Sunday, September 28, 2014

Mellow Marathon and Canton Marathon Double Weekend Sept 6-7 2014

 Another last minute decision to make this a double weekend.  I found out about Canton a month or so ago and thought the medal was pretty cool since it had a spinner on it....I kept sending Heather pictures of the medal and different FB updates when they would talk about the price increase and such to help entice her.....she is so much like me it really d doesn't take much. We had been signed up for Canton now for a month or so and about a week before I realized that Woodstock running weekend was that same weekend and we could easily do a double. Camp out in the tent in Michigan on Friday night, run just the marathon so we could shower at the campground, pack up tent and still get to Canton at a decent hour on Saturday evening and run that marathon on Sunday. We also realized if we did Michigan then that would be state number 10 for Heather so she would now qualify for the 50 State Marathon Club!!! We didn't think we were going to be able to leave until after her labs on Friday which was a little concern because then we would have to set up tent in the dark and it was calling for rain. Since classes just started she ended up not having to have a lab that friday so we headed out earlier. Worked out perfect!!! Not only did we get to set up tent before dark and the storm!!! But we got to surprise my friend Sandy who was going to be starting the 100K at 4:00pm. Found her only 10 minutes before the start which was awesome!!! After seeing her off we drove to town and got some bottled water, ice for the cooler, and some food to bring back for dinner. Upon arriving back we went to the picnic area ate our dinner and decided to hang out, listen to the bands and watch people coming in for their first loop. The 100 milers and 100K runners both started on Friday at 4pm. Temps were so hot!! It was in the mid 90's and very humid. You could tell a nasty storm was brewing as the winds started picking up and the sky was turning black. Looking at the radar there were 2 different strong cells heading our way. Lightening was in the distance but still pretty close. The winds roared as tents were flying everywhere and even the awards tent started blowing over as the wood came so close to hitting us and others. Heather grabbed the chairs so they wouldn't blow and I said no...there is metal on those! So we just let them lie for awhile. Nobody really took shelter as there wasnt really anyplace to take shelter....many did run off to try to secure their tents or find them since they blew away. Ours was a couple rows over and we didnt bother going to check on it but were not super positive that it would be in place since we forgot a hammer to get our stakes deep in the ground! I got to see Keith Straw come through looking good, then saw Shawn come through....many were talking about the trees being blow over in front of them on the course. There was rain but not the pouring rains like the radar was showing so everyone was fortunate for that.  Heather headed back to the tent and I waited to in hopes to see Sandy come through. I could tell something was wrong cause it was taking her much longer then normal and I decided I needed to get back to the tent and get ready for bed so I could be ready to run in the morning. I later found out Sandy got done with the first lap and decided to drop, the heat had totally zapped her then the storm and the mud just brought her spirits down too much.
 During the night I could hear the rain hitting the tent and our tent neighbors were partying up a storm...poor Heather was right next to them and they were so loud and obnoxious all night her earplugs didn't even help. I slept decent but had some dreams about the rain and other things I dont remember. When we got up neither one of us were feeling it but this was state 10 and we pitched a tent and all this so there was NO WAY we were bailing on this one. We met up with Larry Macon at the start as well as some other friends so Heather met some more of her extended running family.  