IMG_3484It’s Saturday. A slow coffee kind of day, starting with a movie on Netflix and afternoon-ing some miles in with both dogs. Despite just finishing up two weeks of vacation, recent life has felt fast. There was a trail 5k I wanted to do about an hour East, but my legs are still tired from last weekend, and frankly, a day of quiet is in order. Soul feeding quiet. Observing my friends’ FB feeds fill with results from a local pavement 7k/14k.

This is how I think of races now – pavement or trail first, then the rest of the details.

Somehow the year of being 40 turned me into a trail runner.

Since Run the Bluegrass, there were 2 shorter pavement races – Joseph House 5k (which was an EXCELLENT little race & I highly recommend doing again) and the Flying Pig 10k, where I stepped in to fill a bib for a friend at the last minute.  Beyond that, the Summer has been spent on a slew of trail races to good and hard result. I can’t say a day on trail is ever bad, just good or hard, or good AND hard. There was…

Forget the PR, Mohican 25k, which began April with a great big DNF. A heck of a way to kick off a season. A HARD, but fantastically beautiful course with long, steep hills that never seem to end. I learned there’s a thing you find out when you run trails and you’re slow, and that thing is what ALONE feels like in a whole new way. Lonely and ALONE are verrry different. In this race, I found my limit on being alone at mile 12 and I simply didn’t have another 5 miles in me. DNF.

A week later, the local Dirt Days Trail Series started. This is where Eric joined in the fun. After a Winter of mulling, a decade of repairing me after races, and some time spent watching the snow fall from the treadmill, he got his own bib for the Ault Park Switchback run – and every race thereafter. We did 5 of the Dirt Days races together – from a HORRIBLE, NASTY, (humbling), MUDDY MUDDY MUDDY 11-miler at East Fork that *still* makes me shudder, to a repeat of the Powder Keg 5k where I beat last year’s time by 9 minutes.

Somehow the year of my being 40 turned Eric into a trail runner.

Interspersed with DD, was the Topo Adventure Sports Summer Trail Series. A good, no-frills race setup. I like it. Also, these guys stay till the last runner comes in with a smile. I really like how they handle their show. Through these two series I learned that if the trail is wet, you step in the first mud puddle you see. Get it over with. Your feet are not going to stay dry, so find a way to be happy about it, and take the race that comes to you. Also, Body Glide on your feet is GOOD.

Finally, though the season still isn’t over, all of these efforts culminated in running The Rugged Red last weekend.The HARDEST terrain I’ve ever run. 1700 feet of elevation gain, some of climbing on all-4’s up round-edged sandstone. I came into the finish line to find my husband and a crew of my RWB peeps who’d waited over an hour for me to come in. People, that is some love right there! I still can’t believe I finished it – which was one of only two goals I had  – (1) finish and (2) beat the sweeper. I beat the sweeper with only 10 minutes to spare, but I did it. I’m not sure how. And that guy that kept trying to pass me again after mile 9-10, I kept him behind me. It might’ve been a full on goddamn sprint at the finish to make it happen, but it happened.

Somehow the year of being 40 upped my level of badassery just a little bit.

Recovery from all of these beatings came in the form of swimming and yoga (which I’m still teaching, but at a new place now). The training sessions at Caesar’s Creek last Summer taught me I was a pretty crappy swimmer. A new gym membership came in December and twice a week 6AM swims started in March with a friend training for her first half-Ironman. Swimming lessons followed to build the skill set, and while I’m working on strength and endurance, I’ve started to do decently in the pool. At some point I went from dreading the water to looking forward to a good swim.

Somehow the year of being 40 turned me into a swimmer.

My house is usually a mess because we’re too busy training. The dogs are usually stinky because four legs get muddier than two on trails. The number of pairs of running shoes in my house has almost doubled. Some of them aren’t even mine.

And I started giving my bike the side-eye about 2 weeks ago…when I turned 41.

Wow! People – I would love to sit here and say OMG – how is it already the end of March and RTB has passed again – EXCEPT that it’s already the middle of April. Time is moving FAST FAST FAST these days – and I say that AFTER I just finished up a week of vacation! Isn’t vacation supposed to be a slow-down time?  Nevertheless, it IS mid-April and two weeks have passed by since RTB was logged into the recordbooks. Some races, you write about right away. Others, you need to let soak in. RTB is a soak-in for me. Even with being a race ambassador (or Race AmBADASSador, as we call ourselves) again this year, there are so many details which Eric Marr (RD) and Rachel Crabtree (ARD), as well as their bevy of volunteers, invest themselves in, that I think they warrant a few moments of just absorbing the big picture of the event.

The Race:  Billed as America’s Prettiest Half Marathon, Run The Bluegrass starts and finishes at Keeneland Racecourse. Options available are 13.1 & 7-mile distances, run simultaneously. The 7-mile race splits off of the half-marathon course via a cross road and joins back up with it again before the finish. Race date is usually the last Saturday in March, which was 3/28 this year. The date has moved to the first Saturday in April – 4/2 – for 2016.

