Monday, July 30, 2012

Sugar Bottom Trail Run

This blog title alone is going to mess with some people when they Google search for sugar, sugar bottom, trail run, etc. If you one of those reading this right now, um, Hi! I'm not going to do exactly a great job of describing every detail of the course or run for you. This is going to be my personal account of my run. I'd love if you kept reading but if you don't, I understand. You may want to pop over to for better trail info. In fact, if the rest of you want to see pics of the trail, take a look on that blog as I didn't get any pics. I was running.

Now to the story...
After running the Living History Farms race last November, I was hooked on trail running. So after some searching and more searching, I found the Xterra Sugar Bottom Trail Run. The Sugar Bottom Trail is located on Coralville lake. It's a mountain bike trail but last year they started a trail run to go along with a triathlon that has been there. So, I set my sights on the 10K. I started a training plan. I watched YouTube videos of the trail. I analyzed previous year race times. I ran gravel roads, hills, bike paths, hiking trails, motocross trails and as little paved road as possible. I studied the race course map. And I ran.

About three weeks before the race, Bill and I were able to run the trail because we were in the area. (Yes, we've now become the people who stop for a quick run.) It turned out that my little trail run was quite a big bite for me. I left that initial run with a good set of new blisters, slight dehydration, a dejected perspective and oh, some nice tender pain under my left foot index toe. I just thought it was because I've suddenly become tender-footed after having to take too many days off, going to Seattle and whatnot. The pain was not too bad and after a few more days of very light to little running my foot felt okay. But my spirit did not. I cried.

Two weeks before the race, I follow my training plan and have a good hard run at higher miles. I came home, showered up, plopped on the couch and secured an ice pack to the bottom of my foot. I was in pain. Walking on it felt like I had tape a marble to the ball of my foot. A little research brought me to the conclusion that I had developed metatarsalgia. Don't worry if you have no idea how to say it or what it mean. Basically one of the joints in my foot had sort of been compressed and wasn't springing back and now was getting callused. Yay. I made an appointment with my chiro, limped into his office, and slumped into the exam room. I was exhausted. My run had me beat for the day and my body hurt. This was to Dr. Kurt's advantage because I didn't resist my adjustments until he took hold of my foot. I said what was up with it and please make it better because I AM running in two weeks. He knew what to do. He started flexing my toes, etc and I started gripping the sides of my chair. I closed my eyes and grimaced not wanting to cry. Limp back home, ice some more, call it a day. No running. My mom called and said I could take her massage appointment scheduled for the next day, her birthday gift to me. I was in pain, my cousin, the massage therapist could do wonders. I didn't resist. An hour and a half later, Sandra discovered some very tight calf muscles and a stuck in one spot IT band and worked them out. I sort of melted my way out the door, picked up the kids from Mom and went home. No running. I also cried that day but not for running reasons.

That was Friday. On Monday of race week I felt really good. In fact, it was a little difficult to believe I felt as well as I did. I took a nice easy run. Lots of rolling with a foam roller and a rolling pin and hand massaging my leg and foot and I was coming out okay. So I kept running. I tried to recognize that the injury and the multiple missed days, mostly my long run days, were going to keep me from upping my race goal and struggled to be content with a moderate goal. Remember, I had been training and planning for this one race. I knew what pace I needed to be to place according to last years results. It's hard to adjust. All week I had butterflies every time I ran.

Race day. Saturday. Up early to drive two hours to the race. Not many people there. Get a little snippy with Bill when he cracks a joke. Warm-up a bit but not long enough to get the jitters out. Wake Bill sleeping in the backseat. Turn to him at the race line and ask him what he's going to do- go out on his own or stay with me. He asks what do I want? I... I, I don't know!! Wah! I'm crying!! I'm pretty sure at this point I cannot run this all the way through; I will have to stop and walk. I don't want to walk. He says he'll stay with me. I say no, go because I know he can do really well and have lots of fun and I'm Miss Pokey Butt. I can't really answer him because I'm crying.

The start gun is malfunctioning so a guy counts down from 5. I take off like a shot, almost getting elbowed in the face by a guy. It's a hazard being 5'4". People zing around me before we even get to the trail, making me mad. I smell body odor. It's a hazard of running with others, especially men in tank tops or no top as one guy did all day long. I smell bad breath. That has never happened to me before. I worry that it could be mine. I did just jam two Shot Bloks in my  mouth and I brushed my teeth hours ago. As the breath smell fades away, I conclude it couldn't have been me and am actually glad that that person is gone from my personal breathing space. I'm running.

