Monday, December 6, 2010

A "Formal" Curling Experience

Ok, not your typical bon spiel.... But the Mayfield Curling Club hosted its Women's One-Day Spiel last Saturday.  Keeping with the color theme that was started with the Inaugural "Lilacs and Lace" Spiel of four years ago, this year's theme was the "Blue Bridesmaid" Spiel.... 

Of course, bad bridesmaid dresses were encouraged to be worn.  I was a bit skeptical that people would participate in wearing dresses.... not the most practical in 40 degree weather while curling.  Also, I didn't have any dresses!  Lucky for me, I had a choice of bridesmaid dresses to pick from since my friend, Karen, had a closet-full of bridesmaid dresses.  I braved the cold to throw one rock in my "formal" before putting on my regular curling clothes!

Definitely not recommended!

I was actually excited to curl since our team was 3/4 of our Senior Nationals team.  Dee, our skip, was not available.  Otherwise, Tracie (vice) and Sue (lead) were part of the team.  We had Diane from MCC step in to complete the team.  This ended up being good practice for Nationals.

We ended up playing teamw from Columbus and the Cleveland Skating Club.  We played very well together and were able to win both of our games.  Because it was a points spiel, we barely got knocked out of 1st place by another Mayfield team and ended up in 2nd place overall.

We have a few more practice games scheduled with all members of our Senior Nationals team so am hoping for a successful tournament in North Dakota in February.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Training for a 48-Hour

Having signed up for Across The Years 48-Hour, I've been trying to figure out the best way to train for the race.  Two weeks ago, I went to Texas for the Ultracentric 24-hour.  My thought was to run at least 100 miles at a moderate pace to see how things went.

In Houston, I met up with Jamie Donaldson and we ate our pre-race meal in of all places Cleveland, Texas at the local Pizza Hut. 

The next morning, we drove to the race in a nice park setting about 30 minutes away.  As we drove the .6 mile loop, we noted the rolling hills, a fairly steep downhill at the mid-point and a short steep uphill at the end of the loop.  Pretty much at that point I decided that 100 miles would be a good place to stop.

Jamie and I got to catch up before the race with fellow 24-hour teammate Amy Palmiero-Winters, who was also running the race.  Here's a picture with our Drymax socks before the race!

I put on my I-pod right away as the race was very small and lonely!  The weather was partly cloudy and got warm after a few hours. Given the hill at the end of each loop, I walked every loop which ended up being every 6 or 7 minutes. I wanted to experiment with walking breaks at this race as I am planning to take walking breaks during the 48-hour but this is a little more frequent than I had planned. I also tried something new, Hammer Perpetuem solids - coffee flavor.  These worked really well and were easy to ingest until I got sick of them after about 12 hours.  Further experimenting, I tried some longer shorts that had a pocket in the back.  The pocket was nice but the shorts drove me crazy.  I ended up changing into shorter shorts at the 12 hour mark.

I hit the 100 mark around 19:15 and called it a day.  I tried to get some sleep and then watched Jamie keep looping around the course.   She was very strong and ended up with almost 137 miles.  Jamie had a great run given that the course was a bit challenging.

Now, on to actually run the 48-hour.  I just need to find enough music for the I-pod....

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Yes, You Can Run With Scissors

Halloween, no better day to run a double marathon trail race (two loop course).  I was curious about this newer trail race and signed up for the Fourth Annual Run With Scissors race through the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.  It was perfect weather, not too hot and not too cold.  We would run through two well-stocked aid stations in addition to the start/finish area.  At the second aid station (about mile 11) we would complete a five mile loop before heading back through the aid stations to the start and then repeat the entire course again.

The race was supposed to start at 5:00 a.m. so I was up at 3:15 to get ready and then driving to the start about an hour away.  That was definitely a bit of a challenge for me.  With the early start, we would be running in darkness for at least a few hours.  After arriving at the Ledges shelter area for the race start, we learned that there had been a serious accident involving fatalities on one of the roads that runners would travel on to get to the race.  That was a very somber moment.  We were told by Roy Heger, the wonderful race director (in costume as Death), that we'd delay the start until 5:30 so everyone registered could get to the race before it started. 
At 5:30, the race began and I turned on my headlight and discovered that it didn't work!  Not a good omen!  I was planning to just run a nice and slow race anyway so I got in a cluster of people and hoped that I could see good enough until dawn broke.

