Monthly Archives: February 2012

Cam Baker finishes the Double Direction Ring

First news from the weekend is that Cam finished the Double Direction Ring.

In case any reader does not know, ” The Ring” is running the orange blazed Massanutten Trail in Virginia.
The Ring is a circuit of the entire 71-mile orange-blazed Massanutten Trail in the George Washington National Forest, on the ridgelines of the eastern and western ranges of the Massanutten Mountains around the Fort Valley, roughly between Front Royal and Luray. The “trail” is hard, rocky, and slow. Sections of the trail have been around in some cases for centuries, but the entire, uninterrupted, 71-mile Massanutten Trail was not completed until 2002.
Once the trail was completed, Chris Scott and Anstr Davidson were the first to complete The Ring. This is now an annual event over Labor Day Weekend, hosted by Virginia Happy Trails Club.  Your reward for finishing The Ring?  You are now eligible to run “The Reverse Ring” in February.

It’s a tough course.  I’ve now completed both directions twice; it’s hard to say which is harder.  It’s hot in early September, but cold in the winter.

It’s finally sinking in to me what a big deal this was, what Cam accomplished.  It’s certainly one thing to finish The Ring.  The Ring will beat you up.  You will be depleted, your feet will hurt, and if you are anyone besides Keith Kipling or Dan Rose,  you are probably pretty sleep deprived.

So first Cam runs The Ring. Jim Harris accompanies him.  They have limited aid.  Their first aid stop is 25 miles from the start, at Camp Roosevelt.  Their next aid is Moreland Gap, at mile 40.7.  These two stops were crewed by me, so they had hot food, and access to gear.  Their next two aid drops were simply caches that I left,  at Edinburg Gap and Woodstock, 48.7 and 56.9 miles respectively.  They then just have one spring at Powell’s Fort to resupply with water, then the climb to Signal Knob.

The climb up and down Signal Knob sucks.  If you have not done The Ring, you cannot understand how badly this feels at mile 68 of your adventure.

But Cam is not done here.  He’s descended back to the parking lot.  He gets some food, and now he heads out alone, because Jim was just pacing him for the first loop.  Now Cam is alone, to finish The Reverse Ring, on his own.

But this is “The Reverse Ring” day soon-the runners will be starting at 6am, so at least there will be other runners on the course. And, eventually, there will be the awesome volunteers out. So Cam can interact and gain some energy from the other humans out there.

The weather has changed.  It is now cold. The winds are sustained, and probably around 30 MPH.  Sustained.

Cam soldiers on.  He gets to interact with the other runners, and get support from the Aid Stations, and Jim Harris was crewing him.

I finally catch up to Cam at around mile 122 (or so) of his journey.  He is tired.  He is sleep deprived.  His feet hurt.  I pace him in.  He is still doing incredible at this time.  He really is not complaining.  He does tell me he is complaining in his head. But outwardly, other than mentioning how much things hurt, he is not complaining.  It’s more matter of fact.   There is no whining.

I take it as a huge compliment that Cam knew I was behind him on the trail and would eventually catch up.   He knew I would not be quitting The Reverse Ring, just as I knew he would complete his Double. 

I love this picture. Kim Cam Jim

Cam showed great strength, endurance, positivity, and graciousness on the Massanutten Trail this weekend.

I am honored to call him my friend. I am blown away by his accomplishment. I’m proud to be part of his adventure.

We have levels of “status” among our ultra running group.  Cam goes right to the top, for this accomplishment:


So Much to Say

Kimba on the observation deck, Kenneday Peak, Eastern Ridge, Friday

It was another epic wonderful weekend in Virginia.  So much to say, but I want to have the time to compose my thoughts and write. There’s at least 3 blog posts coming.

But for the short, very short, term post, a few items.

Cam Baker finished the Double Direction Ring.  Finally, just with me, it’s sinking in what a huge feat he completed.  Cam ran 142 miles.  He finished in 51 hours 25 minutes. I am very very proud of my friend. (There will be another blog post about Cam.)

I completed the Reverse Ring, in 28  hours and change. Someone will tell me my finishing time. It’s really not that important to me.  My whole goal, and carrot to me, on the RevRing, was to hopefully catch up to Cam and pace him in to his finish.  I did manage to do guessed it, another blog post.

