Places and Events

So much fun it shouldn't be legal!

Woo hoo!  Yippee! Yesterday was the 30th annual Living History Farms Cross Country Run in Des Moines, IA.   Without qualification, it is the best day of the year for runners - at least the 7500 who were lucky enough to get a spot in the race.

Not only is this North Americas largest cross country race, it must easily be in the Top 10 races for fun without giving up any of the challenge of a good race course.  It is 7 miles of cold, windy, challenging terrain.  This isn't a typical cross country course - this is one that requires you to scale many a hill with ropes or a good push on the backside from your running friends.  There are 8 creeks to cross, many of which were knee and waist high.  Simply said, it is the best race all year.  [And kudos to the race director for phenom! organization!!!]

I told you many times last year, but I think I can say it again - this race shows the true spirit of runners.  The runners assembled love running.  I over heard more than a few runners say that they were new to running and others who said this was inspiring the to keep running.  And then there were also many runners like me who use this as a way to "wrap up" their season as well as a fitting last run to our favorite pair of old running shoes.

I wish all of you could have joined in the fun!  Put it on your calendar for next year - hope to see you there!

Don't Miss Your Chance!

The one and only Living History Farms Race registration is open!Livinghistoryracesmall

This race is the largest cross country race in North America and is 7 unforgettable miles of running.   It will be run on Saturday, November 22 in Urbandale/Des Moines, IA.

It is the perfect topper to a great season of running.  It brings the best of the spirit of runners to a challenging course that all can enjoy.  It's got crazy runners in costumes, wide open fields, narrow trails, 8 creek crossings, about a handful of straight up hills you need a rope to navigate.   And the best part, the course doesn't really care if you train for it or don't, it gives everyone the same rewards- wet, cold, muddy bliss.   See pictures from last year on our Flickr page.

And in the end, you are rewarded not only with a sense of accomplishment but also some of the best donuts and hot apple cidar I have all year long.  Not to mention the great tailgating.

And new for this year -

  • The traditional long sleeve shirt logo is designed by Jason Lehmkuhle, one of American's top male runners and 5th place finisher at 2008 Olympic Marathon Trials running a 2:12.
  • Chip timing!  (Drats - now I can't tell everyone it took me 10 minutes to cross the start line)
  • 7 mile finishers will receive a 30th year Living History Farms Medal!
  • For a $100 donation, you will also receive a special edition LHF Race stadium blanket, Farm Pottery, and guaranteed tshirt size.  And you can start at the front of the race.

You can't miss this one!  Sign up today!  There is a cap of 7500 runners!  If you want to be part of our team, enter "Runners' Lounge" in the team name in your registration.

Still not convinced, take a minute and hang out at this link which has a collection of some of the posts from last year.  If you have any to add, please do!

And for those who have been just waiting for the chance to do it (again), join me in the Living History Farms Lounge Group.   Swap some stories and let's get ready!   

Hope to see you there!   If you have questions or need someone to run with, don't hesitate to contact Tom or me.

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D.O.athlon and EWF (Easier With Friends)

I can't believe an entire year has passed so quickly.  It seems like just yesterday that I was trying to pull myself together enough from a back injury to do a duathlon with my husband in September 2007.     That was a great day and event - I was able to finish and neither of us were last.

Dothlon_logo Fast forward to this year's D.O.athlon duathlon.   Same distances (5K run, 20K bike, 5K run), but new location in Walnut Woods Park in Des Moines.   And in the course of a year, I found that some things change - like location and being a year older but other things remain entirely too much the same.  I still struggle with my back and the same injury of 12 months ago and I still came to the line wishing I had more time to actually train for these events I sign myself up for.

This race was the last in a series of racing events and the the field was obviously built for competition and speed.  I think if you added up all the athletes in tJim_and_nancy_2he field, we may have come up with a whopping total fo 15% body fat for the entire group. 

If I went by myself, I would have been a wee bit intimidated.   But I was with friends -  my  husband Jim and Nancy.  And it was alot of fun!  Jim and Nancy made up a team (Team Underdog) and I decided to go it myself.   Nancy and I had the chance to run the first leg of the run together.   It is always nice to run and chat with Nancy - it was like a 5K "warm up".

And then the bike leg.  The #$%$%) bike leg.  I normally enjoy the bike leg and try to go out and ride as hard as I can and cruise.   But today, mother nature had other plans.  The 2 loop bike course was CHALLENGING!  Long, steep uphills follows by very short downhills.  And then to make it more fun, mother nature whipped up some headwind of 20+ mph, and rain.   At one point, I was on a downhill, peddling like a madman and looked down to see I was only squeaking out 12 mph.  What the heck???  On other parts of the bike course the wind was so strong it was hard to stay vertical - it felt like someone was tackling me every few feet.

