kids ((HAVE YOU EVER. ..)) Been kissed? yes Been kissed in the rain? I don't recall Eaten an entire package of Oreos? no Been on stage? yes Dumped Someone? yes Gotten in a car accident? yes Been in love? yes ((FAVORITE. ..)) Shampoo? L’Oréal’s VIVE Hi-Light Boosting Toothpaste? Arm & Hammer Soap? Suave Vanilla & Brown Sugar Room in your house? Bedroom Instrument? oboe Flower? I like the mixed bouquets Piece of jewelry? An old ring that belonged to my great-grandmother Piece of clothes? My Old Navy loungewear ((EITHER/OR. ..)) Coffee or hot chocolate? coffee Big or little?: what? New or old? old Sweater or sweatshirt? sweater Wool or cotton? cotton Oldies or pop? neither? Rock-n-roll Do you have a boyfriend/girlfriend? yes Do you want a boyfriend/girlfriend? yes Do you have a best friend? yes Are they the same person? no ((IN THE LAST 24 HOURS HAVE YOU. ..)) Cried?: no Bought something? yes, food Gotten sick? no Kissed someone/been kissed: yes Gone to the movies? no Gone out for dinner? no Said "I love you"? to my kids Written a real letter? no Moved on? from??? Talked to an ex? yes Missed an ex? no Talked to someone you have a crush on? yes Had a serious talk? no Missed someone? yes Hugged someone? yes Fought with your parents? no Fought with a friend? no Helped someone? yes ((DO YOU. ..)) Eat with your mouth open? no If you got a tattoo, where would you get it? on the small of my back What color is your floor/carpet in your room? tan What was the last CD you bought? Depeche Mode Are you lonely? No Are you happy? Yes Are you wearing pajamas? No Are you talking to someone online? No What is your astrological sign? Sagittarius

Your Questions Answered — Round 3

Monday, September 19, 2005

Since it's Monday, we'll keep it light and fun. Abby: If your house was burning down, and your kids and pets were safely outside, what would you grab on your way out? Hmm. Kids and pets are already safe? Something that I would grab on my way out...well, besides my bathrobe? That would have to be the knick-knacks in my china cabinet. Most of them have sentimental value, and are the some of the only things I have from my great-grandmother. Abby: You're on death row. What's your last meal? I'm thinking a big, juicy rib-eye, cooked medium rare, with horseradish sauce, spinach with lots and lots of garlic, and mashed potatoes. Oh, and of course as many martinis as I can down. And then the chocolatiest chocolate cake. Followed by a latte. Brittany: If you could write a novel about anything what would it be? Additional directions were not to think, but I did. Just my nature. Breaking the rules and all. If I could write a novel, it would be one that contained lots of adventure of course! It would involve travel around the world, to mysterious and dark places with a little danger, a little romance, a lot of action! And of course the heroine would be a super smart, super sexy, capapble and strong woman. I see Angelina Jolie playing me...oh, sorry. (HA HA HA!) Steph: If you won the lottery (mega jackpot) what would you do with the money? Of course I would make a large donation to a charity first. Then, I would buy houses for my family. I'd put my kids in private school, hire a maid and a pool boy, oh, and I guess I'd have to get a house with a pool for the pool boy. And then I'd take off on a round-the-world adventure. Researching my novel, you know. Places on the list? Europe of course, Northern Africa, Turkey, India, Nepal, Australia, South America. Barry: Do you enjoy going to plays or movies more? What's your favorite of each? I like both. That's cheating, I know. But I think that they offer completely different experiences. I love going to the movies. I don't go that often though. I'm selective now about what I spend my $8 on. I also love going to the theater for a play. I've seen some very witty, very well done plays. I assume this means musicals too, because I've seen some great ones of those too. Barry: Can you sing? Do you like to sing? Well, I think everyone can sing, it's just a measure of how well they do it. I don't do it very well at all. But I love to sing. I will sing very loud and slightly off-key to music blaring on the radio while I'm driving in my car. I think I my true calling was to be a rock-star. Someone just forgot to give me the talent. My friends won't take me anywhere there is the danger of having karaoke. Even then, sometimes I seranade them to a song playing in the background. I don't know why they roll their eyes...I'm so unappreciated.

Autumn Equinox

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Got up bright and early this morning and ran the Autumn Equinox 15K. Finished in 1:42:51. I think just a minute too slow to earn a medal, but two minutes under my goal. :( It was, however, a major improvement over my Too Hot performance of 1:48:33. :) Off to boot-scoot.