Maybe, I guess, just one round of the MMT Ring would be considerd “epic” by default.  I went to Va with the plan of completing The RevRing; the idea of not completing it really was not ever an option.  My Reverse Ring journey this year was without the “epicness” of the previous year.  I think my blog post about my Reverse Ring will be more of a ‘travelogue” of the MMT Trail (I took lots of pics this year).  So yes, probaly blog post #3.

So I hope to get pics and thoughts organized and get all this done this week.

Check and Double Check

 I am a great list maker.  Checking items off on a list makes me feel secure.

For an ultra weekend, there are usually more than one list.

For this weekend, for example, there is the Aid Station List, with pots, skillets, stove, bowls, etc.
Then I have the list for clothes for Friday, Saturday, Sunday.  The Friday list is kind of long because I am going to both run and sit around.  So I need normal running clothes, but I also need warm clothes to hang out in.  Watching the weather forecast, I also threw some rain gear into the bag. I care less about running in the rain, but I am not hanging out in the rain.

Saturday list is pretty straight forward-just typical running clothes and gear for the day. And night. But you want to make sure it’s packed before you end up in Virginia lacking a light, or the right shoes, or heaven forbid, your running bra.

We have one drop bag, which  will get shuttled around on the course on Saturday.  This mainly contains my calories I want to leave the AS with, plus a few dry clothing options.  I will pick up my rain jacket at Camp Roosevelt-it is already prepacked in the pockets with food, spare gloves, new lights. (No rookie mistake with this in 2012.)

Check the item off the list, security. Blammo.  It is done.

You know, I feel alot better after posting yesterday. I think I got some of the anxiety out, into words. That helped me.

I know I am old, when I can tell this is Les, from “WKRP in Cincinnati” and Mr. Carlson and Andy are in the window…

But that is how the last 5 days have been.  I am very glad I have already paid for airfare to Colorado. And had the big vacation fight at the Work. Because in the last 5 days, or week or so, I would have been seriously second-guessing going to Colorado.

My doctor appointment has been cancelled, death in the family.  That is fine.  I was going to go with my original plan.
Use my Advair inhaler, as scheduled, twice a day.
Once I start The Reverse Ring, I am going to use my albuterol inhaler every six hours, whether I feel I “need it” or not. That way, I may not find myself in a ‘rescue’ situation, where I now need the albuterol inhaler.

I will wear my face mask for the entire Reverse Ring. I will pull it down to chat if I am with others. But I am anticipating quite a bit of RR to be solitary.  That is fine. I am looking forward to some trail time on the famous Massanutten rocks and do some homework for the 100 mile race in May. I am looking forward to helping out my friend Cam and seeing many other friends this weekend.  (I need this!!!!!)

To Our Big Dreams

Just a thought for the day.
I’ve heard so many people say “I’ll do that when I’m older, when I lose 20 pounds, when I’m retired”.
We got through life saying “I would, but it probably wouldn’t work out” or ” I’d like to but. . .”
We too often base our actions on an artificial future, painting a life picture based on an expectancy that time is more than sweat, tears, heat and mirage.
You can’t count on anything.
For out of the blue, fate can come calling.
In a  flash, what was once an unlimited horizon is the honed blade of a life gone short, robbed even of the power to grieve for what is ending.
I stand outside on a pale crescent of beaten earth and breathe deep.
I feel every ache in my muscles, I feel my skin, hot under the sun, the savage, fecund smell of loss in the air, laying heavy in the loud silence.
Somewhere in the distance is a soft clap of thunder, overhead clouds stray deliberately across the earth, disconnected from mechanical time.
I’d rather be elsewhere; the smell simply that of kitchen and comfort, the sounds; only that of laughter.
But I know how lucky I am, to simply be, in this moment and alive.
You can continue your day and do nothing, standing in brooding and irretrievable calculation as if casting in a game already lost.
Or you can seize the moment, the days, wringing every last drop from them.
Remind your loved ones you love them.
If there’s someone that means the world to you and you’ve never told them, tell them now.
Hug your family, forgive an enemy (but remember the bastard’s name), give the dog an extra biscuit.
Then step outside into the sharp and unbending import of Autumn, a dying summer flaring up like fading flame, one last taste, one last memory, never knowing how long it will remain.
-Posted by Brigid on her blog
This weekend is about friends and dreaming big.
Another quote, which is spank on my blog to the right, same concept:
“1) you will never achieve great things with small goals
2) there is no guarantee you will have another chance tomorrow”
We have Reverse Ring this weekend.  This is 71 miles of the Massanutten Trail; in the Counter Clockwise Direction.

