Thursday, September 20, 2012


A couple of years ago, when I was over in Germany traveling with my brother, Stefan, and sister-in-law, Abigail, my brother gave me a very special gift ~ a talisman!  A special little "good luck charm" that I carry with me often.  We were at a little souvenir shop in a little town, and while Abigail and I were inside looking at postcards, my brother was dumping all of his small change on the lady at the small shop and gathering up little gifts to give out to folks back home.  Little did I know, he was getting me a little something too!

My good luck charm is hooked to my key chain and I often take it with me when I am running as well as when I'm in the car.  I actually carried it with me through Colorado on the TransRockies course!  It was hooked inside a pocket in my pack.  Indeed, on Stage 5 when I got my asthma inhaler out for a friend who was having trouble breathing because of all of the dust, I ran the last mile with that pocket unzipped and open, and did not lose it (whew).

The significance of the talisman is this:  it features St. Christopher, who is the patron saint of travelers and children.  Well, I'm not a child, but I fell like a kid at heart.  And I travel often, and on foot, so a little looking after by good St. Christopher is much appreciated by myself.  On the back of the medallion, it says, "God protects you" in German. You can read more about the saint here.

If you are traveling in Europe, and especially in southern Germany, you will notice that the taxi drivers and even some of the buses, and many of the private citizens have St. Christopher medallions mounted on the dashboard of their vehicles or carry a St. Christopher key chain.  Someone asked me if this was strange, because he thought Germany was more of a Protestant country, when in fact southern Germany is predominantly Catholic.

My talisman has worked its way loose a couple of times and fallen off of my keychain, but it's always happened in an area where I see it and have been able to pick it up again, which I find curious and am wondering if it is the saint hinting to me to just pay a little more attention to things around me.  I think it's a very good sign that it has fallen off and I have immediately found it has come loose ~ does it mean that St. Christopher is really watching?  I hope so...  and I will continue to carry my talisman!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Keeping Things In Perspective

After I finished TransRockies almost a month ago, which is hard to believe, I felt like a million bucks.  I felt strong and practically invincible on the trail.  I felt fast and everything felt easy.  I had this little voice in the back of my head telling me to be careful ~ it would be too easy to suddenly feel overtrained and tired.

And guess what?  That's exactly what happened.  After a couple of weeks of strong, nearly-effortless running, my body told me to stop.  I kept running last week, but didn't feel right.  Little things were suddenly hurting a lot.  I went and got a massage and felt a little better, but still things were not quite right.  I think I've narrowed it down~ my quads got so strong that they have pulled my pelvis out of alignment, tipping it forward, which puts strain on my hips, lower back, and upper hamstrings attachment.

So I decided to take a bit of my own advice.  Which is tough, because I've committed to running the Bear 100 on September 28th, just two weeks away.  What would I tell one of my patients, if they came to me with the same complaints?  I would tell them to back off, literally.

So now I find myself doing easy dog walks both in the city and in the foothills.  Mostly flat terrain, and mostly at three miles per hour.  I'm using the foam roller daily, taking ibuprofen three times per day, and stretching.  I have two more massages booked before the race.  The one thing I could improve upon is drinking more water ~ I need to drink at least 3 liters per day and I'm probably drinking one and a half.

Now the little voice in the back of my head is telling me, "Don't worry.  The hay is in the barn and you have plenty of training miles banked up from a great summer of running, without injury.  Don't blow it!  Take this time to enjoy the scenery and keep things in perspective."

So that's what I'm doing.  Dog walks, no running for the last three days, and enjoying the scenery.  I'm keeping things in perspective and looking forward to my event two weeks from today.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Triple Duty at Wasatch 100

Always a welcoming sight:  Big Mountain aid station
was Olympic theme this year ~
I kind of missed the pink flamingosfrom years past.
This past weekend I did triple duty at the Wasatch 100.  In the days leading up to the race, I started getting really nervous (mostly upset stomach) thinking of the gravity of what so many of my friends would be accomplishing this weekend.  Some of them finished, and some of them did not.  But all of them had an epic adventure in the Wasatch mountains, and I was lucky enough to be there to witness it.

Kim's crew boss, Ann
I wanted to put up a post on Facebook and "tag" all of my friends who were running.  But as I scrolled through the start list of over 300 racers, I realized that I actually knew (not just acquainted with, but face-to-face knew) about 40 people who were racing.  I have some pretty amazing friends.  Unfortunately, Facebook didn't want me to tag that many folks in one status update, so it would have to suffice to post a generalized statement wishing everyone luck.

