Friday, November 20, 2009

Kalamazoo in March

Well, it's official.  We brazenly signed up to compete at the 2010 U.S.A. Curling Nationals in Kalamazoo, Michigan next March.  Only ten women's teams signed up so we don't have to curl down for the privilege of playing at Nationals.  Instead, our team is automatically IN!  Apparently, the women's Olympic team, skipped by Debbie McCormack, is taking a pass at Nationals (the Olympics will be two weeks before Nationals).

This will definitely be a learning experience.  Now the hard part.... practice, practice, practice.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Trying Out The "New" Team

This past weekend we were at Bowling Green Curling Club curling in their Women's Bon Spiel.  There were 14 teams from Ohio, Michigan and Ontario competing.  Besides Courtney and Laurel from my Club, we had invited Emilia from Detroit.  We were hoping that this could be the start of a great team.  We just hadn't played together before.

Courtney, Emilia, Laurel and me

The ice was super slow, in part because the ice is always slow at Bowling Green and there was the added factor that the temperature was downright HOT outside (temp. hit 70 on Sunday).  The warmer the ice, the slower it is.  We were in control of all of our games.  Unfortunately, the first three games were only 6 ends (which I hate) and in our first game I made a major blunder.  Even though we were ahead after 5 ends, we lost in the sixth end.  Stupid on my part (but I'm trying to learn from my mistakes).  In the rest of our games (three more), we played well and won easily.  I am excited to play some more and get more challenges.  Nothing definitive set up right now but should know shortly.....

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Time for a Rest

After having pain on the outside of my ankle for the last few weeks (which I have self-diagnosed as peroneal tendon strain - at least that sounds good!), I'm taking a running break.  This past weekend I ran a 5-mile Halloween race in downtown Cleveland with my ankle throbbing and for good measure threw in a marathon on Sunday (the Inland Trail Marathon in Elyria).  Saturday the weather was not the best.  The race course was along Lake Erie and the last few miles involved running directly into a strong headwind.  The picture on the right is of me after the race freezing to death!

The weather on Sunday was fantastic for a marathon.  Again, however, I was not in perfect form as the nagging ankle would not let up throughout the race.  At this point, I think my body is telling me to take a break.  I was happy to complete these races though as I had pledged to run them for the Epilepsy Fundraiser I've been involved with, which is ending next week.
Now, I can concentrate on strength training and of course CURLING.  We have our first official bon spiel this weekend so I will report next week how that went and curling plans for the upcoming season.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Canada Tune-Up

Although the temps in Cleveland remain in the 60s, winter is nonetheless approaching and that means CURLING season is almost here!  Yes, our club league play starts this Friday night, October 30th.  In anticipation of the start of the season, Roger and I traveled with two other MCC couples to the Kitchner/Waterloo Granite Club in Ontario last weekend to get in a little practice.

The bon spiel is called the "Funnenspiel" and encourages costumes and not taking things too seriously.  To emphasize that point, we started with two 6-end games and every person on the 6-person team rotated each end to a new position (so 2 people were sitting out each end).  There was definitely some strategy to putting together the right rotation.  We all were a little rusty the first game and got creamed by one of the host club teams. 

Being the only U.S. team, we kicked it into a higher gear for the remaining two games and managed to win, I think to the Canadians' surprise.  We ended with a 4th place finish and more importantly got our fill of delicious Brick Beer, one of the sponsors of the spiel.  This was our second year attending this spiel and it is one worth returning to again and again... just for the Brick Beer!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Charity a winner at the North Coast

I had to dash off immediately after the North Coast 24-hour race to make a plane connection. So I was pleasantly surprised to receive a $200 check in the mail from the Race as the 3rd place "prize." I mulled over for a few days what to do with the winnings. My first thought was to throw a party for all of the wonderful friends and co-workers who came to the race to cheer me on. This is still something I will probably do.... But as I thought about it, what a better way to spend the money than to donate it to the Epilepsy Association? As I mentioned in prior posts, I am the Honorary Chair of a fundraising effort called the Virtual Runner for the Epilepsy Association. Getting 3rd place and making the National Team and raising even more money for the Epilepsy Association was a BIG win all around. Anyone interested in donating can click on the Virtual Runner hyperlink.

Luci and me (my friend's daughter - who has epilepsy)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Inaugural North Coast Race a Success

I was very proud this past weekend to be a part of the inaugural Cleveland North Coast 24 hour race. What a fantastic event. The race course was in excellent shape and miraculously the weather cooperated. Volunteers and race organizers were first class. Thank you all!  In addition to trying to make the U.S. National Team, I was also racking up miles for a charity event I'm involved in for the Epilepsy Association called the Virtual Runner (check out the t-shirt I have on)!

The race was just part of a whirlwind weekend for me. First the race on Saturday and Sunday and then off to St. Louis on Sunday to attend the FarmAid concert (Roger and I have gone for 5 straight years). We had it calculated out to just barely make our plane if I left the race immediately at 9:00 a.m. on Sunday.

I had two goals for the race initially. I first wanted to try to break my age group American Record for 12 hours. This has been held by Sue Ellen Trapp since1996 with mileage of 117.401 kilometers or 72.9496 miles. I had planned to try for this record at the Delano Park 12-hour race in March but a severe case of bronchitis derailed me. My secondary goal was to hit 130 miles.

Before the race, I had calculated in precise detail what pace I needed to run in four 3-hour segments to break the record. Based on that plan, I started the race at a 9:15 minute per mile pace for 3 hours, then 9:30 pace for 3 hours; then 9:45 pace for 3 hours and finally 10:00 pace for 3 hours. If I hit those splits, I would hit 82 laps or about 73.8 miles. Since it was not a 12-hour race, I couldn’t plan on getting credit for a partial lap. I gave these splits to my fabulous crew and told them to let me know if I was falling behind. I forgot to tell them though that if I hit 81 laps, I would still break the record (but just barely).

The race started under threatening skies. Weather predictions all week called for rain but none developed. There was a bit of a breeze coming from the south that hit runners on one side of the course but it did keep everything cool. The first hours of the race all blurred together. My boyfriend, Roger, had put out the word on the race and friends kept popping up all day to cheer me on. It was really fun running by our aid tent every lap and seeing new faces. I wanted to stop and chat but knew I was on a mission. As the race progressed, I realized that my careful calculations did not take into account that I might need time to stretch and go to the bathroom. Oops! So, during the first 12 hours, I stopped only once to stretch and once to go to the bathroom. I just didn’t have more time!