Larry and I started taking selfies before each run we did together a couple months ago....I sure wish we started this earlier! The run was a 2 loop course and the first loop was mostly on the gravel trail with a few sections on single track, the one large hill that the other events have and I remember it from last years 50K...and then a section of MUD and I mean MUD that stretched for what seemed like 1/4 mile. I took a video of it and am sure many shoes were eaten. We kinda just hung to the side trying to get through without losing our shoes or slipping in. We met a maniac on the course Jess Kurti from Texas and she also was running Canton the next day. The second loop was actually like the 50K loop I did last headed up the single track trail and was pretty much all on the trail trail except for a small section on the gravel section.  Heather and I stayed together and both of us were just trying to get through.....I found blue flag markers and made the suggestion to run from flag to flag then walk a flag and run a flag....this kept our brains occupied for awhile...once you get back on the trail your mind is so busy watching where you are running that keeps your mind off the distance. I didn't even wear my garmin for this event as I didn't want to keep looking down and thinking to myself shit we only have gone 4 miles or shit we still have 12 miles to go!  After we finished we packed up the tent and loaded it in the car and waited in line at the shower truck. This was the best even though my shower wouldn't stay on and I had to keep trying to hold the knob down with a shoulder that still doesn't have complete range of motion.  We were so muddy and dirty!! Heathers foot started bothering her again after this run so I made sure she kept it elevated and some ice on it. We headed to Canton got checked into the hotel and crashed.
When we got up for Canton it was only a couple blocks walk to the start. I was hoping to find my
friend Joe but never did see him before the start, however Larry and I got our pre race selfie and I decided that would be a good Guinness's World Record for me to attempt....the MOST PRE RACE SELFIES WITH A GUINNESS'S WORLD RECORD HOLDER- Heather's foot was still bothering her so she decided instead of not doing something and the spinning medal was so cool she would just do the half. I hated that she would have to then wait for me but I gave her the keys so if she wanted to go anywhere or nap in the car she was welcome.
Another 2 loop course. It went through most of Canton and had quite a few hills. I saw Jess out there and a couple other maniacs and on my second loop the sun was getting super hot and I was starting to not care and was walking a little more and along came this guy that said I know you you're Jennifer!! I said yes and it was Chase!! Chase was pacing this marathon at the 5:30 pace and we had been FB friends for awhile but never physically met. We kept each other company for quite awhile and he was dying for a coke but there was no carry outs in site!! I kept thinking in my mind I wanted a photo with a police car like I was being arrested for going to fast...yes the things our mind thinks are so hysterical while we are out there. When we finally found an officer that wasnt on a busy road and just sitting in their car I asked if she would act like she was arresting me....she wouldnt get out of the car caWe were running so many cones and walking so many then I got ahead of him as he had to be in at 5:30 no more no less due to being a pacer and I just was ready to get I stayed with my run/walk and finished it up. I headed straight to the beer tent and got 2 free beers and then all maniacs joined in and we just started visiting at the picnic table. I messaged Heather and told her where we were and to come on over. It was too funny, there were 5 of us all telling different stories at the same time and we were following them all. We decided to wait for Larry to get finished and cheer him in. As Heather and I headed back to the car we saw a guy with watermelon and it looked delish!! We said ohhhh watermelon and he told us the area there in the middle is a food distribution that they have every sunday during the summer for anyone that is hungry...we decided to ask if we could buy a plate of food but they would not accept any money from us and let us eat whatever we wanted. That was perfect, we filled our bellies got to the car and headed on home. Another super fun weekend!!