The trails were in great shape (this is from a non-trail runner so they really were probably in excellent shape) but LOTS of ups and downs with only an occasional "flat" part.  There was some mud and at least six stream crossings so lots of stuff to keep me focused.  After about an hour, Frank D. ran by and had an extra flashlight that he graciously lent me.  That was a big help.

Then the miles just kept ticking by.  At the second aid station, we were given scissors and told that to prove that we had completed the 5-mile loop we had to cut a page out of a hanging book.  Fun stuff.  The book turned out to be hanging by a skeleton and was a book having to do with anatomy.  Along the course there were also plastic pumpkins with Halloween candy.  Very festive!

I complete the 1st loop in about 5:30 hours.  I was taking my time and walking up all the hills as well as walking down the very steep one.  For part of the first loop, I hung with a fellow runner, Michael, who kept me entertained.  Thanks, Michael!  The second loop  was even slower, about 6 hours.  All I can say is that I really need to do hill work because my legs are still killing me.

Coming through the start/finish after the First Loop.
At the finish, I learned that I was "First Female Grand Master."  In truth only three women finished the double (including Connie Gardner who finished in a little over 8 hours!), most runners opting for the single marathon course.  There was a very hearty meal waiting for us stragglers, which was most appreciated.  A wonderful and well organized race!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Virtual Runners Hit The Towpath

The Virtual Runner team, supporting the Epilepsy Association, was out in force for the Towpath half-marathon.  Unseasonably warm weather continued through last weekend and we were greeted on Sunday morning with very mild temperatures.
Courtney, me Ben, Karen & Karl
The Towpath marathon and Half-Marathon are run in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, south of Cleveland.  This was actually my first time running the half-marathon.  I, though, have run the Towpath marathon quite a few times.  Years ago they used to beg people to sign up and run it as the number of entrants were so small.  Not any more.  All of the races, including a 10k, were sold out.

Traffic to get to the start of the race was crazy.  Organizers recommended getting to the race at least an hour before race-start.  That was good advice as the traffic was bad and even with that cushion I still only parked my car with 30 minutes to spare.

This was to be a fun run so to speak as I was running with my friend and "chief crew" member, Courtney.  She was running her very first (and she claims last) half-marathon.  The goal at the start was to run a 1:55 race.

We started out slow due to the large crowd of runners but then sped up to close to an 8 minute per mile pace.  I knew we were running too fast for our target but Courtney was feeling good so we just went with it....

Two-thirds of the way through, Courtney developed a side ache so we spent some time walking to get that worked out.  I tried to keep her entertained and distracted....  Before we knew it we were at the finish (with a chip time of 1:53) and in the beer tent.

I was actually glad that I was only running the half as temperatures continued to rise and hit 80-plus by mid-day.  All in all, a fun way to spend a beautiful fall day.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A Day At the Beach - North Coast 24-Hour Report

Well, one thing is certain - weather reports are almost never accurate!  This would hold true for last weekend.  I was expecting very pleasant temperatures for the 2nd Annual North Coast 24-Hour race.  Instead, the temperature during the afternoon rose to a toasty 80 degrees and the nighttime temperatures only dropped to the mid-60s.

So what does this mean?  Well, in my head I was thinking cool temperatures, which is my perfect running weather.  I am NOT a hot weather runner.  I had calculated out a plan to run 71 miles the first 12 hours and 63 miles the second 12 hours based on nice, mild weather.  Once the race started, I should have done a few things.... slowed down a bit AND increased my electrolytes.  Of course, this is hindsight.  So, I did neither and set out to run the 71 miles for the first 12......
Smooth sailing early in the race.

From the start, the temperature did seem hot... and I totally spaced out that I would need sun screen.  For goodness sake, it's almost October and we hardly ever have SUN in Cleveland....  Another mistake.  I am very sun-burnt now to say the least...

Roger and Dee relaxing in the shade while I bake in the sun...

In the early stages of the race, I was running like clockwork, completely on the pace I had set out to run.... until about 5 hours into the race.  Then, my calf muscles started to cramp.  I first thought, no problem, I just need a little potassium and so ate some bananas.... but more cramping.... to the point that if I ran very fast I had to catch myself from falling over.  Hmmm... this is not good.  I kept struggling with this thinking the cramping was a temporary condition.  Not so.  It just kept getting worse.  By hour 6, I stopped in the medical tent to get a cranberry pill and a leg massage.  That provided temporary relief before the cramping came back.  It finally dawned on me (DUH!) that I needed to drastically increase my electrolyte consumption.  I started doing that and after a number of hours the cramping went away, although my calf muscles were really sore from all that cramping and remained that way throughout the race.

