Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Holidays Mizuno Style...

"Have you ever taken the innagural dump in a porta potty, Ben?"
We were at Run Lawrence's Turkey Trot.
I just sat there, sort of shaking my head with a grossed out look on my face.
"Blue splash of death?"
"Is that what they call it?"



Turns out Ben has a solution for it... ( I wish I'd know sooner)
Using baby wipes or TP, let it float to the bottom of the potty, forming a barrier over the blue stuff.
"Ok- Soph, the middle one's ready for ya."
After testing Ben's handi-work one more time, I was ready to race.
It's been year's since I actually put any effort into a 5k, but I thought I might have a chance at 3rd in my age group if I didn't poop out.
I admired the blue environmentally friendly Asics bags with a touch of green envy. Raised an eyebrow about what to do with the XL Asics top, pinned on my New Balance number and headed for the starting line.

One of my accounts, Francis Sporting Goods was one of the race sponsors. As I looked around I saw a good sampling of Mizunos-- but couldn't help noticing I was the only rep actually running in the race.

Their loss-- it was a glorious day.

Bad Ben helped out at the finish line-- his main job cheering on Sophia!! Ra RA -- more cowbell please.




We did a few more miles on the smooth dirt trails of the Sandrat where we saw a turkey! Birrrundering. IT's everywhere. Then headed to Shelley's to--- EAT THE RUN!!


Stuffing, stuffing, stuffing.
Such wonderful memories. Her sweet children gave us hugs and played with Puccini. The turkey and marvelously set table looked like a Martha Stewart special-- and oh my gosh-- the $3.99 pie was delicious. Some Mexican train dominos and we were a Norman Rockwell Holiday party.

Obviously the next day entailed more running. It was the second annual Recession-Proof run out at Clinton. Last year I became a big fan of Friday runs, which I called "The hookie run." David Salavitch was kind enough to wait til Ben and I arrived at 10-- and we were off. We hit all our old haunts and reminisced about the past and looked forward to all the running in the future. A quick hello to Levi Bowles-who's first run with the Nerds was this day last year.
"Hi Levi!"
"I'm hobbling home-- IT band hurting."
I gave him a quick poke on the IT-- OUCH-- and emailed him later the name of a good doctor. And recommended the hotsie totsie Mizuno manpris for some extra support. Ben was rocking those -- and (gasp) the Asics women's XL race-T. Yup, my Badness had overdressed for the unseasonable weather and the Asics shirt was the only option knocking around in the car.

Saturday!!! Ben runs wyco with Andy Bowman one of our awesome volunteers-- I rest up for Dude Where's the Trail.


Lou Joline-- you have such a sense of humor. Note to area runners-- please don't ever complain about his courses-- and certainly not the only easy part of a 50k-- even if it's pavement (double gasp). That 5 foot 1 ball of fire made the craziest course ever. So much bushwacking.. so many tiny little burrs in my Mizuno Breath thermo stetch . My favorite garment, nearly reduced to shreds. As Ben and I sat picking off the darn things afterwards- I thought my fingers would certainly cramp. Meanwhile we had to endure abuse from Lou for missing the rope section.
He seriously stamped his foot--
"Ben-- Ben you missed the rope? I put it in JUST for YOU."
Yale (his alma mater) clearly taught him how to lob a guilt trip.

So a total of 67 miles this week. Getting back there...

As I sat picking off the burrs, going over the past week and all I am thankful for-- that little blue splash didn't seem a big deal. Not at all.

I have a job with Mizuno Running, the best company ever. I have amazing friends-- and the ability to run run run-- and make life fun.

During the holidays as everyone looks through their bank accounts and worries about what's going in and out of that-- take a moment to see what's in your Fun bank-- or your run bank. Take care of those-- and the rest will fall into place nicely.

Muddy Hugs,
Sophia

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Rockin' K... unpublished 'til now

Wait... backtrack.
"Hey Sophia, it's Debbie.. see if Ben will lend you to me over the weekend for Rockin' K."

"Yikes. We have all this Brew to Brew stuff to do. " (blog on that to follow--yeah I am REALLY behind) I hated to have him suffer alone with the paved race packet pick-up. Not Ben's favorite. Still, I know how important Brew to Brew is. A fundraiser for Cystic Fibrosis (horrid disease) but also one of the Kansas City Track Club's most important events. The group and Lou Joline believed in Ben's vision creating the Trail Nerds. They have been great and supportive team members for our group. I didn't want to let them down.
"Tell Ben I'll work all day Sunday at the aid station at Brew to Brew, if he lets you go."

It was an easy sell.
Oh my dear Ben. I love you. love you , love you so much for never resenting me when I get to go run with our friends on beautiful trails. Even when you have to be responsible and take care of the hand (KCTC) that feeds us. Oh I was excited... so excited!

I hadn't raced since November 27th.

"Sophia, where have you been? Why aren't you racing?" An email from Rick Mayo in February. I seriously ran into him before this race.
" Hey I'm back, I'm back!!" His beautiful wife Kristi was there with their equally beautiful daughter. Great to see them...... hmmm.. where were the other boys from Kearny? (find out more here at Gabe's Blog)


Wait... backtrack.
Carpool/Nerd-Mud Babe motorcade to the race.