Your Questions Answered — Round 2

Friday, September 16, 2005

Abby: What made you decide to train for and run a marathon? Laura: What made you decide to take up running in the first place, and how did it evolve from running for a workout to running to perpare for marathons? Or did you set out with a goal to run marathons at first? I'll answer Laura's question first, because it will then lead to Abby's. Sorry for the long response. I am not a runner. My body has never been built for it, and I'm not fast by any stretch of the imagination. When I was a kid, every now and then I would run around the neighborhood with my mom, but more to keep her company than I actually liked to run. I was sort of 'middle of the pack' in PE as far as running went, and I never even tried for track and field. In high school I was on the swim team. Butterfly and backstroke were my specialties. I actually used to do the IM, but I would always get DQ'd for my breaststroke kick. I blame a faulty hip. I hated to sweat, and swimming was great exercise. Two to three hours a day, five days a week. I was in excellent shape; my average resting heart-rate was in the low 50's. Then, after high school, I quit working out all together. I went to the UK for the summer, took up drinking and smoking, and then continued my bad habits in college. I had my kids early, and although I quit smoking during my pregnancies, I would pick it back up again soon after. Some hard times and experiences left me pretty depressed for quite awhile. The combination of all those things, especially the pregnancies!, caused me to gain quite a bit of weight. And, I just stayed that way. I met my friend Judy at my old employer, B&P. Oh, this place also added to my list of anxiety-causing stressors. She picked up running about three or four years ago, and I knew when she was training for her first marathon. I thought it was cool. And, I've always been an 'armchair athlete', glued to events like the Olympics, Iron Mans, Eco-Challenge (before Burnett sold out to corporate), and the like. Not big on the professional sports, but anything individual and challenging, I'm all over it. Last August, when my STB-ex and I were in the midst of our brief reunion after a long separation, I made the decision to quit smoking. It was my early birthday present to myself. I had always said I would quit before I was 30. Then, Judy sent me an IM and said "Hey, wanna do this?". Well, heck. I don't look like those two chicks on the home page, but it said people with no experience could do it. So, I looked it over and said 'Sure'! I don't think she expected that. But once I committed, she couldn't back out. I hadn't been on a bike in years, much less a mountain bike. And, I couldn't run a quarter mile without stopping. I had just quit smoking and was still overweight. So, I decided I needed a little practice. I did some Google searches, and I found Adventure Team. I looked at their site, their forum and a few events, went to Target and bought a knobby-wheeled bike for $50 and a helmet, and showed up. They were super patient with me, and they were so nice and encouraged me to return. So I did. Judy and I did the Women's Adventure Race together, and it was a great experience. For me at least. I think she had a little bit of fun too. Right Judy? But, I was hooked. I had done a practice race with the AT group before, and I think the practice race was harder than the real thing. I wanted to do more. We also did trail running, and some road running. But AT is more about dirt. I did the Bandera 25K in January, a practice AR with my friend Steph, another 25K in Tyler in February, and then my first major adventure race. Then came March. My STB-ex moved out, and I was crushed. I skipped a couple of AT events, hid in my house for two weeks, and then decided to be a little like Forrest, and just run. When I ran, my anger and my pain and my stress melted away. It was an outlet for me. I could think or not think, and I was by myself. It was time for me. So, I set some goals for myself. I ran my first half-marathon in April. My plan was to do some tris and more ARs, and I was going to run Chicago, but Judy wanted to do San Francisco, and wanted someone to do it with, so I jumped on the bandwagon. She gave me an initial training schedule, and then got me to join the Run On! marathon training group. I also came to realize I only had time to train for the marathon. In June and July I did my second and third major ARs. And then I put those aside for the time being and focused on my marathon. So what was it that made me decided to do all this? Well, some of these things were the inspiration for me to start. I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. I had no energy and felt like crap all the time. I keep doing it because I feel like I'm actually accomplishing something. I see this huge challenge in front of me, and I think to myself 'Wow, can I actually do that?'. And then when I do it, I'm proud of myself. After years of no-to-low self-esteem in dealing with my STB-ex and self-neglect because of the host of issues that came along with him, these are things that I am actually choosing to do for myself. I've lost nearly 40 pounds since January, and even though I haven't seen the scale move much more than a quiver in the last couple of months, my body is changing shape. I can see it when I look in the mirror, and I can feel it when I put on my clothes. Nothing in my closet fits me anymore. I look like a hobo in too-big pants, and I'm cinching my belt tighter to keep them on. I've met some great new people, and done more running in one year (over 500 miles I think) than I even think I've done total in my entire life. I like being active, and I'm getting my kids to do it too. So really, I owe the kick-in-the-pants to my friend Judy. She's a hard-core road runner, and she frowns when I tell her about my next off-road adventures. I've stayed on-road for her (and in my own best interests) through this first marathon, but after Oct 23, I'll get back in the dirt again. Thank you Judy for pushing me, and then reining me in when I get off-track. I admire you. I think you're crazier than me sometimes, but I think you're awesome. I wish I had a little more of your discipline, and maybe it'll grow on me. And I'm glad you're my friend. I can't wait to share that fancy boutique hotel with you, and I can't wait to see you dash off the start ahead of me. And then I can't wait to cross that finish line, looking for your smiling face, sharing a big hug and then shedding a tear or two with you that we've accomplished such a feat!

