Monday, September 15, 2008

Weekend Adventures

Life has been busy lately. As everyone knows, it's the start of school - which means helping six preschools get going on the new year, plus focusing on the preschool that is assigned to me. At my school, my veteran teachers of 14 years and eight years retired last spring, so in addition to the regular start-of-school busyness, I am helping a new teacher get oriented. Add to that all the meetings at the college that precede the start of a new year, and I am back to my full time schedule. (I was a bit spoiled by my 28 hour work week all summer...)

On the home front, I've been making applesauce. Since we were so busy running and crewing all summer, we never got around to thinning the apples on our apple tree. We had a bumper crop, but they are all tiny. I decided to use them anyway by making applesauce. I borrowed an old-fashioned apple sieve and went to work. I've got half a grocery bag left to do. All this is to explain why I haven't been blogging much - reading or writing. I'm sure things will settle down in a few weeks and there'll be more time. But now, it's on to the tale of our weekend adventure...

We managed to get out of Puyallup around 3:45 on Friday, getting over to pick up Rob about 45 minutes late. We picked up dinner to eat on the way, and began the long drive to Plain. I think it took us about 3.5 hours, with a couple delays due to traffic and road construction. No matter though, because we had good company. There's nothing quite like spending the weekend with three goofy, good humored, ultra-running guys! We got into Plain late, so we quickly checked in, stopped by the lodge for the packets and headed to our cabin. We spent a bit of time organizing gear and writing down crew instructions, then all headed for bed.

The alarm went off early - about 4 am. The three guys headed over to the lodge while I took the chance for a quick shower, then walked over to join them. We listened to the pre-race instructions, the runners crowded onto the lodge steps, the RD shouted "GO!" and they were gone. Steve and I went straight back to the cabin, climbed in the car and headed back to Cle Elem for Steve's 50K. It was a couple hour drive back the way we had come the night before, but it passed quickly. A little Starbucks and a lot of conversation later we pulled up to the start. Another check-in, more pre-race instructions, then they were off!

I am not a good morning driver. The road mesmerizes me in the mornings, whether I am a passenger or a driver, and I get so sleepy my eyes will cross and I get light-headed. It helps a lot if I have a passenger to chat with, but it will even happen then. Knowing this, Steve drove us to Cle Elem. Once he was running, I had to drive myself along dirt roads to the first aid station. About nine miles (which takes a lot longer to cover on dirt roads) I had to pull over and catch 15 minutes of sleep. I got to the aid station and had a great time chatting with the other crews. I talked to a couple of people who had been at, or had run, CCC a couple weeks ago, met an Oregon runner, a Mom and Dad there to support their daughter and other great people. I really shouldn't call myself crew for this race, because Steve didn't need a thing from me. Just a couple seconds of chat, and knowing that I was there to cheer for him and he was good.

After he went through, I started the drive to the next aid station. I came to a Y in the road and wasn't quite sure what to do. The roads were not marked, though the directions called them by name. I studied the map and saw a trail marker to the left that I could also see on the map, so I went in that direction. About 3.5 miles later I decided I was wrong, so I turned around and went back. No sleepiness this time, I guess a bit of adrenaline from trying to find my way kept me awake. Sure enough, I found the second aid station on the other side. After Steve passed through here, it was time to go to the finish. I started to feel sleepy again, so as soon as I pulled into the finish, I laid the seat back and was out for another 15.

After I woke up, I went out to cheer runners in. Once Steve was in, we were pretty quick to eat and go. We needed to get back to Plain by 6-ish. We made it by 6:30. Once we got to Deep Creek, we found about 20 people there to crew and help out. It was a lot of fun - we set up four camp chairs, a camp stove, a lantern and all the gear for our five runners (Arthur, Shawn, Tony, Eric and Rob). Steve and I tussled a bit over how to make grilled cheese sandwiches (I won), and began production. We found ourselves feeding lots of runners and crew, handing out hot drinks and generally having a great time.

The only thing was, our runners were dropping like flies! First Arthur, then about 9:15 we heard Eric and Rob were out. We were told it would probably be dawn before they got a ride back to the lodge, which was a bit worrisome because it was getting really cold. We still had Tony and Shawn out on the course, so we kept up our sandwich production and had their soup heating. It was fun whenever there was a lull in the action, because the other crews would wander over to our bright spot, hunker down in the chairs and start telling stories. I was hanging out by the lantern, holding my hands up to it's heat, wishing I'd brought a few more warm clothes.