Ants on a ridge top ~ Bald Mountain
First duty:  pacing my friend Kim.  I met up with crew chief Ann on race day, and after a quick trip down the canyon to get a fresh coke Slurpee for Kim, we met her at Big Mountain.  I ran with her for about 13 miles over the ridge tops, stopping briefly at Alexander Spring aid station (she wanted to sit down, but I wouldn't let her.  She squatted near the aid station while I got her a ham sandwich which I pretty much force-fed her as we walked down the trail away from the aid station).  Things got dark, fast.  Coming around the corner, about two miles outside of the Lamb's Canyon aid station, we saw the lit-up tents in the distance.  It was like a desert oasis, waiting for us... a mirage.

We laughed and told stories all along the way, and I recited tales from my TransRockies adventure and clips from Modern Family television episodes.  We had a really great time.  We got to Lamb's, and met up again with Ann, crew boss, and the night pacer, Janice.  After getting Kim changed into warmer clothes and force-fed some mashed potatoes, they went on their way towards Millcreek and Brighton, off in the night...

Looking down at Little Dell Reservoir
Then came duty #2:  volunteer at Lamb's Canyon.  It was about 10pm when I started my volunteer duties for the night, mostly hanging out with Matthew and Naomi on the soup station, but also cleaning up random trash and straightening up.  As it got closer to the midnight cut-off, I had a couple of medical consults:  one person falling asleep with very low blood sugar and another with major muscle spasms and cramping from electrolyte disturbance.  Getting them hydrated and talking them out of puking for an hour or so worked wonders for their conditions.  And although they both ended up dropping out of the race, I felt like I had served a real purpose and kept some people a bit safer.  Their families were very gracious and thankful, and it really made my night when I heard their kind words, after spending time with their loved-ones to get them feeling a bit better.

Holla!  Kim coming down Bald Mountain
After the midnight cut-off, those of us left at the aid station (I was impressed that there were about a dozen of us who had stayed until about 1am) were left with clean-up duty.  This meant cleaning up and loading everything into a UHaul moving truck:  all of the food tables, soup station, tables, chairs, water jugs, and the biggest task:  taking down Jim Skagg's big white (wedding) tents that we had borrowed from the Antelope Island races.  Wow, they came down systematically and relatively quickly.  Jim had bins labeled for each section of tent or piece of metal tubing, and hopefully we didn't mix things up too much.  It all seemed pretty organized to me, and I thought we worked really well as a team to get things taken down.  A highway patrolman stopped by about midway through the tent-disassembly process, and was surprised to find a bunch of stand-up citizens such as ourselves and not a bunch of rowdy drunks on the side of the highway.  We offered to let him help with the tents, but he declined and continued on his peacekeeping rounds.
Just a pacer ~ me on Bald Mountain

After driving down Parley's Canyon at about 2am, I got home, showered, and ate some scrambled eggs and toast and hit the hay.  I'd had a long day and needed some rest.  The dogs woke me up at 7am wanting their breakfast, and I fed them and went back to bed for a bit.  I woke at about 10:30 and after drinking a half a pot of coffee and catching up with runner positions on the Wasatch 100 website, I found the motivation to move on to duty #3:

Finish line duty.  I drove up to Midway, Utah to the Homestead, site of the race finish festivities.  Just missed a couple of friends finishing due to construction traffic in Parley's Canyon, but saw a whole bunch of other friends finish, and those whom I did not see finish I was able to hang out with and listen to their stories.  I ate one of the best cheeseburgers of my life, worth every penny of the $13 I spent on it and a bunch of fries, and drank a few PBRs as well.  So many smiles there at the Wasatch 100 finish line, and I was so thankful that I already had my own buckle (from last year) that I won't have to run that race anytime soon ~ it's a doozy.
Girls with smiles ~

Watching my friends finish and listening to them tell their stories really got me excited for the Bear 100, coming up in three weeks.  Because of the fortunate timing (sometimes these two races are only two weeks apart) many of my friends will be racing the Bear 100 up in Logan, Utah as well.  I couldn't be more amazed and proud to call them my friends.

After triple duty at Wasatch 100, I'm looking forward to running my own race at the Bear.  It will be another great dance in the mountains with friends.
Kim was bathed in golden light coming
into Alexander aid station