Thursday, September 6, 2012

My Review of Asian Eye Cascade Viscose Scarf (For Women)

Originally submitted at Sierra Trading Post

CLOSEOUTS . Semi-sheer viscose gathers itself up into waves of cascading texture in this Asian Eye scarf, with a twinkle of metallic thread accenting the subtle stripes.

Very nice

By Ultra Runner Gale from Seven Hills (Cleveland) OH on 9/6/2012


4out of 5

Length: Feels true to length

Pros: Warm, Soft, Good Length, Quality Materials, Attractive Design

Best Uses: Casual Wear, As A Fashion Accessory, Going Out, Dresses Up The Ordinary, Adds A Bit Of Bling

Describe Yourself: Casual Dresser

Gear Usage: Accessory, Keeps Neck Warm

Was this a gift?: No

Very pretty but isn't a color that I ususally go for. Wish it were available in more colors. Got it for a great price and I'm sure I can find things that need a little dressing up. Has a little sparkle for that extra, little bling.


Monday, June 13, 2011

Xterra - Hampton Hills - My Fastest 10K Trail Race!

I was happy that this race was close to home, still I got up at 5AM. It seems as though I never get to sleep in but that's OK. I am happy to get up for a good trail run! I got to the race and saw a number of people that I knew. Julie wouldn't be there, though. She was doing a bike ride with her friend, Tom. As usual, I chatted it up with many people and soon it was time to start. I was talking to Tapatha before the race and she told me about hurting her big toe at the Warrior Dash. It sounded a lot like what happened to my toe at Oil Creek last year. OUCH!!

We moved to the starting area and soon we were off. It was only a 10K race (I remember a time when 6.2 miles seemed like a very long distance), and a double loop. Double loops can be good and bad; good in that you know what to expect on the next loop; bad in that you know what to expect on the next loop! Haha!!

Tapatha and I were running together but before we got to mile one, she fell back saying her toe really hurt. The course was a fairly easy one as it wasn't real technical but there were a couple of good hills, some with stairs. I found it much easier to run than a lot and was making pretty good time.When I got through the first loop I saw Vince from Vertical Runner. I shouted, "I like this course, I can actually run it", and I was running strong. I felt some sort of redemption for always being the "slow one".  I was actually running right along with other people! It felt GREAT!!

When I got to mile four, I suddenly felt massively sick to my stomach. I had a ginger chew in my waist pack, which I ate immediately. I was getting waves of nausea. Tap caught up with me and I told her to go on if she felt up to it as I didn't! About that time I hear "She's walking". Oh God.... it's Lee and Gabe. They were impressed at how far out on the course I was, but disappointed that I was feeling so badly. The mere fact that they were out there really helped me and kept me running. Gabe started running with Tap, giving her pointers and Lee stayed with me. She helped keep me motivated and on track. She told me that the faster I run, the sooner I would finish. We hit the last uphill and I was struggling. This was the LAST uphill, though. It was all downhill from there. I flew through the finish line chute and was handed an Xterra shoe bag and told that I had finished second in my age group! I was happy! I had really hoped, but didn't really think it was possible, to finish in under 1:30. Well, I did! I finished in 1:23:33! A PR on a 10K trail run!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

That's What Friends Are For - Vulture's Knob Race Report

Three days of craziness. That's what I had just before the start of the Vulture's Knob 9.7 mile trail race in Wooster on May 28th. My daughter had gotten lasik surgery on her eyes in Rockville, MD and I accompanied her on this adventure. Yesterday was particularly nuts. Two flights (one of which was delayed by well over an hour), a three hour drive from Pittsburgh, no food for 12 hours, not enough sleep, and enough stress and aggrivation to last me a lifetime. I suppose, given these circumstances, it shouldn't have come as any surprise that when the gun went off, I had zero energy and fell into the very back of the pack immediately. My body felt fine but I felt like I couldn't run. When I got to the first aid station, which was back at the start, I told Melissa that I had "nothing". She asked if I would finish. I responded "of course, I ALWAYS finish", but I'm thinking "it might not be pretty". At this point, I am on course for a three hour finish. Not spectacular, to be sure.

The course was an old landfill that was turned into a mountain bike course. As I am running, I'm thinking about Melissa and Rick who are mountain bikers and thinking, "talk about badasses, I can't imagine riding a bike on this terrain"! The course was pretty muddy but I've been on worse, this terribly rainy spring.

