Monday, April 29, 2019

Seneca 7 Part 2

The clouds boiled with rage, threatening rain, snow, and a general melange of misery. The wind howled and peeled at flesh, as if it would strip one to the bone. The lake frothed with whitecaps that beat the shores like a seething beast. Pervasive precipitation defeated any attempt to keep oneself anything beside frozen.

This was Seneca 7.

Literally every other day in April was nicer. Today, the day after the race, I ran in a t-shirt. Yesterday I was dressed for an extra-planetary excursion.

We watched the weather obsessively in the days leading up to the weekend. The high got lower, the low got lower. A promise of rain turned into a promise of snow. On Friday the race coordinators gave us the option to become a car team. After a frantic discussion we acquiesced, much to our disappointment.

Part of me was relieved. I remembered how brutal last year's Seneca 7 was. 77 hilly miles on bike and on foot is hard enough. When you add in snow, rain, and blistering wind, it becomes a struggle for survival. Not all of us made it to the end.

On Saturday, the forecast improved.... slightly. It was enough. Bert said, "let's bike!" As Curt had once said, "if you don't bike in the rain, you don't bike." And that was it. One moment and we were suddenly plunged headfirst into a torturous escapade. Again.

Thanks Bert.

Curt was halfway through a 4 hour bike ride (on the trainer) at that point. The rest of us hadn't bothered packing anything for a long bike ride in winter conditions. We were all ready for a cozy tour around Seneca Lake in a warm truck. Suddenly we had to scramble to overstuff our backpacks with survival essentials. Many of us didn't get much sleep Saturday.

There were seven of us gathered at the Geneva Bike Shop that morning: Bert, David, Curt, Harland, Chris, Patrick, and myself. Harland and Patrick were first timers, new additions due to injuries among a pair of last year's teammates. We filled their ears with optimism and talk of manly deeds in the days prior.

Once again I was dressed in Frog Trogs, resembling a lost cosmonaut. In my hands I bore a sack of potatoes, further solidifying my Russian heritage. Half those potatoes ended up on the sidewalk in front of the bike shop. They may lie there still. This was not on purpose, but appropriate for a team named Hot Mess Express.

Even at 6am, the street near the starting line was already bustling with jubilant runners. In front of the bike shop, it was quiet, almost morose. We took turns expunging our guts in the abused bathroom of the shop. We turned in our spindled forms and checked the pressure on our tires. We checked and rechecked our gear, as if it made a difference. We were too far from home to snag another pair of socks.

In too-brief a flash, we were ready. We looked like cartoon caricatures of ourselves, laden with many layers of Arctic clothing and backpacks that had their own gravitational pull. A gust of wind blew a puppy across the street. But we were resolute. This was what we had wanted: A chance to push our limits and prove what we were made of.

It was cold and drizzly. No way the weather can be as bad as it was last year, we had exclaimed. Lightning never strikes twice in the same place! It had, and our bodies bore the marks of its scorching passage. This time around I'd made sure to invest in shoe covers. No more plastic bags for my feet.

We rode. We ran. We got wet. We changed clothing in open view. We hauled the trailer. We got splashed with mud. The wind whipped us like rag dolls. We joked and laughed and shivered. We were a group of warriors, challenging the heavens to unleash its full might upon us.

On leg 5 we got lost. A friend of mine, Rachael, had just been thrown on another team at the last minute. It was her first Seneca 7. She had feverishly studied the course and I'd told her, don't worry, you can't get lost. Incidentally, she was running leg 5. Foolishness, meet Peter.

Did I mention I split my pants?
I split my pants.
Photo cr. Curt

We set off from the exchange and biked in the direction the runners were heading. We quickly passed the group, so now we were leading them. This is when I realized the street we were on headed directly into the lake, with a sign just shy of the shore that said "dead end." I stopped abruptly, and David almost crashed into me. "This is the wrong way," I shouted, trying to sound like a viking lord.

We zipped around on our bikes and finally found the correct way. The runners thanked us, as if we hadn't gotten them lost in the first place. I stood on my pedals and pounded up the hills, trying to outrun my embarrassment. I was at the next exchange as the runners finished the leg. I spotted one speedy gentleman and said, "there's that fast man!" Compliments always smooth over awkward situations.

It was my turn to run on leg 6. I peeled off my Hazmat suit and put on my kilt. I'll forget to bring a race belt, I'll forget to bring food, I'll forget to bring body glide, but I'll never forget my kilt. Halfway through the run I got warm and took off my jacket. I carried it in my hand; wrapping it around my waist would have covered beautiful plaid. After that it was my turn to haul the trailer.

After a couple more legs, I hauled that slow fat trailer into yet another Winery, where half the team was huddled in a secret alcove. Some of the exchanges have port-o-potties reserved for cyclists. Exchange 8 has a hidden spot where you can pee, change, or just hang out with your junk out. It's a brief moment of luxury. I think Harland was halfway out of his pants when I pulled in.

The ride down into Watkins Glen was extra treacherous this year, due to construction. One errant slip would leave you plunging into a gaping chasm in the road. This is especially great when you're flying down the hill at 30+ miles per hour. Bert chose to haul the trailer, as he had the best breaks, but I'm not sure he used them.

We pulled into Clute Park with only two flat tires. Last year I got a flat tire, and we spent a week and a half at the park. This time it was Harland and Dave. So we had another long "rest". Bert was tracking our time more actively this year. The break set us back um.... a bit. They did have a building reserved just for the cyclists, which made me feel like king of the world. The best part for me was spotting Carrie. Those squeezes were the best.

After a nice long vacation involving juice and hot soup, we clambered back aboard our newly repaired bikes with dry socks on. Bert continued to haul the trailer up the massive soul-crushing hill out of Watkins Glen. I decided to floor it on my bike, but used up what little energy I had left. I patted myself on the back at the top, and realized we still had over 30 miles to go.

At the next exchange we had an exchange.

"We're at 7 and a half hours now. If we push it, we can make up our time," said Bert confidently.

"Right, we're going to push it... up hill... into a headwind," I replied.

"You shut your dirty mouth."


"You shut that dirty f*cking mouth right now."


"Let's get on our bikes and go!"

"Chris is running the 10k leg. It doesn't matter if we leave now. We're still going to have to wait for him to finish at the next exchange," I said, because I'm a huge a$$hole.

"You shut your mouth and never speak again!"

I don't remember the exact words.