The Swag:  Swag has it’s own special personality at RTB, which is one of the things I LOVE about it most. Included in the race fee is a t-shirt, an option for a personalized bib, and your medal. I’ll admit, on the surface, this doesn’t sound like much – until you also add in the meet-up tents & INDOOR areas pre-race, the post-race PARTY, then the post-post-race party later that evening. There’s also the fact that this race is NOT a crowded melee like many others are these days – worth a premium to me. Other race organizers please note – capping race attendance is NOT a sin!

This year, there was a problem in shipping with the Nike shirts which would have delayed receiving them until after the race. For Eric & Rachel, this wasn’t an option – they knew runners would be disappointed and no one wants to see a sad runner. They sprang into action and got in some super soft hoodies! A lighter-weight version than the winter hoodies, I think I like it better than a shirt! (Especially since I’m trying to thin out the herd of shirts in my running wardrobe right now.) It’s unique and an awesome option to have available to throw over running or yoga clothes for post-workout beers. All of the runners I spoke with LOVED the hoodie and several were already sporting it at yoga the next morning.


Also, they don’t skimp on the medal for this run. The medal is GORGEOUS!!! Beautiful detail and it weighs a ton! If you are into race bling, this should be one you seek to collect.


The rest of the swag available is at your discretion – you have a menu to pick and choose what means the most to you in the form of one-of-a-kind experiences that you buy tickets for – thoroughbred farm tours, distillery tours, race course tours, excellent pre-&-post race dinners. I’ve done many of these experiences myself and this is swag you don’t forget. Last year, I got to pet a foal that in another year, I’m likely to see competing at Keeneland, making its name as a champion. I also learned all about making my own hooch distilling bourbon and found a new love in bourbon cream (who knew that existed?!). Um, I hear there’s also a yoga class the next day at the race hotel…I think I might know the teacher. :)  (And yes, I customized my bib to promo the yoga class.) You can EASILY make an entire weekend of the race, scheduled with events at a pace to suit you.

The Tag: Registration cost is on a sliding scale, depending on when you register. Registration for 2016 was already available at the 2015 Expo for $50 – RIDICULOUSLY LOW – for this run. Discount codes were emailed out to race alumni. Current 2016 registration is $70 for 13.1 and $60 for 7-mile distances. It pays to register early, though I don’t recall fees going over $85 for 2015 – which is still a decent price compared to the experience you get up against a higher fee for RnR races which are way too crowded to enjoy half as much.

The Course: As it says when you open the webpage, RTB is “One of America’s 20 standout, must-do half-marathons” per Runners’ World – and you know RW don’t lie! The course on this race is AMAZING – 13 miles of rolling green hills – pastures – farms. Million dollar horses watch you pass by. At one point in mile 11 – we saw SIX PAIRS of mothers & foals standing side-by-side in a pasture. On a blue-skied, Spring day with all the greenery beginning to emerge, this course is Americana at it’s finest.

It is also HILLY AS F-…hills can be. I have to be honest about the fact that this is NOT an easy course – you will be challenged by it. But that’s also what makes it majestic and completely worth the effort. It’s like running through a postcard. A very pretty, but also sweat-inducing, postcard. There’s a gopro of the course on youtube here. I’ll admit, I didn’t watch all of it because – 90 minutes, but next Winter when I’m training, this will be nice to throw on the iPad and watch from my view on the treadmill as an inspirational tool.

Of Course: Guys, I teared up at the start line. Normally, that’s a finish line thing – but honestly, I was doing my best not to take a minute just to sob it out at the start of my 13.1. Not for any awful reason, but because being able to do this race for the 13.1 distance was a hugely emotional thing for me. This was my 3rd attempt. In year 1, I dropped to the 7-miler at the expo because I was undertrained for the race. Year 2 – the knee injury had me hobbling around taking pictures. I had to admit that there was no way in hell I could run it, not even the 7-miler, a week before the race. After having an entire year to prepare, that sucked. So at year 3, and a year after that injury sidelined me, to just be standing at the start line was a victory in and of itself. Whatever happened on the course was gravy.

My Day:  Eric & I opted against getting a hotel this year. We’ve done a hotel the past 2 years, to varying degree, but Lexington is only 80-90 minutes from my house and an EASY drive, so we decided to try handling the experience without one. This would let me rest & recover in my own bed, and keep us from having to book a dogsitter. We drove up for packet pickup on Thursday – the first opportunity. The expo was not crowded and was set up with a walk-through flow that kept you moving. I was able to pick up packets for myself & several RWB friends who were running. Eric & Rachel were both there, greeting runners and helping out. There were a LOT of other local races there and part of what was nice was that you actually had time to stop and chat with the booth people about the runs – as opposed to being hurried due crowds. We stayed for dinner, grabbing a great burger and beer at the Shamrock, then back home.

Race Day started by being out the door at 6:45 with RWB Rebecca joining us for the drive down. We made a pretty seamless drive, got through Gate 2 to park and made it to our RWB tent at 8:35. In that venue, 25 minutes to a race start is PLENTY of time to get where you need to be – except that the porta potty lines looked LONG, but we’d already taken care of that on the way.