Your Questions Answered — Round 1

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Ooh, I got some good questions! Thanks you guys! Goldie: What would you rather, an Iced Bath or Iced Tea? Definitely Iced Tea! This is Texas after all. I love Iced Tea. Especially flavored teas. In a previous post I made a note about my love of flavored teas. I even crave a specific tea flavor sometimes. Golide: What's been the film you've most enjoyed recently between running up hills? The last film I saw was The 40 Year Old Virgin. I thought this movie was hilarious. Nick didn't like it so much. So, while I was laughing with tears running down my face, he sat and just stared at me like I was an alien. I don't know why some of it tickled me so much, but at one point I thought my head was going to burst from lack of oxygen. Which leads me to my next question. Carnealian: So how's oh Nicky you're so fine??? He's great! I even dragged him out running with me last night. Just a short, easy jog. Then I bought him dinner and a beer for his efforts. Poor thing. On Saturday night we're going dancing again, making four times in the last year I've been to a 'country'-themed bar. Twice with him. Wow. For me, that's something. I'm a very rock-n-roll girl. But, I like dancing, and he makes it fun. He's still making an effort to do nice things for me. Actually, he says it's no effort at all, but I think he's just being sweet. He's also encouraging me to write. Besides what I write on my blog, I don't really spend a lot of time being creative. But, he liked my coffee-spilling story. He even took it to his writing group and read it there, and said it got positive responses. I'm still pondering or formulating my responses to the rest of your questions, so don't dispair. Thanks everyone so much for asking about me and giving me some great ideas. And if you haven't asked yet, ask away!

Drawing a blank

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

I'm getting the feeling that my blog-life is starting to get a little dull. This training is restrictive, and so I've just been running around in circles or for ungodly amounts of time. I'm sure this is starting to bore the heck out of you all. I feel like I've gotten in a blogging rut. I still have the final installment of the Colorado Relay story to write, but haven't. I have the urge to update every day and keep it fresh and new, but I don't want to post just to post. I'm whining again, I know. I've seen a couple of other bloggers post the opportunity for their readers to ask any question(s) they want. Pretty much nothing is off limits. Of course, I won't reveal my kids' names or other like specifics (not that anyone is out there stalking me...I hope), but it's general safety I think...you can never be too sure. And, I suppose I'm arrogant or egotistical enough to think that any of you find me interesting enough to have unanswered questions about me. Maybe this will spur something to give me a secondary theme for blog topics other than my constant training, which is starting to wear on me as much as I'm sure it is you. Don't get me wrong...I'm still enjoying my running, but I have a bit of ADD, so I'm looking forward to when this first major hurdle is done and I can re-broaden my adventure-focus. So, think up a good 'un or two and ask away. Holy heck. What did I just do...

