Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Next Challenge?...Cape Wrath

When I made my first overseas trip to Dubai and Italy in 2003, I made a commitment to myself to take an international trip each year. And I was successful -- sometimes making two to three in one year! -- until my "year of living dangerously" in Colorado. Since returning to Cali with a bit-o-debt, I have had to put aside my international wanderlust for a bit...but now that I'm back on my financial feet, so to speak, I'm lookin' ahead to my next trip.

Perhaps it's because I've started running. Perhaps it's because I've wanted to go to Scotland for, well, EVER. Perhaps it's because the 1-year anniversary of Dad's passing is in just over 3 weeks...

but I'm seriously considering not only running a marathon (holy crap!), but running one in the most NorthWesterly inhabited place in Britain....that would be Durness, Scotland. And the race is the Cape Wrath Challenge in May.

I know. Perfect, aye? It's on the coast, and from what I've read so far, the countryside is amazing.

I've started looking into flights as well as lodging, and am leaning toward this B&B -- the Aiden House.

One of the very cool things about the Cape Wrath Challenge is that there are four or five days of smaller runs and cultural events leading up to the marathon at the end of the week. And Durness is teeny-tiny -- even smaller than Bridgeport! -- as the population is only 350. How cool is that?

So, this is what I'm thinking...hang out in Durness for five days leading up to the marathon, take in the local sights and events from a nice B&B, and after the marathon, head back down to Edinburgh, and stay another week there. There's plenty to do in the city itself, as well as places that are an easy drive (well, once I get the hang of driving on the WRONG side of the road in the rental car...).

Sooo many adventures to be had. And hell, if I happen to run into Liam Neeson?...well, all the better.

As my pops would say: Here's lookin' up yer kilt!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Movin' On

Just 9 (yes, NINE) weeks ago, on July 6th, Kim, Ann, and I started training for this. Wow. We were so inspirational after a few weeks of training that Tim, Ann's husband, joined us in our training.

Some other friends -- Erinn and Shannon -- also did the run.

So the big morning arrived...

...and we went through the traditional pinning ceremony (me here with my lucky number)...

...and headed toward this!

Along the way, at about mile 8, our personal photographer, Missy, began taking some snaps of us. I'm running here with Tim. I WAS ahead of him, but when he saw Missy getting ready to take a picture, he pushed me back so it would LOOK LIKE he was tricky, that guy!

I was just thankful Tim didn't push me back down the way we'd run...

And we carried on, up around the corner to Ellery Lake, the final of three water stations at mile 9. (Note to self: Remember that it's WAY HARDER to drink a little cup of water as you're running than it is to drink a bottle of water on the bike...I think I ended up with more of it on me each time than in me!)

We even had quite the little fan club going...Missy brought Lacey, Mom, and Denise (who came all the way from Southern Cali to cheer us on!) Here, Lacey was pretending the guard rail was a bar, and she was serving everyone drinks while they waited for us to come by.

And of course, Denise did a little lovin' on Lacey during all the waiting. Though I don't have pictures of 'em, we had other fans, too...Shannon's hubby (and Tim's brother) Scott, and their two daughters; and Erinn's husband, Lance, her daughter, Joey, and her dad, Phil.

When Kim came by the photo op at mile 8, she was still smilin'...I don't think I was.

Just past Ellery Lake, the road "flattens" out, at least relatively speaking, and Scott got this great snap of me and Tim -- with proof of the altitude. See...I told you I was ahead!

The first in our group of friends to cross the line, though, was our resident pro -- Erinn! She rocked it at 2 hours and 18 minutes -- holy burning rubber, Batman!

There was a little time to kill before the rest of us began crossing the line...Lacey and Joey kept themselves entertained near the finish.

Just before the finish line, Tim pushed me back AGAIN...dammit!

And apparently, Tim had other appointments to get to. No wonder he kept pushing ahead of me.

You have absolutely no idea HOW. GOOD. THIS. FELT. Well, when I could actually feel my legs again...

My goal had been to finish in 2 1/2 hours...whoot! And look...I beat a BOY!!! Well, a lot of 'em, actually. Sa-wheet.

Though it took a few minutes to catch my breath, I was able to chow down on some orange sections at the finish line as we cheered everyone else in.

Shannon came across, and this was just warm-up for her, as she's doing the NEW YORK CITY MARATHON on November 7th!!! How cool is that?!!

Kim finished incredibly strong, and after having the flu all week! THAT'S tenacity!

The caption potential here is endless:
"Ok, what are we signing up for next? Boston? New York? Hawaii IronMan?..."
"Did you see the way that finish line judge looked at your butt?"
"At mile 6, some guy asked for my phone number....said his name was Ryan Olympian, or something...."

And it was just like the Tour de France when it hits the Alps and Pyrenees...people were camped all along the mountain, waiting for us to run by. See? Jim Mann was even camped out!

Ann crossed incredibly strong, and smilin' to boot!

My training buddies! (Of course, we had to call paramedics to help us stand up after this...whose idea was it to crouch down after running 12.4 miles uphill?!!!)

Thankfully, it was ALL DOWNHILL on the way back. Well, and we were in Missy's truck.

What an amazing experience. Next up? The Two Cities Half Marathon in Fresno...the adventure continues.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Mission Accomplished

On July 6, I started training for the Tioga Pass Run with Kim and Ann. Tim, Ann's husband, started training with us shortly afterwards. And today, we all tackled the ONE HILL that is the Tioga Pass Run...12.4 miles, from a start at 6700 feet, to the finish at the entry to Yosemite National Park at 9945 feet.

Training miles accrued? 173.
Number of friends who trained with me? 7.
(Kim, Ann, April, Tim, Kat, Felicia, and Toni)
Number of friends who coached me? 2.
(Felicia and Toni)
Number of ice baths taken (because Felicia made me)? 2
Number of family members who cheered for us on Tioga? 4
(Mom, Missy, Lacey, Denise)
Time it took me to finish? 2 hours. 27 minutes.

Setting a new athletic goal and reaching it? PRICELESS

PS Missy took a bunch of pics, and I'll do a more extended post with those once I get 'em. In the meantime, I'm going to sign up for the Two Cities Half Marathon...!