29 October 2014

RIP Blake Norwood

I have tears in my eyes. The ultra community has a huge gaping loss today. The founding director of the Umstead 100 miler, Blake was there for me in my second 100 miler, the first time I broke 24 hours. He was taking photos, including the gem below, laughing, teasing, enouraging, being out there. He was such a present RD - I have been to races and had no clue who the RD was. He, on the other hand, talked with everyone. He will be missed. Oh, Blake.....
Running my 2nd 100 miler

27 October 2014

Cape Cod Marathon: Views, Wind, and Split Lips (and I didn't throw up on myself or poop in my pants)

Post race: no one fainted or pooped in their pants or threw up. We all finished. In other words, the marathon was a resounding success.

I'm one of those people that are easily convinced to do things. Like run marathons, blow money on things they shouldn't, travel at the drop of a hat, get another cocktail, and bake something sweet and eat way too much of it. So when Jill said, "I'm running these three races. Want to run one with me?" and the Cape Cod Marathon fit, of course I said yes.

Jill was hosting a party the day before, so I prepared for the marathon by drinking mimosas and eating lots of delicious things. I slept a good deal, and we head over to the start in Falmouth, which was pretty low-key.

I was hungry at the start, and was looking for water to take a pre-race gel with. Someone told me it was at the front and then after I had looked around a bunch, someone else told me it was in the back. No time. Booo. I started, holding a gel, looking forward for the first water stop...which was in 2.5 miles. Water was every 2.5 miles or so. Boooo.

But the course was good. Hilly, yes. But oh-so-gorgeous. Really pretty. The ocean, the houses, the lighthouse. As Wayne said the day before, "Super f-ing quaint." Indeed.

After around 2 miles or so, someone came up behind me and began touching my face. I had no idea what was going on, and smacked the person away....and it was Stephen. Apparently I accidentally split his lip, and he said, "I deserve it. You don't startle a girl from Brooklyn during a marathon." It was a little strange to have someone touching my face from behind.

Stephen and I ran the rest of the race together - we talked about Burning Man, work, relationships, running, friends, the desert, lots of stuff. We suffered together, and enjoyed things.

My stomach was pretty wrecked. I didn't have pre-race bathroom success, so the last part of the race, I was in agony. As we came into the finish, I thought I was going to throw up all over myself, which would've made for a fantastic finishing photo - right?? But I didn't.

We finished, 3:55. Far from what I wanted. But considering I'm still dealing with that foot soreness issue (The bottoms of my feet are swollen, ow.) and my stomach was in agony, I guess it was okay. I need to do more speed workouts so I can kill it in a marathon, someday.

Post race, I shivered under Mylar and talked to runners. Then we drove back to Jill's house where we drank delicious alcohol and talked about everything until it was pretty evident I should have left hours earlier - which really wasn't a bad thing after all, as sometimes, fun takes priority.

Burning Man in Slow Motion

An amazing video. Can't wait to be home again.

Burning man 2014 from UBERcut on Vimeo.

Why can't I run down the street free of suggestion?

Today I was running home from the library. A worker in a construction hole had to watch me run towards him and then turned his body and head to look at me in the other direction. (Too bad he wasn't an owl.) I stopped and say in a really pleasant voice, "Why do you have to stop what you are doing and look at me? Really, it's not a compliment. I just want to run. I don't want to be stared at."

"Oh, you're doing a good thing."

A good thing? Why don't you go to the nearest gym and give a round of applause to everyone there.

"I'm sure you are not doing this to the men."

The whole interaction went over his head and I ran home, annoyed that I cannot just run down the street free of suggestion.

In the words of Fugazi,
Why can't i walk down a street free of suggestion?
Is my body the only trait in the eye's of men?
I've got some skin
You want to look in
There lays no reward in what you discover
You spent yourself watching me suffer
Suffer you words, suffer your eyes, suffer your hands
Suffer your interpretation of what it is to be a man
I've got some skin
You want to look in
She does nothing to deserve it
He only wants to observe it
We sit back like they taught us
We keep quiet like they taught us
He just wants to prove it
She does nothing to remove it
We don't want anyone to mind us
So we play the roles that they assigned us
She does nothing to conceal it
He touches her 'cause he wants to feel it
We blame her for being there
But we are all guilty


What is decompression? It's untangling yourself from Burning Man. It's saying goodbye but reminding yourself of what you learned at Burning Man - and not giving that up. It's carrying on your dreams. It's refusing to give up a hope for an idyllic lifestyle. 
Me, Kathy, and Carrie

It's art. It's conversation. It's community. It's dancing. It's sharing. It's love. I want it every day.