Tupelo Marathon 8-31-2014

This marathon was kinda another accidental one like so many of mine.  I had seen a picture of the shirt for this year about a week before Heather and I drove to Kansas and it looked to be purple and purple is my favorite color so I thought - cool I may have to do this race! I also had always loved the design they use for this shirt over the years. When Heather and I were driving back from Kansas I recall telling her about the Tupelo Race and even though I already had done the state of Mississippi she had I had told her to pull up the site and check out how cool the shirt was! (Yes the purple one on their page) and then I proceeded to say if we take you're car I'll drive!! I dont mind the driving just hate always putting the mileage on mine so we decided at that time we would start letting our cars take turns to each event. Of course all it took was for Heather to pull up the site and my suggestion and we were both in! I just love her- we think so much alike!
We head to tupelo and get our packets and find the damn shirt is hot pink NOT purple....a little bummed but it still is a cool shirt. After packet pick up we checked out the town and drove to Elvis's birthplace.  The time zone was an hour earlier for us which was awesome due to the run having a 5am start time!! They hold it that early due to the heat and humidity at that time of the year.  The forecast had been calling for rain all week so we were not looking forward to that.
We did get lucky and the rains didnt come and the heat was not as bad as the previous years but boy it was still hot and humid. I was completely wet within the first mile. It was a 2 looped course and went through some of the areas that had been hit hard by the tornado in April of this year. It really was devastating to see so much damage!  It was also strange to see one house totally destroyed and another beside it with not even a roof shingle blown off.  Heather and I talked about how strange it would be to wake up and walk outside after the storm and your home be the only one not touched?
 Our friend Diane was running as well and there were quite a few marathon maniacs. I also got to see Bre and Andrew from Texas which was great because I hadn't seen them since the New England Challenge Series. During the second loop I had to stop and play the Elvis guitar! This section of downtown had about a half dozen guitars and they were all so cool! The only drawbacks of this course was not enough water stops and only porta potty was at the turn around and maybe a mile or so into the run. I really had to go too when I was on the second loop and was grateful for the woods that were off to the side of this one road, I was also grateful I was running with a handkerchief but I didnt return with one. As I was getting ready to exit the woods I heard Bre and Andrew holler my name...opps am sure a couple folks got a nice full moon before they came by.
With about 4 or so miles left Diane was coming up on us and was running with a couple friends I had not met yet who were in the Run It Fast was a pleasure to be able to meet some of them! We are not a large group like the Maniacs or 50 staters.
Not to far up the road I could here someone scream and Diane and George were checking out this snake....I kept trying to persuade Diane to just get a little closer for a really cool photo op but then as I got closer I realized shit its a copperhead!!!! HA We all headed on up the road and a motorcycle cop came by and I told him there was a snake ahead...he really got excited and decided to run over it 3-4 times and then kicked it off the road.
For the finish they had us run into a indoor facility and this was could feel the air conditioning pouring out of it as you approached!! They had a band playing and pulled pork, coleslaw and potato salad. We grabbed some food and the RIFers took a photo together. The nice thing about the race starting so early is we had time to get back to our rooms to take a shower before driving home 450 miles!!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Pike Peak Marathon 8-17-2014

What a super fun week this was! When I accidentally registered for this event I remember a friend from school Karen Brandenburg who moved to Denver about 8 years ago had done this also many times as well as her friend and my FB friend (also from Portsmouth) Debbie Workman so the first thing I had to do was check with them to see if they were in again this year and they both were signed up! This was gonna be fun!! 3 girls from Portsmouth Ohio taking on Pikes Peak....we were now going to be the Portsmouth Pikes Peakers PPP's. Its the small stuff in life that keeps me smiling! So Karen invited me to stay with her since she had spare bedroom and this was perfect! I also had several other friends in the area- Holly and her husband Bill as well as Wendy who I went to school with and the one that surprised me at Zion in April!!
Before I can start to try to write something about the event and weekend this one needs to begin with the stuff you just can't make up and how the trip began.
I was flying out of Columbus and just wore a sundress. When I went through security and did the picture machine with my arms above my head and stepped out the lady informed me that the machine had a light that lit up on my right breast and they needed to check my breast! Yes....seriously my boob was suspicious of having enough power to take over an airline, I had no bra on mind you either and have never had work done on my breast but as most middle age women I would love to perk these girls up! I already felt violated and as she directed me over to wait on someone to come feel my breast the gal came over and I just whipped the girls out at her and said have at it. She was a little shocked and I was very vocal. As I picked the girls up from my knees and back into my dress she then had to feel under each one and then I was free to go. As I looked for my bags now they are holding them hostage for an inspection. The man says "Is this your bag" yes..." I need to go through it" I said whatever you need honey, I just had my boobs felt up over here and if we need to go to another room and you do a strip search and go through all my bags and stuff lets get going. So he opens that bag and pulls out my Sports Slick cream and asked what is it? I was still so pissed my first response was that is my Pussy Ass cream....he looked at me like what? I said that is my cream that goes on my pussy and my ass so when I run it helps relieve he calls over a supervisor to see if that would be covered under medical. The lady then asked me the same thing, I said Look, I just had my boobs felt up, now Im being questioned on my lubricants - I travel to running events ALL the time and never have had this kind of experience, have you ever caught anyone with harmful stuff at a security check point because what I hear on the news is how the employees at the airports are arrested for stealing our stuff? I made it on through with my PA cream and I went to call my mother and tell her what I had just gone this is comical - my phone had another call coming through with a Kentucky number so I told my mom I better grab it in case it was work related, well it was Kings Daughter Medical Center calling to schedule me for my mammogram,,,,,see somethings you just cant make up!! I explained I was out of town and pretty much just got one but would call when I returned to reschedule.