We got progressively colder, hungrier, and more tired as we biked and ran. At one of the exchanges, David, Chris, Patrick and I were loitering, waiting for the rest of the group to catch up. We were complaining vigorously about how hungry we were and precisely what we would eat to satisfy that hunger. The piles of imagined food were ostentatious.

Then, Chris spied something. He bent down and scooped up a blue round object and popped it into his mouth. He immediately spat out shells and yolk. We stared, stunned, as Chris wiped his mouth.


"I thought it was an Easter candy."

"But it wasn't."

"It was a robin's egg."

"Was it delicious?"


I took pity on their desperate hunger and offered up some of my potatoes. Chris followed up with a comment about making omelettes with robins' eggs and potatoes. Truly we were in dire straights.

After that we got lost repeatedly on the running trails on legs 15 and 16. Did I say "we"? I meant "I". I started following the runners down a muddy grassy trail on my bike. Up ahead I spotted a drum circle and thought, wow, that's cool! Until one of the fellows stopped me. He was very polite but the message was very clear: I was a dumb idiot who had gone the wrong way.

The end of that leg involved crossing some deep mud puddles. Chris was hauling the trailer at that point, so that made for a "fun" challenge. We thought we'd gotten misplaced again, until we saw the battalion of minivans ahead.

I have to make a side note here. As a bike team, we repeatedly made snide remarks about the car teams. We spoke with chagrin about the happy energetic runners who blasted past us on the runs. We stared on in envy as warm runners ate cookies while dangling their legs off the back of a van. We grimaced with contempt as we squeezed past a row of a dozen vehicles with their blinkers on, hoping to somehow find parking in a full lot.

We parked our bikes in the midst of an army of such vehicles. We were so cold and tired that we kept dropping things and tripping over pebbles on the ground. Warm, dry, well fed spectators giggled at our antics. We made pleasant conversation, but secretly we bubbled with rage and envy. Though our chests did inflate to three times their size when we were complimented on being "crazy". Heck yeah we are!

Chris was off trailer duty and hopped on his bike, elated. He hit the pedals hard and zoomed on, with me close on his heels. We were getting closer and closer to the end, and we were excited to finish and eat greasy salty food. We turned down a path with a broken surface (all too common for us foolhardy bikers). Chris was just ahead of me, moving at a quick clip.

His front wheel turned 90 degrees and his bike stopped instantly. Chris did not stop. Time froze. I saw Chris in midair, his body making no contact with any stable surface. Then, as if in fast forward, every inch of him made simultaneous contact with the concrete surface. For a brief moment, he and the pavement were one, an unholy union of flesh and concrete.

I heard no sounds, but my brain manifested the crunching of bones. The bike clattered, the telltale echo of a potentially terrible tragedy. As Chris put it, he was "robbed of flesh and dignity." In an instant he bounced right back to his feet, as if nothing had happened. I almost thought I'd imagined it. Suddenly he was the most graceful of ninjas.


Casually, he picked up his bike and got back on. With all the aplomb in the world, he continued on as if nothing had happened. I shook my head in amazement, then willed my own frozen body to continue on behind him.

I felt surprisingly strong on my last leg. I had jammed myself full of Cheezits and gatorade that Patrick's friend has offered. My previous leg had started well, with a mile downhill, before following up with four miles uphill. I'm fairly certain the entire course is uphill, made up for entirely by the massive hill down into Watkins Glen.

This last leg, I spotted a lady far ahead, and committed myself to smoking her. I turned on my turbo charger, straining my legs to the brink of catastrophe. On the last climb before the exchange (another hill, of course), I passed her. Feeling like a superhero, I charged into the exchange.... where nobody was waiting for me.

I spotted David, making his way towards me. Hefting a sigh, I handed the "baton" to him and met up with the rest of the group. It was the last exchange. I changed clothes in record time and said, "let's get the f*ck out of here." We hopped on our bikes and did the victory cruise to the finish.

Sh*t. That was Bottomless Brewery. I made no jokes about it! That just goes to show the state of our mental faculties.

Curt, Chris and I glided down the highway. We passed the cheering spectators at the finish and thought, how the heck do we get into this park? Finally, far ahead we spotted the turn. It added about a half mile to get around to the the "Reunification Area". As we dropped our bikes unceremoniously into the grass, I spotted Harland hauling the trailer and Patrick.

I got out on to the curb, braving the rushing traffic. I looked left. I looked right. Then I motioned for the two of them to cross. I helped Harland pull his bike and trailer over the curb as a semi barreled behind him. It wasn't a semi. Maybe a large van... maybe just a little sedan. But still!

We relaxed and smiled in victory and joy as we waited for David to finish his final leg. It had been a long and exhausting day. It was surreal to be at the end. Everyone had been amazing. Bert was our team captain, making sure to log our legs and keep us moving. David was on top of the trailer, swiping bikes like a seasoned pro. Curt was the stalwart athlete, never flagging. Chris, an expert at long bouts of suffering, was always in good cheer. Harland and Patrick got to enjoy this amazing, crazy event for the first time. It was an incredible day with great guys.

We spotted David in his Wolfpack suit. As he passed us, we joined him for the final jog to the finish line. Scott, of the Southern Tier Running Club, called our group as we crossed: "Hot Mess Express!" and we weren't even last! We were about 300 out of 330. But I'm sure our beards were the best.

We hugged, took photos, and ate chili and cookies. Then we grabbed all our junk and headed back to the cars. After dumping all of our mud soaked gear, we headed to a salty and greasy dinner. We laughed and commiserated and ate enough to stuff an elephant. Truly we were euphoric. I felt like I could do it all again!

Harland and I had carpooled together. He'd met me at 4:30am at my house. Now, at 10pm, we were finally heading back. I blasted A Perfect Circle as we drove back down Route 14, remarking how even in a car it seemed very far. I suddenly felt extremely sleepy, but Harland and the rumble strips kept me on task.

We all survived. Not just that, we had an amazing day. Despite the cold and the rain and the hardship, each of us finished. We discovered new things about ourselves. We got lost, our bikes broke, we had accidents and mishaps, we ate birds eggs off the ground, and yet we live to tell the tale.

Thank-you to all of the organizers of the event! It must have been a pain with the weather. Thanks to the many many volunteers! I can't even imagine how many people it takes to man all of the exchanges. Thanks to the police officers who hung out at the most dangerous intersections. Thanks to all of the spectators who cheered us on! Despite our envious whining, the perk of the run teams was that they were always around, cheering us on. Thanks to Hot Mess Express, an awesome team. And thanks to everyone who made the day such a positive experience.

