2016 Hoof It For Heifer 
Saturday, April 9, 2016, 06:16 PM - Race Reports
Posted by Administrator
This was the second annual trail race with my Dad. We ran Hoof It together last year as a way to reconnect with one another and decided to make it an annual event. I could continue from here by sharing with you some of the many heartfelt and joyous moments we shared on the drive out together and throughout the race as we danced through the trees. However, I feel like you might rather hear about what my dad has learned in his year of running.

During last years event my dad showed up to the race with nothing in his pockets or hands. He did not bring any form of nutrition, sodium replacement, or a hydration system. Luckily we drove separate that year because I always have extra running supplies. Open my trunk and often you will find a plethora of gels, chews, bottles, clothes, towels, and shoes. How my car still smells like new is beyond me!

As we ran last year it was apparent that he did not have a single clue as to what he needed to take or how often. He had not read anything to prepare himself. He thought running means you just put your shoes on and you go. I suppose that works ok when you are running just a few miles and run close to home like he was doing back then for his training runs. As we ran that day I tried to educate him each time I handed him a salt tablet or a gel. I know he saw and felt first hand the benefit of a little extra nutrition.

I helped him to the best of my abilities that day but I did forget one thing, my size versus his. He really could have used more calories and sodium. I was giving him the same amounts that I typically take in. This left us walking the last hour of the race. Mental notes were made and lessons were learned.

Dad and I had a ton of fun that day and walking was actually kind of nice. Be that as it may, Dad went home determined to return to the event the following year better educated and better prepared. This made my heart so happy! He was truly becoming invested in the sport that I loved and not just because he wants to have a connection but because the connection is natural and we are so much alike that he too felt that pull, that draw from mother nature to come and frolic, dance, and enjoy her beauty.

Over the months post Hoof It, Dad and I often talked about training schedules, proper nutrition, and gear. He came into Go! Running, where I worked to be properly fitted for shoes and to stock up on nutritional supplies he needed for his training. I could tell that he was really taking it all in and really wanting to learn.

My dad calls me almost every day now. It is the highlight of my morning! The night before the race I called him. Good thing because he was nervous. It is easy sometimes for seasoned runners to forget just how intimidating a new race or event can be for new trail runner. I convinced him that he had done his homework and everything would be just fine. We would make the day fun no matter how the day unfolded. He wanted to have fun but because he had been training so hard, he let me know that he really wanted to do better this year. So we made a plan to ride out together and talk about strategy.

On the way out that morning we discussed pacing and staying on top of his nutritional plan. I was so pleased to see that he had arrived with water bottle in hand and his pockets filled with enough nutrition and electrolyte replacement. He was READY!

After he took a puff off of his inhaler and a few selfies were snapped we were on our way. He did so good pacing himself and holding back a little at the beginning. He was taking in his nutrition without being prompted. He was on track for a nice PR. I would like to say that this was all enough and he got that big PR, however, we were about 8 miles into the race when he started having problems with his breathing. He has begining COPD and his much needed inhaler was in his truck back at the start/finish. He assured me he would be ok as long as he slowed to a walk. He was hoping to be able to at least run through the finish. He did not want to have to walk through, so we conserved until we were certain he could handle a little jog and picked up the pace as we came off of the trail, over the beautiful stone bridge, and up the paved hill to the grassy knoll where volunteers were waiting to present us with our finisher's medals. Dad did get a PR, maybe not as much as he wanted, but he got a lot more than a PR that day. He received confidence in himself as a trail runner, confirmation that proper training and gear do make a difference, a closer connection and bond between daddy and daughter, and a celebration of the culmination of his year of training and learning more about his new found love of running trails.

If you are like my Dad was a year ago, have a ton of questions and don’t know where to get answers please don’t be afraid to ask. Seek out a locally owned running store (you don’t have to buy anything to come get your questions answered), ask a seasoned runner, join a local running club, or read books on the subject.

If you have never had the opportunity to run this event I certainly hope the that changes in the future. Hoof It For Heifer is not only a stellar event complete with well stocked aid stations, an abundance of cheerful and extremely helpful volunteers, an incredibly well marked course (yes, it was, heads up folks) complete with magnificent views along the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Boy Scouts Trail, but also benefits such a worthy cause.