At the 12-hour mark, instead of 71 miles, I only had 66 miles.  That was pretty discouraging.  Under these circumstances, it is very easy to quit.  I thought there is no way I'm going to have a good race and why put myself through 12 more hours of torture for nothing....  But, the one positive in having a race like this in your home town is that I had TONS of friends stopping by and crewing for me.  They were all committed to camping out overnight (some actually looking forward to it!) so I didn't want to disapoint anyone by quitting and spoiling their fun....  So on I trudged.

Just a few of my crew members having fun.....
 Since I was so sun-burnt, my body temperature felt like it was boiling.  Every lap the entire race I poured water over my head.... even throughout the night.

Between the hours of midnight and 3:00 a.m., I had a burst of energy and was passing runners like crazy on the course.  Not sure if it was do to consuming Red Bull, or my large and boisterous cheering contingency or that my legs were finally starting to recover enough from the cramps to allow me to run again....

In for a pit stop in the middle of the night... calves still bothering me.

By morning the wind picked up along the Lake and it looked like it was going to storm.  The rain held off but one section of the course was pretty windy. 

Looks like whitecaps on the Lake... storm appeared to be brewing.
Sunrise was around 7:00 a.m. and the race seemed to fly by until the official ending at 9:00 a.m. 

Less than a loop to go until the END!
The second half of the race I managed a little more than 60 miles for an official distance of 126.225 miles.  Many people had dropped out along the way so to my surprise I ended up 4th woman and 8th overall.

Courtney and me with my race marker marking my distance.
Congrats to winners Serge Arbona and Connie Garder for running fantastic races!  Also 2nd place woman Anne Lundblad and 3rd place woman Anna Piskorska ran very solid races and were very impressive.  You will all represent the US well at the 24-Hour Worlds competition next year!  Full results can be found at the NC24 website.
Me and Anna P. after the race - Anna doesn't even look like she ran!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Countdown to NC24 - Only days away

Hard to believe that the summer has flown by and the North Coast 24 Hour race is less than a week away.  So far the weather report looks excellent.- high of 69 and low of 53.  Only a small chance of rain.  Time will tell if the weather report holds up.

This year, participants have increased quite a bit from last year's race.  As of today, 151 runners have registered - from 30 different states and 3 foreign countries.  Competition looks strong so we should see some big mileage.

For those who can't come down to Edgewater Park to cheer on the runners, a "live" feed will be updating results at

Once again, Drymax has stepped up to the plate and is furnishing all runners with Drymax socks.  I will definitely be wearing them during the race! 

Monday, July 19, 2010

Virtual Runner Kick-Off at the North Coast

I am very honored to once again be named the Honorary Chair of the Epilepsy Association's Virtual Runner program.  You can make your miles count…even more… by joining the Epilepsy Association’s Virtual Running Team.  Once you have registered as a Virtual Runner, you’ll be able to dedicate your fall racing season to the Epilepsy Association.  From August 1st through October 31st, any race you run during the competition will count in our virtual competition.  Runners raising $100 or more in donations become Epilepsy Association Elite Virtual Runners and will receive a really great team t-shirt. The t-shirts are technical grade running shirts sporting the Virtual Runner logo. More information can be found at the Virtual Runner website.

As an added incentive to sign up, we're having a training run in conjunction with the North Coast 24-hour training run this Saturday, July 24th between 8:00-10:00 a.m at Edgewater Park.  Afterwards, we'll have a FREE breakfast for all runners.   Come join us!!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

40 degrees in July

Cal, me and Roger before a game.
Over the 4th of July we headed to Pittsburgh for the 5th Annual Tropicurl.  Roger and I have been to every Tropicurl and so we were awarded a special patch for our loyalty!  This year we had a new team, with me as skip, Laurel as vice, Roger as 2nd and Cal as lead.  The first game was a bit rocky.  We were all rusty, made a lot of mistakes and lost to a Canadian team on Thursday night.  We regrouped on Friday and Saturday, winning three games against a Pittsburgh team and two Canadian teams.  On Sunday, we played in the semi-finals against another Canadian team from Ontario.  We stayed in the game until the 7th end.  When we couldn't score, we shook hands after the 7th and called it a day.  It's always a treat to be in a nice cool ice arena when it's 90 degrees outside! 