Next year, it will be warm and we will do the whole race in shirts and shorts. No way lightning strikes in the same place.... three times.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Empire State Marathon 2018

Photo cr. Friend of the runners

Empire State has always been a rough marathon for me. In 2016 it was right in the middle of three marathons in a row (4 within 5 weeks of each other). In 2017 it was right after Wineglass. I tried to pace my brother Alex and blew up about mile 18. I barely survived thanks to a new friend I met on the course. This year it was a whole two weeks after Wineglass, and I ran it with Emily and Kristina. It hurt a lot but it was super fun!

None of us were sure what to expect. I'd stalled out at mile 23 at Wineglass and my knee was still hurting. Emily hadn't run a marathon in two years due to some terrible health issues. And this was Kristina's first marathon! Just two months prior she'd run her first half marathon, also with me and Emily (and Alex). None of us were expecting miracles. We just wanted to finish with smiles.

This finish.
I went up on Saturday to pick up my bib. I coasted down Bridge St. looking for Fleet Feet. I'd been there last year and thought for sure it was on this side of the street. Finally I thought I'd missed it and parked in a lot. I got out of the car. And there it was, across from the street from me. Gah! I dangerously crossed four lanes of traffic and went in.

I picked up my bib, and then casually said to the lady, "sooo, I can't get bibs for my friends, right?"

"Well, you're not supposed to, buuttt...." She started, looking around secretively. She explained what a pain it was to give out packets on Sunday morning. Then she called over another guy to do the dark deed.

"So what's your friend's name?" He asked. Um. I had no clue. Kristina had three last names. Who the frog knows which one she was registered under. I tried one; no luck. I stepped out of line. I messaged them. Then I looked up the results from Cortland Triathlon. Proud of myself I gave him her name.

He started typing it in, and I saw her name pop up on his screen with a still different name. "That's her!" I quickly said. "And that's the other one!" I said when I saw Emily pop up under her emergency contacts. I hoped he didn't hear me because I immediately realized that's generally frowned up (using another runner as your contact). Awesome, two rules broken already.

"How many rules did we break??"
Photo cr. Kristina

It still took him a while to find her bib because he couldn't remember which of the myriad names I'd given to look under. It seriously looked like I was making people up and stealing their bibs. I signed Emily's name on her waiver with an "E" and Kristina's with half a "K". Not even a whole K. My finger got tired. Then he gave me a spiel I was expected to remember. Something about the drop bag.

As soon as I had the bags I ran the heck out of there as if I'd just robbed a register. I breathed deep once I got outside, my ill-gotten goods clutched in my grubby hands.

I got up the next morning at 5am. Oh right, this is why I don't sign up for more races. I didn't even eat any food or drink any coffee. I just lounged on the couch for an hour and left at 6. It was cold and dark. I got to Syracuse and it was still cold and dark. I went into the stadium and pretended to be purposeful. While I aimlessly looked out into the ball field, Emily and Kristina came out of the ladies bathroom behind me. Who knows what magical things go on in there. Certainly not pooping. Women don't do that.

As we headed back down the steps together, Kristina said, "I wish I had money. I'd pay you to climb on that horse." She pointed at a psychedelic horse on a wall by the steps. Emily (correctly), stated, "you don't need to pay him. Suggest something crazy and he'll just do it anyway." How does she know me so well?

Photo Cr. Kristina

I climbed up the wall and stood by the horse. I touched it, almost a caress. I pushed on it. That was not a steady horse. I looked at the barely secured bolts. Clearly I wasn't the only troublemaker with this idea. I had to run a marathon and decided not to risk my life. They took a picture.

We sat inside Emily's truck for a while. It was full of saws for some reason. Just.... saws. Emily and I were pretty relaxed. Neither of us were tense at all. We've run too many races. More specifically, we've had enough terrible races that there was no way this one would be the worst. For Kristina, it would be both her best and worst marathon. Ha! I went to get coffee.

Photo Cr. Kristina

"Do you take card?" I asked the lady at the Dunkin Donuts in the stadium.

"No, my boss was late and a cat ate the chip reader and a tornado carried off the wifi," I don't actually remember the reasons why.

"Oh, I don't have cash," I said, my eyes brimming with tears.

"I'll just give it to you," she said in a kindly tone. "What do you want?"

"Oh, uh, 4 bagels, 10 bananas, 3 coffees, um, and those pastries." Just kidding, I got a coffee. The lesson I was getting from this weekend was that I could flash my dimples and get race packets and coffee. Hmmm....

We lounged around some more. I finally put my robe and scarf and hat in my car. I had dressed very warmly. It wasn't even 40 out. Emily and Kristina had dressed like Siberian ninjas. We eventually got back into the stadium.

Would have rather stayed in the car...

The race was starting on the field! Squeal! It was always supposed to but this was the first year it actually did. The race director encouraged us to put our belongings in the bleachers. "Just don't put anything valuable there, lolz!" We didn't do that.

Emily and I were still indifferent about running a marathon. It was just a (very) long run to us. I imagine Kristina was pretty excited, but she was keeping it cool in front of us hardened veterans. She did mention that up until 3 months ago, her longest run had been 6 miles. I said, "it's just like 4 of those! Um, plus a little more. Um, and super terrible at the end. But ya know, no big deal!" In retrospect, I was giving a lot of backhanded encouragement.

Bang! We started running. My legs hurt almost immediately but I ignored it. The weather was perfect. We lost layers pretty quickly, and by mile 8 I'd lost my shirt altogether (go figure). I'm terrible with remembering conversation, but let me see what I can recall by way of "encouragement."

"So this first 3 miles along the parkway... it's going to be absolutely awful on the return trip. But, um, nervermind! We're going to have a great race!"

"So it's just this, then a jaunt through the park, then and out and back through a neighborhood, and then back to the lake and out and back on the other side, and then back through the park again, and then down the super terrible parkway. And then that's it! It's done!"

"See that line in the trees super far away across the lake? We're going to be running there. Isn't that exciting?"

"I used to think a towpath was a toepath. Because you run on it with your toes. Um, get it? I think we're supposed to pull a boat. Um, so be ready for that."

Not pictured: boats.
Photo cr: Friend of the runners

We passed Mason in the park. He's in LUNAR too. He yelled at us and I yelled at him. I did a lot of yelling. We passed by an old guy who said, "looking good guys!" and I yelled back, "YOU look good!" He had a nice beard. We passed a guy with a totally epic shirt. It was silk, or satin, or something, with a crazy pattern. He complimented me on my kilt and I on his shirt. I was in full obnoxious kilted glory.

