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25 Years of Running, My Retrospective. Chapter 3: Joy for These Times

Finding a destination: “the radiant city”

It’s June of 1988, Medina, OH.  I’m 14 years old.   It has hardly rained in a month.  Occasionally trace amounts of precipitation fell that summer.  Even early morning temperatures were often hot.  I wake-up, do 100 sit-ups and head out the door at 7am every MWF to continue pushing farther and farther along E. Smith Rd.  A guy in the Rustic Hills neighborhood lets me cut through his yard to get to Rustic Hills Dr. Then I go to East Smith Rd, down the steep hill,  past the horse farm (now Champion Creek house development), up the curvy hill by the Ebner house, past the Torok’s place, and past the hermit’s “Honey for Sale” sign.  As I get to town, there is a spot where the sidewalk starts/ends.  Like many kids, I’d always wondered where the sidewalks ends.  In Medina, the sidewalk started/ended where you crossed in/out of the city limits.  On East Smith Road, this was at the big, newish middle class house development.  The trees along the sidewalk are small and while they give me no shade from the heat, I worry about them as the drought goes on and on.  Since I’m a kid and don’t drive, I never know where I’m going.  I’d never looked at a map of town.  I just keep going farther on this one road, much as I followed a creek in the woods – no destination in mind.  I just explore little by little so I don’t get lost.  I discover that after the big middle class development, East Smith Road goes into a more commercial/somewhat industrial part of town.  When I get as far as the lumber yard I start to realize where I am (and how far I am from home!).  I knew the lumber yard was near our church and our church was just blocks from the town square.  This was exciting mostly because I didn’t know anyone who could run that far – ALL THE WAY TO THE SQUARE!  As far as I knew, the only people who ran all the way to the square were the people who lived in town.  Knowing where I am, I turn on South Court Street, run past the Methodist Church and the sporting good store (All Sport) and up to the historic town square (circa 1870’s).

I drank from the Fountain

The square is also an exciting destination because it’s got a drinking fountain – a big, granite memorial drinking fountain.  The hydration pack had not been invented yet.  The Old Phoenix National Bank thermometer usually reads about 100°F.  I get a drink and jog the 4 miles home.  I am happy.  I’m maybe as happy as I ever was and ever will be, sort of…

Closer I am to fine…

I had a pink Sony Walkman, but it jiggled on my shorts too much, so I was left with my thoughts for entertainment on this 8 mile route I’d settled on.

When I ran by the Methodist Church on South Court Street, I always looked at the sign by the front door that had the service times and the title of the next week’s sermon.  The sermon title was something to think about.  In many cases, the title was more to think about than the sermon.  When I was a kid, Methodist ministers seemed to all be schooled in the “3 point sermon.”  This way, by the end of the sermon, few people knew what the point was and couldn’t remember anything.  So it was a good deal to see the title all week, get my own idea about it, and then I didn’t feel bad if the minister made no sense to me on Sunday.  The sermon title I remember the most was “Joy for These Times.”

Joy for These Times?!  I’m so happy because I love running, I have a little garden, I walk in the woods, I do 4-H stuff.  I worry that I run slow (I do run slow).  I’m so worried because when will it rain?  Farmers are losing their crops.  The grass is brown.  There is a 7 day-a-week sprinkling ban.  Will the grass die?  Will trees die?  There is a hole in the ozone layer.  Aerosol cans have CFCs.  There this greenhouse effect that makes the planet warmer.  The rainforest is getting cut down.  I spent 8th grade English writing a 20 page paper about pollution.  While writing that paper, I read a book from 1971, “Now or Never: the fight against pollution.” by D.S Halacy.  I know so much about pollution and worry about everything I put in the garbage.  There is no residential recycling yet.  The landfill is getting full.  What happens if the landfill gets full?  What if toxic things leak into the ground water?    Am I supposed to be happy?  Really?…but I am.  I am happy.  I’m living a structured, disciplined  life with a schedule of my creation.  I come home from running, and plug the tub drain so I can save the water from my shower for my vegetable garden.  I save the dish water for the flowers.  I pray for rain.  I am happy.