But thank goodness, the bike was only a 20K and soon I was back in the park running, Ewf778966768144 cheered on by Nancy and exchanging high fives with Jim as we passed on the course.  And for another year, none of us were last!

As I ran along the last leg of the run, I thought about how much fun the race was with friends.  And of course, as we say in our little running group, it's Easier With Friends.

Here's a salute to my running friends and all those running friends that keep us running and running happily!   What would I do without you!


One of My Fav Runs: Sumerset Trail

Many years ago, when I first started running, I ran on country roads.   I preferred to step out my door and run so every step was on barely paved, quiet country roads.   So many first runs were determined by running telephone pole to telephone pole.   After many years and homes, I find that where we live has changed, but my preference for running on quiet, trail like settings hasn't.   

I find it peaceful and relaxing to simply follow a simple trail or country road versus navigating city streets or neighborhoods in the nearby town.   It's a mindless, scenic way to cover the miles.  Because of this passion, I have run on many of the trails in the Des Moines IA area.  I know many of them like the back of my hand.

It was hard to narrow down which trail to highlight for this week's Take It and Run Thursday theme about Favorite Runs.   But it was also obvious - the Sumerset Trail.   This trail is the one closest to my home and one that I run on, walk on, bike on or take the kids on at least a few times a week every week of the year.  Check out the map of the Sumerset Trail on MapMyRun.

View Interactive Map on

It's not only Img_0616the convenience of the location, but also the simple Iowa beauty Img_0615of its scenery and how versatile it is for my training.   I can go out for a quick few miles or capture a 28 mile bike ride and everything in between.    Between the trail heads you see native Iowa prairie, plentiful wetlands, thousands of acres of corn and bean fields, many rustic bridges, alot of wildlife, the shooting range, and a state park.   

The trail runs north to south so you have a warm southerly wind in the middle of the year. And the rest of the year, you run into a strong north headwind on the trip back home.   For six months of the year, I am never overheated for the return miles of the run.

The floods were hard on it this year.  Finally in August, the final Img_0612bridge was repaired, the trail  shoulders were leveled and the residual mud and grime are gone.   And as fall comes quickly, the leaves are already turning and falling.  Bike rides kick up a following of blowing leaves.   And soon it will be harvest season and a need for me to be more attentive at the many tractor crossings. 

And my favorite part for this time of the year, the sun hits it just right and makes my shadow look really thin.  :}  Love that!

I love forward to a trip down your favorite run or trail on Take It and Run Thursday.  And with your post, don't forget to map your run using MapMyRun - you can find a link on the Runners' Lounge home page.

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Trails and Tales

It was a week ago.   A blinding pain.   I was running along and felt this strange warm sensation on my head and in my eyes.  It hurt to open my eyes.  I couldn't figure out what was different  - what was wrong.   I stopped a fellow runner (because after Tom's post - I know say a hearty "hi ya" to all runners) and asked him what could be wrong.  He very gently reminded me that it was the sun.   The sun was in my eyes.   Ohhhhh yessss I remember the sun!   

It's been a long time since I felt warm and light from the sun - much less when I was actually running.  But last week was different.   I escaped to Arizona for a few days for work related stuff, but took every chance I could to grab a run - 3 in 5 days - which is some kind of record for me lately.  And the best part - the sunny, wonderful temperatures.   Remind me why I live in Iowa in the winter again?  Surely there is a reason besides plain stupidity.

My husband stowed along in my suitcase - even he couldn't take another day of winter in Iowa.  Heck, it was -4 ' F when we left.  That just isn't right.  Things were freezing and falling off of our body from the short walk from car to the airport.   But once we stepped off the plane in Phoenix - the weight of winter was lifted.   It was a splendid 5 days.

In addition to running and pool time (and work, yes of course), we hiked on Pinnacle Peak and Camelback.   Pinnacle was a really nice way to spend a few hours on a Sunday.  Camelback?  Well, I found out that I am really scared of climbing up a really rocky trail high off the ground.  Who knew?  I made it about a 1/2 mile into the trail and then freaked out in the middle of one of the sections.   Hum...guess I am not so tough.   But that's ok, it gave me a chance to check out some other trails there - the easy ones!   Thanks to troot and Jmom for their suggestions and links to information.  After the great trails, we carbo loaded (ok, overloaded) at many fantastic restaraunts.   I am sure there is some water in wine....right?

