Wet Cheese

Wet Cheese! 

On Saturday August 20, I (Sue) ran the Cheesehead Run Half Marathon in Hilbert, WI.  Clearly I was in Wisconsin Packer and cheese country. 

My husband and I made the 3.5 hour drive to Appleton on Friday.  We did a little shopping and I was able to meet up with a good friend that I have not seen in ages.  My short visit with Jill flew by and I was sad to say goodbye, but we promised to be in contact more frequently.  After dinner, we went back to our hotel and I got my stuff together for the race in the morning.  Weather predictions were not favorable – RAIN – so I tried to keep my gear as simple as possible; including a cap, rain poncho, and of course the trusty Gore-Tex shoes.  I didn’t sleep well due to an unbelievably loud AC unit in our room and a wedding party staying on the same floor, but I got up and ready in my normal fashion early Saturday morning, paying close attention to applying Body Glide and petroleum jelly on most every surface to hopefully ward off chafing.  

I arrived in downtown Hilbert in time for packet pickup and a quick trip back to my car to drop off the goodies I’d received.  I partook of the ceremonial port-a-pottie line and made my way to the start in time to warm up a little and listen to a beautiful performance of the National Anthem.   

Somewhere around mile 3, I heard a friendly voice from the other side of the road ask, “What intervals are you doing?”  

“2:00/:30 run/walk,” I replied, “how about you?” 

“2:30/:30, but I can take it down a notch.” 

And a running friendship was born.  Jen and I ran the rest of the race together visiting, sharing our stories, and helping each other get through the rough spots.  She recently completed her first full marathon and has done a couple Ultras.  How can you not be in awe of someone who runs a 50 mile race?  Along the way, we started leapfrogging with a couple other ladies who were also run/walking intervals.  It was so much fun to have the camaraderie that day.  What a great bunch of women!  Julie and Becca kept us laughing and shared Philippians 4:13 wristbands with us – “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  

CheeseheadGroup

Yet again, when I mentioned I am running to raise funds for ALS research, Becca responded with two individuals she knew who had the disease.  Every single race, I am reminded how far reaching ALS is and how devastating it is that no cure or effective treatment exist at this point.   

I estimate the rain started approximately a half mile in.  And it never really let up.  Oh, it got worse.  A lot worse.  It would ease up too, but then start all over.  A few times it was coming down hard enough to sting.  The sloshing, schwumping, and squish-squish sounds were almost comical.  Even my Gore-Tex shoes succumbed to the wet toward the end and my feet were soaked like everyone else’s. When the lightning hit loud and hard around mile 8, we were afraid we’d be pulled off the course.  And after what we’d already been through, that was the last thing any of us wanted. 

Despite the ridiculously wet weather that had everyone soaked to the bone, I truly enjoyed this race.  It is run on county roads in beautiful farmland.  The entire course is closed to traffic, it is well planned and marked and the volunteers were abundant and wonderful.  I would love to do it again in dryer conditions.  Maybe then I would even stick around for the cheesy buffet at the end.  As it was, all I wanted to do was get back to my room and peel off the remainder of my sopping clothes and get in a hot shower.  Which I did before heading home that afternoon. 

 

Day and Night

The Sole Sisters were at it again – same day, different states and different times.  

On Saturday morning, Sue ran the Paavo Nurmi half marathon in Hurley, WI. There is also a full marathon and other shorter races during the weekend. It is a small, very community-oriented race that is listed as the oldest marathon in Wisconsin.  Although it is difficult to find a lot of details about it online, it is clear the organizers have this down to a science and you shouldn’t worry.   

I spent the evening in a hotel in bordering Ironwood, MI, and made the five minute drive to Hurley at 7:00 am to catch the bus to the starting point.  There I met a woman from Boulder, CO, who had spent her childhood summers in the area.  We compared racing experiences (she in my hometown and me in hers).  Once at the start area in Giles, WI, we walked around and visited a bit with a few other runners.  This was by far the friendliest group I have run with in quite some time.   

A couple minutes before 8:00, we lined up.  The race was chip timed, but had a gun start. With only a little over 100 runners, it really wasn’t an issue.  As usual, I placed myself very near the back and immediately smelled the strong odor of cigarette smoke.  I turned around and directly behind me were two men wearing half marathon bibs taking their last puffs before taking off.  Now there’s something you don’t see every day. And we were off, with little fanfare. 