Next chapter: July 4, 1988, my 1st 5K


Medina, OH is named after Medina in Saudi Arabia.  The name means “the radiant city” (

25 Years of Running, My Retrospective. Chapter 2: Jr. High Butterfly.

A favorite running outfit 1987 – 1988: Shorts $0.50 from garage sale, shoes I took from Mom, white men’s undershirt from Kmart

Spring 1987, Medina Ohio:  I get off the school bus, and overcome by nice weather, I take my shoes off and run in the grass between a row of Forsythia and a driveway, maybe 1/4 mile long, to the condo development where I live with my Mom.   What started at the whim of a nice day turned to daily ritual.  I was becoming a runner in a town and at a time when that was unusual, mostly.  I might’ve run farther, but I had a babysitting job of watching the Cox girls.  Their mother was quite the athlete.  I didn’t know anyone in town who ran except Mrs. Cox.  She even did triathlons and bodybuilding competitions.  She would come home and before I could get out the door she’d have her workout clothes on and be on the exercise bike or hanging upside down from her ankles doing stomach crunches in a door jam.  Her thighs were more like pictures from Muscle Magazine than like thighs of any other woman in town.  Even though her physique was more than I could wrap my mind around, subconsciously I saw that it was okay to run even if it seemed like no one else was out running.

Summer is here and most days I put moccasins on and walk into the woods behind our condo. I follow a creek in hopes of finding it’s origin and collect rocks for the patio flower garden.  Later in the summer, I go into the woods with a plastic bowl and exit the woods into a field full of black raspberries and wildflowers, returning home with enough berries to make a pie or cobbler.  I dunno who owns the woods and fields.  There are no signs, but there seem to be some trails, especially in the fields, and I think I would like to run those trails when I’m not loaded down with berries.  Summer also includes babysitting the Cox girls, 4-H projects, and things I’ve probably forgotten, but not much running.

8th grade school picture, fall 1987

Running resumes in the fall of 87′ when I get off the school bus for the ritual barefoot run in the grass along the driveway.  I’m in 8th grade.  The Cox girls are old enough to stay alone, so my afternoons are free, free to run.  The black raspberries are mostly done and I don’t want to take too many from the birds, so my made-up duties of local pie maker are also complete.  After the barefoot section of my run, I go inside, put on my butterfly shorts, Fruit-of-the-Loom shirt, and shoes.  For shoes, I wear any of the following:  blue Adidas tennis shoes, white leather Nike tennis shoes, or moccasins. I never wear running-specific shoes and don’t know they exist.  I go out the back door, into the woods where I walk along the unnamed creek to the open fields that are just beneath the view of Highway 18 and Interstate 71.  I run for 20 minutes and go back home.  The moccasins are the most fun because, with them, I pretend I’m an American Indian looking for useful things like flint, edible plants, and good pieces of bark for building.  I wonder what life was really like for them and if they use to pick those same black raspberries that I picked.  Black raspberries are native; however, forest clearings are not.

On the days when I don’t run in the fields, there is jr. high intramural cross country (twice a week?), coached by Mr. Rupe, who is also my math teacher.  My memory is that 2 other students joined the team and one was the coaches son, Brian (I think).  The other was my good friend Donna Baughman who wanted to stay in shape for soccer.  This is a soccer town.  What this town lacks in runners it makes-up for in soccer players.  In years to come it seems there are a lot of runners, many of who are soccer players who didn’t make the team or are staying in shape for soccer.  Donna and Brian run in soccer shoes.  We run in the woods and fields behind the high school.  I think Donna doesn’t really like running much unless there is a soccer ball to chase and she teaches me short cuts through the woods.  We enjoy this small rebellion.  Our coach was probably on to us, but never said anything.  Besides, this is a team of 3 and there are no races.

Wherever I run, I always pay attention to the plants.  The eastern deciduous forest has fall colors that, most years,  are other worldly in there brightness.  In the fall, the fields have asters with deep purple flowers complemented by Solidago canadensis (goldenrod).  Rhus typhina (Staghorn sumac) gives a near overdose of red.  Intramural cross country ended, flowers faded, frost came, leaves fell.  I’d never seen anyone run outside in cold, ice, or snow.  Those things I would not master until 9th grade.