The only folks eligible for the Reverse Ring are folks who first qualified by running The Ring- the same course, clockwise, 71 miles, in September.

Cam Baker has decided that is not enough.  Cam has decided he is going for The Double.  
Cam at the MMT 100 Race

Cam is going to run The Ring. On Friday, 71  miles.  Then he’s going to catch a nap and then reverse the course, joining us “normal runners” for the Reverse Ring, on Saturday.

Slim will be running The Ring, with Cam, on Friday.  I am crewing.  I will meet the Boyzz at two points on the 71 mile course-Camp Roosevelt and Moreland Gap Road, with hot food.  I will also drop aid for them, at two other locations.

Once Cam turns around, he will be among the “fairly normal” Reverse Ringers and able to get aid from the volunteer Aid Stations for the Reverse Ring.  But he might hit these aid station points early, so Slim will be Cam’s roving aid.

Me?  I will be just a mortal Reverse Ringer, it should be a “fairly normal” 71 mile run for me.  

My hope is Cam won’t start his Reverse Ring too far in front of me. I would love to have him just ahead of me, to give me a chance to chase him down and join him for miles on the trail.  

We still have not ironed out all the details yet for the crewing and aid, we’ve got all week to get those ready.

All Cam has to do-is run.  We’ll do the rest, make sure he’s got hot food and fresh clothes and water ready to go.  We are all ready to support his Big Adventure.

Some of us are more comfortable with stepping outside of our comfort box than others.  What’s the worse thing that can happen?  We can come up short. We might not achieve that pie in the sky goal.

But how will you know that, until you try?  Until you go for it?

Life is short. You might not have that opportunity to try again.  

So what are you waiting for?

Skunked By Proxy

I went out for my 10K around the block.

 I’m glad I cut back from the 11 mile around the block, as my legs just felt kind of heavy during this run.

Scooter roused himself from his spot of sunshine on the bank as I ran by and joined me.
 Sniffing around, it was obvious that Scooter has a slow learning curve with skunks. Of course, he managed to brush up against me, and transfer a little bit of that odor to my gloves and tights. Other than that, Scooter behaved and peeled off about one mile down the road, right before the climb to the Gump Dog headquarters.

 Gossip from the Neighborhood:

  • Large amount of orange vested men at the one farmhouse.  I think they hunt birds of some sort. Or that’s their story and they’re sticking to it
  • I counted 20 or so Amish buggies at the goat farm Amish home. That means this home was hosting church. Amish, in our area, have church every two weeks.
  • I first said “hi cows” to the cows beside the barn at the Amish farm, then I heard the giggling and saw all the little boys in the barn window watching me.  I said hi to them too.
  • All the Gump dogs but one were content on just barking at me.  The one beagle mix seemed to find it his honor to make sure I got his road section as quickly as possible. I had to keep turning to make sure he wasn’t going to catch up to me and take a bite of my ass.


Today was the day of my pulmonary function tests.

 I was supposed to have this done about three years ago, but never got around to it. After the HR lottery, and discussion with my doctor, she wanted me to still have it performed.

 After my breathing debacle on Little Bald Knob, I was happy to have the test scheduled, even though my lungs are not recovered from the weekend event.

It turns out to be pretty simple. You clip your nostrils closed, then clamp your lips around a tube attached to machines and computers.  You breathe normally, then follow instructions on inhaling quickly, and breathing out. This is repeated a few times in various manners, then another test with the door of the machine closed.

Then an albuterol aerosol treatment, which is a bronchodilator, and some of the tests are repeated.

Whee, the albuterol via the nebulizer hit me much stronger than two puffs off my inhaler!  I was a bit spacey, my hands were shaky, had a little bit of the jitters.  It took a little bit of time to wear off.

Now the results will go off to the pulmonologist,  who will then relay results to my doctor.