Eventually we got the news that Tony and Shawn had just left the Saddle - we knew that meant they were about an hour to an hour and a half out. We made sure everything was ready for them, and they came in right about 11:00. We fed them and wrapped them with warm clothes while they debated whether to continue. Deep Creek is about 55 miles into the run, so there was about 50 more miles to go. Shawn had open blisters and they were both tired and cold. They made the decision to drop, so we packed up camp, jammed all our gear and the two runners into the car, and headed for the lodge. We were surprised when we pulled up to see Rob and Eric waving to us through the window - they were able to catch a ride back sooner than expected.

After we got back to the cottage, the guys were starving. I made another set of sandwiches and then I was off to bed. The next morning, I skipped my run and we got out of there early - getting us home with time to unpack and clean up. Since we really hadn't spent quite enough time together, Eric, Steve, Lorri and I went out for pizza to finish out our weekend. Other than the fact that I was lazy and skipped running both Saturday and Sunday (giving me four days off, when you add in my Friday/Monday Pilates class) I had a fabulous weekend. And you know, maybe it will do me a bit of good to go into the Baker Lake 50K with rested legs!

18 comments:

Journey to a Centum said...

Thanks for coming out with us and enduring the banter between Rob, Steve, and I.

You were the ultimate crew for everyone! Even those of us who dropped before making it to Deep Creek.

*tc said...

Michelle, thanks to you and Steve for making the trip back to Plain to serve Shawn and me. We were so happy to get to Deep Creek and have hot soup and sandwiches. It was a long 18 hours on our feet before getting there.

Thanks also for the ride back to a hot shower and warm lodge to sleep in.

We really enjoyed the weekend.

*tc

Darrell said...

You really are the consummate "crew". Warm soup and grilled cheese sandwiches sound wonderful, reminds me of lunch every Saturday, as a kid.

wendy said...

grilled cheese sandwiches sounds delicious! You're going to have to spill your secret recipe since you prevailed over Steve. ;-)

Baker Lake for your anniversary, right? Is that the one Eric is going to run with you? That's the greatest present EVER!

Thomas said...

You clearly had a busy weekend, supporting runners at two different ultras.

The description of the grilled cheese sandwiches made me hungry.

Wes said...

I'm thinking pressing apples is good exercise :-) I would of put my money on you in the grill cheese stand off too!! LOL...

Jon said...

Criss-Cross, Applesauce!!! (Can you tell my 7 year old is in my head at the moment?)

You've been busy this weekend! Making applesauce, crewing Steve @ Cle Elum, crewing Eric & Rob, cooking for pratically everyone.

The term "Awesome" comes to mind. :-)

See you and Eric at Baker Lake! I can only imagine what I'll be doing there.

Gotta' Run! said...

Sounds like you had a wonderful weekend! I'm hungry now - I'm thinking soup, grilled cheese, and applesauce....

Cat.

robtherunner said...

Thanks for taking the time out of your running schedule and supporting all of us. Sorry we let you down. Next time we'll suck it up and pull up our big boy pants.

Joe said...

Michelle, you are awesome. Applesauce, organizing preschools, driving all over crewing for looooooong distance trail runners. Wow.

Yeah, you deserve a couple days off!!

Great write up...sleep well!!!

Sarah Elaine said...

Applesauce and grilled cheese sandwiches. Mmm...!

You are the ultimate crew, for sure.

Anne said...

What a good crew member you are! I had to chuckle at your power naps...just like a preschooler who can drop in a second and be ready for her second wind 15 minutes later.

Sunshine said...

If I'm feeling over-extended, all I have to do is check in on your blog.. and see what REALLY busy is like.
Yea! You!

Jenny, Maniac #401 said...

I am exhausted just reading that! You are way too nice to those guys. :) Gotta love em!
Jenny

Sunshine said...

Thanks for checking in. Your comments are most appropriate.

The timing and the location of that band of hurricane IKE hitting St. Charles was amazingly particular... like aiming at a target. How could anyone be prepared for that ... in northern Missouri?!!

lizzie lee said...

I wish you a great Baker Lake run.... I wonder where do you get the energy from.... How nice our only 4 days of summer.....they are gone!!!

Meghan said...

Ok so I just got a little stressed reading about how busy you have been, my goodness! I hope things begin to slow down for you!

It sounds like you, as always, were great crew out there in some tough racing conditions. Michelle, you are ever the supporter for those you care about, and that's so lovely to see!

Have a nice week and enjoy the applesauce. :)

Meghan

Ryan said...

What, who, where, when? After last weekend’s activities you’ll be ready to roll for this weekend’s big run, have a great 50K.