Monday, Monday

Monday, September 12, 2005

Ah yes. Welcome folks to another exciting week in your life! Monday is here to greet us, as usual, and kick off the next seven days! Today I'll be boring myself to death with online training. It's a mandatory training class, but thankfully it's self-paced. Yesterday's ice bath has paid off. Two weeks ago after the surprise 18-miler, I didn't take one, and I regretted it. Yesterday I shivered away twenty minutes of my life, but today I only have some mild soreness in my hips that a little Aleve will fix. The rest of my leg muscles are functioning as expected. This week's training will be modified a bit, as the training class is really pushing us to run a 15K race this Saturday. It will be the last 'race' I can do before my marathon, so it may give me a good estimate of what my marathon will be. After yesterday, I'm just hoping I finish. I haven't hit 20 miles yet, and yesterday, the last 6 were tough, the last 4 painful, and the last 2 were just run on sheer will and determination, avoiding the urge to lay down on the road and cry. In October, I can't wait to hear what I sound like (I end up talking to myself in my delirium) between miles 20 and 26.

Waitin' for the Weekend...

Friday, September 09, 2005

My weekends have been chock-full of activity. Used to be weekends were for sleeping in, eating a late breakfast, reading the paper, occasionally shopping for something specific, tidying up here and there, and being generally lazy. Not lately. I can't remember when the last time was that between Friday night and Sunday night I had absolutely nothing to do. I realize that this is a good thing, but come Monday morning lately I've felt more tired from the weekend than refreshed for the week. This weekend will be no exception. Elle starts her soccer season tomorrow. Her first game of her second season. Based on what I've seen in practices, she looks like she's catching on and gaining more coordination. She was the tallest girl on her team, but evidently an Amazon had a child around the same time as me, and she's been put on our team. Half a head taller and looks to be 10 pounds heavier than my little darling.
Update:Elle had a great game! She scored one goal and almost had another one! They didn't win, but it was a great improvement over last year's first game.
Then Elle, Zed and I will enjoy a nice breakfast at our local mom-n-pop diner.
Update:Check. Almost a good breakfast. My scrambled eggs had a lot of shell in them. I couldn't finish them...I almost puked. But the English muffin with orange marmalade helped.
Depending on if I get up early or not, the afternoon will most likely be reserved for a mowing my lawn. It's been almost three weeks...I can barely see my front door from the street. OK, this is a slight exaggeration. But I think I saw a bird disappear into the foliage yesterday.
Update:Done. An hour and two lawn debris bags later and I can see my front door again.
My grandparents are taking Elle to an FC Dallas soccer game at the new Pizza Hut Park in Frisco. Zed is either going to spend the evening with my mom or sister. Each kid likes to have a little 'alone' time where all the attention from whomever can be focused on them. It's amazing how good they can be when they're one-on-one. I'll have dinner with Nick and probably play a cut-throat game of Trivial Pursuit (I'll win of course). Then, to bed early for me because I have a 3:40 run on Sunday. I'm hoping for at least 18 miles again. I had two good runs this week, so hopefully that will continue over into Sunday's run.
Update:Last night Nick and I went to Starbucks. I did the crossword and he read. No Trivial Pursuit action. Then pizza for dinner. Today's run started out well. I was feeling good through the first twelve miles. The last six were kind of a blur. I think I got a little delirious from the pain. I managed to get in 18.2 miles in 3:40:45. Not a fast pace, but it got me over the line. I took another ice bath toay. That was a chilling experience to day the least, and reminded me why I don't take them that often. I drove over to my grandparent's house to get my kids. I was too tired to drive an hour and a half by myself to get to the safari and my legs couldn't handle sitting in the car that long. I ended up taking a nap on the couch with my grandmother and Elle. I took the kids to Fuddruckers for some not-so-good-for-you-but-oh-so-tasty burgers, then to the mall, then to Barnes & Noble, and now we're all being quiet again before dinner. I haven't watched any of my rental movies, nor touched my knitting. I'm too tired to concentrate.
After my run on Sunday, I'll be taking the kids on a safari. Whew! I'm already tired! And there's more on the list. I have three movies sitting on top of my TV to watch...thank goodness Blockbuster Online just keeps charging me my monthly rental fees...I've had a couple of them for quite awhile. Really, it would have been cheaper for me to buy these movies by now. I've got Garden State, A Day Without a Mexican, and 13 Going on 30. I also have a knitting project (or four) sitting on hold. Summer time is just too warm to knit. I was going to make a jumper and hat set for my girlfriend Michelle's new baby. Well, good thing I planned on making it big...at this rate it'll be done by the time he's two.