Heifer International is a non-profit, humanitarian organization dedicated to ending hunger and poverty and caring for the Earth. Since 1944, Heifer has pursued its mission by providing livestock and training in environmentally sound agriculture to those with genuine need. Recipients also agree to Pass on the Gift of one or more of their animal’s offspring and training to others in need, creating an ever-widening circle of hope.

I love their mission but that one line, that one part of their mission is very applicable to us all: “Recipients also agree to Pass on the Gift”. We can be more like Heifer even in our running endeavours. We all started from ground zero and benefited from the knowledge of others. Don’t let it end there. Adopt this giving nature, if you don’t already, and pass on that gift of knowledge you acquired to others.

Encourage a loved one, a friend, or coworker to join you on a run. If someone reaches out to you for information think about going just a step further and offering to run with them. Maybe it is just a one time run or maybe you turn it into a weekly or a monthly opportunity for giving back. However you chose to pass on your talents and your gifts it will be a blessing to both the recipient and to yourself.
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2015 Black Mountain Monster 6/12/24 Race 
Thursday, June 25, 2015, 10:46 PM - Race Reports
Posted by Administrator
Andrea Sayers, Robert Regnier and I left Arkansas for the 9 hour journey to Black Mountain, NC around 9:30 am on Thursday morning. The drive was easy and we made it to town before all of the restaurants shut down for the night. It was nice to see so many places that offered healthy, organic, locally grown foods. I was in heaven from the start! We also had the pleasure of hearing a local band perform while we ate our healthy, organic meal at an aptly named restaurant, Trailhead. I could get used to this for sure.

After a long, restful night’s sleep and a morning massage by Robert, the master masseur, we decided to make the most of our time and explore the area before picking up packets and setting up camp. Our cottage was a short walk to Lake Tomahawk. There is a level path that circles the lake for strolling, a fountain in the middle, ducks, and flora all around, as well as basketball courts, tennis courts and a children's playground adjacent to the lake. After taking in our new neighborhood we grabbed a nutella latte at The Dripolator before venturing 20 minutes farther west to the Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center in Asheville. Armed with information, a map, and adventurous spirits we drove on to Craggy Gardens Picnic Area. Craggy Gardens has a 1.2 mile (one way) hike to an overlook, passing by an old shelter, winding through the acres of rhododendron and azalea bushes, which were not yet in bloom. That didn’t matter because the views are very impressive. Mountains as far as the eye could see! We even got to see why they are called the Smokies. On one side of the mountain was glorious sunshine and rainclouds below us on the other side. The clouds and fog drifted up and passed right in front of us like a ghost. It was surreal.

After a two mile hike, collecting rocks full of pyrite, and feeling like kids at heart we headed back to town to meet my friend Kayleigh Majercak who drove from Kentucky to help crew and pace. We grabbed lunch at My Father’s Pizza, did a little shopping at a local outfitter, and then drove to the start/finish area to set up our tent, canopy, and supplies. My family and I only camp a couple of times each year so it was no big surprise to find ourselves at the Tractor Supply and Dollar Store for supplemental supplies. Fortunately they were less than half a mile down the road.

The race start/finish is located in a field below the Manor House on the Montreat College campus. We arrived when the field opened at 4:00pm and picked out a good crew spot next to fun and friendly tent neighbors. We were able to drive the car down to unload. We setup the tent and organized the food, gear, and chairs we had brought. Setting up camp was a lot of fun and I was very surprised by the calm atmosphere. People were laughing and pets were running around happily as everyone worked to set up camp. Some people just set up the bare necessities and others had extremely elaborate setups. One looked like a tent version of the Four Seasons! I have to admit we were drooling a little as we walked past. We picked our chins off the ground and headed back to our cottage to begin dinner preparations. Salmon on the grill with rice was on the menu. After dinner Robert gave me a massage to work out any tension. This guy is amazing and I highly recommend his services. With happy tummies and happy, relaxed muscles we called it a night. As much as we did in the day I have to say that I have never been this relaxed before a big race. It is a good feeling!

It was nice to sleep until 8am but starting at 10am meant heat on this day! The previous day had enough chill in the air that a jacket was needed in the morning hours, but that day was in the past and the one given us was definitely much warmer! I knew that staying on top of my electrolytes would be key. The race director came out and gave us a few words of encouragement before sending us on our way. Some were there for the relay and some were there for the solo event. Originally there were 12 of us women signed up for the 24 hour solo but due to the heat all but 3 of us dropped to the 12 hour event. This is probably how I won 2nd place. First place won by 2 miles. By late afternoon it was easy to spot those running the relay versus those running the solo event. Moods and facial expressions spoke volumes.

