A good start!!!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

The Georgetown Colorado Pack Burro Race

Done!!! Check that one off the bucket list, I ran my first pack burro race. And add a few more onto that list, I am SO ready to go do another one … or two … or three … or …

Donkeys have become a routine part of my family’s life. The kids and I are regulars at Longhopes and try to volunteer weekly. I’ve got a great ranch where my running buddy Guinness, aka Boo Boo, lives. The only issue is finding the time to balance it all. But things have a way of working out. 

I’ve had a large focus on trail running lately. I also got a FAB-U-LOUS new road bike - carbon frame magnificence. So when I get out life is truly, truly grand. 

Today was The Georgetown Colorado Pack Burro Race. The course is roughly 8 miles of town, dirt roads, and single track trails out and back to the city of Empire. 

We met up with Ross and Kay from Two Sweets Ranch. I had lots of wonderful co-runners with Ross’ crew - and we had two of our Longhopes residents, Pirate and Bliss, running today - WOOT!! My co-Diva Jessica and her husband were also running with another ranch. Add my family, parents, and big sister Susan and I was in fine company, indeed. 

33 lbs of old timey goodness
We registered - very informal for us 49 running teams - and got our gear weighed in. Each mining pack must have 33 lbs between saddle, blanket, gear, gold pan, shovel, and pick axe. None of the weight can include our personal items. Then we got our buddies all geared up and headed into town for our big start.

Relaxing with Boo

Getting my little man outfitted
Sooo Handsome!!
My Badass Mother Runner shirt next to a bunch of badass' asses.

Instructions were given prior to go time. I tried to listen, especially to the directions as the course was marked with flour and little more. I SOOOO didn’t want to get off track. 

The kids and me heading to the start
The A Wave - spoiler - those minis in front WON the race. Size does NOT matter!

And off we went!!! I was prepared for a sprint start as most donkeys start fast with the crowd. But not my buddy Boo. He’s as cool headed as they come. They call him Boo Boo based on the Yogi Bear cartoons - he is so cautious and has a look about him that clearly states “I just don’t know about this …” And that is why I picked him as my companion.

So we were at a lovely and steady trot as we wove through town, under I-70, and hit a dirt frontage road and the first hills. Boo was doing beautifully. Upon hitting the hills he opted to walk. I tried to harrumph him as best I could but he was steadfast. He seemed to be telling me to chill out, he was the expert and I the novice. At the top of the hills he would continue his pretty little trot. Smooth and steady. What a good little man. 

By mile two we hit a single track trail all uphill with switchbacks. Up to this point we were averaging 9:30-10:30 miles. Once things got steep it was walk time. And I was just fine with that. There were lots of scree on a steep edge. Boo knew what he was doing and we carried on. 

Mile three we returned to a nice dirt road and lots of downhill. Boo picked up the pace and we trotted along our way to town. The weather was lovely, the view magnificent. It was a wonderful, wonderful day just to be a resident of the planet Earth. I happily zoned out to the clopping of Boo’s hooves as we let the world slip by. 

About a third of a mile from the turn around we began passing the teams from Two Sweets. Naturally, this worried Boo as donkeys are pack animals. He definitely didn’t like seeing his pack leave him. Not that this encouraged him to pick up the speed - which I would have liked. He slowed down and watched them pass, then tried to turn around. 

Naughty, Boo. I kept him moving forward but lost our nice trot. Back to walking. But, hey, we were still moving. 

The next mile we settled in with about 5 other teams. All the donkeys weren’t particularly interested in running. It was a pretty funny sight to see us all harrumphing our buddies into a trot. Boo was getting annoyed with me. When he gets annoyed he starts to hum. When he starts humming you’d better listen. Push a donkey too hard and he will shut down on you … and be prepared for a loooong wait by the side of the road. 

So I sweet talked him along the way … kept hup, hupping him, reminding him how devastatingly handsome he was, called him every nickname for Boo I could come up with, and singing Badfinger’s ‘Baby Blue’ as ‘Baby Boo.’ Sure, I would have loved to be running, but I was so very, VERY happy just be be out there with my new best friend. 