We're on the trail now. It's a single track dirt path. It is fun. But as this is a small trail race, maybe 90 runners total between 5K and 10K, and not a wide swarm of people like LHF, there is not much room to pass. So I try to figure out where to do this. Cut corners shorter, speed up and pull out. I look at my watch and I'm flying. The runners thin out but you still can get stuck in a group. Bill, it turns out, is behind me, keeping right with me. I didn't know for a while. A mile in, with some good elevation change (meaning uphill) and I'm sucking wind. I probably should have consumed my gel cubes a little sooner or eaten more or less breakfast or done something because I'm pretty sure I'm going to spew and I'm not even to the black diamond cyclocross hill, which is just under two miles in. I keep going. I realize I need to slow down but that's harder than one thinks. It feels like changing from Interstate speed to highway speed. You might as well get out and walk! I gut my way up the cyclocross hill, grab some water at the top and stop. And cry. I cannot do this. Not four plus more miles. Bill assures me I can if I just slow down.

I fear the gravel. The last time I ran here it hurt. It hadn't been driven on much so it felt just like fresh gravel. When a gravel road has been much travelled the big chunks get spit out to the side with a smooth part left where the tires have road. We emerge onto the 5K/10K split. I'm going on. I make a mental note that the gravel does not hurt like last time and it has been smashed down a bit more than before. But I also can't tell how many are turning back towards the finish line and how many are forging ahead. After a not nice, why does this part also have to be uphill ascent to the next trail section, I grab more water. I stop. I cry and cry some more. Bill says its my nerves. They are eating me up and spitting me out. I take off running, crying. This time I cry for a while. I'm running and crying.

But my favorite part is in this section. The pine forest. The shade is restorative. No heat penetrates the tree tops. The fallen brown needles blanket the sides of the trail. All the runners are fairly spread out so there's no jostling for position. When I run, I'm quiet. My feet are literally quiet. Except for my breathing, it's just me and my running. I feel like an Indian. I would like to run in a pine forest forever. I find my pace and the tears stop.
Bill says I look good when I ask for reassurance. I told him he would say that as he's running behind me. My first joke of the run. After a good stretch in the pine forest, we run on regular hardwood trail. It's fine but not my fave and we only get a dip back into the pines here and there as we weave our way through. Bill acts as my guide, helping me to know which way to turn. It's amazing, but just keeping your feet up and clear of roots and good foot placements is work. When I ran through a long straight stretch (there aren't many), I almost stopped, thinking I was not in the right spot.
We run some off camber type trail and I think of Ben. He would love that little section. I start crying again. I think of Mr. Bean and his wonderful performance and dream from the night before's opening ceremonies of the Olympics. I don't laugh. I can't talk or I'll cry. I just think. And run. And keep putting one foot in front of the other.
I could spot runners ahead as the trails winds back on itself sometimes. If you wanted to, you could cut the course. In fact, though I'm not positive, a few runners did as they were trailing us, thumping and banging their way like some elephants for a while and then all of a sudden they were gone. I would like to say, not fair. But more than that, I would like to say I RAN THE WHOLE THING, EVERY STEP!! and that's what counts.
I'm almost done. Some lady is behind us. Where did she come from? I'm not going to let her pass me. I never voice this but somehow Bill knows and lets me know that unless she's got a kick she's saving for the end, I'm in the clear. The very last stretch is park like grass- which isn't quite so easy to run- and then gravel. And then the finish line. And then we are done. And a few people clap. I have to ask for Gatorade. And then within five minutes they start the awards. I've come in near last I feel. I notice four people finish behind me. I am not happy. I cry. I bury my head into Bill's sweaty shoulder and sweat and tears sting my eyes. I listen to the awards. I missed a place by a minute or so. I don't know how many more came after the third place runner, maybe more, maybe just me, but I don't like it. It's hard to swallow my gigantic pride.

It takes a while for me to settle down (20 miles down the road). To realize this is the hardest race I've ever done. This is the first time I've run a 10K. I did meet both of my goals. This is my first trail race and it's totally different than a road race and that this is a step up in difficulty. That my foot did not seize up in total rebellion- no pain. That my right knee willingly bent itself over and over. That I dropped my course pace by almost two minutes. That I ran every step. That I did it.

Thanks for reading all the way to the end of my very long race re-cap.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


Psalm 23:5 says “You anoint my head with oil.”

Anointing one’s head with oil was a way of signifying a person chosen out of many for a particular thing. The easiest example to think of is David being anointed as a young boy to be king. Chosen by God from all His people, from all David’s family and brothers.

Psalm 23, yes, written by David with this image very fresh in his mind, is not just for him. It is for us all.

I have been chosen by Him. He picked me. It is not just some random chance thing by God where He ended up with me in some dumb luck draw. He purposefully drew me to Himself. And God doesn’t change his mind. I am always chosen by Him.

John 15:16 “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you…”

Revelation 17:14 jumping in the middle of a thought- “These will wage war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, because He is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those who are with Him are the called and chosen and faithful.”


Friday, July 6, 2012

A New Tooth Story

Luke has been missing a tooth for the past three years. It had to be pulled by our dear dentist in a tragic episode worthy of a good horror flick. You know, the kind where the other patients in the waiting room turn green from hearing screams.

Luke has become accustomed to everyone asking what happened to his tooth. We narrowed it down to a pretty short version, "Dr. Overman pulled it out.", though lately he has taken to adding that it was very painful. This kid knows how to work the crowd.

A couple of months ago, we found that he had his first official loose tooth. We have two camps of what to do with newly found loose teeth. Audrey grabs onto it and just works and wiggles it until the poor tooth just gives up and falls out. Ben prefers the "it'll fall out when it falls out" method. Very little wiggling. Though I told Luke he could wiggle it and make it fall out faster, I didn't push it. I'm dealing with a kid who's dentist visits rate about 3 out of 4 for a good time. I'm not going to add to his dental trauma if I can help it.

But the day came when that baby tooth was so loose it had to come out. Bill was home and I made let him lead the tooth removal. Bill inspected the loose tooth and announced to Luke that he needed to take his tongue and push back on the tooth.

Voila! That was it!

Now he has a new missing tooth story!!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Taken a-back in Seattle

So you know how my last post was about Denise and her back surgery she had last Tuesday? Well, this post is sort of similar, except it wasn’t on Tuesday, it was Wednesday…. and she didn’t ride to the hospital in a friend’s SUV with the seats laid down, it was in an ambulance… and when I saw her I didn’t set off fireworks in celebration. Are you getting the idea? Yes, Denise had to have another surgery on the 4th!!

I know, such a bummer. She said she moved a little wrong trying to re-position herself more comfortably on the couch when the searing pain in her leg started up again. This time, she could not get the pain under control. After the nice ride by the ambulance- not so much- she went through another MRI where they discovered a disc fragment that was protruding into her nerves that go to her leg. She was able to get into surgery today- Happy July 4th, Mr. Surgeon- and is feeling much better.

So the other sister-in-law, Tia, is on her way to Seattle to take care of Denise for a while. I’m so glad she can go.

While I’m at it, I thought I would recap a few experiences I had while I was out there. I know Seattle is an awesome place to visit with lots of things to do. I didn’t do much because I went out to be with and take care of Denise, even if it meant only letting out her dog and doing some laundry but I did get a few things in.

Of course, I sampled some Starbuck’s coffee. I didn’t visit the original place. I’m totally fine with that. I bet it tastes just the same as the one I found in the Albertson’s near Denise and the one by Merle Hay Mall in Des Moines, the one the grocery store in Denton, TX where Steve and Tia live and the one in Super Target in Ankeny, or Ames, or… If you think Starbuck’s is in a lot of places where you live, then I’d say they are at least twice as prevalent in Seattle area. If you don’t like buying from “the machine”, not to worry- there are coffee shops galore there. There are two little coffee shacks two blocks from Denise, one block from each other! I didn’t buy from them because I didn’t know what I was going to get and since I was going to spend money, I wanted it to be good. Starbucks, if nothing else, is consistent, reliable.

The Wednesday I was there turned out to be the clearest day of the week. 70o, no rain, it was really nice. As I drove to the hospital to pick up Denise, I could see Mt. Rainier. As I drove around later doing errands, I caught of glimpse of the Cascade mountains to the east and the Olympic mountains to the west. In the evening, Denise’s co-worker, Vicki, took me down to Richmond Beach along Puget Sound. I also got to see where Denise and the whole Christian Veterinary Medicine group work at. The building and site share several different groups along with a school. (I don’t remember it’s name, but it was built by a man for his child who had tuberculosis. The old morgue is now the Science building for the school. *gulp*)IMAG0247IMAG0250

I spent the next day cooking up some freezer things for Denise to have later. Friends were already bringing her meals and by the looks of their portions, she was going to have enough food for quite a while. I suggested she spread out her meal schedule to every other day.

The day I flew out, I got to see the Space Needle a bit closer up as we drove by on our way to the airport. It was overcast otherwise Diana would have taken me to a great lookout. I hopped on a puddle jumper of a plane that would take me to Portland. I’ve always thought the term puddle jumper was not very nice. I’ve always flown on a fuller size aircraft and just one time have I ridden on a 4-seater, which I didn’t think should rightly be called that. But the moment I saw this one, I felt that the name fit aptly. (I could be totally wrong on the whole name to which plane thing- so just ignore me.) The poor stewardess barely got our complimentary beverages served before she was collecting them and preparing for landing. It was her 5th flight of the day and she had two more to go!!