Dreams I share

Pink twins

Decom takes place down a couple of streets in San Francisco in the Dogpatch area. There's a park in the middle with a bunch of art (including LOVE and Kathy's piece abbreviated, YAY!), people having picnics, hanging out. Then there are different theme camps providing music, snacks, drinks, interaction, that sort of thing. There's dancing, conversation, catching up with friends fun.

One of my fave runners (sans Mohawk) showing off his BRC 50k medal!

Love, Love, Love....

This year I found myself spending most of my time catching up with friends - talking, sharing dreams, talking about our Burns, talking about what we learned, talking about what's next, sharing secrets that we're barely comfortable telling ourselves...it's Burning Man in a real city.

The teacups!
 I stayed until the bitter end, dancing, catching up with friends, having fun, talking, listening, sharing, chatting. When it ended, I decided I was too tired (and too sore from the Dick Collins 50 Miler the day before) so I wanted to skip on an after party. But I helped Kathy disassemble her piece and move it to the van. We chatted in the ride home about love and life and searching for happiness and art....

I'll be back next year - it works well with running the Dick Collins 50 Miler, and it's a nice way to tie things up - and see Kathy and Carrie and Rachelle and Jonathan and Utah and Valerie and so many others. I love you all and thank you for making me realizing there's more to life than the everyday!
Kathy's super awesome piece!

Can't stop playing this song on repeat....

The lyrics don't move me heaps, but I just feel like I'm transported to a dance floor under blazing sun or blinking lights, pulling my energy up and out and sharing with everyone around me.

Dick Collins 50 Miler 2014: Hills, Madelines, and Super Nice People

I was pretty excited to run the Dick Collins 50 Miler. I hadn't run a 50 miler in quite a while, since May at Bear Mountain (which is so tough and technical it's more like a 75 miler than a 50, ugh). I had PRd on this course, so was hopeful, even though it was 2 weeks since Hinson 24 hour, and 3 weeks since North Coast 24 hour. Ouch. I felt it.

I started out, pretty excited and happy to run! It was so pretty. I was chatting up a storm with everyone around me, pointing out all of the pretty views. The course is just jaw-dropping, and oh yeah, this is totally normal for California and everyone stares at you like you are an alien when you scream, "OMG LOOK AT THAT VIEW," and they say, "That looks like everywhere out here. What is wrong with you?" Ooops. New Yorker.

There's a different vibe to running out in California; there's history. I mean, GORDY was in the race. Swoon. Gordy, the father of ultrarunning. People said, "Western," and they meant Western States. OBVIOUSLY. Everyone was amazed I came out for this race, but I told them they shouldn't be. It's an awesome race, beautiful, AND very importantly, the day before San Francisco's Burning Man Decompression.

The course is not easy but beautiful. Lots of ups and downs. I kept saying, "I don't remember the course being this hard!" Up and down, more ups than downs, it seems, but as the course was pretty much out and back, you know it really wasn't. My hamstrings felt DESTROYED. I kept stopping to stretch. They hurt so terribly.

I saw an old ultrarunning friend Steve, who was working an aid station while he was injured. He didn't mind the sweaty hug. 

I'll admit; the food at the aid stations weren't quite as good when Ann Trason was RD. I basically ran a 50 mile all-you-can-eat buffet when she was RD. This was still quite good - grilled cheese at the turnaround, yay. They had these little packages of madelines, and given that I adore madelines and bake them, I ate approximtaely 400. Well, not that many, but I couldn't stop eating them and had to restrict myself. I knew I wasn't burning that many calories, ha.

I pulled it into the finish, way slower than I thought and hoped. Blisters, soreness, but I was okay. I was disappointed, but I guess my legs are just too slow right now. Sigh. Oh well. Next year, I'll be fresher!

And yes, next year, I'll be back.