Sometime around mile six or so I got lost and went in a big loop. When I came around, I bumped into the only person behind me, Cat. We were trying to figure out which way to go. Luckily we picked the correct way. She was walking, so I walked with her for a while. We chatted and I found out she was a triathlete who had gotten injured and gained a bunch of weight when she couldn't train. She is attempting to get active again and I tried to encourage her. Soon, she saw that I wanted to run and she sent me on my way. I felt a little guilty as I know how bad it sucks to be all alone in the back of the pack.

Around mile seven I hear voices. I look up and it's Lee and Gabe!! They had already finished and came back to look for me. Lee was the first woman overall and Gabe placed in his age group and got in the top ten overall for the first time ever!! I am blessed to know so many amazing runners and realize that I am surrounded by greatness. They came back to run me in! What wonderful friends I have! They kept me company and helped make my weariness more bearable. I told them about the rough few days I had, about the stress over my daughter's surgery. They were encouraging and cheerful, and offered great running tips. Pretty soon, the finish line is less than a half a mile away. I'm struggling now, the lack of energy has really taken it's toll on me but because they were with me, I ran way more than I walked, which probably wouldn't have happened had I been alone.

I came around the corner, knowing the finish line was right there. As I passed through, many people cheered! It was amazing as I was the second to last finisher and I rarely get to hear cheers as most people have already left by the time I finish. I struggled with an impending asthma attack while everyone was giving me high fives and "atta boys". I felt so blessed to have such wonderful friends!!

After a while, I went to the finish line and asked Vince if the last girl had come through yet. He said "no" and I got a little worried. Then, seconds later, Cat appeared from around the corner and crossed the finish line. We cheered for her, like they cheered for me. She was beaming.

Today, I found out how great it is to have good friends and how to be a friend to someone I don't even know.

Trail runners rock!!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Longest 15 Miles and The "Crick" Icebath.

The alarm goes off at 3AM. That's OK because I'm already awake. I've been having a rough time with insomnia lately but it's more than that, I'm going back to Oil Creek after seven long months and I'm very excited. I'm in great shape. I've been cross-training and I figure I'm going to show this trail what Gale is made of! I eat my strange concoctions of food and text Julie. Soon I'm off to Stow to meet Julie and start our adventure.

We pull into the parking lot at Petroleum Center in Oil Creek State Park with plenty of time to spare. We said our "hello's" to people we hadn't seen in a long time and soon we were off. Julie and I decided to hit the restroom one last time so we were pulling up the rear (as usual). The group was walking to the trail head so we ran to catch up. That would be the last time we would ever see most of them! 

As the group pulled further and further away, Julie and I managed to get to the top of the first hill. Everyone was gone except a few walkers that were behind us. I didn't care. I was back at the site of my first ultra run, I was one with nature, I was happy! We jogged and walked along the familiar trails. My heart was full. We were running the section where I got hurt so badly during my ultra the following year, that I was forced to walk the entire last half of the race, fifteen miles. Julie and I talked and talked, we talked of things going on in our lives and reminisced. A couple of the walkers passed us (really)!! The girl had a small sock money hanging off of her pack. I wanted one!! Julie said if I got one, it could be my "crack monkey". You see, I've been trying so many things to make me a faster, better runner that once she said "you'd try crack if it would make you faster". That wasn't too far from the truth. Being my running partner for about six years, I supposed she knows me about as well as anyone! She saw me through the hell of my alcohol addiction and back out.

Soon it was apparent that we were going to be way off of our expected finish time of five hours. We hadn't run in a long time, though. By this time we had been through so many mud holes that our feet were just torn up. It was getting hot as well. We wondered if the picnic that had been planned for after the run would even be still going on.

The last five miles were pure hell. My feet were screaming, my back was hurting, and I wasn't having a real good time anymore. It was at this point that we realized it was going to take us longer than six hours to finish this thing, really!! Now, I had done "Forget the PR" at Mohican about a month before. That bad boy was seventeen miles and I finished it in 5:50. How could this be taking us this long?

We finally come out on the dirt road that would take us back to the parking lot and picnic site. I was so happy and my feet were screaming and I was starving. Almost immediately an SUV pulls up and it's Katie and Adam Peterson, God bless their souls! They pick us up and I ask is the picnic is still going on. They say "no, but there is a little food left". At this point, I really don't care as I'm just loving the fact that I'm not walking anymore.

As we pull up to the parking lot, Adam asks if we want to go into the "crick". I forgot that they pronounce creek, crick in Pennsylvania. I immediately say, "YES"! I realize that this is going to be my first impromptu ice bath! They show us where to get in and I am in, in a flash. Julie joins we. We laugh and scream together but I know my legs will be happy tomorrow. As I write this at 4AM on Sunday (insomnia), I can tell you that my legs feel better than they ever have after an event like that! I'm a believer!