I was totally on point with the photographers. I spotted every. Single. One. Emily and I would be in the middle of conversation and I would suddenly snap my head forward with a big grin and start pointing and flexing with my arms. She thought I was going insane. Every. Time. I can't wait to see those photos, because I'll be smiling and pointing and Emily will be looking at me sideways with a confused frown on her face.

"How do you see the photographers?" She asked.

"Actually I'm just pointing and screaming at trees," I replied. And from that point, every few miles I would randomly point and yell, "TREE." Always when they least expected it. Super fun for me. And only me.

The first half flew by pretty easily. The out and back on the west side of the lake (the Toepath) is pretty lonely, with all the trees blocking your view. Emily turned on her music and became a one woman party. I noticed at one point a guy who was struggling stuck with us for several miles and only left after her batteries ran out. Coincidence? Kristina and I were grateful for the epic music party; I'd run out of stupid things to say.

"How is her hair always perfect?" Kristina asked at one point as we followed Emily, who was bouncing to the music, her perfect hair tinkling in the sunlight like tinsel. Occasionally I asked Kristina how she was doing.

"Everything hurts, but I'm fine," she replied. "I'm fine" was her motto. I joked about whose idea it was to sign up for the marathon anyway. Each of us shifted the blame to the other.

"Hey, I know you've enjoyed a life of comfort, happiness, and ease. Let me fix that by signing you up to suffer pure torture for 5 hours," I said.

"You think my life has been easy?" Kristina replied. Well played, Batman.

We hit the turnaround at 16. "Only ten more miles left!" I exclaimed. I always forget that marathons are long. "TREE," I yelled at about 19. Then we finally got out of the Toepath and crossed the bridge.

"Alright! Just a run through this park and then super horrible awful last three miles on the parkway and then we're done!" I stated happily. Encouragement to the max.

We saw a ton of dogs in the park. Emily wanted to cuddle all of them, and said as much every single time we passed one. I saw a little dog on the path on a leash, held by one lady, being photographed by a second lady with her phone. As I ran past I stooped over and gave a thumbs up, trying to photobomb the little pooch. Emily again gave me a confused sidelong frown. "How do you see those cameras?!" After that I forewarned the ladies when I saw a camera, so we could all smile.

Smiles are the best.

Finally we hit the parkway. I pointed out how the sun would blind us and the expansive pavement would radiate heat up at us. They didn't appreciate it. Emily, who'd been 100% fine up to this point, suddenly got super wobbly.

"I've just lost all control of my body and even my eyelids don't work right anymore." She was fine. Kristina, who looked like she'd been through a war, was also fine.

"I feel like I'm running through lava," I said, "lava full of pins. And two sharks.  And there's bears around us, swatting us so we can't get out of the lava pit. And the sharks are clamping on to us; they want us to haul them out of the lava pit, because it's not super comfortable for them either. But the bears won't let us out." It was a very involved scenario.

Kristina refused to surrender. It was the farthest she'd ever run and she just kept on going. We never took a walk break. We were all suffering and we were all totally committed to finishing. Though I did eye the golfcarts jealously as they cruised by.

After a million years we rounded the last bend. "The stadium is right there!" I lied. When we finally saw it we started sprinting with pent up joy.

"Let's fake smiles for the cameras at the end!" I exclaimed.

"I won't need to fake it," Kristina replied. Heart. Melts. Emily lead the way with her perfect hair. We blasted across the finish line and the 5 gruesome hours were wiped from our brains. We took a selfie, mingled a bit, and then scattered. I don't think any of us did any more moving that way. Except to shovel food in our faces.

It was a truly epic and wondrous adventure. My mind is always blown by the strength and will of others. Emily and Kristina ran nonstop for almost 5 hours straight. Pain is like an old comfortable blanket to me, I don't think much about it. To see others demonstrate such indomitable tenacity... that's incredible. I'll never get tired of that. A big thank you to them for tolerating my kilt, and a big thank you to all the race crew, volunteers, police officers, and spectators (and cute dogs) that make Empire State a grand experience! Every year I tell myself it'll be the last time, and every year I'm glad it wasn't.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Wineglass 2018

Almost a year ago Mike Hammond deleted me from his friends list. This past weekend he added me back on. This was somewhere in the middle of him grumbling about how I misrepresented him in my blog about Boston Marathon ("You and Charles dropped deuces too!"), coaching Lauren on her epic *pineapple*, harassing Wineglass volunteers on my lawn, and sleeping in my sun-room. He explained his reasons outside in the dark, where we stood like a pair of illicit moonlit lovers. It was followed by hugs.

That in a nutshell encompasses my previous year (maybe with less poop jokes). I lost a lot of friends, or at least I thought I did. That happened while I was in the middle of buying a house, a difficult and prolonged process. It happened while I was suffering through terrible health issues that landed me in the hospital (but CaT scans are fun!). During one of the most stressful and trying times of my life, I often felt alone (except for one magical person). It was a result of miscommunication, allowing things to balloon in my head (as I'm wont to do), and at least one person who wanted to actively hurt me.

This past weekend I realized that I still have a huge amount of love in my life, many many people who care about me. Wineglass weekend has always been an incredible experience for me. I had no idea what it would be like this year. I thought that it would be comparatively reserved: A little bit of running, a few polite hugs, no big deal.  I wasn't really sure where everyone was at, and I didn't want to place any expectations. I love my friends and fellow runners, but there had been a lot of drama and hardship in the past year. I thought it would be a quiet weekend.

I was wrong.

You were wrong.

It was an amazing weekend. Wonderful people swarmed my house and filled it with vegan snacks, laughs, and love (the laughs and love were also vegan). Stories were told, tears were shed, friendships were rekindled. I was blown away. I had allowed the malice of one person to infect my soul, and I hadn't realized how much damage it had done. In speaking with these amazing people, I realized that they hadn't resented me. They'd been just as bewildered as I by the whirlwind of BS that had swirled up. There still exists some hurt, but the weekend did a lot to heal it. There was a lot of beauty of the heart, and I felt whole.

That's a long and sappy intro.

After last year's Wineglass, Lauren was looking for a place to stay this year for her first Wineglass. I of course offered my house. I didn't actually own the house yet, but I'm not one to worry about trivialities. So first I had to buy a house. Check! Then I had to renovate a spare bedroom for her. Errr, that took a while and the spackle job is awful and I definitely needed lots of help, but check! Then I stuffed it with stolen (borrowed!) furniture so it looked like a bedroom. Phew! I was ready to host a single guest.

