Hotter N’ Hell 2014 Race Recap

By August 27, 2014 Race Reports, Running, Trail Running
Hotter N' Hell, Southeastern Trail Series, Alabama trail running, Oak Mountain State Park, ultra running, rolled ankle

I ran a trail race last month that was absolutely incredible, until it wasn’t. Here’s the recap:

Since I started building my mileage back up from my damn groin injury, my goal was to be healthy enough to run the 18-mile loop of Hotter N’ Hell. In my mind, if I could make it out of that race alive and well, then I’d be set for a fall full of ultras. And I had nailed the training! My mileage was right on track, I had zero pain, and I was mentally ready to tackle the hills and relentless heat and humidity.

Hotter N' Hell, Southeastern Trail Series, Alabama trail running, Oak Mountain State Park, ultra running, rolled ankle

Obligatory “Look at me! I’m racing!” shot

As always, I got to Oak Mountain early so that I could help the Toschs with registration and setup. The turnout was great, and I saw a lot of new trail faces mixed in with my familiar BUTS buddies.

Hotter N' Hell, Southeastern Trail Series, Alabama trail running, Oak Mountain State Park, ultra running, rolled ankle

Registering runners with Jenny

The race started with a loop on the road around the pavilion, then dove onto the trails. I got caught up chatting with friends and didn’t notice at first that I was going out too fast. When I did, I bid my farewells, stepped to the side of the trail, and let a conga line-full of people pass me. It takes a hell of a lot of willpower to break away from your friends to slow down and run solo, especially in a race. Especially if you tend to be competitive. But if being injured the better part of this year has taught me anything, it’s that there’s no need to feel embarrassed to admit that you need to slow down, even if you’re already running slower than molasses. Races are long, and there’s no sense in burning out early on. Plus, I’m just glad to be out there running.

Hotter N' Hell, Southeastern Trail Series, Alabama trail running, Oak Mountain State Park, ultra running, rolled ankle

Happy girl out on the trails

The first few miles were easy rolling hills that I have run multiple times before, but don’t particularly love. Or even like. I actually despise them. The Red Trail is shared with mountain bikers, and the particular stretch that we ran is a long, slow, miserable climb up to Peavine Falls. It feels like it goes on forever, and it’s just rocky and root-y and hilly enough to rationalize walking more than you should. So for the first loop, my goal was to run with little-to-no stops, which I did. It helped to see and hear friends ahead of me bitching and moaning as well—misery loves company!

Hotter N' Hell, Southeastern Trail Series, Alabama trail running, Oak Mountain State Park, ultra running, rolled ankle

How can something so pretty suck so much?

Hotter N' Hell, Southeastern Trail Series, Alabama trail running, Oak Mountain State Park, ultra running, rolled ankle

Blood Rock – where mountain bikers have shed many gallons of the stuff

At the aid station, I grabbed my usual Coke and chips, shoved some S-Caps into my handheld for later (big mistake—those little things break and stick to everything!), and kept trucking up to Peavine. Once you get to the top of the Peavine ridge, you’re treated with a nice flat/downhill section to the top of the falls. And then you need to get to the base of the falls. This year, Tosch must have been in cahoots with Satan himself, because he decided to take us straight down the hill using a rope to save our asses from certain death. It was spectacularly scary and fun! Because the going was so slow at this point, the rope was full of runners slipping and sliding and sweating their way down the hill together. Like a demented snake.

Hotter N' Hell, Southeastern Trail Series, Alabama trail running, Oak Mountain State Park, ultra running, rolled ankle

Kind of like tug-of-war, but with gravity

Hotter N' Hell, Southeastern Trail Series, Alabama trail running, Oak Mountain State Park, ultra running, rolled ankle

Death-grip on the rope

After making it to the falls intact, we were greeted with a climb back up the other side, some more hills, and then even more hills for good measure. I was hot but feeling good at that point, and even looking forward to the second loop. Last year I melted in the heat, gave in to peer pressure, and quit after the first loop so that I could go party in my friend Dan’s pool with the BUTS. Totally worth it IMO. This year, without the promise of a cold pool and no one to convince me otherwise, it only made sense to keep running. And so I got to the Start/Finish aid station, refueled, and left before I could think twice.

