Saturday, September 24, 2022

Superior Hiking Trail Run Pacer Report/Minnesota Food Tour


I got up at 4:30am on Thursday to shower. I was aiming to depart at 5:30 from the Louisville airport. It was a direct flight through Delta to the Minneapolis airport.  I made a lungo Nespresso that morning. There were no delays to Minneapolis. I met Thom and Marian at the rental car area when I landed. I think I dozed off briefly on the plane with a podcast on MSNBC news from the night before. We rented a Nissan Murano for Lutsen. 

We hung out with coffee on Marian's back porch to discuss the drive north. It was a beautiful day in the shade with little humidity. We had decided on an early dinner and then packet pickup. Marian and I exchanged pre-race gifts. She gave me a silver necklace with a pendant in the shape of mountains and a crew shirt she had made. She had on the same necklace. I gave her a zippered pouch with zombie gingerbreads on it. I bought myself one too so we could match.  I met Thom's middle son Elliot that day who would pick up Marian's youngest from school. He was would compete in a Kendama tournament over the weekend.

Thom and I packed the car. In addition to our luggage and folding chairs, we put a cooler sized refrigerator on one side of the back seat that was folded down. The cooler was plugged into a battery that would keep the temperature constant. The battery was plugged Into the car and would charge while the car was driving. The battery had the ability to charge other devices.

On our way to Lutsen we stopped in Hinckley for Tobies pastries. The last time I went to Minnesota was for Grandma's Marathon for my 40th bday, Marian recommended the caramel pecan rolls. I wanted to relive the joy of that roll. The dimensions of this roll is like a tesseract. I am happy to confirm that it was as good as last time, maybe better. We drove to Jay Cooke State Park while eating our rolls. The calories were negligible since we were bound for an ultra marathon. We stopped at the park to wait for Thom and his eldest son Henry to arrive. We walked across the bridge to the trails to watch the St. Louis River. I noticed the water was orange. Marian told me the color was due to the iron in the rocks. I had not seen Marian in person since 2020. Work had moved her to Minnesota during the pandemic. We kept in touch via email, text and Marco Polo. We had great conversation during the drive.

Sunday, June 30, 2019


After last year’s 40th birthday weekend in Duluth, MN for Grandma’s Marathon, I didn’t think any birthday could be better. The events leading up to the race, the race conditions as well as the race I ran was perfect! I was wrong. This year, my birthday fell during our family vacation in Italy.

We flew from Northern Kentucky/Cincinnati (CVG)  to Newark (EWR). After a 2-hour layover, we continued to Naples (NPA). It feels strange chasing daylight but that is exactly what we did. We were served dinner on our flight with United. Then they closed all the windows and dimmed the lights since it was nighttime in the East Coast. We sat in the middle row so my 7 year old put his head on me and his feet on my husband. I might have slept a few hours sitting up. After some simulated sleep we were given breakfast. I don’t remember what, my husband though a croissant.

We arrived at about 7:30 am. Naples is a small airport. We got off the plane via a ladder and traveled to the arrival gate by bus. When we arrived at the airport building, we were fortunate to be a family with a young child. We were led to the shorter line where our passports were stamped as we entered the country. As we waited for the rest of our family to get their passports stamped, the three of us went looking for our luggage.

Although it was bright and sunny in Naples, it was past midnight east coast time.My son was pretty tired.  He sat on my lap and played games on my ipod.I was thankful for my sister in law’s sons, ages 21 and 18 that were with us, so despite my son’s exhaustion he was still “playing” with his cousins.

The distance between the luggage pick up to where Angelo, my husband’s cousin’s husband was waiting, was only through a set of sliding doors. We greeted each other and made our way outside under an awning. Angelo went to get his car and my husband, also named Angelo, went to retrieve our rental car.  As we milled around, I went back inside to get my son a croissant, bottled waters and cash from the ATM. The exchange rate at the ATM was about 1.25 dollars per Euro, plus a few dollars ATM fee. A 300 Euro withdrawal was equivalent to 383.30 USD (June 2019 FX rate).

