Thursday, September 30, 2010

cRaZy SoLeS

Now that I've had a week and a half to recover, I think it's time that I document this admittedly insane, fabulous, sickening, wonderful event. The Blue Ridge Relay was something that I knew would be physically challenging, but I totally underestimated the cumulative effect it would have on me mentally and emotionally as well.

A group of friends started talking about this around the 4th of July, which was when I was invited to take part. I thought about it for a couple of weeks, and finally decided that it was something I didn't necessarily WANT to do, but I probably NEEDED to. The main goal was to take my running to the next level. It was just starting to get really hot during the summer and having something of this magnitude to train for would ensure that I wouldn't slack off. The icing on the cake; When I messaged my sister Kasey about whether I was totally insane to even be considering this, she said if I decided to do it, she would join the party...hard to say no to that!

And so it began. I calendared my runs and just DID IT. It's really amazing to think that I went from running 6 miles as my longest training run, to 10 miles, in a matter of 4 weeks.

One of the many things I learned about myself, I am stronger and much more capable than I give myself credit for. (This applies to more than running!)

I didn't miss any of my runs, and in fact ran 80 total miles in August alone....I had physically and mentally prepared the best that I possibly could have and all that was left was to JUST DO IT.

208 hilly miles lay in front of us, 36 legs, 12 runners.

Windy, steep roads. We were oohing and aahing at every turn before we got nauseous from nervousness and carsickness..

This was our van for the 2 days. It became chaos very quickly with 6 women and all their gear. We packed lots of awesome food but none of us had appetites after traveling all of those windy mountain roads. Good thing we'd also packed Gu. The only real food anyone could stomach was chocolate milk and bananas. Sleeping bags up top!

My sunrise. We arrived to the start at 6:32 am...2 minutes late! My pit crew got me off and running within seconds and the officials let me start anyway.

I'm pretty sure I made up the difference with all that adrenaline, I set an all-time PR!

My cute sister Kasey was runner #3. I swear, she had the most beautiful runs of the whole course!

Here I am at the end of my 2nd leg as the sun was setting. 7.3 miles.Straight.Uphill. No joke. I couldn't breathe for the first 2 miles because of the hills combined with the altitude. Then my lungs decided I really wasn't going to stop and they just acclimated.

Peeee Esssss: I don't recommend sports beans. They kept trying to come up the whole run. ICK. Stick to Gu!

Our sleeping accommodations between 2-4am Friday night, after a 1:30am meal of $3 baked potatoes put on by the Fire Dept..AKA...manna from heaven. Needless to say, not much "actual sleeping" happened, Kasey and her super-earplugs being the only exception! Good thing too, she had a 9 mile run in front of her. (which turned out to be 9.3!) My last leg was directly after this and we were all coming apart at the seams. Brain function was severely limited, muscles were sore from the day before. Advil and Gu (2x caffeine) were consumed in order to function!

My 3rd and final run started at 5am. It was dark, windy roads, deserted and foggy. I could only see 5 ft in front of me with my headlamp to begin with and then once my breath warmed up it fogged me in completely. I could hear things in the bushes and "molester-mobiles" were coming around the corners at 60 MPH. I was a little freaked, but I gripped my mace and ran as fast as I could to get it over with ASAP. Luckily my sister-telepathy was still functioning and about 2.5 miles in, Kasey came back in the van to check on me...and pretty much stayed near me to the end. I did this for the next runner too until sunrise. Freaky stuff, Maynard!

Kasey at the end of her last leg! She was a total rock-star!

I love how this picture captures so much of what we saw in one frame...churches, port-a-johns, tractors and shacks...all in one!

We finished our last leg for our van around 12:30pm Sat...saw the other van off for the final 6 legs and headed for real food. Once the anxiety about our upcoming legs and everything else was over with, relief abounded and our appetites returned with a vengeance! Olive Garden has never tasted SO good. And then showers, provided by the Asheville YMCA~

Here are the Crazy Soles from Van 1 (Michelle, Jolin, Natalie, Heidi, Annette, Kasey), fed, showered and waiting for Van 2 to cross the finish line...any minute now...

Woo-hoo, we did it! What a feeling!

An amazing experience, made even more extraordinary by having my sister with me through thick and thin!

I found a quote shortly before leaving for the relay and it stayed with me throughout. It seriously helped me through the mental battle during this physically demanding experience: "Pain is temporary, quitting lasts forever." - Lance Armstrong

And guess what? It's true. As hard as this was, it was temporary. (I DID have to go up and down the stairs sideways all day on Sunday because my quads were SHREDDED) But the benefits and lessons learned, mostly about myself, are with me forever. How can you put a price on that? You just can't.

I am so glad I allowed myself to be challenged this way. I highly recommend it!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Camping Blue Ridge Style

We took our first camping trip of 2010 two weeks ago, about a 2 hour drive into the mountains northwest of us. The site we chose was 4 miles off the Blue Ridge Parkway in the shadow of Mt Mitchell and Black of gravel roads. It's pretty remote in this part of NC, although we were close to a pretty sweet golf course!

We didn't want to brave a trip mid-summer because of the bugs here, they are pretty extreme. Chris did a backpacking trip with some friends a couple months ago and had an encounter with chiggers. They definitely overstay their welcome. No fun.

We got our tents set up and started exploring right away! Lots of new territory to check out!

We found a natural cooler for the watermelon running through our "backyard".

A mudpit for our 3 little piggies to frolick in...

And just a short hike away was a water-hole for washing up and such!

Sydney had a blast throwing rocks into the water...her favorite activity when outdoors!

We checked out some cool trails right in the campground.

Watch your step on this trail! It's an ankle twister!

But look at the cool waterfall at the top!

The next day we ventured out of the campground to some of the surrounding attractions.

