Monday, July 11, 2011

POO Babes across the Pond. from THE MAJOR

Alrighty-- I have about 10 blogs swirling in my crazed mind-- yet not done. So here's one from Major Erin-- from "across the Pond."

Okay- so it has been about a month since my last effort was put forth to the blog… I am happy to say that my running has been about as steady as it can be here… despite the ceremonies for fallen Soldiers, purple heart awards presentations, and well a whole other litany of random events that have interrupted the nightly run… But things here are starting to settle into a rhythm which makes it easier and easier to break away during the day to get a good 6 miles in or so.
So I left you guys back in late May, I think my longest run had been a 5K or 4 miles… and really with no one else but me… but a Captain, Caitlin Hall, who came in from the FOB, and she wanted to run… so we did and we went by the most famous of land features here on Kandahar Airfield, the Poo Pond. It was about 100+ degrees out that day- Caitlin was kicking my ass after we had both done intervals the day prior… My legs were a little heavy, and well we went about 3.5 and that I think was the longest run up to that point… As you can see we are really afforded the opportunity to run in about the most uncomfortable running clothes ever… the Army Physical Fitness Uniform… the shorts are super scratchy and the t-shirts are usually huge and don’t forget the mandatory reflective belt to further add to your annoyance while running in broad daylight. Luckily the Army decided awhile back to actually let us wear all white ankle socks of the running type, before it was all mid-calf old man socks.

Oddly enough the Poo Pond doesn’t smell when you are right next to it… it really smells several feet away or even way across the airfield depending on how the wind blows. I have smelled it while running over a mile away and almost heaved- it is that bad… Now that it has gotten really hot I am pretty sure I will not be running by there anytime soon. Apparently the Poo Pond dates back to the Russians in Afghanistan. It is alleged that the Poo-Pond has been emptied before. There are also many an urban-legend about people swimming, diving into, and doing various other things in the Poo Pond. I have not confirmed the truth of any of them… nor would I want to find myself swimming with the fishes in said poo filled pond.

I There is a small off shoot of the Poo-Pond; I like to call it the Poo-Canal. The Poo Canal runs in between the airfield and the road, sort of moat like, and you get to run next to it for a good half-mile on the six-mile route here; that route also takes you by the Tim Horton’s Coffee shop, although sometimes I really am tempted to stop in on a run, sort of like an aid station, I have refrained. Maybe if I tackle the Airfield Loop twice (18 Miles) I will stop!

So as you can see it was fairly clear out that day, and not too dusty- normally it is super dusty- which is why we sport the “eye pro” I also chew gum which is weird, but it seems to keep your mouth from getting all sandy… As it is getting hotter and hotter every day, the dust seems to be getting worse.
The pictures below are from my other out and back lolli-pond, which is the tail end of the 6 mile loop too. I call it the NATO Pond 4- out to the pond and back- you can vary the mileage by the number of loops around the pond…

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Erin's Blog. "Me my Mizuno's and Afghanistan"

Me, My Mizunos and Afghanistan…
This is from our good Friend Major Erin Miller.

The creation…
I deployed to Afghanistan in February 2011, leaving my running friends, mainly the Mud Babes and my Dog Rippin’, behind in the States and landed safely in Kandahar on the 24th, hoping that I might get some running in before the brunt of my unit hit ground- I was sadly mistaken. As days turned into weeks and then into a couple of months, I finally got my act together… and that was it- I went out running… and it sucked… mainly because of my running shoes… I had packed in such a rush that the wet soggy Ascends and Cabrakans sat drying by the door while my nice and clean other ones got thrown in the bag. Of course probably with the intention of ordering or shipping my trusty Mizunos… well that didn’t happen initially…
So the motivation came when I started to feel REALLY, REALLY out of shape, out of energy and generally angry about most things… so I ran… it was only two miles but it felt like twenty… it was hot and dusty and well running on the gravel was killing my feet… I got back emailed my mom and had her send the Garmin… and then another run- this time in the morning- thinking maybe it was the heat… but nope… my feet and legs were killing me… and that three and a half made the difference- and I ordered the Wave Ascend 5s… two pair!
I patiently awaited the arrival of my new shoes. I continued to suffer through several days of running - constantly asking the main clerk if they had arrived…. And finally the day came… and I was SUPER EXCITED! And I was not disappointed a bit…
The next day was a bit rough for us here in Afghanistan- we lost a Soldier. Part of my job here is to participate in a “Ramp Ceremony” which is the send off of our fallen brother or sister in arms as the remains are loaded into the back of a military Aircraft bound for the states. A somber ceremony that really brings you back to reality… this was unfortunately not the first one of our year here… it was that day when I was out for a run- a short one- three miles or so- and the thought came to me… maybe a blog could be the best way to communicate my story with my friends and those who maybe want to read about a ultra-marathon-ing trail running dog loving Major in the Army while deployed to Afghanistan... There are not a lot of outlets for a woman like me deployed in a predominately male organization… so my thoughts on a run are how I bring myself back to center… sp this might get interesting…
I hope my blog does not bore you- but brings you along on my journey… a journey to survive twelve months or so away from family and friends, and to reach a goal for training- not sure what I am going to train for- but maybe we will start with a 50K… I might be able to find one of those on leave to run with the mud babes…