As we drive home, I realize that although this run/hike took way longer than expected, I truly had a great time. Julie and I shared a lot during those hours and I learned, first hand, about the icebath. Thanks, Lee and Gabe! They swear by it, and now I do. It's a shame because I'm sure it's way less fun in a bathtub than sitting on a rock in a "crick" in beautiful Oil Creek State Park.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Forget the PR 25K & 50K

Forget the PR 25K and 50K in Loudonville, OH at Mohican State Park was quite an adventure! I've now been running trails for a year (after running roads for eight), so I wasn't really expecting what I got. First off, the 25K was actually 17.4 miles, long by almost two miles. But, hey, I'm an ultra marathoner now so what's a couple extra miles? Second, I did the eleven mile Xterra race down there, last year. I surely knew what to expect. I've conquered "Big Ass Hill", after all!

A few of the Grunt Girls and Guys rented a cabin that wound up being right around the corner from the start and finish line. How cool is that? Some of them got down there on Friday night and some came Saturday. Heidi (who I was carpooling with) had to work Friday night so we came down Saturday. It was pouring rain when we got there. It seemed ominous to me. Last year, when I was on "Big Ass Hill" with a few other people, I said "I can't imagine going up this thing in the rain when it would be slick". I was hoping these words were not going to come back to haunt me. We wanted to go hike some of the course, but the rain was relentless. Five of us went into Wooster (the next large town) and did some grocery shopping, waiting for the rain to stop. When we got back, it was drizzling so we went out. We hiked to "Big Ass Hill". It was exactly as I had remembered it, except it was wet! Oh boy!

At 5:30AM I heard Lee starting the coffee and I knew it was time to get up. We all went about our routines and soon it was time for the 50K to start (8:00AM). Lee and Gabe were the only ones doing the 50K. Me, Stacy, Andrea, Heidi, Kim, Tonya, and Will were doing the 25K, which started at 8:30AM. It was Will's first race, ever! He's a "derby guy" so I figured he was already "badass".

After Rob Powell (RD) gave the final instructions, we were off. The temps were mild and it was overcast but not raining, and they weren't calling for any. I knew the course would be muddy, though. As usual, I started falling further and further behind even though we were running on flat asphalt. There weren't too many people behind me by the time we hit the trail. As I made my way more people passed me. Soon, I was convinced that there was only one walker behind me.

As I got to a somewhat confusing intersection, there were three people that weren't sure which way to go. Well, thanks to our hike I knew which way we needed to turn as "Big Ass Hill" was less than a mile away. I may be slow, but I saved the day for them. When we got there, it was wet and a bit slick, but not nearly as bad as I had feared. As I ascended, I tried a new strategy. I started counting my steps. It kept my mind active on something other than the hard climb and it served me well a number of times throughout the day.

By the time I hit the Covered Bridge Aid Station, I was almost half done. I saw the river that they were expecting me to cross the next time I came through the station. I informed them that I was NOT going to be doing it! They sent me off to do a four mile spur. I had no idea how hard this little four mile section was going to wind up being. For the first mile or so, I was passing people that were coming back and I saw people that I knew. It was so nice and a real pick-me-up, as I was running alone. Soon I got to a real rough section. I was running in a creek bed, navigating over boulders and downed trees. I kept stopping to see if I could see the little yellow flags as this section didn't even look like a trail. I remember thinking "I bet kids would LOVE playing down here". Suddenly I was coming out of the riverbed and hit a bunch of tangled roots. Now I was at the infamous "Root Climb". Heidi had seen me on section where I was passing people and had told me it wasn't that bad and that our friend, Glenn was volunteering at the top. I started my ascent up the roots. She was right, it wasn't that bad and as I got almost to the top I heard Glenn yell "GALE"!!. When I got to the top, there was a steep drop-off and I couldn't figure out how to get off the roots. A woman told me how to navigate around this tree and I was finally on solid ground. Glenn started snapping pictures and talking (Glenn's a real talker). He wound up running/walking with me up to the Covered Bridge Aid Station.

As I cruised into the aid station I yell, "Oh my God, that was CRAZY". The volunteers all laughed. Then I look to my left and say "I'm NOT going in that water". The volunteer says "You HAVE to". I said, "I'm a 52 year old woman, I can't do that". I'm thinking "All I HAVE to do is die and pay taxes". Then, God must have been looking out for me, Gabe comes into the station doing his second loop (damn he was FAST). I say "Gabe, can you get me across that river"? Without a second thought, he says "Yes", and off we go.