We got pretty good schwag - tshirts, wine glasses, little reusable backpacks, fleeces. The post-race BBQ was nice, the volunteers friendly, and I'll def be back! See you next year on the trails!

23 October 2014

Wait, why don't I live in California?

We slipped on our shoes and headed out the door....and Jerry and I were running here within a mile. There's a wolf in the background. Tough hills. Mountains, really. Dry. Why do I live in NYC? Because it's my energy and my city and my love and my family and my friends and my community but sometimes, I just want to roll out my door into awesome running. Maybe in another ten years I'll be ready to move out there, but until then, I know all the awesome spots to run in NYC.

02 October 2014

Because Dreams.

Lake of Dreams from roy two thousand on Vimeo.

This Doesn't Belong Here

This isn't now. No, it's not. It's a very different world. It's a world of the now, it's a world where we are cold, tired, talking, waiting, dancing, looking, and being.

I took a break from a busy day and decided to watch a video a friend had posted a while back. It was this.

It might not be the best video of Burning Man, but I really did love it. It made me think, Oh Cherie, that is so different. That is another place from where you are now.

How can I get to that place of just being in the now? I guess it's a journey we work on every day...on playa, it's so easy to just be that and there.

01 October 2014

Hinson Lake 24 Hour Race Report (2014): It Was Awful, But an Awful Lot of Fun

                Hinson Lake 24 Hour Race has a special spot in my heart: it was my first 24 hour race (which I won the first time) and really turned me on to 24 hour races. No matter your finishing results, you get to run with and meet and chat with a ton of different awesome people at all sorts of paces. SO MUCH FUN!
                I knew going into this race that I wouldn’t run my best, as I had run 105 miles the week before at The North Coast 24 Hour National Championships, but hoped since I hadn’t PR’d, maybe my legs would be decent, good enough for 100+ miles? Not exactly. My legs were tired, and a stressful week of work, plus not enough sleep, plus lots of other things going on in my head did not leave me well-rested. I took a nap the day before and literally had to pull over 20 minutes from the start of Hinson to stretch because I was too exhausted to keep driving. Not a good sign, but remember, I don’t often pay attention to bad signs. Sigh.       

                Hinson Lake is an awesome 24 hour race – the fee is $24 and you get a tshirt, bumper sticker, pint glass (Good because Wayne and I are always breaking the ones we have!), and food, and 24 hours of running fun! The company is great – I love all of the runners and end up chatting with tons of great people. The course is a 1.56 mile loop around the lake – it’s pretty, there are some small rolling hills, but it’s mainly flat on dirt, sand, and boardwalk. There are tons of tents along the course and fun signs.
                At the start, I took off, chattering and laughing, enjoying and remembering the course. What a beautiful day. Soon enough, my pace slowed to 9:20s, which is definitely not terrible, but I usually go out a bit faster, with less effort. These 9:20s felt tough. Oh no.
                “My legs feel so tired,” I told Shannon. We ran together for a while, and she seemed strong at times, but she ended up not having a good day either and dropped. I was very sad to see her go. My legs were feeling tired before 2 hours.
                I ran with Jonathan Savage, who told me about his brown recluse spider bite and his recovery. He promised his wife to only run 50 miles, and only that much if he felt okay. He ended up quitting at 50 miles, feeling good. We talked about stress and how it impacts running. Talking always helps, and talking while running is the best. If only I could find a therapist who wanted to go on long runs with me…I would have no problems, I’m convinced.
                I reached the marathon in under 5 hours and the 50k in under 6 hours. Compare this to last weekend’s 24 hour (with the marathon in 4:10, 50k in 5:05). I knew it would be a bad day.
                I talked to Ray. He was weary, still. Running for 52 days straight from 6a.m. to midnight on concrete will do that to you.
                I hung out with Kelley, I hung out with Joe, I chilled with lots of amazing people. It was fun.
                I had my set up of various bags next to Brett. Brett’s dad was 100% awesome and his name was Wayne. He called me “babe” and was sweet, hilarious, helpful, and nice. Brett ended up taking a 3 hour nap.
                After it got dark, I just crashed. I curled up on the air mattress Wayne had set up with Wayne’s sleeping bag and passed out. I got up, and slowly began running. My blistered feet felt better, and my legs were still tired, but I could do this. I knew 100 miles would be almost impossible.
                I took a 5 hour energy shot. I ran with music. I danced while I ran. I chatted. I walked Mount Hinson, that giant mountain they put on the course. I napped in a chair. I got up and ran more.
                About two and a half hours from the finish, Rich and I began running together.
                He gave me a red bull and we talked each other’s ears off. We mostly ran, but we’d walk Mount Hinson.  I don’t remember what we talked about – dissolving marriages and cupcakes and blisters and this race and that race and oh this race and yeah that race. I ate a lot of pink cupcakes.
                Oh, the food. This year I ate homemade cookies and pizza that I took the cheese off of and animal crackers and cheese its and lots and lots of pink frosted cupcakes. Oh, how delicious it all tasted. At least my stomach was awesome! Yay!
                I ended up with 94.6 miles, or 93.6, something like that. Ugh. Depressing. So close, yet so far. And I still know that’s a pretty awesome effort – esp since I ran a 24 hour last weekend.
                My legs felt tired and my body was exhausted. Stress has been seeping in everywhere lately – it sucks. My blisters were out of control – I stopped to cut moleskin and cover them, but they were a horrendous mess and I think I scared my little sister when she saw me popping them afterwards. Yum.
                So Hinson? Not my best race. Nope. Not this year. But fun –yes. Lots and lots and lots of fun.