 I arrived on Thursday and Karen's work had given her tickets to the REDS verses ROCKIES game  that night but she could not go due to work so she gave them to Debbie and I, Debbie picked me up  at the airport and was outside holding a sign that read PPP BADASS.  We stopped for lunch and stopped and I got to meet her kids. This is the first time I met Debbie in person, even though we went to school kinda together, she was a little bit younger - somehow we never knew each other. After we visited with her kids we decided we had plenty of time before the ballgame to stop and see Holly and Bill who only lived about 15 minutes away. Debbie had never met them and I was so excited for them to meet since Holly and her husband had only lived out there for about a year and she would be a great running pal for both Debbie and Karen!
After the ballgame Debbie brought me to Karens and she had to work part of the day Friday and then we were heading to Breckenridge to stay the night at her Ski Club before driving to Glenwood Springs on Saturday morning where she was going to run a half marathon that day and I volunteered as time keeper! She did a great job at the half, she had signed up for a series with this group so she hated to miss it and her doing Pikes Peak Marathon was an annual event now. I believe this was her 7th year in a row and usually she does the Ascent the day before so this other half marathon is a breeze!! After her half we took the long way to Manitou Springs where we were staying with some friends of hers. The Leadville 100 had started that morning and we were both so excited to be going right by the start and finish line!!! I got out and it was 9 hour and 10 minutes into the race and I came running up the finish shoot acting like I was the course record holder going side to side high fiving imaginary people, (maybe the swedish fish and cinnamon candies I bought the night before in Brek had something to do with that?)
My friend Jorge was also running the marathon and his girlfriend Paula had done the Ascent that day and they also had a couple friends all doing the event.  We had been in contact and they invited us all to their cabin for a spaghetti diner.  Debbie, her son and brother and Karen and I all went and and had a great visti. I got to meet some of their other friends that I hadnt met before and heard some stories from that days Ascent. We hi the bed at a decent time- I dont remember what I dreamed but do remember I had some strange ones.
 When we arrived to the start I ran into my friend Scott Sunday and his wife Emme. Scott is the reason I accidentally signed up for this race! It was one evening that the registration had opened up, around 10:30 EST and I had just gone to bed. I decided being the FB addict that I am to check in one last time before laying down and saw a post from Scott that read - "I can't believe Pikes Peak Marathon is still open" Shit!!! This is one of those events I had always dreamed of doing, even before I was a runner, walker hiker or what ever you wanna call it. There is something about the mountains that get to me! My cousin and her husband lived in Colorado Springs when he was in the Special Services and had a view of Pikes Peak and i would see some photos and just imagine what it would be like to climb it or just go to the top! This was even back when I was smoking 3 packs a day and wearing a size 24! I didnt think think about it it was just something that was a "bucket list" of sorts kinda thing. So down the stairs I go and I pull up the registration and the event is 98% full....It had opened at noon Colorado time so had been open for about 8 hours. I was in! WOW I then saw Shawn and Alex and a couple other marathon maniacs before the start.
Debbie and Karen had said they were going to stick with me for the run but I made sure to tell them do not let me hold you back...if you gotta go ahead please please do. I had made a pace chart to get up the mountain in 5:30 hours, that would give 4:30 to get back down and the cut off was 6:30 - I honestly didnt think it would be possible to do that but I also didnt think it would be impossible so it was a good tool. I had written each of the hard cut off times on the card as well.  I was warned going up is like a congo line and it was. You could see the top of the peak way in the distance thinking I cant believe that still 6 or 7 miles away or what ever it was at that time!
The altitude got to me and got to me good.  It was prolly at around 10,000 feet where I was really getting sick, I was dizzy, had a terrible headache and my stomach hurt so bad! I still have to go another 6 miles to the top! I had a hard time even drinking water, the gels were way to sweet for me and the goldfish too dry. I would try to drink water but found myself just swishing it around in my mouth then spitting it out.  We got to the the first cut off with about 15 minutes to spare- Debbie and Karen shortly went ahead and I kept insisting, I dont wanna hold you back and be responsible for either of you not finishing, I'll be ok!! I tried to turn on the music on my phone, I had it in the top pocket of my vest and had the speaker on, headsets were strictly NOT allowed. After awhile of this and trying to pick up my attitude  - and I wont say it was bad it was just confused. It was so confused that I didnt even wanna hear any music!!! With one mile left to the top I had some phone service, even though I could barely breathe I knew my mom would be worried about me especially since I told her an expected time that I would be at the top and it was an hour different because I told her the wrong time zone. So I call her and have her on speaker and heavily breathing I spit out a word here and there to let her know I was ok and still had a mile to the top. She was awesome, she has never heard me like that before and was super super supportive and encouraging and keeping me relaxed telling me just take it easy, breathe and speak when you can.
