Monday, June 23, 2014

Kansas. Dirty Kanza finish, home to Iowa.

Oh, the land and wide skies call!  
Driving south, the herds. 
Art on the ranch.  Metal cutouts of rancher and cattle

Getting closer to Emporia, heading east. 
Hay storage system 
Back in Emporia and the day's not over yet!  almost 30,000 steps and 3,000 calories. No wonder I was starving.
Gorgeous clouds  tinted by the setting sun's colors. A few riders are coming in for their finish. 
The Mike at the finish. 
The Mike didn't finish before sunset. He said he'd been feeling well up to the last town stop and then the the energy departed.  He finished well, and truly worn, with dirt attaching to his sweat and sunscreen.

He has his Jimmy Johns unwich in his hand--the shop is right across the street from the finish!
Dorm room pics :-)   Race shirt --in my favorite colors. 
We headed over to the community center in Emporia for the after race breakfast and award ceremony. The local Lions club was hosting the breakfast--biscuits, gravy, and o.j.  Mike's ticket was included in the race, but we paid for mine. Had known of the sign below ahead of time,  I would have taken along some other items to eat. 

After the awards ceremony, we checked out of the dorms and headed to a local restaurant on Route 50 south of town, near the factories.  We'd been here a few years ago at 1am after a race finish, and knew they had good food. It's under new ownership now, friendly service, and they were fine with my request of butter, not oil for the eggs, and both waitresses offered to toast my UDIs bread I took in.  ( I didn't have them toast it, but it was the thought that counts). 
Good food. Omelet, hashbrowns and jelly for my UDI's bread! 
I spy- a face in the clouds
Hello Missouri!
Via Highway 36

Old school -retro-vintage hotel sign art.
Highway 36 west of Cameron, MO a few miles.

My reward for a half marathon with a finish time longer than I expected---my first bruised toenail in three or four years.  

Last weekend in DC my sister took me to get a pedicure. I warned the guy about my still tender toenail 19 days after the fact.  He wasn't too gentle at the start, but when he removed my nail polish and saw the purple under the nail, he was much more gentle with the toe! 
Friday night I realized my toe nail was no longer next to the bed and that there was just air in there. Instead of having it possibly get caught on something, or have my sock/shoe combo when I run pull on the nail, I decided to trim it off. ta-da:  9 nicely painted toes with OPI's Purple with a Purpose nail pols


Sunday, June 22, 2014

Kansas. Part 2 --Rural Route 13.1 race, Lebanon, KS and Red Cloud, Neb.

Saturday morning came early for us. We were awake at 3:30am to get up, something to eat, send me on my way north and The Mike to get prepped for the morning.   On the one hand, it is a little hard to get up so early, and on the other hand, you basically have ants in your pants and nervous energy to dispense with before the big event!  

We had breakfast again in the dining hall, scrambled eggs for me, I had some steamed veggies too (which I admit, I didn't verify how they were cooked), and  a few slices of ham and cheese for the road in case I got hungry along the way.  The Mike and I were both dressed and ready to go.  I had difficulty figuring out what to wear and wore a thicker pair of Athleta capri  tights to wear.  I also packed other clothes thinking I'd have time to change along the way if need be.  I didn't want to wear shorts in the car, and have my legs and calves stick to the car seat on the 3.5 hour drive. 

The Mike in his new kit. Bike is Salsa Vaya, titanium of course, with a feed bag on the handlebars, water bladder in the tangle bag and another water bottle  with Cytomax in it. 
I 'had' to stop along the road (50) west to take a picture of the sunrise. I could see it in my mirrors and it was beautiful. 
The view changed when I got on the Interstate(135)  to head north. The sun was gone behind clouds up above and fog over the ground as well.  
Another picture "drive by" style further north on I-135. 
I had to make several 'pit stops' this morning as my intestines were not being nice to me. Good thing I was a farm girl ;-)   I did discover that cities and towns in Kansas were bypassed by roads and not just by a mile or so, but more like five or ten miles off the freeway route.   There were a few options for me to head west and I waited for Bellevue, Kansas thinking 'it's a big town and will be easy to find a gas station/restroom'.  Oh, I was kidding myself apparently!  Coming north on the road, I cont'd north thinking, 'anywhere along here'. Nope. Turn around, follow the signs to 'business district' which was a downtown square of sorts. A couple of men setting up for the farmer's market told me the gas station was straight ahead.  The design of the roadway is such that the road I was on had an exit to go west, but I don't recall one seeing a place to go east. The gas station was on the elevated portion just before the bridge that headed west, which I would have bypassed had I just headed west to Esbon.  More minutes lost to another pitstop. 