I Heart Mileage & Speed

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Oh yes I do! And hey, for me, yeah, this is speedy. 8 x 1 mile repeats. 11:00; 11:06; 10:57; 10:39; 10:42; 10:49; 10:28; 9:51 Total 1:25:32 (I think?) for an average of about 10:40. The first four I ran with some girls from my running group. But they had started before me (which is why the fourth one was so fast...it was their last) so I had to do the last four on my own. During my last three, the drill team at the local high school was starting to come out, so I had to dodge props, and then on the last repeat, the PE class came out and so I had to dodge teenagers on the track. I'm now enjoying a fresh-from-the-oven raspberry scone and a cup of coffee. Good start to a good day!

Wild West Relay Volume IV: Gettin' Our Ass over the Pass

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

After my restless and brief sleep, I arose to another cool, crisp Colorado morning. Even though I slept maybe a half hour, it felt like six. I wanted another hot meal before we headed out on the road, so I walked over to the Cafe down the block and found Judy and Keith already encamped at a table. I joined them and got a quick breakfast and cup of coffee. This was actually and educational breakfast. Keith taught me how to make the creamer cups moo. I then dazzled the waitress into speechlessness as I gave her a lesson as well. Really, she had no clue what to say, and Keith, Judy and I dissolved into giggles. This is what happens when you have less than two hours sleep in a twenty-four hour period, coupled with high-altitude exercise. Back to the hotel, I made another quick Audioblog check-in. I know you all loved it. Humor me, OK? Then, Judy wrestled me away from the phone and into the van. We pulled away from Walden and headed toward Rabbit Ears Pass near the Continental Divide. As we drove along the rolling hills of the Laramie Valley, we looked for our runners, but saw only empty exchanges. Hoping that we weren't late, we finally spied Celine, our 5th spot runner. She was chugging along, gaining on what appeared to be a man skipping his leg of the race. Yes, indeed, the man was skipping. Had to be a Hasher! Later we would find out indeed, it was a Hasher. We drove on to the 30th exchange to wait patiently for Celine, then Vickie, to finish their runs. This exchange was along a busy section of road, near a bend and a hill. There were probably 20 or so vans parked along here, each piled with 6-8 runners, so it was a busy place. This, coupled with the busy road set the exchange monitors into a tizzy. "Off the road!" the would bellow every couple of minutes. Below are pictures of Keith demonstrating how to safely stand on the side of the road and how to risk getting your big toe taken off by an 18-wheeler. We stared at Rabbit Ears Pass above the exchange, and at the hills in the distance, yelled for all the runners heading by, and then chatted again with our Van 1 teammates when they finally arrived to wait for Vickie. I munched on my box of Honey Nut Cheerios and planted a few donut seeds in the Colorado soil. (Oh come on...you've heard this one! Q: What did the blonde say when she opened the box of Cheerios? A: Look! Donut seeds! *no blondes were injured in the telling of this joke*) '7% Bill' geared up for another up-hill run, though this one not at quite such a steep grade. A walk in the park really after his run the previous night. When Vickie came in, Van 1 was done! Our trusty legs 1-6 runners had finished their duty and we were solidly even with our other Flatlander competition. If we were going to win it, these last six legs were where it was going to happen. Hey, no pressure. So, Bill was off, and so were we, headed for exchange 31 at the Continental Divide. Lots to see and do here what with crossing the Colorado highway to get pictures under the Divide sign and hanging out under the exchange awning, taking over the lawn chairs from a couple of six year olds. Oh, and there were bubbles too. What fun. Bill came charging up the hill and handed off to Brad. Wow! We now had a 13 minute lead over the other Flatlanders! I think this was the biggest lead we'd had in the race. Brad had a steep climb and then a bit of rolling hills. Near the top of his climb he flagged us down as we drove by. Fearing he was injured, we were relieved when he handed over his dead iPod. At Exchange 32, we waited at the top of Brad's final climb. He came blazing in, gaining another 10 minutes on our foes! He handed off to Keith, who would be the first to start our descent into the valley where Steamboat lay, waiting for our arrival. The day was warming up quickly, and we could tell it was going to be a hard finish. At Exchange 33 Judy waited nervously. She had another long descent, 1800 feet over 5 miles. She didn't want to carry any water, so we planned to drive half-way down the mountain and then pull over to hand off some water to her. Keith rounded his bend in and approached the exchange with arms raised in anticipated victory. We had picked up another minute! A 24 minute lead! Judy took off for her final leg, and we drove down the winding mountain road, looking for a pull-over spot. We parked near a runaway truck ramp and waited for her to round the bend. This is where I was attacked by a giant grasshopper. I managed to survive, but just barely. Keith and I walked a bit up the hill so that if she chose to walk while she drank we could give her a bit of company. But no, she grabbed the water bottle, took a swig, and kept on running. She was a machine on a mission! We hurried