I only have about six miles left and I just cruise it in. I'm walking a lot at this point and my injured butt is bothering me but I know I've "got it" now. I hit the North Rim Trail and I know there are a few more hills. I struggle with the last few and by this time the wind is really strong. I could hear it blow through the trees before it hit me on the ground. It sounded like a freight train and seemed quite ominous. A few times I heard tree limbs groan and I prayed that none came crashing down on me. I finally saw the hill that we started on and I knew that all I had was a little pavement and I would be done. When I came across the finish line in a sprint, with tears in my eyes, I had an asthma attack. With a time of 5:46, I was pleased as it was 17 miles and a tough course. I walked around the corner to our cabin, threw open the door, and screamed "I AM A BADASS"!!

Lee was in the icebath and Gabe was waiting his turn for his first one ever. It was comical to watch. I think I'll try it next time!! I think I will do the 50K next year, after all, I am a badass!!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Twenty miles. Six weeks until thirty-one.

It is the Saturday before Labor Day, 2010. I am attending another supported training run that Race Director, Tom Jennings is putting on for us, in preparation for the Oil Creek 100 races. It is, perhaps the last supported training run before the actual event. All of us newbies are starting to get nervous. We are now talking in realities and asking each other important questions. Excitement, hope, and fear are starting to settle in. No longer is the race months away, but a mere six weeks. When I hit that "send" button on the application in March, I knew my life would never be the same, but I really had no idea how drastically it would change.

I was a crazy road runner. Never fast, but tenatious. I'd do back-to-back races every weekend. If there were any races during the week, I'd do them too. I never trained for anything in particular because I was constantly racing. That was OK, though. They were social events for me and if I got the odd age group award, that was OK too. I have shelves of trophies and a few hundred medals, all from only 8 years of road running.

All of that changed when I got introduced to the trails. I loved the challenge of the trails. The intense consentration it takes, the ever changing terrain. I learned very quickly about falling. When I was out there, it seemed like it was where I belonged. Suddenly I found myself doing fewer and fewer road races. I haven't done a road race now, in a couple of months!

On September 4, 2010 I stepped out of the car into the chill of the morning. It was 6:30AM. It had been in the 80s and 90s forever, it seemed. Now it was probably in the high 50s or low 60s and it was threatening to rain. By the time we took the obligitory group pictures, made sure we had all of our supplies, and figured out who was running what distance and where, it had started sprinkling. Ughhhhhh... I really wasn't ready for the cool temps and rain, too. Oh well, I'm a warrior and I'm going to attempt 20 miles come hell or high water.

Thea, Mary, and I set out to do sections 1, 4, and 8 miles of either section 2 or 3, to make it 20 miles. We were all running well together. Thea started speeding up a bit, though. I am always cautious because of my fabulous ability to fall, also because I've been dealing with a brutal case of plantar faciitis all season long. Thea would wait for us at pre-determined spots. At one point we were at one of the soon-to-be aid stations (not sure which number) and it started really pouring. It was between two sections so we were on a dirt road out in the open. I looked at my two companions and said "well, we can't get any wetter"! As it turned out, it rained on and off the entire time we were out. Once we got to the 4 mile turn-around (the half-way point of our journey) on the odd section that we were doing, we just sent Thea on her way. Mary and I decided that we would run together. She thought she would hold me back, but it was actually the other way around. By mile 15 the plantar faciities was making my feet hurt really badly. I had taken some ibuprofin at mile 10 but my feet had taken such a beating that it wasn't touching the pain.

I remembered the first time I was at Oil Creek State Park, we had done section 4. I remembered thinking that there was no way I was going to be able to do this race. The terain was terrifying and the hills were killer. Running this section again, reminded me of why I thought that, six months ago. It's hilly and technical and was really hard on my battered feet. Once I got beyond 16.5 miles, I was in uncharted teritory. That is the furthest I had ever gone and I knew that I was going to hit the elusive 20 miles today! That was keeping me going.

When we crested one of the hills I was able to get cell service. I called Ed and told him that we were on pace to finish in 7 hours, probably a little earlier. I was in pain but excited by the prospect of finishing so quickly.

Soon Mary and I could hear the train. Then we heard cars. We knew our journey was just about over. We had been going downhill for about a mile and it was tearing up my quads. At one point I told Mary that everything from my knees down hurt. Suddenly we could see the road and the Jersey Bridge. I looked over at the parking lot and saw my car! Mary climbed over the guard rail. For me, that was an impossibility. I just ran (really slowly) on the bridge. In a pain-filled moment I coined the term "wogging". I wasn't jogging and I wasn't walking (and God knows I wasn't running). I was "wogging", a run-like walk that in all actuality is probably slower than a fast walk! But it simulatred running and actually felt better on my feet than walking (probably the way I landed was different than walking).