Wave starts kept the running crowd from being overwhelming, although I think RTB has done a great job choosing a 5000 runner cap on this race. Then we were off! I had strategized to do a 3:1 interval for this race and not worry about the clock. As I said before, I planned an aggressive Spring racing season – and I wanted to be able to race the whole season, not off myself in the first one. It was perfect running weather for me – I set my dial to HAPPY and got moving. The first 1.5 went by nicely and I was setting up for a great run. Around that point, I came across my friend Jenn. Jenn & I swim together twice a week and she’s on my short list of great training buddies. She was walking and I decided to walk with her – not really sure how or when both of us decided that was the thing to do – we’re pretty good at pushing each other – but we ran a little and walked most of the rest. Keep in mind, other than driving it – I’d never seen the 13.1 course the way it needed to be viewed. And Jenn ran in 2014, in that HORRIBLE weather – head down, don’t look up, kind of freezing cold rain – so she hadn’t really seen the course the way it should be viewed either. Seriously folks – YOU DON’T RUSH YOUR EXPERIENCE ON THAT KIND OF GORGEOUS. For the next 3-hours, we took the time to soak in how beautiful the route was – stopping to take some pictures, chatting, talking training plans for triathlon season. Both of us have our competitive, PR-driven sides, but there was this mutual agreement that happened which threw that out the window for a minute to really see this run. We were enjoying the day, and that was AWESOME!

On meeting Eric at finish, he commented that this was the first half-mar he’d seen me look genuinely happy crossing the finish line.

We took advantage of drinks and food, and the massage table lines were short by that time, so I took advantage of that too.  I hugged a few friends and then it was time to ride back. RWB Rebecca had PR’d significantly on that hard course, so it was fun to swap our race stories on the way home. I declined going to the post-post-race party that night as I had to prep to teach 2 yoga classes at the race hotel the next day.

The Ending Line: As I move more into trail running, it’s getting harder to hear the call of pavement, so I’m not sure what will happen in terms of my choosing to run this race next year. It’s likely that I will, but weather made training this past Winter a miserable endeavor. It was tough to get the mileage in that I needed to really make a go of this race. So lots to mull over there. Trying to decide whether the 7-mile option might be better for me, though missing some of that scenery in the upper miles of the 13.1 is a heartbreaking thought too… There’s also the camaraderie I’d miss from the RTB friends I’ve made through being a race ambassador and yoga teacher, as well as the RWB Chapters that showed up from Chicago, Cincy & Lexington.

The Next Race: Um, the next race was this past Saturday – so I’m behind a full race recap on Forget the PR Mohican 25k.  Trust me when I say, I need to write that one up! Lots to say about that. Two weeks into the future, I’ll be doing a girls’ weekend at Country Music Half-Marathon in Nashville.

My friends, race season started EARLY this year. Usually, the first time I cross a starting line any given year is March. The later the better. BUT, somehow I’ve talked myself into a really aggressive (for me) series of half-marathons this Spring. That means trial races to keep the base building interesting have to come earlier, and I need all the trail time I can get to build my skill set because you do not learn to cross creeks and climb tree roots on pavement. On to it!

The Race: The Rocks and Roots Trail Series is a 2-race series up at Alum Creek State Park in Delaware, Ohio. Available distances are 10k-20k-30k-40k-50k for the first race, with an option of a 50-miler available for round two. Runners can choose a different distance for each race date. I picked a 10k for Race #1 and a 20k for Race #2. Race dates this year were January 11th and February 8th.

The Swag: 

wpid-20150111_152104.jpgMy new favorite Hoody, my new favorite Balegas, my new favorite soft t-shirt. Or at least contenders for the “my new favorite” for sure – they’re really SOFT. Seriously though, there’s a HOODY in the swag! That’s cool. The full list included the hoody, a t-shirt, a handheld Amphipod, a pair of Balega’s and samples of Cliff bars & drink additive. Along with the finisher’s medal.


The Tag: 

Including the processing fee – $97.20 total for BOTH races. Looking at the swag and organization/support – this is an EXCELLENT price tag on the race. Averaging less than $50 per, I’ve paid more for pavement 5k’s that had far less swag and were far less interesting, even with over-the-top themes.

The Course:

The course is a 10k loop, so you go around as many times as you signed on with opportunities to take a break and access drop bags/porta potties in between. In the second race, they changed course for the 50k & 50-milers only – presumably bringing in some additional mileage to drop the number of loops needed. Race organizers had scattered some large speakers around the course to play music, which was AWESOME – particularly since it was tunes I like. :)

Right around mile 2.5 was probably the BEST AID STATION I HAVE EVER SEEN. This might just be a trail running thing or an ultra trail thing, but the aid station had M&M’s, gummy bears, pretzel bites, jujubees, other nibbles of varying sweet & saltiness. I think there were 3 different beverage options, but maybe more. OUT ON THE TRAIL!  There was a man in a BEAVER COSTUME! Cheerful volunteers at the trail aid station as well as several points between. The main aid station – home base – was even better stocked. Amenities there included cookies, swedish fish, coffee, hot chocolate, and CHILI. There was a FIRE to get warm and more good cheer.  Special bonus points for volunteers being sweet to my husband and my Fred dog while they waited on me.


