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.

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