Last month I was in Las Vegas to run the half marathon that they offer.
It was a whirlwind weekend.
We were headed to Denver Friday to fly out to Vegas that night.
A very uneventful flight. I was ancy to get to Vegas. We landed safe and sound.
The cab ride to the hotel was probably more nerve racking than the flight.
We made it to the hotel and settled in for the night. We walked around the casinos and met up with the other part of our group that was running the race.
We crawled into bed about 1100 pm.
We were up around 8ish the next morning. Dad, the hubs and I were all running the 5k Saturday night. But we had to go to the expo that morning and pick up all of our packets.
There was a line into the expo, but as soon as the expo actually opened everything went really quickly.
The expo was HUGE. There was so much stuff going on. It was fun to experience, but secretly I really like my small local races.
The hubs and I came around this corner and saw a line of people and I thought I wonder what that’s for. Then I saw the sign and knew we needed to stand in this line!
I was so excited. Then one of the ladies came towards the end of the line and said Meb was on a schedule and there was no guarantee that we would get to the front. I was bummed, but didn’t give up hope and the line moved really quickly and pretty soon I was standing next to Meb!
Super nice guy! Super cool to meet him!
After the expo we got some lunch at Rainforest Cafe. Of course I wasn’t going to turn down an opportunity to see a giant fish tank!
I love this picture…it looks like the fish is kissing me.
After lunch we went back to the hotel and took quick naps and then it was off the the 5k!
We ran a little loop around area of Circus Circus.
It was neat to see all the costumes and people just having fun with this race. A lot of Elvis people and super heros.
The hubs and I were in the same starting corral. As we toed the start line guess who jumped in again?!
I ran like the first couple of steps with him! Then we were off. Aron and I ran this race together. It was fun to just look around at the bright lights and be goofy with him. We took videos while running and just had fun with it. We even managed to negative split the race. He’ll tell you he beat me…at the finish…but only because I let him.😉
One race down. One to go.
Somewhere along the course I apparently ran through area 51. I was glowing like crazy!
We went back to the motel and changed into dry clothes. Aron and I hit up the roller coaster at New York New York and gambled a little at our favorite Deal or No Deal game.
We were back tucked into bed around 1130 pm.
I was just hoping for a good nights rest.
I’ll be back later with a recap of the half marathon on Sunday night!
I know. I know. I haven’t recapped Vegas yet. I promise I will get there.
But first! I race this Saturday. My last one of the year. Oh geez.
This year has been full of victories and defeats (mostly victories though).
I have accomplished a lot this year, all the while doing it for something I am very passionate about.
Two Little Feet doesn’t stop in 2014. I just have to figure out where Two Little Feet continues towards in the future. Anyone have any ideas?
This Saturday we’ll be headed to Colorado once again for the last race of the season.
I will have two names carried with me this month.
Token was killed last year in August in an ATV accident while searching for a fire on the Santa Fe National Forest.
Jeffie has been a part of my life longer than I can remember. He was like the big brother I never had. Jeff worked at the BLM with my mom and dad when they started their careers. He was always there to help remember my uncle. Jeffie made the switch to city fire and work for the Casper Fire Department for a number of years. For the last 2 years, Jeffie had fought a very courageous battle with cancer. We lost Jeffie in September of this year. He has been behind Two Little Feet since the day it was born. He would always send me texts and tell me to “keep running.” Jeffie has been on my mind for every race since he passed away. I knew that I needed to carry him on my back this race since he has been such a huge support.
Jeffie we are all still fighting! I know you’ll be with me every step of the way on Saturday, and I’m sure you’ll throw in some of your humor just to make sure that I know you’re right there!
This may be the last race of 2014. But Two Little Feet will go on in 2015. Please consider donating to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation!!
Goodness, you would think once fire season slowed down I would have more time on my hands.
Once again I am slacking!
I leave tomorrow for Vegas for race 12 of 13!
I’m nervous and excited all at the same time. Vegas will be a whole new experience with the amount of people running. I can’t say that I really have any time goals for this race because of the amount of people that will be running. I just want to go and have fun and honor the men on my back.
The hubs, my dad and I will be running a 5k on the strip Saturday night and then on Sunday night my mom and I and a group of our girlfriends are running the half marathon!