A couple GoPro’s of the course are up on YouTube here and here.

Of Course: Because helloooooo, January! February! MIDWEST! The first race, there was some fresh powder on the trail. Seemed like an inch or so, loose and a little slick, but not terrible. The February run – if you watch the first 10 seconds of the video – all that gray they’re walking around on is ICE. ICE EVERYWHERE. The entire trail was covered in an alternating deluge of ice, snow packed hard into ice, 2-inch deep mud and a muddy-slush covering ice. While I’ve got some time spent on snow pack, my experience level running on ICE is ZERO. The trail itself had a bit of everything – a few flats, a fair amount of up/downs, several creek crossings, a few switchbacks. Nice variety.

Also in the videos – take a look at how many Team RWB Eagles are out on the course. My red shirt is hiding beneath some warm gear, but it’s there. I know there were members from the Cincinnati, Dayton & Columbus chapters. It would be an interesting tidbit to know how many different chapters were represented. Nothing like running to bring a group together.

My Day: Both days started at 4AM. That’s because Delaware, Ohio is around 2 hours away from Cincinnati, give or take. I had to get up crazy early! Race #1, I met my fellow RWBer Jeff and he drove both of us North, where we met another RWBer- Brian- that had picked up both of our race packets for us because he’s awesome. Jeff & I were in for the 10k that day and Brian was going for the 50k.  Race #2 – Eric & Fred decided to come along, so we drove up as a family, meeting Jeff & the RWB crew at the park.

The first race was slow going, more from lack of experience than anything else. I am only starting to learn how to navigate obstacles such as creek crossings with slick banks or muddy, steep downhills. So these made interesting snow-covered challenges for me. Plus, I’m still very cautious about my right knee in these situations even though it’s rarely bothering me now. I took things as slow as I needed to and I had decided up front to be happy with the day no matter the clock time. It’s about learning and adding skill sets. I was particularly impressed with myself about this sliding thing I did in a side-plank down a muddy hill. Because ninja! Jeff, usually a little faster than me, wasn’t feeling great, so we were keeping pace with each other using run:walk and pushing each other after about mile 2. By mile 5, we were both ready to be DONE! – and getting thirsty. We’d both opted not to carry anything since a 10k isn’t anything new to either of us. Another lesson: a 10k with obstacles can take you just as long as much further distances sometimes and you need water over time as much as over distance. Next time, carry water. I finished feeling proud of myself for managing the terrain well and ready to eat.

The second race – UGH. Excuse my language, but FUUUUHHHCK. Race #2 was the same loop. A completely different beast, but still the same loop. I’d signed on for the 20k – so 2 times around. Twelve miles was a bit of a reach for where my training was at, but I planned a 3:1 approach and was excited about everything but the 4AM wake up going into the race. This time I brought my Camelback 1.5L Mule for water. Then we got there – and SO MUCH ICE!!!!  It just never stopped being icy. Except for where it was muddy. No traction to be had except on the fringes of the trail. I tried to stick to my plan and was successful for a bit, but even with a much shorter stride I was sliding all over the place and felt like I was barely moving. The 2.5-mile aid station felt like it was 4-miles away to my legs. By the time I reached the actual 4-mile point, I was cussing every time I slid and my mental game was gone. I realized that I was getting lapped. It was NOT. A. GOOD. DAY.  When I finished the first loop at my worst time for a 10k EVER – seriously, 40 minutes SLOWER than the one where my knee injury had me come in dead last, I was in a horrid mood. It was time to call it quits. My body felt over 6 miles like it had been beaten for 12 and I didn’t have another loop in me. After watching several people wipe out, I was afraid of going back through again tired as I was. As I put it to Eric, I might’ve had another 2-3 miles in me, but definitely not 6. If I thought the first race was hard, this one was misery. Jeff had completed his 10k and gone. Brian was working on another 50k to go for a buckle. Our friend Mark was doing 30 and taking off for his final lap when I came in off of my first. Race #2 brought with it another shirt and another finisher medal. A huge helping of humility.


Snacks and fire with the husband and my furry sidekick helped lessen the blow my ego was taking until it was time to head back to the car – and my dry bag of clothes – and my thermos of chicken broth. No joke – chicken broth is a magical elixir after that kind of run. Taking my time with getting changed, I realized that if we gave it another 10 minutes, we would probably see Mark in the home stretch of his final lap (the parking lot is next to the trail for a minute at that point) – and so we cheered him on as he passed by. Yes – Mark ran about 5 miles in the time it took me to eat cookies and change my clothes. Then we pulled out of the parking lot for the 2-hr drive home, most of which I slept through. It is still amazing to me how two loops of the same course can feel so different. Race #1, I still had some energy left for lunch in Columbus and the ride home. Race #2 – I was plum worn out!