 I really needed that at that time. My mom is supportive but where she can't and doesn't relate to my running goals and desires it is hard for her to communicate with me about things like that.  With one mile to the top and an hour to get there I was doing a death march to the top. It still seemed like a long long way away - people were puking, falling, blood vomit everywhere - I dont recall any other event with so much carnage as this one. Soon I saw Shawn coming towards me and we gave each other some encouragement, then I saw Jorge (unless it was the other order?) I could see a bit of blood on Jorge's eye and I could tell he was having some issues but I could also tell he was just as excited to see me as I was to see him and we embraced with a giant hug, I said I was so sick, he told me he stumbled and off I went as I was fighting the clock. I had all these thoughts that maybe if i just sat down for a few minutes I would miss the cut off on purpose and be done, but then I had to remind myself this was the COLORADO state for my 50 States finish in December and how was I going to afford to come back and also which event could I do still this year? So I had to HTFU and keep trucking. I got a little closer and saw Karen and Debbie, they were both totally thrilled to see me and said "OMG!! You made it!!!" LOL we are going to wait on you right here, I said please dont I need yall to finish!!!  I got to the top and they went to refill my water and I said I just need to sit for a second and down I went, the lady barely had a chance herself to get up! I tried to make it quick as it took 6 hours and 15 minutes to get up which meant I now only had 3 hours and 45 minutes to get back down. I worried about the down with my knees and the technical sections would be slowing me down. As I started down and got to where Karen and Debbie were they did wait, we stayed together for awhile and a couple times went ahead and then would be there again. We had a couple miles till one aid station with a restroom and they went ahead to go and said they would wait there...a couple times I remember Karen talking about how they were playing with cut offs and had to make it in a certain time and I thought yes ME TOO!!! Plus this is my COLORADO STATE and I HAVE to finish. hahaha I think one time I either said or just thought Now you're fucking with my head....please please go on cause I can't start thinking negative and worrying if Im gonna cause either of you a DNF. I was with a couple other ladies for awhile and the one insisted if she kept a 15 min mile walk pace she could finish in the time cut off, I didnt wanna take the chance and I was jogging down that hill in the areas that were runable as fast as I could. I know with 5 miles left to go a storm was coming through and you could see lightening in the distance, it drizzled a tad bit but that also helped get me going. With 5 miles left I also had exactly one hour and 15 minutes left on the clock, this still was a 15min mile pace but I had been jogging a lot when I could leading up to this so I knew I had to get my shit together. I reset my garmin so that I could see exactly what my pace per mile was for the next 5 miles. They had to be under 15 min miles or I was not going to make it. The first mile was nice smooth trail and I average around 11:20 or so, next there was some roots and rocks, still under a 13 min mile.... my quads were working hard and taking a pounding and when i had just about a mile or so left and we got on the road road with a steep downhill I just kept pounding away passing people. I wasnt going to slow down now and I was going to finish strong! I finished with 11 minutes to spare!!! My name and city and town was announced before I came around the corner to the finish so Karen and Debbie knew I was coming....they were both sooooo excited yet I remember Karen being in disbelief for quite awhile. She said I can't believe you finished!! OMG if I knew you were so close to me I woulda waited,,,how in the world did you pull that off? I know how bad my legs and knees felt and you with your bad knees...omg omg. It was really funny and I loved it!! I dont quit unless I get pulled from a course and made to quit or something so physical would cause me to.  This was so fun and so hard! It was hard in a way that I have not seen hard, not like the Umstead 100 hard - it is difficult to explain and i've thought for a long time how to explain it and cant. I am soooo glad to have been able to do this with my friend Karen and Debbie!!!