I got to the car, went to the window, took one look at Ed and instasntly turned emotional. I got tears in my eyes and I couldn't speak. I was overwelmed by my accomplishment. I had run/walked 20 miles on terrain that I never dreamed of running on before. I did it on battered feet. I did it at age 51. All of these emotions came bubbling up and I couldn't contain them. Poor Ed didn't understand at first and though I was hurt.

I called over to Mary and asked her if she could have done 31. She said she wasn't sure. I'm not sure either. But what I am sure of is that in six weeks, I WILL do 31!

Happy Trails, friends!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

BR100 - It's not about finishng, it's about the journey

Last night (and this morning), I had the unique opportunity to volunteer for the Burning River Endurance 100 Mile Race. Now, I know it's a bold statement on my part to say that in a little over two months I am going to (attempt) to join the ranks of other ultra marathoners. OK, I'm only doing a 50K (31 miles) but it is 18 miles longer than any race I've ever done before, and to date, 14.5 miles longer than my longest run. I'm hoping to rectify that before the actual event.

I asked Julie if she wanted to meet me there. I recently joined Grunt Girl Racing and they were working the Covered Bridge Aid Station in Peninsula at miles 80 and 85.5. She agreed and I was happy. I'm sometimes worried that I got her "hooked" into running trails with me and I now belong to this group that she doesn't. I've been running with Julie for something like 4 or 5 years. Other runners have come and gone but we are the last remnants of the old "Team Freebie". We aren't fast, we are certainly back of the packers if not last placers on the trails. Just when we got ourselves firmly planted in the middle of the pack at road races (sorry, Jule)!!

Our adventure began as I got there at a bit before 7PM. This aid station's hours were 4PM-8AM. It was a critical station as it was around a tough section and they had to pass through twice. Julie got there about an hour later. We were kind of hanging around. A lot of runners weren't passing through yet. The elites had come and gone. We got familiar with where everything was and were told to go to the entrance of the bridge. At about 9PM the guy that was handling the clipboard passed it to us. Apparently he was unclear on the correct procedure because he didn't inform us that we were supposed to call in each runner so that it could be posted on the website. After looking at the site today, I saw that we were the only aid station that never reported. I felt really bad about that.

I can't speak for Julie (well, maybe I can) but this whole experience was incredible, emotional, and one of the most amazing things I have ever witnessed in person. Once dark descended on the trails the whole thing seemed surreal. We were located at the front end of the bridge. The "cool kids" were at the other end. The end where the runners got the "real" help, the bonfire was blazing, and the real comraderie of the race lied. Hey, we were new, gotta pay those dues. We were alone on our end with the generator literally roaring in our ears the entire night. The runners would come around a bend with their headlamps and flashlights on. Some were running, some were walking. As they rounded the bend, we were an oasis of light and warmth in the black night. I'm sure it was very difficult to leave when the time came. Julie and I were the first people they saw, their first greeting. Unfortunately all we could do was smile and scream "what's your number?" over the generater.

There were two basic types of runners. The ones who had one or two pacers and a whole crew to help them and the lone runners with no pacers. The latter sometimes had drop bags, sometimes not. They came into the aid station alone, got their nutrition and hydration from the volunteers and disappeared silently, alone, into the darkness. I was really impressed with both types of runners. Both types ran the gamut in their condition. Some were stumbling and barely coherent, some were in great shape. I saw three throw up over the edge of the bridge. As the night grew later and turned into morning and runners were fighting "Mr. Cutoff" as a Facebook friend called it, they had to fight the urge to stay too long in the aid station. A few stayed as long as an hour. I don't think I could have run after staying that long, knowing I still had 20 miles to run, half of them in the dark.

All in all, it taught me a lot about myself and my fellow runners. I am an early riser so therefore, I go to bed early. I found myself wanting to stay longer, fighting my own fatigue because I've been that last place runner that volunteers walk out on. I've been that last place runner that has no food or water at the finish line. I've been that last place runner that tries to get to the chute before it's torn down. I'm sure I will be that runner that is trying to beat "Mr. Cutoff" soon. It's not fun. I told Julie that the runners that need the most help, receive the least. I finally had to leave at 4AM but Julie said she would stay. We both did 9 hours. When I left there were less than 10 runners left on the course that hadn't been checked in at our station.

God Speed to all of those runners that can do ultra marathons. I will attempt to join the ranks of ultra marathoner on October 16th, with Julie. I learned, last night, that it's not about finishing, it's all about starting. It's not about finishing, it's about the journey.