Everyday's a party in Sophie's World.

I met up with Debbie, we loaded up the truck with muddy shoes, snacks etc? Actually an impressive stash for a weekender. Two doesn't constitute much of a carpool. Read on.
I had 6 nerds to coordinate. Two cars right? Ended up with three. Two people per car right? Nope. 4 in one car and one each in two others. Jim wanted to multi-task and work on the way (admirable actually) and Greg had a different "bailout after the race schedule," since he was doing 50 miles.
On the way out we lent Shane Jones to Greg for company, and in retrospect should have put James T. in with Jim since he spent the majority of the trip glued to his cell phone. Meanwhile, Debbie and I did our best to distract James by rockin' out to her latests favorite country song. We'd made a quick stop at Target in Lawrence to grab James and Shane. I got a battery put in one of Ben's old watches. And got teased by Shane for my super cool Timex. Shuddup Shane (tease back) it only cost $10. Did I mention I'm unemployed?!!

So the motorcade looked like this:

In Car 1: Jim Megerson and phone

In Car 2: Debbie, me, James, phone and country tunes

In Car 3: Shane and Greg having a bro-mance










Meatballs, meatballs, meatballs!

The pre-race dinner and meeting Stacy Sheridan was awesome! I'm not sure God could put more positive energy in one woman. Muddy hug! Oh I love that lady.


A fun positive to being so RIDICULOUSLY far behind on my blog is perspective. Here's one. Take a look at Laurie Euler's plate of meatballs. Paired with her race report peppered with self deprecating humor that she couldn't poo. That's a lot of blockage. Her dear boyfriend Nick (the garbage disposal--eats like Michael Phelps) had stopped in and partook at our firm invitation of our breakfast spread. Watermelon, displayed in the ice container (presentation is so important) and peanut butter bagels.


"Hey does Laurie want anything?"

"Not a fan of mornings."

She was already in the Nick's car. Next time take us up on the peanut butter Laurie! It works wonders. No promises... but maybe it would help with the Poo!


Shane and James pop into our room, on time-- thanks guys. We start shoving food in their faces. Coffee coffee! I'd hopped across the street and gotten some marginal brown brew from the convenience store.
"I'm not too good in the morning." Shane.

boom chicka boom chicka la la twang.
"I love this song! This is my favorite song right now!"CMT was on the television. Yup, while other runners were catching up on the latest weather forecast for the day, Debbie and I were tuned into the Country Music Channel. "I will run to you-oo -oo. I will run to you."We sang and danced in unison.
"Sorry, I don't think it's that great a song."
Shuddup Shane. (teasing)

On the way to the race we discussed our post race strategy.
"Shane why don't you run with my key fob since you'll finish WAY ahead of all of us."
We all concurred this was the best plan.


boom chicka boom chicka la la twaaaang.


"What? wait? not this song again?"
I turned around to Shane.
"We bought the CD at Target so we can hear it whenever we want. C'mon it says "run" in the chorus!"
"ugh."
Even James seemed a little irritated.
"I will run to you!" We sang at the top of our lungs.Played it twice.

Radio after that. Hard dude rock. This time everyone was singing.


THE RACE:

Fear. For this race, I knew I had to follow all the rules. Respect the distance, respect your body, listen to the signs. I can't even say I was on the Megerson constant taper. (25-30 miles per week max, year round). I was quite simply out of shape. January and February had been total running busts. I hadn't raced since November. Would my body remember what to do?

"Ben, what should I expect for a time on this one? I am so undertrained."
5:30 to 6:30. Ben knew the course and has run it in several different fitness levels. I looked down at my "new," watch and wondered what it would read at the end of the race.

Anxiety. I shared it with Debbie.
"I can't make any mistakes. I am going to have to be militant about salt, food, water, wardrobe.. everything." I packed a drop bag for the first time ever. Mostly I wanted a labelled place to leave my Mizuno stretch crew in the middle of the race so I could start out warm and comfy at the beginning. I threw in my inhaler. (Performance enhancing drugs according to Mr. Megerson!)

"We are making a mistake right now."

Debbie and I were chatting away like school girls on a slumber party.The mistake? Not getting to bed in time. But somehow it worked out. We were relaxed and at least slept well for the few hours we got.


Before the race, Stacy Sheridan came a lookin for me.
"Sophia..Sophia there you are!" great big hug. "ooops I forgot I had to sign in. I'm here."
Then I was running. Running in the breathtaking splendor of Kanopolis State park. I felt free at last. I came up upon Coleen and Deb Johnson after taking a break to water a bush. Btw, an interesting experience with 40 mph winds and little to block it.

I chimed in a hello and tried to make conversation, but there was also very little to block the angry hostility and seething silence of Coleen. I can't tell you how many tears I've shed for the loss of this friendship. It was a friendship based on discovery of ultra running, laughter, watermelon and oranges. I loved having her as a friend. I miss her. In the past few months, sometimes we'd end up on the same group run and chat and chat. Tap dancing over the rocks and the taboo subject. Not anymore. Hardly a hello. Glares. Daggers. Hurtful taunting. Accusations. Gossip. Denial. It is truly painful.