The next morning my friend Wendy came and picked me up at Karens. We stopped for lunch and she took me around the Boulder area. We stopped at one area that had a lot of rock climbers and it had been damaged by the flooding last year but was a gorgeous area.  Later we met Holly for a nice hike with Wendys dog Scout. I dont remember the name of it but it was another amazing view at the summit.  I stayed that night with Wendy and her husband Jorge. This was one GREAT weekend! I really have some amazing friends!!! Thank you Karen, Debbie, Wendy and Holly for making this one to remember!!

Eagle Creek Marathon 8-2-14

The day before I had an injection in my shoulder - things have not been getting better so he went ahead and had me get an MRI done with dye to see what was going on with the recovery. Turns out the Bicep Tendon re attachment and anchors all stayed in place however now I have a torn rotator cuff and lots of that is why we did an injection, lets get the inflammation down and let this thing start healing better.  I can honestly say that shot did work!! I had a shot in my bad knee twice before and the first time it only helped for about a week or so and the second time it didnt help at all so I was very hesitant.
My friend Diane Bolton was doing this event and invited me to stay at our fellow marathon maniac friends house Elaine with her. This was great...we had a nice visit in Elaine and Toms gorgeous new home and left the morning of the event to drive about 30 min to the start. I had received a message a couple days before from Larry Macon asking if I new how technical the trail was as there was an 8 hour limit and he was wanting to come. I checked with a couple friends and all had different reviews. I didnt hear from Larry whether he was going to make it or not so when I got to the park there he was and was a pleasant surprise.
The trail system here is so nice! I had done the Planet Adventure Night Time marathon a couple years ago and it used part of this system, it was dark during that run but there are parts including the stairs and the short single track with a nice drop off to your side that are unforgettable. This time of the year that drop off doesnt seem as bad as it does with no vegetation on the trees and bushes.
It was a two loop course that was kinda an out and back with a loop. It really got hot and I decided at the last minute I didnt wanna bring my handheld because I didnt want the added weight to my right arm for all the time and I knew I wouldnt carry it the entire time in my left hand. I was glad at the turn around they had some bottle water and I grabbed one and took with me. I think I refilled it at each stop.  On the second loop with about 4 miles left to go and one more set of the wooden stairs to go up just ahead of me I took my first ever real fall on a run! I landed on my right side, of course my shoulder and hand and scraped the leg up a bit. A man in front of me stopped and asked if I was ok and I said yes, thank you as I layed there a tad shook up since I knew I landed on my shoulder. Good news is only blood was coming from the leg and my shoulder just had a lot of dirt on it and the hand had a small cut. I think the majority of the pressure landed on my leg. I got up and continued on and got to the finish. They had these cool BADASS bottle opener medals for those who did 2 of their events this year. I pleaded my case that I had never fallen before and I finished with blood on my leg and that should be deserving of a BADASS medal? Yes it worked!!!!!
Diane waited for me to finish and said bye then I changed clothes in the grass parking lot next to the car and headed on home.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Hatcher Pass Marathon Alaska

