If you're lucky enough to be in the mountains, you are lucky enough.

When something bad happens, you have three choices: let it define you, let it destroy you, or let it strengthen you.

The purpose of life is to discover and develop your gift. The meaning of life comes from sharing your gift with others. - David Viscott

Monday, July 29, 2013

A little humid stomp in the woods.

My good friend David H. from EnduranceBuzz.com is not only "running" a Southern Region version of iRunfar.com, but also began putting on races last year. I heard so much great things about those that, even though I swore off racing in Texas summer, I decided to sign up for one of his productions, Cedar Ridge 36km trail run (which also had an 18km going on). I figured it is short enough to survive the heat and humidity, and long enough to be called a "long run" - and I need a long run as I begin my training cycle for Grindstone 100 in October...

One of the best parts of that adventure was getting to spend a Friday night with my very old friend (as in, I've known him for years) Reverend Camden...I mean Rev. Craig, and his lovely wife Pamela. The power of the social media and blogging - we've "met" on this platform sometime in January 2006, and had been following each other since, with a personal meeting thrown in, and then Craig, being a Minister of Baptist Church, had married Larry and I back 4 years ago...and our conversations had always been meaningful and non-judgmental. I know it is off topic, but it is as important part of my life as running is, if not more - sharing my soul with friends, real people, and he is one good person. I was writing to him when Alex was going through boarding schools, when I was deciding to end my previous marriage, when I was dating Larry and unsure about the future steps...Craig was the right choice to be at our "little" wedding ceremony, and with life being overwhelming lately, we were due a good talking session. Which lasted well past my bedtime, and with a race start at 5:30 am and a drive time, I got all of 3 hrs of sleep - but the conversation was worth every minute of it.

I arrived to the start at 4:30am, checked in in a fuzzy state (as I explained later to a few people trying to talk to me, in general, I am a very morning person, but on a race morning, it's like my body shuts down and doesn't talk/react/walk as if it preserves itself for the task ahead). I took a nap in the car, scrambled out at 5:15am for some pre-race chat, and strapped my headlamp on...
Nice and humid morning, actually, the temps were ok, it's the water in the air...
It was peach-dark, and Larry Kocian standing next to me asked: Is your headlamp on? I pressed a button once more and shrugged shoulders, thinking of (my) Larry sending me off with words: Are you sure you have fresh batteries? I mean, I promise I am much better these days than I used to, I actually take out batteries after a night race, so I KNOW I have to replace them, and this lamp had batteries in, so I figured they must be ok!
2,600 feet of gain per my Garmin.
We took off on what turns out to be a seriously hilly and seriously technical (roots, steps and roots!) single track, 4 loops of 5.35M (or so). For the first 2 miles Larry K. was running behind me, and we chatted a lot - and a couple times he tried to bring my attention to my lamp, and I dismissed it, as with his light (which seemed to be like CAR headlights) I was just fine. And then at 2M stop I ate a gel and let him go...and suddenly the world fell dark! I mean, I had some kind of dim something coming out, but I couldn't see beyond 1 foot in front of me, and even that was with my head down and straining my eyes! So, I told myself "Stupid!" and resolved to kind of walk and shuffle. After all, my legs felt dead anyway (OMG, what will I do at Ozark 100 after Grindstone 100??!! I am giving my Larry away our little family competition! I'll be fighting cut off's!), so some slow time on first loop shall be beneficial, right? So, I stumbled, nursing already sad left hamstring I overworked the week prior with 4 workouts out of the blue, and also nursing sour stomach (like, intestines, like, WTH?). As mile 5 approached and a number of folks passed me, I began to see better and perked up. So, on the last bridge, in grey light of the dawn, I relaxed my shoulders, inhaled deeply; "I made it with no fall!", stepped on a wooden bridge, slid, and caught myself in a twist that sent that very left hamstring into agony! Jesus, is it torn?

I grabbed my leg and hobbled. The walked. The pain didn't go anywhere, and I was limping so badly, I didn't dare to try and run. A few more folks passed me as we turned the corner into start/finish area and end of our loop #1. I bent over my cooler for a bottle exchange and limped out. David H., the RD, was standing there, and as he saw me, his face got longer, and he was like "Are you sure?". Well, yeah, not only my light was dead, as were my legs, and my stomach did not cooperate, I pulled a hammy! But, no, it's nothing serious, I don't think so, and I can walk a loop to see what's in the future. So, I walked out and slowly broke into a jog.