The tears would fill a small tub if they ever made it there. Instead their salty stream burns and stings the wounds, many of which are 9 months deep. I hate to even have this passive mention here, but each time I think we could be approaching repair, something happens. The knife turns, the wound is exposed, the tears sink deep within.


On this day, the salt is from sweat, not tears. Instead of crying, I will run. And if I'm to run in silence, I'd prefer it be pure. I charge ahead and run alone.


13.1 Coke, Mountain Dew. Ah, blessed aid station. Oranges. Shane???

"Shane what are you doing here?"
"Look at that? I feel like quitting."
I'd caught up with Shane who was grumpy because Kyle and Tony were 5 and a half brutal miles ahead of him.
"c'mon run with me!"
I was so excited. Seeing Shane truly energized me, because it meant I was running pretty well. I should have grabbed the key though. I actually finished a few minutes ahead of him.


This is where the race got interesting. Serious climbs. Ran into Willie from Great Plains Running. Muddy hug. Trotted along. Took pictures. Made a little video interview with Willie. Got back to the aid station. Dropped of the shirt. Took my performance enhancing drugs, and carried on.

pa-thunk--- pa-thunk. Yup. That's the sound your running makes when you're being blown sideways. A first. And with a step up because of the deeply rutted horse trail. But it didn't bother me. Many have described the wind at soul sucking. Instead it was like Narnia, with Aslan breathing trail running life back into this emotionaly weary Mud Babe.

I took it all in. Deeply. Honestly. Forever. I was back in my beautiful world. Completely.


Around 21 I caught up with a fellow named John from Minnesota. We couldn't talk much because the wind was so loud. I didn't get a chance to talk to him after either so I want to thank him here. I was tired of running alone. Thanks for waiting for me at the top of a hill at mile 22. I was ready just to drop back. It was nice to know someone wanted to run with me. Even just for a few miles.

Finish line: 5:31.
Shane finished.
Coleen, Debbie and Deb J. finished.

I had watermelon left over from breakfast. Maybe, just maybe Coleen would like some? Nope. I try to walk up to the group and offer. But get the side of the head. Laughter to all the other women but exclusion to me. It is obvious the friendship meant more to me, than it ever did to her.
However, it is ok. While it's more fun to share delicious watermelon with a friend, it still tastes good all by itself.



Muddy Hugs,

Sophia






Monday, October 19, 2009

A New Leaf


Ben was wheeling out his homebrew set-up from our small porch.

" You don't have to tear that down. You can still brew if you want."
"I don't want to brew for other people if I'm not drinking."
It made me sad but I had no energy to disagree.
I'm really proud of Ben's brewing ability.
His beers are complex and delicious.
But since we moved in together, it seemed beer was forefront.
Instead of a weekend at my beautiful home in Topeka. Brewing.
Instead of running. Beer drinking.
Thing is, beer isn't such a temptation for me. I could sit and avoid the beer fridge. I prefer wine. So Ben started bringing home bottles of wine.
I tried gentle conversations about finding some balance.
More running?
Symphony?
But we just couldn't find the balance. Month after month,I would drink wine. Ben would drink beer. I would hate myself. We weren't running.

All I want to do is run. But the drinking was zapping my motivation. Our motivation. Our time. Our love.


The races were painful. Ben somehow runs pretty well on this program. For me, it was awful. I couldn't enjoy the races, knowing I had been undisciplined in my training which lacked structure.

Finally a simple plea.
"I am easily influenced. If there is a bottle of wine in front of me. I'll drink it. Is that the influence you want to have on me?"

Nope.

So, for now we're off the sauce.
Of his own volition, Ben donated the leftover beer. In it's place are two kegs of sparkling "Benegrino," (carbonated water) in the fridge. (a freezer he converted into a fridge --he's so clever!)

50 + miles this week, and already feeling much healthier.
I'll admit I was afraid no one would understand. People liked to come over and sample the three beers we used to have on tap.

But our friends are true. They know that running is our number one, and that it should be protected at all costs.

Thank you Dallas and Asher for being understanding.
Mike Osborn. Kurt Schuler. Rick and Kristi Mayo. Shelley Flones. Jenn Bernstein.

It means a lot that we can make a big change and have support from our friends.

My father is an Episcopalian priest. So I'm going to use one of his Lenten suggestions. It is this; If you give up something, take on something else .

I'm putting recycling bins in the porch so we can sort and organize our trash.
I'll admit it. We've been terrible recylcers. Yes I just made up a word.

Will we ever brew again. Probably. But for now we need to find structure and discipline in our running and build our relationship that way.

And a perfect balance, that as we detox our bodies and minds, we are detoxing the planet, too.