Back to steep downhill on the singletrack. Boo was careful, surefooted, and picked up the pace. Still walking on the uphills, but clipping along just fine on the flats and downhills. 

Back into town and Boo put on the brakes. There were a lot of cars heading into Georgetown and he wasn’t too happy about that. He tried to turn around twice to head back to the trail. It took some wrangling but I got him to move forward. At this point my friend Jessica and her donkey Jack caught up with us - looking great!!

We got off the busy road into the back road to return to town. Boo was trotting again as I passed my parents. Then we came to a bridge and … nope. Back to walking. We were less than quarter of mile from the finish and I went all Calamity Jane on his adorable little butt. We got running towards the finish and were looking pretty studly.

Heading back into town
Then Boo saw all the other donkeys across the finish line and decided his work was done. So he decided to walk to the finish … and then I had to drag him over the finish line. Looking at the pictures I swear he was grinning. Silly, silly boy!!

Sprinting to the finish ...
Walking to the finish ...
Shoving to the finish ... 
Dragging to the finish ...
I was on cloud nine as I regrouped with the rest of my family and friends then we waited for the rest of our finishers. We managed to find some shortbread cookies as a treat for Boo’s hard work. There was never a more appreciative little donkey. 

Why isn't anyone playing 'We Are the Champions' for us?

And now my day is done. I am happily tired and a little sun drunk. I’m feeling great. Happy Memorial Day from me and Hee Haw from Boo Boo!!!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Two Good Weeks

Hah, so much for the day by day recap of our trip. I got crazy busy over the past few weeks. Lots of good things going on, running and cycling are really coming along well. I’m pretty happy. 

So here’s a brief break down since last post. 

The rest of our New Mexico mad dash. Everything went very well. The remainder of the trip highlights … 

  • Breakfast to Nellie’s Cafe in Las Cruces. I would drive all the frack down there just to eat there again. Green chili mecca!
  • The White Sands Missile Museum. Very, very eerie out there. Definitely the kind of place where you would want to blow things up. 
    Totally the kind of place my dad would have taken us
  • Alamgordo and The World’s Largest Pistachio. We spent way too much time here. Lots of fun people to talk to and lots of pistachio goodness to eat. Unfortunately, this put us way off track. 
    I love my silly family

  • My freak out drive to Carlsbad Caverns. We arrived five minutes after the last elevator to the bottom. I almost cried. But people are good. Very, very good. They took us down anyhow. I really did cry. The kids loved the caverns. 
    In a hole in the ground there lived ... us.
  • The Blue Swallow Motel - by night. We got in very late. The room was retro awesomeness. The kids crashed as soon as we got there. Susan and I sat up drinking gimlets and laughing our butts off.
    True rotary Ma Bell from 1938. Still works!!
  • The Blue Swallow Motel - by day. Had a wonderful time talking with all the Route 66 pilgrims staying there. Lots of great stories as to why they were there. The owners were delightful people. I wish there was time to stay longer.
  • Chillin' at The Blue Swallow!
  • Fantastic breakfast at a diner on 66 and a long drive home. A GREAT trip. 
    Time to go home
The kids were wonderful. We made it through ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ and they loved it - SCORE!! Uneventful drive home and the beauty of sleeping in one’s own bed, again. 

Next week I went up to The Manitou Incline with a bunch of my buddies. It snowed the day before so we were dubious. But the trail was in good shape with just a little ice. The weather was gorgeous and the trail was vertical hell - just what we needed. 2100 elevation gain in less than a mile. Ouch. The rest of the girls wanted to break trail (6 inches of snow at the top) and run further up. But I had hopped into a half marathon last minute for the upcoming weekend and didn’t want to wear out my legs. So, I thoroughly enjoyed the solo 2.5 mile downhill run along The Barr Trail and had to head back home early for Girl Scouts. 

Last weekend was The Platte River Half Marathon. I decided to run this one for training, I needed 18 for the day. Nice and flat, just a short drive from home. Better yet, I just got a new running kilt in my family’s colors. Decided to take it for a test drive.