I’m still kind of doubtful if this will be of any help.  I know the tests are to measure your volume of air, capacity, but will these help me? I want this solved.

Tomorrow I start back on my $180 Advair.  I will be taking this, as scheduled, between now and The Reverse Ring.  At least I have another cold air event soon to see if I can prevent this bronchospasm from happening again.

And whether you celebrate or not, there is nothing wrong with a day of Love in it.  But that should be every day.

My weekend training

A few of us went to Virginia to get in some hill work.  The plan was to do 4 loops of the trail, for 104 miles.

Friday morning, it was sunny and around..30? Great weather to run in.

Loop One

 Bradley Mongold and Jill Cantafio came out on Friday. Bradley was running the loop with me, and Jill was going to get some hiking on her own in.

We had a great time chatting, and the time went by, very quickly, as it is apt to do, when spent with friends.

We got back in under 8 hours, and Brad and Jill helped crew me with a quick wardrobe change, soup, and I was out on Loop Two, by myself.  Now the objective was, to get through as much trail as I could in the daylight.

Kimba and  Mongold

First time through Camp Todd

 Loop Two

Loop Two wasn’t as fun as Loop One.

I was also going in the Clockwise direction, and we had done Loop One in the Counterclockwise direction.  It seemed that the CW direction was..harder than CCW.  

I changed a sock (just one) a few miles up the trail, as it seemed my foot pad felt a bit funny. 
I got turned around just up Hankey’s Mountain, and had to back track about 1/4  of a mile. Hard to explain what happened, but I was glad I had a map and a compass with me to know what direction to go in!
I did have to turn on the light to run down the technical Hankey’s Mountain.
Now I was climbing Big Bald Knob, and looking for the spring. And I knew I would be running into Slim here, somewhere.  To my surprise, I hear him hooting from the spring, so we can both fill water bottles, and chat!  We agree to run Loop Three together, and Slim will just wait for me back at the van.
I leave and continue to climb.   I hear the coyotes yipping in the woods.  They don’t concern me.
I finally get to the top of Big Bald Knob Mountain.  The snow is falling, and the trail is close, with snow covering the laurel or rhododendrons through here.  My gloves (cheap knit gloves) are getting soaked through and my hands are freezing. This rarely happens to me, I am usually running with the gloves off.
I did come somewhat prepared.   I have two hand warmer packages-the type that you just open and expose to air, and they heat up-I take the gloves off, stash them, and put my spare socks on my hands.  Of course, one of these is a “used” sock so you can imagine how this smells once they warm up!

But at least my hands are warm.  Now I trip and fall.  Big Bald Knob does not seem to want runners on its summit tonight, and I resolve to leave as quickly as I can.

I run into Eva, running solo, up the mountain.  She offers to pace me on my fourth lap, and I am touched and honored by this!!
Now I have the climb to Little Bald Knob, about 3 miles uphill.  It is very slow going.  But I don’t notice any panting or breathing issues on this climb.  Maybe I was moving slow enough that I did not notice my breath?
It’s night. It’s snowing. Still, I am okay.  One of my mantras this day has been “There is no where else I would rather be” and it was still true.
I finally ascend Little Bald Knob, and then the downhill. Now I have Grindstone Mountain, but it’s “only” a 1000 feet or so of climb and descent.  I’m looking forward to being done with Loop Two, and seeing Slim, and starting Loop Three.
Loop Three is the hardest to start.  If you can start Loop Three, you can finish.  Because if you do Loop Three, now you’re at 75 miles, and you would be silly *not* to get that finish.  Slim stopped last year after two loops, and had been kicking himself ever since.
Slim and Kimba Big Bald Knob Mtn

Loop Three

I get back to the van, get changed, Slim gets soup for me, and we start back up the CCW direction, which starts with a big climb. Almost immediately I am panting, and we stop for a minute.   I think we’ve just started out too quickly, since we’re both excited to have company again.  I catch my breath and we start to climb again.

But I am shortly out of breath again.  I am wearing my mask around my mouth and nose-I have been wearing that at all times since starting the second loop.

I can’t breathe. I can’t get any good lungfuls of air into my lungs. I am now doing the ten steps climb, and stop.  We are barely moving.  I’m getting pretty despondent.