Trying to keep track of my splits!

Yes, there is a beach in Cleveland with part of the course running next to Lake Erie.

At the 11-hour mark, my crew appeared to be concerned. They finally confessed to me that they feared I would not make 82 laps. I then confessed that I had a one lap cushion. They were elated. Yes, I now had plenty of time! By then, I was having major cramps in my calf muscles. Dr. Andy had given me a potassium pill earlier to help alleviate the cramps but my legs kept seizing and I thought I was going to fall over a number of times. On my 80th lap, Byron Lane ran by and I commented that I needed one more lap for the record. He was kind enough to run ahead to tell the race organizers and so a race official came with us to mark my partial lap when I hit the actual 12-hour mark. Thanks Byron!!  At the actual 12 hour mark, I ended up with about an extra one-half lap but I am not sure yet whether it will be counted. But even without that extra half lap, I did squeak by with 81 laps or 72.96075 miles. PHEW!

I was so happy at that point that I went by my aid station, hugged Roger and my crew and then walked a lap before heading in the medical tent to get some major stretching done on my body. It will be interesting to see the splits to see how long I was in the medical tent because it seemed like a long time but I definitely needed it. Dr. Andy and his medical students were miracle workers. They eventually worked out the kinks, wrapped me in a blanket and pointed me back out on the race course, I was seriously thinking of quitting at that time but some friends had just shown up to watch me run so it would have been pretty lame to stop before they even saw me…. So, I started walking a lap and before I knew it I was running again.

Nice and warm in the medical tent but still 12 more hours to go.

Everything seemed to be working pretty good until hour 15 when all of a sudden something popped in my hamstring and then pain. I immediately stopped running and once again hobbled into the medical tent. Dr. Andy again set me straight. Given that I still could walk, I didn’t actually pull my hamstring but he thought I had something out of whack in my back. He did some manipulations of my back, told me to change into tights to warm up my legs and to get back on the race course. I have to admit that I was very skeptical. I was in some pain and really didn’t believe I would be running again in the race. I walked a lap and still felt pain so I took 2 Advil, and then slowly started running again. Before I knew it I was feeling good.

Hours flew by. A full moon popped out of the clouds and the lights from downtown Cleveland and passing boats twinkled. It was a magical night. As the dawn approached, I found out I was the 4th place woman. I started focusing on how I could catch the 3rd place woman Anna Piskorska.  I was making some headway when Connie Gardner, having major stomach issues, had to drop out. Now I was in 3rd place. Again, I kept trying to make a dent in the lead built by Anna. I think at one time I came within 2 miles. But every time I made more headway, she would revive and speed by me. With 2 hours to go, I was losing steam and I didn’t think I would catch her unless she totally fell apart and she was one tough runner. But the fourth place woman, Kim Martin, who had also been plagued by stomach problems earlier in the race, was now running very strong. She was motoring. I was about 5 miles ahead of her so I just needed to keep moving to maintain my place. But in the last two hours, Kim and I did talk a little bit and it was good to have something to focus on.

Toward the end of the race and yes, Kim Martin and I are having fun!

With three minutes to go, I was close to my boyfriend’s car and I decided to stop a tad early. We had to catch a plane to the FarmAid concert in St. Louis and had to make a dash for the airport! I ended up with a new PR (barely) of 128.933 but still shy of 130 miles. This race, however, gave me confidence that I can definitely make the 130-mile mark. Can’t wait for the next race.

Congratulations to all runners but especially top winners Phil McCarthy (151.515); John Geesler (139.408), Dan Rose (139.282), Jill Perry (136.328) and Anna Piskorska (132.265).

I got to chat during the race with a lot of very nice and inspiring runners, many of whom I’ve heard of but had not actually met in person, including Newton Baker, Suzanne Pokorney, Liz Bauer, Dan Rose, Mike Henze, Ladd Clifford, Chisholm Deupree, Ray Krolewicz, Kim Martin and Jill Perry to name a few! One of the best parts of running 24-hour races is that you actually do get to see and talk with a lot of runners who are all such wonderful and interesting people.

Kudos to Leo Lightner for breaking the American Record for his 80-84 age group for 24 hours. He was on the course the entire time and looked really strong. A true inspiration for us all!

Also, a special THANKS to my socks sponsor, DryMax socks.  I only changed my DryMax socks once during the race and had no problems with blisters.  DryMax also supported the Race by providing FREE socks to all participants. That was awesome!!

And yes, Roger and I did make our plane and the FarmAid concert was fabulous and yes I did stay awake until the end!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Presque Isle Marathon - Last Long Run ...

Ben, Karen (1st Place Masters in the Half-marathon) and me at the end of the Race
I'm in the home-stretch.  Only a few more weeks until the North Coast 24-hour race.  I needed one more long run before then and picked the Presque Isle Marathon in Erie, PA.  The race was last Sunday at 7:00 a.m.  I had run this race last year and then it was a hot and miserable experience.  I was hoping for a better effort this year.

Right before the race, the temperature was in the mid-50s.  I was trying to decide what to do - a hard effort or an easy pace?  Before I made up my mind, the gun sounded and we were OFF!  The half-marathoners started with the marathoners - the race was 2 loops around Presque Isle for the marathon, only 1 loop for the half.  The field was quite crowded in the first mile.  There were about 600 marathoners and 700 half-marathoners.  My first mile was about 8:30 pace.  That seemed ok.  But as I kept checking my mile splits, the next several were all under 8:00 minute pace.  I kept thinking I should slow down but I was feeling good.  At the half I was still hitting 8:00 minute pace and so thought I would see how long I could maintain that pace.

The couse is pretty flat and then weather continued to be fairly cool.  The sun only poked out sporadically, the race had water stops every mile (with HEED - YES!) and even a shower to run through around mile 25.  I slowly kept picking off women runners until there were only 3 women ahead of me....

In the last mile, I could not muster any more energy and came through the finish with a 3:30:10 and 4th place woman (1st place masters).  I was somewhat in shock over this time as it is a PR for me by 4 minutes, not just an age group PR but a PR for my entire running career.  My chip time put me at 3:29:50. 