Monday, May 9, 2011

When love isn't enough

This photo says so much about the way I feel right now. Surrounded by rocks-- headed toward water with an instrument that would surely be ruined if it got wet. I know I used to think that I could defy all odds and use the instrument as a paddle over the water, and not damage it. Just focus on the goal. The rest will simply fall in place. I have learned the hard way, that is not so.

Mid March Ben and I parted ways. Some know, others don't. While it was my decision, the pain is deep as I invested much love, energy, time and hope in the relationship over the past three years.

I wish I could explain or answer questions, but I can not. Except that I will always love Ben.

My new hope is that you all can learn to love me as an individual.


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Damnation. Purgatory. Tums. Rocky Racoon 100 miler 2011

This story begins at mile 28 as the first 28 miles of running at Rocky Racoon 100 felt like a bad day at the office.
I was at the Damnation aid station, mile 28 feeling gross. This is a special aid station, as it is so remote, no crews are allowed. You hit it twice per loop, and if you drop there, you have to hang the rest of the race to get a ride back. Purgatory.
"Have you eaten anything?" The question, over and over again from a persistent aid station worker.
"I've been drinking."
"What about calories?"
"I drank coke." At this point it clicks that I've been asked about eating enough, that perhaps I'm not looking too good.
"Do you have any potatos?"
"We have potato soup."
The day before Rocky, I got the most debilitating migrane of my life. I vomitted a chunky pink mixture out twice, once outside of Walmart, and later at the park. The second bout was like the scene from Alien.

The thought of chunky potatos was highly unappetizing, but I looked in the cup, and it was pureed, and salty and oh so delicious. I grabbed a handful of TUMS, too and snacked on them.
A 6.5 mile loop later, I was back at Purgatory, and saw the same aid station worker.
"Well you look much better than the last time I saw you!" That was Mike. And each loop, I made sure to connect with him and give him a muddy hug-my signature- as well as the purple Mizuno skirt I was stylishly wearing.

Finish that loop. Finish the next. Eat way more than my share of potato soup. Pig out at mile 56.6 on everything. Quesedillas, apple pie, avacado, dates, three cups of coke, more dates, two quesedillas to go. I had to walk just to digest.

Mile 60: Our glorious Trail Nerd Mudbabe crew station, complete with banners, music, and Hayley my Mudbabe pacer. Many DNF'd at this point. I threw on some tights, grabbed a jacket and light and headed back out. I saw Ben, my fiancee a couple miles in and was so deliriously happy. We exchanged a very big hug and I carried on.

I was so HOT. That just didn't seem right. I shed a layer of tights at the first aid station, but just couldn't feel ok. (probably all that food fighting to digest. Poor body, very confused) I was too cold without the jacket, too hot with it. One layer of Mizuno Breath Thermo and an Elixir jacket. Any time I ran, I roasted. I started walking more.

Damnation /Purgatory: I consider changing my base layer, but fortunately stuck with the plan. That was a good decision. A bad one was to switch the battery in my flashlight. It must've been a dud battery, because the flashlight died. I had a lame headlamp and was forced to walk the rooted section. Now I was cold. So cold.

Mile 73: I was stumbling, and falling asleep while running. I slowed down and joined some gals I'd chatted with before DP (Damnation Purgatory). Earlier they had been playing a game, and asked if I wanted to join.

"I am ready to play the game now. I need your help, I am falling asleep."
Nikki and Katie. Cool chicks from Colorado. Nikki was an experienced pacer. Katie was running a smart first hundred. I instantly liked them both. As an added bonus, Nikki had just read the Trail Runner magazine that had the article about the Trail Nerds in it, and knew who I was.

"Sophia... I love that name! make sure you download the song." And oh yeah, I can't remember the band Nikki told me sang the Sophia song.

Headed into the main station to pick up Hayley, the two left me with a piece of sage advice.
"The last loop takes care of itself."
Ok, makes sense. I just need some sort of mantra.

Mile 80: Enter Hayley. I re bundled up. Dry Breath Thermo. Double BT. Triple for Hayley who wasn't warmed up. Elixir jackets. Breath Thermo tights. Adorable skirts.
The air was moist and it was 30 degrees. It was so dark and my light was awful. Matty Mullins hooks me up with a better headlamp and power flashlight.