I have been able to connect with a few of the family members of this months honorees. I love being able to give them a hug and let them know their loved one will never be forgotten.
Members of Tanker 09
Tanker 09 crashed on take off outside of Reno, NV while responding to the Smitty fire in 2008.
Pilot Gene Wahlstrom
Pilot Greg Gonsioroski
Mechanic Zachary VanderGriend
Members of Tanker 11
Tanker 11 crashed in 2012 while working on the White Draw Fire in Utah.
Pilot Todd Tompkins
Pilot Ron Chambless
I have had the awesome pleasure of connecting with Zach’s family and Ronnie’s family.
I ask that you all take a minute and remember these guys. I know they will be with my the entire time I am running down the famous Las Vegas strip.
As always, you can still donate!
I spent my weekend in South Dakota.
Hubs and I were on the road bright and early Saturday morning to make it to Hill City, SD in time to watch my family run in the 5k that the race was offering.
My sister, Eddie, wanted to run and honor our uncle and good friend on the same weekend that I was honoring them. So the 5k on Saturday it was! My mom and dad ran the race also.
The weather and wind was definitely not totally perfect. A nice head wind, cloud cover and cooler temps it what they faced. It was pretty ok as long as you were doing physical activity and it would have been really nice if there was no head wind.
They all looked fabulous and finished strong into the finish line! It was fun for a change to be at the finish instead of everyone waiting for me at the finish. It was awesome and inspiring to cheer for everyone coming into the finish line.
We headed back to the motel and relaxed for a brief second and then were off to get some food in our tummies.
Pasta for me and red meat for just about everyone else.
After dinner we all decided it would be best to ride a buffalo. Don’t worry though we all walked away scratch free.
We were all tucked into bed and out like lights before 930.
I didn’t sleep well at all that night. I was constantly waking up worried I had missed my alarm. It was just not a good nights sleep for me. As soon as my alarm officially did go off though I felt the nerves set in. My stomach was just in knots. I hadn’t had race nerves like that in awhile.
I got up and got dressed pretty quickly.
Slowly got some food in my tummy and before I knew it we were headed to the start of the race.
As we walked out of the hotel it was overcast and spitting rain. I looked up into the sky and said “Really? Really?” I wasn’t prepared for rain, but it looked like it had potential to clear.
We made it to the start no problem, and I got to hang out with my crew for a little while before the race.
It was chilly at the start and I waited until the last possible minute to take off all my layers. I wasn’t totally prepared for the cooler weather. It was welcomed, but not completely ready.
Before I knew it we were getting ready to head off on our 13.1 journey!
Just before the start the skies it started raining again. There were rainbows everywhere. I took this as a definite positive sign that those boys were testing my mental toughness, but were also letting me know I wasn’t there alone.
Mile 1: 8:18 Mile 2: 10:21 Mile 3: 8:09
Mile 1 and Mile 3 were almost the same miles. Mile 2 had a nice long couple of climbs in them. I told myself, no matter how bad it hurt I wasn’t walking up the hills. You do a big loop around Crazy Horse Memorial. It was really cool to see. I had never been to Crazy Horse. The magnitude of that thing is unreal and to think I will never see it completed in my lifetime.
Shortly after mile 3 the marathoners split off and head toward Custer while the half turns and heads towards Hill City.
Mile 4: 8:43 Mile 5: 8:35 Mile 6: 8:25
I got to see the family right at mile 4 which was nice. Then as I watched my watch slowly click the tenths of miles by I found myself getting frustrated. I felt like this race was taking FOREVER. I was begging for an aid station to break up the frustration. I finally got one about mile 5. I found myself getting lost in the beauty of the trail. I also found myself thinking “I’m so glad they cancelled this thing last year.” If you remember I was signed up to run the marathon and then the winter storm hit with around 3 feet of snow. I kept thinking how frustrating it would have been.
My family surprised me again about mile 6 ish. Seeing them along the course did nothing but boost my spirits. This has been the first race that I have seen them multiple times along the course. Usually I see them at the start and the finish. I really needed the mental boost from them.
My sister’s boyfriend came along for the ride. This was the first race he had been apart of and I think I am going to hire him officially as my traveling aid station. He had water for me, even though I didn’t take it from him, almost every time I saw them.