In winter, I get off the bus, walk down the drive, go inside, swallow a multivitamin with a glass of water and “run” on the treadmill that my mother bought at Sears – max speed 4.5mph.  I do this while watching 30 minutes of Headline News because my history teaches says we have to keep up with current events.  Then I turn on MTV for 15 minutes because it’s important in 8th grade to know what Bon Jovi looks like so you can pretend like you think he’s hot even if you don’t care or think he needs a hair cut.  If memory is correct, I do this 45minute jogging routine Mon, Wed, Fri.  My bus driver had been telling me that I should join the track team and I’m considering this as I poke along on the treadmill.  I’ve never been on a real sports team before.  The thought of being on the Jr. High Track team keeps me motivated to “run” on dreadmill while it’s cold and snowy.

In late winter I start running outside again, but now, for the first time,  I head for the roads.  Track would start soon and it’s not on a treadmill.  I cut across a field behind our condo development, and through someone’s yard into the Rustic Hills neighborhood, which is a nice enough neighborhood to have a country club.  I turn on East Smith Road, go down a steep hill in front of the Cooperider house.  It’s hard to think of that hill now.  I used to have many good memories of pushing myself back up that steep hill at the end of some long, hot runs.   Now I only think of a 12 year-old Alan Cooperider who was hit by a car there in 1990.  I go through the Rustic hills neighborhood, then past a farm with horses, hay and a split rail fence along the road.  Everything is still brown from winter.  I go up the curvy hill by the Ebner house and turn around to go back home.  Dr. Ebner is an orthopedic surgeon.  He and his dear wife Joyce have 6 kids and they are pillars of the community.  They have a soccer field in their yard.  I decided this was a 3mile run.  I gradually increased the distance to go past the Torok house.  The Toroks are physicians, an orthopedic surgeon and a dermatologist.  They have 3 kids and are also pillars of the community.  They have a hobby farm with cows, chickens and an orchard.  Next to them is Bill Clock’s place.  Bill is the town hermit who lived in a shack with no indoor plumbing.  He sold honey and eggs.  Long after I’d left town, Bill was hit by a car.  I ran all the way to Guilford Road which is the start of a big middle class subdivision of mostly single family dwellings. This was about a 6 mile run.  I loved being able to run places that I’d only ever been to by car or school bus.  They say it takes a village to raise a child.  For me it took a village and a road.

There were a lot of lessons on that road that were unconscious  to me as a kid.  Thinking back I realize this 6 mile run spanned over a hundred years of architecture and three socioeconomic brackets.  The highest concentration of physicians in town lived next to the local hermit.  As far as I knew, everyone got along.  Surgeons bought honey, eggs, and chickens from the hermit, but they just called him Bill.

Jr. High track started and I traded my dear road for an oval of cinders.  Instead of doing whatever I wanted, I did what a coach told me .  The first day they talked about running shoes.  I didn’t want them.  I liked the shoes I had.  My mother took me to the town sporting good store, “All Sport.”  We walked past a sea of cotton sweats, Russell® Athletic brand (guaranteed to last ten years), to the back where the running shoes were.  The only running shoe they had (if memory is correct) was the Nike Air Pegasus with the aqua colored swoosh.  Almost the entire team had this shoe.  Mom bought the shoes and some of the cotton sweats.  I still have the sweats.

The longest race for Jr. High is the mile.  It seems most of the team has dreams of being on the high school soccer team  and jr. high track track was just a way to start getting in shape for soccer try-outs.  Common attire for track practice is soccer clothes, even for people who don’t play soccer.  Umbros are worn over tights or alone if warm outside.  I think most of the team won’t race a mile unless a soccer ball is involved.  Nothing wrong with that, it’s just how it was, or how I remember it.  So, on a rather huge team, I remember 2 people who were willing and able to race the mile – Julie Bennett (an excellent soccer player) and me.  I really am not excited about the mile. I’ve heard of a race called a marathon.  I want to do that someday.  Spring break comes along with an escape from the cinder oval.  My mom takes me and a friend to Marco Island Florida.  During break, I get up before sunrise, put on my butterfly shorts and run on the beach while the sunlight makes a pink/orange ring above the water and then the sun rises.  The waves slip under my feet, and sea shells catch my eyes.  By the end of the  week I run for over an hour – longer than I’ve ever run.  It makes me miss running on E. Smith Rd.  I make it through half the track season before wandering up to one of the coaches and telling them that I didn’t like track and was quitting.  They look at me disappointed. I feel bad, but not bad enough to change my mind.  It’s not like I’m some really talented runner that they can’t live without.   Why do they want me?  Oh yeah the mile.  They are low on milers.  Without me, I think Julie has to do all the mile races on her own.  Sorry Julie – and thank you for taking better care of the team than I did.