I am now in serious taper mode.  Since I've had good luck on Lake Erie, I'm hoping my luck holds out for the "other" Lake Erie race, the North Coast 24-hour.  Stay tuned.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Charity Two for One

Now, I am not much of a trail runner, but I was lured into running the Twilight Race last Thursday night, a fundraiser for the Rape Crisis Center.  I would also be able to use this race as part of the Epilepsy Association fundraiser that I'm helping out with called the Virtual Runner so I was able to participate in a reace for two good causes at one time.  What a deal!

Laurel, me, and Kristen modeling our "Virtual Runner" t-shirts
The Twilight Race was held at the North chagrin Reservation, part of the "Emerald Necklace," a chain of parks surrounding the Cleveland area.  Since the race would take place on a bridle path and over 200 people had signed up to run, the runners were started in waves, with the oldest runners starting first.  Needless to say, I got to start way before my 30-year-old friends started.  My goal was to not get passed by them during the race.  I wasn't exactly running at lightening speed but I did manage to finish ahead of them and had cold beers waiting for them at the finish.  Not a bad way to end a race!  I, however, had to watch my intake as I was scheduled to get up at 4:15 a.m. the next day for a 20-miler before work.  Oh well!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Drake Well Marathon Report

No one can control the weather and it was a warm and very humid day in Titusville, PA for the inaugural Drake Well marathon on Sunday, August 9th.  The day before was downright cool in Cleveland, but overnight with thunderstorms rolling in, the humidity index was in the 90s in PA for the 7:00 a.m. start of the marathon. 

My friend, Karen, and I before the start of the Race.
As disclosed on the race website, the bulk of the elevation gain was over the first five miles of the course.  After the first half mile, we started running on a gravel/dirt road.  There, we encountered the first climb for the next mile of about 300 feet.  This was pretty steep, especially at the beginning of the race.  I decided to take it easy and walked!  After topping out, the road dropped dramatically for the next mile before another brutal climb over the next two miles.  The bulk of that elevation gain occurred over a half-mile with about 200 feet elevation gain, followed by a more gentle climb of another 150 feet over the next 1 1/2 miles.  I again opted for the wimpy route, walking the steeper part and trying to conserve energy for the bulk of the race.  Over the entire race, the elevation gain was about 1800 feet.

Once we finished running the "mountains," we turned off of the gravel road and did a  tour through the town of Titusville.  It looked like a very pretty town and it was nice to get in some sight-seeing.  After about mile 10, we hit the bike path, which is where the half-marathoners had started.  The bike path was heavily shaded and somewhat cool given the conditions.  We continued on the bike path to the 17 1/2 mile mark before turning around.  The path had a slight downhill to it going out which became tough on the return.

It was a small race, with about 120 marathoners.  I plodded along for most of the race.  The temps only hit about 75 degrees but the humidity was in the 90-plus range.  The trees were actually dripping with water it was so humid.  For parts of the bike path, it was kind of neat because it was foggy and very beautiful since we were running right next to the Oil Creek.  It though was kind of lonely as there were not too many runners that you encountered. 

Despite my slow pace, I apparently overtook the 3rd place woman (a young 21-year-old) at the 23 mile marker.  I managed to hang on to that spot and came in as the 3rd place woman.  This was a bit of a surprise but for my slow 3:56 (!!) time, I got a certificate for a skirt.  I'm mailing it in today so that's a pretty good prize (much better than a trophy!!)

After the race, unfortunately, there were no places open in Titusville for beers so my friends and I drove back to Erie for a celebratory drink before I headed home to Cleveland.

This was a well-organized inaugural race and has a lot of potential.  There are not too many August races in this area of the country so it's good to have this one as an option.  Even though the day was cloudy and we didn't need the shade, on a sunny day the bike path would definitely provide a cool cover for racers.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

24-Hour Training - Getting in Gear

The summer is flying by and I need to get focused on training for the U.S. National 24-Hour Championships on October 3-4. Since the FANS 24-hour race in June, I've just been doing "regular" running. I don't think I've run more than 15 miles for a long run.

With two and one-half months to go, I've decided to run a few marathons to get in shape. Marathons are much more interesting than running around my neighborhood for 4 or more hours. As luck would have it, I was able to locate 2 marathons that are within driving distance of Cleveland, both in Pennsylvania.

The first one is August 9th in Titusville, PA. It is called the Drake Well Marathon, named after the 1st oil well in the world. It may be a hot run so I will have to play it by ear as to whether I try to run a fast pace or just run a leisurely run. The other marathon is September 13th in Erie, PA, in Presque Isle. I ran this one last year and it was incredibly hot.

Other than those 2 races, I'll try to get out for a 5-6 hour run one of these weekends (probably Labor Day weekend). If past experience is any guide, this should be enough for a solid effort in October.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Badwater Race Begins

Can't wait to see how the Badwater races ends up. It starts today. I have to be in Court most of the day so I'll have to wait until tonight to see how things are progressing.

Here's a link on my favorite Badwater Champion, Jamie Donaldson from The Denver Post:

As an update, Jamie takes 1st place woman, 5th overall. Great job!!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

July 4th On Ice

It's almost July 4th weekend and I'll be spending it on ICE. Yes, we'll be competing at the Tropicurl. Stay tuned for more details.....

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Okay, now that I got your attention, yes there is a way you can get a free high-quality technical t-shirt and feel good about yourself in the process.

I am involved in a fundraiser for the Epilepsy Association called the Virtual Runner. I signed on to help with this event because of the little girl in the photo below:

Lucy, my friend and running partner’s daughter, was diagnosed with epilepsy when she was two-years-old. Lucy and her family struggled for over a year, with Lucy averaging 70 seizures in a single day. Today, through a combination of medication and diet, Lucy has been seizure-free for the last year.

After experiencing epilepsy first-hand, my friend and I are helping kick off a new running event called the “Virtual Runner.” All monies raised go to the Epilepsy Association to provide needed services to affected individuals and their families.

Anyone reading this Blog can sign up online NOW as a Virtual Runner. Then, beginning August 1st through November 8th, Virtual Runners log their race miles online. Races can be any distance and can be run anywhere in the world. At the end of the period, prizes will be awarded to the Virtual Runner with the highest mileage logged and with the highest dollar amount raised.

It is absolutely FREE to sign up as a Virtual Runner. And, by raising a mere $100 in donations, every Virtual Runner will receive a high quality technical t-shirt with the Virtual Runner logo on it.