We were quickly reminded that it was September 11th as we noticed the flag at half-mast at the NC Museum of Rocks and Minerals. The fog that had still not lifted that morning was very mood-appropriate.Very cool exhibits inside. The kids each picked out a souvenir rock with their own allowance, too.

We then ventured to Linville Falls. They have some pretty scenic vistas and it's a fairly moderate hike.
Here are some of my favorite folks checking out the steep drop! The rock-work was wonderful. I can't imagine how long it must've taken!

We also picked up a trail guide. He followed us from the visitors center, and stayed right next to Sydney the whole time until we got back to the parking lot. We got some rude looks from other dog owners (because he's not on a leash) as he went up and sniffed at their doggies. We had to shrug our shoulders and say, "Not our dog" more times than was really comfortable.

We stopped midday for a picnic lunch as it started to rain, but the trees kept us pretty dry.

Then we went to Linville Caverns. Not the most fantastic caves we have seen...they were pillaged during the Civil War when they were used as a hideout by defectors from both sides. But it was cool to see and hear some of the local history.

We loved the area, it felt as though we were truly on top of the world!

We drove back and forth on a 30 mile section of the Blue Ridge Parkway, and I couldn't help but keep thinking, "Until next week, Blue Ridge Parkway, until next week..."

Saturday, September 25, 2010

A Beautiful Day

In case you've never seen a Carolina Blue Sky, here is a prime example. You're Welcome. :)

The day was unbelievably gorgeous today. I only wish we weren't continuing our 87 day streak of temps in the 90s.

Our main man is out of town at a wedding and said it helps to see blog updates, especially with pics of the critters, so this is mainly for him.

A small town near us held their annual Fall Festival today. I heard last year they all wore jackets! (note, a year ago this weekend, Chris and I were in town house-hunting, and it was raining too)

Isn't this awesome? If his head had been turned around it would have been even funnier. The kids had just disappeared through the crack!

Bouncy houses! The girls were practicing all the flips and flops they've been learning in tumbling and acro class, and Gunnar was following right along!

Huge slides that we slid down on pieces of carpet. Talk about a carpet ride! I even got to go down with June-bug.

The kids played some carnival games and earned some sweet tin, I mean GOLD, rings!

June-bug loves anything that spins her around in circles. Look at that FACE! Pure joy.

My strong-man going for it! It's not easy, I couldn't even make it go half-way...

Before we left, we braved the line in full sun for at least 30 minutes for a turn on the Euro-Bungee. At first only Savi had the guts to try, but we managed to talk all 3 into it. They loved it, so worth it!

Savi did back flips the entire time!

He said he was scared - but does that expression tell that story? Nope, I don't think so either!

Sydney loved it, although she looks a bit cautious here, she was whooping it up!

The best part, it was all FREE! Thank you, Town of Stallings! We'll be back next year!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Breakfast of Champions

This has been my post-run breakfast during training. I've recently heard about the benefits of Coconut Water, and while I didn't like the aftertaste (a bit slimy), it makes a fabulous protein shake!

It contains the five essential electrolytes that your body craves -- including potassium, sodium, magnesium, calcium and phosphorous.

It has more electrolytes and 15 times more potassium than the leading sports drink, and more potassium than two bananas (about 700 mg of potassium is in each 11.2-ounce serving size). (AND NO SUGAR or HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP) These electrolytes work to keep the body cool, help boost poor circulation, replenish your body's fluids after exercising, and aid in the detoxification process while boosting your immune system. I don't know about you, but that sounds pretty NICE to me.

I'm a big fan of potassium! I've noticed significantly less sore muscles and cramps since using this concoction. Even after my long 8 and 10 mile runs.

The other big secret - freeze your bananas before you add them! Super Frosty!

Just LOOK at that texture. Dee-lish!

Peeeee Esssssss... I'll be running that RELAY a week from today! Woot!

Thursday, September 9, 2010


It's Labor Day weekend, and what do we decide to do? Go to a major tourist attraction - an amusement park...and hope and pray that we don't stand in line all day.

We decided that since we hadn't been before, we would do the Twilight Pass (from 4-10pm) and get the whole situation figured out during the (hopefully) not so busy hours.

We hit the water park first since it closed at 6 and spent a couple of hours there.

Here's my little sidekick while the big kids went on the monster slides with Daddy.

The water park is called Boomerang Bay. It was like an amusement park all on it's own. The lines took forever, but the rides down were SWEET! Sydney and I hung out in the splash area a lot, but we did go on that big green slide pictured above. She yelled as we went down, "Now, that's what I'M talking about!!" I love that girl!

The Snoopy area - where all the Sydney-sized rides lived. She was in heaven! (The red track above is the high drop on Intimidator...A.W.E.S.O.M.E. Savi went on it TWICE! Once with Mom, once with Dad...LUCKY!)

Daddy was too tall for this one, so I got the honor of taking them on this ride. I soon found out why....anyone above kid-height got their ears boxed on the restraint....aye-yi-yi!

Waiting in line for one of the rides we could all go on together! Love that!

That's a $5 corn dog right there, folks! (Now multiply that by 5, add ONE order of $5 fries and free water...and call it dinner) We're not trying to be cheap...but really? And don't even ask me about the $7 Icees that Savi was asking for!

I tried to get a night shot from the Sky Tower of Intimidator while Dad and Savi were on it..this is the best I could do. ;)

Happy kids on the Balloon Chase...those spinning kids rides did me in! I almost lost my cookies on Peanuts Pirates (basically Teacups). And Sydney jumped off and wanted to "go again, go again"! Hurl.
We couldn't go on all the rides she wanted to, YET..

But we found some good substitutes while the big kids went on the Water Rafting Ride.

All in all, a good time! We'll definitely make it an annual event.