In addition to coming away with a bit of color and slightly stronger legs, I also gained a huge appreciation for true trail runners.   My husband and I did the trails slowly and for fun - but those runners out there pounding up and down those trails were godlike to me.  Holy cow - amazing stuff!  Arizona runners - you rock!

Here are a few of the pics I took on our hikes.   For all the other cold climate runners - I hope these warm up your day a bit.   I have been warming my fingers over them as they load - hoping for a touch of warmth as the snow is falling again.    When is winter over anyway!?!   Happy St Pats Day!  The green on the cactus has me covered today!

Spirit of the Marathon

It's finally ready after four years in the making!   Th_poster

Just last year, we were watching the progress of the  filming of Spirit of the Marathon and now the movie is ready to share in a special preview on January 24th at 7:30 p.m.   For those who are getting ready to run a marathon in 2008 or just need a little inspiration to jump start your winter running, this can be part of your training schedule. 

The official description says this of the movie:

Spirit of the Marathon is the first ever non-fiction feature film to capture the drama and essence of the famed 26.2 mile running event. Filmed on four continents, the movie brings together a diverse cast of amateur athletes and marathon luminaries.

As six unique stories unfold, each runner prepares for and ultimately faces the challenge of the Chicago Marathon. More than a sports movie, Spirit of the Marathon is an inspirational journey of perseverance and personal triumph; a spectacle that will be embraced by runners and non-runners alike.

Sounds perfect for us!  The stories of the six runners include first time runners, world class runners, and those aiming for a PR.  A little bit for everyone.

For those in central Iowa, please join me and Tom at the Jordan Creek 20 Cinemas to enjoy the show.  And since this is "training", we will be partaking in some hydration and carbo loading at one of the local Jordan Creek eateries before the movie.   Let us know if you can join the fun.

And for those outside Iowa, gather together your own group of Loungers and running friends for a fun evening of "running".   To find a location near you, the movie site includes a link and information on where to get tickets for your showing.

NANCY!!!!!! It is really cold out here!!!!

I started out on my Virtual 8 mile race at about 6:45 a.m. this morning.  And somewhere Dscn2346 about 7:03 a.m., there was a moment where I screamed Nancy's name at the top of my frozen lungs.   For only a moment, I may have used her name in vain.   

It was 10 degrees with windchill that made it feel like 3 degrees.   I was determined not to run this thing on the treadmill so I found a part of the trail - a 1 mile section - that had been plowed and went back and forth until I hit 8 miles.   It was a north/south trail, so the the first, third, fifth, and seventh miles where actually ok.  When I was running south, it was doable, but when I turned around to run back into that north Christmas wind - holy crap - that was so cold.   Twice I stopped Dscn2369 to sit in my car to thaw a bit.  I must be becoming a complete whimp in my old age.  I can remember a day like this 10 years ago that I ventured out to do my last 20 miler before the Disney marathon.  20 miles in this same weather.   But today - 8 was more than enough.

On the positive side - it was so nice and chilly that I had the benefit of icing my knees and hips while running.  That keeps the inflammation down for sure!

One really strange thing happened during the run.  Bob, if you are out there - you will love this!   Bob left a note on Nancy's blog that he would be the virtual water boy for the race.  Somewhere around mile 6 when I was running into a serious north headwind and wondered if body parts can really fall off, this guy on his bike pulled up beside me.    Ok, first this is weird because it isn't bike weather, and second because this guy was really happy to be out riding on this 1 mile part of the trail - big smiles.  So we were chatting as I was shuffling into the wind and he gave me a little pep talk.   Reminded me how lucky we were to be out there today.   Asked me if I needed anything.   And then he told me that his name was Bob and he was visiting friends here in Iowa.  And, yes, you guessed it - he lived in Florida.   And then he picked up the pace and was gone. So, how weird is that?  Virtual support in the form an imaginery, yet very real Bob.   

However or why that happened, it kept me moving through 6 and convinced me to take on Dscn2351 mile 7 and 8 - my last repeat on the trail.

I finished the last four miles 3 minutes faster than the first 4 miles.   Overall, 83 minutes for the 8 miles.   Now, with my handicap and increasing it due to the 400 layers of clothes, the headwill, the nearly 0 degree temps and having to repeat the same part of the trail 4 times - I think it brings me down to an amazing 48 minutes.   