Muddy Hugs,
Sophia

Monday, September 7, 2009

We were There! Leadville Trail 100

The Race Across the sky, brought many Kansas and Missouri runners across the prairie. My boyfriend, Bad Ben founded the Kansas City Trail Nerds 9 years ago, so it was fitting that we aid in this epic event. There wasn't a runner in the bunch (and by runners I also include crew and pacers) that hadn't been involved in the Trail Nerds in one way or another. Past board members, race participants, race winners, record holders, volunteers and friends. Friends whom we mentored, lunched with, ran with and hosted birthday runs, shared in their first ultras, got into races after the deadline was long gone, and did whatever we could even outside of running to help. Good people we care about. We were not going to miss cheering them at this race. Our mission was to crew and pace Greg Burger. Greg is one of the oldest and certainly most loyal members of the Trail Nerds.In March we had created a " Trail Nerd dream team," to get Greg through the race. Ben, Danny Miller, and me. Our other task was to help as best we could, Fast Andy. One of our newest and equally loyal members of the Trail Nerds. Andy Henshaw. A spectacular runner and recent Mizuno convert. Shameless plug for the Wave Ronin, our neutral racing flat. We had a very serious meeting with Greg before the race. We had a less serious meeting with Andy. It was our Trail Nerd volunteer extraordinaire Derek's birthday. Andy liked the hats:

Still, we took this mission very seriously. We nerdled a bit at Twin Lakes with Kyle Amos and Darin Schneidewind. Status updates: Coleen running with Nick in good spirits.. grabbing Caleb's butt. Darin pacing Rick. Caleb pacing Josh. Kyle pacing Tony. I was starting to get worried about Andy. He was light years ahead of our fastest Nerds but I wasn't sure what HE would get for pacers. I'd called all my Mizuno buddies and begged around. Even Anton Krupicka tried to line someone up, but nothing solid worked out. Or so we thought... Driving into Winfield, through the dust kicking up from the cars on the dirt road we saw two Trail Nerd Shirts and flashes of TWO pairs of orange popsicle Ronins. "Hey, Derek is pacing Andy!" Derek and his girlfriend Shelley caravaned with us up to the race and had been crew extraordinaire for Andy along with his family. My pacing portion was to take Greg Burger over and down Hope Pass. Leadville is an out and back so he'd seen Andy and Derek. "Was Derek with him at the top of the pass?" "yes!" Way to go Derek. Trying to be uber pacer and taking advantage of the fact that muling is allowed, I strapped Greg's 12 pound water pack over my own little camelback like a South American drug trafficker. First we see Coleen. Ben, myself and our dog Puccini had seen her husband Erik earlier at Winfield (mile 50)and their great dane Otis. When I saw Coleen, it was my turn to give a status report. "Coleen, Puccini humped Otis!" She laughed instantly.


She looked so strong, and I hoped she was having a good day. Next Nerd: Nick Lang, came barrelling down, as only he can do. Ever strong on the downhills! Josh Pool: Looking fly in his Free State shirt. (Our Trail Nerd trail marathon, 40 miler and 100k) Gary Henry: Taking pictures as always. He caught my glazed look and bulging eyes. I was half way up the pass and felling woozy. "Don't loose your runner." Pacer nightmare. Can't keep up with Greg. "Take smaller steps," I tell myself. Legs like jello. I can't stop. This is crazy. Greg needs you. Willie Lambert from Great Plains Running in Topeka (one of my favorite accounts) firmly told me that the night before the race. With my heart bulging out of my chest like the Grinch as he listens to the good folk of Whoville, I do the only thing I can. "Greg, I may not make it, you're going to have to carry your own pack." He chugged along ahead and I wondered if he would loose me. Rick Mayo: One of the famous "Kearny Boys." He'd come in uder 24 hours at Western States, but was severely underweight today. I gave him a couple pieces of melon and some fig newtons from a sack of food I'd packed for Greg and wished him well. I knew he was done. He could have made the cuttoff, but his weight was too far gone. I caught up to Greg and We saw Willie and Dr. Steve Plumb. I got to see the view at the top of Hope Pass. I waited for Greg to take a dump at the Hopeless aid station. I have to insert a funny story Shelley told me here; Early in the race Anton Krupicka needed to relieve himself. Everyone followed until one of the guys shouted, "hey the course is over here-- he's taking a dump." Pooperazzi. Headed into Twin Lakes Greg was in excellent spirits.
video
"I'm going to do this thing. I am going to run 100 miles today." I roused more support from the hundreds of onlookers. "His name is Greg. Shout Go Greg Go!!" And they did. Over and over for a half mile, til I passed him off to the capable hands, feet and energy of Bad Ben. I raced to the finish line, hoping to catch Fast Andy. I donned my Team Henshaw shirt, getting there in plenty of time. A voice over the PA system. "Team Henshaw, would you come over here." The mayor of Leadville was the emcee and originally from Osawatamie Kansas. He needed more information on the Legend of Fast Andy. 1 2 and 3 came in. The voice! "Team Henshaw get ready your runner is coming!" We assembled with signs, whistles and excitement. Andy and his faithful friend Dallas were headed in. Dallas who specializes in the 800, paced him for 13 miles! (Dallas also recently won the Trail Nerds Northshore race.. directed by none other than GREG BURGER) "Andy Henshaw finishes 4th place in the Leadville Trail 100 and is a Kansas City Trail Nerd." I wept. So did Shelley as we carried him to the medical tent. "Sophia, the first pair of Ronin's. They are trashed." I am overwhelmed with emotion again. "Sophia, how is Greg? Is he going to make it under 25?" Greg and Andy had bonded as ultra runners as Trail Nerds do the week before the race, and on training runs in Lawrence. Andy's original plan *gasp* was to turn around after finishing and help pace Greg. " I don't think I'm going to be able to make it back out." Andy was lying under a down blanket with a Tejas Trail Nerd hat on, shivering. Moments later he would vomit. "He's strong Andy. I don't know if he'll make it under 25, but he'll make it." Young Andy reminds us. That's what nice Nerds do. They pace, they care and they think of others first, even in their own moment of glory.