Mr. Joe H. caught up with me, and we conversed for the next 2 miles, and I felt obligated to keep up so the conversation would flow. It was extremely great to have company that took my mind of the first bouts of pain when it was at its worst, and he was so sweet calling me "Miss Olga" - I could listen to it forever and answer questions about 100 milers!

With Joe H.

Eventually I had to let him go as well, as I was in need to walk off the hamstring every so often, and I would continue on the next mile to change positions with a woman Shelley from Tulsa, OK - and apologize that I am not doing it on purpose, I just can't run continuously as I am nursing an injury...

Conga line with Joe and Shelley.
There were places I wasn't a happy camper, between pain, a fear I am doing it all wrong, and feeling slow and fat and slow...but every time I would manage to turn it around and say to myself: Any day on trails is better than one in the office. Totally!

 Climbing one of the many ladders.
So, the 2nd loop went just like the first one, and if the first was slow with walking carefully over roots with no light, the second was in about same time and limping. I resolved to keep on going - I needed that long run after all!

I saw David again after that loop, and he asked me what's the verdict. I said - I'll keep going! (His response: Only because I know you know what you're doing). The first 2 loops were run in one direction, and the next one were in opposite, what means coming in I saw folks ahead of me, counted girls (and first gal was flying right after the first guy!), figured I am 5th, so no pressure! What I said to David, as well - Now I can relax and just stroll.

And that whole idea allowed me to begin smiling. I was over half-done, a mere 10+ miles left, I could make it happen. With that, my third loop went uneventful, more painful and shooting up my butt and down my calf, but at the same time very plodding-like enjoyable. I was just on a run, seeing folks coming towards me, cheering me on...It WAS the slowest loop by 5 minutes, at the end of which I had realized that I will not be able to break 4:30, but may be, if I just plod like that, I'll do 4:40.

As I was leaving for the last loop, and David, again, being all worried, asked me if I need anything, I yelled out - Ibuprofen! I know he doesn't carry it for the race (and I know of the opinions of taking it swirling around, and I don't care), but I was hoping someone would hear me. Jeremy Day did! He said "I wouldn't recommend it, but I have a bottle in my car..." Yes! Run, get me - as I dusted out. He was - No, car this way - so I had to make my way to the car (pretty close by, I have to be honest), gave me 4 Vit I (Praise God!), and I literally bolted out! I was on high even before the effects hit - Central Governor and all!

And soon after - I pass a guy, another guy, and see a silhouette of Shelley! At first I get into "hunting mode", and keep my reins in as I slowly get closer...But as I even out with her, and exchange a few sentences ("Your stride looks so much better now than before" - "Thanks, I got some Ibuprofen, and I also adjusted it to a very short one, and he hamstring behaves a bit better"), we feel into stride to stride and kept on talking. About her 50k at Palo Duro last year and the same one up coming in October, about her mountain biking past and some knee problems...and at some point I offer we should try and finish together, it was so much fun! I was beginning to feel the pull of an endurance runner though, growing stronger, and she seemed to be a little more working, but we stayed together for 2 miles, until I pulled on a downhill just before AS with 2M to go.

Last awesome downhill before AS.

Opening up and felling like a runner again!
I quickly filled up my water and as I was leaving, Shelley came in, and I turned my head and yelled: I'll be walking up that hill and eating gel, come and get me, lets run it in!
And I did walk and did eat a gel - but then the pull of the finish line, that "smelling the barn" was just too strong. I looked over the shoulder, saw Shelley walking back, and began jogging, then actually running up the incline.
Grinding last 1M incline.
And here is where my favorite for the year cramping came full strength! I actually felt them doing their thing almost since the beginning of the last loop, but it was possible to hold them back - and in the last mile and half, on that incline and then flat and some rooty ups - my calves were MOVING! On their own! All I could think about: please no Cheaha or McDonald Forest, please stay under control, please don't trip, don't misstep, don't speed up...short stride, kick from the hip flexor...I rounded the corner afraid to even think what will happen if I seize like I infamously did in those two other 50k's...but I didn't. And I actually ran my loop in fastest time, and finished in 4:32 - and for the next 10 minutes had spectators enjoy the "show" of my dancing calf muscles on both legs.