Hotter N' Hell, Southeastern Trail Series, Alabama trail running, Oak Mountain State Park, ultra running, rolled ankle

She looks like how I felt

I don’t remember much of the second loop other than it was hotter, I walked more, and I ran the majority of it solo. While I never felt any pain and was thrilled to be back racing, I wanted the Red Trail to end so that I could tackle some of the hard-as-fuck but fun hills. I could feel myself getting a bit dehydrated (because we were running through Hell, duh), so I chugged a few cups of water and Coke, took another S-Cap, and grabbed more chips.  And then I headed out on my merry way to finish the race. Going down to Peavine without any other runners hanging onto the rope was a breeze. At the bottom, I was home-free in my mind. Or so I thought.

Hotter N' Hell, Southeastern Trail Series, Alabama trail running, Oak Mountain State Park, ultra running, rolled ankle

I don’t need friends – I amuse myself during long races

Coming up the other side of Peavine, I put my foot down on a rock that had a broken beer bottle on it. I slipped, rolled my ankle, and then tumbled down the rocks. I’ve heard people describe pain as “white hot” before, but I never understood what it meant until that moment. Holy fucking shit did it hurt. And I can tolerate my share of pain. It was all I could do to keep from blacking out or throwing up. As I fell, I heard what I think now was the glass breaking, but at the time I swore it was my ankle bone. And I wanted to die.

I’m not going to get into why there was trash on the trail. Because I’ll get angry. And call people mean names.

Hotter N' Hell, Southeastern Trail Series, Alabama trail running, Oak Mountain State Park, ultra running, rolled ankle

Instead, here’s a pretty view

Lucikly, by that point I had a few other runners around me. A fellow BUTS pal immediately posted on Facebook that I needed some help. I sent out a mass SOS text to others at the race, hoping that one of them would have their phone and come help. Luckily, my friend Zach is just as attached to his phone as I am (and had placed third in the race because he’s a badass), and started to make his way to Peavine.  The good thing about where I fell was that I was relatively close to a road. The bad thing about where I fell was that I had to get down one side of Peavine, then get back up the other to the parking lot. To refresh your memory, this is the hill with the rope.

Hotter N' Hell, Southeastern Trail Series, Alabama trail running, Oak Mountain State Park, ultra running, rolled ankle

Our descent down to the falls – which I later had to scramble back up

One runner became my trail angel (can ultra runners have trail angels, like thru hikers?) when he abandoned his race and decided to stick with me until I got help. I cannot be more grateful for his presence and help—had I been alone, I would have either curled up in the fetal position and cried until I passed out, or gnawed my ankle off and kept running. But this man was a rockstar. He ran like a mountain goat up and down the hills countless times to scout out the safest route for me to walk/crawl on, carried my handheld, and even supported my body weight when I couldn’t walk. All on a hill where we were hanging on to trees to keep from falling. He kept me talking to make sure I wouldn’t go lights-out on him. And once I got to Zach, he turned around and finished the race! Go ahead Crossfitters, how many reps did you do on your silly bar today?

 Our descent down to the falls - which I later had to scramble back up

Zach is a very entertaining ambulance driver – we evaded the cops, took turns on two wheels, and shared fun stories

Zach came and ushered me down to the Finish, where Dr. Beau of Chirofarm was waiting to torture—I mean—help me. Watching him take my shoe and sock off and my ankle growing a baseball was like a scene from Alien—I kept expecting a face to pop out of it. He taped me up, ordered some x-rays despite assuming (correctly) that it wasn’t broken, and sent me on my way. My good friend Jenny stuck around and let me dig my nails into her as Dr. Beau worked on me, and other friends came by to keep me company. I was in a world of hurt, but it wasn’t bad enough to override my shame for being carried off the trail instead of streaking through the finish line. I’m like a running cloud of bad luck!