Thank you Ben for taking me to Leadville this year.


It's kind of an addictive atmosphere. Just before heading out to Twin Lakes on Saturday, we stopped at the front desk of Greg's hotel. "We'd like to reserve a two bedroom suite for next year." 2010 we're running. If we can find pacers.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

I WON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Before I got my job with Mizuno, I entered an essay contest to win a pair of Innov8 shoes. I was telling my brother about it, as I mulled through the prose.
"Don't you always wear Mizunos and doesn't Kelley help you out with the shoes?"
"Yes, but the winners get published in Trail Runner magazine."
The light goes on.
"Ah, it's about your writing."
After I sent in my entry I called my brother back.
"I'm going to win. There's no way I won't win."
Yes. 11 years in journalism. My first award winning piece!
Ironic.
Just as I change careers.

And I'm excited to try the shoes. Conflict of interest with my current job selling running shoes for Mizuno? No. Instead, research. I can't wait to see how they stack up against our incredible new shoe, the Cabrakan, (means Aztek god of mountain and earthquake) that hits the market this September.

Trail Runner, published the final portion of the essay.

Here it is in it's entirety.

ONE YEAR OF RUNNING THE MUD
By, Sophia Wharton
Aka: Original Mud Babe

It was a dark and stormy morning. The choices were: stay in bed with someone you love, or get up and run in the mud. We made the right choice, it was, after all close to my one year anniversary of running in the mud. A mighty group of 6 slipped and slided for 13 miles on the rocky rooty, and very muddy trails of Clinton Lake in Lawrence, KS. The forecast was for a high of 55. The forecast was wrong. It was chilly. Bad Ben, of Kansas City Trail Nerd fame, realized it was too cold for his Ice Breaker shirt alone, and pulled a trash bag out of the back of his Honda Element and put it on.
“Look it’s Bag Ben.” Another pun for me, Sophia. Yup, I love puns, especially when they go with running in the mud. After my first ooey gooey muddy run last spring, one of the other Trail Nerd women and I decided to team up for a 44 mile relay from Kansas City to Lawrence called Brew to Brew. There was a contest for clever team names.
“Hey Coleen!” I was on the phone with her. “I just registered us as ‘Bad Ben’s Mud Babes.’ Is that ok with you?”
“Hell yes! I love mud!”
Bad Ben decided the name was too cute for a one -time thing, and now the Trail Nerd women are all Mud Babes. A movement within a movement was born. Really, what woman wants to be a nerd? And mud is so squishy and fun, plus it really cools your feet down on those hot July days. Like during Psycho Psummer 50k. I was hot, and running again with Coleen who we dubbed “Cynical Mud Babe. “
We were schlocking through a combo of deep mud and horse poo, grateful for tightly laced shoes. We came upon another woman digging a lost shoe out of the mud. She laughed as she saw us.
“Well, I guess now I can buy the Mud Babe T-shirt!”
“You’ve earned it. And we’re the two Mud Babes in the picture!”
As we slipped and slided along I was so hot, I wanted to just sit down in the mud, but resisted that. Instead, I tried something new psychologically uplifting.
“Coleen come back!”
I was standing in mud up to my ankles. When she got beside me, I leaned down, grabbed a finger of mud and painted a muddy heart on her arm. She did the same for me, and the Mud Tats were born.








Smiley faces for guys. Arms in summer, cheeks (on faces) in the winter. It’s tribal bonding at it’s best. After all, nothing quite says “We love you, and accept you,” to a new runner like a muddy heart. And although I only have the science of my experience to back this up, you do run faster with a Mud tat.
One day, I’d fallen back from the pack and was running alone. I needed a pick me up, so I made some mud with my water and painted a smiley face on my arm. I call that, mudsterbation.
“Sophia that smiley face is working.” I’d caught up to James the Trail Nerd lawyer, and was about to leave him in the dust. I suggested his own mud tat instead.
But this was really child’s play compared with my run with Superhero Mudbabe Debbie Webster at Mud and Muck. A 5 k with a full fledged mud pit crawl. We finished and went back for more. More mud, more fun and many, many mud tattoos. Including one on photographer Dick Ross’s bald head. We laughed, we ran, we played. We spanked James, as it was his 38th birthday, that day.
(Trail Runner chose this final piece. Which was the clincher, I knew would land me the prize)
Yes, I love running in the mud so much the words have become interchangeable. It has been a little over a year I’ve been running in the mud. Last March, I sent Bad Ben a text message. My hand was shaking a little, but I pressed “send.”
“Are you falling in mud with me?”
“Yes.” Was the reply.
“Mud U.”
“Mud U, too.”
So, from running in the mud a great love was born.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Flying MudBabes