The Ending LIne: While the races were hard, I can’t deny that I already caught myself thinking about how I’d like another shot at them next year. There’s no doubt that the course was a great learning experience for a beginner like me to work on water crossings, steep creek banks covered in ice & mud, hill work. A reminder to carry water even if the distance seems manageable without it. The people organizing and volunteering were AMAZING and obviously cared a great deal about putting on a quality event. The price probably barely covered the swag and set up. And frankly, it was worth the 4-hour round trip – and will be more so if I do it again next year with more experience and training to run a longer race.

The Next Race: Officially, my next scheduled race is Run The Bluegrass on March 28th. I’m planning on the whole 13.1 distance this year and will be back to teach yoga at the Griffin Gate the morning after the race. If you haven’t heard of it, go check out the site – and that INCREDIBLE MEDAL they’ve designed this year! ( & pick me as your Race Ambassador!)

BUT – it looks like the DIrt Days series is kicking off on March 14th with the Run for the Green 5k, so I might have to fit that in. C’mon – 2 calve-deep creek crossings! Sounds like a great opportunity to learn something. :)

“Holee crap, that was hard!”

This was my whole assessment of this race when I posted my finish on Facebook. Or at least, that was all I could mutter from the surrealism of race-recovery.

The Powder Keg 5k Trail Run was the next race up after Midsummer Night’s. It was on August 23rd, and ventured around the grounds of the Historic Kings Mansion in Deerfield Township. It’s also part of the Dirt Days series put on by the Running Spot each year. Having missed an opportunity to preview the course with some of my RWB friends, this was the first time I’d ever been there. Packet pick up was quick and easy. There was plenty of space to stretch and move, find my friends. The grounds were nice and I kept looking to the building and the barns thinking what a nice event space that would be, though it needs a little restoration in my opinion.

In 2 races, my opening observations are that (1) trail races are generally less expensive – MNT cost me $12, I think and this one was $10 w/o a tshirt and $20 with – and that (2) trail races are just way more mellow.  Starting times seem to have an ‘ish’ after them. We’ll start 9-ish. There’s a bit of courtesy extended based on how many people are still coming in to park and do packet pick up.  Distances have a “might be more” to them since you can’t measure exact finish distance on trails.  Powder Keg’s course description for distance included “Race is listed as a 5K. However, actual will probably be at least 3.5 miles.”  And mostly, which is part of the keeping the cost down I’m sure, they use gun time instead of chip timing. In a pavement race, that irritates the crud out of me, but for trails, the run really is more about how YOU FEEL about your run than what the clock says – at least for me. I’m digging it on the trails!

The run started a little bit cross-country before taking to a path that started off as asphalt, then that treacherous deep-rutted thing that asphalt does when water breaks it down, and then after that I think it turned to dirt. Compared with the narrow, single-file trail of MNT, this trail was nice and wide and winding. There were a few moments I’d pass on given the option – a right turn that drops about 4ft without much warning, a wide concrete pillar that makeshifts as a bridge except that it doesn’t have any railings, and that 12-14ft climb of a steep grass hill that is so steep you are literally climbing using hands as well as feet – but those are more due to my novice level in trail running than the obstacles themselves. Things just caught me by surprise a little, is all.

Among the other things on route were the stairs. OH MY GOD – THE STAIRS!  There is no running them. Steep, wooden and they feel like they’re going up the side of a mountain. Did I mention steep?  STEEP STEEP stairs. No passing. No running. Steep.

When the run was over I felt like I had been rode hard for sure! This 5k-ish course left me a little more exhausted than the 5-mile-ish MNT.

I also felt accomplished, hungry and ready for a nap.

Y’all, if MNT opened up the door for trail running in my lift, Powder Keg sealed the deal on a new love in my life. A trail runner is born.


It was A Midsummer Night’s Trail Run that started it all. Like I said, I’ve been cramming an entire racing season into the past few weeks, so when I started to write about this I would have sworn to you that this event was in July. It seems so many runs ago, but NOPE, MNT was on August 12th. Just 8 weeks.

A 5-mile trail run through Mt. Airy, the run is sponsored by RCGC, which makes a point near and dear to my heart of keeping run fees CHEAP and swag minimal. I remembered having my eye on this one in 2013, mainly because I liked the name of it, but I hadn’t done any trail running at all other than the trail at my office and I didn’t know anyone else going.  Basically, I talked myself out of it.

Since I’ve been training with Team RWB though, there’s definitely been a shift in my thinking about my training – and even better for me, there’s a trail running contingent in the group. When I saw the run event for 2014, I realized I would KNOW people AND after months of listening to my knee groan, FINALLY I’d gone a few consecutive runs with no flare ups on my knee. Now mind you, those runs were paved, and only 3-4 miles max, so I wasn’t exactly ready for this one. I also know that Mt. Airy is not wimpy trailing. Eric and I spend part of every Summer hiking the trails with the dogs. There are a LOT of elevation changes in Mt. Airy, that’s why it’s MOUNT Airy and not INCREDIBLY FLAT Airy.

