Friday, October 22, 2010

Gore-Tex TransAlpine Trail Run: Stage VII

St.Vigil to Niederdorf im Pustertal
42.2 km (26.2 miles)
Vertical Distance: 1963 meters ascent, 1990 meters descent
Total Time: approx 5hrs stopped at aid station #2 after 17 miles (Stephanie DAY OFF)


"On the 7. stage from St. Vigil in Enneberg to Niederdorf there’s one highlight after the other. The first 13 kilometers from the town of St. Vigil through Tamers Valley toward Pederu are an ideal start for the runners due to its slight incline, but the first steep climb up Senneshütte is definitely something else. In an extreme climb, the course squirms in short bends up to the alpine plateau of Sennes, one of the most beautiful mountain pastures in the Dolomites. Via Seekofelhütte and Alta Via Dolomiti Nr. 1 we reach Pragser Wildsee, before another climb begins up Weißlahnscharte. Only now do we leave the Dolomites again toward the North in the direction of Niederdorf. At the end of the day we will have covered an altitude difference totaling almost 1700 meters and a distance of over 42 kilometers."- TransAlps website


Today was going to be a glorious day I had decided to myself. I was going to run, albeit slow and potentially not very far, but I was going to run! On top of that I found me a hard-boiled egg for breakfast! Jackpot!!


I woke up bright and early. Low and behold, the swelling in my leg was reduced tremendously. The skin was sort of pasty and wrinkly from the moisture of the cheese, but I did noticed it wasn't so puffy. Wow...wait til the states get a load of this.


Stephanie cheered me out the gate and I settled into a nice even pace. I could feel the leg just slightly but it wasn't screaming warnings at me so I let it ride. The first bit of the run was on road and I was grumbling to get onto some dirt.



When we finally hit trail I let my body fly and pushed a little harder than I had anticipated. I hit the first aid station (which I had anticipated stopping and ending the day at: I just wanted to run "a little") around 1hr 10 minutes. Whew! Not too shabby for a gimpy runner chick doing 7ish miles! I had chick'd a bunch of guys on the rolling rooty forested trails. I grabbed a few tidbits to eat along the run and kept going, heading towards aid station 2. 










The climb up was fun with beautiful views of the Dolomites we would see more of tomorrow. As I climbed, though, I couldn't keep warm. I started to shiver and piled on the layers, finally breaking open my emergency hot hands and putting them into my bra. Shh, that's my secret weapon. It seriously works. I have put them in my gloves frequently, but I found that when I get beyond cold fingers it's time to get to the 'core' of the matter. 

Hot hands in the ta-tas (grin). My chest gets nice and toasty which then spreads the heat to the rest of my body. I'm quite proud of myself for discovering this gem, by the way.

Just when I started getting warm and comfortable, my stomach started growling in hunger! I felt I had eaten a substantial breakfast but my belly was telling me different. I slowly nibbled on items in my pack: honey stingers, single flask of Liquid Gold, flask of mixed paste Perpetuum, anything I could find I ate.  


And the final straw: I didn't pick my foot up high enough and ca-pow! I accidentally kicked a large rock sending needles and screams up my injured leg. I slowed down and tried to walk it out but it wouldn't settle down. I limped from there on out.

I was excited when we hit the summit of the first peak


until I looked down.


The run down was a treacherous, scree-filled, slippery rock, steep slide down. There was little running involved....At one point I rounded a bouldered corner only to find a steep drop off and a chain.  





Yes, a chain.

We had to climb sideways 
                                        and 
                                                 down, 
                                                          hand over hand with some parts where I rested the hiney down and scooted to get to the next "level" of down. My ankle was very tender and I did not trust my footing. I was S-L-O-W.



I finally hit aid station #2 and called it quits. We still had one more large mountain to climb and from the talk I was hearing around me from crew it was worse than the first by a large amount. 27.4km....I felt I achieved much more than I had initially set out to accomplish. I could hold my head high for the day.


Stephanie had found us a room to rent in a cute little farmhouse. It was unique and adorable! What a teammate!!





 Bidet anyone?

"I like to picture Jesus as a figure skater. He wears like a white outfit, and He does interpretive ice dances of my life's journey. " Talladega Nights (note baby Jesus hanging above the bed)




It was just about cut-off time for the restaurants (did I mention everything, and I mean everything closes between 2 and 5:30?) so I ducked into a little pub and ordered some dumpling soup and gnocci! Woot Score!!
So delicious.



This time the gnocci was nestled in mounds of mozzarella, garlicky roasted cherry tomatoes, basil, and drizzled with olive oil. If the waiter had left me for a few minutes I probably would've licked my plate.