I found Cynthia before the start and had a quick visit with her. No race breakdown to share. I kept it easy and slow and had a very nice training run. Nothing more. Just right. And no issues with the kilt, it was great to run on. I decided this will be my New York gear!

Post race, I kept it quick. Found the beer and some time to visit with friends. Then had to hustle home to the family. 

Gu and beer - the breakfast of champions

This week has been lovely. Found some free time and have been spending lots of time of my bike. I’m romancing a gorgeous Cannondale on Craigslist that I’m trying to get the owner down a bit on. Come on, I want it!!!! Fingers crossed. 

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Road Trip - Day One - The Long Haul

“This is a roadside attraction,' said Wednesday. 'One of the finest. Which means it is a place of power.” Neil Gaiman, ‘American Gods.’
I am a huge Neil Gaiman fan. ‘American Gods’ is a particularly fun, trippy favorite book of mine. He takes the roadside attraction and makes them into mini shrines to Gods long forgotten that people are unconsciously drawn to. The stone houses, the Mystery Spots (the place, not my boob), the bizarre museums. All very significant places. Not dusty, forgettable side shows that they seem to be. 
So everything yesterday got started right on track … with a few hitches. Hitches are always expected when I’m in charge. 
My friend Carrie and the kids went out and got us Voodoo Donuts for breakfast. Somewhere around three am there was some strange rustling downstairs and, damn it, Ruby tipped over the donuts and was enjoying her first maple bacon bar. Seriously??? Wicked dog!
We got on the road and all went very well. Great music, great conversation. We got started early enough to miss any traffic through Colorado Springs. My car is an absolute dream to drive so we zipped right into New Mexico in a blink. 
First stop …
Springer … The Santa Fe Trail Museum - home of The Electric Chair and the shoe of the world’s largest man!!!

Closed. Huh, how about that?? Poor Elizabeth was visibly upset. We walked around the building peeking in windows, there was a dusty miasma of mining equipment and dioramas. But not for us. 
The building was cool. There was a war memorial on the grounds that we tromped around. We then decided to drive the main street and found a very cool and creepy flea market where Elizabeth’s spirits were lifted exponentially with this find. 

Across the street we checked out this eerie old livery stable (again peeking in windows). It was packed with old, filthy relics. We found the place fascinating until Evan spied an aquarium packed with doll parts. Oh, dear god!!! Time to go!!

And so we went. 
And there was a whole lot of nothing to see! And tumbleweeds and antelope, and tumbleweeds and antelope. We were all perfectly happy. Elizabeth talked us into playing the soundtrack to ‘The Muppet Movie.’ There was much out of tune singing. 
Next stop Albuquerque. I’m a big fan of ‘Breaking Bad.’ There’s a ton of location sites to pick from for a little geek out. I even found out where Walter White’s house was. But, as someone lives there, I thought it best not to stop by.
My choice? Lunch at The Grove … which featured prominently in the final season. Those of you who know the show, it’s where Lydia and creepy Todd commiserated … and you know what happened next. We had to take a little dork pic. I also had to snag a packet of Stevia.

And further south we delved. Next stop Socorro which we made but the skin of out teeth for poor Evan had a headache and needed to hurl. We screamed into a gas station, he did what he had to do and felt much better. Yep, that’s my boy. We headed west in search of The Very Large Array.
You’ve seen the array before … ‘Contact,’ ‘Independence Day,’ ‘The Terminator’ …
There are 27 impossibly huge dishes in an old, dried lake bed. These behemoth radio antennae pulse signals into space which is used to map the galaxy. So very, very cool.
We were prepared to find something neat. But this place just knocked us flat on our butts. Jaws gaped we pulled into the visitor’s center. These things were impossible … and went on forever. You really get an eerie sense that you’ve stumbled into a place where you really shouldn’t be. They really were stunning. 

The day was fading fast and we had to leave the array behind. Our plan for dinner was to go to Sparky’s in Hatch but time just got away from us. We high tailed it to Truth and Consequences for a rather forgettable dinner and made it to Las Cruces for the night. 
The hotel was very nice. We got the kids settled in and Susan and I hit the bar for some well deserved drinks and dessert. And we called it a night.