It’s May and I’m back to running E. Smith Road in my butterfly shorts.   Now my dear road is showing-off green grass, leaves on trees, lilac flowers, and some blooming crabapple trees.  A row of peonies emerge along the split rail fence of the farm with the horses.  I think when I grow-up I want a split rail fence with a row of peonies.  I enjoy the scenery and stay in shape because I want to run on the high school cross country team in the fall.  The high school girls  cross country coach had a meeting to see how many 8th grade girls might be interested in cross country when they start high school.  Myself and one other girl come to the meeting.  This is a soccer town.  I’m excited for cross country.  I push farther and farther along E. Smith Rd.  The spring rains stop.  It’s June of 1988, the beginning of one of the worst droughts in US history.  The grass starts to brown.  The temperatures go up.  Petals fall from the peonies and 8th grade ends.

Next chapter: will be, “My Favorite Summer”

Remember 1987 and/or 1988? Were you running? If so, I’d love if you’d  share a memory in the “leave a comment.”

25 Years of Running, My Retrospective. Chp.1: Why the Retrospective? Look at the X-ray.

Much of my life I’ve been afraid of things I believed I could not do, but I was not afraid to sign up for a hundred mile race.   It was the Spring of 2009 and I was running home from work for training (an 18 mile route) when, about 4 miles from home, I felt a CRUNCH in the ball of my left foot at the base of the big toe.  See the kidney bean-shaped bones in the x-rays?  One of mine fractured that night in 2009.

These x-rays are from February 2012 and maybe you can see that one of the sesamoid bones is now an irregular kidney bean shape.  At best that spot has a dull ache, sometimes barely noticeable.  At worst it is now prone to tendonitis and, at times, I can’t move the big toe at all.   I took good care of the injury.  I took a year off running.  A YEAR OFF!  Then I began running 7 to 10 miles a week.  In Sept of 2011, 27 months after the original injury, I started building back up to normal marathon mileage, for me about 40 mile a week. With running, I am a dog who sees a plate of unattended cookies and eats them all and then spends days in pain from the indulgence; yet, when faced with more cookies  repeats the process.  I want all the cookies.  I want the 100 miles, but the cookies got put on a shelf that I can’t reach anymore.  I tried anyway, completing a 35 mile race in Dec 2011 and attempting the Arrowhead 135 that I wrote about in my last post.  It now seems fitting that I ended that post with the words, “The End.”

Why doesn’t this heal completely?  The Dr. explained how the sesamoid bones are all surrounded by ligaments and tendons and that it’s a very tough area of the foot – lots of mineral, few living cells, and little blood flow.  For these reasons it’s fairly difficult to injure; however, if injured, it is difficult to heal and when injured some of the few living cells can die, making it even harder to heal.  He said the X-ray looks like my bone tried to heal but never got back to the right shape, thus the ache (that ranges from dull to OUCH!) that has lasted over 2.5 years since the original injury.

A few days after a 58 mile “plate of cookies” I realized I’d be back to NOT running.  To fill the void, I’ll write about my running years.  In the spirit of a nostalgic retrospective, you can see I figured how to add widgets to this blog and the side bar is now has a text widget with running PR’s that are mostly from a long time ago…oh to run like that again!

I get fitted for new prescription arch supports this week and start acupuncture next week.  Another come back?  maybe someday.  I dunno.

Next blog entry starts at 1987.

Arrowhead 135 Race Report for 2012: My Gamble in the Foot Division (stories from the back of the pack)

I biked this race in 2011, posting one of the slowest times in race history, but I finished, which is a big deal at this race.  In 2011 I went in with all confidence that I would finish.  I would later find out that someone sized me up and gave me 1 in 10 finishing odds.  This year it seemed all reversed.  I think people who knew I finished last year thought I had a chance this year, even on foot.  After all, I’d done it when I wasn’t expected to.  The racers who know me better, knew I had just been through 6 weeks of significant foot problems.  My confidence was low after weeks of workouts that were modified (running in the pool), reduced, and skipped.