The heat was certainly tough but the course never got old. The 3.1 mile trail consisted of a variety of terrain, from grass fields, to gravel paths, to wooded access roads, to pavement, to singletrack trail. There were a ton of turns, 3 significant sized hills, including a loose rock hill I called rock slide hill, a rooty hill I called Jacob’s Ladder, and a hill that ran along the train tracks with 5 wooden bridges that I had no name for but challenged myself to run until I got to the 4th bridge. Each lap was 300 feet of elevation gain and if my math is correct then you’d have a total of 10,000 feet of gain for 33 laps or 102.3 miles. At the end of each lap we had to run around the tent village and up a slight hill in the field, shouted our numbers to the lap counters then turned 180° to start a new lap. One of the Montreat College students, Bre, marked the entire course and she did a stellar job! The trail was marked with arrows and almost every root was spray painted orange to make it easy to see even in the dark. The main aid stations had mostly fruit, water, and gatorade. They did at one point put out some pretzels and pbj sandwiches. The unmanned aid station located at the 1.5 mile marker only had fruit, water, and gatorade. Since I ran by my own aid station each loop I mostly ate the items I brought from home. I do wish I had laid things out on my table so I could more easily grab what sounded good. If you are like me you just never know what you are going to want until you see it.

I was loving the race, enjoying the company of others, and feeling confident that I would make my goal of 33 laps throughout most of the day. Per my research in ultra running nutrition I was taking in 20-24oz of water and 350mg of sodium per hour. I think my interpretation of what I needed was a little askew because I began having intestinal issues about 9 hours into the race at around mile 45. After a true confessions moment with my crew about this issue and a quick trouble shooting session I switched from solid foods and salt tabs to Perpetuem. This has saved several of my races in the heat. My gut hates the heat! I am still working on figuring this one out. The Perpetuem bought me another 7.5 hours of running. At one point I began worrying about what damage I might be doing to my body with so many hours of diarrhea and told my crew I was going to go one or two laps longer and if it didn’t go away I was going to call it a day. I started that third decision making lap with Andrea. We were talking and I was feeling drained but I was still moving ok until I got to the port o potty. I had a bit of an explosion in there and exited with all of my remaining energy completely gone! It amazed me how very fast things started falling apart. I knew if I didn’t handle things properly I would need medical help and I was determined to do all I could to avoid that. Step one,lay down. Step two, take in some calories and sodium. Step three, get a ride if steps one and two don’t work quickly. Step one, oops, I laid down on a slant with my feet higher than my head. Poor Andrea took off her shoe to use as a pillow for propping my head up. Step two, check, a banana slice in each cheek and a few swigs of gatorade. Step three, another oops, make that a Big Oops! My thoughts went to the golf cart out restocking the aid station throughout the day. We could call and have them send out the golf cart. I told Andrea to call one of the three emergency contact numbers the website had given us. All three went to voicemail! So she decided to call Robert back at camp. He sent the young girl left to man the main aid station and lap check table to go get one of the three sleeping adults. Bre came out and gave him the keys to the golf cart. What!?! All Robert knew was the path he had run with me in the day. He didn’t know the shortcuts. He came to the first single track section and had to turn around and go back to the start/finish to get Bre to drive out. So much time had passed, during which I was able to drink 3 cups of gatorade and was feeling much much better. During that passing time I had also gone from so hot I wanted to strip off every article of clothing to shivering. Andrea covered me with several layers of her clothing. Bre gave me her sweatshirt when she arrived and Robert gave me his extra pair of shorts and his jacket. A short and bumpy ride later I was back at the start finish after having completed 26 and a half laps/82 miles in 17 hours (last lap and half don’t count in results). The race director came out and after a coherent conversation with me he was convinced I was ok to go without medical assistance. He gave instructions to my crew to make sure I got in a good amount of water and sodium before going to sleep for the night, let them know it was ok to come back later to tear down camp, wished me well, and sent us on our way back to the cottage. I bounced back very fast and felt so good the next day that I went out for a stroll around the lake with Robert after breakfast.