Hotter N' Hell, Southeastern Trail Series, Alabama trail running, Oak Mountain State Park, ultra running, rolled ankle

Can you say gross?

Hotter N' Hell, Southeastern Trail Series, Alabama trail running, Oak Mountain State Park, ultra running, rolled ankle

What else can I do but smile at that point?

Despite my stupidity, I was grateful that I had otherwise had a great race. There were a few other runners who struggled with the heat and needed help from the local EMS folks, which was hard to watch. I don’t know how long I’ll be off the road and trails, but I’m hoping that I’ll be back and better than ever for the fall races! Because nothing can knock me down for too long.

Hotter N' Hell, Southeastern Trail Series, Alabama trail running, Oak Mountain State Park, ultra running, rolled ankle

Accessorizing the KT tape with some neon shorts

Hotter N' Hell, Southeastern Trail Series, Alabama trail running, Oak Mountain State Park, ultra running, rolled ankle

I’d like to introduce you to Fat Foot – because visible bones and calves are overrated

My Visit to the Land of 10,000 Lakes

By August 25, 2014 Travels
Minneapolis

Minneapolis visit recap—anddd go!

I just came back from Minneapolis (my first time!), and had an absolute blast. They call Minnesota “The land of 10,000 lakes,” and they’re not kidding! My first thought as we were landing was COLORS! So much green! And blue! And green! I’m pretty sure a Crayola factory exploded here.

Minneapolis, Minnesota, road cycling,

The whole purpose of the trip was to attend the National Wellness Convention and learn about the corporate wellness scene. I took pages upon pages of notes work-wise, but here are some takeaways I didn’t report back in my meetings:

Goats protect humans from bears

It’s possible to be a spiritual gangsta

Wellness people don’t do social media

Minnesota is full of mosquitos

What were you smoking, Tanya? All true facts though, Google that shit.

Minneapolis, Minnesota, road cycling,

Some “Fountain of Youth” juice that will prevent me from aging

First time staying in a dorm - ever!

First time staying in a dorm – ever!

Twitter? Nah, these cool cats used a physical Meet Up Board to make friends

Twitter? Nah, these cool cats used a physical Meet Up Board to make friends

I got to go up early and spend the weekend with my grad school friends Caitlin and Juan. They moved from Alabama a few years ago, and I’ve been dying to visit them and their new life. We biked over 40 miles, ate the best food ever, and hung out with their friends. I hope they don’t mind me as a guest, because I may just move in…

The most important picture of this post - Maggie in her bike cart!

The most important picture of this post – Maggie in her bike cart!

Caitlin, Juan, and Maggie are avid cyclists

Caitlin, Juan, and Maggie are avid cyclists

I, who have never been on a road bike without falling, made it over 40 miles without a single wobble

I, who have never been on a road bike without falling, made it over 40 miles without a single wobble

Minneapolis has the best greenway I have ever seen

Minneapolis has the best greenway I have ever seen

Taking us around lakes

Taking us around lakes

And past waterfalls

And past waterfalls

Their bridges look like this!

And on bridges that look like this!

Their friends illustrate comic books - and you thought YOUR job was fun

Their friends illustrate comic books – and you thought YOUR job was fun

Needing to log miles, I sought out some runners who’d either be willing to explore the city with me, or give me a guided tour. I happened to stumble upon Dan, an ultra runner and speaker at the conference, and we spent 7 miles chatting about what he learned during his first 100. And my running buddy Michael put me in touch via Twitter with Brady, a runner he knew in Minneapolis. He was spot-on in his prediction that we’d hit it off perfectly—we are two birds of a feather.

Ultra-man Dan

Ultra-man Dan

Minneapolis sunrise

Minneapolis sunrise

Another breathtaking bridge

Another cool bridge

Angry Mississippi

Angry Mississippi

Yet another Twitter friend who is awesome IRL!

Yet another Twitter friend who is awesome IRL!

This. I want this.

This. I want this.

The trail was a bit...flooded

The trail was a bit…flooded

Local running pals I chatted up on, where else, Twitter

Local running pals I chatted up on, where else, Twitter

So all in all it was a fun trip! Now I have just enough time to unpack, do laundry, and repack for our mountain vacay!