Nine days before the race I emailed the following note to Lisa and Joy:

“I’m making acceptance my mantra. Today the foot was really down – I could not even move my big toe most of the day.  I’m not planning to do any more running before the race.  Acceptance –  It’s time for me to accept various outcomes.  I accept there is still time for complete healing.  I accept that my foot may or may not be well enough to run.  I accept that if I start the race I may become one of the people hauled off in a rescue sled.  I accept that I may yet  look for an opening in the volunteer division instead of trying to race.”

Sat. January 28th (check-in day):

I had made arrangements to leave my car at the Fortune Bay Resort and Casino (finish line) and ride to the race check-in at International Falls with Steve Rice, who was also traveling alone.  It’s nice not to not have to deal with getting back to I Falls after the race.  I parked at the casino and met Steve in the hotel lobby.  I showed him where the finish line was to get in in his head.   Steve was coming from Kentucky and had never been in this part of Minnesota before.  People often don’t  “put money” on the racers coming from warmer locations.  I know what it’s like to get bad odds.  I sensed his chances of making it were good.  He finished.

At check-in, I asked the race director to give me bad finishing odds for good luck (our little joke).  He gave me 1 in 20.  I knew this was generous since I’d run and walked (on land) a total of 32.53 miles in 6 weeks!  Yeah I cross trained, but really, this was scary for me approaching one of the world’s most difficult ultras feeling like my preparation was not what it needed to be, let alone that I didn’t know if I could run 3 steps with out my foot giving out.  These were the cards I’d been dealt for this race and I continued to play them despite my anxiety.

Spent the rest of the day packing and repacking gear, obsessing over race details and foot wear (arch supports, tape, shoe covers, crampons).  Crampons? yes crampons.  They kept my foot stiff.  If I didn’t bend my foot, and could stay ahead of the cut-off times I should be able to finish.  Had I worn them before? No. This was a  major fuel for my overall anxiety, but I knew, with crampons, I wouldn’t hurt my foot and have to drop after 3 blocks, so I decided they were the card to play.  Still nervous though, slept 4 hours that night.

Sunday January 29th:

I went out on the trail with Lisa and Dennis.  They walked and ran for an hour to get loose from their 10 hour drive the day before.  I walked 20  minutes in my hiking boot/shoe cover/crampon set-up.  It felt slow and extra stress on my Achilles, but okay enough.  My decision was made.  Roll the dice – I would start the race Monday at 7am – feet held together with tape, crampons, and henna tattoo.

Ladies lunch at the Chocolate Moose – it was a privilege to be in such good company.  Ten women came and some men.

Mandatory Pre-race meeting spaghetti dinner – I can hardly pay attention.  I’m so nervous.  I’m tired from not sleeping well.  Negative chatter in my head kicking in.  The cards I see: “I’m not a good runner,  I’m a lousy athlete,  I suck so much,  I’m scared to move my foot, what am I doing here?”  Last year’s cards were better:  I felt free, unlimited with no chains to bind me, steady and stable.  Now I am a basket case trying to shake off negativity and not succeeding.  Fell asleep about 10pm.

Monday Jan30th (race day):

I’m awake at 2am.  I’m exhausted.  Oh well – this happens to lots of people.  7am -the race starts with the bikers, then skiers and at 7:04 the foot division is off.