Mile 7: 8:18 Mile 8: 9:10 Mile 9: 9:13
I was feeling really solid up until mile 8. The wheels slowly started falling off. My IT band on my right leg started throbbing, my left foot also started throbbing. I tried to run on the most level of the trail, but my hip and IT band definitely told me when I wasn’t running on level ground. I started walking through aid stations when they presented themselves. I felt like this race they were so spread out. Usually I am thinking, “another aid station already?” But not with this race. I couldn’t find the next one fast enough.
I saw my family again at mile 8. I ditched my gloves to them since the sun was shining and it was getting warm. At one point I reached down and rubbed my IT band only to discover that my legs were so cold I couldn’t feel the pressure of me rubbing it.
Mile 8 I started dedicating 1 mile to each of the guys. It took my mind off of the race the last time I did it and so I did it again.
Mile 8 was for Andy. I said hello to Andy. I told him that I was sorry. Sorry he was taken too soon. Sorry that he didn’t get the proper help. I was just sorry. I knew Andy was young. I knew Andy was full of life! I kept repeating to myself through this whole mile, “young body, strong legs.” The pain in my legs in that instant went away. I no long felt the funky twinge in my knees or hips. My foot was not throbbing. My IT band wasn’t screaming. I was using Andy’s young body and strong legs to power me forward.
Mile 9 was for Dan. As soon as my watched beeped at me and clicked over to 9 miles I got the biggest grin on my face. I was in the middle of the Black Hills smiling the biggest I had smiled all day. I knew that Dan was behind that smile. His spunky attitude. His full of life attitude. I just smiled. Ear to ear for the entire mile. That kept me moving forward when I knew that my body was telling me to stop.
Mile 10: 9:29 Mile 11: 9:55 Mile 12: 10:31 Mile 13: 9:49
I got to see my family one last time around the 5k mark.
Mile 10 was for Trampus. I was running in his hills. I’m sure he knew the Black Hills like nobody’s business. I thought about his family waiting for me at the finish line. I kept moving forward. With each and every step taken for Trampus through mile 10. The sun started to shine a little more through mile 10. I knew Trampus was there smiling away. Showing me the beauty that the South Dakota Black Hills have to offer. They definitely are a beautiful place to call home.
Mile 11 was for Brett. I felt a surge of energy. I felt like I was back at mile 2. I felt good, I felt refreshed. It slowly started raining on us, but nothing too major. Brett was one tough guy, but he was that silent tough. That tough that he didn’t need to brag about. You saw it in the way he worked, the way he carried himself day to day. You saw it in his friendships and relationships. I knew that I wanted to finish this thing strong.
At some point during mile 11, out of the corner of my eye I see some horses. They are off in a pasture, calm, and as I watch them, suddenly they all get excited and a few of the rear up, a couple others turn and buck and kick. They look like they are playing and suddenly take off in different directions. Do you know how many horses I saw do this? Five. Five horses out in a pasture, enjoying life. As we ran closer to the fence that separated this pasture from the trail I was on, I looked for these same horses; and I didn’t see them. I even looked back after I was well past the pasture to see if I could see them. I never saw these horses again. I got the chills all down my spine. As I replay that instant in my head right now, I have chills and tears streaming down my face. Those five men I carried on my back were using those five horses to show me that they had been with me all day. That their spirits were still very much alive. They are with us every day. You just have to know where to look.
Mile 12 was for Ed. Boy, Ed threw everything he could at me, just to make sure I was still a Hutton. To make sure I was my father’s daughter. The clouds slowly started to roll in. I could see the rain coming. I tried with all my might to pick up my pace. I knew the finish line meant warm clothes. The wind started to pick up and blow straight into our faces. Then the rain started to fall. It wasn’t a warm rain either. At one point I could have sworn it as snowing, it wasn’t, but I felt that cold. As I pushed through that last mile thinking about my uncle, wishing I had my gloves back that I ditched at mile 8, I knew I had to keep pushing forward. A little cold, windy, rain never killed anyone and it sure wasn’t about to kill me in this instant. Thanks Ed for that little douse of mental and physical toughness that I needed to prove to myself that I was tough enough.