The funny thing about terrain is that it can change at any time.  All the way north on I-135 which turned into 81, the road was basically flat. Sure, there were some hills and such, but not enough to worry me. 

Once I turned west on 36, the road got more hilly up and down and around curves. Road construction was experienced too.  Beautiful alfalfa fields ready for a cutting of hay, or a field that was ready for the hay to be baled.  I wasn't sure how far I had to go to Esbon, but knew that I was going to be pushing getting there before the race started. I was freaking out a bit, trying not to, but my half hour of leeway time was taken up by the intestines and road construction delay.  I wasn't going to have time to change my pants or shirt into something lighter, as the temps had cont'd to climb and it was much warmer. Ah well, the run had turned from a chance to see what I had, to a race to see if I could endure. I was already dehydrated and this wasn't good. 

I put the hammer down some more and pulled screeching into town (okay, maybe not quite screeching!).  There was a parking spot right at the elevator, across from the bar/starting point, so I was happy about that. I got my race packet (shirt, bib number, and safety pins), barely had time to put the number on, no time to change pants, I quickly put on the running shoes, my water belt, clip for the phone/mp3, and everyone was walking around the block to the starting point. EEEK!  I couldn't find my Cytomax either, so GU it was all the way.  My intestines had finally settled down, I figured I looked goofy in my purple top and gray pants, and loud yellow shoes  and you know what, I didn't care.  I was just more worried about the terrain!  Mike had said I'd probably be on gravel roads as they wouldn't be paved. He was partially right. The race is on rural roads but they were dirt-not gravel!  No recent rains, so no mud.  

There were about 30 people at the race.  Others have said, "that's it?" when I've talked about this great race and I look at them and say, 'it's a first year race in a rural area. I thought it was a good start to something that will continue to grow!'.  

I started off running a little faster than I normally do (don't we all when we start a race?), and had to tone it back a little bit. I needed to get warmed up at the same time I needed to keep running.  I chose to walk the very top of the hills again, and think this was good, as I was able to run well on the downhills and keep going that way.
About mile 4 I decided to take this picture of a hill we had just descended and climbed.
While my grandfather was originally from further east in Kansas than Esbon, the terrain was about the same where he grew up, and where he moved to in my state, which is where I grew up.  By mile 5 I was feeling rehydrated with my water, the ice cold water provided at every couple miles by the race, and was feeling like I was out on a run at my dad's farm--a feeling that was helped by being on the course almost by myself. Everyone else seemed like they sprinted away (they didn't, but that was a feeling I had).   A slight breeze helped cool us off  as we ran.   
Beautiful train trestle  
About mile 7 I started taking (more) pictures with my phone.  Not something I normally do in a race, but it was such gorgeous scenery--even to a farm girl.
Livestock corral with interesting clouds
About this point in the race I was worried about my pants choice. . . the weight was a bit heavier than what I wanted, but it was actually fine for most of it. No, the reason I was worried was because I was looking down at the legs and realized the pants turned a dark gray where they were wet. I could only imagine what my backside looked like!  Note to self to wear these pants only on short training runs, or on my treadmill!
Off in the left center is the town of Esbon.  No till fields were giving rise to a new crop.
I ran up most of this hill, but decided to conserve some energy and
slowed to a fast walk and to do a quick shot of the 'ditch'.
I couldn't resist this photo of the town due north and the beautiful field of green wheat. 
panoramic of the wheat field, right up to the edge of the road. 
Did I mention I loved the clouds, cloud coverage, sun protection, heat shield?  
Mile 9 we crossed the road that went into Esbon and we were into another square mile with the clouds disappearing (i.e. sun / heat coming out).  I was on pace to this point to finish in about 2:40, which is longer than my best time, but okay for how I'd been feeling thus far this day.  I kept up the run/walk philosophy for the next couple miles, but then we were routed onto two roads that were gravel, or were limestone anyway--which means they were blinding white roads with the sun being out.  I had chosen to wear my sun visor rather than sunglasses and on these last two-three miles it was a decision I was regretting.  More ice water was to be had.  This was perfect for filling up the water bottles on my waist, which in turn helped to cool down my body.  (the second marathon I did, I was overheated, and firefighters were handing out mini bottles of water. I tucked one into my sports bra which helped immensely to cool down my heart/core and helped me finish the last two miles). 