Cal, Laurel and Roger.
Prepping the ice before the game.

Monday, June 28, 2010

North Coast Preparation

A view of downtown Cleveland from Edgewater Park,
site of the North Coast 24-hour race
The North Coast 24-Hour Race has once again been designated as the National Championship site.  Interest is starting to build with over 80 runners registered at this point and there are still 2 1/2 months to go before the race.  The top three  women and men will automatically be selected for the U.S. team, and will compete next June in Switzerland at the World 24-Hour Championship.

North Coast race organizers have scheduled a number for "training" runs at Edgewater Park.  I attended the first one this past Sunday, starting at 7:00 a.m.  It is a nice opportunity to get a feel for the course and chat with people who have signed up for the race.  The weather was incredibly hot and humid.  The positives were that there were no bugs and a nice breeze was coming off of the lake for part of the run.

Next training run will be on July 24th, starting at 9:00 a.m.

Friday, May 28, 2010

2010 World 24-Hour Wrap-Up

Pardon the delayed race report but I ended up spending an extra week in France after the race, biking through the Loire Valley and enjoying the beautiful castles, drinking chenin blanc and flushing the lactic acid from my legs.
Chateau at Azay Le Rideau
Many of my teammates have already provided details of the race on their blogs, Jamie Donaldson, Dan Rose, Scott Jurek and Phil McCarthy. Rather than rehash what they’ve already written, I thought I would add my perspective from one of the old and slow people on the team.
I was in many ways dreading this race. Ever since the North Coast 24 last October, I’ve been struggling with a very inflamed Achilles. First, I ignored it, then I quit running on it, then I went to two different doctors (ankle specialists) and a physical therapist and when all that failed, I even tried some Chinese herbal medicine that made my ankle break out in a nasty rash. But when all was said and done, my Achilles remained swollen and I was reduced to minimal training. My “intense” training was in April when I ran one 3-hour training run with pain and then a marathon with intermittent pain. I did no other long runs before France since November of last year.  Here are lovely pictures just days before the race.

Normal left Achilles
Swollen right Achilles
Roger and I arrived in Paris on Sunday, May 9th. We toured around Paris with fellow teammates Jamie Donaldson and Dan Rose and their spouses David and Lizzie. This was a great diversion from thinking too much about the race.

Roger and I with the Thinker at the Rodin Museum
On Wednesday we took the train to Brive, a four-hour ride. We hooked up with the team and participated in the opening ceremony where we marched through the center of town and into the covered stadium that would turn into the country aid stations in the morning. This is always a very cool event to see all of the colorful uniforms and this year we all looked like real athletes with our Nike uniforms, courtesy of USATF.

Lining up before the parade through town.
With the ceremony finished, we headed back to the hotel and then to dinner. I accidentally stumbled upon ordering a four cheese pizza, which was topped with various types of brie and gorgonzola cheese. Dr. Andy told me that this was an excellent meal for ultrarunners (the soft cheese). I figured that I needed any advantage at that point and hoped this was a good omen.

After dinner, Dr. Andy looked at my Achilles. As he suspected, I had a dropped navicular bone (that is located in the arch of the bottom of my foot). Apparently when it drops out of position, it can cause irritation in the Achilles area. He had me flex my foot different ways and then on the count of three he manipulated the bone back in place. Boy, did that hurt. I let out a yelp but instantly the pain went away. Would I be able to run in the morning with no pain and with no training? I was still skeptical.

The weather in Paris had been rainy and it was no different in Brive. The forecast also did not look promising. But when the gun went off at the start at 10:00 a.m., there was no rain. With each passing hour, I kept expecting the skies to open up but that in fact did not occur. The weather remained dry throughout the race with some humidity but cool, mid-50s at best.

