I went to HELL…

… Really I did.

didn’t get dropped from the pearly gates of Heaven for being mischievous. Nor was I casted to the fiery depths of Hell for being a sinner. I didn’t even die    to get there, but I’ve been dying to go there for quite some time.

How’d I get to Hell?  I drove — in the Rover mobile, with my friend Heidi.

It only took us three hours to get to Hell, Michigan. Our reason, to run the notorious Dances with Dirt 100K relay.

If you are not familiar with DWD here is a brief description from the website:

“You must be livin’ in a cave if ya ain’t heard of the DWD Relay and Ultramarathons! I’ll tell ya what it aint’, it aint’ no place for wimps and it ain’t a place for pansy, “don’t get my shoes dirty” runners afraid of a few roots and cliffs.”

You can read more here, if you ain’t afraid.

Heidi organized a relay team of five runners, four gals, three above the age of 40,  one gal 39, and one guy, Dan, he’s 65.
The name of our team: Obsessive Trail Disorder.

DWD has been around for quite some time, say 16 years or so.
Some crazy runners do this race every year.

As a DWD virgin, I must say, “I didn’t “break, burst or bust anything …”

just got a small spider bite on my left elbow.

DWD isn’t your typical trail race. Sure, you run on single-track trails,
through creeks, jump over fallen trees and such …

DWD is best described by Randy Step, RD and Head Goat.

I am copying and pasting this right from the DWD website,
without permission – oops I may go to Hell for that.

“…Basically, a difficult, wicked on- and off-trail run with stupid spots. Stupid spots include swamp crossings, river crossings, hills too steep to climb … and can only be a butt slide down. Did we mention poison ivy, thorns, poor marking, bad (no) footing, a waiver that mentions your death three times … and that we charge you for this?”

I ran three of the 15 legs. Each leg is fully defined, thus, you have a good idea what to expect. The description of my three legs follows. As I read each for the first time, I couldn’t help but wonder what I was getting myself into.

No. 3: Rave Run – 2.5 miles
Beginning and end are out and back so opposing runners present. A face-to-face meeting in blind
turn could take an eye out. A beautiful trail run. Some say harder than advertised. Yeah, it’s kinda confusing, but I didn’t write the description.

No.5: Styx, the River of Death – 3.1 miles
The path to Hell is the river of death, Styx. Your tormented soul is ours. Multiple river crossings and river run with dangerous river rocks and deep holes. Life jacket or swim wings optional.  Wanna see what we had to do? Click here.

No. 13: The Stupid Lake – 3.65 miles
Aquatics Running 101 is taught here. In fact, you are in the class. Failure is not acceptable. Who’s stupid? Trail Dog measured the lake with his bike. Many runners lost shoes and finished barefoot, ouch! Not for wimps. One big hill and some great trail!

While running leg No. 13, I saw a sign that said:
“Wrong way moron.” I missed my turn by three steps. Better than getting lost … that happens.

The runners at this race are pretty laid back. It’s not unusual to see a beer being exchanged in
the transition area. The costumes, signs and other race-day rituals make DWD a HELLAVA LOTTA  fun! 

I plan on going back next year. Hell, I may even travel to Gnawbone, Indiana to try that DWD.

In the end, it took our team 10:43:55 to complete the 100K trail run.


Forget the PR

April 17, 2011: The Mohican Report 

L to R: Kim Zepp, Heidi Finniff, Stacy Rhea, Tonya Faye, Andrea Chisnell, Jill Malusky, Gale Connor.

Crossing the finish line of any race is sweet success. Crossing the finish line of Forget the PR is sweetness topped with whip cream and two cherries on top.

Friday, April 15
Bags are packed and we, Kim Z., Andrea C. and I are on our way to Mohican State Park. (6:15 p.m.) We are meeting nine others. We rented Al’s cabin for the weekend. Al’s cabin is the primo spot, as the race starts less than a thousand feet away from the Al’s front door.