So knowing I wasn’t fully ready to race it, I set the intention for myself of not worrying about it. Just get it done. Monitor the knee. Enjoy myself. So long as I started the line and crossed the finish, my Eagles would be there waiting for me when I crossed. Also, Maine decided to meet me there and run along too. Since my injury, I haven’t been able to run with her as much as we did before, so having her meet up was a nice bonus. I can never pass up on a chance to connect with my BFFs.

I had no problems parking, getting there about 20-mins before the start. Packet pick-up was race day, organized, quick and easy. (Am I the only one whose heart swoons over an uncomplicated packet pickup?) My car was close enough to walk my little swag back right back to it and get back to saying hello to my RWB peeps. I saw Maine getting out of her car. The event was that uncluttered – all of this was very easy – and there was plenty of space to stretch and socialize.

Then the race began.

The first mile was the getting used to it – trail running. I set myself at the back to start, so as we streamed into the trail, there were 2 girls ahead of me, 1 almost directly behind and another a little further back. I knew we were towards the end of the line but there were still another few runners a little further back than that. The trail was a single-file trail, no running 2-or-3 wide. As soon as I spied a broader spot, I stepped off right and let the girl right behind me pass. We’d been chatting but I could tell she was itching to speed it up and I didn’t want anyone breathing down my neck.

First mile split was around the 15-min mark. I can walk faster than that. Except that I hadn’t done any walking at all.

This, my friends, is the weird voodoo of trail running. You can be running the entire time, but the pace that you have to slow to when navigating tree roots and rock beds to keep from busting your ass, makes it seem like it would be quicker if you just walked it. Except in the same breath, you know that isn’t true. If you were walking, you’d still have to slow down your walk to navigate obstacles. Slowing down your slow. But your mind does this thing where it starts to compare your WALKING ON PAVEMENT times against your trail RUNNING times, and you realize you’d PR if you were walking. But then you look around, kinda laugh, and decide you don’t care. This is trail running.

After the first mile, I was mostly by myself for the next three. In a pavement race, that would be utterly depressing to me, but watching the greenery go by – Mt. Airy is forest, so trees, shrubs, rocks are most of your view – I still felt like I was flying. Plus, you have to concentrate on what you’re doing in the moment of trail running. You get lost in your head comparing this and that, you fall down and go boom. Fact. If the first split on my Garmin at 15+ mins gave me food for thought, my next split was just about 17 minutes. There’d been a lot more rock bed to navigate and I’d taken a pause to keep from getting hit by the same mountain biker twice.  But somewhere in miles 2 and 3, I went from being cautious to feeling really happy about what I was doing. Mile 3 brought me back down into the 15-min range, and as the run opened up into the ONLY point where it broadens into meadow for a split second, there was the water stop.  The gentleman running it asked “Are you Cynthia?”  Yes.  “Your friend is a little ahead of you, she said for me to keep an eye out for you.”  Awww.

I wish I could tell you more about the trail, which trail names turned on to which and this one was this way and that cool thing about that one. I can’t. When I’m focusing, distance starts to blur into swatches of greenery. Plus, I have the sense of direction of a dryer sock. The one that never reappears when you’ve finished folding everything and are left with one unmatched sock. Yeah. I’m the lost sock.

Mile 4 the path started undulating more aggressively, but the track itself was wider and smoother, less rocks. 13+ on the mile 4 split and right about mile 3.5, one of the runners behind me came into view again. Sometimes just over a block’s length behind me. and sometimes much closer, I decided I would not be passed. I was fighting the good fight for my run, slow as it was and I wasn’t going to give up to someone behind me this late into it. I made concerted effort to keep my time up and navigate obstacles more aggressively.

Finally, the vegetation started to clear and I could hear people – UP THE HILL. Bless the hearts of up hill finishes everywhere – my, my, don’t they make us stronger.  As I crossed the line, Maine was right there with a high-five. Some of the RWBers I don’t know yet were there, but the ones I did know came back to the finish as soon as they saw me. Apparently there were snacks up at the pavilion! Seeing as how I mainly run so I can eat what I want, knowing there were snacks made me happy too. When someone tells me it’s a “no frills” run, I don’t expect snacks. Snacks are frilly. AWESOMELY frilly!

Maine & I wandered up, got some GOOD sandwiches and chips. Included in the swag was a cute pint glass, but I didn’t really want a beer. Just lots of water.  Y’all, trail running is HARD! I mean, regular running is hard for me too, but trail running is HARD!! That run really took a lot out of me! In the best way possible though – I was exhausted but I felt AMAZING. Happy. Content.  It was a completely different thing than I normally feel when I’m racing pavement.  I knew there were only a few runners left behind me to finish, but I honestly could have cared less. We stayed to listen to the awards, and I ended up winning a tote bag as a door prize.

A five-miler might have been a little aggressive for a first trail run choice, and the soreness of my hips and abs the next day let me know that was fact, but I’m glad I chose to try it.

This is on my ‘must-do’ list for next season.