We ran right down into main street Hill City. I took a brief peak at my watch. I had roughly a minute to make it the last 0.10 if I was going to come in under 2 hours. I could hear the Hubs’ whistle as soon as I turned that corner. I found my family scattered through the finish line. At this point I couldn’t really feel my legs. I couldn’t tell how fast or how slow I was moving and I wasn’t too worried. As long as I made it across that finish line I was happy.
As I hobbled through the finishing chute I was hoping my family had found Trampus’ family. I turned to my left to walk over to sit down and I saw the Wildland Firefighter coat that they sell and I knew it had to be Trampus’ mom. Aron was coming to scoop me up about that time too. I hobbled over to her and she gave me one of the best finish line hugs I could ever imagine! I have never met any of them, but there is a bond that is unbreakable between us. They are part of my little Two Little Feet army. My family slowly trickled in to find us. I will always cherish those special moments I got to spend visiting with his family; and I can’t wait to get another chance to visit with them again!
I still can’t thank them enough for being at that finish line! I can’t thank them enough for their support!
I can’t thank each and everyone of you for the support you have given me through out the year. I has been one heck of a ride!
I think this has been the month I have looked forward to since I started Two Little Feet.
Two of the honorees this month were the inspiration behind starting Two Little Feet.
I will have family members of two of the honorees this month at the finish line.
The last two honorees this month were requests that I have had on the list since February.
I will be running for my uncle this month.
I will be back in South Dakota once again. I will be on a different portion of the Mickelson Trail. I will start in Crazy Horse Memorial and finish in downtown Hill City.
In February I was asked how I pick names. I explained that I will run in memory of everyone we lost in 2014.
This particular person then went on to explain to me about her husband not only suffering one tragic wildland fire line of duty death, but two. That was all she needed to say to me and I was looking at my schedule to see where I could honor them. October seemed to be the perfect month.
Andy was on his first fire assignment the day he was killed. They were removing trees when he was struck by a falling tree. He was 18 years old. Following Andy’s death, Dutch Creek Protocols were designed and implemented across the fire community. I had the pleasure of meeting Andy’s mother at Family Weekend at the Foundation. She was so loving, warm and welcoming!
Dan Holmes was a member of the Arrowhead Hotshots when he was struck by a burning snag on a prescribed fire in California in 2004. When researching Dan, I came across danholmes.org. It will be 10 years exactly on October 2nd that we lost Dan. While browsing through the website I found tears rolling down my face. Looking through the gallery on that page, I felt like I was getting to know Dan. He looked like such a fun loving spirit. I know he is truly missed. I had the pleasure of meeting Dan’s mother at Family Weekend also.
I hope these family members know how much it means to me to get the chance to meet them. To show them the pleasure and honor it is for me to remember these young men and women.
Trampus was killed while fighting a fire in South Dakota. Trampus is a South Dakota boy. So I feel like I’m running for the home town boy! I feel like I have his home field advantage on my side. I just received confirmation that his family will be making the trip to Hill City on Sunday. I can’t wait to meet them! I can’t wait to share the finish line excitement with them.
Oh man. Where do I start with Brett? He was just a young pup when we moved to Craig and my parents started working at the BLM. He was like a big brother to my sister and me. Always there teasing us and messing with us. But he was the kindest man I have ever met. He had such a kind and gentle soul. He would call and help my sister with her math homework when she needed help. He would be there in an instant for anyone. He was killed in 2009 while on a cutting project. He was struck by a falling snag. I was driving home for the weekend that fateful day. I remember my dad calling me. I was on the interstate outside of Point of Rocks, WY. I have passed that exact point on the road a few times this year, and every time I have thought of Brett. I remember the feelings. The hurt. The sadness. There isn’t a day that goes by that I know my family doesn’t think about him. I can’t wait to be able to honor Brett.
Brett, thank you for being such a huge inspiration. Thank you for being someone who I continue to look to for guidance. Thank you for being the man that you are! You are constantly around me. Everywhere I look.
Did I mention that Brett was runner too?
What is there more to say about my uncle than hasn’t already been said?
Ed started this whole thing. Ed inspired Two Little Feet. The Foundation has always done so much for our family. I felt my dad was able to repay the fallen and the Foundation by being on the BLM Honor Guard. Seeing him be able to do that. I knew that I wanted to do something equally great!