I just start to cry when I think of Hayley and how much she invested in this race for me. Extra long hours at work the week before so she could have 3 days off, then picking up the extra crew duties for Ben when 2 of our posse, couldn't make it down due to the snow. The extraordinary part, is she'd never crewed or paced before. She held the responsibility, like a champion weightlifter going for the world record.

We are hiking now, as I'd just walked too much to get back to running. I loved having this time with Hayley. We talked and talked about everything.
"I bet this is really beautiful during the day. I wish I'd gotten to see it." Hayley had been so busy crewing she didn't get a chance to see the trail in daylight.
"Oh, I went back and walked Puccini at 8am and 4pm." Our chiueagle who made the journey, but camped out in the hotel room.
"That is so incredible of you. Did he give you a head hug?"

Mile 82: "Where is Ben? Why haven't I seen him?" It was about the 4th time I asked.
"Sophia, argh.. I just have to tell you. Ben dropped. Everyone told me not to tell you. His cold was just terrible and he was just trembling. He's in the hotel room sleeping. Well just coughing really. He just wants you to finish. He's so proud of you."
I was so relieved to know he was safe, and glad she didn't tell me at the main aid station.
Mile 92: Last stop at DP. My body was going sideways, my head was spinning in circles. I had had another bout of sleepiness, and standing by the heater, my equilibrium was off.

I sat down in a chair and put my head down between my knees. As I raised my head slightly, I could see Hayley's profile. Her lips were pursed in a determined position and her eyes were laser focussed. In front of me were zombies. 5 silent quitters, none of which were bleading, all of which were headed to the day after hell of a DNF at mile 92.

I was up. Downed the tepid coffe, slurrped the chicken broth and headed out of Purgatory and into-- THE LIGHT. THE SUN HAD COME UP. Hayley was going to get to experience the beautiful trail in the light.

"Let's go Sophia. It's less than a MudBabe Monday!"
Hayley runs with my Monday all women's trail running group, MudBabe Mondays, the women's division of the Trail Nerds. Training for Rocky, I would do two loops at Shawnee Mission park, which equals 9 miles.

No more sleepiness. Just a steady humble hobble.
"Tell me about the finish line, Sophia."
"Turn left, finish, buckle puke. Puke on Joe (Pursatis)"
"Puke on Danny?"
Not sure how our Wednesday Trail Nerd run group leader Danny became the butt of this joke/mantra, but it entertained us several times during out last eight miles. Sorry Danny.

"Sophia, just think of the warm bed and snuggle with Ben."
Bad Ben. My fiancee. 12 hundred mile finishes, including 3 sub 24 hour Rocky Racoon. I just couldn't wait to see him at the finish line.

Ben had our crew all set up with videos and still cameras so he could give me a hug.
"Ben, in my Mizuno bag is a belt with a Free State buckle. Go get it and put this buckle on it."

"Ben, obviously your crewing job isn't over yet." Joe Pursatis was laughing as his wife got my chip off.
27:39 and change.

Cool Stuff:
1. A quick interaction with record breaker and winner Ian Sharman as he lapped me. (of course I, like everyone else had no idea who he was.)
"Are you lapping me?"
" What loop are you on?"
"Well carry on."
"I love your accent." I quipped in an imitation British accent.
2. Seeing the legendary ultra guys, Anton Krupicka and Scott Jurek several times.
3. Seeing Mike from the North Texas Trail Runners at Damnation/Purgatory each loop and having him call me by name.

Things I did right:
1. Lubed with A&D ointment. No blisters. No chaffing.
2. Packed warm clothes in drop bag and at main aid. Next time, put an extra jacket at DP.
3. At mile 20 changed from Wave Riders into the lower profile Wave Elixir's-- out of the box fresh. I could feel the trail better, and never fell. Just a couple stumbles.
3A. Note I didn't wear trail shoes. A concious choice to have more breathability, so I would have less possibilty of blistering.
4. Ran a 50 miler in October, which gave me confidence and an understanding of where I would blister.
6. Baby wipes in a zip lock bag.
7. Had a great pacer/crew. I'm letting her wear the belt buckle once every ten days.
8. LANCOME waterproof mascara. "Your feet run, your mascara shouldn't." Man that stuff makes a hundred mile finish photo look great.
9. Injinji socks- to avoid big toe blister.
10. BT socks over too short Injinji socks
Things I did wrong:
1. Not enough back to back long runs.
2. Not enough hill repeats.
3. Not enough walking practice.
4. Lame, Lame , lame headlamp and flashlight. More better light next time.
5. Didn't pack some sort of caffiene suppliment.
6. Didn't pack TUMS.
7. Injiniji socks that only came up to the collar of my shoe. Need taller ones next time.

That's all for now.
Muddy Hugs,