The course was somewhat hilly, but not as bad as I expected or as severe as what I am told the full marathon course is.  It was just kind of never-ending.  I had set my watch for intervals of 2 minutes of running and 30 seconds of walking and that served me well throughout the entire race although I strayed a few times because of the elevation.  We ran pretty much exclusively on low-traffic county roads through the countryside with few homes or people.  The course was not blocked from traffic, with only orange cones to delineate that the narrow paved shoulder was our terrain.  Most drivers were extremely courteous, but there are always those few who are not very interested in sharing their road.  This is far from my favorite type of course and I ran on the gravel portion much of the race.  Temperatures were cool – around 65 most of the race, but the humidity must have been 100% the entire time.  Mist and fog were present most of the time, making it difficult for me to see through my either wet or fogged up glasses.  Basically I slowed it down and was vigilant about hydrating.  In the end, the same old left leg (hamstring and quad) cramping became an issue, but not as bad as usual.  There were ample aid stations with amazing volunteers.   

The full marathon had started a half hour earlier 13.1 miles farther up the road and somewhere around my mile 9, the first marathoner blew past me – I think this is one of my favorite parts of running a shared course.  It is so uplifting to see. 

Less than a mile before the finish, we hit the outskirts of town and shortly turned onto Silver Street (downtown) heading to the finish line.  Once done, I stretched the quad out a little, collected a bottle of water, some chocolate milk, passed on the Finnish Stew, and found where they were handing out the medals.  I then walked the two short blocks to my car and made it back to the hotel in time to shower and check out before noon.  All in all, a good day’s work.  I was happy to be back out on the pavement again after a much needed rest.  Bring on the fall schedule! 

Later that evening, Rhonda ran the Alien Half in Roswell, GA.  It is about a 2.5 hour drive from my home.  Having never ran in the evening (race start was 7 pm), I wasn’t really sure what to expect.  I hydrated extra during the day and ate the best I could.  My husband, Raul, joined me for this race.  Let’s say our ways of preparing are totally different.  I had water and a club sandwich, he had a burger with an egg on it plus 2 beers for our late afternoon lunch with dear friends.    

The race was part trail and obviously very dark by the time we finished.  We had headlamps – another first for me.  It is listed as a flat, fast course…..I would beg to differ.  Although not super hilly it definitely had over 600 feet of elevation climbing.  And the heat!  Wowie wow wow.  89 degrees at start!  Let’s just say it was BRUTAL!  I ran a mile and would then walk one tenth.  I stopped at every water station and had 2 cups of either water or Gatorade or both and I even had an extra container of electrolytes with me which I finished.  I have never felt so dehydrated or woozy on a course.  I slowed my pace way down in the second half.  Finishing upright was my goal when I hit the turnaround point.  Once I rounded the last curve it was a short dart to the finish line.  I got some water and my medal.  Found my husband who had only finished about 10 min before me (usually he’s waiting closer to 20 min or more) and we headed to the car.  I used my Undress  to change out of my sopping wet clothes.  (Can I add that I LOVE this dress – life changer for me!!)  I was extremely woozy and couldn’t even walk a straight line.  We headed for home as we drank electrolytes, water, chocolate milk, and BCAA’s.  Stopped at the QT and got a bag of chips for some extra salt.  It was definitely a new experience.  I am definitely ready for some fall running weather!

Bud & Sue’s Excellent Adventure – The Final Chapter

This is a very delayed blog, but I (Sue) have been using the past few weeks for a much needed respite from racing and traveling.  Both Rhonda and I love what we are doing, but we also need to spend some time taking care of home.  Being gone for five weeks made it necessary to spend time and effort here and on refreshing my mind, soul, and body.   After three weeks off, I will be more than ready to hit the pavement again next weekend in Hurley, WI.  But first I need to fill you in on the final couple weeks of the Great Adventure.

After leaving Custer, SD, hubby and I spent three days in Ekalaka, MT, visiting his cousin and wife who own a home there.  Their primary residence is in SE Georgia where we spend our winters and they have become our best friends down there.  Therefore, we had a wonderful time catching up during the summer in Montana.  It is a very small town where cattle ranching seems to be the main occupation.  It is a very laid back community.  “Just pick an open spot” was the instruction we received when calling for a campsite; and we actually had to go knock on the door our last evening there in order to pay her.  While there, we toured a bit of the area and enjoyed seeing some wildlife and historical sites.  It was an enjoyable and relaxing time with old friends.

On Friday, July 1, we headed to Lincoln, MT.  The drive was long that day and we arrived after sunset to set up the trailer among swarms of mosquitoes.  This too was a laid back campground with one open spot – “guess that must be ours” and a payment method of “There are envelopes on the desk in the bath house, put your money in one and slide it in the slot below the sink.”  The bath house was an interesting little arrangement.  Once inside the main door, there were the aforementioned desk and sink and three doors…one toilet for men, one toilet for women, and one shared shower.  It was also basically a community shower – anyone who wished to come in and use it could do so for a $15 fee.   Needless to say, we used our trailer exclusively on this stop.