This is a very easy thing to do with minimal effort. So, don't delay! Sign up online now, solicit donations, and start racing to help the Epilepsy Association turn your miles into money. To sign up as a Virtual Runner or for more information, click on

Monday, June 22, 2009

Happy Father's Day

After the torrential rain on Friday night, the weather shaped up and Sunday was very nice for Father's Day. I signed up this year to run a 5-mile Dad's Day run that is held at a local school one block from my house. I had toyed with the idea of running the Mohican 100 but was glad I didn't given the amount of rain we got just before the start of the Mohican race. Of course, for people who like to run in mud (not me), the Mohican trail course would have been ideal.

The Dad's Day run is pretty cool. Lots of kids with their Dads. Before the race, there was a moment of silence for all of the Dads that couldn't be there. I thought about my Dad, who passed away in February of 2005. He was not a runner and scoffed at the idea of anyone who formally exercised. Of course, he was a farmer so, to him, if you just threw around a few hay bales, etc., why do you need to exercise? He was in great shape except for this little problem called emphysema, that finally got the best of him. As runners, functioning lungs is something we take for granted. You don't realize how precious they are until they are compromised.

I finished the race in no record speed. Every racer received a tie for Dad after crossing the finish line. A nice touch, even though I didn't have a Dad to give mine too.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Race Course Update - Two Thumbs Up

The organizers of the North Coast 24-Hour run where the US 24-Hour Nationals are going to be held on Oct 3-4) had a training run on the course at Edgewater Park in Cleveland this past Sunday. In all about 10 people showed up, including Connie Gardner, who is heading out this Tuesday for the 100K World Championships in Belgium. Good Luck, Connie!!

I wanted to eyeball the course so I could be 100% sure that the course would be awesome for all the runners who will be competing in October. It was a gorgeous day at the Park. Sunny, blue sky, right next to the water....

The course is a .91 mile loop. All of the surface is the same - asphalt - no concrete, dirt, or grass. It is a fairly wide path in excellent condition. No ruts, potholes or cracks. There is also no cant or camber so you will be running on a totally flat (not slanted) surface. As far as the ups and downs go, there is a very slight uphill and a very slight downhill. Otherwise, it's a pretty flat course. We will be running clockwise. This is because there is a very short section where you'll be running very close to Lake Erie (very pretty, by the way) and the thought is that if there is any wind, it will be at your back on this stretch that is most exposed.

Both Connie and I gave it the stamp of approval. I am very excited to be running the course in October and I think (assuming no horrible weather) that there are real opportunities for the "fast" runners to do really well. I know that Connie will be attempting an American Record and the course will definitely give her a good shot at it!!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Frosty FANS Report

First the results from the FANS race in Minneapolis held on June 6-7: In the 24-hour Race, Michael Henze racked up 147.4 miles to break the old course record by 11 miles!! Kim Martin (formerly of Ohio) cruised in to win the women's division with 121.64. A great effort for her first 24-hour event. For the 12-hour Race, top male with 80.89 miles was John Storkamp. I ended up in first place for the women with 70.16 miles (FYI, these are all tentative distances so the mileage may change slightly).

Now for the race report. I think I am jinxed. This is my second 12-hour race in a row where it has rained the ENTIRE race. The race started at 8:00 a.m. with temps at 50 degrees and light rain. I thought initially this was a good sign as everything felt comfortable. The light rain persisted for the next few hours but before long changed to heavier stuff. At that point I was soaked but I added a jacket. Everything seemed OK but the rain kept getting heavier. This would have been OK but the temperature never did rise but instead dropped. The rest of the 12-Hour race, the temperature hovered at 48 degrees. Add to that some wind that developed in the afternoon and everything just got very cold. I finally got wise about 7 hours into the race when I stopped, changed the wet shirt and arm sleeves I had on and put on a dry long-sleeved shirt. This was much better although I still had soaked gloves, shoes and socks. The rest of the race was more of the same. My hamstrings got very tight - not sure if this due to the cold or just not yet recovered from Italy - so I ended up stretching every loop to make sure I didn't pull anything. I was extremely happy when the 12-hours were up and I could run to my car, turn on the heat and drive to my sister's house (where blankets, hot tea and dinner were awaiting me)! I understand (although I was sleeping in a nice, dry bed) that the rain finally let up about 3 a.m. and was somewhat pleasant thereafter. A number of people during the race, though, stopped for long periods of time due to hypothermia.

Some things I learned (or were reinforced) from this race: (1) Sue Olsen had a good idea of wearing latex gloves over her regular gloves to keep her hands dry. I'm going to stick some in my race bag and give them a try next time it rains; (2) Bring tights to a race just in case. My shorts were pretty cold on the legs and I had no other options; (3) Think about alternate fuel sources when it's cold. I had planned on drinking most of my calories (with Perpetuem) but I wasn't sweating enough and I ended up in the port-o-potty every hour. By hour six, I decided on Plan B, which was to drink lots less water and eat more solid food. Fortunately, the aid station was well-stocked so I ate chicken noodle soup, potatoes, pretzels, and peanut butter sandwiches in addition to Hammer Gel. While I was lucky, I need to rethink how to better fuel myself in these conditions; (4) At the last minute, I threw in my suitcase a very thin headband. This was a lifesaver. When the wind picked up during the race, it was actually blowing the rain sideways into my ear (I did have a hat on). After I added the headband, I was definitely warmer; (5) Resist the urge to change socks when it's raining. At points in the race, my shoes were making squishing noises they were so wet. I kept thinking dry socks would feel so good but I talked myself out of wasting time changing them (and of course, they would just get wet again anyway). Eventually, I just forgot about it. When I finished the race without a socks change and took off my DryMax socks, no BLISTERS.

Lake Nokomis took on a very different feel this year since it was so deserted due to the weather. There was brief activity early in the morning because another charity hosted a 5K event. Once that was over around 10:00 a.m., however, there was absolutely no one at the Lake except the people associated with FANS. Usually, there are bikers, people walking dogs, fishermen, boaters, etc. Very eerie.

The volunteers at the race were fantastic, as usual. I felt very sorry for them. At least when I was running I looked warmer than them. So, in the end, what is better? Hot and humid or cold and rainy? Hmmm.... I guess cold and rainy wins. Next time, though, I WILL be better prepared.

Monday, June 1, 2009

A Fan of FANS

On Saturday, June 6th. I'll be running the 12-hour FANS race in Minneapolis. This year I decided to sign up for the "short" race since I just did a 24-hour race one month ago. No need to press my luck!