                I WILL BE BACK FOR SURE NEXT YEAR. I hope there will be pink frosted cupcakes!

24 September 2014

24 Hours North Coast: “This is BS,” “Cleveland Isn’t Detroit,” “We had some ‘weather,’” “Today’s just not my day”

Going into the North Coast 24 Hour National Championships, I was not feeling 100%, but feeling very hopefully – because confidence is much more fun and positive than self-doubt. I didn’t have my best race, or my worst race, but I did have a whole lot of fun. How is it possible that so many things could happen in just 24 hours?

We went to the pre-race where, where the amazing Dr. Andy Lovett gave me some ointment cream that he swore would protect me from blisters. (It didn’t. My feet suffered. Sigh.) Then Jackie and I headed to the hotel, where we fell asleep at 9pm. Success. Turns out, Cleveland is kind of like those YouTube videos you know you’ve seen and loved online. Ha!
me and andy!!!!

Chris and Dave arrived at 2am but I barely woke up. I slept pretty good, had pre-race bowel success, and ate, feeling okay. The day before I flew, I was so nervous I could barely eat lunch before my flight. We checked in at the start, set up our stuff inside the pavilion in case we had the rain they predicted (No matter; the entire where we placed our stuff flooded, but luckily, most of our stuff were in plastic bags.), and said hello to friends. Let’s get ready! Wheeeeee!
HUGE ultrarunning hero - John Geesler. Swoon!

The course is a .9 mile loop through this park (essentially around a parking lot, but it’s actually nicer than that sounds) with the Lake on one side. There were tons of people in the park, so that added an interesting people-watching element; one vegan weightlifter was working out at 10 a.m. until the first rain came well after dark. There were kites, multiple wedding photo shoots, families picnicking, seagulls, that sort of thing. The course is a paved loop, with some slight ups and downs, but nothing too bad. (In the middle of the night, you will find yourself walking “the big hill.”)
ready to run at lakeside

Because the lake is alongside the course, you get wind. Lots of it. This course is known for being windy. At times, the wind was so tough you found yourself using tons of energy just to propel yourself ahead. Some people confessed to me that they gave up running and just walked.


The race started a few minutes early, and we were off. I took off too fast, as usual, yelling at myself for running sub-9 minute pace. I got a cramp early in and was forced to slow down, which was a good thing. I chatted with everyone, ate gels, laughed.

The day was hot. It was supposed to be a high of 80, but it was much hotter than that – mid to upper 80s. I felt parched, and needed to make sure I was quite hydrated, but not drinking too much to cause the dreaded sloshing stomach.

Marathon in 4:10. Okay, a little faster than my best 24s, but not too terrible. 50k in 5:05. Okay. Okay.

Then in the mid 30s, my hamstring tightness grew worse. I went to the medical tent  to have my hamstrings stretched. And again a little while later. And again.