I've written a lot about ultra marathons and running farther. But often the best things in life come in smaller packages. Sometimes life is so good, it just seems like you're flying. That was the case at the Psummer Intro 5k (well 2.8 miler). That's my awesome mudbabe buddy Shelley Flones. She was flying pretty high too. Before the race, we both got a generous sprinkling of fairy dust from Peter Pan (Bad Ben) and as you can see it was working wonders. Maybe it was excitement that so many people showed up. 106, compared with 60 last year. Yes the Trail Nerd message of inclusivity and love of nature and maturity is quite inspiring.



While we joke that we want world domination, mostly we just want






people to have a great quality of life, through running on trails. Maybe I was flying because it was my first spin in the new Wave Cabrakan. I just got a sweeeeeeeeet job working as a territory
manager for Mizuno USA in the running division.

I talked my way into wear testing the Cabrakan that comes out in September. Right now the shoes are just headed out to the top running magazines, so it was quite an honor. They feel great. A FLEXIBLE rock plate in the front. Great traction, and an incredible soft feel-- and I was, as you can see FLYING. No lying. Flying. I will post more on the incredible possibilities these shoes hold for runners soon.










So was it sole, or soul that made me run 3 minutes faster than last year, despite less training. Maybe it was a little acknowledged phenomenon. Borrowed energy. Hmm..or maybe it was that Shelley (a bit of a Tinkerbell) had some fairy dust of her own.

On this day she was quite the leader. Check out the Run Posse!!


She's the Flying Mudbabe. She won the Rock Creek 10k and ran an impressive 24:15 on this day. I was close behind, but ahem... felt the call of nature and tinkled on the trail. Wow, then I really felt light as a feather.




















I'm allowed a certain budget for promotion of running through my job as a territory manager for Mizuno. Since the Trail Nerds and Mud Babes are unquestionably the most dynamic running group in KC, I've decided to sponsor them. I gave out t-shirts to folks running in the Wave Ascend (another great trail shoe) and our awesome Maverick short (has a zipper pocket) to two of the female finishers.



There were other pockets of energy in this race.

Fast Andy. Andy Henshaw. Broke the Brew to Brew record running 44 miles on a windy nasty day at about a 7 minute pace. Uber volunteer, willing to get off the couch the night before a race and redo a mile of trail that's been demarked by an overzealous 4 year old on a walk with her underzealous when it comes to discipline parents. I might mention he was getting up at 5 the next morning to come and volunteer for 18 hours at the Free State marathon.

This day we had the Andy effect: "Follow fast Andy!" "Andy's going to win!" "Go Andy, Go!" He was proudly wearing his Trail Nerd shirt, lovingly soiled with dirt from many races and happy falls in the woods.











But leaders aren't always in the front.

Sometimes they are in the middle. oops cut in half.













Sometimes they are in the back. Bad Ben was leading his son Matt. I call him "The Young Mr. Holmes." Matt calls himself "Son of a Ben," proud to be the son of a great man and leader. It is after all father's day weekend.


Right after Free State, Ben and I were having a conversation. Matt had just spent time before, during and after the race schlepping, hauling and without ever, EVER whining helping with the race.







"Sophia, Matt wants to run a race with me."





"No problem, do Intro to Psummer. I'll race direct." I had just gotten a first hand (and one that I sought out and enjoyed) view of what it takes to put on a successful, organized, can survive any disaster--even a tornado--race.

But..... then I got hired by Mizuno. I wasn't going to have time.
"I'm not going to get to run with Matt."

Enter Shane and Brandy Jones. Sometimes leaders are at the finish line. Or at home, tirelessly entering the results for 106 runners.











Ben brought up the rear with Matt.






Sometimes leaders are at the very back of the pack.






I was talking to a lady after the race.
"Oh that's YOUR Ben? Oh please tell him thank you, thank you so much for encouraging me and my friend. This was my first ever trail run, and I so appreciated it. Give him a hug for me."











Muddy sweaty hug.














So what are the Trail Nerds about? Leaders. Everywhere. In front, in the middle, at home, and sometimes most importantly bringing up the rear.











Happy, happy Muddy Hugs to everyone.

Sophia





































































Thursday, June 18, 2009

Stefanie

Way back... almost a year ago I posted a blog about all of my amazing girlfriends, and how supportive they were of me in an incredibly devastating time in my life.

It's been amazing to watch how they've evolved through the past 10 or so months. One is Stefanie.

I helped mentor her for her first 8k. Kept her from going out too fast, and kept her company. When you run long distances, maybe an 8k doesn't seem so far--but it's all about perspective. For her, a sprinter, it was the longest she'd ever run.

In April, she ran the Oklahoma City half marathon in 2 hours and change.

Yesterrday, I got a text from her.
"Man I just ran 9.6 miles in 80 minutes! If it weren't for u i would have never been able to do that or want to run at all. Hope all is well mud u!"