The FANS 12 & 24 Hour Run supports the FANS Scholarship Fund. FANS, which stands for Family Advocate Network System, is a program initiated in 1989 with a group of sixth-grade students from North and South Minneapolis. The Project has a vision of sending inner-city kids to college or to another post-secondary institution. FANS works with the youth and their families in a wide variety of activities geared to providing support for the vision.

Besides being a great cause, the race itself is first-rate. The course is a bit of a challenge, about 2 and one-half miles around Lake Nokomis, encompassing pavement, concrete, and grass with "Mount Nokomis" thrown in for good measure.

I plan to run a relaxed race so I can then have some time to visit with my sisters and Mom, all living in the Minneapolis area. They have had little rain this spring but I'm hoping any bad weather will hold off at least for Saturday. In previous years (have done 4 prior FANS), I've only encountered hot and humid weather, no rain. But, no matter what happens, it should be an enjoyable day at the lake.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Rest and More Rest

So I've been back to running short distances for the last two weeks. The morning of the Cleveland Marathon (May 17th) I felt some regret at not having signed up as it was a beautiful day to run a marathon. But, in the end, taking more time off has been the wiser course for me. Sometimes the more I run the more injured I get. Being an "older" runner, I want to be able to keep running for the next several decades at the very least. I aspire to be like Cleveland-area Leo Lightner, age 80, who, after running a 2:11 half at the 2009 Cleveland Marathon, quipped: "I feel wonderful. I could do 20 push-ups right now. Want to see 'em?"

So, while I've been resting, I've also been busy with my bees. Yes, I am a very amateur bee-keeper (fancy name is "apiarist"). This time of year can be stressful in the bee yard as this is prime swarming season (where you can loose your hive if you are not paying attention). So far, my two hives are OK. This is all worth it when I harvest the honey this fall (I got about 60 pounds from one hive last year). Honey is an excellent source of fuel during an ultra!

That's me behind the veil checking out my bees.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

World Report - US Women Take The Silver Medal

We just returned this past Tuesday night from Italy after touring around the Piedmont and Tuscan countryside. What a beautiful country. Although I had a relaxing vacation after the World race, the race is still fresh in my mind so here goes my race report.
We left for Italy on April 28th, landing first in Venice. I wanted to have plenty of time to acclimatize before the race. We had a relaxing few days in Venice, strolling along the canals, touring a Murano glass factory, climbing the steps to the top of San Marco Cathedral and eating gelato. We hooked up in Venice with Jamie and David Donaldson as well as my sister, Sue and her husband Kirk. The first day in Venice it actually hailed! That would be the only bad weather we experienced during our entire stay in Italy.
On top of San Marco in Venice

On Friday, we took an uneventful 3-hour train ride to Bergamo before meeting up with the rest of Team USA. There, I was first introduced to teammates Annette Bednowsky and Jen Van Allen. Jen had just arrived a few hours earlier! We received our uniforms, chip, numbers (must wear front and back) and also received a cool jersey from the Bergamo running club. Next, we all changed into our official team uniforms and headed to the opening ceremony. This was quite a spectacle! The ceremony was held in a large auditorium and each country paraded on the stage where the country’s flag was projected and every runner was introduced. This was quite thrilling to see all of the runners and different flags and colors. After the ceremony, we headed to the pasta dinner. Mingled with runners from Great Britain and Australia and traded war stories. A number of us then walked the course. It appeared to be more up and down than was advertized. The race organizers were also busy laying carpeting and other materials down on some of the rougher areas of the course although not all of the cobblestone was covered up. I also noted that there was quite a bit of cant to the road and made a mental note to run on the inside of the road (i.e., the flatter part) as much as I could.

Part of the course - Trip hazard!

The next morning the race started at 10:00 a.m. The sky was cloudless and the temperature was starting to get warm before we even started. We all met at the US aid station and took photos before heading to the starting line. Prior to the race, I had figured out splits for anywhere between 9:00 to 12:30 minute miles. I put the splits on an armband so I could keep track of how fast I was running. Since the course was about .7 of a mile, it was hard to figure out just looking at the clock how fast I would be running unless I had the splits worked up ahead of time. I was hoping to run between 9:30 and 10:00 minute miles for as long as I could.

Annette, Jen, me, Carilyn and Jamie

Bob, Matt, Scott, Roy, Phil and Bill

Roger and me before the start.

Once the race started, I had planned to listen to my I-pod. Early on, however, Carilyn and I had started running the same pace (between 9:30-9:45) so we hung together for about 2 hours catching up. Every once in a while, Jen would join us and we’d all chat together. I think even once Annette joined the group so we had 4 USA runners all hanging together having a great time.

With Carilyn, taking it easy early on.

After awhile, Carilyn and I split and I was running by myself. The hours seemed to fly by (at least for the first 6 hours). The course started out fairly flat before taking a left turn that took the runners uphill past all of the country aid stations. Being alphabetical, USA was the last aid station (next to Sweden) which was pretty convenient for getting supplies quickly. After the aid stations, the course gradually turned right, leveled out, then went left again before going uphill over a canal. Then another left turn and the course had a nice long downhill section. This downhill section was shaded during the day and there was also a slight breeze blowing. After the downhill (and where the port-o-potties were located), a short steeper uphill followed by a left turn before arriving back where we started. The course would get ingrained in one’s memory – I looped it about 155 times (give or take a loop…)

I was surprised how the heat did not bother me initially, maybe because I took it easy during the hotter part of the day. I think the temperature hit about 80 degrees. This was a bit toasty, coming from Ohio where I did not have too much heat training yet! After about 7 hours, I suddenly had a spell where I didn’t feel too good. Dr. Andy came to the rescue, giving me a ginger pill and assuring me that I would feel better after 1 lap. True to his word, the pill worked its magic and no more nausea!

After 12 hours, I did stop and change socks. Due to the excessive left turning, I was putting quite a bit of pressure on the inside of my right foot, creating some blisters. I stopped to get them popped, put on new socks and my feet were good to go for the rest of the race.

Other than that, I had two longer stops (at about the 15 and 19 hour marks) to get stretched out by Dr. Andy. In between those stops, I also stopped every few hours to stretch my legs out. Due to the ups and downs on the course, I felt it wise to stretch both hamstrings and quads every now and then.