Then two more people came to stay.

Wait, scratch that, three.

No wait, four.


I told them all to go sleep in the port-o-potty across the street from me. No! Of course I told them all to stay. I didn't care. I wanted all the lovelies!

Port-O-Potties were a popular attraction...

First Jenn and Michael, paragons of planning (cough), needed a place to crash. My mystical fey accomplice and I did a rush job on the other unrenovated spare bedroom to make it livable. Air mattress. Pow! Hastily purchased used chair. Boom! Curtains. Whammo! They're two of my favorite people in the world and I would make all sorts of exaggerated promises to lure them to my den. Success!

Marti arrived with Lauren and asked if she could stay too. What? Yes! Lauren described Marti as her "safety blanket" and I wouldn't deprive her of that. You see, Lauren had driven from Illinois to Indianapolis (I just looked up what state that's in... Don't judge me!). Then the two had driven a million miles to get to Corning. Shawn had offered her his home, but he was 40 minutes away. He'd also had some challenging times lately and she didn't want to put him out. Shawn is an amazing and generous person, and anything I can do to reduce his burden I will gladly do. I told Marti and Lauren, I hope you two are OK with snuggling! They were.

And the last person.... hold on! Just wait.

The four guests arrived at about 5. Shawn was hosting a dinner at the Central in Painted Post. Instead, everyone first demanded to go to the Confluence Running Store to get slick Wineglass shades. Apparently they were selling like hot cakes and everyone was feverish to get a pair. Who am I to argue! In fact, they were so eager to get there, Michael ran a red light. He promised to write a letter to Corning regarding the confusing lane markings: Nobody in particular, just "Corning", as in, "Dear Corning, I was so flustered by the lanes that don't go where I thought they'd go, I turned on a red light that said no turn on red. It made me slightly anxious for a couple seconds. Sincerely yours, Michael xxxooo."

Disclaimer: I delve deeply into hyperbole and will admit to no actual traffic infractions.

They bought sunglasses.

We showed up to the Central fashionably late. There were two large tables outside for the many LUNAR folks who gathered. We ate, socialized, and got devoured by mosquitoes. It was a feast for all. There were a lot of self-professed introverts present. I made sure to harass them the most. Runners are super cool. I find that their passion for running makes them passionate in life. They're such vibrant and positive people, even the ones who trek out of their homes but once a year. The waitresses were super accommodating, so I made sure to shower them with silliness as well. The food was delish, and all-you-can-drink water? Bonus!

We came back home. We were family and it felt like home. We kept eating and talking, and stayed up way too late. At some point, Lauren and I went on a 2 mile run. That was more exercise than I'd planned, but I wasn't going to see some vagabond abscond with her. Jenn and I discussed her labia some more (er, labrum...). Curt also came to hang out, so it was a big warm group. Jenn and Michael went to Wegmans for snacks (#1). They love Wegmans (or "Weegmans", as Mike Hammond calls it).

Friday was the first time that Jenn and Lauren - the "twinsies" - met. They don't look anything alike, except that they each weigh less than an overstuffed suitcase. They have the same birthday though. We waited with baited breath to discover that they had been secretly switched at birth, but no, they weren't born on the same day. We reconnected and sucked Lauren into our vortex of giggles and absurdities. Lauren was nervous about the race; she had been training super hard all year. The rest of us were pretty blase about it (as evidenced by lack of sleep and snack choices).

I have a note here that says "port-o-potty". There was a port-o-potty across the street from me. Ummm....  Let's bookmark it for now.

Curt had invited me to bike Saturday morning to spectate the Corelle 5k. In lieu of getting adequate sleep after a late night, I set my alarm and joined him at 7:30. We encountered a number of familiar faces and cheered on the runners. Shawn ran with his wife Kim, and Jeff - the Mayor of Everything - and many other swell folks. It was a great time and I only got splattered by a couple stray water cups. There was one point we almost got chased off the road, but we survived. We'd volunteered last year but it wasn't going to happen this year, so we had to resort to wheeled tomfoolery. I later apologized to Sheila for our trespass but she didn't seem terribly upset. I got lots of hugs though!

Curt, I think we're in the clear!

I recognize that I make lots of inside jokes, and seem to make light of maybe serious things. I love Wineglass, as does Curt and everybody else who congregates in Corning for this incredible weekend. I want to participate and support the community as much as I can. I'm indifferent to status seekers, which (rarely) irks some of those who go through the trouble to don a reflective green vest. I've worn that green vest and blown the cheap whistle with its broken compass. I'd like to think that the LUNAR family makes WG weekend extra special. I love seeing people with smiles (or grimaces) on their faces accomplishing amazing things they didn't think were possible.

OK, back to the levity.

By the time I returned, my non-voluntary cat sitters had roused themselves. Well, I guess I can't call them cat sitters if there's no cat. You see, she had sneaked out the door and f*cked right off into the darkness. She did eventually return, and immediately fell in love with all the ladies. That turncoat! Anyway she was gone and everyone was worried and we all went for a 3 mile run (non-sequitur ftw).

"She's mine now." ~ Lidka

While I was biking, Jenn and Michael went to Wegmans (#2) and bought me a waffle iron. Then Jenn made us waffles. Many many waffles. We planned to go to the Expo, but first we had to wait for Mike Hammond to arrive. Surprise! Yes, I told him he could stay. He said he could sleep in his car. I told him if he was going to freeze, he might as well do it in my sun-room.

Mike was Lauren's coach. He'd planned on surprising her at the finish line of the marathon, but his schedule allowed him to arrive earlier. Lauren's discussion of his coaching style presented the word "pineapple". Michael still doesn't know what it means, so I will keep it a secret from you too. Just know that the word pineapple was used many times throughout the weekend, and always amidst fits of laughter.

In fact, when he walked through the door, I expected Lauren to shout, "pineapple!" It was a nice surprise. We barely gave Michael a moment to catch his breath before we went to the Expo. We encountered a lot of folks there and did the Expo thing. I discovered that the story of our clandestine bike ride was spreading like wildfire, which was sort of amazing; in fact I even overheard the ghastly story myself being relayed in the kind of voice that's usually reserved for campside ghost stories. I saw Burt Yasso at the Expo; he recognized me by my kilt and we fist-bumped. He'd also run the 5k that morning. Awesome guy.