It's so nice to be appreciated, especially when it's from someone you know you can trust to be there for you, too.

I'll get pictures up later.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Running running and running

I love running.
I was so happy to be back running on a trail at Rockin' K.
It was a joy and honor to help Ben with Free State and see and hear the appreciation of the runners and their families.
I'm really excited about the trail building we're doing at Wyco, and the mojo Ben has created by teaming up with the Earth Riders. (great vision).
I am so thankful for the true friendships I've encountered in life.
I am grateful the future is looking very, very bright and full of love, running and prosperity.
I have a new job, where I can run everyday and help people explore their running and live better quality lives.

So many of my prayers have been answered. It feels good to be blessed.
Muddy Hugs,
Sophia

Monday, May 11, 2009

rockin original

I can't believe how far behind I am on my blog. Somehow, I've been more busy as an unemployed member of society. I've found myself on numerous committees, quite a few short lists to help out friends, and very happily on many "A" lists of friends new and old.
Pretty proud to be on Julie Toft and Debbie Webster's "A" list. Julie was signed up for Rockin' K, but got stuck on an out of town, airport terminal, crap infested work assignment the weekend of the race. She offered me up her cowtag ( I love that this race gives us cowtags to traipse through the literal, cowpaths!) for what it cost to switch ($45). Saweeet!!! Did I mention I'm unemployed?!! Then she didn't even let me pay her that. Mud U, Julie.

Wait... backtrack.
"Hey Sophia, it's Debbie.. see if Ben will lend you to me over the weekend for Rockin' K."

"Yikes. We have all this Brew to Brew stuff to do. " (blog on that to follow--yeah I am REALLY behind) I hated to have him suffer alone with the paved race packet pick-up. Not Ben's favorite. Still, I know how important Brew to Brew is. A fundraiser for Cystic Fibrosis (horrid disease) but also one of the Kansas City Track Club's most important events. The group and Lou Joline believed in Ben's vision creating the Trail Nerds. They have been great and supportive team members for our group. I didn't want to let them down.
"Tell Ben I'll work all day Sunday at the aid station at Brew to Brew, if he lets you go."

It was an easy sell.
Oh my dear Ben. I love you. love you , love you so much for never resenting me when I get to go run with our friends on beautiful trails. Even when you have to be responsible and take care of the hand (KCTC) that feeds us. Oh I was excited... so excited!

I hadn't raced since November 27th.

"Sophia, where have you been? Why aren't you racing?" An email from Rick Mayo in February. I seriously ran into him before this race.
" Hey I'm back, I'm back!!" His beautiful wife Kristi was there with their equally beautiful daughter. Great to see them...... hmmm.. where were the other boys from Kearny? (find out more here at Gabe's Blog)


Wait... backtrack.
Carpool/Nerd-Mud Babe motorcade to the race.

Everyday's party in Sophie's World.

I met up with Debbie, we loaded up the truck with muddy shoes, snacks etc? Actually an impressive stash for a weekender. Two doesn't constitute much of a carpool. Read on.
I had 6 nerds to coordinate. Two cars right? Ended up with three. Two people per car right? Nope. 4 in one car and one each in two others. Jim wanted to multi-task and work on the way (admirable actually) and Greg had a different "bailout after the race schedule," since he was doing 50 miles.
On the way out we lent Shane Jones to Greg for company, and in retrospect should have put James T. in with Jim since he spent the majority of the trip glued to his cell phone. Meanwhile, Debbie and I did our best to distract James by rockin' out to her latests favorite country song. We'd made a quick stop at Target in Lawrence to grab James and Shane. I got a battery put in one of Ben's old watches. And got teased by Shane for my super cool Timex. Shuddup Shane (tease back) it only cost $10. Did I mention I'm unemployed?!!

So the motorcade looked like this:

In Car 1: Jim Megerson and phone

In Car 2: Debbie, me, James, phone and country tunes

In Car 3: Shane and Greg having a bro-mance










Meatballs, meatballs, meatballs!

The pre-race dinner and meeting Stacy Sheridan was awesome! I'm not sure God could put more positive energy in one woman. Muddy hug! Oh I love that lady.


A fun positive to being so RIDICULOUSLY far behind on my blog is perspective. Here's one. Take a look at Laurie Euler's plate of meatballs. Paired with her race report peppered with self deprecating humor that she couldn't poo. That's a lot of blockage. Her dear boyfriend Nick (the garbage disposal--eats like Michael Phelps) had stopped in and partook at our firm invitation of our breakfast spread. Watermelon, displayed in the ice container (presentation is so important) and peanut butter bagels.


"Hey does Laurie want anything?"

"Not a fan of mornings."

She was already in the Nick's car. Next time take us up on the peanut butter Laurie! It works wonders. No promises... but maybe it would help with the Poo!