The US race crew had asked during the race if I wanted to know my standings. I said “no” since I knew it was really unimportant until close to the end of the race. Where you are 6 hours into the race doesn’t mean too much since things have a way of changing over 24 hours. I would not know until the awards ceremony how many miles I ran (128.831 miles) and what placed I finished in (10th woman).

The race was a bit of a blur but one thing that became obvious was that the US men were not having a good day. They were all in varying amounts of distress and that was sad to see. It was just one of those days for these very talented runners.

On the women’s front, I was told about half way through that the US women were in 2nd place but that Great Britain was very close behind. I started keeping an eye out for the Brits and began noticing that the heat was getting to them in a big way. As the Brit runners fell behind, Germany mounted a challenge to our 2nd place slot. Again, the Germans could not sustain a hard effort and all of the sudden the Italians were in 3rd place and closing in on us! “Can you run a little faster?” Dr. Andy asked. The idea was to create such a big lead that the Italians would not be able to catch us in the last few hours. That was not what I wanted to hear with just hours to go (I really wanted to start walking!) but I tried to pick up my snail’s pace, especially when I saw two of the Italian women flying around the course. The entire last few hours I was very nervous about the Italians catching us. It turns out that we beat them by about 6 miles.

Checking the Team standings with a few hours left in the race.

All of the US women put in a fantastic effort and ran really strong. We all had varying issues throughout the race but everyone dealt with them and hung in there for the team. I was very proud and excited to be on the podium accepting the silver medal with these wonderful athletes! I hope to see everyone again in Cleveland for the U.S. National 24-Hour Championship.

Jamie on her last lap looking fresh.

Jen hanging tough until the end.

Annette on last lap running strong.

Carilyn on last lap running hard.

Me on last lap - Very Happy!

On the podium, USA (2nd), France (1st), Italy (3rd).

Thanks to our wonderful Aid Station workers, my SO Roger, David, Tim, George, Donna, Peter, Grant and Spencer. Very special thanks to Bill Allen who was forced to drop out of the race early due to an injry but put in long hours at the aid station helping the US runners. DryMax socks and Aruba sunglasses were a big help during the race. CW-X donated our uniforms so we could look good on the podium. THANKS!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Chi va piano, va lontano

Less than a week before the World 24- hour race in Italy. To prepare for the race, besides running, I've tried to cram in some Italian. In perusing one of my language books, I came across the phrase, "Chi va piano, va lontano." Translated, it means "He who goes slowly goes far." In English, we would say "Slow and steady wins the race." This phrase very nicely summarizes my 24-hour racing philosophy. I am not very fast so I need to stay at a slow and steady pace and maintain that pace for as long as I can. Typically, I am near the bottom of the runner standings at the beginning of the race. If I do everything right, however, as the hours tick by I slowly climb up in the standings.... We will see how things go in Bergamo. The course looks pretty good - flat, and while there are more left turns than right turns, none look too sharp. Length is approximately .7 miles. The weather forecast is also good with a predicted high of 72 and a low of 52 with 30% chance of scattered showers. For Live Updates of the race, go to the International Association of Ultrarunners website. As you're viewing the updates, just keep repeating, chi va piano, va lontano......

Monday, April 20, 2009

Cleveland to Host 24-Hour National Championship

It's official. Cleveland has been chosen as the site of the U.S. National 24-Hour Championship! The race will be held during the newly created North Coast 24-Hour race, scheduled to take place on Oct. 203, 2009 at Cleveland's Edgewater Park, alongside Lake Erie. I will definitely be running it.

Friday, April 10, 2009

24-Hour World Competitors Announced

The competitors in the 24-Hour World Challenge have just been posted on the website of the International Association of Ultrarunners (IAU). The race is getting more real as I can now focus on who will be running and what the competition will be like.

This year, 65 women from 18 countries are on the list, which is 10 more women than last year. It is good to see the sport growing on the women's side. Also, in addition to more individuals competing, more country teams are also entered for women. This year 14 women's teams are represented compared to 11 teams in 2008. The countries bringing women's teams this year are: Austria, Canada, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Spain, Finland, France, Great Britain, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Russia, Sweden and United States.

I also noticed that there are 7 women who are older than me. So I have no excuses whining about being the "old lady" on the team :)

In 2008 at the World Challenge in Korea, the French women blew out the field, followed by Japan. Looks like this year Japan is only sending 2 women - since 3 individuals are necessary to compete for team placement, Japan will not eligible for team medals.

Last year in Seoul, the third team spot was hotly contested between Germany and the U.S. We were neck and neck and actually ahead until the last few hours of the race. The Germans, however, pulled ahead eventually and ended up with 7.728 kilometers or 4.8 miles more miles than us.

We have five women on the U.S. team this year, with Jamie Donaldson and Carilyn Johnson returning. New on the team -- and both incredibly strong runners -- are Annette Bednosky and Jen Van Allen. It will be interesting and exciting to see how the race shapes up between the women in Italy. I think the U.S. women will be a force to be reckoned with and I am proud to be on a team with such talented runners.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Springtime at St. Catharines Bon Spiel

Me, Laurel, Karen & Courtney

Since our curling club has been closed for two weeks, we signed up for the Women's Last Chance bon spiel in St. Catharines, Ontario this past weekend. Between now and next November, there will be little curling going on so this was a good opportunity to stretch out our season.

Our first game was on Friday night at 9:00 p.m. On Friday afternoon, we hit torrential rain driving through Ohio, PA and NY. The border-crossing,however, took 1 minute and we were in St. Catharines in record time (about 3 1/2 hours). We had a pre-game drink at the hotel and then headed to the curling club (about 5 minutes away). The bon spiel theme was "Spring Fling" so we attempted to look the part in our matching hats, vests and socks. Our first draw was a St. Catharines team. We ended tied in the 8th end and so had to play an extra half end (each person only throwing one rock). We had the hammer and so had a huge advantage. Unfortunately, we blundered and lost by 1 point.

The next day was better. We played two different Welland, Ontario teams, winning both of them. We ended up winning the 2nd event. It was fun playing on "Canadian" ice. It is much faster and swings a lot more than our ice. It is fun to actually be able to draw behind rocks (hard to do with the straight ice we have at Mayfield). The bon spiel concluded with a dinner, lots of raffle prizes and too much Niagara wine! Afterwards, we retreated to the hotel, drank beers and watched the World Men's curling competition on TV (Canada vs. Japan).