And then my period showed up two days early. I spent much of the race begging for tampons. Thank you, ladies of North Coast 24!

It took forever to get to mile 50, or so it felt. 9:40. Ugh. 50 to 60 felt really awful. It took forever.

In the 70s, Chris warned me, "Cherie, it's going to rain." I had read an article about thunderstorms in Outside Magazine the day before. "I am going to stop if it's thunderstorming." I really wanted to go to medical and get them to stretch out my super tight hamstrings, but I figured I'd wait until the thunder and rain arrived.

I kept running, feeling kinda crappy. The miles dragged on. Where was this rain? I wasn't eating a ton - nothing looked appetizing (Well, mac and cheese did but I knew where that would land me!) and I ended up eating some vegan pizza. I do love cheese, but not when running.

I dragged on. I ran. I took a 5 hour energy shot. I changed my shoes. I ran some more. I ran some more. I put music on - it pushed me ahead. I flew. It felt great for a few laps. Then, I slowed down. Ran. Ran.

I came in. "You should stop now. The rain is going to come," Chris told me.

"Well, can't I just do one more?" I asked. It was only drizzling.

"No. Stop now."

"Really? I can't just do one loop - only .9 miles?"

"No. You can't."

So I went to medical and as they began working on my legs, the skies opened. Good timing. I thanked Chris profusely. I had medical pop some blisters and then I relaxed for a while.

Then, as I was pulling on my shoes, it let up. I head out and put in some more miles.

I ran on. Sunlight was coming, I knew it. I said hi to everyone I passed, and smiled. Only a few more hours of this hell/love.

Around mile 92, I connected with Isiah, who later won the men's race with 154 miles - in his first ultra! We ended up running together until I hit 100, at which point I drank water and ate a little extra food, and then spent the last hour running, walking a bit, laughing, smiling, so glad it was almost over.
Hitting 100 miles
I hit 104 miles. And then nearly 105. But it was over.

Far from what I wanted, but still, a pretty decent race. 5th USATF woman, lots of blisters, lots of soreness, lots of fun with friends, lots of hallucinations (Why do people do drugs when they can just run 24 hour races????), and some fantastic tater tots after. Yep, that's a good race!
NY/NJ crew post race (Where's Zandy?)
Tired runners, yay

16 September 2014

Because Time Isn't Real at Burning Man

So many months of working your butt off for a week? Does it even make sense? And then you get there and it's work work work and then it's playplayplayworkplayplay and blink it's all over and you are packing up your camp with tears in your eyes. This video gets that time is imaginary.

Time Shifts at Burning Man 2014 from Michael Tosner on Vimeo.

07 September 2014

Re-entry and Decompression

Re-entry has been really weird this year. I feel like it is going to take me longer to decompress as my burn was full of so much this year, almost too much. 

On playa, I felt stressed, a first for Black Rock City: the race was overwhelming and way bigger than ever, which was totally exciting and amazing and wonderful but a lot for me. Next year, I might not be able to run it as things needed to be managed while running. The stress prob contributed to stomach issues which led to 15 min in the port-a-potty, 30 min sitting around waiting for my tummy to feel better, and the poop shuffle - you know, when you have to poop SO BAD while running that you run to get to the toilet fast, then have to stop and hold your stomach, then you walk, then you run, then you clutch your stomach. AWFUL. The volunteers offered to have me poop into a black garbage bag, but HELLO I HAVE SOME CLASS. Not really, I'm just poop shy!

We also had some camp issues: people who didn't pick up their fair share of helping out, and striking camp left me in tears when not everyone helped out. I take things personally too much. So I felt stressed and upset and frustrated and it definitely showed. We grew a lot very quickly, and some people had different ideas about camp responsibilities. I think some will find a better home at a plug-and-play camp next year.

To be honest, all of it broke my heart a little bit. I know I wasn't able to fully be present at all times on the playa because of the stress, even showing that stress, being cranky to those who loved me (and everyone, I AM SORRY, I do love you!) and was hurt a lot. People are really their true selves on the playa, whatever that may be - so you get to see some truth to people. But mostly, it was a beautiful wonderful week, and everyone had their bright happy spots!