So good morning and away we go again.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Art of the Road Trip and Unabashed Enthusiasm

Geek (verb): Be or become extremely excited or enthusiastic about a subject, typically one of specialist or minority interest

We’ll skip the nouns … socially inept, blah blah blah, unfashionable, blah, blah, blah, bites heads off chickens, blah, blah, blah …

If you know me, you know how I love to throw myself into things guns blazing. Why not? Here we are, isn’t it great?? Over the years I’ve been able to surround myself with like minded people who follow the same philosophy - which explains a lot about my running, work, hobbies, whatever. I love it and they do too. It’s fun and life is short. 

So my kids are on Spring Break. I wasn’t able to take too much time off due to other vacation schedules at work but I offered them a long weekend. Either we can head up to the mountains and ski or we can configure some sort of road trip to the middle of nowhere. 

Guess what they picked?

Have I mentioned that my kids are a ridiculous lot like me? Have I mentioned that I think they are AWESOME???

Ideas circling like little satellites in my mind I mentioned what I was considering to my oldest sister, Susan. Boom, she took time off and was merrily on board.

So here is the plan:

Up before the sun and we are going to New Mexico - or as we call it:

Operation Tacky Roadside Attractions!!!

I have very, very fond memories of our road trips with my family as a kid. We would drive from Tucson to Los Angeles … endless asphalt and desert. Lunch in Yuma at the McDonalds with the ugly people (we weren’t particularly polite kids), freaking out about the sand dunes where ‘Return of the Jedi’ was filmed, the stone house in the middle of nowhere, The Cazbon Dinosaurs (remember Pee Wee’s Big Adventure?), The World’s Tallest Thermometer. And then to grandma’s house for off the chart good food and my insane family. Later up the coast to Monterey, Redding, Portland, right hand turn to Montana. And it would be hot, and we kids would be whiny, dad would be put out from the ceaseless bathroom breaks, and I would inevitably get road sick forcing us to pull over so I could barf. Mom and dad would have supreme control over the radio … oh, what bliss when the walkman came out, but to this day if I hear The Statler Brothers or The Oak Ridge Boys I have an uncontrollable need to hop in the car and drive somewhere cool. 

I love being on the road. I love driving. I love the journey. I love the mess, the plans gone wrong, the unexpected surprises (for better or worse). I love that a bunch of people are being stuck together and have to make the best of it. 

I love this weekend and it hasn’t even happened yet. 

And so do Susan and the kids. They are SO excited. For what? To drive hours and hours and hours and see …

An Electric Chair
The Shoe of the World’s Tallest Man
A little homage to Breaking Bad (this one’s for me)
The Very Large Array
The Taeko Giants/ Sparky’s BBQ
The White Sands Missile Range
The World’s Largest Pistachio
Carlsbad Caverns
Tucumcari and all it’s neon spender on Route 66

And whatever the heck else we find along the way.

There will be rest stops. There will be countless miles of nothingness. There will be cheesy photo ops. There will be diner food. There will be books on tape, music (including show tunes, ABBA, and Neil Diamond outside of the really good stuff), and podcasts. There will be roadside geology. There will be board games. The will be insufferably bad jokes and puns. There will be fights. There will be bad smells. There will be mistakes. 

“But why think about that when all the golden lands ahead of you and all kinds of unforseen events wait lurking to surprise you and make you glad you're alive to see?” Jack Kerouak 'On the Road'

Friday, March 21, 2014

Canyonlands Half Marathon #3

Canyonlands #3 in the bank. Another unforgettable weekend with wonderful people. Another great run through one of the most stunning canyons in The United States. Making this a habit? You bet I am. 

Building up to the race my life went on hold for a few weeks. My routine mammogram turned south on me in a big way. There was a concerning area (which I now call the “Mystery Spot”) that warranted further testing. And so I tested, and tested, and tested. More mammograms, ultrasounds, mammograms, back to ultrasound. It was nerve wracking - the damn Mystery Spot didn’t fit the mold of what I would expect to see - I deal with this at work every day. It was irregular (albeit, tiny) with some possible blood flow which is not good.

