Monday, November 18, 2013

MUDD Poker Run 2013

MUDD Poker Run 2013

Thank you to Keith Daniels and Julie Bane for starting this great MUDD tradition of having a Poker Run! Keith was out a few times during the week and then again on the Poker run morning; creating and marking a fun 3.75 mile course winding through prairie and single track at Veteran Acres/Sternes Woods park.


1.Have fun!

2. You get 2 cards at the beginning of the run to start your hand.

3. Every loop ran you could receive 2 cards. But you could not ever have more than 5 cards in your hand. If you had 5 cards you had to turn in 1 or 2 cards to receive another card.

4. Run as many loops as you like. Eat treats. Socialize and have fun!

5. Best hand at the end of the day won the very special Poker Run trophy

They are off on a 3+ mile hilly loop through the beautiful trails of
Veteran Acres and Sternes Woods
John and Nandini mastering the Carina pose
Bad A$$ club- the final four running
Pouring rain, high winds, and dodging lightning bolts did not slow them down
All the extra mileage these hard cores ran didn't help them
win the best hand at the Poker run
Michael Johnson, Brandi Henry, Jean Lenard, Carl Galdine

Blair Piotrowski was award Poker Run Champ 2013 with 4 of a kind

Blair Piotrowski MUDD Poker Run Champ 2013

Monday, November 11, 2013

North West trail run 5 & 10 miler- MUDD Ultrarunning Dudes & Dudettes aid station

Runners heading out of Sternes Woods MUDD aid station -North West trail run
photo credit Royal Hartwig

MUDDers getting the aid station prepared for the runners
Geoff Moffat, Michele Hartwig, Julie Bane, Jean Lenard, Jeff Lenard, Tim Kruse, Tasha, Nick

1st and 2nd overall for the 5 mile race
on a final sprint to the finish line
Mark Jensen is 13 years old. I am a big
fan of this kind young man.
He was beat out only by a nose. I'm so proud
of Mark. His father Bill Jensen is my
good friend and trainer. Final time 34:15 for 5 miles.

The MUDD Ultrarunning Dudes & Dudettes have been "manning" the aid station at the North West trail run in Crystal Lake, IL for 4 years. The weather was beautiful and all the runners had a great time. You can't beat the trails at Veteran Acres/Sternes Woods. The MUDDers look forward to volunteering at this race every year! It's a wonderful tradition.

The race director of the North West trail run is Bob Walsh. Bob is a great member of the running community in Crystal Lake. He is always there to help others. Bob will be hosting a 5k Turkey Trot at Lippold Park in Crystal Lake on Thanksgiving morning. The race is FREE. You just have to bring a donation of food or money for the Crystal Lake Food pantry. If you bring money in form of a check please have it made out to the Crystal Lake Food pantry because they can make that money go farther at the grocery store than Bob can. It's a great way to start your Thanksgiving morning.

Tim Kruse and Geoff Moffat waiting to direct runners
North West Trail run

Leaders in the 10 mile North West Trail run race
Christopher (Coco) Rodriguez

Runners heading into the MUDD Ultrarunning Dudes & Dudettes
aid station at Sternes Woods- North West Trail Run

Geoff Moffat directing runners
North West Trail run- MUDD aid station

North West trail run
Killer hill at mile 4

North West Trail run
nearing the top of the killer hill
Jeff Lenard, Michele Hartwig, and Sarah Finn Young.
Sarah was so fantastic! She was so kind to come out and thank Jeff and I
after the race. She told us our words kept her going. This is the note she sent us when she got home:
"Thank you for everyone who came out to support running today. My name is Sarah Young and today was the first time I did 5 mile run/walk. Also first trail run. I was nearly ready to pack it in and just finish walking when I hit the water stand. There were 2 people who encourage me to keep going, I did. They reminded me that it was to be fun. Today left an impact in my heart, and for that I say Thank you."

My daughter Tasha and her friend Nick

Jeff Lenard and I directing runners at a tricky corner. I jumped from
station to station bringing cookies to everyone.