down to Exchange 34. We checked the time of our competition, and their runner had a great time on this leg. This was the runner that had evened-up all of our previous leads, so we knew he was strong. We saw Judy's pink singlet come around the corner, and she raised her arms in celebration of a great finish. Despite her very strong run, our lead had been whittled to 14 minutes by Sir Speedy on the other team. Chris and Snoopy took off, and I started to get a sick feeling in my stomach. I had known that as the last runner I would potentially have the race in my hands (or feet as it were), but this was a closer margin than what I had prepared in my mind. I applied a bunch of sunscreen and drank some extra water. The sun was beating down now, and I could feel the sizzle on my neck just standing around. We pulled in at Exchange 35, and I made a final visit to the Royal Flush portalets. I put my MP3 player on 'Eye of the Tiger' (cheesy, I know) to psych myself up. Then, Keith, Judy and I discussed strategy. I had 5.2 miles to cover. I had a bit of a lead, but didn't know what it would finally be when Chris came in. Keith gave me his Garmin so I could more accurately keep track of my pace, and we all decided that if I kept it under 12's we should be fine. I hadn't done this so far in the race, and I knew it would be a challenge and I was going to have to run hard. As I stood at the Exchange, my stomach was in knots. Laughing and joking time were over. Sure, we were there for fun, but we had a win in our sights and we all wanted it. I watched the time tick away, and knew what time the other team had come in. We now had less than 10 minutes lead time. Their runners 10 & 11 had proven to be strong the entire race and hadn't faltered this time around. Chris came around the bend, and all my nerves went away. I just had to run along a gorgeous river in a gorgeous ski resort town, and we were done. I took the 'baton bracelet' from Chris and took off with a 6 minute lead. 'Not too fast!' Judy yelled behind me. Hey, I needed to look good for all the other racers at the exchange! I slowed down a bit as I ran around out of sight. The paved path was nice, and I could pretty much see the river the whole way. There were obstacles to deal with though...bikers and walkers. I was seranaded by a few crying babies, and nearly run over by one crazed 5 year old, but my cat-like reflexes kept me on my feet. I was watching my pace the entire way, and staying just under a 12 minute pace. I watched the mileage tick away, and it seemed that the run was going faster than I expected. Then, at around 3 miles, I could see two people standing on the side of the path ahead. They looked familiar, and as I approached, I could make out that it was George and Judy. My stomach sank. I thought for sure the 12th leg runner on the other team had a great leg and they were there to push me in. I prepared myself for a punishing pace. But, as I got closer, I could see the smile on Judy's and George's faces. 'Great job!' they said as I got in ear-shot. 'We've got a huge lead on them now. Just under 20 minutes.' George made me give him my fluid-bottle belt, and Judy handed me an cold bandanna for my neck. They even tried to get me to walk! I wanted to keep running for fear that I wouldn't be able to get going again. After a bit though they convinced me that a run/walk would still get us over the finish line in time. We approached the main drag in Steamboat, and proceeded with caution. Jaywalking is a no-no in Steamboat, and the cops were staked out tickets to give any runner that crossed against the light. This was grounds for immediate disquialification. So, we waited for the green, and then crossed. I felt a bit weird to be running amongst all the tourists, but we soon entered a residential section where there was no foot traffic. I could smell the asphalt baking under the sun, and then I saw the '1 mile remaining' sign. Whew! Just a bit more. I even got a little bit of trail at the end as the course wound through a park and up a hill. A race spotter walkie-talkied our number ahead to the announcer, and when we got closer, another spotter signaled our immenent arrival. I untied the spare Texas flag bandanna from around my neck (mine was tied around my head in Interstellar do-rag fashion) and held it high above my head. As we rounded the corner, I could hear the announcer doing his job (announcing us) and then I heard, 'Wait, let me confirm. Yes, I now have confirmed that is a Texas flag being waved over Colorado soil.' I could now see the rest of the Dallas Hill Wranglers waiting at the edge of the track that connected with the trail. As Judy and George followed me in on the track, they joined us. Judy and I joined hands and I waved the Texas flag above my head, hollerin' as we jogged the final 25 yards to the finish. And, of course, Judy and I teared up as soon as we were done. I knew how much this meant to her, and she had worked so hard coordinating all the race and travel details. I was proud of my friend for doing such a great job, and she was proud of me for draggin' my butt across the finish line. 'You did it!' she said as we hugged and cheered. 'We did it!' I countered back to her. We won the Flatlanders division by 10 minutes. Not a resounding win, but a win nevertheless. Oh, and did I mention our team make-up? Six men, six women, ages 30 to 61, with running experience ranging from 6 months (me) to decades. The other Flatlander team? I don't know male/female ratio or running experience, but I do know that they were all under 30. Now, I do think that's something.