After settling in, we gathered around the fire ring and shared childhood stories and other fun tales. We laughed until it was time to call it a night.

Saturday, April 16
Nothing beats sleeping in, especially the day before a 25/50K. Napping is great too.

Mid afternoon, two more of the 11 arrive: Heidi and Gale. Since it is raining, five of us go to the “fun” town of Wooster for groceries and a little sight seeing. I think the locals were entertained by us. Not exactly sure why, but they could tell we were not from the area.

Once the rain stopped we hiked the first 3 miles and then some of the course. We wanted to see just how bad, the “Bad Ass Hill” would be.

Judge for yourself.

The rest of the evening was spent munching on food and sharing more fun stories of past race experiences.

Sunday, April 17: Race day
Alarms were set for 5:30 a.m. Coffee is on, and the bathroom is in full use. The kitchen looks as though a tornado hit, but that’s what happens when you have 11 runners, their gear and food in a room ideal for four.

The excitement is building. This is what we live, eat, train and sleep for … for the most part.

7:30 a.m. The 50kers are off.
8 a.m. the 25Kers are off

This is one of these races were you wish you were carrying a camera. I am looking for pictures via the Internet. In the meantime, here is what runners had to say about the race.

Gale Connor describes the course perfectly:
I just ran the craziest, bad ass, LONG (17.1 miles) 25K of my running career!! Waist deep river crossing, root climb, crazy stream trail that didn’t seem like it was a real trail. Ran behind a waterfall and over, under and between fallen trees and boulders!! High winds most of the time as well, but perfect temps!!!

Stacy Rhea
The course was amazing. Climbing the exterior roots, straight up the hill side was the coolest. To get to that point, we had to climb numerous rocks, fallen trees and cross the creek several times. The 5-mile loop by the covered bridge was absolutely beautiful. Running behind a waterfall was a unique experience. I wanted to stand there and take it in. Words can’t describe this course.

Beth Trecasa shared this on her FB post: 
Drove almost 4 hours and 200+ miles to run almost 4 hours and 17+ miles. So worth it. Beautiful, tough course. Relentless hills; mud; hand over hand root/rock climb; and a freaking thigh-high frigid river crossing. Thanks to Rob and the volunteers and to my new friend Greg who held my hand across the river. I felt alive today! Check out Beth’s Garmin info, click here. 

To keep the run even more fun, the RD posted signs. Tonya Faye recalls the signs:
Yes, they actually labeled the hill. And the “top” of the hill you see, it’s a false top, that’s only about the halfway point. Other signs said “Don’t hate the hill, hate the race director,” and “remember, you paid to do this.”

Andrea Chisnell summed up the weekend with this comment:
Wrapped up a great weekend with one of the toughest 25K races EVER!!! It was beautiful, challenging and simply fun!!! Got to spend it with wonderful friends and watched Lee (Connor) and Shaun (Pope) win!!!

Lee with RD, Rob P.

Kim Z after crossing the finish line

We will be back next year!

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RATL 1: Training for my first road race

After today’s training, I am uber excited about the race season. Not only am I feeling faster and stronger, I am also preparing for a new race experience: road racing, on my bike.

I have run 30 plus miles – BT50K, 2007/2010, tested my endurance in two half-Ironman’s – Greater Cleveland Triathlon 2005/2006 and even did a mini adventure race – mt bike, paddle and trail run. I trained long and hard for the 50K and half IM, but road racing, this will be a true test of my  determination  and perseverance.

The “casual” ride we did today, after a 6.4-mile trail run was “easy” for most of the girls. For me, it was tough. I had to work climbing the – barely noticeable incline. If I hit it hard, then I was spent at the top and needed a brief recovery.
At that point, I was dropped.

I have my work cut out for me. I will be training at least once a week on the RATL course, in preparation for a April or May race.