LATE ADD-ON: That runner that I promised I wouldn’t let pass me – when I dug in deep and committed to really working the course, ended up checking in 4-minutes behind me. Amazing what you can do when you decide to try! (Phhhht.)


Since I don’t usually run with my phone or camera, picture is another one from the Northern Cali tour this Summer, taken by Eric. Yup, that’s my butt.

Hello friends!  I still contend that there are few things in this life more luxuriously relaxing than a weekend morning with some quiet and a cup of coffee! It’s about 8:45 as I’m starting this and I’ve been awake about an hour, feet tucked under a blanket on the couch and coffee mug in hand. It’s a form of meditation. And then I started thinking about the day, more about the days of other people than myself really. The Queen Bee 13.1 is this morning, with a large group of my RWB crew crossing that start line.  The Bourbon Chase 200-mile relay started yesterday morning and I know 3 different crews of runners from all walks of life in that adventure – an RWB crew, a group from my old training group, and some of my Lexington friends from Run the Bluegrass – actually they’re Louisville friends but I met them in Lexington…so does that make them Louisville friends or Lexington friends? Hmmm.

Finally, there’s my friend Allison, who in just over an hour, will be challenging Kona – the Ironman World Championships. Holeeee crap!

What am I doing this morning? Um, dog walking, at some point. Ha! I had a pretty aggressive chiropractic adjustment on C1 Wednesday which demands a few days of taking it easy til the stiffness fades away. Going to try a full on run either later today with the other dog or first thing tomorrow.

It’s gotten a little dusty in here, so I’m planning to clean that up – mainly because I have a short flurry of Race Recaps to update with a few other events tossed in.  After not being able to race, or even run at all for most of the Spring and early Summer, I noticed that the knee issues were finally starting to fade and it’s almost as if I’ve been trying to cram an entire year’s worth of races into this Fall.  On top of which, I started trail running – not on well-manicured gravel trail at my office, but on actual trails – with rocks and ruts and grass spears jutting up to stab your ankles. I LOVE IT! It’s like all of the best parts of running for me without the pounding of pavement echoing through my bones. So there will be a few posts coming up in the next few days to bring things up to speed, shake the dust off.

After I finish my coffee. :)

So a friend of mine, his buddy and I were hanging out last night – actually,  I take that back,  it was the wee hours of this morning.

Seems my friend wanted to propose to his girl, but do it 1950’s style – whatever that means. So the three of us were tossing out random ’50-ish things for ideas of a theme.  Sock hops, steudebakers, Hoover Dam…

And this is how you wake up shouting “AREA 51!” at your husband when your alarm goes off in the morning.

Not recommended.

Weird dreams this week: 2
Cynthia: 0



Apparently, it is not only great sleeping weather in the Tristate, it’s great dreaming weather. My noggin was chock full o’nuts while I slept.

Spent most of last night in the hunting section of Dick’s Sporting Goods hanging out with a guy (unknown to me) that I swear was the human version of Elmer Fudd. Complete with red checked flannel.

Not really doing anything, maybe a little shopping but not really – talking product quality – and just hanging out.  Because my dreams are *that* interesting.

My brain. I don’t even try to explain it anymore.


If you look just past the guy at left with the…busy…shirt, that’s me. About 15ft from that rather large elk, shooting with my camera.  Another one from the Eric photo file.

It was Eric that first brought up the idea of unity being the centerpiece concept of the evening. While we were having dessert, or more aptly, not having dessert after a stop at one place seemed too rushed to be enjoyable and the server at the other forgot to put in our dessert order. It finally came and the extra wait gave us plenty of time to talk thoughts about the performance we’d just taken in – Cincinnati Ballet’s Kaplan New Works – as I mentioned yesterday. I had entertained the same thought myself here and there about unity, but something in me wanted to resist it.  I saw unity. I didn’t feel unified. It was weird. But at the same time, that’s part of what the Kaplan series is all about, shaking your tree, challenging your notions, and confusing your feelings.


I have said this many times in conversation, and will say it again here, if you have one of those friends that got dragged to the Nutcracker once when they were eight years old and convinced themselves that they hate the ballet – it’s boring, it’s not macho enough, it puts you to sleep. Take them to Kaplan. They may revise their opinion. This ain’t your mamma’s ballet.

The performance opened with a piece by CB-staple, Heather Britt, and as it opened, I kinda sighed.  Despite the addition of vocals by the Cincinnati Vocal Arts Ensemble bringing a new aspect to the performance, the opening sequences felt like I’d seen them before in other works by Heather. I love Heather’s work and style, but I was missing the Heather of Opus 5.5 from Kaplans of years past.  However, this feeling lifted with the rise in tempo and more of the energetic Heather began to shine through the movements of the dancers.  It was also at this point I began to really take notice of the men in the ensemble.

My friends, I’ve had the privilege of watching several of the dancers in the company mature in technique and confidence over the years – and I know that the Kaplan series has taken a feminist bent over the past two seasons – but can I just say, HOLY SMOKES! The guys in our ballet company are FIERCE!!! If anyone ever tells you ballet is for girls, I wouldn’t put it past one of our male dancers to lay them out! We have some STRONG, FIERCE and TALENTED men.