Take the bad with the good

I've been beating myself up a bit over the last couple of weeks over my running. I know I need to stop doing this. My long runs the last two weeks haven't been good, and this Sunday was a repeat of last Sunday. :( After today though I feel like I'm a bit more back on track. :) Sunday's plan was 2:10, 30 min warm-up, 1:30 marathon pace, 10 min cool-down. Made the 30 minute warm-up OK, and then started in on the marathon pace, but didn't get too far into it before my legs turned to lead. I'm going back to see Dr. Pain this week or next week some time. I haven't been to see him since I started the new job, and I just can't seem to stretch enough. I think this is part of my problem. Sunday's actual results ended up being a 2:12 run over 11 miles, which is a 12 min-mi pace. I should have been right at an 11:30 average. Today's plan was a 10 min warm-up, 45 minutes at marathon pace, 10 min cool-down. .88 miles on my warm-up, stretched a lot more than I normally do, then started on my MP mileage. I finished 4.25 miles in 44:37. My mile split times were at 10:50, 21:25, 31:50, 41:58. Then I looked at my watch and realized I didn't have time for a full 10 min cool-down. So, I walked once around the track to get my breathing back under control and then went home. I was very pleased with this morning's effort. I need to learn to shake off those disappointing runs more quickly because they're starting to affect my mood during the day too!