Eating Minneapolis

By August 22, 2014 Nom Noms, Travels
University of Minnesota West Bank Campus, Minneapolis,

End of June post from when I went to Minnesota for business coming atcha!

*flashback music and wave ripples*

Well. I successfully ate and drank my way through Minneapolis. And loved every unhealthy, unclean moment of it!

I made a conscious decision going into this trip that I would set aside all vegan and clean eating beliefs for the week and just enjoy myself without guilt. Plus, I hadn’t had a chance to try midwestern craft beers, so I had to do my due diligence and see how they stacked up against Birmingham beers. New city, new tastes to explore, right? Kind of a backwards approach at a wellness conference, but whatevs.

So come along with me on my week of wonderful, naughty noms:

I texted my friend Caitlin mid-long run on Friday morning telling her that I wanted the best of the best of food the moment I landed. And boy, did she deliver!

University of Minnesota West Bank Campus, Minneapolis,

I got off the plane and dove straight into this little bit of brunch heaven

University of Minnesota West Bank Campus, Minneapolis,

Fried cheese curds – like mozzarella sticks, but squeakier and better

University of Minnesota West Bank Campus, Minneapolis,  Juicy Lucy

Minneapolis is known for their Juicy Lucy burgers – cows stuffed with cheese and happiness

University of Minnesota West Bank Campus, Minneapolis,

Caitlin’s boyfriend Juan is from Mexico, and introduced me to delicious spicy tamarind candy

University of Minnesota West Bank Campus, Minneapolis,

Caitlin and Juan cooked the best breakfast after our 22-mile bike ride around the city. Hosts of the year!

University of Minnesota West Bank Campus, Minneapolis,

Fresh salsa in the making – I am a “cilantro is crack” human

Once out of the ‘burbs and onto the University of Minnesota campus, I was on my own to search out some good, walkable eats.

University of Minnesota West Bank Campus, Minneapolis,

My coworker and I found a pub with yummy local beers because, priorities

University of Minnesota West Bank Campus, Minneapolis,

More fried squeaky cheese

University of Minnesota West Bank Campus, Minneapolis,

Curry veggie burger topped with pickled things that was out of this world

University of Minnesota West Bank Campus, Minneapolis,

I’m always on the lookout for the best Indian food ever. It wasn’t in Minneapolis.

University of Minnesota West Bank Campus, Minneapolis,

Nor was the sushi

Part of the conference experience was living in the dorms and eating in the dining hall.

University of Minnesota West Bank Campus, Minneapolis,

This is how the Freshman 15 occurs

I met Brady, a fellow runner and apparent food lover on Twitter. She had me at “let’s do a run and then eat popcorn!”

University of Minnesota West Bank Campus, Minneapolis,

Not sure if I’ve ever had better post-run noms

University of Minnesota West Bank Campus, Minneapolis,

Kickass ice cream with a fellow selfie lover

Caitlin and my birthdays are a day apart and happened to be last week, so naturally we had to celebrate.

University of Minnesota West Bank Campus, Minneapolis,

More local brews

University of Minnesota West Bank Campus, Minneapolis,

Trying all the salsa verde

University of Minnesota West Bank Campus, Minneapolis,

I learned that I love arepas and yucca fries

University of Minnesota West Bank Campus, Minneapolis,

Like, a lot

I’m home now and sleeping off my food coma. While this was great fun, I’m ready to get back to my rabbit lifestyle. As is my larger waistline.

All In Stride is Back on Track

By August 21, 2014 Ramblings
Great Smoky Mountain National Park, summer travels

Holy life, Batman. I cannot sit still in Birmingham for long enough to do my laundry, let alone to get my blog up to speed. Does this sound familiar? Oh right, I said this last month. And it got me nowhere. But, it’s been quite a summer! Since my last post, I spent a week in Salt Lake City, camped in the Smokies, and tackled mountains of work.