Nap time followed by pasta dinner. Yeah I can eat:)



Thursday, October 21, 2010

Gore-Tex TransAlpine Trail Run: Stage VI

Sand in Taufers to St. Vigil
39.7 km (24.7 miles)
Vertical Distance: 1512 meters ascent, 1193 meters descent
Total Time: DAY OFF (Stephanie ran approx 7hrs)


"With an altitude difference totaling over 1500 meters and a distance of almost 40 kilometers, the 6. stage on the eastern route of the Transalpine-Run 2010 is probably the hardest that has ever been run in the history of this stage race competition. Till the finish in St. Vigil, the route first leads along the eastern side of Tauferer Valley until Bruneck. After crossing River Rienz the seemingly endless climb toward Kronplatz begins, never allowing even a peak at the Dolomites in the South until reaching the summit region. The final downhill section into St. Vigil in comparison will feel like a relief."- TransAlps website




Day 2 off. Leg was feeling crappy still and I wanted to run the last two stages if I could. Stephanie was feeling better today and decided to run. I stood at the start line all teared up in excitement for her (jealous, yes, but surprisingly I was incredibly proud and excited to watch her take off!). 




I watched the last runner leave the chute and bummed a ride to St. Vigil. I walked as much as I could around town to try to find us a hotel (and maybe even some laundry service- our bags were smelling really rank) but everything was so darn expensive. I gave up once my leg started to put it's two cents in. I headed to the "camp" and searched the building for a nice quiet spot away from the main hub of mattress pads, stink, and sniffling runners. 



I cringed at the thought of the little disease factory that was being produced. Runners were getting colds left and right with their immunity compromised and sharing such close quarters with each other. 


I found a staircase with a little hallway leading to an office door just off the main gym. There were doors separating us from the gym and the noise was muffled a bit into the hallway. Perfect! I carried both Stephanie's and my race bag upstairs and proceeded to lay out our bedding. 




By that time my sleeping bag was looking very inviting so I snacked on a banana then curled up and took a nice nap. I would wake here and there to stretch my ankle out inside my bag and massage it a bit. It was progressively feeling a bit better to the point that I entertained the idea of running the next day. 


I woke in time to head down to the finish line and cheer in a bunch of runners. It was kind of neat to be on the other side of things for once and I found myself tearing up in pride and excitement for all that were running in, knowing full well the exhaustion they were feeling. I cheered Stephanie in, gave her a huge hug. and promptly fed her! After she showered, we enjoyed a latte and then headed to camp for our pasta dinner. Today was actually really good: baked/roasted chicken half, veggie lasagna, potato salad, marinated tomatoes, roll with cheese!! Delish! 


Stephanie and I headed to the local market after dinner to pick up a few toiletries. On our way out we met Marcus, the sweeper, who asked us how our injuries were doing (Stephanie had declared after dinner that she was going to sit the next day out from overdoing her knees. She was limping a bit and wanted to be able to run the last day). Then Marcus introduced us to the hidden and secret art form of "cheesing". 


Marcus took us back into the market where he had us buy a large chunk of a particular cheese. The name escapes me, but it looked and felt very similar to farmer's cheese. It was soft and spongy, moist, and tasted a touch sweet. He gave us each gauze and wraps, telling us each to slice off a piece tonight, place it on our swelling and wrap it overnight. "By tomorrow" he said, "the swelling will go down significantly!"


Stephanie and I looked at each other then back at him...


then burst out laughing. 



We were convinced, for sure, that he was messing with us. He was trying to get us to do something so fantastically silly that he could go back to his "boys" and laugh at us dumb Americans. We weren't buyin' it.



Until we saw his utmost serious expression. He was telling the truth.

"Seriously?" we asked him.

"Seriously." he said and waved his hand at the cheese counter lady. She nodded her head in agreement. 



We giggled the entire way back to camp thinking about putting cheese on our legs. We sliced and applied, taking pictures to document. 









The cheese was moist and we were concerned with it leaking in our sleeping bags. We already smelled funky, we knew that, but we didn't want to make it any worse. We used the plastic wrap the cheese was packaged in to cover the cheese and prevent it from creating a soupy mess in our bags. We grinned childishly at each other and tucked into bed. 



I had decided to run the next day and, in my pure excitement, spread out all my gear to be ready for the early 0700 start. I had a "date" with the Gore guys at the start line and I was giddy to run!


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Intermission....

After many many frustrating days, I finally have gotten a few pain free runs in. The leg still swells a bit after a run and feels "twingy" in the joint and along the right side of the shin, but it is all manageable. I am planning on getting it x-rayed....sometime.


Shortly after I got back from Europe, I volunteered for a local race. A half marathon trail race where Argos and I served as the sweeper and clean-up crew. Argos wore his pack in which I stuffed the race mile signs into and picked up flag markers and such. It was fun but a long day...I ran a little here and there with much satisfaction.