*Pause to breathe.*

Okay, back to the show. Next up after Heather was a hip-hop performance by Elementz Studio Kre8tv which included spoken poetry challenging societal perception. This is the part where I could shoot myself for leaving my program, which included the spoken words, on the bar at dessert.  I LOVED this part of the performance, which had absolutely nothing to do with ballet in its technical sense, but posed the query – when we talk about ‘us’, what do we mean by that?  Us includes all the people around us, not just the ones that look like ‘us’.  Therein lies the unity. We’re in it together, but why can’t we see that? The performers were confident, and brought such high energy. Truly a BRAVE thing to throw in the line-up, Ms. Morgan.

“Fractured Glass”, by Victoria Morgan herself, I had problems connecting with. Coincidentally, this was the same piece that brought Eric to the theme of discussion unity.  To me, the women moving about the stage were ANGRY. For some reason, the He-Man Women Hater’s Club came to mind from the Little Rascals. I don’t know why. I stopped trying to explain the way my brain works long ago. But this time, instead of Spanky and Alfalfa, the women had wrestled control. The choreography seemed frustrated and angry, something about breaking a glass ceiling. The male roles in this one seemed more lyrical to me – almost like the traditional archetype choreography of aggressive men and delicate women had been gender-role reversed. And I kind of get that that was part of it, again – glass ceiling fractured, but then there was a 4th female dancer that comes out and all of a sudden everyone gets along just fine.  Like I said, and I will freely admit, I didn’t get it. Eric got it. I didn’t get it.

The second half of the series was the more enjoyable end to me.

“Yesterday, Tomorrow” by Amy Seiwert made me amused and happy. Clever from start to finishing details, it was eye candy in a most innocent way. I LOVE LOVE LOVED the music by Gillian Welch. On the iTunes list for sure! Using a simple bench prop, costumes comfortable in country church and soft slippers, our dancers looked like they were having just as much fun in the dance as the spectators were watching. I hope to see this one again in the future.

Continuing the dramatic reprieve was “Triple Play”, choreographed by William Whitener. A pas de deux in 3 parts, danced well to piano accompaniment. I liked it, but it didn’t hold my attention as much as I would’ve liked.

Finally, it was time to “SIT” with Jennifer Archibald. OH. MY. GOD.  This is where I find unity. The sultry qualities we saw in Heather’s work amplified, with the intensity of statement made by Elementz Studio Kre8v, and the clever technical work embedded in Seiwert’s piece. The struggle of Fractured Glass. All of it came together here, UNIFIED, in a way that still makes my heart jump.  First, I’ll say it was nice to see Rodrigo Almarales toeing the same line in front as Principal Dancer Cervilio Amador.  I’ve acknowledged before that Almarales has been fearless in recent performances. He is earning it. Next, can we talk about James Gilmer? How tall is that guy? WOW! (And I apologize if I’m talking about the wrong dancer, because again, program left on the bar and the ballet doesn’t put up a dancer stat page like MLB does). I point this out because it’s not common to see someone that tall in dance, that can move like that – and he could MOVE! There were a few times he could’ve kicked the moon out of the sky with his extension. Did I mention how FIERCE our guys are looking?! Anyway, Archibald’s piece just kept my heartbeat loud and passionate in my ears, pinned to my seat – for the aptly named SIT.

Kaplan will be running at the Aronoff through Sunday, September 21st. Go get your seat. :)

Ooooh my friends, doesn’t September have the most divine sleeping-in weather?

Windows open, chill in the air, bury yourself a little deeper under the covers and tangle up your feet with that fella next to you to warm up the toesies – PERFECT sleeping-in weather.

There is simply no way to untangle those toesies for a 5am workout alarm. There just isn’t.

In other words, I didn’t make it out to Caesar’s Creek for triathlon training. Again.

The discipline, it is lacking. Lost somewhere in the woods. For a couple weeks, I had legit reasons, but this morning – it was all Zzzzzzzz.

Instead, I’m getting some computer work done, sipping on a coffee, and watching the two dogs snooze – across two different rooms, two different dog beds, in exactly the same position.

The motivation is hard to come by today. Errands need to be done – and frankly, that perfect sleeping-in weather is AWESOME running weather too. I should probably get that done.  Also, I’m out of coffee. So that must be fixed.

And through some magical intervention, the husband and I scored tickets to Kaplan New Works  tonight!  Baseball season is starting to wind down with the Reds last road trip of the season, and while I continue to click my heels and chant “There’s no place like Playoffs!”, the timing also means ballet season is starting to wind up. Time to get the dance on! Kaplan is one of the most amazing local dance traditions – and when I was fortunate to get a preview of the performance over the Summer – it got added to my must-see list with the quickness! However, the timing almost slipped on by me. I have been a busy girl!  Gotta do some prettying up for date night and get us to the dance on time.

But first the run. Must. Get. Run. Done!