When I was done, I was proud of myself.   And I sent a happy thought to Nancy for thinking up this idea.  Without the nudge, I wouldn't have gone out there today and that would have been a shame.  If I can run today, I have no reason to NOT run the rest of the winter.   

I always have a "theme song" for my long runs.  For today, it was "We Got It Going On" by Bon Jovi (with Big & Rich).  The millions of people who didn't have a chance to do this today have no idea what they missed!

Bon Jovi Lyrics
We Got It Going On Lyrics

Virtual 8 runners - We Got It Going On! 

Thanks Nancy!

Living History Farms Run - Does It Get Any Better Than This?

It was a great race!   Over 7000 runners joined in the dirty fun!  I wish each one of you Dscn2281_2 could of come and run this race with us - it is such a ball.  But since you couldn't, I captured some of the fun with my handy dandy camera and put them in the slide show below.   I didn't mention it in my advice post to Tom, but the other really cool thing about this race (besides the dirt/mud and donuts) is the costumes.   It's like one big running celebration.

Dscn2274_2 The crowd was so big that it was really hard to meet up with everyone before, during and after the race.  But never fear - we did have a chance to take a picture with our three race virgins - Sarah, Tom, and Stephanie - who, coincidentally were all wearing white.  We also met up with Tina, Wendy, Mary, Kent, Betsy (as she breezed by me), Christina, Jim, Cory (who finished in about half the time we did),and Laurie (always the supporter).

On a sad note, our friend Wendy had unfortunate spill and broke a bone in her right leg about 4 3/4 miles into the race.  Wendy - best wishes for a speedy recovery! Our thoughts are with you!  Sarah (one of our virgins) stayed with her for the trip to the hospital and didn't have a chance to finish - so I guess we will have to go back out their and finish the course very soon, right Sarah?  Dscn2330_2

And special thanks to our friends Paula and Denise who set up a wonderful tailgating experience after the race.  This is the only running race I know of where people bring their grills, RV's, chairs and make an event of it.  I tell you...this is why I run.  This event showcases the heart and spirit of runners!

Tom - the floor is yours!  I can't wait to hear the race from your experience.  You can see the pictures on our Flickr page  too! 


How to Get Stinkin' Dirty & Wet While Running

Tom, It's time for the big race which means it is again for some useless advice.  Tom

You have been such a good sport in listening to my Running Fashion Tips and Advice to Run a Marathon, that I thought a third time just might change your life.  Sit back, my student, for a quick course on how to successfully run North America's largest and best Cross Country Race - Living History Farms Run - this Saturday. 

You see readers after all these years running and living in Des Moines, this is Tom's first time running the Granddaddy of all races for us average, ordinary, slightly crazy runners.   Yes, he is 48 and still a (LHF) virgin. 

Tom, here are a few tips to get you to and through the race.  I will look to my other veteran LHF races to pass along tips to - but these should get you started:

  • Parking Ugly/Carpooling Fashionable. The race is at 9:00, but I would be there by 8:00 or 8:15 - traffic gets so crazy.  If you leave your house after 8:00, you would be better served to just starting running - you will get to the start line sooner.  That would be a little warmup for you, right?  But on a fashionable note, in past years, the carpooling scored you free gloves! 
  • Gloves Are a Must - No matter the weather, gloves are a "can't race without" piece of running gear.  Not something fashionable or light - but something sturdy that Dscn2722 can get a good grip on a tree, a rock, a rope, a fence or the side of a hill.  My favorites are the kind can pick up at Menards or a farm store - rubber on the grippy parts and a relative heavy weight.  The other reason they need to be thick is to cushion against the help-your-fellow-runner-with-a-boost-to-the-booty as they climb out of creeks or over fences.  I know you are helpful person so definitely bring along an extra layer of protection to be ready to handle the butt of a complete stranger.
  • Shoes.  Bid a fine farewell to the pair you will wear because this will sink them for good.  You can look at this as a great excuse to buy a new pair of shoes because you will see a change in your rotation forever.  This race benefits many great causes - but I have a sneaky suspicion that our favorite running shoe store and the mass shoe makers also love this race.   There must be a spike in the purchase of new shoes a few weeks after this race.  And don't forget to cinch up those buggars - many a runner has lost a shoe in the creek bed - and its really not good for the fish.
  • Wear a little spandex or something that won't droop.  I know, I know...I greatlyDscn2736  discouraged the use of spandex in my Running Fashion Tips post before - but it has some useful benefits for this race.  By about the 6th creek you wade through you will be wet - especially your pants.  I have been mooned by about every type, age, and build of runner over the last few years.   They wear some old sweat pants...sweat pants get wet and heavy...rear view runners get full view.   My advice you ask? Spandex goes underneath an old pair of running pants.   I like you, but there are some things that friends shouldn't see - and I guarantee I will be pulling up the rear.
  • Balance, strength, strong ankles and dexterity. I would suggest bringing all these great assets of yours to the starting line.  The first few miles has us running across the fields and into a omnipresent headwind which required some strong ankles and lifting those knees.  Then you need a bunch of balance as you climb in and out the 8 creeks, rocky paths and steep embankments with 5000 other runners.  Hope you have been practicin' your moves with your slip n slide - because the other side of each creek is the equivalent of a bunch of silly grownup's playing slip n' slide in the mud.
  • Donuts & Beer.  For reasons still unknown to me, the donuts and apple cidar at the end of this race are the best I have ever had.   By the time I finish, 4999 runners have picked over the best, sneezed and dropped mud on the rest - but they arDscn1214e still so good.  It doesn't matter that the cold weather usually chills them into hard lumps of greasy dough with sugared glaze - they are so worth the effort.  I am sure that there is an easier way to grab donuts on a Saturday morning, but this is the most fun way I know.    And for the know what my car looks like...the beer will be  there as a reward.  All Loungers are welcome to stop by for a cold one!