You can pretty much read the whole story about my uncle here!
I have been to that spot on the mountain where he was picked up by the medivac ship. When I visited that spot a few years ago I felt numb. I didn’t feel any emotions. I know now when I go back I will cry and cry and cry. When I visit his plaque at North Crandall Trailhead, I cry. I cry thinking about him now.
I often look up in the sky at the stars and think about him. I think about him when the sunrise and sunset are extraordinary. I think about him every time we take a drive up Sunlight Basin in NW Wyoming.
So…let’s see I have Andy’s youth, Dan’s spunky attitude, Trampus’ home field advantage, Brett’s running, and Ed’s blood running through my veins. How could this weekend and race not be incredibly epic?
There are 5 incredible guys here that you should really think about donating in honor of! How can you say no?!
Of course, if you are in the Hill City area on Sunday, please come down to the finish! I would love to meet any of you!
Fall is in the air. We hit the mid 20s for a low last night here in Rawlins. Back home in Sheridan they were hit with the lovely white fluffy stuff.
I keep praying to wake up to snow.
Every time I mention to someone that I am racing in Billings this month their first comment is “oh boy its going to be cold.” My response is usually something along the lines of “couldn’t be any worse than February.” That was a cold race. Those are the races though where it takes more to be a spectator than a racer.
I am honoring 3 men we lost last year. Please continue to pray for their families as I know hearts still continue to heal.
Daniel Hall was 47 at the time of his death. He was working on the Springboard Fire last October when he was struck by a falling tree.
Danny Gomez passed away while conducting the pack test last July. He was 53 at the time.
Rodney Hardee died of a possible stroke after responding to a fire call the night before. He was 66 at the time.
As always there is no better time than NOW to donate!
Hope you all are having a fantastic week.
Last weekend I was in Spearfish, SD for my 9th race of the year. That’s just crazy to think that I have managed to race 9 races of at least 13.1 miles.
I had originally signed up to run the marathon at Leading Ladies, but somehow a little thing called fire season got in the way of training and before I knew it I had to make the call whether to struggle through the marathon on no real marathon training or drop to the half marathon. I made the choice to drop to the half. I’ll be back to run the full on this course some day.
I had left Rawlins late afternoon on Friday and made it to Sheridan to meet the hubs and my dad.
The race was on Sunday and I was blessed to have a 3 day weekend. We took our time getting over to the Black Hills on Saturday. Packet pickup was a breeze.
The race started at 0600 on Sunday morning. This race start was even earlier than the start time for my full. The buses left the hotel for the race start at 415. We had an early dinner and then didn’t take too much time before we were back at the motel and tucked into bed. I think I had fallen asleep by 830ish. I was up by 330 and was getting some food in my stomach and getting dressed.
I couldn’t find my gels the night before and wasn’t too terribly worried about it. I figured I would be ok anyways.
I was on the bus by 415 and we were headed up the canyon to the start line. It was warm in town, but I knew that the same probably couldn’t be said for the start line and I was thankful I had throw away clothes on once we off loaded the buses. Watching all the girls walk around without an extra layer on was making me cold.
This was the first race that I have ran that was an all woman’s race. Surprisingly the lines for the bathrooms were pretty much non-existent. So from here on out…I am blaming the lines on the men at race starts!
This race was a lot smaller than I expected also. I had assumed that the canyon road was closed. I was wrong there. We just ran the shoulder down and there was traffic coming and going. Thankfully it wasn’t rally week.😉
The timers started the marathon further up the canyon at 6am and then brought all the timing equipment down to our start and we started closer to 630. The start was a little congested but once you got out of the crowd you basically had the whole shoulder to yourself.
Mile 1: 8:15 Mile 2: 8:23 Mile 3: 8:03
I went into this race hoping to hover right around 8:30 miles. I still wanted to go sub 2 hour half and even though I had no serious training. I was happy with mile 1 and mile 2 especially since usually in a big group you tend to go out faster than needed.
The first aid station I had grabbed a cup of water and took a sip and then poured the rest on my head. Even though we were still in the shade and in a canyon I knew I needed to keep cool.