I ran into Meghan there, which was a treat. I believe she too has felt like she lost friends over the past year, for related reasons. My cohorts and I all spoke of her with love in our hearts and wished we could've spent more time with her. It pains me that distance had been created in our family. There are some connections that I fear may never be repaired; those will be great losses. Anybody reading this who feels alone; you're not. Many of the demons we envision are illusions and propaganda. I'll avoid singling anyone out though.

For each painful moment, there were a hundred wonderful ones.

We all got together at the Raddison afterwards for a LUNAR meet-and-greet. There were familiar faces, new faces, and faces that were missed. I teased Lauren about being a terrible introvert. I teased Siobahn about being a terrible introvert. In fact, I noticed that quite a few runners consider themselves introverts. I certainly do. One fellow in particular, Tony, was so terrified of coming out that the only person he said "hi" to last year was me. I was half-conscious on a bench at the time (a common occurrence). He came to the Raddison Saturday and we all saw his handsome face. Love this group.

We talked a lot. We snacked. There were chocolate chip cookies that were super salty. Like, someone had used salt instead of flour. I joked that they'd be perfect for the runners at mile 22.

"Hey boss, we're out of sugar."

"Just put in something that looks the same."

"Like salt?"


Eventually it was time to get everyone together for the group photo. Shawn told me to rally the troops. I think he expected me to walk around, politely insert myself into the conversation with a "pssst, I'm terribly sorry to intrude; your story about pooping at mile 15 sounds fascinating. Just an FYI, we're going to take photos soon! OK, have a great day!" That's.... definitely not my style. Instead, I yelled out loud, my voice reverberating throughout the entire hotel, "PHOTO TIME." Shawn's reaction can be described as surprised-but-not-surprised.

We went outside and took some photos. I sat on the ground with my legs spread eagle. Aria suddenly got very concerned about whether I was wearing underwear under my kilt. After the photo we... stayed there, for another hour I think. I zoned out. My social juices were drained. I finally made an effort to extricate my cat sitters. Turns out they'd all been ready to go eat, but had been too polite to do so. Go figure. Maybe I should have yelled "DINNER TIME." We went and got burritos.

We returned to the house to eat, some of us anyway. Lauren, Mike Hammond, and Marti vanished. I still don't know where. Jenn and Michael went to Wegmans (#3) to get super absorbent......  things. And Halo Top. After we all regrouped we hung around and discussed which college football fans are the worst. I didn't know you could get your car keyed for being from the "wrong" school. Then Michael went through Lauren's race plan for the following morning. Pineapple. He had her entire mile-by-mile pace breakdown typed out. Pineapple. He told her if she ran a sub 8 on her last mile, that would be great. Pineapple pineapple pineapple.

We noticed a couple volunteers stop outside the house to plant a sign for the water drop. Mike Hammond went out to cause some trouble. "Did you get permission to cross this lawn?" He boomed. Deer-in-headlights look. He smirked. Death glare. He then tried to follow with polite conversation and failed miserably. Mike returned and relayed the interaction. I was surprised-not-surprised. Mike has very little in the way of a filter. Pineapple. That's why we love him. Also, I'll probably be blamed.

All sorts of shenanigans happened.

We again stayed up too late. Some of us were nervous wrecks. Some of us were still blase. Jenn and Marti and Mike Hammond were spectating, so they were just cheerful about not running (#jealous).

Sunday we said screw the race and slept until noon. At least that's the dream I had. We were all up by 5. Coffee bubbled. Bagels and bananas were devoured. I apparently was nervous enough to have six (6!) poops, not quite a record. Michael had to resort to the Port-O-Potty (Carrie said it made my place a 1.5 bath house...). None of us were like, "omg it's marathon time!", except Lauren, who was effervescing pineapples. Mike Hammond came out in running cloths and for a moment she panicked that he was going to run with her. He was just going to run back home after dropping us and the car off.

It was still dark as we crossed the bridge to get to the buses. We ran into Chris #DD and got mucho hugs. This year he was volunteering. Last year the bus had me, Chris, Michael, and Carrie. This year it was me, Carrie, Michael, and Lauren. It was the anniversary marathon for me and Carrie. The whole weekend had been delightfully sprinkled by her presence, like an ephemeral sprite. I tried to recall our conversation from last year and only remembered "barnacles." Lauren was worried that it was going to rain, but Carrie told her it was just "drippy fog". It was a bold-faced lie.

Of course, I insisted the rain would stop by the time the race started. I checked my weather app. I spoke with authority. The whole time we hung around at the race start they were convinced the rain would stop. They were like, "Peter knows! He wouldn't trick us!"


We kept our robes on for as long as we could. Yes, robes. Carrie lent Lauren Chris's bright orange XXL Ragnar robe, which she drowned in. The two ladies were bright orange beacons that I could see from a mile away. I never lost them. We encountered Curt, Dawn, Aria and Jeff at the race start. We were all wet and excited. At the last minute we stuffed our robes into our drop bags and rushed to the start. I punched through the crowd with Carrie and Lauren following in my plaid wake. Then the race started. Eek! I yelled at Sheila and we were off!

It rained. We ran with Lauren for a couple miles before her super legs carried her away. We ran the very familiar course, making the same old jokes about how stupid we were. Our promises of "never running again" were obvious lies and brought little comfort. It rained. The crowd of runners was very dense. We darted around like gazelles trapped in a pride of lions. People cheered. We spotted Meghan and Geoffrey at about Mile 5. It rained.

That sounds depressing. I was having fun. Running a marathon for me is about the people I'm with. The race itself is just a long run, but the people make it cheerful and energetic. That's why I pick Wineglass every year: For the people. It certainly isn't for the weather!

Jennifer caught up with us in Savona. She had messaged me a few months ago about pacing her. I couldn't commit to that as I knew I'd be running with Carrie, but it was nice to bump into her. Carrie stopped to pee after many comments about how nice it would be to have a penis. We continued. It rained.

Car is definitely a better way to go, or at least drier

I hadn't trained for a marathon. I knew I had the endurance; I'd done Lake Placid 70.3 just 3 weeks prior. My legs though weren't used to that much nonstop running though. Between 22 and 23 they were hurting. I have another marathon in two weeks, so rather than risk injury I just told Carrie to go on without me. She was having a fantastic race and had a real shot of beating 4 hours. That surprised her. She'd been unhappy with her training and wasn't expecting any magic, but she was going strong and didn't want to stop!