Upon reflection and conversation with Stan, Podog, and Thomas I think I should have been taking in more water. The book in which I got my information stated that the body can only process 20-28 oz of water per hour. That is about one water bottle which is exactly what I was taking in each hour. The trail hero’s, yeah that’s what I call you fast guys who are ALWAYS kind and willing to share your knowledge, said that it isn’t unusual for them to drink a bottle and half in really hot temperatures. I also think that I should have been adding ice to my water bottles sooner. I was so hot in the day that my bandana full of ice did not even feel cold to the touch. Even though I could not feel the cold I knew it had to be helping. Every lap my crew had a bottle of Perpetuem and a fresh bandana full of ice. Such a great crew, they even made iced bandana's for our new found friend Mosi.
My crew, my sweet, sweet friends were so amazing and so motivating. Every lap I was greeted with a loud “There’s my hot moma!” I looked forward to hearing it at the end of each lap. When the heat first started getting to me and really zapping my mojo and motivation they decided to each run a lap with me to lift my spirits. I did get the RD’s ok on this. Each one was so sweet yet so different. Andrea was upbeat and matter of fact. I got the come to jesus talk of “as long as this is in your head we are going to keep going and not letting you quit but if this is a medical issue we will talk”. I knew at that point she was right it was all in my head. She asked several questions to make sure but I knew I needed to change my perspective and keep on truckin’. On our laps together we often laughed and sang. Kayleigh was so soft spoken but told some of the funniest jokes and stories. She reminded me of past accomplishments and reminded me that I would get through this just like I got through those. We had so many funny, laughable moments. Robert was also soft spoken and told me stories of his jujitsu friends who he had been following throughout the day. Some of his teammates had a competition that same day. He was missing it to help me with my adventure instead. He asked if I had ever punched anyone in the face, I said yes and asked if he was shocked by that, and he replied no. Ha, I wasn’t sure what to make of that so I gave him the funny details. Ask me sometime and I will share the story. When things first began unraveling he saw it pretty clear. He reminded me, on what would be our last lap together, that this was my race, that I was the expert, that none of them had run an ultra, to listen to my body, to do what I felt was right. He let me know that no matter what happened that I had still run my heart out and had something to be proud of. It was like a couple of heavy weights were lifted off my shoulders the second those soft spoken words hit my ears. He knew I didn’t have many laps left in me and was concerned enough that he made Andrea take her cell phone with us on what wound up being my last attempt at another lap. Good Call! It feel extremely grateful to each of these three amazing souls! I am blessed to get to call them my friends! It was wonderful getting to know them all better. My grandmother used to say, “you never really know someone until you have lived with them.” I say, “you never really know someone until you have gone for a long run with them.”

I met some cool people on the trail. Mosi Smith, a former navy man, a current marine, RD for a 6 hour race in Annapolis, MD, the marketing coordinator for The Great Wall of China Marathon, has completed my biggest bucket list race (if only I had the funds for the entry fee), and will be running Badwater 135 mile race in July, which will never be on my bucket list. Stu and his friends running the relay, who cheered me on each and every lap. Kari, a very funny, kind lady who used to live in Arkansas and was extremely helpful in setting up camp and picking the right spot. Erik and Erin, a brother and sister team running the 24 hr relay. Erin ran with Andrea and me for a while. She had never run longer than a half marathon and she had already set a distance PR of 28 miles and was really struggling. We all sang together in an effort to take our mind off of our pain. One lady, whose name I don’t know who when asked, “how are you doing?” replied “I’d be better if you would quit lapping me.” We chuckled. I could go on and on. Let me just say that I made many beautiful memories and formed new friendships. Black Mountain, NC is a gorgeous, a great place to visit and run. I will be returning but probably for the relay. Let’s Team Up!

Go Back After Such Runner Safety Downfall?, you ask. Yes. The Race Director contacted me after the race. We had several conversations. Although they were short handed, it was only he and Bre in charge, he didn’t use that as an excuse and owned it! He apologized, told me he used to be an emergency responder and took runner safety very serious. The three main people were only gone from the main aid station for 40 minutes but of course that is when things went wrong. In the future he plans to do mock run through safety drills, making sure all key people have walkie-talkies as well as cell phones, and using our idea to put a walkie-talkie out at the aid station in case of emergency. EMS & Fire Dept were both on standby throughout the race. I think it was a fluke, that they put on a great event for a good cause, and made it fun! So yes, in the word of Schwarzenegger, “I’ll be back!”