Mile 4: 7:48 Mile 5: 7:57 Mile 6: 7:53
This race was flying by. I was surprised how quickly it was going especially for how much of this I was running alone and not in a big group of people. There was a pack of girls in front of me that I could catch a glimpse of around every corner.
I was slowly passing girls that had fallen off this packs pace.
At the halfway mark was a beautiful waterfall that I had been waiting to see since we started. Once I passed that I couldn’t believe I was halfway done already.
At the next couple aid stations I started taking powerade and water. I knew because I didn’t have gels I needed to get some calories in me or I was going to bonk hard. I had started to quickly walk through the aid stations about mile 6. I don’t usually mind the water sloshing all over me, but the powerade was a little sticky. The aid stations were stocked with food like pretzels and bananas, but I wasn’t feeling the need for any real food.
Mile 7: 7:42 Mile 8: 7:47 Mile 9: 7:45
I was really wishing I had a gel to get me over the hump at mile 8. I needed a little extra sugar. I wasn’t cramping. My legs and lungs felt great actually. I was trying to hold back just a little bit because I knew that when I came out of the canyon with a little over a mile and a half to go to the finish I was going to need the energy there.
I had passed a girl right before the mile 8 aid station. I had had her in my sights since I first spotted that pack of ladies. She had on bright orange shorts and I just kept my eye on her the entire time. I was chasing her down. She then passed me back right after the aid station. I had let up a little too much in this part.
I took the last 4 miles and dedicated each one to one of the individuals I was running for. I talked strictly to them. I asked them to give me some of their strength to get me through. I couldn’t believe how fast these miles flew by.
Mile 10: 8:21 (Dedicated to Oscar)
I had the girl in the orange shorts within striking distance again. I was going to pass her one more time and I wasn’t going to let her pass me back. We cruised through the aid station with just enough time to take a good couple sips of powerade and water and then get back on my pony.
Once we got to this point we were losing the canyon walls and the sun was starting to peak out over the tops of the trees.
Mile 11: 8:19 (Dedicated to Kevin)
I had passed the girl in the orange shorts shortly before we hit mile 11. I knew I could hold her off for two miles. I had to. I could hear another girl coming up behind me. I tried to hold her off and then I tried to stick with her only to lose steam once we hit the mouth of the canyon. Even though it was only 8ish in the morning, the sun was hot and it was humid coming out of that canyon. I was praying for shade, a breeze, anything to keep me cool. I asked Kevin for just a little bit of cloud cover and he delivered. I was so thankful when the clouds covered the sun.
Mile 12: 8:22 (Dedicated to Jesse)
I still had the girl in the orange shorts behind me. We were on a wide open road away from the confines of the canyon. I took a minute during this mile to look around at the beauty that surrounded me. That surrounded all of us out there on the road that day. Jesse was taken all too soon. A young life that had so much to live for. Thinking about Jesse made me push harder than I had wanted to push my body all day. I wanted to live free for him. I wished he was running next to me. I took in all the sights and sounds knowing that he was there. He may not have been next to me, but he was right behind me the whole way.
Mile 13: 8:22 (Dedicated to John)
As I pushed through the last aid station with less than a mile to go I managed to grab a cup of water and dump it down my back. We turned off the main highway and onto a walking path the went back through a city campground and popped us out right at the city park and finish line. I asked John to keep the blood flowing to my legs and help me keep picking my feet up so I didn’t trip. A few of the people staying in the campground were lining the path and cheering us home that final stretch.
I kept waiting to hear the party happening at the finish line, but I didn’t know how much farther I had to go until I turned that last corner and saw the hubs and my dad standing there. I had maybe 50 yards to go. Dad asked how I was feeling and I gave him a shrug and an “eh,” because I didn’t feel bad, but I didn’t feel great. I felt eh.
I dang near tripped in a divot before the finish line, but thankfully I had help from above in picking up my feet.
I crossed the finish line (ahead of orange shorts girl) with a smile on my face.
I walked through the finish shoot. Since this was an all girls race, the had nice young men to give you a water, drape your medal across your neck, hand you a rose and take off your ankle timer.
Official time: 1:46:29
20th female out of 249
4th F25-29 out of 28
I was very surprised and impressed with my finish! I was thrilled to have done so well. I know I couldn’t have done it with the 4 honorees though. It was their strength that kept me going through those later more painful miles of the race.