Now I’ve got a 2 hour layover in Portland (why couldn’t it have been Dallas and then I could have seen the TX cousins?!) and I’m starving. I take a little time to cruise up and down the different concourses and see the options. I decided on the Laurelwood Brewing Co. and ordered their Free Range Red and Brewer’s burger. Um, yeah, it was awesome!! All of it! I can’t tell you what I detected in the beer that made it great (my palate isn’t really that defined) but I’m pretty much a sucker for a burger with melty cheese, bacon and BBQ sauce and the fries were THE BEST FRIES I THINK I’VE EVER HAD!! Maybe it all tasted good because I was hungry. Not sure. Don’t care. Don’t care either about the two young twenties guys checking me out as they ate their basket of fries only and drank a pitcher of light beer and one guy kept repeatedly scratching his chest under his shirt. Mature. I texted Bill the whole scenario. He didn’t feel threatened but did offer to come out and and beat ‘em up. Red heart


If I had time, I would have loved to see more of the area. And take in the tastes. One of Denise’s friend’s husband has gone to culinary school and is now in wine school and oh, boy, I was drooling at the thought of spending some time with them. Then when I got home, I found a foodie blog by a Seattle resident with some restaurant reviews! That would have been a delicious time. But I’m not even going to say when it’s my turn to go out… I just thought you’d want to add that to your little travel information stash.

One last thing I noticed about Washington, there aren’t that many different state plates there. Excuse me?!

We’re down to one last plate- Vermont. I know the chances of a Vermont plate showing up in Washington are pretty slim, but a plate is a plate no matter where it’s found. (Dr. Seuss anyone?) I saw 2 Cali plates, 3 Oregon ones, 2 Canada and 1 Idaho plate. The rest were Washington. I thought it weird. With exception to Hawaii, where we mailed Ben out flat to, we have found all of them in Iowa!!

Okay, so to wrap up. Denise, post-second-surgery is starting to feel better so let’s pray for a continuation of healing for her. I’d rather not visit her under these circumstances again. If I ever do go back to Seattle, I know there will be plenty to see and taste!!

Tell me, have you ever been to Seattle and what was your favorite thing?

Monday, July 2, 2012

I Was in Seattle, Okay?

So, I sort of dropped off the blogging planet last week. Sorry ‘bout that. You already know, but I was in Seattle. I planned to blog from there but I didn’t crack open my laptop once!

The reason for my visit was to take care of my sis-in-law, Denise. She has been dealing with back pain for several years. She had tried many ways of healing but ultimately she had to have surgery. Thankfully, she’s got two big brothers who love her lots and watch out for her and were willing to send their wives out to Washington to help her. SmileSo up I packed… actually, it took 4 people, 3 different bags and 2 sweatshirts before I was packed… and headed out to Seattle. (It’s probably Tia’s turn next and nothing against Tia, but we are all hoping that there isn’t a next time.)

Once I got to Seattle, I found a very in-pain SIL. Denise was in bed, on her back. Of course, it was late but as it turns out, laying down was the only way to go. Standing, only as absolutely necessary- let the dog out, go to the bathroom, grab a bit of food and another ice pack. No sitting whatsoever!! Getting into a friend’s SUV to lay down on her tummy for the ride into the hospital brought tears. Filling out paper work at admissions- excruciating. Finally at one point, I cleared a spot on the waiting room floor and told her to lay down. The secretary objected saying it wasn’t very clean- I didn’t care. Denise was laying down and we’d deal with the germs later. They did bring her a pillow and sheet to put under her, which she could maneuver onto. I’m a little embarrassed to say that my protective sister-in-law claws might have showed themselves.

Once she got back to the pre-surgery room with a few pain helpers, things started moving more quickly and she got into surgery about 20 minutes early. I waited, keeping the essential people updated by texts. I finally got up to her room and oh my, what a different person I met there. Chipper, joking, not quite ready to hop up but such a change!! The surgeon informed me that everything went really well!

Here’s what they took out. I know, it’s not a good shot. I don’t care- blech! I just took the picture because I knew my sister would want to see it. All the vet friends of Denise’s who came to visit her thought it was neat, too.

Denise's Souvenir

After a nice overnight stay, we prepared for home. She took a wheelchair ride down to the curbside. A wheelchair ride! Sitting!! Then 15 miles home. In her truck! Sitting!!! She was tired and rested but later we took a little stroll down to the lake 50 yards away and back and THEN to her mailbox, another 50 yards away and back! AND THEN… she sat and Skyped with co-workers and had supper!!!

Denise StandingDenise Sitting

We can only thank God for his healing touch through the surgeon’s hands. Because while this type of surgery is very common and one of the easiest back surgeries to do, it is only because God has created the human mind and gifted specific people to learn and to heal others.

She is restricted with her activities still but is looking forward to regaining her strength and full range of motion over the next couple of months. Hurray!