We were rousted early on Sunday morning with the hotel's fire alarms blazing. False alarm but this got us all moving. It seemed like a good idea the night before to have a "Team run" in the morning. We actually followed through with it (Laurel and Courtney are not regular runners) and ran through downtown St. Catharines for about 40 minutes. We then hit the road and arrived back in Cleveland in time for me to get in a 2-hour run before dark.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Cleveland to Debut New 24-Hour Race

I have recently learned that Cleveland will be hosting a new 24-Hour race this fall. This is very exciting news as I can sleep in my own bed the night before the race and actually be familiar with the course before I run it. Check out the website for the NorthCoast 24-Hour. Usually the weather in Cleveland in October is decent, not too hot. I can also vouch that the course will be as advertized (not like some races that you get to and the course does not match what you were told about it). I'll be looking forward to running it and encourage all out-of-towners and Clevelanders to sign up. I predict a first-class race.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

It's A Wrap - Curling Season Officially Over

Last weekend, we had our final Club Bon spiel of the season. All the teams are mixed up so you get to curl with people you may not have had an opportunity to play with during the year. I was paired with Wayne (a very experienced curler) and Angie & Tim (2 new curlers). While we had fun, we were not too successful on the ice. In between games, we played euchre, ate, and drank some beers. The Bon Spiel is called "The Memorial" and is dedicated to those curlers who have gone before us. This year was especially meaningful as one of the pillars of our Club, Chris Moore, had died about a month ago from cancer. He was the President of the United States Curling Association and was instrumental in getting curling designated as an Olympic sport. He also worked to give people with disabilities access to curling so there is now a wheelchair curling program. Chris was 53 when he died. A Foundation at the USCA has been set up called the Chris More Legacy Foundation, which will focus on competitive, wheelchair and junior curling programs. As part of the Memorial Bon spiel, we held a silent auction to raise money for the Foundation. We raised almost $5,000 which was amazing!

On Sunday, my team didn't make it into the finals. There was a silver lining to this cloud, however, as I was able to fit in a long run. The day was gorgeous, the vestiges of the bronchitis are almost gone, and I was able to run for about 3 hours. After the run I headed to the Curling Club to watch the finals, help with the clean up, watch the plug get pulled on the ice and assist in draining the keg. Not a bad finish to the season. Can't wait for November (the start of the new curling season)!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Delano Park - 12 Hours of Wet and Wheezing

I had been looking forward to the Delano Park 12-Hour race for a number of reasons. First, I turned 50 on March 11th and so thought I had a shot to break the 50-54 age-group American record for women in the 12-hour race. Hey, I would only be 50 plus 3 1/2 days! Can’t get much younger than that in my new age group. All I needed was 73 miles. My previously 12-hour best was at FANS with 67.73 miles. Second, it would be a great training run for the World 24-hour race in Italy upcoming in May. Third, I would get to see Jamie and David Donaldson, who are the sweetest couple I know!

My first objective started looking dim when, on my birthday, I reluctantly visited the UrgentCare as my lungs were just not working too well. Bronchitis was the official diagnosis. This was something new for me! The doctor, however, didn’t say I was forbidden to run, but only gave me the dire prediction that I would not do well (thanks, Doctor!) I kept thinking there would be a miracle cure by the 14th but that in fact did not happen.

Roger and I arrived in Huntsville, Alabama on Friday, the 13th (omen?) We immediately headed to a local restaurant, the Blue Plate, for fried catfish, cornbread and peach cobbler. We then visited the Marshall NASA Space Museum before heading to Decatur, which was the site of the race. We hooked up with Jamie and David at the hotel and then headed to pick up our race stuff and loaded up on pasta. Did I mention that it was raining the entire day?

Well, the rain did not let up. It continued throughout the night and actually until about an hour left in the race. The good news was that the temperatures were nice, between 48 to 54 degrees during the 12 hours and the numerous Dogwood trees lining the course were in bloom. The bad news was that I couldn’t breathe very well and parts of the course were under water (i.e. water up to my ankles).

Once I woke on race day feeling no change in my breathing, I decided that this was no day to break any records. I would just plod along and get some training miles in. Plodding was not all that enjoyable given the wheezing and coughing and wet and muddy conditions but somehow the hours “flew” by and with about 6 minutes left I crossed the finish line with 68 miles (there were no partial laps and I didn’t have time to do another lap). The entire race, my Drymax socks stayed comfortable on my feet even though everything was soaked!

Of course, the entire day, Jamie was flying by me looking fantastic. She ended up with 78 miles and was OVERALL Champion. Way to GO! She will be a force to be reckoned with in Italy. Look out FRANCE!! I ended up 5th overall, 2nd woman and “Grandmaster Champion.” I guess it paid off to turn 50 for the race!

After sandblasting our legs and feet to get all the grime off and attending the awards ceremony, the gang headed to Mama Blues buffet for more fried food!

Kudos to the race organizers for their Herculean efforts to drain the course of excessive water. Guys were out there in the rain with pumps, shovels and rakes all day long. We could have been running in a river but towards the later part of the race the course was actually pretty dry. Other than the water, the course was as advertised and a pleasant place to spend 12 hours.

Friday, March 6, 2009

No Eight-Ender at the Evergreen

We were not able to recreate our eight-ender magic at MCC's Evergreen this past weekend. Last year, at the end of the season Ron & Wendy Busch and Roger and I teamed up in the Club's final bon spiel and had what all curlers dream about but few actually attain - an 8-ender!

Since Ron and Wendy had chaired last year's Evergreen, they had an automatic entry into the 2009 Evergreen and asked Roger and me to play on their team. Photo Below.

We played three games and ended up 1-2. The losing games were close so we still had fun. Unfortunately, as the weekend wore on, the evil enemy "FLU" reared its ugly head and did a number on me. I was out of commission running for four days. I am still pretty congested but started back at it to keep up conditioning for next week's Delano 12-hour race. Fluids, fluids, fluids..... I WILL get over this before the 14th!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Diana Nyad Offers Inspirational Words

I attended the American Heart Association "Go Red for Women" luncheon today in downtown Cleveland. The keynote speaker was world-class long distance swimmer and journalist, Diana Nyad. She revealed to the audience that she would be turning 60 soon. I can only hope I look that good at 60. She looks incredibly fit. She had many stories of her training growing up, how a heart condition at 16 derailed her quest for competing in the Olympics in 1968 and how she turned that disappointment into a career in long-distance swimming (in 1979 she swam 102.5 miles from the Bahamas to Florida). Although we cannot all be world-class athletes like her, Diana's message was to do the very best you can each day and you will be satisfied with yourself. A simple message but her presentation was very effective. A good message to employ in long distance races. As long as I feel like I have given 100% in a race, I am happy with my performance regardless of what position I end up in.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Last Chance for Boston Lives up to its Name

To many runners, the thought of running a 1-mile loop marathon course in an industrial park in the middle of winter would be pure torture. But, the idea sounded intriguing, especially since it would be a good simulation of the 24-hour race in Italy coming up in May (minus the freezing temperatures).