Today’s ride: 10 miles, 41 minutes. I know my heart rate was up there …

Awwwe – Splat…

Sunday, March 13, 2011
Buckeye Trail, north of Riverview Road

I missed planting my face in the slushy, cold mud, by less than an inch. After the surprise of getting my foot tangled in a root, I crashed to the ground in a nano second. Face-to-face with the cold mud, I could feel the slushy mud oozing between my fingers, even though I had mittens on.  Laughing, I quickly stood up and posed for the camera. My fall was rated a solid 10 by the group.

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Into the darkness

Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2011

Yesterday, I ran with a few friends. We hit the Buckeye Trail, out of the Pine Lane parking lot at 4:15 p.m.
The snow that once covered the trails had been melted away by a sunny New Year’s eve day – Whoohoo. I hate running in/on the snow –  yet I do it every weekend.  Snow running makes you stronger –  mentally and physically. It also frustrates the hell out of you.

Monday’s 7.37-mile run was interesting. The ground was hard. No snow, but plenty of ice. Ice can cause nasty falls. Luckily, not one of us took a spill. We did, however, get spooked. As the sun set behind the barren trees, the woods became dark – go figure. We forgot our headlamps. We managed to run, slowly up the twisting trails that eerily shielded the creatures of the night.

I heard a strange sound, in those dark woods. An unfamiliar sound. I stopped, frozen in my tracks … what the heck… All around me I heard the leaves rustling,  I wasn’t sure if I should run or just stand there. Then, I heard the flapping of wings. I looked up and saw 10, 15 maybe 20 turkey vultures scrambling in the sky. We literally scared the crap out of them … I covered my head and waited for the turkeys to disappear into the night.

From now on, my headlamp has a permanent place in my car.

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Thank you for your adventurous spirit GGs

July 6, 2010

Kneeling: Shelly B. & Sara H.
Back Row: P
am A., Me, Andrea C., Lee C., & Tonya K.

Seven months ago I made the decision/commitment to train for my second 50K.  The first time I trained for a 5oK, I trained alone.  At time, my solo runs were four hours long.  Believe it or not, I enjoyed my solo long runs. During those hours, I did my best and deepest thinking. My long runs allowed me to really

contemplate significant decisions in my life, or situations that were complex.

When signing up for the 2010 BT50K, I convinced several of my dearest friends to race with me. Through the months we trained together . Many times I ended up  running solo,  but knowing the girls are out there  helped me get through my runs.

After our runs we’d grab a bite to eat and discuss other off-road races and challenges we would like to tackle together. Events like the Mudathlon, Dances with Dirt, Mt. Lemmon Marathon, 12-hour adventure races, cyclocross and whatever
else we can find that is off-the-wall and wild.

Here’s to the girls who have helped me through a long training season. In less than two weeks we will be at the starting line of the BT50K. Thank you for having such an adventurous spirit!


Forget the PR

Sunday, April 18, 2010
Forget the PR, Mohican

Racing with the Grunt Girls at Mohican

Jodi, Andrea, Andrea, Tonya, Lee, Stacy Mel and Sarah

My thoughts going into this race: cross the
finish line. I heard, time and time again this
course was a tough one.
Lots of hills, and steep ones …

Hearing that, even for a semi-experienced
TR (trail runner) can be a little intimidating.

I had an idea of what to expect since I had
run part of the course backwards two
weeks prior.

The trails
The Mohican trails are beautiful. Not as hilly as
I thought, at least not the MTB trails that were
used for this race. The last 4 miles of the run,
were great. Running along the river
makes for a peaceful unity with nature.
Until the trail veered off to the left and I
was on one of the hills I had been warned about.
It was a  steady hill climb for what
seemed lived forever.

Running off course
Somehow I missed a turn and ended up
missing the first aid station. I carry my own water
and fuel, so I don’t have to stop at the aid stations.
unless I decide I want something new to refuel
with – like M&M and zels. When I arrived at the
second aid station, I realized I had added and
extra mile  …  I wasn’t the only runner to do this.

Race tip 1
Always carry extra water and fuel with you.
You never know what can happen. In my situation,
I was lucky, 1 mile off course is not a big deal,
unless you are trying to win the race.