Shelley came a couple of minutes later, and we started hugging before she even crossed the line (and the volunteers actually didn't count those few seconds - so, it's my fault!), then Chris Brady in the next 2 minutes (who later said 2 things: one is "Dang, I saw your name and knew I have a chase to happen", and another "I read your reports, if you don't have disasters, you don't have a race!"). Which is true, I guess...it's not about running, it's about stories! And I always have those!

So, I ended up being 4th female, and even snatching a goody gift bag as first 40+ lady - which I technically wasn't, but in EBuzz races you can't double-dip, and other (much faster) old ladies got the podium bags.

There was food, MASSAGE!, lots of chatting, a couple of my clients running, meeting David's wife and cutest children (it's a family enterprise!), and I had to leave (unfortunately) to massage my own clients (dreaming of a massage of my own!).

I highly enjoyed the event, and am looking forward doing his next one in September. The trails were perfect, and while I wouldn't fathom going for more than 4 loops, for that distance, with reverse direction, and IN THE TEXAS SUMMER - it worked great. Soft dirt, lots of roots, even more steps, but NO ROCKS (I am not a rock fan, and that's one of about 100 reasons I don't like Texas running:)). Come check this gem out!

And while you're at it, high-five a couple kids, and tell David to hug better! :) That was one thing I wanted to tell this awesome budding RD - a tighter hug. But I think it comes with the fact he is young and not so squeeze as we, grizzly, are. Besides, it IS summer in TX, and the stinking drench is pretty bad:)

And now, a thanks go out to BRL Sports and their EnduraFual I took a bottle of on loop 2 and a bottle for recovery. VFuel gels I consumed every 30 minutes.

I ran in Pearl Izumi N1 shoes and at this point am unsure how I like them (not good, not bad - just not certain). My favorite Nike lucky shorts, and a sports bra I picked at the Ross discount store a brand of which I have no clue about, but on this run I found out it had pockets on the side! At first I got excited and thought: for gels? garbage? ice? But then it dawned on me, this bra, when I bought it, had those boob-inserts I discarded before even leaving the store (who needs extra boobs for running??), and that is what those pockets for...May be the idea is not that bad!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Team R,W&B running camp.

In case you haven't heard yet, I'll be a part of THIS AWESOME CAMP in November on Veteran's day weekend. It is a 2nd year for the camp put on by Liza Howard, Joe and Joyce Prusaitis and Alison and Jason Bryant. Just so you know - this camp is for EVERYONE! Not only for vets - who are coming fully financially supported by the organization. This camp is put on for the reasons to build a COMMUNITY between vets and regular folks, to help vets merge in after them serving, to teach valuable running skills to ALL levels and abilities of ALL people that sing up.

The panel of ELITE runners who will share their wisdom is INSANE!
Darcy Africa , Meghan Arbogast , Annette Bednosky, Sage Canaday, Katie DeSplinter, Matt Hart, Melanie Fryer, Dominic Grossman, Dave James, Max King, Nikki Kimball, Sabrina Little, Stephen Moore, David Riddle, Pam Smith, Paul Terranova.

Then we have local folks who will be helping to serve, talk, show, have fun, tag along, laugh, yell...you know, those things I love to do, so YES!, I will be part of the camp this year! I may even give a massage or few! :)

For $260, which includes lodging and meals, you can run at Camp Eagle, where the Tejas Trails' race Nueces (in March) usually happens (and I volunteer every year after winning its inaugural year), play in the river, boulder, zipline, bring family, swim, kayak, and sleep in bunk houses. That is BY FAR cheaper than any running camp you had ever read about - ANY!

And last but not least, we also want to provide each of the veterans with some basic trail running gear –  a handheld water bottle, headlamp, and running socks.  We’re going to try to get as much donated as possible this year.  If you have a sponsor or connection who would like to support the camp with that kind of gear or any other basic gear, please let us know.  Drymax is going to donate trail running socks for each of the veterans with the Team RWB logo.  We're happy to support the companies donating with recognition during the camp and on the website etc., and any way we can.