Finally, I had a biopsy. The next day I was at lunch with my very dear friend Ansley and I got the call. Everything was benign. Goodbye to the thousand pound weight on my shoulders and I was finally able to take a deep breath. 

And this is just the way life goes. Yes, we can do all we can to do the right thing. But that doesn’t mean things can’t turn a 180 on you. So keep working hard and take good care - but give plenty of slack and enjoy yourself. Don’t wait for a bad tomorrow, but don’t despair if it comes. Push through.

So two weeks and no running. A week after the biopsy I tried to run about 2 miles - spent the bulk of it holding on to my boob. Yeouch!!! Pretty funny, I’m very glad I was running at home. 

So, I had to let go of running for time in Canyonlands. The goal was just to get out there and finish my race. 

I drove out with wonderful, badass Cynthia. She is truly my ideal travel partner. Laid back, interesting, funny, easy to talk to, brilliant taste in podcasts, appreciative of excellent food. We had a great drive out.

Our hotel … was really something. Pretty grotty with magnificent shades of brown and yellow - though the room was perfectly fine and clean. Better yet, it was 2 blocks from our start and finish. Nothing wrong with that. 

Come play with us, Danny!!!

Race day had lots of potential. Chilly 30-40’s which is my perfect race weather. There was some musings of wind in the canyon. What’s new? We hopped on the shuttle for the long wait at the start. Shortly after arriving I found a bunch of my buddies from my running group. There were about 10 of us running and we shivered, chatted, and hit the restroom about 900 times. 

Me and my Columbines.

Go time and I was feeling fine. I got stuck in a herd of about a dozen noobs who were whining about how race starts are managed. Meh - you’ll learn kids, you’ll learn. It was about a quarter of a mile before I was able to weave away from all of them and then I was happy. Cool but warming up, gorgeous morning, no wind so far.

By mile two I was having a hard time finding my pace. I was fine with that, sometimes it takes me up to four miles to find my grove. I felt choppy and inconsistent but my time was fine so I kept at it. 

Mile four and I still couldn’t get into it. No real reason. Legs, lungs, and gut were fine. But my brain was all over the place. Squirrel!!!

By mile 5 I saw Cynthia ahead of me. Since I couldn’t find my flow I just turned up my music and focused on her. She was an excellent pacer bunny and kept me on track. By mile 8 I pulled up beside her and she gave me grief for not telling her I was on her butt sooner. By now the wind had found us and I had to hang onto my visor several times. There were white caps on The Colorado River. No negative splits today. Blech.

Well, if you're going to have a mentally tough run, do so in one of the most beautiful places on earth!

There’s a short and slightly steep incline around mile 9. We got hit by a hard gust and I walked to conserve energy. I was managing to walk faster than most of the people running up the hill. Definitely the right choice. 

Me and Cynthia. Even the tough runs are great runs. 

By mile 10 Cynthia pulled ahead and I was getting a little tired. So I ran slower to rest this mile. 

Happily, my least favorite part of the race that takes us out of the canyon and along a busy road gave us a tailwind. That definitely gave me a boost and I made my way into town running the whole way. 


Finish time 2:04:38. Better than I was expecting, all things considered. Cynthia was 30 seconds ahead of me. 

I touched base with the rest of my runner girls, looks like everyone did very well and had good runs. We headed back to the hotel to clean up and crash.

Cynthia, being the ever diehard, went to bike Slick Rock. I read a book. My plan was much better.

We were pretty beat by evening so we walked down Main Street for salty, fatty Mexican food and margaritas. Then we wove our way back to the hotel and both crashed by 9. Wild pair, aren’t we?

Give credit for depth here, the margs really weren't that big. 

And home again the next morning. 

So, now I have no clue about The Colorado Marathon in May. I need to run 16 this weekend - I suppose I’ll gage if it’s a go or not based on that. 

Oh, what the hell. It’s a go.

I may be a lot of things, but I am not a wimp.