We came up on the road that ran north/south on the east side of town and I kept looking for the spray-painted arrow to head west to the main street finish area.  The heat was  a bit worse at this point, or so it felt. I saw the spray painted line, turned, and I had about four blocks to go before turning again at this sign: 

The end is near! 
I was so happy to finish, and I finished under 3 hours, which is probably my second longest half marathon, and slowest since 2009 when I started running.  Last year I didn't do a lot of running, trying to figure out why I was run down/tired/lacking energy. I think there are things I've done to combat this, but then being dehydrated at the start of this race didn't help either. 

So there I was at the finish, thinking I was the next to last to finish, I knew there was another person behind me, when the race folks tell me there are three others out there. The two walkers I assumed were doing the 10K were walking the half marathon!  WOW. 

I was informed there was food with a free will donation and that 'it's all gluten free except the brownies'.  OH BOY!  Very exciting to have people I don't even know to be aware of needing gluten free (it probably didn't hurt that I registered under the QuirkyGfRunner email!).  

Freshly grilled--Kansas grass fed--ground beef burgers, chips, jello (which was so good to have after a long run!), and the giant pan of brownies which looked fabulous.  Definitely worth the money I put in.   While I was eating, several ladies came over to chat and I learned about the local area, the school system, the town, the loss of the school due to cutbacks.  I shared I was heading up to Red Cloud, Neb  where Willa Cather lived for quite some time (English Education major--I can't not  go there when it's so close!) and was informed that I'd pass through Lebanon, KS which is the center of the geographical US, not including Alaska and Hawai'i. Definitely a site to see, as The Mike and I had been to Belle Fourche, SD where they have the center including Alaska and Hawai'i.  

Before I left town I changed into a SkirtSports dress I had picked up on clearance, my compression calf sleeves since I'd be sitting in the car for a long time, and then headed back to take a picture of a stop sign--yes a stop sign.  

aw, come on, isn't this funny?  
I headed west on the road towards Lebanon and the thoughts of pioneers just entered my mind, as it often does when I venture into the states west of the Missouri river.  So much determination for the pioneers to come west, and the awfully cramped cities and poor work conditions they left behind where living in sod houses was better than what they had. I always wonder about the letters they wrote home.  Sure they probably didn't put in there, 'rocks everywhere, poor soil, stay there'.  Instead, most letters probably were more along the lines of, 'things are great, fresh air, big skies, our own land'. No one wanted to write the letter home that said, 'ma was right.'---even when they were going through the badlands of South Dakota!  
I got to the center at the same time of two Harley riding gents.  I took their picture, they took mine!  
A beautiful reminder of the settlers/homesteaders who came before us. 
As I headed north I encountered large rolling hills of beautiful prairie and thought, 'this is what the pioneers saw'.  To me it is beautiful, to a modern city dweller, no cable, no cell phone reception, might not be as beautiful a thought as it was 150 years ago to have no tenement living, no city air pollution, our own land.  
The elevator in Red Cloud, Neb.
My home town just tore down their old elevator, which was not this large. 

The city of Red Cloud was beautiful with its architecture and long main street full of gorgeous historic bldgs still in use today. Even the Subway shop was in an old bldg. This was the Museum and the Willa Cather Foundation gift shop was across the street and up the block. I went there first, spent some time, and realized I'd been up close to twelve hours already and had a long drive ahead of me. 

I had planned to stop in Concordia where there is no an orphan train museum, but I didn't have time to do that either, as I passed through there after 4pm and figured they'd close up at 5pm.  My grandfather had an orphan train brother.  I use to recall seeing an older gentleman when we'd go to Illinois to visit my mom's relatives. I always thought he was someone she knew in her youth, but it turns out it was someone my dad's family knew! (Since I was about 9 the last time I saw him, I think it's okay I didn't know he was grandpa's brother of a sort).  I thought to stop in Abiline as well for a walk about, see the Eisenhower presidential library, again though, I need to get back and cleaned up. The Mike was hoping to finish by 8:30, if all went well.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Kansas. Part 1 to emporia

Part 1 of the Kansas trip. 

The last Thursday of May, The Mike and I started off for Kansas for his Dirty Kanza bike race.  (200 miles of "gravel" in the Flint Hills of Kansas (flint =what arrowheads were made from). A few years ago he told me to 'go do something else' on race day, so he wouldn't be tempted to bail on the ride at the various points where spectators can see the racers.  In the past I've partaken in the Hospital Hill Run, but this year the two races weren't on the same weekend and I searched a few pages and found Rural Route 13.1 on the Running in the USA site. He had a race to do and I had a race to do! YEAH!  