Great Smoky Mountain National Park, summer travels

Salt Lake City at sunset after a hell of a hike

I’m well aware that I don’t need to share every aspect and event in my life with the world. But I have posts from June (June!) that are written, and my writer’s OCD  won’t just let them go to waste. And this is my blog, dammit, so I can backtrack if I want to!

Great Smoky Mountain National Park, summer travels

Where the hubs and I camped in GSMNP

So this is your warning—over the next few weeks I’ll post a barrage of recaps from my summer travels. Because it’ll make my brain feel better. Sit back and enjoy the pics. If you get annoyed, there’s the door!

Great Smoky Mountain National Park, summer travels, Lake Blanche

Another Salt Lake sunset with new friends

Eating My Way Through the Mountains

By July 30, 2014 Nom Noms, Travels
The Big Orange, Little Rock, Oklahoma City, Sauced on Paseo, Mangy Moose, road trip food, Teton Village, Rendezvous, Dornan's Chuckwagon,

Do you know who hikes all day, every day for 9 straight days and gains weight? A glutton. Otherwise known as Tanya.

Jackson Hole, Teton Village, Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone National Park, backpacking, camping, Teton Crest Trail, Cascade Canyon, road trip

Caught in a literal food coma – check out that bloated belly

Typically when we travel to a new place, I see it as a challenge to find the absolute best places to eat. No calorie wasted. No silly vegan diet. Every meal gets way too much research poured into it.

The Big Orange, Little Rock, Oklahoma City, Sauced on Paseo, Mangy Moose, road trip food, Teton Village, Rendezvous, Dornan's Chuckwagon,

Camp food meal planning at its finest

This time, I left the meal planning to the hubs. Not an easy task for a Type A person like myself. And boy did he knock it out of the park.

So sit down, undo the top button of your pants, and get ready for a mountain gastro-adventure:

The Road

While driving, we allowed ourselves one (or sometimes two if we were feeling fancy) meals out. The rest of the day was spent gnawing on jerky, chips, fruit, cereal, etc. So when we stopped, we made sure it was worthy of being our only real meal of the day.

The Big Orange, Little Rock, Oklahoma City, Sauced on Paseo, Mangy Moose, road trip food, Teton Village, Rendezvous,  Dornan's Chuckwagon,

First stop – The Big Orange in Little Rock. Curry falafel burger with pickled veggies.

The Big Orange, Little Rock, Oklahoma City, Sauced on Paseo, Mangy Moose, road trip food, Teton Village, Rendezvous,  Dornan's Chuckwagon,

Fun fact – if you want to win my heart, give me a rice krispie treat

The Big Orange, Little Rock, Oklahoma City, Sauced on Paseo, Mangy Moose, road trip food, Teton Village, Rendezvous, Dornan's Chuckwagon,

Oklahoma City knows how to do thin crust pizza

The Big Orange, Little Rock, Oklahoma City, Sauced on Paseo, Mangy Moose, road trip food, Teton Village, Rendezvous,  Dornan's Chuckwagon,

Our one meal on Day 2 of travel was a winner – El Pinto in Albuquerque. Bryan Cranston’s fav restaurant. Be jealous.

The Big Orange, Little Rock, Oklahoma City, Sauced on Paseo, Mangy Moose, road trip food, Teton Village, Rendezvous,  Dornan's Chuckwagon,

My Twitter buddy Logan was tasked with finding a delicious Salt Lake joint for us to gorge ourselves at. And it was fan-fucking-tastic, buddy!

The Big Orange, Little Rock, Oklahoma City, Sauced on Paseo, Mangy Moose, road trip food, Teton Village, Rendezvous, Dornan's Chuckwagon,

My Twitter/running/blogging friend Courtney recommended Cherry Cricket in Denver for burgers. Oh. Em. Gee.