The last two weeks I have gotten in some light runs:

Mesa Trail was a gorgeous out and back with beautiful signs of the changing weather. Leaves golden and red, wheat colored grasses, and a wonderful crisp smell in the air.




Matthew Winters was run a couple times with great results. I did well on the climbs and only needed a few walk breaks. Each time I was there, however, a rattler was seen. Today Argos and I did a fabulous ballet leap over a HUGE rattlesnake. It was horrifying to say the least. It was ginormous and very green. After we vaulted over it (both of us going too fast to stop quickly) I turned around, my hand on his pack to hold him steady, and stared at the snake. It suddenly sprung to action and hissed up a storm, it's rattle spinning out of control. He was full of piss-n-vinegar and was ready to strike. My heart was pounding and it took me a good few minutes to recuperate from that adrenaline zing. Holy cow that was close.

N. Table also had a baby rattler on it but it was dead and dried up in the parking lot. Geez-us, I have never seen so many snakes before!

I have been testing out Liquid Gold product and am, so far, very pleased with the results. I will spend more detail reviewing this once I get a few more runs under the belt. For now, back to the TransAlpine review.....

Gore-Tex TransAlpine Trail Run: Stage V

Kasern-Prettau im Ahrntal to Sand in Taufers
33.8 km (21 miles)- originally supposed to be 29.5 km but race director increased mileage due to a landslide
Vertical Distance: 1503 meters ascent, 2098 meters descent
Total Time: DAY OFF


"Always providing a view of the mountain chain of the Zillertaler Alps in the North, the 5. stage of the Transalpine-Run, with an altitude difference totaling 1500 meters and a distance of nearly 30 kilometers, leads into the heart of the Rieserferner group of mountains in the South of Ahrn Valley. On this stage, too, the route expands into alpine territory and is second to none when it comes to scenic beauty. After a short downhill stretch to Durra Alm, the long cross way to the southern slopes of Rein Valley delights runners with perfect running ground. The unique climb along the Reinbach waterfalls toward Sand in Taufers wraps up this beautiful stage."- TransAlps website



Today was the first of two days off. I was in a foul mood to say the least on having to sit out but after much weeping and restless (or lack of) sleep I gave into my body and listened for once. I had attempted to get out of bed to pee during the night and found it near impossible to walk. My leg pulsated and the skin tight. I limped/dragged myself to the toilet where I could inspect my leg better without waking Stephanie. I was scared it could be compartment syndrome, but after checking my leg thoroughly I felt pretty convinced it was ok, but just needed rest.

It was cool and foggy this morning, as I sat out on the deck I could see a castle in the distance. It was very intriguing and mysterious! I took it slow and hobbled around town today to see the "sights" as much as I could. Unfortunately, my day was disappointing. The town was tiny so the stores were kind of boring, very expensive, and I didn't feel like being very tourist-y. I think it was mostly a mental block as I have never had to sit out of a staged race before and I would catch myself negative talking a lot. Mix that with a tremendous feeling of isolation and sadness that I couldn't even make a phone call to my family or cowboy to talk out my distress because I couldn't understand how to use the payphones here in Italy...well, I was just a peach to be near I'm quite sure.

Unrefrigerated eggs! Interesting....

Yummm deli meats.
To pass the time waiting for restaurants to open for dinner, we lounged in bed and watched tv. We couldn't understand a thing but we did find Star Trek to be incredibly amusing in Italian. We laid there making up hilarious story lines as to what was happening and what people were saying. It was the first time all day I think I laughed and smiled.
We found an awesome Italian restaurant to eat at and sat with our new friend Linda (her husband Jerry was the one that ran with us the other day). This bread dumpling soup was AMAZING. I want to find the recipe to try it at home. It was large meatball type of dumplings consisting mostly of breading, spices/herbs, and flecks of "speck" or prosciutto I think? So delicious! The broth had very mild flavor until you cut into one of the dumplings. The broth mixed into the dumpling and bam, there was a beautiful blend of flavors. Sooo good.

Gnocci to die for. Seriously. I dub this the BEST MEAL EVER. As in, if I were to ever have to have a "last meal" this may just be the one I chose. The gnocci lived up to their names as pillow fluffy goodness. They were nestled in salty olives and a flavorful tomato sauce. A sprinkle of cheese on top and wow. I could have easily eaten two dishes of this.


Linda and Jerry (from Cali)- great people 

Lederhosen- wow these were pricey!

Very odd staging of a store front. what are those kids doing??!!


Awwww, Made me miss my pup so much. 
Ok...so self pity and all....my life really doesn't suck much. Not at all. Even though I was injured I honestly could not refuse the fact that I was in Europe with grand views, awesome food, good company, family and friends at home cheering and loving me, and a pretty damn awesome life.