About half-way up to Little Bald Knob I ask the question “where can I bail on this loop?”

Slim tells me I can take the forest road after the Little Bald Knob descent back to the trail head, probably about ten miles of road.  We don’t discuss this.

This really was my first thought of quitting. Now I can feel the tears starting, and the feelings, but this only exacerbates the breathing so I cut all of that out.  We climb.  It is so slow.  I think of the climbs after the road-Big Bald, and then Hankey. I’m getting medically concerned about my condition.  What if I get stuck out there?  There is nowhere to go once you start up these climbs.  There is no way to stop. The temperature is in the 20’s.  Not moving is not an option.

I tell Slim I am going to drop and take the road back.  Now all I want to do is get over the mountain so Slim can get going on his own.  My breathing is fine on the level surface and downhill.

We get to daybreak and Camp Todd about the same time.  I turn down the road and now Slim gets to get on with his loop and get some running done!

I open more hand warmers and drink a bunch of water.  I’m dehydrated because it’s hard to try to suck water and air at the same time.  I resolve to walk a bit, and then jog back down the road.

About two or three minutes later, three cars come down the road. It is more runners, who are going to start at Camp Todd.  My friend Quatro, is one of them, and now  I am sitting in a warm car, being transported back to the trail head!

I get changed, and lay down to nap. It’s hard to get warm, even in my sleeping bag.  I think I sleep for a little while, then my stomach growls at me and I decide maybe hot soup will help warm me up.  I make soup for Slim and put it into the thermos.  The soup helps me and I decide it’s time for a beer.

Then Slim appears, running ahead of his time that he estimated getting back!!  He gets his soup, and we change the game plan.  I’m going to drive over to Camp Todd and wait there. Then I have another road crossing where I can meet him. That way he can travel lighter, but have access to his clothes/gear and have hot food.  He is stoked and now I have something better to focus on, his finish, not my  drop.

The rest of this is now about Slim

Slim has already run 75 miles.  He’s done 8000 feet of climb on each loop.  Yet he is kicking ass going harder on this loop than Loop One.  I’m napping in the van at Camp Todd as he arrives-ahead of his estimated schedule.
Quatro is now with him.  Slim says “no need to save the legs now” and I am highly amused.  Quatro is going with him up Big Bald Knob.  Slim says they are going to have to run, and I know Slim is going to drop Q out there.
I am glad Slim is feeling strong, because the weather conditions are just complete crap.  After a pretty nice Friday of temps in the low 30’s and no wind; Saturday is cold and the wind has been strong all day.  It’s 24 degrees at Camp Todd but they are climbing to 4000 feet.  I want him to get as much as this done in the daylight as he can.
The temperature at the road crossing is 19 degrees, at 4 pm.  The trees are rocking with the steady steady wind. The wind does not die down, at all.  I keep checking the watch, and get out before Slim’s estimated time. Sure enough, he comes in ahead of his schedule.
Slim puts on more clothing. He is still strong and moving well.  I don’t tell him how cold it is; we can’t change it, he’s got enough to do.  We make sure he’s got all the clothes he needs and his  lights and then he goes. He needs to get through as much as he can in the light, before the temps drop even more.  He tells me if he’s not back at the trail head at 830 pm to start looking for him, but he thinks he’ll be done at 7 or 730 pm.
Quatro appears about ten minutes later and I return the favor by taking him with me  back to the trail head. Q also decides to wait for Slim to finish his 100 mile event.  We take up the watch positions in the warm car and sip beverages.  We start to pay attention about 630 pm. 
Eva Pastalkova has gone out to run in with Slim.  That makes me feel much better about Slim being out there in this weather, we know he should not be alone.
Sure enough, before 7 pm, we see lights!! They are here!! I get out and start hollering.  Slim makes it back before 7pm. 104 miles, 35 hours 55 minutes.  ( 2 hours of this was downtime waiting for me to start Loop 3 but he insists on counting that.)
I am incredibly proud of my friend.  I know exactly the weather, the climbs, and the hardships out there. Limited aid, virtually no one else on the trail with you;  this is something you have to really want.  Slim quit after two loops last year and really wanted this finish.  I was so happy to be there and share this.
There was no where else I would have rather been, this past weekend.