Trying to catch up and I wait so long to update another amazing event takes place in between and I cant gather my thoughts.....well at least I will blame that on the reasoning of not being able to gather my thoughts.
I chose Hatcher Pass Marathon as my Alaska race simply because of the name - HATCHER! Thats my last name and so it was a must do event.  I did not look at the profile or description of the course but that is typical of me....I like the element of surprise and all I can do at anything is my best.  Once you realize the race has the name Pass in it then you realize oh....its gonna be on a mountain pass. It is a point to point run starting in Willow AK and ending in Palmer AK. You pretty much run up the pass for around 25 miles with a total elevation gain of around 4000 feet. It really isn't bad....there are some really step climbs but lots of gradual and the views are just breathtaking. I can honestly say I did not want this event to end! The nice thing also is they do allow for an hour early start which I took along with about a dozen people. This is a small event but if more people realized how beautiful this was that are doing all 50 States this is a MUST do event for Alaska. Sure there is some challenge to it compared to other Alaskan Marathons but trust is worth it!
The event takes place in July - here is a link to the webpage so if you want an experience keep your eyes on the page for next years registration! I will be back sometime but next July I already have another amazing event planned.
Now lets talk about this wonderful runcation I took with my 20 year old son Tanner! So much WOW that still is in my head that it is hard to describe this amazing experience.  We always try to make the best out of the time we have and push ourselves to see and do everything possible in the amount of time we have - one day we will be resting in heaven and there is too much to do and see while we are here on earth! The first day was all travel but was really cool landing at 9:40pm with the sun shining! I had made travel plans beforehand for us to take a train,kayak, glacier climb the next morning and we would stay in the town of Anchorage for the first two nights. While we were traveling I received a message from a friend of mine I met last year at the Center of The Nations week long event David from California - he asked a favor of me and told me the situation....his young nephew lives in Alaska and was hiking a couple days prior and fell over 20 feet off a cliff! He was life flighted to Childrens Hospital in Anchorage and David wondered if there was anyway I could find something for his nephew and take it to the hospital and let him know his uncle was thinking about him. OF COURSE I will do that!!! With the time change and all we didnt feel the effects the next morning for our first days adventure - which by the way was almost 13 hours!! We did the train ride to Spencer Glacier then Kayaked Across and then did the Glacier Hike. What an experience!
 The train ride was long but the scenery was great. It stopped at several stops along the way then we arrived several hours later to Spencer Glacier where we suited up for the kayak trip across the lake to the Glacier. Once on the Glacier we got our helmets and crampons and we were off hiking the glacier. The tour company was awesome and even had us all try our hands at a little bit of climbing the glacier which was cool. I was surprised how hard it was even walking on the glacier with the crampons and feeling off balance but in time we got a little more use to it. We then kayaked back across the lake and put all the gear away and visited while we got ready to wait for the train to come back and pick us up. It was a long day but went by so fast and we saw and learned soooo much. We got back to Anchorage around 10pm and started looking for a store that we could find some goodies to bring to David's nephew the next morning. We were planning to drive to Whittier to do the glacier tour on the boat that next day and had to make the tunnel by a certain time. We found some fun stuff for his nephew and got back to the hotel so we could get our stuff all packed and ready since when we left Thursday morning we would not be back to Anchorage until Tuesday and Thursday night we were going to be staying at a Bed N Breakfast on the Palmer side of Hatcher Pass (of course the name of the place was Hatcher Pass B&B- We slept pretty well and still were fine with the time change, probably because we were so busy seeing things and wanting to see more! We arrived at the hospital and Davids sister was expecting us, his nephew was sound asleep - poor kid - broke his arm the other arm messed up, his jaw was wired shut so he couldnt eat solids and his mouth was always drying out so David suggested tic tacs which we got several kinds as well as several bags of mints and fun stuff. Tanner nor I didnt think twice about taking a couple hours out of our trip to do this for this boy....he was sooooo lucky to have even survived this and was glad we were there at that time to be able to send some love from his Uncle that couldnt be there in person! After we left the hospital we headed toward Whittier as we planned to take the 21 glacier cruise - we didnt purchase our tickets yet due the the weather forecast for that day and glad we didnt! As we got closer the weather got rougher so we called and found out all tours were cancelled for that day. We stopped at a wildlife park even though it was raining we got to see the wildlife.
We headed on to Palmer but along the way we saw different markers along the road with places to stop and do some short hikes and we took advantage of those. Later we checked into our cabin and drove up over Hatcher Pass and did some short hikes at the summit. Wow it was gorgeous!
We also drove down a side road and got to see a young bear cub! At the gas station next to our Bed & Breakfast we had the best find....sweatshirts and tshirts that read I AM A HATCHERPASSHOLE! We got matching ones and a couple tshirts to have for white elephant gifts for the family Christmas Party.