Geez. I’m a slacker.
I have 3 days to go until my August race and I realized I haven’t even sent out who I’m dedicating this race to.
On Sunday I will be running the Leading Ladies Half Marathon in Spearfish, SD.
I have been looking forward to this race all year. Its a gorgeous course. This whole course is run through Spearfish Canyon and into the town of Spearfish.
This is an early start race with a start time of 0600. And that means the bus leaves town to get up the canyon at 0400. Why do I do this? Oh right…I do this for the men and women that aren’t here anymore. I do this to remember them, to honor the fallen. To make sure no one is forgotten.
For August, I have 4 men I will be honoring.
Oscar Montano-Garcia of White City, OR
We lost Oscar last August when he suffered an apparent heart attack while working on the Nabob Fire on the Siskiyou National Forest near the border of Oregon and California.
Kevin Hall of Ontario, OR
We lost Kevin on the 10th of August last year. He also suffered an apparent heart attack while working on a dozer line on the Grassy Mountain Fire, southeast of Rome, OR.
Jesse Trader of Albany, OR
Jesse was 19 at the time of his death. He was working on the Big Windy Complex in OR. He was killed when the water tender he was driving rolled over an embankment.
John Hammock of Madras, OR
John was killed while working on a felling crew outside of Sisters, OR when the top of a tree broken off and struck him.
Please! Think about donating in honor of these 4 men. It has been a year since we lost them and I know their families are still healing. Take a minute out of your busy lives to say a prayer for each and everyone of them. Support is always needed and welcomed.
Really? Is August really starting tomorrow??
How have I done 8 races this year already?
phew…lets get to the race recap!
Last Saturday I was closer to home in Casper racing a trail race on the mountain.
This race and I have a history. Last year I got to run the inaugural race, and I was going back for seconds this year.
You can kind of read about my cool little experience that I had with this race right here!
I was headed up to Casper on Friday evening; and was sufficiently tucked into bed nice and early.
I was up nice and early to give us plenty of time to get up the mountain and get some food in my belly.
Sadly I have miss placed my pink socks…must find those before my next race.
We met my dad and sister at the start of the race. Mom couldn’t make this race, some excuse about fires. Weird.😉
They had a runners meeting before the race and before this meeting the race director saw us and came and asked us what it was all about. Immediately I felt tears well up in my eyes. She asked if I would like to say something and I knew I couldn’t do it. She had taken down some information and then mentioned it and introduced me during this meeting.
As mentioned. I ran this race last year. The course was the exact same. 2 loops of 8 miles. It becomes more of a mental battle than anything to get through the two loops. That whole first loop the only thing you can think of is I have to go back up this hill again?! There is a aid station halfway through the loop at mile 4. I knew that after making it to mile 4 it was more of rolling hills rather than long 1 mile climbs like first few miles are.
The 16 mile group started at 8 and the 8 mile group started at 830.
There were 18 of us in the 16 mile and like 90 some in the 8 mile. We spread out pretty quickly with the 16 mile group. I ran with a girl for the first mile and then once we hit the downhill I took advantage and let my legs go, because I knew that mile 2-3 was a nice and steady uphill climb. But once I crested the hill I knew that I could fly down into the aid station.
I pulled into the aid station grabbed a water and gatorade. The oranges were HUGE! I couldn’t believe it. I grabbed an orange slice and took of to finish the second half of the trail.
After about mile 2 I started to see the really pretty and gorgeous orange and black butterflies, Monarch Butterflies, flying around with me. They would zip back and forth along the trail and when one would fly off another would appear right in front of it.
I have always thought of butterflies as proof that somebody was with me. I had 14 strong people helping me through this race every step of the way.
I was still feeling pretty good for the second half of that first lap. I caught some 8 milers that must have started earlier than everyone else and they let me know I was the first girl. I felt pretty good about that, but knew that I was being hunted. I got to see Aron at mile 6.5 ish and I knew that I was oh so close to the start of the second loop and another aid station.
I cruised into the aid station grabbed a water and gatorade and headed back out on the trail. I did have my fuel belt with me the entire time and was drinking water pretty regularly from it. It was hot out, not a cloud in the sky. We also had shade from the trees on the mountain.