Soon I’m near the back where I like to be.  My head is still a wreck of doubt.  The snow is soft from unusually warm temperatures and it’s hard work to get through it.   Early into the race I’m with Rima Chai who has 50 about pounds of gear including a tire that says “pulling for peace.”  We walked/ran together for awhile.  She is a lovely person.  I hope to see her again.  I could not keep up with her even though I had about 15 pounds less gear.  Then Angela came up behind me with a sombrero on her sled.  I’m between a tire and a sombrero and struggling.  Angela passes me with a nice steady pace.  I wish her luck.  I am last before mile 9.  To be on pace to make the first cut-off I needed to cross highway 53 (at 18.75miles) by 2pm at the latest.  I wasn’t there.  The crampons came off.  What will happen? Nothing – MY FOOT FEELS FINE!  I start moving, getting to hwy 53 at 2:15pm,  I switch from hiking boots to a stiff old pair of trail racing flats that I’d never run in before.  I try to get back on schedule.  I make progress.  My messed up head clears from the panic of knowing where I am and where I need to be.  I arrive at the Gateway check point at 9:15pm (with a sprint), fifteen minutes after cut-off.  Oh that hurts, but my foot is okay.  It’s my heart that is broken.  I feel great now.  I’ve got it together.  Maybe they will let me go on.  I plead my case.  I lose. It’s fair.  I’m out of the race.  It’s a state trail and I can walk/run it whether I’m in the race or not.  I tell Tony I’m going on even if I’m not in the race (so much for my “acceptance” mantra).  He doesn’t like my decision.  Tony would be the person checking on the racers occasionally by snowmobile during the night.  He said he would still check on me even though I was out of the race.  I drank 2 chocolate milks and left the Gateway store checkpoint.  I do not endorse what I did for anyone else.  It’s what I felt I had to do for my circumstance.  It’s possible that Arrowhead may never accept another application from me, but this may be my last foot race and I’m not letting it end at the 1st checkpoint. I thought I’d walk off the chocolate milk and then try to go fast and catch-up to some of the other racers.  Rima had left Gateway at 9pm.  Maybe I could catch-up to her.

All though the night:

It took 3 hours to walk-off the milk swishing in my stomach.  I wish I’d have just drank my sports drink and ran my way back into being on pace to make it to the next check point before the cut-off, even if I was out of the race.  Chocolate milk wasn’t the right right card to play.  Still, it was a nice night – peaceful.  I was alone taking in the southern boreal forest on the Arrowhead trail. I don’t remember thinking about anything but my next step and pole plant.  It rained for awhile.  My shoes got wet, but my feet stayed dry in my storm socks. There was a layer of ice over a lot of my stuff.  Tony checked on me at 4am.  I was feeling good.  I saw night turn to day and the light played tricks on my eyes – chunks of snow turning into birds and back into chucks of snow.

Tuesday January 31st (the rides/walks of shame and pity):

Tony checked on me at 8am.  I was feeling good, but the hills were more up than down and I’d not made up much time.  He told me where I was.  He told me the location of the rescue van full of other racers dropping out, and where the next check point was.  It’s good to be in-touch with reality.  I cried a little.  I felt like a dork, but tears came.  It was over.  This time I listened to Tony and got on his snowmobile to the rescue van parked at Sheep Ranch Rd.  Angela (who earlier had the sombrero) was in the back.  She’d done the math and determined it didn’t make sense to go on.  She’d gotten a couple miles farther than me and was in good spirits despite dropping out.  At a glance we seemed very different – like the difference between fun (her) and boring (me).  Yet we seemed to understand each other in a way that only someone who’s ever suffered a running addiction could grasp.  I think she’s pretty cool.  I didn’t feel too bad now.  I realized I’d gone farther and longer on foot than Id ever gone before.  It was all a strange mix of victory and defeat.

The rescue van took Angela and I to the Gateway Store and the rest to International Falls where they were parked.  Angela’s Mom picked her up.  It’s kind of a joke of the race that you can’t call your Mommy to rescue you.  Dave, the race director, was headed from I falls toward Fortune Bay so he picked me up.  I gave him a hug.  I was hoping he wasn’t  mad at me for going on after missing the first cut-off, but logic told me he was likely too busy and tired to be mad.  We talked bikes.  We both commute to work by bike sometimes pass each other as we use many of the same roads.  We stopped by check point 3 to see how things were going.  It was all good there.  At Fortune Bay I walked in through the casino entrance, past the people at the slot machines, mostly older people, over weight, with cigarettes hanging out of their mouths.  They always looked pitiful to me; however, at that moment, deciding if I was more pitiful than them could be an interesting argument.  I walked through he smoke to the hotel desk where I added a night to the room I’d booked.

There plenty were of volunteers at the finish line and in the hospitality room.  Feeling useless, I went too my room and napped until dinner time.  I had dinner with the parents of Dennis Grelk.  The all you can eat buffet looked good considering I’d recently spent 25 hours pulling about 35 pounds of gear on sticky snow and covered 58 miles of trail.  I was not walking very well.  Maybe they sensed my vague sorrow and insisted on buying me dinner.  They are very sweet and have blessed the race with many volunteer hours.