And don't you worry - I will be there with my handy, dandy camera to catch the action.  There may be some virgin photo opportunties in your future. And the best part, so many of our new and old friends will be there to run with us like:  Kirk, Kent, Betsy, Art, Mary, Sarah, Jim, Brett, Dan, Mona, Mike, PinkRogers, Stephanie, Tina, Wendy, and Angela . (I am sure there are more that I am forgetting - so if you are reading this and will be there - let me know - it will be fun to connect.)

It is going to be so much fun, I can barely wait for the big day.  LHF pro's, don't forget to drop off your advice for Tom.   And if anyone has any great sayings for a Tshirt - let me know.  I am not the costume type but not above making a new Tshirt. 

See you there! 

I won!

Yeah right!  But I did finish the Cyman.  It was picture perfect weather and record participants - about 380 - which is more than double last year's 180.

If my life was a movie and we were at the music montage - the song playing in the background would be Toby Keith's, "Good as I once Was".    If you're not a country fan, it goes a something like this..."I ain't as good as I once was, But I'm as good once as I ever I_did_it was."   That about sums it up.

I haven't seen the official times or splits, but with my fabulous mathematical abilities, I am pretty sure my time was equal or a tad slower than my other TRI's.   I can't complain, or at least shouldn't, because I hadn't trained, had a sore back and knee and was a year older - so I couldn't expect any miracle results.  (But I always hope winged fairies carry me to a fast finish!)

I gotta' tell you, it was very useful to write the post on SaturdayIt helped me be clear and stay true to my plan.   When I saw the swim, all those thoughts went through my head.  I swear they add a buoy or two each year onto the end of the swim.  But, I just kept chanting to myself, "it's just a gentle warmup" and "fake it 'til you make it" over and over.  By a 1/4 in the swim, it was like I had been swimming all summer and I was catching other swimmers.   

The bike had the same hills and a SUPER DANGIT headwind.  The bike course is a 3-loop but with an extra out and back leg.   The coming "back" of the leg is up hill, into the wind and from an almost deadstop since it is a sharp turnaround.  My back and knee wanted nothing to do with that part of the ride.  But beyond that, Tiger (my bike) and I did ok on the first two loops, the last one...well....a bit slower - but not awful.   And, I did run out of the second transition!

And then the run.  The first part, the hilly trail run, kicked my butt, but I didn't stop.  The last mile was unpleasant.  I knew I was running slow and with each hill I lost a little steam and a little determination.   I was aggravated with myself for not finding all that magical speed that I had seen in past weeks - but it wasn't there today.   

Someday One big change was that I didn't run with music.  You are disqualified if you run with any kind of music.   Now I know I would never place, even in my age group.  But today I learned the utter depths of my optimism because I decided not to wear the tunes, just in case there was even the most remote chance.  I laughed about that all the way home.  I guess hope springs eternal.

Next race.  Next time.  Next year.  Great part about our sport, is there is always another chance to see what you got. 

Thanks again for your good wishes and great thoughts - they really helped power me through the morning.

Photo of sign by rosieeeee

Picture of girl by miss gem

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