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2015 White Rock 50k Birthday Run 
Sunday, March 1, 2015, 11:57 PM
Posted by Administrator

What could possibly be a better way to spend a birthday than running up to the top of White Rock Mountain surrounded by good friends! The morning was cool & crisp and is typically the case for me when the season begins to change I slightly overdress. When you spend the first two miles going from 700’ to 1700’ you are going to work up a good sweat & warm up quick! I couldn’t wait to get to the top just so I could take off my jacket. Will I ever learn!?

I decided to spend the run at a fun, casual pace so that I could visit with friends and even make some new ones. There were people from Missouri, Oklahoma, Alabama, Texas, and a big group who traveled with Eric Steele, founder of Epic Ultras, from Kansas. It was nice to meet new people and welcome them to one of our treasured races.

This year we signed in at the Start/Finish area instead of the Turner Bend Store. For those who didn’t heed the warning to arrive early were surely shocked & panicked to see so many cars lined up on the dirt road. All got parked, signed in, and we received our direction and words of wisdom from race directors, the gong was sounded and off we went.
Not very long into the run and you begin to see cyclists coming past. One might be leary of sharing the road with cyclist but these riders were very kind and respectful. We had some who cheered us on and we got to return the favor by trying to cheer and encourage them as they made their way up the steep climbs. All in all I am happy that the cyclists are encouraged to join us for this event.

The day was perfect, the aid stations were well stocked, and the volunteers were extremely friendly! The ham radio guys were out on their four-wheelers checking on the runners and handing out bottles of water and gatorade. Everyone went above and beyond the call of duty. I even got a little birthday dance from PT at the Turn Around.

After the turn around Deb & I both picked up the pace. The thought of winning one of Chrissy Ferguson’s hand designed top 5 finisher plates made us both give up the notion of running casually. We caught up with Alan Hunnicutt.
The three of us ran together most of the way back. With 6 miles left to go Deb started feeling bad, but said she was going to hang back with Alan and insisted I go on to get a plate for my birthday. Not much later my stomach started acting up. I could stomach gels but not solid food. Unfortunately I was out of gels. I asked for some at the last aid station to no avail. A runner from out of town was kind to give me one of his. His problem was reverse and solid food was all he could handle. We wished one another well as we parted ways. That gu had magical powers because I was feeling better than ever. I raced on to a 4th place female finish and Deb who also got a second wind came in 5th place female. We Both Got Our Chrissy Plates!!! There were 61 50k finishers (including a 13 year old), 36 25k finishers, and 12 other distance runners and cyclists.

Huge Thank You & Big Hugs to our race directors Lisa Gunnoe & PoDog Vogler, the Arkansas Ultra Running Association, the many volunteers, Turner Bend Store, and the surrounding community who always welcomes us! It was the best birthday party ever!
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2014 LOViT Trail Marathon 
Saturday, December 20, 2014, 11:59 PM
Posted by Administrator

Although the weather was perfect for a run in the woods the trail was leaf covered and slippery thanks to the rain that came through the days before. The wooden bridges were especially slippery. I heard that the first bridge took a runner out. I don’t know who it was but hope they are healed and running again. The trails were well maintained and the views were gorgeous!

I am talker, maybe it has something to do with being a middle child, and not having been heard as a child. When people that don’t know me run beside me and strike up conversation I am usually good to warn them of my “gift” for gab. I ran and talked my way the majority of the race with my good friend Deb Baker. It is always fun to get to catch up with friends during events like this. If you are ever feeling down this girl is one to run with because she always finds the positive in everything. She is also good to point out the beauty around you if you are prone to run with your head down. The sun was shining on race day and the the wind was blowing just enough to keep us cooled but not chilled. It was pretty much the goldilocks of weather. I also got to run with Brett Nguyen for a little while. I was blown away when he told me he had just finished the Seattle Quadzilla (4 marathons in 4 days) the weekend prior to LOViT! He went on to a strong finish for the day. I also got to visit with many other friends, I didn’t fall, and I enjoyed some brews at Superior Bathhouse with my friends Tina and Marc after so all in all it was a great day!

For those that have never run this course it is located off Shangri La, 25 miles west of Hot Springs, and 12 miles east of Mount Ida off of Hwy 270. The Lake Ouachita Vista Trail is a scenic single track trail, well marked with signs and arrows, containing no significant creek crossings, involving ~2600’ or so of climbing with a rough, rocky, 800’ climb up Hickory Nut Mountain to the turnaround aid station.