Spread the word, and come on over!
Camp's main website!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Behind in writing, but not in living.

I am back to training. Back to working all my 5 hundred jobs and vocations, back to cooking, to yoga, to knitting, and to even reading! Yes, it's been a little crazy, kind of the way it usually is.

In a nutshell: on the morning of July 13th (Saturday) I threw down a 14M trail run - and while I wasn't sure how it'll go (I struggled with 4 miles juts a couple days prior) - I was not only pleased, but fully back. Running one my of my loops, I got my "normal" time at it (not fast, but not slow, just what I do when I just go run), and that allowed me to determine I am ready to begin a next training cycle. Having gone last year through adrenal fatigue due to jumping into training too early had made me extremely cautious these days.

Later that night I went to volunteer at the 2nd in series of night races of Tejas Trails Capt'n Karl 30k/60k. Below are a few photos of the fun times (first by Cris Strong, next three by Melissa Fisher).

Who is the Boss? Telling orders to runners 
at the Mule Shoe night races. No littering, no 
hanging out at my AS, no dropping allowed! :)

Next week I was full-IN for the training! "Killed" my ladies at Bootcamp, did a hill road loop, a hill repeats treadmill workout, an interval workout (800's), all the weights, and then tackled a 17M run with 10 Hill Of Life repeats on Saturday! Funny how the flat portion felt horrible, and the hills were awesome, I actually ran parts of them - with all the support of random other "repeaters" and consuming VFuel gel chased down with EnduraFuel. Legs and mood - A+++!

So, by Sunday I was pooped and dragged my legs through some technical hills of an 8M trail loop. That and I am in a desperate need of more yoga! My hamstrings are screaming! But next week is going to be as busy, and will have an drive-up-North short race to add. Ah, that recovery time was good...

I am excited to begin this next stage of the year getting me to Grindstone 100, and while I am at it, I signed up for Ozark 100 a month later after this one to support Larry and his (3rd year!) trip to have him run ahead of me and settle the score:) We shall see how that goes...

Did some freind's duties, seeing some friends this week, managed some family (Russian side of it) disasters as well as I could, smiled, laughed, made decisions, and, well, keep on living my life.

What I am guessing you are up to as well:)

Carry on!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

It's not all about running...

I often say lately that I still train for trail ultras while living in not very inspiring (for me, personally) place to just "up and go run" for many reasons, one of which is so when I "grow up", I could be fit enough to do a lot of serious hiking and backpacking.

Our past little 1 week vacation was a great test to it, and a great prove it works, and we do, indeed both totally love it. (we both came to trail ultras with a background of mountaineering and backpacking and hiking prior, as a natural development). Our finest example for the future is a 74 year old man we met in 2010 while scaling a top of one of the mountains surrounding Lake Tahoe, and he mentioned he does it 3-4 times a week. Wow, for sure.

We flew to Sal Lake City early Friday morning with the intention to hit the Wasatch trails as soon as we land and get a car, like, by 11 am. And here where it went wrong...my bag was missing on a baggage claim. Now, I never check in bags! But we had a pretty huge one for the camping stuff, and since we flew SouthWest and they have 2 bags free policy, we figured might as well. The big bag came, Larry's bag came...and mine was nowhere to be found. What was even worse, it was nowhere to be detected! Because apparently, those barcodes the airlines paste all over your luggage - nobody scans them anywhere with SouthWest! Like, you know, did it leave Austin, did it get stuck in mid-way airport (even though we had a long connection), did it walk away with someone at some point? No information! The lady filed the form and assured us it'll be on the next flight from Denver arriving in 3 hrs. What to do now? She tried to offer to deliver it to a trailhead (um, would they hike up indefinitely to find us on a trail as well? No? You think we just sit by a trailhead?), but we chose to come back...in a meantime totally killing those 3 hrs doing nothing (like, driving God knows where to eat lunch, then visiting State Capitol and Mormon Church).

So, we are back at the airport...and the bag is not on a rotating belt! I burst in total sobbing. Nobody still knows WHERE in the world the bag is, and no promises are made anymore. All my worldly possessions - ALL my running clothes I carefully collected and chose and loved - were gone. Not only I can not begin my vacation, replacing those would be a great deal of money - and personal attachments. The lady tried to offer me directions to Dick's Sporting Goods and a $50 voucher...hmm, Dicks? $50? That's like, 1 pair of shorts I own, and those are not from Dicks! And I had 7 pairs in my bag, you know, for a 7-day trip? Plus 7 of everything else? And some gear I was to test and write reviews on?

I needed to get out of there, I needed to be on trails. So, I turned around, and drove, with Larry, still sobbing loudly, to a Cottonwood trailhead, got into Larry's shorts, and wearing a regular top and my comfy shoes (Merrell Road Barefoot, it's in the name...), up we went.

And soon after, between the amazing beauty and the steepness of the terrain, my heart calmed down, and my tears dried up. Nature, indeed, has an amazing effect. It all didn't matter - not THAT much anymore, anyway. We hiked and ran, quietly at first, then with talking, then even with smiles. And 7 miles on the most ridiculously difficult Wasatch trail later, we got back in a different state of mind.

The phone bared a message that the bag arrived and that it was a "human error" - someone couldn't read SLC and sent it to SJC (San Jose) and miraculously it was discovered (without scanning?) and managed to be sent the right way. We made another trip to the airport to pick up my beloved shorts (and tops, and shoes, and socks, and ...you got the idea) and finally crashed at Mindy and Jared's incredible house for a dinner and a night in. There was a great chat and we loved - LOVED - spending time with these two amazing folks, just back from Spain, where Jared killed their Skyline 100M race in some 36 hrs (3 weeks prior to his Hardrock run). Thank you! People like them, along with great outdoors and mountain air, are re-charging, for sure.
Ice-cream and Moonshine on the porch!
For the next day, on our way to Jackson, WY, Jared sent us to check out a hidden gem - Wind River Canyon, and in this case, a Sandy Lake area. Jared swore it was only less than 4 hr drive, even with 15 M on a dirt road...well, over 5 hrs and 40 miles at the speed of a snail and promising to turn around and tell him a few words (you gotta understand, it's like comparing a distance talked about by a couch potato and an ultrarunner: 20 miles? Either can't fathom it, or piece of cake), we finally arrived, and, again, it was all worth the hassle...
First 6 miles of rather small bumps on a precious soft single track!

Testing UD packs: SJ and PB.

Got some legs stretched out there too!

The wild flowers were WILD!

Big Sandy Lake.
As we approached Big Sandy, the sky got dark. We broke the important rule of the mountains - out of there by 1 pm. Well, it was almost 3 pm by then, and the thunder and lightening began in its earnest. We made a decision to move on forward - don't ask. The first hail was waited out under a big pine tree, the second bout - under a leaning rock. Luckily, at least one of us packed well just in case - Larry had a windbreaker, so he could give me his short-sleeve shirt, which provided some more than my tank-top coverage for me.

After a couple of sit-outs and some short-distance moves, we saw some sunshine and moved forward, onto rocks and up. I am easily falling into hypothermia, and my hands stayed numb for the rest of the trip. But the views were beautiful, and we made it to the second lake hidden in a hole between the mountains. We decided against the next pitch - it was getting far rockier and slower going, and we still had a drive to make, to Jackson, WY. This Wind River area is certainly a hidden paradise that you need to work hard to get to see the beauty of (which includes 40 miles of wash-board dirt road at 10mph).

Of course, once the views were behind, it hit us: this is Western States 100 Saturday! When cut out of civilization and exploring great places, you forget things, even if they are something you followed one way or another for 13 years...so, as soon as we begun to get some cell service signal, I was frantically sending messages to all I know with questions about friends. And all our friends were rocking it! Arriving in Lori and Chris' place in Jackson, we were honestly glued to the computer until midnight, all of us, interspersing it with some news exchanges - we didn't see each other for a bit over a year (since last Pocatello 50). But, there was more fun awaiting, and once most folks we cared for crossed the finish line, we retired to bed - for a new day of fun.

Our first day in Jackson area included totally new place: a scaling of 10,000+ Jackson peak overlooking Grand Teton picture-perfect views. Wow! Both Larry and I had been to Tetons numerous times, in our "past" lives, both hiking and backpacking, but this was an angle neither had seen. And spending a day with awesome people we love was a bonus like no other.

On a way down the boys left us to gossip and share all the girls need to share - thank you, Lori, for a good ear and an understanding and hugs and simply time together. I so wish we could be closer. I miss having girlfriends here, I miss Lori - whom I've met when she crossed a line of her first 100M race at Grand Teton 100 in September 2007...and just like that, we clicked. You know how it happens...but I digress...

Photoalbum to first 3 days of fun.

It was time to get ready for some Backcountry! Our plan called for a 3-day 2-night backpacking trip into the back side of Tetons, and Larry had strung together a loop of some almost 50 miles. Luckily (or not so much, but really, a good thing) Lori agreed to drive us to a trailhead some miles away from where we dropped the car so we could cut off the first 5-7 flat miles. That was extremely helpful!

We had our packs very light, our bear can for food storage, our bear spray strapped, and hearing a snow condition, our ice axes (provided by Chris and Lori) strapped. Here we go!

The beginning of the journey, String Lake trailhead, Monday, July 1st, 7 am.
Everybody keeps commenting what an awesome shot it is, like a wall paper - but really, there was nothing we could do wrong with this photograph. Lately I see many use various programs to enhance pictures in one way or another, add color, make edges...and I question: WHY? Why do anything if all you need to do is just look up and snap a shot?! Nature provides with magnificent snaps as they are...
Lots of "Ah" and "Oh" and "Wow" on the way in Paintbrush Canyon...not many stops, as the first day was the longest, we were adjusting to carry a load, it included over 5,000 feet of elevation gain, all at altitude, and we knew snow pass crossing is ahead.
Holly lake required some route finding to, and surely after, but it reminded of my hike there with Stephen in the same 4th of July week with Stephen back in 2006...he set on the same rock too. He was 10 years old then:)
And this is where the fun begun! The approach to the Paintbrush pass was totally not melted (although snow was rather soft at that time of the day). The "real" route had a huge cornice hanging over, so those going down the Pass were taking a glissading path to the left, and those going up had to stick with about 60-70% steep sharp but shorter climb where ice axes were not only a good addition, but totally necessary. And sliding down was not an option...Larry, being behind, kept yelling me to be careful. I, walking ahead and looking up, didn't find it that bad, but I would NOT want to go down that path!

We made it, and regrouped with a couple of guys who actually took a video of us (where are you, boys?).
And on the other side - WOW - a totally different perspective of Tetons! The valley beneath, the back of the mountains in front...grande, amazing, huge and so significant...The descend was pretty steep and had longish snow fields in the first (upper) part of it, and we still used ice axes for balance in our trail running shoes on the snow. There was an incident where I mis-stepped and slid down, and it took me a split second to realize I am actually going down, it's not a joke, and I better do something. It took me another split second to self-arrest, with memories of my other, first, and very unsuccessful try at that technique back in 2007, when I attempted to climb North side of Mt. Hood. At least this time it was in a correct sequence and I hung on, pulled up and got back on a trail. Had a little bit of adrenaline rush...
We got down to Lake Solitude, where Larry completely bonked under the blasting sun, and I fed him some snacks, which rebounded us both, and we made our way out of the canyon onto North Cascade canyon trails, dodging day hikers and those who camped on this side of Cascade canyon.
We still had miles to go...to the South side of the Cascade canyon, where mid-way we landed in the most perfect campsite!
The silence and the magnitude of where we were, along with a great dinner and some stretching of painful shoulders, provided relief, and we got to our sleeping bags before sun even got down to the horizon...
The next day, up before dawn, breakfast down, packed and ready to go by 6:30 am, we were on our approach to Hurricane Pass, which was by far much milder condition-wise than Paintbrush pass, as we got over it fast and easy, following the trail and making sure those behind us stop taking cut-offs.
The early rising gave us an opportunity to meet sun rising over Grand Teton, and this is something you never forget.
The Alaska basin included a brief visit to Sunset lake, a lot of snow, very wet feet, making more correct route establishing, a high creek crossing, and a pitch over another pass.
We saw plnety of people in and around Alaska basin, and every one of them was surprised how lightly we packed and how fast we were moving. It pays to be in Ultrarunning shape! Yeah! By second day our shoulders adjusted to the load of packs, the altitude felt better, and we were almost sprinting in hiking terms! Once we realize how fast we're going and how soon we'll be at our official camping destination - we tried as could to slow down, but after that last Pass, Death Canyon Shelf wasn't he most exciting place to go slow, the views spoiled us from yesterday and the morning of today, and the sun was baking, so we kept the pace, though we stopped numerous times to provide information to those hiking towards us.
Since it was 1 pm when our designated campground was passed and behind, Larry looked at the map, located Jedediah Smith Wilderness (which allowed camping anywhere without a Permit) within a couple of miles or less, we got there, set some stuff up, and went for a run - to a stunning Marion lake! What a gift of time and place we had!
And yet another morning, there we were, meeting sunrise on a trail...What a life! Is there anything can be better than that? I am so-o-o a morning/sunrise person! Sunsets are cute, but do much less to my soul than sunrises:)