I slowed down a lot and took it easy. I had no goal. The three Wineglass marathons I had run prior had finishing times of 3:14:30, 5:42, and 3:59.... sooo, it didn't matter much. Right next to my house, Curt caught up with me. He saw I was struggling and stuck with me. I kept trying to take breaks and he didn't let me. We encountered a man running with his wife on their 26th anniversary, on the same date that they had met. He was running around in circles and yelling jubilantly; she was just trying to survive. It was cute.

The last few miles of the course were different than last year. It no longer crossed the tombs of kings (Kingsbury Ave.). Having moved to Corning, the neighborhoods were familiar, and made the end seem much shorter. Before we knew it, Curt and I were crossing Bridge St. As we turned onto Market St. we both picked up our pace until we were sprinting to the finish. It wasn't a race. We just wanted to finish strong, with love and pride in our hearts. It rained.

Then I was done.

Then the awesomeness swept me up.

Carrie had figured as long as she beat 4:25, she'd be OK. She not only beat 4 hours, but she beat her last year's time by almost two full minutes. It was ridiculous. It was stupid. It was impossible. She was laughing. She got hugs from Chris and many cheers.

How did Lauren do? You already know because she's been shouting it from the rooftops. She BQ'd. She finished under 3:35.  Her previous PR was 4:11. That's a ridiculous improvement! She annihilated the race. She was a kid in a swimming pool of candy. She couldn't contain her joy. She almost froze to death, but a quick visit to the Med Tent, with Martha snapping and growling at the medics to treat her "daughter" right, fixed her up. We all congregated at Poppleton's afterwards with huge grins and space blankets. The mood was euphoric!

Mike Hammond couldn't repress his joy. He cried big fat tears. We were all overwhelmed. When one of us achieves something amazing, we all celebrate. Their hug stretched out so long that I finally said, "Pineapple!" I understood: It was like watching his own daughter succeed. Eventually most of us headed back home. Lauren, Mike and Martha took an extra half hour. Apparently Poppleton's had to make her an extra special coffee, brewed from the nipple secretions of mystical unicorns.

We collapsed, only stirring ourselves to take turns showering. Shawn invited us to a get together at his house. He pushed it back 2 hours and we were still an hour late. I showed up in sweat pants; everyone else dressed nice. I gorged myself on tacos and pizza and fruit. I made vague attempts at socializing. I crashed into a lady and splattered the world with dressing. The guys sat outside for a while and got eaten by mosquitoes. I watched Lauren be an ecstatic celebrity (introvert my a$$!).


We gassed out pretty quickly and headed out, leaving the food table a half eaten disaster. Kim offered me leftovers and I just stared, dumbfounded, unable to process the concept. We got home and Michael and Jenn immediately went to Wegmans (#4). In the meantime, we threw a mattress on the floor, and when they returned we had a snuggle party while watching Scott Pilgrim VS the World. We also watched Lauren pop the world's largest blister. It was like a blister that had a foot attached to it. I took a 3 minute video. There was plenty of oozing going around.

Marti and Loren had to get up super early to leave. I set my alarm for 5:40 so I could see them off, but they had already left, so I went back to bed. When I got up again, the remainder of us met Curt on Market St. for a shakeout run. It was slow and painful - a squadron of toddling penguins. Eventually everyone left, and I was left alone with my cat and a pile of snacks.

What an astonishing weekend! Thank-you Jenn, Michael, Lauren, Martha, and Mike Hammond for filling my house with affection, gross jokes, and Maxipads. Thank-you to Carrie for being responsible and making everything come together so all the guests weren't sleeping in my garage, and for being a heaping pile of divine wonder. Thank-you Shawn for making all of this love possible through LUNAR and your kindness and inspiration. Thank-you Curt for being such a noble human. Thank-you to the many many folks who make the running community so amazing. Thank-you to Sheila and the many people involved in making Wineglass the best marathon!

The end!

Monday, June 11, 2018

The Ups and Downs Don't Matter

I had a great weekend of training. As some of you know (because I've been whining about it incessantly), my health hasn't been the greatest lately. However, on Friday I swam a mile in the pool, which I haven't done in 3 months. On Saturday I biked 40 miles and on Sunday I ran 10. I haven't done that much distance since Seneca 7, which almost killed me.

It's a relief to see my fitness coming back. Cooperstown triathlon was great, and I'm really excited for the rest of the summer. Whether I feel good, or I feel terrible, I exercise as much as my body allows. I was just thinking about this recently. While I was sick, I was worried that I would lose my momentum, that I would get used to sitting around the house on my a$$. Those worries were overblown, because I had no problem pushing the volume 3 days in a row.

I follow a lot of friends - fellow endurance athletes - online, many of whom are now starting their race seasons as well. Some of them have great races. Some of them do not. For some, their training goes the way they'd like. For many, it doesn't. For a few, they got totally sidelined by injuries. I know though that in the same way I jumped back in as soon as I could, they will too.

Training is a part of my identity, as it is for many folks. If you take a vacation from work, it doesn't mean you'll never work again. If your kids go camping without you, it doesn't mean you stop being a parent. If you take a break from training, for whatever reason, it doesn't mean you stop being an athlete.

"I'm not lazy. I'm just on vacation. A very long vacation."

An analogy comes to mind, something about forests and trees. If you're biking and you crash into a tree, that tree seems like a pretty big obstacle. There's a whole big forest.... ok, nevermind this analogy. The point is that it's very easy to obsess over a temporary hardship. If we take a week off work, we're not worried about losing our jobs. Well, ok, I don't work in a sweatshop or at Booger King (whichever is worse), so maybe some of us do. In any case, if we take a week off exercising, we immediately worry about losing fitness, or at least being less prepared for a big race than we'd hoped.

That was a difficult paragraph. Maybe I should write outlines for these posts before I start. Moving on.

I've seen many people push extremely hard in their training. Maybe they want to qualify for Boston Marathon. Maybe they want to get a huge PR at their next race. Maybe they're seeing a lot of progress and don't want to stop. I've also seen many of those people crash hard. They get injured. They get sick. They burn out. Some bounce back. Some don't. I've experienced this pattern myself.

Even if all the stars align and your body holds together and you crush all your goals, someday you'll get old and stop getting PRs. That's just reality. Sorry. Some people transition gracefully. Some.... do not.

Why am I being so depressing? I'm not trying to crush your hopes and dreams. I've seen plenty of my own hopes and dreams crushed. Yet I'm still out there training. This past weekend was about half of what I was doing around this time last year. Yet I was happy and excited to see it. The weather was beautiful and I loved being outside. I worked hard and I felt good. I felt strong.