Wild West Relay Volume III: Full Moon Running

Friday, September 02, 2005

We drove north out of Walden, along CO125. As we drove, we noted our exchange points for later. We were driving the opposite way we would be running that night. The rolling hills didn't seem so bad, in the car that is. The sun was dipping below the mountains as we crossed into Wyoming, where the road became WY230. We could have had a bit more of a nap in the hotel, but we since we had no contact with our other van, we weren't sure exactly where they were. We had our time estimates, but that's all they were...estimates. We surely didn't want to be late! We arrived at the 19th Exchange and it was dark! It looked like a huge party. There were runners in flashing, blinking lights, people wrapped in blankets, people sleeping in vans, and people coming in and out of the restaurant/bar/lounge where there was food, warmth and flushing toilets. We figured we had at least an hour before our runner was set to make his exchange, so we sat in the van, chatted nervously, and tried to nap as best we could. I downloaded pictures from my camera onto my laptop and packaged them for uploading. I had no internet connection, but it was something to do to pass the time. Periodically I would hop out of the van, locate one of my teammates by their flashy-blinky-light and chat till I was too chilly. Then I'd jump back in the van to warm up. One of our mandatory gear requirements was a flashing safety light. Keith is a bit of a rebel, and so he was looking for something to distinguish the Wranglers from all the other runners. He found it here. He ordered 25 of these, and so we had two each. One for the front, and one for the back. And, believe it or not, we could see these coming for quite some distance! And everyone at the Exchanges loved them! 'Hey, it's the flashy blinky guys!'. Quite the conversation starter. Our Van 1 compadres finally showed up. We had about twenty minutes before Vickie would be coming 'round the mountain. Bill started to warm up, and we waited nervously at the exchange. This was going to be Bill's hardest leg. We saw Vickie's flashy-blinky come around the bend and Bill lined up at the exchange. She passed off the 'baton' to him, and he was gone! 8.8 miles and 1655 feet of elevation gain. We had driven down this to get to the exchange. 7% grade the entire way. Thus, Bill became known as 'Mr. 7%' or '7% Bill'. I have the uptmost respect for this guy, and he actually ENJOYED the run! Brad was up next and began our initial descent for 4.3 miles out of the mountains of Wyoming. On the way in we joked that even if he got tired, he wouldn't be able to stop at the WyColo Lounge (dive bar on the side of the road as we drove). They'd be closed by the time he got there. By now, we were approaching the 'middle of the night'. We were leaving the exchange, going about half-way past our runners, pulling to the side of the road, waiting for them to pass and checking their fluid levels and general well-being, then moving on to the next exchange, and sneaking in a cat-nap. Brad handed off to Keith. He continued the decent over 7.1 miles, and took us from Wyoming, back into Colorado. It was cool to drive past all the runners at night. They all had different types of lights and reflectors. There was even one group that wrapped orange reflective tape all around their body and looked like the people from Tron. Judy bundled up like an Eskimo and waited for her turn to run. Even in the middle of the night at each Exchange, there was still excitement. Runners would approach, and the volunteer spotters would yell down or walkie-talkie down the team number. Then, the next runner for that team would hurry over to the exchange area to accept the hand-off. Except for Team 33. The guy comes blazing in, and everyone is yelling 'Team 33!' over and over. Once he catches his breath, he starts yelling for his teammate. When it was obvious no one was hearing, he ran up the hill and found his entire van ASLEEP! Ooops. Some poor girl got yanked out of her slumber and had to jump up and run. Can't imagine that felt good at all. To her credit, he was 7 minutes faster on his leg than he was supposed to be. Maybe they had an alarm set or something. Keith came in and handed off to Judy for her 4.1 mile run. He was running fast too, and came in coughing and sputtering as most of us were. These were the highest altitude legs, and we were having so much fun with the lack of oxygen. Once he was able to breathe again, we jumped into the van and headed for the 'mini-mart but not a mini-mart' exchange. There used to be a mini-mart there evidently, but someone bought it and shut it down, but decided not to take down the sign. Makes sense right? Anyway, I fell asleep again at this exchange, and I missed Judy coming in and crying. Evidently, she got a little warm while she was running and took off her gloves to cool her hands. Judy is just a little thing, and has small hands. The 'baton' bracelet fell off her wrist, and she didn't know it until she was looking for it to hand off to Chris for her 6.6 miles. No worries I told her. I had heard other people lost the bracelets or had broken them. I didn't think it was going to be a big deal. We lumbered back into the van and headed for my exchange. I had been looking forward to this for the entire trip. When I was checking out legs, I of course wanted the easiest position possible. And then, when we figured out which ones were going to be at night, I was pleasantly surprised to find out my leg 24 was one of the 'dark legs'. Woo Hoo! As Judy ran in, it was approaching 3:40 in the morning. I took off for my 6.2 miles of rolling terrain down the straight blacktop. The moon was completely full, and brilliantly lit up the mountain skies. I looked around at the majesty of the scenery around me. There were hills on my left, mountains on my right, the moon up above, and stars all around. I could clearly make out a few consellations that I know. Soon after I started, one runner passed me. And, excepting the few vans that passed by and then disappeared over the hills, I saw no one and heard nothing except for my own breathing and dogs barking far off in the distance. The air was cold and crisp. My nose was running again of course, combination of cold, exercise and nasal spray, but I was able to gulp down deep breaths without much problem. For a few brief moments, I felt isolated, like the only person in the world. Tiny among the enormousness of the landcape around me. Both humbling and thrilling at the same time, it was just me and the road. I was there under my own power and I had to get myself where I was going. My legs felt good, and I was running steady. My hands did start to get cold, and before the end of it, they were pretty numb. I saw the '1 mile to go' victory sign as I approached the outskirts of the town. There were signs to direct me on the turns to the exchange point, as they were off the main road. I could hear the exchange before I could see it. So, I picked up my pace and ran in the last few hundred yards at as much of a sprint as I could muster, handed off the baton to Paul, and stopped my watch. 1:23:15. 5:03 am. Just shy of my 1:22 goal. Not fast, I know, but under the conditions and for me...well, I was proud! I was breathing hard and needed to restore feeling to my legs, so I declined the ride to the hotel and walked instead. It was just around the corner really. I got to the hotel, pulled off my gloves, and my hands were red and swollen and cold. I pulled together my shower stuff and turned on the hot water. As feeling started to return to my hands, they went all itchy. In the shower, I could feel the warm water on my back, but for some reason it was cool on my legs. Ah, yes, my derriere was frozen too! I kid you not. I brushed my teeth and my hair, and laid down on the bed for a brief nap before it was time to depart for our final set of legs. Up Next: Wild West Relay Volume IV: Gettin' Our Ass over the Pass