Shane and James pop into our room, on time-- thanks guys. We start shoving food in their faces. Coffee coffee! I'd hopped across the street and gotten some marginal brown brew from the convenience store.
"I'm not too good in the morning." Shane.

boom chicka boom chicka la la twang.
"I love this song! This is my favorite song right now!"CMT was on the television. Yup, while other runners were catching up on the latest weather forecast for the day, Debbie and I were tuned into the Country Music Channel. "I will run to you-oo -oo. I will run to you."We sang and danced in unison.
"Sorry, I don't think it's that great a song."
Shuddup Shane. (teasing)

On the way to the race we discussed our post race strategy.
"Shane why don't you run with my key fob since you'll finish WAY ahead of all of us."
We all concurred this was the best plan.


boom chicka boom chicka la la twaaaang.


"What? wait? not this song again?"
I turned around to Shane.
"We bought the CD at Target so we can hear it whenever we want. C'mon it says "run" in the chorus!"
"ugh."
Even James seemed a little irritated.
"I will run to you!" We sang at the top of our lungs.Played it twice.

Radio after that. Hard dude rock. This time everyone was singing.


THE RACE:

Fear. For this race, I knew I had to follow all the rules. Respect the distance, respect your body, listen to the signs. I can't even say I was on the Megerson constant taper. (25-30 miles per week max, year round). I was quite simply out of shape. January and February had been total running busts. I hadn't raced since November. Would my body remember what to do?

"Ben, what should I expect for a time on this one? I am so undertrained."
5:30 to 6:30. Ben knew the course and has run it in several different fitness levels. I looked down at my "new," watch and wondered what it would read at the end of the race.

Anxiety. I shared it with Debbie.
"I can't make any mistakes. I am going to have to be militant about salt, food, water, wardrobe.. everything." I packed a drop bag for the first time ever. Mostly I wanted a labelled place to leave my Mizuno stretch crew in the middle of the race so I could start out warm and comfy at the beginning. I threw in my inhaler. (Performance enhancing drugs according to Mr. Megerson!)

"We are making a mistake right now."

Debbie and I were chatting away like school girls on a slumber party. But somehow it worked out. We were relaxed and at least slept well for the few hours we got.


Before the race, Stacy Sheridan came a lookin for me.
"Sophia..Sophia there you are!" great big hug. "ooops I forgot I had to sign in. I'm here."
Then I was running. Running in the breathtaking splendor of Kanopolis State park. I felt free at last. I came up upon Coleen and Deb Johnson after taking a break to water a bush. Btw, an interesting experience with 40 mph winds and little to block it.

I chimed in a hello and tried to make conversation, but there was also very little to block the angry hostility and seething silence of Coleen. I can't tell you how many tears I've shed for the loss of this friendship. It was a friendship based on discovery of ultra running, laughter, watermelon and oranges. I loved having her as a friend. I miss her. In the past few months, sometimes we'd end up on the same group run and chat and chat. Tap dancing over the rocks and the taboo subject. Not anymore. Hardly a hello. Glares. Daggers. Hurtful taunting. Accusations. Gossip. Denial. It is truly painful.


The tears would fill a small tub if they ever made it there. Instead their salty stream burns and stings the wounds, many of which are 9 months deep. I hate to even have this passive mention here, but each time I think we could be approaching repair, something happens. The knife turns, the wound is exposed, the tears sink deep within.


On this day, the salt is from sweat, not tears. Instead of crying, I will run. And if I'm to run in silence, I'd prefer it be pure. I charge ahead and run alone.


13.1 Coke, Mountain Dew. Ah, blessed aid station. Oranges. Shane???

"Shane what are you doing here."

"Look at that? I feel like quitting."

I'd caught up with Shane who was grumpy because Kyle and Tony were 5 and a half brutal miles ahead of him.

"c'mon run with me!"

I was so excited. Seeing Shane truly energized me, because it meant I was running pretty well. I should have grabbed the key though. I actually finished a few minutes ahead of him.


This is where the race got interesting. Serious climbs. Ran into Willie from Great Plains Running. Muddy hug. Trotted along. Took pictures. Made a little video interview with Willie. Got back to the aid station. Dropped of the shirt. Took my performance enhancing drugs, and carried on.

pa-thunk--- pa-thunk. Yup. That's the sound your running makes when you're being blown sideways. A first. And with a step up because of the deeply rutted horse trail. But it didn't bother me. Many have described the wind at soul sucking. Instead it was like Narnia, with Aslan breathing trail running life back into this emotionaly weary Mud Babe.

I took it all in. Deeply. Honestly. Forever. I was back in my beautiful world. Completely.


Around 21 I caught up with a fellow named John from Minnesota. We couldn't talk much because the wind was so loud. I didn't get a chance to talk to him after either so I want to thank him here. I was tired of running alone. Thanks for waiting for me at the top of a hill at mile 22. I was ready just to drop back. It was nice to know someone wanted to run with me. Even just for a few miles.

Finish line: 5:31. More hugs from Stacy Sheridan who I promise a mud tattoo at Free State.
Shane finished.
Coleen, Debbie and Deb J. finished.

I had watermelon left over from breakfast. Maybe, just maybe Coleen would like some? Nope. I try to walk up to the group and offer. But get the side of the head. Laughter to all the other women and exclusion. Female bullying.
It's ok. While it's more fun to share delicious watermelon with a friend, it still tastes good running alone.

Muddy Hugs,

Sophia