Moving on...the playa was good for me, as always. I had some big epiphanies about life, work, writing, love, living. People always say, couples, friendships, they either break up or get stronger. Wayne and I got stronger. Rachelle and I had some wonderful time together. I met some incredible new folks. I saw neat art, made some important internal decisions, danced my butt off, ran, meditated, talked to strangers, met lots of amazing runners, missed my kitties, kissed Wayne, drank mojitos with all my friends at Dementha (except Ben - you were missed!), had some great talks with Yosvany, watched the sunrise a few times, saw the amazing Embrace Burn (prob my fave Burn of this year), saw the other burns, danced a ton, met some great people, connected with so many of the amazing runners, ate lots of guac, drank tons of delicious pina coladas (even with the "WHO THREW AWAY THE PINA COLADA" drama), had a brilliant time.
i love this boy. this was a good year for bonding for us.

oh how he makes me smile. sunset time! howl!

ride this. no.

embrace. the best piece of art this year, IMHO

matching patterns

what i wrote in the library of dreams

that's my boy up there

holding things up

mud and cats

good friends

oh caretaker, how i heart you

some of my camp

dome and us

all smiles

embrace burns

good times at dementha

our annual wedding

dancing at my fave camp on the playa

burning man indeed.

goodbye temple of dreams. take those messages to my grandfathers and uncle and take care of all of them.

let it burn, burn, burn

And for now, we are resting our hearts, our minds, our bodies. I am at home, reading and writing and practicing yoga and running and cooking and baking and seeing those who matter most (Wayne, Mom, Dad), making plans to see others who really matter (Rachelle, Lissy & fam), and figuring out what is next for me.

The Burn always inspires me to do a lot, to be more of myself, yes, to see more fun art, to connect with friends who matter, to figure out what matters, to reach deep inside myself, to meditate, to think, to breathe, to be in the present moment, to push harder, to relax more, and to figure everything out in due time. 

Funny how fake fur and shiny things and burning art and amazing people can inspire all of that.

15 August 2014

Next up....!

Burning Man Ultramarathon! I've been swamped in organizing logistics....making presents for all of the volunteers....answering emails....organizing. I can't wait to run with over 200 amazing burners!

Pajama Run

Thus called the Pajama Run because it is run from 5pm-11pm, I've always wanted to wear pajamas to this six hour run put on by the awesome Broadway Ultra Society. But I end up not, to avoid harassment, because it's in a very popular public park, Astoria Park. On the way, with lovely views, the Triboro Bridge above us, some mini-hills, Christian karaoke, a pool, people playing tug-o-war, wedding parties taking photos...it's an interesting place for a six hour race.
go triboro

menachem now has running clothes

feeling good, early on

run w a view

It was Menachem's first ever race, and he was asking questions about the bibs, including my fave, "What do I do with this bib now that I'm done running? Do I get to keep it?" He ended up completing just over a marathon - not bad, considering his longest run was 15 miles.

I went out okay, and realized chatting with certain people was not going to be an option - they were going out too fast for me. I slowed down, feeling Vermont 100 in my legs. Yes, I'm an idiot who runs 100 miles the week before she does a six hour. Ow. Ow. 

I had been dealing with a foot numbness issue, that luckily wasn't so much of a problem, but I was tired. My legs felt like they had run 100 miles the week prior.

I ended up with over 33 miles. Was happy, scarfed down two slices of pizza, and then Mary and I slogged on the bike ride home.

02 August 2014

Vermont 100 Race Report: Hills, Greenness, and Gorgeousness. And Kind of a Crappy Race Running-wise, but you can't win them all!

This report is super late because, well, life. But the experience was so huge that I've also needed some time to just sit down and write about  how amazing it was. And how painful. And how much it taught me. And how I can't wait to go back next year.

Vermont 100 is a really special 100 miler. Really. And I'm not just saying it because it was my first many moons ago, and the 2014 Vermont was my fifth Vermont (thus earning me a 500 mile buckle, wheeee!). There is a lot of love and thought and kindness put into this race. I've run 100s and 50s where it's clear the RDs could barely care. Vermont 100 is many months of planning and time of volunteers and 100% awesome. I love it.