I woke up the morning of the race greeted by snow flurries. Since I was driving from Cleveland, I hoped the weather would warm up the further "south" I drove on I-71. By race time in Dublin, Ohio, I think the temperature had improved to a balmy 26 degrees. I was very happy that I had chosen to wear my CW-X tights and long-sleeved top as well as my cold weather Drymax socks. I was set for the chilly run.

As there was a 5K, 10k and half-marathon on the same course as the marathon, the marathon and 10K started a 10th of a mile behind the half-marathon and 5K to ease the congestion. The raced started promptly at 8:00 a.m. The loop course was laid out pretty well. There were no sharp turns. There was some crowding initially but people spread out quickly and as the 5K and 10K runners dropped off there was usually no problem getting the inside lane of the course. The only complaint I had were the lumpy timing mats that I crossed every mile. I kept thinking I would trip on the mat and slowed down crossing it to be extra careful.

With all the different races going on, people were constantly passing me. I think this helped to make me run faster too. By the half-way point, my time was 1:48. I was OK with that. I was just using this as a training run and was happy with any time under 4 hours.

As the laps added up, however, I realized that I would actually have a decent time. I was consistently hitting 8:15 splits and I wasn't getting tired. The temperature only climbed to about 32 degrees by the end of the race. The sun was out on one side of the course and was hidden by buildings on the other side of the course. I was always happy when I hit the sunny side!

I had been keeping track of my laps on my watch which was a good thing because there wasn't alot of information as to which lap you were on. The last time I received any information was when I had just finished lap 22. When I crossed the mat for what I believed was the 26th time (and the end of the race), I had to stop and verify this with the timers as I didn't want to stop unless I was really done. I was a little bit in disbelief as my finish time was 3:36.43, good for first place in the 40-49 age group and I was 5th woman overall. I haven't had this fast a time in probably the last ten years. Bottom line is that this course definitely give you the potential to run FAST!!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Swingy Ice a Challenge in Chicago

We were lucky to have clear roads all the way to and from Chicago for the Exmoor bon spiel. Being on Eastern time, we were definitely ready to begin to curl when the first game started at 10 AM CST on Saturday morning. Our first opponent was a team from Exmoor. We were all a little nervous as they had "home" ice advantage but we managed a win. Next up was a fellow Mayfield team. It ended up being a tight game once we gave up 6 points in the 5th end (OUCH!) We were down by 2 at that point and ended up tying the game in the 7th. The other Mayfield team had the hammer for the final end and we thought we were in trouble but managed to steal 2 for the win.

On Sunday, we played a Detroit team. Again, we had our hands full. We seemed to struggle with the swingy ice since Mayfield's ice runs so much straighter. The game came down to the last rock. I had to draw in to the button or else Detroit won. By some miracle, I was able to do that. The win put us in the First Event. Since it was a point spiel, however, for the final game, we again played Detroit! I think they were more up for the game than us as we definitely didn't have one of our better games. Detroit ended up handily winning and won the event. We took second place.

Mayfield teams again dominated as we also had Second and Third event MCC winners. Way to go MCC ladies!

Monday, February 2, 2009

It's A Sweep

From the 28-team field, the Mayfield Curling Club managed to put winners in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th events at the Cleveland Skating Club bon spiel this past weekend. Our team, the Festersen rink - Else (skip), Bob (vice), me (2nd) and Roger (lead).
Our first game on Friday was a shakey start. We played a Canadian team from Annandale. Else got caught in traffic and arrived after the first end. We gave up 3 points that end. Ouch! Things improved and after 8 ends we managed a tie, sending the game into an extra end. We didn't have quite enough though and lost in the 9th, putting us in the 2nd event bracket. We breezed through our next matches against Columbus and Cleveland Skating Club teams. For our 4th game, we got matched up against another Annandale team. It was close but we prevailed in the 8th and advanced to the finals on Sunday. Our final comeptitor was a Canadian team from Hamilton. By Sunday, the ice was very slow since the Skating Club had no scraper or nipper and the pebbling was building up on the ice. We were able to capitalize on being more used to slower ice than the Canadians and won handily after 6 ends.
Since I had not been able to run on Friday and Saturday because I was curling, I managed to squeeze in a 15-miler before nightfall since it was a warm and sunny day.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Ice Is My Enemy And Friend

For the last month, we've had continuous snowfall and the resulting ice that develops from the slight thaws. My last long run outside was a 50-mile fun run on January 3rd. Since that time, I've been relegated to the dreaded treadmill because (1) it's pitch dark outside both before and after work; (2) the sidewalks and paths are covered with ice and (3) running on the road is not an option because the huge snowbanks leave no place to bale when a car bears down on you. Needless to say, my training for the World 24-Hour Challenge in early May is not progressing as I would like. To add insult to injury, it's been snowing since last night, adding about a foot of new snow and now is a mix of both snow and rain coating everything with more ice.

On the bright side, however, the curling ice is great. My team traveled in early January
(through a snow and ice storm) to the Ardsley Curling Club in New York to compete in the Olympic Qualifiers. Laurel (2nd), Courtney (lead) and me (vice) have been curling for a combined total of about 10 years. Our skip, Dee, was very experienced and that helped greatly. Although I think it's safe to assume that we were the least experienced team, we actually didn't play too badly and had the opportunity to advance to the Challenge Round in Green Bay. Given that three of us work and had already taken off one week of work, we decided to pass this time around. We'll see what 2014 holds for us!

My boyfriend, Roger, and I are also playing in the Cleveland Skating Club bon spiel this weekend. Our first game is at 8:30 a.m. on Friday. In between games and broomstacking, I'll have to try and squeeze in some runs so I can get my mileage up from the 40-50 miles per week range I've been stuck in.