The race in Lincoln was scheduled for Sunday and since Monday would be the Fourth, we scheduled to stay until Tuesday.  It was a L-O-N-G weekend.  Suffice to say this is an interesting town and we will leave it at that.  However, on Sunday I was again treated to beautiful scenery.

I arrived at the registration area at the appointed time and the race director was just setting up.  After about a ten minute wait, she was ready and runners quickly were assigned bibs.  I soon learned there would be a total of 30 of us running the half marathon.  There were also 5 & 10K races with probably 30-40 combined participants.  The school bus picked up the half marathoners and we meandered a couple backroads before stopping in the middle of nowhere for us to get off.  The emails we’d received said there would be port-a-potties at the start.   Apparently that meant where we picked up our bibs.  Mother nature’s wonders had to serve the many runners who ran off into the woods when we debarked.  Instructions for the course went something like this, “Start here and just follow the road, you really can’t go wrong except for one place where we have a sign.”  In reality, it was pretty well marked.  The race itself was challenging with a mountain climb I thought would never end.  But what goes up, must come down, so next up was that darn downhill my knees hate.  We ran on a dusty, gravel road – which I, my clothes, and shoes were a testament to by the end.  It was very peaceful though.  I did not see another human throughout much of the race.  A few of us back-of-the-packers would bob back and forth; but for the most part I was running alone.  The last quarter mile was pretty cool coming down a small hill into town with flags lining the road and mountains as the backdrop.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have the energy to pull out my camera at that point.  I grabbed the last banana and a couple cups of water and headed back to the trailer to clean up and enjoy the rest of the day ending with a glass of wine and a yummy grilled steak.

Two days later we made the short 2-hour trip to Missoula.  It was nice to be back in a more populated area enjoying a full-service, well –maintained RV park.  We spent most of that week doing nothing much at all.  It was time to be a bit low key.  On Saturday, we headed over to the expo enjoying the sites, buying all we felt we would be able use at the amazing farmer’s market, and walking around downtown a bit.  I even got to meet Jeff Galloway of the famed Galloway run/walk method.  What a super friendly, kind, personable and helpful man!  He gave me a few pointers on my intervals and I promised him I would try shorter run periods…someday.

Sunday morning I made the short drive to the parking area, found my bus, and hung around the start area until it was time to line up.  Missoula offers a nice race atmosphere from start to finish.  There were fireworks at the start area, lots of music along the route, and pretty much anything you could ask for post-race.  The course was flat, for which my knees were very thankful.  Being my fifth race in five weeks along with traveling and living out of a camper trailer, I was more than pleased with my time of 2:25.  Early in the race, I was passed by a young woman who slowed down, pulled her ear buds out and thanked me for running for ALS as her father was recently taken by the disease.

Early the next morning, we packed up and started the long trip home.  I am already missing the beauty of the Rocky Mountains.

We had planned three days for the return trip, but ended up making it in two.  We stayed at a Holiday Inn the one night on the road and reveled in the comfort of the beds.  Things got a little scary later on the second day when we realized there had been storms the night before along the MN, WI, MI Superior Lakeshore and the main road, along with several side roads, were washed out.  After a somewhat harrowing two hours of not really knowing where we were or where we were going, we thankfully had managed to get around it and were back on track, arriving home a little after midnight Wednesday.

Time to rest….well, not really.  On Friday, we packed up again headed north to Hancock, MI for the Canal Run Saturday.  There really isn’t much to share about this race other than it is my second year running it and I have enjoyed it immensely both times.  It was basically another downhill.  There actually are rolling hills throughout the course with the largest descent at the very beginning and the longest incline at the end.  But again, it was my best time of the year so far.  This small race offers great volunteers and post-race food and activities.  It is always funny when people don’t understand the run/walk method and think you are giving up.  Probably about a quarter of a mile from the finish, I was in a walk interval and a woman approximately my age came up saying, “Come on, you’ve been pacing me the whole way!”  We finished together and I thanked her.   Although I had placed third (out of three) in my age group and had a medal waiting for me, I needed to be back in Marquette for a wedding that afternoon.  Thankfully, a friend of mine who lives there, picked it up for me and delivered it last week.  Thanks Judy!!!

And now I shall rest until Paavo Nurmi Half Marathon in Hurley, WI on August 13th.