Wednesday February 1st:  Now I’m a masseuse with a foot fetish.

I went to the hospitality room early to see if there was anything I could do.  I had to wait for Lisa to finish.  It sure would be great to have a job to do.  Someone commented on how much better I was walking.  I said, “I drank my sports drink spiked with branched-chain amino acids and rubbed myself down with massage oils.”  Someone said, “I could use a massage.”  Well, I wanted a job and a job so I grabbed my rubs and oils.  The “cards”  in my hand included: Arnica massage oil, lemongrass/ginger/lavender/rosemary massage oil,  Badger Balm, Badger Sore Muscle Rub, alcohol, pins, and listening ears.  I spent the whole day draining blisters, rubbing feet and calves, and taking in the stories of the race.  People often have a lot to process after events of this emotional and physical intensity and I was glad to listen.  I had a lot of happy customers.  People’s feet and legs often swell during long races.  Even mine were quite swollen and slightly blistered after only 25 hours on the course. Little did my customers know that there was something poetic in this.  Me who had spent 6 weeks trying to get my feet together for this race was now spending the day helping others get there feet back together after the race.  This was kind of emotional for me.  I’d wanted to retire fore running after this.  I wanted to end on a high note – finish Arrowhead and be done with running.  I wanted to be done with fractured bones in my feet, tendonitis, and whatever other pains are in my feet.  Running was my first love, but I’m a biker now.  Like fluid from a blister, my pain eased as the day of helping others went on.  It felt good to aid other people with their macerated, blistered feet – some sort of karmic high note – if this was the end off my pretend running career, helping others is a good ending after all.

Alicia came in, the 3rd female to ever officially finish on foot.  Her feet looked great.  Carles had some of the worst feet, very macerated.  The warm temperatures were especially hard on the men’s feet.  Most people where a vapor barrier sock.  That’s great since it rained.  For the most part, the men sweat more, so their feet get wet from sweat.  This can be corrected with a change of socks, but in a race, not everyone took time to change socks who should have.  Wet feet + friction = maceration.

Lisa came in 59:29:00.  We laughed at role reversal.  Last year she met me at my bike division finish and helped me to our room where I fell asleep sideways on a bed.  Now she laid down sideways.  I rubbed her swollen feet and legs and drained a couple blisters.  She fell asleep and I put the cover over her, much as she’d done for me the year before.

Thursday February 2nd: post race low.

Now my feet hurt.  I sat staring at my packed duffel and my feet hurt.  58 miles  and my feet didn’t hurt.  Now I sit doing nothing and they hurt.  I can never figure it out.  At at least they still look pretty even if still swollen.

I checked-out of the hotel and again walked  through the casino past the mostly older, over-weight, smoking folks and again felt I wasn’t so different from them – I’m just in way better shape.  We’re both just people with dreams and addictions.  Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose, but either way, we say we’ve had a good time.

I missed a turn going home.  Maybe I’ve missed a lot of turns in my life.  I don’t know.  I got home.  It was good to see the cats and Tim.  They make me happy no matter what.

Friday February 3rd:

I woke up with my feet hurting worse than the day before.  It was a hurt that said clean your bike chain, charge your helmet light, tighten the screws on your cleats, and take all of your running shoes to Goodwill. Then I cried, not because I didn’t finish the Arrowhead on foot, but because I didn’t know if I’d ever start again and I felt like I wanted to.  My heart and feet do not always have the same idea about running.

I’ve never written a post-race report.  This time I needed to.   Maybe it will give me closure or help me figure out if I want closure.  I’ve run on the best days of my life and the  worst. I’ve run in every kind of day and night and weather.  Running has made my life richer.  Most likely, I’ll come back to it no matter how many months or years I have to take off to get my feet healthy.  No matter how many miles I bike, running is part of me and it’s a “card” that won’t hit the discard pile until I’m dead.  So, I guess I better go shopping for some Hoka shoes.  It’s one thing I haven’t tried and besides, all the ultra runners are wearing them, and I’m one of them, at least at heart.  The End.

Hello world!

This is a blog about running, walking, bicycling, snowshoeing, triathlons, and skiing (if I ever learn).