At the beginning of the race.
Part of the course.
Starting to warm up, a few hours into the race.
Aid station alley in the covered pavilion.  US aid station on left.
I had decided to run a very conservative race. I had expected at some point to be reduced to walking because of my Achilles so I wanted to delay that as long as possible. My exact plan was to run between 9:45 to 10:00 minute miles with stretching breaks. As always seems to happen, the race itself is much of a blur. I was aware of the US men and women doing really well. Scott’s and Jill’s names were announced over the loudspeaker many times and it was really exciting that two US runners were in first place. The other US men were running well too. Other than that, I retreated into my own little world and concentrated on moving forward and eating and drinking according to my pre-race plan. My first stretching break was 5 ½ hours into the race. After that, I stopped every three hours. Those three hour time blocks were my goals to reach at which point I would be rewarded with a 5-minute stretch. That was heaven.

Through the park and on the gravel path.

My least favorite place - a hair-pin turn.

One of the turns after a nice straight-away.
High-tech scoreboard: 
Shows bib number, kilometers ran, pace per loop and what place your in.
As dusk turned to night, the temperature dropped. It felt like it was in the 40s. It was at this point that I knew the US women were in trouble. Jill had dropped out and Jamie, Suzanna and Amy were all battling different forms of illness. Anna was also having some issues but she snapped back and was looking very strong. I had stopped at the 8 and 16 hour marks to change socks. At 16 hours, I also changed into a long-sleeved shirt, and then added a sleeveless vest and my IPod to push on throughout the night. For fuel, I was using Hammer Perpetuem and Hammer Gels (besides electrolytes every hour). After I got sick of that, I ate pretzels, bananas and oranges. In the wee hours of the night, I had soup, coffee and tea.

The field seemed less crowded in the nighttime. I think a lot of people had stopped to get warm. It was actually nice running in the moonlight, very peaceful. At the same time, I was getting lapped like crazy by Scott and the Japanese runner, Inoue Shingo, who would eventually take the men’s first place slot. It was really inspiring to see them move in what appeared to be such an effortless manner.

Dawn broke and then the hours counted down until the 10:00 a.m. finish. I was still running steady and was able to move up through the ranks. In the early hours of the race, I was in 55th place (out of 81 females). Each hour I was able to move up. At 12 hours, I had about 69 miles and was in 33rd place. At a little over 18 hours, I had 100 miles and was 22nd female. By the 23rd hour, I was around the 200k mark and had moved into 14th place. I would end up 14th with 207.825 K. 
Only about an hour to go! 
At the end of the race, Scott had broken the American Record and came in 2nd overall and the US men had run very hard, just missing the silver medal and taking the bronze medal. Final results were:  Scott Jurek, 165.70 miles; Michael Henze, 154.48 miles; Serge Arbona, 150.48 miles; Phil McCarthy, 143.23 miles; John Geesler, 108.41 miles; Dan Rose, 91.27 miles (withdrawn for medical reasons).
After the race, Scott, with 1st place male, Inoue Shingo.
The US women ended up as a team in 4th place. Final results were: Anna Piskorska, 133.23 miles; Deb Horn, 129.13 miles; Suzanna Bon, 126.36 miles; Amy Palmiero-Winters, 123.99 miles; Jamie Donaldson, 120.61 miles; Jill Perry, 80.36 miles (withdrawn for medical reasons).
After the race, Jamie, me, Suzanna, Amy & Anna.
We were all a bit in a fog but first showered and then headed to the award ceremony. It was a special treat as they served champagne before the awards!!  Many THANKS to DryMax for keeping my feet happy during the race.  Also, many THANKS to Nike and USATF for funding the Team and providing us with official team uniforms.

Roger and I then retreated to the hotel. I feasted on two pieces of pizza and two beers and then called it a night. We woke the next morning and headed to the Loire Valley for a week of bike riding. Here are a few photos of the beautiful countryside.
Too many vineyards, too little time!
Roger at Chateau Chambord.
Villandry Chateau
Usse  Chateau

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Je suis prêt à courir

Well, I am definitely rusty on my French but I'm hoping to not be rusty for the World Championships.  Less than a week away before we compete at the Worlds in Breve, France.

The popularity of the race continues to build each year.  The list of runners was recently published and we have 81 women from 22 countries competing this year (compared to 65 women from 18 countries last year).  On the men's side of the race, 153 men from 30 countries will compete. 

For the team competition, we also have additional teams signed up.  We had 11 in 2008, 14 in 2009 and this year 17 teams (a team must have at least 3 runners).  The countries bringing women's teams this year are: Australia, Austria, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Russia, Spain, Sweden and United States.