Our first stop was the cap city of our state, getting something at a bike shop and then heading over to Jason's Deli for lunch.  They have gluten free bread upon which to make sandwiches. Of course, the sandwiches have so much filling, it's just much easier to eat it with a fork and knife :-)  
Our next road side stop was just inside Missouri at the fabulous rest stop with a nice walking path and cutouts of bison and a lone Native American on horseback.  
We got to Emporia and checked into the dorm rooms.  Dorm rooms? Really? It turns out, once the local hotels are booked full, the local University rents out dorm rooms. Funny, we met in college, but neither of us were living in the dorms at the time!  The University is a short jaunt to the main street where the race starts/stops and where shopping and restaurants are located.  Perfect location.  We had a breakfast card, which also let us into the bldg, and our roomkeys on a chain. Made us feel like latch key kids. About 200 other folks were in the dorms as well.   
Our room was a basic dorm, but location, location, location, is the key!  
Beautiful town architecture. 
Around Campus
Thursday night we had a date at Radius Brewing Company with a fellow racer The Mike had met on the Tour Divide last year.  They were staying with a local resident and his wife, who came along as well. I'm not sure who ended up making this place the dinner location, but it's a reminder to not judge a book by its cover.  We've dined at microbreweries before and have had excellent luck being able to choose a gluten free item. [ Last year it was in a small town in Montana where I had the meat and cheese appetizer "tray" which was a very large cutting board with enough meats, cheese, and dried fruit, that we had some leftover for breakfast!] This establishment's menu had several options that would be gluten free and others that could have easily been made gluten free (burger without the bun).  I actually had a conference call to be a part of for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, so I missed out on a bit of the pre-dinner atmosphere.  Mike ordered a beautiful cobb salad for me with blue cheese crumbles and grilled chicken. He had an artisan pizza and it looked fabulous (he said it was too).  As we were with company, I didn't get any photos of the food ---I do have some control!

Friday morning we had our first experience with the dining hall. I had communicated with the director before the weekend and she knew someone would be coming in with food restrictions.  Kimberly was greeting all diners and she got me in contact with the head chef who prepared scrambled eggs for me 'in back'.  A group of racers saw that my food was being done in back and looked questioningly at me. I just said, "food allergies" and one was very interested, as he said he needed his stuff prepped specially as well. ---It never hurts to ask!

The Mike and I went out to walk around campus (it's not very large, reminded me of the private college campus I attended for a couple of years before a transfer), and then explored the main street shopping area. All the shops fully embraced the tourist dollars--I mean racers--- who came to their fine town.
Friday Mike checked into the race:
Check in at the Granada Theater.

The first year Mike did this race, there was a viewing of The Goonies on the big screen in the middle of the afternoon!  
Of the 1800 riders, The Mike was chosen to be on one of 30 trading cards. A big honor indeed.   
One of the 'windows' inside the Granada. 
The Granada
Fabulous sign at Jimmy Johns. 
Friday we ate at Jimmy Johns for lunch.  I forgot to ask for no mayo and they put a LOT of it on.  I wonder if that did me in on Saturday morning, since I have to avoid soy as well. Hmm...

I went out on Friday afternoon for my short run to stretch the legs.  As I came up through a campus road, there were inspirational signs already chalked on the pavement for racers. .  .

. . . It was very nice to see this just on a 30 minute run. I can only imagine what it was like for the cyclists who finished before dark.  
my favorite
This is a one room school house moved to the edge of Emporia University.  Beautifully set against the gorgeous sky.  The stone posts are prairie fence posts, which I had need of to ask two men working as I didn't know what they were.  
Those two guys then said that this area on the west side of the school is to become the national monument for fallen teachers, such as those at Sandy Hook.

From the Emporia Gazette's facebook page:  Emporia Gazette There are 112 educators that have died in US schools. This is the national memorial to those fallen educators. The memorial has been funded through donations and was spearheaded by the National Teachers Hall of Fame also located in Emporia. The memorial will be dedicated on Thursday. Many family members of those listed on the memorial will be at the ceremony as well as several dignitaries. The public is encouraged to attend. 
I've been to this town four times now and never knew this until this trip!
All up and down the main business street there are various pianos painted and left for people to play. They all seem to be tuned well ---at least the ones of which I tickled the ivory.