Friday am we drove to the town of Talkeetna and it was a little cloudy that day so the view of Denali wasnt the best but was still pretty amazing. We then headed to the Willow Side of Hatcher Pass where we were staying at another Bed & breakfast this time inside some folks home.
This was the small lake behind their house.
I cant recall how many acres there land was but it was so peaceful. After we checked in we kinda drove around and checked out a local farmers market for homemade tamales!

The marathon was on Saturday....The forecast was for rain and it started with a drizzle but soon turned out to be a super nice day. Tanner volunteered so it was nice to see him on the course a couple times. I caught myself in this daze pretty much the entire 6 hours just looking around at the mountains and valleys around me. In Alaska you go above tree line around 2300 feet or so and that was interesting.

After the run we headed back to the B&B took a shower and decided the next morning we would head back to Anchorage that night instead of the following...there was much more to do in Anchorage then the area we were in.  Several people told me about doing a couple hikes so the first stop on the way back into Anchorage was called the West Butte....this was a nice climb....there were a lot of steps but not really too technical. We got towards the summit and then it was lose dirt and rocky but we made our way to the top for a wonderful panoramic view! After the hike we made our way to Anchorage and ate dinner at the Moose Tooth where I tried a couple local beers but then received a couple messages from friends that we must now go hike to the top of Flat Rock Mountain, I decided to stop the adult beverages at that time if we were to make this hike.  Lets say I am glad I did! I still dont have the words to describe this hike! We didnt start until 8:30pm or so and it's really only 1.7 miles each way with an elevation gain of 1300 feet. The beginning isnt too tough and even when you get to the railroad tie style stairs that take you to the next level isnt technical just gets the heart rate up. We took our time and took some breaks and just sat and admired the views at how high we already were but at the same time looking over and up to where we still needed to be!
Once we hit the next level the climb to the summit is now mountainous and when I say mountainous its rocky no trails and lots of slippery areas of lose dirt and rocks, there is also no safety, no ropes nothing, you slip you fall and you drop a long long way.  I still didnt have my strength back from my shoulder surgery which was just under 12 weeks prior but I had to use my entire body to pull myself up some of these huge rocks. On many occasions we stopped to try to figure out what our next move in the world were we going to get to the top and then how in the world were we getting back down. It was terrifying but we knew we had come so far and were getting closer that we would regret not making the trip on up. As we hung on to a large boulder some folks were coming back down and could hear us and could hear our fear, also a biplane did a fly over and was within feet of us and that really threw us off cause we were not expecting that.....but we laughed. The 3 people coming down were locals and gave us a tip to try to find the faded white dots on the boulders and follow them, sure there was major climbing involved but there wasnt that loose girt that would cause us to slip off the side of the mountain...they also said listen you can hear the flag you are almost there!!! We made it and were elated....Tanner immediately headed off to all the different areas of the summit to take in the 360* view of Anchorage. It was so cold and windy at the top and was almost 10:30pm by now but the sun was still out!

 Going down was not as hard as we expected but we did have to sit and slowly scoot a couple times. Once we got back to where our car was Tanner dropped to the ground and kissed it!

We got to our room and got things packed and ready as the next morning was suppose to be beautiful weather so we were going to drive to Whittier for the 21 Glacier Cruise, our flight was leaving Anchorage around 10:45 pm that evening.  We saw quite a few humpback whales, sea otters, sea lions, and other wild life.
Was a trip that will be remembered for a long long time!