Looking over the list, some big miles have been posted by the French team.  They have won the gold medal at the Worlds for the last two years.  Can they make it three in a row?  Team USA is hoping to prevent that!  Other strong contenders (at least on paper) are Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Japan and Russia.  The US women were able to pull out the Silver medal last year with Italy taking the bronze.  Should be an exciting race.

It is interesting to note that Russia's team of three women are all older than me with one being over 60!  Now that's inspiring!!

The race should be covered a few places on the Internet:  the race website: and the International Association of Ultrarunners website:
There is even going to be live updates on Twitter:

Once the race is over, I'll be posting all the details and hopefully bring home a medal!!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Last Ohio Marathon?

So, I thought I had run all of the organized marathons in Ohio.  In years past, I've run (1) Cleveland Rite-Aid; (2) Cleveland Inaugural - only lasted 1 year; (3) Akron; (4) Cincinnati Flying Pig; (5) Columbus; (6) Glass City - Toledo; (7) Towpath; (8) Athens; (9) Air Force - Dayton; (10) Inland Trail - Elyria; (11) Last Chance for Boston - Dublin; and (12) Ohio River Road Runners - Xenia.

As I was searching for a training run in April, I stumbled across a new one - the Earth Day Challenge marathon in Gambier, Ohio.  I quickly signed up for it as it fit perfectly into my running schedule.

The marathon was held on April 25th.  The course was advertised as flat.  The first 4 miles, however, wound around the town of Gambier and was a series of rolling hills.  After we got that out of the way, we headed out onto the Kokosing Gap Bike Trail, a well-maintained paved path - which was very flat.

It was held in conjunction with a half-marathon so there were a fair amount of people for the first half of the race.  The second half was a bit lonely as I think there were about 120 total marathoners in the race.  All of the aid station workers and road crossing volunteers were very friendly so I did have some company.  The drink choice was Heed and Hammer Gels were passed out too.  Perfect!!

Weather conditions at the start were ideal but things heated up a bit for the second-half.  There was some tree cover on the path but the sun poked through a bit and I got my first sun-burn of the season.  Right after the race, the sky opened up and poured.  Sadly, I think a lot of the runners got caught in it.

This was a very nice, low-key race.  Very well run.  And in keeping with the earth day theme, all of the goodie bags had compact fluorescent light bulbs - something I can actually use.  I will definitely keep this race in mind for next year.

So have I missed any other Ohio marathons?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Congrats to Teammate Amy Palmiero-Winters

Last week the ultrarunning community got some very exciting news.  The AAU Sullivan Committee announced that my 24-hour teammate, Amy Palmiero-Winters, was the recipient of the 2009 James E. Sullivan Award "for her outstanding athletic abilities and accomplishments in her sport as well as sportsmanship, leadership and character (on & off the field) in her lifestyle as a whole."  I am certain that this is the first time an ultrarunner has received the Sullivan award.

This is a huge honor.  Amy joins such other past recipients as Frank Shorter, Carol Lewis, Florence Joyner and Joan Bennoit- Samuelson.  Amy's story is truly inspiring.  Looking forward to finally meeting her in France.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Field Set for World Championship

It is very encouraging to see the 24-Hour Race has increased participation each year from when I started four years ago.  Last year, 28 countries participated and 14 women's teams competed (a team must include at least 3 runners from a country).

This year, runners from a total of 30 countries are set to participate in France on May 13th.  Additionally, we now have increased the number of women's teams - 16 total!  The women's teams are: Australia, Austria, Canada, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Russia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom and United States.

While the French women are the heavy favorites (they took the Number 1 and 2 spots last year and the Gold Team medal), I have confidence in my teammates that the French will get a run for their money.  It should be exciting to watch!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Springtime in Paris

Ok, maybe not Paris, but the 2010 World 24-Hour Championship will be held this Spring in Brive, France.  The race is on May 13-14, a Thursday (Ascension Thursday - National Holiday) and Friday.  Brive is about 4 hours by train southwest of Paris. 

We have recently received some information about the course.  Much of the route goes through a city park.  The course is approximately 1200 meters and will be run in a clockwise direction.  About 1/3rd of the course is a fine crushed gravel, a short portion is a dirt path with the remaining part on asphalt. There is one small hill with about a one meter rise and around 100 meters in length followed by a descent of the same amount. There is also a number of both left and right hand turns within the loop.  Looks like the French will do a fabulous job and I am very excited to run the event.