I thought I was on course, I was following the
colored flags and two other runners.

Race tip 2
Running a course prior to the race is helpful, but not
always realistic. If you can’t get out on the course,
go the events FB page or blog and ask questions
about the course. Trail runners are friendly and
love to help others out, especially newbies.

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April 4, 2010
Quick note about today’s run:

I ran with three fellow Grunt Girls, Lee, Tonya and Andrea.
We headed out to Mohican State Park for a 10-mile training run.
In two weeks we will be running the Forget the PR Mohican 25K.
The Mohican and Fools 25K are two prep races for our 50K in July.

Today’s run was tough in parts, scenic in others. I will admit,
this will be the toughest trail run I have ever done. Notice I said run,
not race. I will not be able to run various parts of this course, due to the hills.
That’s OK, this run, combined with a few Ohio Xterra series runs will put
me were I need to be for the BT50K on July 17…

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My New Favorite Trail

Last Sunday, March 28, 2010, I can the Fools 25K in the CVNP, Virginia Kendal Unit.
(click here for my race report) The Fools 25K was my first race for the 2010 season.
I love this course. I will run this event next year with a the goal of completing the 15.7-mile run
in less than three hours.

I had been on various parts of the course: Happy Days, Ledges and Octagon,
but not Salt Run or Lake Trails.

Aside from the fact that the course was muddy (click here to see what I mean)
it was a great course, and in my opinion, offered plenty of hills.

Why is it my favorite new trail? I will have to show you. I will  take pictures
during my trail run tomorrow.

Photo taken by Chuck Damman

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Kornheiser supports running over cyclists

I just finished listening to ESPN’s  Tony Kornheiser  rant and rave about cyclists. Unfortunately I am a few days behind on this controversy. Nonetheless, I have something to say.

Here is a quote from the
Back Porch Fan House page: “Kornheiser was discussing the addition of bicycle lanes to some streets in Washington, D.C., when he said on ESPN Radio 980 that he despises bicyclists and supports drivers intentionally running into them.” Listen to him.

Kornheiser is ignorant …

1. He doesn’t know the law, like most motorists, and is called out by Bob Roll. Is it just a coincidence that Bob’s last name is Roll and he is  a former professional cyclist and television sports commentator?

2. He makes an irrelevant claim: “And they  all, my God, with their water bottles in the back, and their stupid hats, and their shiny shorts, they’re the same kind of disgusting posers that in …”

What does that have to do with new bike lanes and sharing the road? Sadly, Kornheiser isn’t alone in his thought process.  Every year cyclists’ are harassed, run of the road, and cursed at  by motorists. It happens to me at least three times each spring and into the summer. Lance Armstrong was found nothing funny about this situation.

Armstrong tweeted about how Kornheiser is an ” f-ing idiot.”  I agree and I let the management at ESPN know. I take satisfaction in knowing Lance Armstrong called Kornheiser out on his rude and ridiculous comments. Armstrong was polite and offered
some suggestions. One such suggestion, we cyclists need to come together and be more proactive in our advocacy.

I am willing to step up to the plate and make a difference. Are you? How can we work together to make out roads safer?
If you don’t think its is important here in Cleveland, Ohio, think again. I received an e-mail from
HubBub, Chesterland, Ohio,  with the following comment:

“As you know, I [Diane Lees, I believe she is one of the owners of HubBub] spent almost an entire week in Washington, DC working with 725 others to let our legislators know how important cycling is to us and how much we want to see some bicycling/pedestrian  initiatives move forward in the next transportation bill.I’ve uploaded a new blog (http://www.hubbubcu stom.typepad. com/)about the stumbling blocks that have been thrown in front of us since Wednesday.  I urge you to call your legislators, especially if you live or work in the 14th Ohio Congressional District.  Steven LaTourette has suddenly turned against our initiatives in a nasty and vehement way.  You can get a glimpse of what happened at the following link: http://www.courthousenews.com/2010/03/17/25656.htm

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