The aid stations were very well stocked and managed by the kindest trail angels! The volunteers greeted us with smiles, made sure we were restocked and then encouraged and cheered us on as we parted ways. There was also an unmanned aid station with individual bottles of water and gatorade. The race offered a drop bag service and even had T-Shirts and Hats for sale this year! This race was my first introduction to trail running back in 2011 so it is near and dear to my heart and I offer a huge thank you to the race director Phillip Carr for a great event, to the kind volunteers for caring for us throughout the day, and to the Trail Dogs for doing such an amazing job maintaining the course.
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Frozen Gnome 50k - Crystal Lake, IL 
Monday, December 15, 2014, 12:06 AM
Posted by Administrator

I sent my baby girl off to “college” two years early. She is attending ASMSA in Hot Springs and I miss seeing her face and hearing her laughter on a daily basis so I always jump at any chance to spend time with her. Some of you that know me and my running habits are not going to believe me when I say that going to run this race a second year was my daughter, Emily’s idea! On one of her rare weekend trips home she asked if I was planning to go. I kind of shrugged it off. A week later I got a call from her begging me to go. She wanted to recreate the trip just as we had done the year before. It didn’t take much twisting for me or Jen Freilino, who also went with us last year.

We left on a sunny Thursday afternoon and drove 5 ½ hours to St. Louis for the night. The drive was fun as Emily and her friend Madeline entertained us for most of the drive. We slept in, had a lazy morning, and went for a late breakfast at The London Tea Room. After a spot of tea we hit the road for a less than sunny Crystal Lake, IL. We checked and rechecked the forecast during our 5 hour drive. They were calling for -11degree temps with -25 windchill. Our nerves were calmed a little after getting to the packet pick up. The locals were very kind to share their knowledge of cold weather running, however, they did mention that this was going to be cold even by their standards. Luckily the pick up was at The Running Depot, a really cool specialty running store. Taking the advice of the extremely kind race director Jen and I both purchased wool running shirts to wear as our base layer. We left the quaint shopping area, took the girls to eat sushi, and then raced to the hotel. We were eager to try on all of our race day attire and go out for a short jog to see if we were fully prepared for the challenge ahead. Smart Wool shirt, Marmont jacket, running underpants (didn’t want another butt slide hill mishap), Asics tights, $3 track wind pants from Savers, Mountain Hardwear balaclava, buff, 2 pair of smartwool socks, trail shoes, Yaktraxs, 2 pair of Saucony mittens, and a pair of clear sunglasses. I think we may have frightened the girls basketball team that was congregated in the hotel lobby as we headed out for a couple of loops around the hotel. Everything seemed to be working for us except for the glasses. We were both very surprised at how little we actually felt the chill in the air. Although, it didn’t take much time with our mittens off the start feeling like frostbite would certainly take away or digits.

Neither one of us slept very well. I suppose that as much as we tried to convince ourselves that the cold wouldn’t be all that bad and that we could handle the challenge we really were not convinced. Alarm rings and we jump up to check the temperature. -9 at 8am, -7 by 10, and warming to a balmy -2 degrees. We decided we would be in our bathing suits by 1:00! No more time for joking around time to apply butt paste in all necessary areas, vaseline on every part of our faces that had any chance of being exposed, dress, consume nourishment, wake the girls, clean ice off Ruby’s windows, and hit the road for the short 2 mile drive to Veteran Acres Park. The Frozen Gnome's beautiful course winds through the winter wonderland of Veteran Acres and Sterne’s Woods and is mainly single track trails on a lot of hills. It's a 10k loop that is repeated 5 times for the 50k runners. They also offer one loop for those 10k speedsters. There was one main aid station "The Gnome Depot" at the start-finish line that was stocked with hot soup, homemade goodies, coffee and drinks. There was one unmanned aid station with sports drink on the course. The course is set up so spectators/crew are able to see the runners quite a few times. Both aid stations had heated bathrooms!!!