The aid stations have themes and decorations. The volunteers are cheerful. People sit outside their houses to cheer people on. There are horses. It is just GORGEOUS - rolling hills and meadows and barns and silos and cows. I got to moo at a bunch of those cows. That was quite wonderful.

It's tough but good at many points. Everyone comes back every year, so you make new friends. And it's awesome. I don't have 5 consecutive runs because I skipped a year. I spent that entire year feeling sick in NYC, checking online to see how everyone was doing. Yeah. It's like that.
getting weighed in. my weight was pretty consistent the entire race. photo (c) Samuel-Christophe Tedjasukmana 2014

I started out excited to run - but my legs felt kind of sluggish. You know sometimes you just try to run a speed workout and your legs tell you, "No, this is NOT happening"? Yeah, that was happening. So I decided to experiment. "I'll see if going out slow helps me. My legs will feel fresh later on."

News flash: going out slow does NOT make your legs feel fresh. They still feel like utter crap. I'm going to never go out slow again.

I was chatting with lots of friends, enjoying the day. My crew missed the first two checkpoints, and I was honestly a little worried about them, but fine. I pushed, but did my own pace. It was often slow. I ran a bit with Elena whose legs were trashed after Western - but it didn't work out. She was running UP the hills and walking down, and I was doing the opposite. Oh, ultras....

I hate that technical section in the 30s. Just kicked my ass, but I was prepared for it and it didn't seem that bad as it had in the past. I was sweating, feeling overheated, but it actually wasn't that hot. Low 80s maybe.

The Sound of Music meadow literally made me sing, and that other meadow in the 40s - still gorg. Never gets old. I love Vermont. I should move there - except not in the winter.
running friends rock. photo (c) Samuel-Christophe Tedjasukmana 2014

Mile 50, I ate a cookie at an aid station and it clearly didn't agree with me. It sent me on my hands in knees, dry wretching and heaving like I never have before. Misery. Ugh. I was forced to a walk for a while, letting my tummy calm down. My tummy was never 100% the rest of the race. Misery.

At Vermont, you run from aid station to aid station. Running through that covered bridge. Heading to amazing Margaritaville. So much fun. You just love the volunteers.

Margaritavilla had the cookies back, and I was happy. I wished my stomach was feeling better, but I slowly chewed a few ginger cookies as I walked out of the aid station before running.
Camp 10 Bear Rocks. Photo (c) Samuel-Christophe Tedjasukmana 2014

Mile 70 and pacer #1, Christophe, and then I fell apart. My blisters. OMG my blisters. My blisters. My feet. Ow. Ow. Ow.
Changing before being paced. Photo (c) Samuel-Christophe Tedjasukmana 2014

Basically he got to see me at my worst. Thanks, Christophe. Oh wait, no, the worst would come later. I ended up walking a lot more than I wanted to because my feet were in agony. When we got to Spirit of 76, my absolute favourite aid station of the course, I ate grilled cheese and had someone wrap moleskin around my blisters. I really need to run with moleskin. It's pretty wonderful.

best aid station ever. photo (c) Samuel-Christophe Tedjasukmana 2014

I left the aid station with Kim, who was super positive and a really great pacer. We chatted about everything random, Burning Man and running and whatever, and the time actually went by pretty fast. I ran most of the time with her, which is saying a lot. 
me and kim at bill's bar.(c) Samuel-Christophe Tedjasukmana 2014

When we got to Bill's Barn, Pacer #3, Stephanie was ready. She was so patient as I was a hot mess. I was not great until Polly's, but after Polly's, those last few miles before the mile 98 aid station, I was a wreck. I was peeing every 10 meters, falling asleep on the trail, my feet hurt, everything sucked.

It sounds horrible, right?

But really, it wasn't. It was a lot of pain, yes, but also so much fun. It was hanging out with lots of my amazing friends in the ultra community, and seeing pretty sights. It was eating lots of grilled cheese and cookies. It was joking about Immodium and mooing at the cows. It was being free. It was no email or bullshit or deadlines or washing dishes. It was being in the present moment, it was now, it was awesome.

Thank you, amazing pacers Christophe, Kim, Stephanie. Thank you, volunteers. Thank you, Julia & Amy. And thank you Vermont for being so freaking beautiful.