The Big Orange, Little Rock, Oklahoma City, Sauced on Paseo, Mangy Moose, road trip food, Teton Village, Rendezvous, Dornan's Chuckwagon,

Desperate times called for desperate measures in Kansas

The Big Orange, Little Rock, Oklahoma City, Sauced on Paseo, Mangy Moose, road trip food, Teton Village, Rendezvous, Dornan's Chuckwagon,

I played all-out carnivore and tore into these ribs from Rendezvous in Memphis

The Big Orange, Little Rock, Oklahoma City, Sauced on Paseo, Mangy Moose, road trip food, Teton Village, Rendezvous, Dornan's Chuckwagon,

And ate the best pork sandwich ever out of my lap because I’m classy like that

The Mountains

 

The Big Orange, Little Rock, Oklahoma City, Sauced on Paseo, Mangy Moose, road trip food, Teton Village, Rendezvous, Dornan's Chuckwagon,

The hubs and I found a (new to us) pizza place in Jackson

The Big Orange, Little Rock, Oklahoma City, Sauced on Paseo, Mangy Moose, road trip food, Teton Village, Rendezvous, Dornan's Chuckwagon,

That had hands-down the best NY pizza we’ve ever had. Including in NYC.

The Big Orange, Little Rock, Oklahoma City, Sauced on Paseo, Mangy Moose, road trip food, Teton Village, Rendezvous, Dornan's Chuckwagon,

Breakfast burritos can be loved on all day long

The Big Orange, Little Rock, Oklahoma City, Sauced on Paseo, Mangy Moose, road trip food, Teton Village, Rendezvous, Dornan's Chuckwagon,

Despite all of my mouth-watering photos, most of our meals looked like this

The Big Orange, Little Rock, Oklahoma City, Sauced on Paseo, Mangy Moose, road trip food, Teton Village, Rendezvous, Dornan's Chuckwagon,

Or, more accurately, MREs at midnight

The Big Orange, Little Rock, Oklahoma City, Sauced on Paseo, Mangy Moose, road trip food, Teton Village, Rendezvous, Dornan's Chuckwagon,

Starbucks Via instant coffee – the worst thing you will ever put in your mouth

The Big Orange, Little Rock, Oklahoma City, Sauced on Paseo, Mangy Moose, road trip food, Teton Village, Rendezvous, Dornan's Chuckwagon,

High calorie, small food shoved into a bear canister for our backpacking excursion

The Big Orange, Little Rock, Oklahoma City, Sauced on Paseo, Mangy Moose, road trip food, Teton Village, Rendezvous, Dornan's Chuckwagon,

Water stop

The Big Orange, Little Rock, Oklahoma City, Sauced on Paseo, Mangy Moose, road trip food, Teton Village, Rendezvous, Dornan's Chuckwagon,

Gansta lunch break

The Big Orange, Little Rock, Oklahoma City, Sauced on Paseo, Mangy Moose, road trip food, Teton Village, Rendezvous, Dornan's Chuckwagon,

Back in the valley, we tore into our favorite chuckwagon place

The Big Orange, Little Rock, Oklahoma City, Sauced on Paseo, Mangy Moose, road trip food, Teton Village, Rendezvous, Dornan's Chuckwagon,

Where the food is magical and smoky and the best thing you’ll eat

The Big Orange, Little Rock, Oklahoma City, Sauced on Paseo, Mangy Moose, road trip food, Teton Village, Rendezvous, Dornan's Chuckwagon,

I literally said that I would eat their mashed potatoes until I threw up

The Big Orange, Little Rock, Oklahoma City, Sauced on Paseo, Mangy Moose, road trip food, Teton Village, Rendezvous, Dornan's Chuckwagon,

Anniversary moose wings

The Big Orange, Little Rock, Oklahoma City, Sauced on Paseo, Mangy Moose, road trip food, Teton Village, Rendezvous, Dornan's Chuckwagon,

Organic huckleberry crepes

The Big Orange, Little Rock, Oklahoma City, Sauced on Paseo, Mangy Moose, road trip food, Teton Village, Rendezvous, Dornan's Chuckwagon,

And last but not least, huckleberry ice cream was consumed at least one a day

The Big Orange, Little Rock, Oklahoma City, Sauced on Paseo, Mangy Moose, road trip food, Teton Village, Rendezvous, Dornan's Chuckwagon,

By this boy

Hungry yet?

Top
%d bloggers like this: