Bud & Sue’s Excellent Adventure Continues

Wow, it is hard to believe we’ve been on this adventure for three weeks already.   It was nice to have a two-week break between races.  First of all, my body needed it…those downhills take a toll on me.  But also just to have some time not prepping and running.  Don’t get me wrong, I love running, but it’s all about balance.   

Our last week in Colorado was relatively uneventful.  A few short hikes, some running, a tour of the Coors Brewery and dealing with some minor issues with the truck and trailer pretty much rounded out the week.  It was also quite hot, which did nothing for motivation.  In the meantime, we had outstayed our 14 day limit at Clear Creek Campground, so moved to the Jefferson County Fairgrounds for a couple days.  It was more spacious, but not quite as plentiful of amenities or scenery.   

Saturday was soon upon us and it was again time to run.  The Slacker Half Marathon took place June 25 and ran from Loveland Ski Area to Georgetown, CO.  It, too, had a major elevation drop that played havoc with my already sore knees.  I did, however, run my best time in quite awhile. I felt like I was finally acclimating to the elevation.  I had adjusted my run/walk intervals to 2 minutes running/30 seconds walking and it felt good.  The scenery was beautiful, fellow runners friendly, and volunteers were great.  Otherwise, it was a rather uneventful race, except for the final incline for about the last half mile to the finish line – something I abhor in a race. The finish area was different than I had ever really experienced where you crossed, got water, then walked a block or two through the small town to find food and refreshments and finally stand in line to pick up your packet (bag with various brochures, shirt, and medal all tucked inside).  Bib pickup on Wednesday was just that, bib pickup only.  Relatively soon, I hopped in a shuttle back to the truck to drive the 45 minutes back to the fairgrounds.

Slacker

 The next day we packed up and headed north to Custer, SD, for two days doing the tourist thing.  Crazy Horse, Mount Rushmore, and some wine tasting.  We had a really nice dinner at the Buglin’ Bull – I highly recommend it if you are ever in the area.  We are now in Ekalaka, MT, for a few days visiting Bud’s cousin and wife.  Then it will be westward bound to Lincoln and Missoula Montana for my final two races of the adventure. 

BS

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Bud & Sue’s Excellent Adventure

Bud and Sue’s Excellent Adventure – Part 1 

This is installment #1 of chronicling a five week adventure I (Sue) have embarked upon, with my husband graciously agreeing to tag along.  In the few short months since starting this running journey, I have quickly realized I am getting infinitely more out of it than I am putting in.  Raising awareness of and funds to combat ALS will always be the most rewarding, but it never occurred to me the scope of adventure and personal growth that would be a byproduct.

 On Wednesday June 8, hubby and I hooked up our year old RV trailer and hit the road.  Understand, we are not campers and have only used this trailer three times so far.  Now we were committing to over a month of travel and living out of it.  After three full days of driving and two nights in campgrounds along the road, we arrived at our first destination in Golden, Colorado – just outside of Denver.  All in all, it was a good trip with only a few minor issues; like relentless crosswinds all through Iowa and Nebraska on Day 2.

BSE 1

 Bright and early the next morning, I was up and getting ready to head out for my first race of the trip; Summer Breeze HM in Arvada. This was a small race with only around 60 participants, yet it was fun and well-run with great volunteers and a lot of extras:  breakfast burritos at the finish, prizes (I won a pizza), music, free pictures, and announcements as we crossed the finish line “Sue from Michigan is running to raise awareness and funds for ALS!”  Since it was such a small race, I managed to place second in my age group; but yeah, there were only three of us.  The only negative I would say about this one is the course has a lot of concrete, and concrete really messes with my joints.

 That afternoon, we found a Walmart to pick up a few necessary supplies and some food next door at the King Sooper grocery store; where I also managed to smash a huge bottle of dill pickles.  EEKK!  (All I really wanted was the juice to drink to combat the cramping I anticipate in these hot runs.)  After a quiet evening, it was time to get rest before the next morning’s early wake time of 2:45. 

And I was off!  This time to Morrison where we would be bussed to the start line in Evergreen for Revel Rockies Half Marathon. All I can say is WOW! It’s hard to beat the majestic beauty of running through the mountains and canyons alongside Bear Creek. This was hands down the most beautiful, scenic race I have ever participated in.  Yes, the constant pounding from the steep decline took its toll on me (starting elevation was around 7,500 ft. descending to 5,800 ft. at the finish); not to mention the thin air at this altitude had me wishing for an oxygen mask more than once in the past couple days.  But with that kind of beauty to look at around me, it wasn’t difficult to slow down, walk more, breathe easier and just enjoy.

Back at Clear Creek RV Park, it was now time to get organized, relax, and explore, which we have been doing for the week since.  We took a perilous drive up Mount Evans Scenic Byway, a trip to Red Rocks Park,  and several walks, hikes, and runs around Golden.  We are also managing to spend a little time with my nephew, Jon, who lives in Denver.  It is beautiful here, although quite hot right now.  So far, it is proving to be an EXCELLENT ADVENTURE.  Just one more week until my next race.

3 Races, 3 Days, 3 States

3 Half Marathons, 3 Days, and in 3 different states. 

My family joined me (Rhonda) on a trip out West as I decided to take on the 3/3/3.  We flew into Salt Lake City and of course had to go to the Great Salt Lake.  Little did I know that the sand would be so hot that it literally burnt my feet!  5 quarter and half dollar sized blisters on the soles of my feet!  Not the way to start off a 3 day race series.  Next stop – Walmart  – bought blister band-aids as I know they work and prayed my feet would be ok for this adventure.   Spent the night in Layton, UT and then headed towards Bear Lake and Montpelier, ID where we would be staying the next couple of nights.  The trip only got more adventurous as my 12 year old came down with the 24 hour stomach virus.  I prayed even more that I wouldn’t get that!

Thursday, June 9th, was my first race.  I ran it in Cokeville, Wyoming with the Bear Lake Endurance Series.  I was very pleased with the race director, the swag and even the course. It was an out and back with rolling hills but my feet were covered with the band-aids and no pain!   The 6200+ feet of elevation did mess with me a little bit but all in all a good race.  Knowing I would be doing 3 in a row, I opted to use the Galloway method with 3 min running/30 sec walking.  I definitely felt fine all day afterwards.  Was able to see some of my fellow runner friends from the running groups I belong to which is always an added bonus with running throughout the country.   We were able to get out and do sightseeing in Idaho and around Bear Lake.  We saw so much in the first couple of days.  I love history and especially anything with the Oregon Trail – I was in the mecca!   

Friday, June 10th, Day 2 and I was running a flat course in Saint Charles, Idaho.  My quads were feeling the hills from the day before but my feet still felt good.  I used the Galloway method again but with 2 min/35 sec.  The course was beautiful with views of Bear Lake.  Once I finished and got showered up we hit the road for West Yellowstone.  We made several site seeing stops along the way.  This is truly beautiful country.   I did miscalculate the distance from our room at Canyon Lodge in Yellowstone to the actual race start which will mean an earlier waking time.

Saturday, June 11th, Day 3.  This race was held in West Yellowstone, MT with the National Park Race Series.  It was another very well organized race.  It was a complete trail race and a tough one at that.  But I stuck it out.  After all – the reason I am running is for ALS Awareness and they don’t get the choice to stick it out or not.  I mostly used the same Galloway ratios as the day before – except for the extremely large hill which I decided to walk the majority of.  The elevation was too much for my asthmatic lungs (which I forgot my inhaler in South Carolina).   I did take full advantage of the downhill portion though so I am sure it somehow evened out.   

Spent the rest of Saturday and all of Sunday touring Yellowstone and Grand Tetons National Parks.   I cannot even put into words how beautiful it truly is.  I am so blessed to be able to run across the USA.  Three new states added in my quest to run all 50 States.  All in all the 3/3/3 was a great time and I would definitely do three in a row again. 

3

Girls Weekend in Green Bay

Finally!  Cellcom weekend was here.  This race is a favorite of ours and we make sure to make the most of it when we run it – this year was no different. Can you say “Girl’s weekend!”

Rhonda flew in to Marquette Thursday (5/19) evening and spent the night at Sue’s house.  The fact that she even made it to Marquette meant we were already on the right track, since last year she missed her connection in Detroit and had to fly directly to Green Bay, with me (Sue) making a short detour to grab her luggage and driving down alone.  But not this year.  The flights went smoothly and everything was on time.  Unfortunately Rhonda was still suffering from the bug she had last week and obviously wasn’t feeling 100%.  Despite a lot of coughing, heavy chest and breathing difficulties, she soldiered on the entire weekend.

Our drive to Green Bay the following day was uneventful, but enjoyable as we were able to catch up again and talk about our plans for running and fundraising.  Two retired women out running 60+ races all over the country attempting to raise $20,000 is a pretty daunting undertaking when we stop and think about it.  Certainly not as daunting as battling ALS on a daily basis, but when we think of those who are fighting that daily battle, it makes us that much more determined to succeed.  Imagine a world with effective treatment or even a cure for ALS!!!

There’s a lot of construction going on in the area, so we decided to go directly to packet pick up and the expo and scope the area out.  One thing I love about this race is how well organized it is.  We were able to execute a quick and simple bib and shirt pick up for ourselves and two fellow 100 Half Marathon Club members, Andrea and Christin, who were running the Fargo Half Marathon on Saturday. We walked around the expo for a bit, but were a little disappointed that it seemed smaller than last year.  I think Rhonda bought some fuel or electrolytes or something, but that was it.  Well, at least we saved some money.  Ha!

As any good Yooper woman knows, a trip to Green Bay means shopping in some form and we felt it our duty to carry on that tradition Saturday.  Nothing major, but I did pick up a few items at stores I don’t have access to in Marquette.  We then went on a walking tour of the stadium area; starting with the Brown County Veterans Memorial on Armed Forces Drive across from Lambeau Field, Packer Walk of Legends –  a series of granite monuments depicting Packer history, Lambeau Field itself, and the Packer practice field.  We even did the Lambeau Leap!  While out walking, we looked up at a marquee and saw “Boston in Concert May 22” – well, what were we to do?  There was really no choice but to walk right into the Resch Center and buy our tickets!  As Rhonda said, a very Thelma and Louise thing to do!  Our traditional pre-race pizza for dinner and preparing our clothes and gear for Sunday’s race rounded out our Saturday before we headed to bed anticipating an early Sunday morning wake up.

Finally it was race day and Sunday morning went smoothly.  We easily found parking and walked the short distance to the stadium, getting there early enough to use indoor bathrooms WITHOUT WAITING LINES!  This really was shaping up to be a great day.  We milled around for an hour or so and enjoyed people watching.  We love seeing the excitement and trepidation on the faces of those doing their first big race knowing how accomplished they will feel after.  The weather was a bit warm, but Rhonda is used to it and warm running is my preference, even if it does slow me down some.  Before we knew it, we were in our corral, listening to the National Anthem, and making our way to the start mat.  Cellcom Green Bay Half Marathon did not disappoint again this year.  There is just something about this race…it is extremely well organized, has some of the best volunteers, is relatively flat, and you run a lap through Lambeau Field!  One thing that must be noted is how courteous fellow runners are.  Both of us remarked on the excellent “flow of traffic.”  The last few races we’ve done have had their share of bottlenecks and similar issues.  Here it seemed most runners accurately predicted their pace so that the corrals flowed well, walkers moved to the side, and everyone was friendly and kind.  As an example, we “Galloway” – meaning we use specific walk/run intervals.  In doing this, protocol is to safely move toward the right side when a walk interval is coming up, raise your hand and loudly state “walking!”  I do this most of the time, however, that Sunday was the first time ever I was thanked for doing so…on several occasions.

For the next 13.1 miles, we ran down tree lined streets, residents and runner families lining the yards and sidewalks holding encouraging signs and yelling encouraging words to all; there were high fives to the little ones; plenty of water and electrolytes from volunteers; running through sprinklers and misters set up along the route; then the coup de grace of running through the tunnel and a lap through Lambeau Field!  Unfortunately, by that time my quads had seized up I was in pure pain the last two miles – but I knew and Rhonda reminded me this was nothing compared to what those who face ALS deal with every single day.  The difference was…my discomfort would pass and I would be back to normal in a day or two.  That is not necessarily the case for those with this horrible disease which continues to progress and shows no mercy.  I hurt, I walked, I whined, I ran and I crossed that finish line proudly wearing my 20 for #20 Sole Sisters shirt!  Of course, Rhonda was having difficulty breathing and a foot that started cramping, so who was I to complain?!  We collected our medals (one more piece to go to get the trifecta), Tru Moo (an absolute post-race must), Wisconsin Brats and (root)Beer, and recovered a little before heading back to the car; and running into Andrea once more.  We said good-bye to her hoping to meet at another race soon.

Once again, we were amazed when fellow runners would give us a shout out for the cause we are running for.  A man whose best friend passed from ALS, a young woman who said her father is suffering from the disease, at least one other with a personal connection, and many more who just would say – “Thank You; love your cause.”  It really is why we are doing what we do.

The remainder of Sunday consisted of the obligatory nap, dinner, and BOSTON!  OK, I’m a geek – “More than a Feeling” epitomizes a very special time in my life – I graduated high school the year that song was ranked in the top 10; so yeah, I’m old(er).  Rhonda has her own personal memory, but I’ll let her share that.  Lol.

It was back to my house on Monday with a stop at Sequin’s to stock up on authentic cheese curds and Wisconsin wine.   Nothing squeaks between your teeth like a Seguin’s curd!  Although Rhonda wasn’t leaving until late afternoon on Tuesday, the weather forecast told us if we wanted to do anything outside, we best do it Monday.  So I put her back in the car and we drove up to the base of Sugarloaf Mt. where we made the brief 1.2 mile climb of about 450 feet to a spectacular view those of us who are native take for granted.  I’ve forgotten how healing and restorative that place can be.

Sadly – VERY SADLY – we had to say our goodbyes on Tuesday.  I brought Rhonda to the airport and with more than one tear in my eye, I said farewell – see you in a few months my friend!  For the summer, we go our separate ways.  We will continue to run for Tim and for ALS awareness and research, but individually.  I’ve almost forgotten what it is like to run without her.  We will come back together in September at the Air Force Half Marathon in Dayton, OH.  Then…oh my gosh, October and November will be epic; but you will just have to wait and see.  Next up – after a couple weeks of “rest” – actually regrouping and taking care of our real lives, we both head west at the same time, but separately.  Rhonda to Montana , Wyoming, and Idaho – me to Colorado, Wyoming and Montana.  Lots of adventures coming up; so stay tuned!!!