I made a pact with Jen to stay together for at least the first three loops as a precaution since we had neither experienced running in those temperatures. Carrying our water bottles upside down because they freeze top to bottom, and packing our gels close to our bodies we took off with the crowd for loop one. The first loop was very slow because we didn’t pay attention to where we were in the lineup and there was a lot of bottlenecking. Passing on single track is even harder in the deep snow. Our next mistake was blindly following the crowd. About 30 of us missed a turn and went an extra half mile out of the way. Thanks to a runner with a cell phone, we got in touch with the RD who directed us successfully back on course! Halfway through the first loop we realized that the nozzle on our bottle was frozen. The only way to drink what was now a Tailwind slush was to open the lid and guzzle. By the time we got to the unmanned aid station we had to bang our bottles on the ground to loosen the frozen lid of our even thicker Tailwind slushies! One poor soul asked “where are the cups”? Guess he didn’t read the race instructions letting us know that this was a cupless race. Let that be a lesson to us all! Those instructions are sent to us for a reason!

We made it back to the start/finish area, we moved our drop box inside the heated bathroom, and thawed out our lids with the hand dryer- yes the hand dryer is a multifunctional tool! The second loop was much more enjoyable. We were beginning to figure things out and the snow was packed from all of the runners in the first loop, making the course considerably easier to run. Most 10k runners were finished so the crowd was thinned out and we were really able to take in the scenery. Memories from last years race came flooding back and everything seemed so familiar. One of our favorite areas was in the forest where the snow had fallen just a little heavier, leaving every tree branch draped in glistening white snow. It was the most enchanting, picturesque scene! Butt Slide Hill did not disappoint either. A rope was added for those who prefered scale down. Not Us! We chose the fast pace of an out of control slide down the frozen hillside on our booties! My method was to tuck my drink in my jacket, leaving my hands free to somewhat guide the direction in which gravity tried to chose for us. I have to say, thanks to the $3 wind pants, sliding down was fun every single time! On the last loop one older gentlemen was so happy that it was his last that he announced it to the world on his final slide down! He was quite a character. We ran beside him to the unmanned aid station. He was giddy with laughter most of the time and I do believe he laughed all the way to the finish.

Toward the end of the third loop Jen was a little apprehensive about being alone since the sun was being replaced by clouds, the temperature was beginning to drop, her bottle was still a big issue, her energy was starting to drop, and we had noticed a lot fewer runners were on the course. She realized that the gels she had been taking were not caffeinated. She got the needed caffeine to alleviate the energy issue, we both reslathered our faces with the shiny pot of vaseline, and began our 4th loop together. The course marshals who had been wrapped up in heavy clothing and cuddled in their sleeping bags looked to also be really feeling the cold even more so now. They still gave us a smile and cheered as we came past. I just wanted to give them all a great big warming hug for suffering the cold in order to keep us safe when signs could have taken their place. The volunteers are heros in my book! On the last loop they give everyone who passed an enthusiastic high five that would make Jacob Wells very proud!

When we rounded over to the unmanned aid station Jen could tell that I was chilled, insisted that I finish at my own pace so I could warm up, and sent me off with a big hug. I raced the last 8 miles with all the gusto I could muster. I stopped at the Gnome Depot just long enough to guzzle a big cup of Tailwind and drop my frozen bottle. Except for the high fives the last loop was a blur which made me later realize what I miss out on when I really race.

The girls met me at the heated bathroom and helped me quickly get changed into warm clothes before gathering my award and refueling on the delicious homemade soups, chili, and other goodies they had waiting for us at the finisher’s area. When Jen finished we offered up the same help to quickly get into warm clothes. We were both very happy with the race, the experience, and with our ability to problem solve and to keep ourselves level headed enough to stay on top of our nutrition. After hugs from Michele, the race director, we left Veteran Acres Park with a hot cup of cider, warm souls, and fond memories of our run through the cold forest. The Frozen Gnome truly is everything one could wish for from a winter wonderland race!

Things we learned about running in negative temperatures: 1) snot rockets don’t work in those temperatures because the snot freezes as it leaves your nose begging to stay in the warm canal. 2) keep your nutrition close to your body to keep it from freezing including your liquids 3) several small flasks tucked into pockets close to the body is preferable to a hand held bottle 4) mittens work much better than gloves - even gloves with a convertible mitten cover 5) clear anti fog glasses would have been nice to have 6) if you are unsure about your clothing being windproof enough then test it out by sticking your hand through the garment and blow to see if you feel your breath. If you feel your breath then don’t pack it 7) although very expensive, a wool shirt is worth every penny (I paid enough that I would like to be buried in it) 8) stop to eat the snow but make sure it isn’t yellow - you’ll feel like a kid 9)running with a friend is smart and safe 10)running with a friend who likes to talk as much as you do is even better. No It’s The Best!
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