Feeling strong on a beautiful day

Training is my identity. After a while the ups and down, the successes and failures, stop mattering. The last two summers, I had months where I traversed over 500 miles. Yet at the time I was depressed and kept telling myself I wasn't a real athlete. I told myself I was a poser, that I only pretended to be an athlete.

My volume the past few months has been much lower. Despite being physically weaker though, I've been feeling a lot more positive about myself and about my life. I no longer punish myself with guilt and shame on a daily basis. I exercise every day that I can. I just accept that about myself. I went and did Seneca 7, even though I wasn't sure I could handle it. I'm accustomed to pain and suffering.

Because I'm an athlete.

When I see a friend struggle, I just want to grab them and say, "this doesn't matter. It doesn't change who you are. You are still an athlete. You are awesome."

You are awesome.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Cooperstown Triathlon 2018

This was the second time I did Cooperstown Triathlon. I did it last year, and it almost killed me. I wish I could say it was nearly fatal in some unique and hilarious fashion this year, to get more clickz on the blog. Sadly, the weather was perfect and I think I only saw one deer on the road. Though I did fall asleep at an outdoor concert later that evening.

The most exciting part was that I did the race with my brother, Alex. It was his first triathlon ever! I sort of forced him into the pool last year, though he had to have a certain measure of crazy already inside of him to agree to get up at 5:30am to go swimming. Turns out he liked it! Then I signed him up for a triathlon and bought him a wetsuit. So he was trapped.


Alex and his ladyfriend Audrie arrived Friday morning from the distant planet they reside on (Massachusetts). After hugs and high fives, we went to Cowanesque Lake to swim and practice transitions. Alex had never swam in open water, and had no clue what to expect come race day. So we set up a pretend transition area, put on our wetsuits, and jumped in.

There weren't any sharks, not even a stray boat. Although while we were putting on our wetsuits, a lass did come over to tell us that our butts looked fantastic. That really happened. Though she apparently was walking around paying everyone compliments. Still, the wetsuit is - um - tight and revealing. Audrie ate french fries and sunbathed while we were splashing, pedaling, and running.

Sunbathing.... and a little water time

Afterwards we went home and "carb loaded", meaning we ate too much food. We also stayed up far too late watching Amazon Prime (Men in Black 3!). We set the alarm for 3am. I think we got 5 hours of sleep. We drank.... a lot of coffee. We haphazardly threw our things into bags, loosely tethered the bikes to the car, and hit the road in the middle of the night. Audrie slept in the back seat the entire way.

The sun rose. We stopped somewhere to pee. Alex and I talked extensively about Burrito Bison. It's impressive how much you can say about a little iPhone game when you have have 3 hours to kill. I think I only hit the rumble strips once, and the deer we saw was only mildly suicidal.

We got to the park and it was a perfect day. We got our bibs and chips, set up our transitions, and drank more coffee. Somewhere in there I had two poops, making it five for the day, which is almost a record. We put on our wetsuits and got ready to go. I couldn't wait to get started, and having Alex there reminded me how exciting my first time had been. He was going to get to experience flailing limbs and zig-zagging swimmers for the first time!

There was no shortage. I only passed a couple of swimmers who couldn't swim straight for the life of them. Alex, however, was farther behind me, and got to "enjoy" the full smorgasbord of crazed swimmers. Here's my public service announcement for newbie triathletes: Do NOT do backstroke in a tri. Seriously. Just don't. It makes you a f*cking a$$hole.

Don't be an a$$hole!
Photo Cr. Pat Hendrick Photography

During the swim I discovered that "no tears" baby shampoo is a lie. Fog-free goggles don't do much good if you have to squint your eyes. Or maybe the guy in front of me peed and it got into my goggles? Maybe I shouldn't think about it too much. I got out of the water, through transition, and on my bike. Weeeeee.

I powered hard on the bicycle. It was "only" 18 miles (actually 19). I didn't plan on leaving anything behind. Let these other guys and gals bicycle intelligently. I smashed through the wind and hills and careened down steep declines at break neck speed. The course director called the route a "double lollipop", but the map looked absolutely nothing like a lollipop. It was more like a double rectangle with a flaccid tail. Flaccid has two C's? Huh.

Here I am, smashing the bike
Photo Cr. Pat Hendrick Photography

My body still wasn't all there after nearly dying over the winter. I was just hoping it would hold together for the race. I got through T2 and started running and was fairly certain I would survive. The run course was also a "double lollipop", but what it really looked like was a deflated blimp. Also with a flaccid tail. As I ran I remembered, "oh right, this is the run course where you have to run up a giant hill twice." It even had the same sign on the course as last year: "Smile. You get to run this hill twice."

I smashed that hill and passed a bunch of people. I was feeling pretty rubbery on the last mile but I kept going. I even had the satisfaction of squashing a guy right before the finish line. Not literally squashing. I didn't pull a Super Mario Brothers. I mean, I passed him. As usual the photographer caught me stopping my watch.

Alex, however, DID look like a Super Mario Brother

I crossed the finish line in 1:44:52, over 8 minutes faster than last year. My swim pace was 1:53/100yds; last year it was 2:03. My bike was 18.2mph; last year it was 17.4. Only my run was slower at 7:14 minutes per mile; last year it was 6:50. My transitions were much faster this year, seeing as I didn't have to shiver in transition and wait to warm up like last year. Most amazingly, I got second in my age group! I was hoping to get in the 50th percentile, but wow! Maybe there's hope for me yet.

Alex did really well for his tri as well, and he had a lot of fun! I liked running when it was all I did, but I don't think I could ever go back to "just" running. Triathlons are just too much fun! I think my brother has caught the bug as well. Audrie made a great cheerleader, snapping photos and yelling her head off!

We drove back three hours with the full intention of napping when we got home. We didn't get the chance. We had many more adventures throughout the day. I didn't quite make it and fell comatose at an inconvenient time, embarrassing myself thoroughly. I set my alarm for 6am Sunday to make coffee for Alex and Audrie before they went back to their planet (Massachusetts). Then I crashed again and stayed in bed until noon.

Thanks to everyone who made the race possible and to the volunteers who told us to slow down before a sharp turn. Thanks to Alex and Audrie for making the long trek and being part of the epic adventure. And thanks to everyone who put up with me when my brain and body stopped working right. What hectic weekend!