I got to see my sister and Dad right after the aid station and my sister had made the comment that I was first girl and to not lose my lead, but I knew there was a girl hot on my heals behind me.
The hill climbs were my big killer. I’ll be the first to admit. I didn’t train as hard as I should have. Heck, I didn’t run at all between Bighorn and this race. A whole month. Something called fire season had gotten in the way. So I knew that this race was going to be a battle.
The other girl caught me about mile 10 and slowly jogged past me. We started winding back up through the single track and I lost sight of her. I quickly then became the hunter.
I kept getting butterflies left and right with me. When I started to doubt what I was doing I was blessed to see another butterfly. At one point I looked down at a particular rock and it was heart shaped. Then my mind began to wander if I make this stuff up in my head or if these people who I am honoring are really with me. As soon as I had the thought 2 butterflies appeared right in front of me. I thought to myself “ok, ok, you are here. All 14 of you.”
I started to slightly cramp in my legs but nothing too crippling.
As I pulled into the aid station the nice lady refilled one of my water bottles on my belt. I had been dying for grapes since I left the 8 mile aid station and grabbed a handful of them. Also more gatorade and water. The volunteers then told me that the lady was less than a minute ahead of me. Time to get my hunt on.
About mile 13 I really started to struggle with the cramping. My feet all the way up to my quads would seize up and just kill. I would have to walk a few steps to get the cramping under control. I knew I was in the final home stretch I just had to keep strong and push through the pain.
The second half of this course is my favorite! The rolling hills, the single track, the nice shaded spots.
When I hit the 1.5 mile mark to go I knew I was home free I just had to keep putting one foot in front of the other.
My dad met me with like .25 mile to go. I was a hurting unit at this time, but I of course couldn’t let me dad outrun me (but somehow he did). As I neared the finish line he pulled off and told me “Finish strong for them.” I gave the best little sprint my cramping calf muscles would give. With every step they seized up and would relax between strides.
I crossed the finish like 10 minutes slower than last years time.
But for not training or running. I’ll take it. I knew I was second overall female and I was pretty pleased with that. I was mad at myself that I had the lead for more than half the race, but I was pretty happy with my finish.
As I crossed the finish line I bent over in pain. My legs were shot. I almost even fell flat on my face. The race director made a comment about “it hurts so good, doesn’t it Ashley?” No, no it doesn’t.
I hobbled up to the aid station to get some grapes, water and gatorade. Then proceeded to hobble to the food spot. I wasn’t hungry at all. I took my shoes and socks off almost immediately and my feet did start cramping hard core. I just had to sit through the pain until it finally went away.
They were doing awards shortly after and to my surprise I won my age group…again! I surprised the heck out of myself and won last year also. So now I have 2 really super cool giant cow bells!
I know, though, that I couldn’t have done it without those strong and courageous 14 men and women pushing me the entire way. They were the reason I was out there on that trail. They were most definitely the reason I had finished this race. They were part of the bigger picture of Two Little Feet.
Thank you for your continued support!
Tomorrow starts a new month. A new race to look forward to. More fallen heroes to honor.
Goodness. I can’t believe it really is July already.
This year has just been flying by!
Yesterday was a tough day across the wildland fire community. We had made it to the 1 year anniversary of the tragic loss of the 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots. They will forever be in my thoughts and prayers. I feel extremely honored to be able to have ran not one, but two incredible races in their honor in June.
Unfortunately a week later we are honoring another tragic loss.
These individuals have continued to be remembered for 20 years now and I am honored to run for them on July 26th in Casper.
The 14 lives we lost in South Canyon on that fateful day in 1994 will never be forgotten.
I remember being younger and making the hike up to the site with my family. I didn’t totally understand the whole situation at the time. Today, I look forward to the day that I can make that hike again and really spend time at the site and fully understand the hows and whys of it all.
We are still learning from the accident 20 years later and I truly feel like we will continue to learn.
I want those 14 men and women to never be forgotten.
I want their families to know that we, as a wildland fire community, are still standing by their sides. We are still praying for their healing.
Please think about their families as the 20th anniversary approaches.
Please think about donating in their honor.
Celebrate their lives.