This year, both the women's and men's US teams are very strong.  On the women's team, we have Jamie Donaldson (4th overall last year), Jill Perry (US National 24-hour champ); Suzanna Bon, Anna Piskorska, Amy Palmiero-Winters and me.  On the men's team, there is Phil McCarthy (US National 24-hour champ), John Geesler; Dan Rose, Serge Arbona, Scott Jurek and Michael Henze.

We are hoping to bring home some medals.  Let's keep our fingers' crossed!

Friday, March 12, 2010

U.S. Nationals - A 7th Place Finish

Laurel, Emilia, Courtney and me before a game.

We just returned yesterday from a very "cool" experience in Kalamazoo, Michigan. "Cool" because we had the opportunity to be on ice for nine 10-end curling games and also "cool" because we had the opportunity to curl against the best women's teams in the country.

A view from the Stadium stands.

We went in to the competition with low expectations. We were seeded 9th out of 10 teams. We had only been curling for a few years. Most of the teams (even the one Juniors team that played) had curled many more years than us, had tons more experience and even had coaches.

Contrasted to the ice we usually play on, the ice at Kalamazoo was meticulously maintained by the ever-vigilant ice crew. It was about 25 second ice and, while it started out straighter for the first few games, it developed a good 4-plus feet of curl as the week went on. It was a real treat to play on it. Now, if we could have only made all of our shots!

We ended up winning our games against the 6th, 7th and 8th seeded teams for a ending record of 3-6. Overall we finished in 7th place. While we all felt we could have played better and won more games, we were very happy with the result as it was much better than was predicted.

All of the teams were very friendly and supportive. While the level of talent varied, I think we all recognized that we need to keep improving the quality of play at the women's competitive level. We all benefited by participating and hopefully can build on the experience to step up the level of play a notch in years to come.

Thanks again to Drymax socks. They make some amazing hockey socks that worked very well for curling. The socks were warm but not bulky. Also thanks to SniperSkinz. We definitely had the best looking brooms!

Brooms wrapped in SniperSkinz.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Thanks to Sponsors Drymax and Sniperskinz

Only a few more days until U.S. Nationals in Kalamazoo. Our team has been extremely fortunate to have in our corner two sponsors. Drymax, who has also sponsored my ultrarunning, has stepped up to outfit our team with socks. We will be trying out their new line of hockey socks. When I first heard that Drymax just started making hockey socks, I though it would be a perfect fit to try them out on the curling ice. Drymax agreed and we now are well stocked. Our feet should be very happy during our upcoming games.

Another company geared to hockey, Sniperskinz, has also agreed to sponsor the team. Sniperskinz makes some very cool wraps for hockey sticks. They have never made wraps for curling brooms and had to make some adjustments in the sizing to fit the brooms versus a hockey stick. Our team is the first to try out the wraps on curling brooms. We got to customize the wraps with an individual design and colors. It only took minutes to apply the wraps and our brooms look very sharp now. We will definitely have most unique brooms at Nationals.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Last Tune-Up

The Team went on the road last weekend to Canada for a final tune-up before Nationals.  We went to the Sun Parlour Curling Club in Lemington, Ont., by Windsor.  They had a 4-sheet club.  The ice was fast but had a lot of runs and falls.  It was tough predicting the ice.  We played two games on Saturday and recorded wins.  We played in the final event on Sunday.  We had a close game and were tied going into the 8th end.  We didn't have hammer and had a chance for a steal but the other team's skip made a nice last shot for the win.

We got to watch a lot of curling on TV since the Olympics were in full swing.  Of course, the Canadians focused on the Canadian teams so really fun to watch.  Those Canadian Olympic teams were fantastic!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Magic in New York

Me, Leslie, Laurel and Courtney with 1st Place trophy!

This past weekend, my Mayfield team headed to the USWCA National Bon Spiel in Schenecktady, NY.  The theme of the Bon Spiel was "The Magic of Curling," and that theme proved to be a winner for us.  We played teams from the following clubs: Nutmeg (Connecticut), Nashua (New Hampshire), Granite (Seattle), Madison and Arizona.  We were able to win all of our games and emerged the winner of the entire Bon Spiel.  The ice was a bit challenging as there were crazy curls and major falls on two of the sheets but we were able to figure it out and stay on our game.

A second Mayfield team was able to win the B event so our Club was able to take home two huge trophies.  A very fun weekend!