We even broke into running with our full packs on! Thankfully, it was downhill first few miles on a Dath Canyon trail, and then the rest of trip was pretty much in deep woods, through fields and fields of wild flowers, on a single track, crossing small creeks, then dropping on steep rocky descend, after which we had a privilege to see a moose, and, literally, 15 minutes later, 2 bears scattering on rocks a few hundred yards away on a hill...
Our last stop was at Phelps lake, and I broke down in tears - I didn't want to go back out into a real life, where obligations, people, jobs, problems, phone calls, computers, arguments and no views prevail daily. It was sad, it was only 11 am (who in the world hikes so fast??!!) and we were done...

Next time we got to plan more miles per day, honey! I could totally see myself as a backpacker, getting stronger and "inside myself" as I go, day after day...and some sections of AT, CT and PCT in our future, as well as TRT, JM and many, many more...And what a gift to see it all! And yes, that's why I train in hot and humid Texas summer, running on roads and squatting at the gym...but lets get back to the story...
Grand Teton backcountry adventure.

We celebrated 4th of July in Jackson on what happened to be the steepest trail in the front range of Tetons - after first 1.6 flat miles, next 2.4M gained 3,000 feet, over roots on a narrow path, then over granite, over rock formations, and it lead us to Hanging Canyon and into the paradise of two lakes, one after another, where we took an extended break and ate a bunch of candy. No cheeseburgers or beer needed! On the way down, which we picked a bit differently, we had to slide alongside the bustling creek, before re-joining the trail, and we finish our celebration with a humongous plate of nachos and some berry margaritas. Yes, it's not Paleo, and yes, I began paying for eating those before I even finished with my portion, and no, I do not feel guilty at all! Larry, on the other hand, broke into shivering, ran a fever for 4 hrs, slept through some serious heat exhaustion later that day as a cumulative effect of high altitude, heat exposure, dehydration and some miles we put in. But, by the time Fireworks hit the town of Jackson, we were all well and outside enjoying them!

The last morning we made a quick 6 mile trip up the single track practically out of the door steps to the top of Snow King mountain snow lift, and then busted down to awake the quads. It's a dream of ours to live next to a mountain trailhead...and for now, we'll keep on dreaming.

Pictures of our last 2 days near Jackson.

And that was that. We slowly made our way back to SLC, with a stop at Park City, checking out the town, a little bit of trails, the Olympic center...spent a night at Mindy and Jared, again (thank you!), where my honey dusted off his skills and played some piano (which impressed me immensely), and next morning we were on the flight home.
We came to a package of goodies from the companies that stepped in to partner up with my running experiences, suddenly remembered there is a running club's HCTR picnic going on, made it there to see all the great people of Austin and spent time chatting and eating, and then finally rolled into normal life: cleaning, grocery shopping, cooking and house projects. Back to work, like nothing even happened...This weekend I am volunteering at one of the night races of Tejas Trails, and it's time to put some running in myself, as I just booked the tickets for Grindstone 100M and Hellgate 100km (thankfully, I have enough miles and points to get both of them for free!).

Goodies from VFuel and BRL Sports.

Meghan Hick's article in Marathon&Beyond mentioned our names:)
HCTR picnic.

Trailrunnermag.com picked my blog post as an editor's choice.