After a while, it seemed like a long time, Angelo had gotten his car from the parking lot and my husband Angelo had gotten our rental, which was a silver CLIO. It sat 4 adults and my son. We had requested a car seat but there was none in the vehicle. We did not follow up on this item. The GPS my hubs requested was built into the car. I entered Foglianise, not an exact address. The town is very small and my hubs would know his way once we arrived in the town limits.

Driving there was hairy. There were lots of small cars passing each other on the road and the mountain roads made it look like we were driving off a cliff sometimes. It was great to finally arrive. The house we were staying at is the house where my mother-in-law grew up with her 5 siblings. We declared our rooms and proceeded to mill about as lunch (pranzo) was prepared.

My son ran around the small grassy areas underneath grape vines, cherry trees and figs. He might have picked a few cherries and eaten them. I marveled at the view surrounding us. Foglianise and the surrounding towns are built on mountainsides. Every time the sun shifted, some piece of the earth next to us always looked spectacular.

Pranzo consisted of an antipasto (cured meats), bread, pasta with red sauce, pork tenderloin topped with roasted carrots and cherries from the garden. There was also wine made by Zio. Afterwards, our group of travelers headed back to our rooms for a nap

We stayed in Foglianise for two days. In those 2 days, we exchanged our dollars for Euro, got settled in the house that had not seen any occupants for months, visited relatives and made our travel plans to Rome and Pisa. We bought train tickets through FC Travel. It is owned by my husband’s cousin’s son. We often went to Granchio Nero Cafe, also owned by Angelo’s cousins.

There were 7 of us so we opted to visit cities by train. We traveled to Pisa from Benevento. We stopped at after 2 hours Rome to switch trains and get lunch. It was another 2 hours from Rome to Pisa. We walked from the Pisa train station to our Bed and Breakfast. We stayed at B&B I Botai. Everything on their website is true to our experience! We loved our hostess, the goodies she baked, our rooms and the whole experience of being there. I fantasized about just living there. Here are the items Veronica prepared for us every morning. We usually filled up at breakfast and had a snack during the day (a slice of pizza or gelato) from the local shops. We were walking every day so it was easy to stop somewhere.

On our first full day at Pisa we saw the Tower. We walked around the city looking into churches, the university grounds, Santa Maria Della Spina right next to the river.

The first night we had dinner at Al Signor Mimmo (Trattoria) located on Via Domenico Cavalca. I am pretty sure everyone else enjoyed their food. I took pictures of mine. We might have thought that the wait staff was unfriendly but honestly being in Italy outweighs any negative. I

Grilled Octopus

I had grilled octopus and grilled vegetables. It was wonderful. We sat outside under a grapevine. We were tired and hungry and my octopus was delicious, maybe the best I have ever had.

The second night, which was my 41st birthday, we ate at la Sosta dei Cavalieri located on the same road as our Bed and Breakfast.  I had coniglio, rabbit with fagoli and fungi (beans and mushrooms).

My son had a giant plate of mussels, clams and pasta. This establishment had white table cloths and superb service! Perfect place for a birthday dinner. I was a little nauseated this evening, possibly from the heat and my body adjusting to the different time zone. Pepto pills were especially helpful to calm this and went away after we sat down.

In Rome we took a train to St. Peter’s Basilica. The line to enter was long so we lingered in the courtyard and meandered towards our hotel. We saw Piazza Navona. In that piazza we entered a church called St. Agnes of Rome. I purchased souvenir for a friend with a daughter named Agnes.  There was also a man blowing bubbles so the kids could chase them. We also saw the Trevi Fountain, which was guarded heavily.  

St Peter's Square

Piazza Navona

First night in Rome we had dinner at La Forchetta d´Oro on Via di S. Martino de Monti on the same street as our hotel Tirreno.  There was an accordion player that came in from the street to play for us and requested change afterwards followed by a rose peddler. I had chicken roman style, which reminded me of Filipino afritada.

In the morning we had breakfast at the hotel. They had croissants, cured meat, american cheese slices, yogurt, and weak coffee. It wasn’t like Veronica’s meals but passable. Lunches were like Pisa, eating pizza from store fronts in the plazas and ancient streets we strolled.

The second day in Rome we walked near the Coliseum also did not go in since the lines were long 
and it was over 90 degrees. We saw a church dedicated to St. Frances of Rome, a church I 
sometimes go to here in Louisville. Her remains were displayed underneath the altar. I took pictures of her remains  for my friend Lynne (probably blasphemous). We went into Santa Maria Magorre. My son and I lit candles for Gerry and Bob, actually we did this wherever we could. In Santa Maria, I placed their names in a box of prayer intentions. I was told the bathroom at this church was spectacular. My husband and son made a donation to be able to use it.

Second night in Rome we had dinner at Casa Maria located in Piazza di. S. Maria Magorre. 
The same rose peddler came in and was chased away by our server. My son was especially '
embarrassed since the server, sweet she seemed, that demanded a kiss from him (as she did from 
all adorable little boys, she told us proudly). I was sitting next to him so I did not see his face turn 
bright red as reported by his cousin sitting directly across from him. I had a salad with eggs and cheese. He asked me to hide him in my purse before we left.

Our train from Rome back to Benevento was not scheduled to leave until almost 5pm. We sat in the 
hotel lobby, even though we had already checked out, and waited. By some stroke of luck, our 
compartment on our ride home was in first class. We were served bottled waters and biscuits.

We were met by Angelo’s cousin Lorenzo. He and his wife gave us a tour of Benevento that evening. It was my favorite part of the trip mainly because we did it in the evening and it was cool. There were no peddlers or other tourists. At the end of that day we had pizza.  From there, we were driven back to Foglianise. My son was exhausted while his cousin told stories of the kids hiding their grandfather’s belts and underwear all over their house. We laughed uncontrollably at “pobre Nonno”, poor grandpa, finding his belt in the bathroom and his underwear on the front porch. We were happy to be “home” in Foglianise that night and the following day. We had loads of laundry that we washed and hung to dry.  

On our last day we had pranzo at Angelo’s uncle’s house in Benevento. My son got to swim in their pool and we marveled at the home. I thought the antipasto was the most beautiful i had consumed at the trip. We purchased some souvenirs sporting Benevento’s soccer team.

We flew from Naples to Newark. Our flight was delayed leaving Naples. We missed our connection out of
Newark. There were rain storms on the east coast that day. We were told 80% of the fights leaving out 
of Newark were delayed.  My sister and law and her boys took a flight to chicago that night so they 
could get to Lexington the next morning. We opted to stay in Newark that night and get a flight back to 
Cincinnati. After 36 hours of travel, home was as wonderful as the trip.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

RoughTrail 50K Race Report

My only pic from the race once the food was out of the front pockets of my pack.

The Rough Trail 50k was a necessary for me. My 25k experience 2 years ago left much to be desired. I had a cold and Trump had just won the 2016 election. My world was turned upside down, by choice, since my family and I had just moved to the Kentucky. I signed up to do races as a way to channel the stress of relocating across the country. I knew it would give me a chance to the know the area, driving to these events, and get to know the running community.  

I survived the 25k. I was on my feet for more than 4 hours. As hard as this was, I knew I could run another marathon.  I was a little broken but I crossed the finish. I blogged about it and one of the women in the running group commented that it sounded like I did not have fun. She wasn’t wrong. The 25k course was fucking hard. The race itself was redeeming because despite my inner grouch, it was a perfect day for a race. The Gorge was magnificent to behold while it was kicking my ass.

I was afraid to sign up for this race but I was in search of a fall 50k. I needed to not be afraid of this course and redeem last year’s 50k. I got lost and ran 3 extra miles. I didn’t have the strength in my legs to make big descents the last 10 miles. I also lingered too long aid stations.  With my three extra miles, I was out on the course after the sun set. One of my goals for this race, maybe the only goal was to finish before the sun went down. 

I weight trained having learned all this. I had never really cross trained while training for a race before. I didn’t know how or maybe I didn’t have the fitness. I could only either run or weight train. Mostly I needed to be strong. I went back to the Uplift training plan, created by a fellow runner from my old running group. She is also a body builder. I wasn’t too worried about getting a certain number of miles in every day. Just like training for Grandma’s Marathon, I aimed for cumulative miles by Sunday.

I rode my bike all summer. It was hard to go back to running. I kept telling myself that if I kept at it, the glorious full body fatigue, serotonin high would come with running too. I Just had to get through the first 5 miles of pounding on my joints and the Kentucky heat. I was hoping muscle memory would kick in and it did. I remember texting a friend saying that I had reached a point in my training where I wanted to run every day.  I became efficient again and my brain was addicted to the serotonin.  

I am fortunate to be able to work from home. During my lunch breaks or in between teleconferences, I weight trained with my body weight. Each routine lasted about 20 minutes. On some weeks I did this with my running miles. I went from 20 m week to 30 m week to 30 plus miles at the peak of my training.

Earlier this year I had some blood work done with a yearly physical. I found out I had high cholesterol. My doctor advised me to stop eating fried foods and take a krill oil supplement. I switched to vegan cheese. I ate more beans and less meat. I lost 1 or 2 pounds, which I was grateful for since I wanted to weigh less overall for the race.

The longest run for a 50K is about 26 miles. Due to weather, scheduling and my general desire to not be gone from my family that long, I ran 5 miles on a treadmill Friday night, 22 miles on Saturday morning and 3 miles the following Sunday. I was ravenously hungry in the days that followed. This was 2 weeks before the race.

The weekend before the race I biked an easy 30 miles and ran 10 miles with friends on Siltstone. Biking was a mistake since my quads were very tight afterwards. I also felt fatigued during those 10 trail miles. My rationale for the bike miles was that my boys were away for the night and I had some “me” time. I also took it easy. I was attempting to not consume alcohol before the 50k. After my 10 trail miles, Kaitlyn and I heated up some sweet potatoes in the toaster oven and sat on the kitchen floor eating from the tray. They we each had a beer.  I think the alcohol helped loosen me up, especially the quads that had hardened after my bike ride.

The week before the race was all rest. My hubs was traveling for work most of the week. I spent my active days raking and bagging leaves. I made a playlist for the race and used a foam roller on my quads.

I took a half day at work on Friday. I carpooled with friends to a cabin near the start/finish of the race. There were 9 of us in the cabin. All 9 of us brought beer for before and after the race. I had 2 beers with my dinner Friday night. I have never drank before a marathon or ultra marathon. Dinner was ultra-bland, boiled potatoes, boiled chicken and steamed broccoli

I Zentangle-ed in honor of Bob. I also wrote Gerry’s name on my hat. Maybe its superstitious but I talk to them when I run long distances. I hope that they watch over me out there. There’s always a risk in trail races. The terrain wouldn’t be easy. I would be running up mountains, down ravines and passing cliffs. I also knew I would be out there for hours. As much as Gerry and Bob were a part of my pre-race, I placed faith in myself. There was no room for doubt and negative thoughts. This mental component was the most critical. The body was a vessel for the indomitable mind. The mind only knows the progress forward towards the finish.

I set my alarm for 5am. The race started at 7am. I had 2 hard boiled eggs and 2 boiled potatoes for breakfast. I also had coffee. I had not driven my car since my family was going to meet me at the end of the race. We had planned on driving home together. I needed to eat my breakfast and pack everything in Chris and Amy’s car.

I wore an Ink burn tech shirt, arm warmers, a hooded rain jacket, my Brooks capris, compression socks, Altra Kings and gaiters. I had 2 buffs, gloves and a hat. In my hydration pack I had my inhaler, tissues, small first aid kit, 2 sunflower seed and jelly sandwiches, 1 chocolate Gu, 2 boiled potatoes, 4 or 5 Honey Stinger waffles, Sport Beans and an RX bar.

It was cold when we started. I started of slow until I warmed up. It had rained days leading up to the race so the course was muddy. The first aid station  (Auxier ridge) was at the 8-mile mark.

There was a 10 hour cut off for this race. I had anticipated chasing it because of the difficulty of the course and my Strava data from the Jackson 50/50, which was around 9 hours on my feet.  I had packed my headlamp hoping that I wouldn't have to use it.

I ran the beginning of that race without stopping. I did not take my phone out for pictures, I didn’t linger at aid stations and I didn’t stop to talk to the other runners. While I was feeling strong, I was not going to stop. I had planned on running when I could until the terrain made me walk.

I ran into MRTT friends Amy and Amber at around mile 15. I ran with them for about 10 miles. Maybe it was good to be with them since I had been by myself for a while. Amber called me "Jenny" a few times, which I normally dislike from anyone except my family but I loved it coming from Amber.

Some of the climbs were never ending (hard as fuck). I am happy to report that weight training helped. My legs were never totally exhausted. I was tired at 4 hours. I was also cold.  I did not account for the time I would be walking and climbing. I kept myself warm by telling myself not to stop moving. I took my inhaler twice in the time I was out there. I felt the cold most in my lungs, not sure if it was cold or fatigue. Maybe it was both. I was running alone near the end. Amy and Amber were about 5 minutes ahead of me and I wasn’t keeping up with them. I couldn’t.

At the Sky Bridge aid station, I was thrilled to see my friend Jeannette, who completed the 100 mile race earlier this year. Another MRTT friend Susan refilled my water bottles as I blabbered on about probably being dehydrated not having peed for several hours. I ate pbjs, cheese crackers, m&ms ad potato chips. It helped with the cold.

I have no recollection of any low points (mostly cold points) except maybe the end when I kept wishing to be at the finish line. I couldn’t wait to see my boys, be warm and drink the beer I had put in Chris’ cooler for after the race. I was tired of pbjs and race food.

I was thrilled to have crossed the finish not having to use my headlamp. It was around 9 and half hours. I had given that race everything I had. I look back on it as a successful race. I can’t remember if I ate anything afterwards. My son gave me a Twix mini and I did drink that beer.

We drove to Lexington and I had pizza and beer with my sisters in law. I also took a hot shower. My hubs was running the Louisville Marathon at the Parklands the next day so we needed to get home. I went to bed promptly.

The most amazing thing the next day was being up and about. I unpacked my things, washed the mud off my tights, shoes, socks and gaiters. I also made soup. Despite the way I felt during the race, I was happy I didn’t get a cold or some respiratory infection.

This race marked the passage of time for me in Kentucky. It had been the 2 years since the election of President Trump. A few weeks ago, I heard Julian Castro being interviewed on NPR. He had just released a book. He said it would need to talk to his wife about running for president. I like Mr. Castro very much. More than anything I felt hope unlike this time two years ago. Two years ago, I didn’t have running friends in Kentucky. On race day I was surrounded by people that knew my name, who I ran with leading up to the race and waited for me at the finish with big smiles and open arms.   This race proved I could circle back and evolve. It was a way for me to connect with Bob and Gerry and continue to heal from their passing. Lastly, that MRTT member who said did not have fun is now a close friend if not the best one I made since moving here. In writing this, I get to tell her that this race was so many things but most of all, so much fun.

faithful escort

every race has a song for me, this was the one i had in mind