Tricky photography of runners by my son Royal Hartwig

The Headless Helpers

North West trail run heading into the MUDD aid station

Ben Willis, Mark Perry, and Sarah Willis are human arrows
at the North West Trail run

North West trail run- Leaving MUDD aid station
Mark Perry, Julie Bane, Jean Lenard
North West trail run- Gerome greeting the runners as they
head into the MUDD aid station

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Cactus Rose 100- Only those who risk going to far can possibly find out how far they can go- T.S. Eliot

Holly- toughest lady I know
Me the night before the race

I tried, I DNF'd, but that will not be the end of the story. I went on this adventure with my friends Holly and Tim. It was my first try at a "more difficult" 100 mile race. Not that running any 100 is easy, but I know which kind of 100's I can finish, and I wanted to challenge myself to something new. The idea of finishing this race scared and excited me. It drove me in training, it was something I had to do. My friends and I planned to run the entire race together. We had trained together and we had a vision of the 3 of us crossing the finish line together; holding hands, with our arms raised high in the air. That vision is still there, it will just have to wait for 2014 to happen. I was sad. It takes many, many training runs to get to the starting line of a 100. You dream of a race all year- and when you figure out on the course it's not going to happen, it's tough. So now I've started this race, I learned lessons I needed to learn and I am prepared for my next run at it. The dream is not lost.

Despite the disappointment of not getting to finish I had many things to be thankful for. My friends of course. I loved being with them all weekend. We laughed a lot, worked through some tough miles and made memories that we will treasure forever. The people of Texas were great, so welcoming. The runners in the race, the RD's, the finish line volunteers, they all were very supportive. It's a great community.

As far as the race- First off the course is awesome. I loved it and I miss it already! I can't wait to go back! I'm a cowgirl at heart and I love cowboy country! It is rugged, rough, and beautiful. The terrain is dry, sharp, various sized loose rocks. Parts of the course are run-able and parts are steep climbs and descents. On top of the climbs you can see breathtaking landscape for miles. The course had many huge Sotel patches. They were tall, grand and in full bloom. These plants had leaves with little teeth that cut you up. There was no way to avoid them, you just had to barrel through.
Close up picture of a Sotel. These plants were taller than us.

Camping at the start finish line is really easy. It only cost 10 bucks per car for the whole weekend. There was a nice wide open field to put up your tent.

My tent is the big one with awesome views of Hill country 
The race does not supply food or have any volunteers at aid stations. You drop your drop bags off at designated spots the night before then pick them up after you run the race. This was really easy and it only took about 30 minutes to drop off and pick up. The race supplied an unlimited amount of water and ice. It was about 5 miles between every aid station and every 25 miles you got back to the start/finish line. When you went back out you got to run the course the opposite of the last time.

Pre-race directions the night before
I barely ever eat any of the food at aid stations so bringing my own food was no big deal.  The aid stations always had a ton of ice with scoopers in it. The ice was clean. I get easily grossed out and I put the ice in my water bottle at every aid station. The race organizers did a great job at everything.

The race is described perfectly when it says on the website "We avoid anything flat to take you on all that is rugged and nasty".  The race director says everyone reads the website but does not believe the course is as tough as they describe. Believe it. In Ultrarunning Magazine Cactus Rose is rated tougher than Sawtooth. My girlfriend Holly has ran Sawtooth and she agrees with that statement. It is a beast, but it is not impossible. It kicked my butt but I will miss it every day until I get to go back. I will start this race again, and next time I will make it to that finish line.

Tim Kruse was the only one of our group that made it to the finish line. It was his first 100 mile race. He did a great job. At mile 50 Holly and I were pretty beat up and he looked like he had just started a 5 mile run. We were both so happy and proud of him. Holly went to High school with Tim and they just reconnected in the last year. They thought it was pretty funny that they used to work together in high school and now 20+ years later they are running a 100 mile race together.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Team RWB- Chicago Chapter runs with MUDD Ultrarunning Dudes & Dudettes

Team RWB Chicago Chapter and the MUDD club
It was a beautiful fall day for a run on our home trails! We were blessed to have the Chicago Chapter of Team RWB, come out to run with us MUDDers at Veteran Acres in Crystal Lake, IL! Team RWB was so generous bringing bagels, coffee and rolls.

We broke up into a few different pace and distance groups. Everyone had a great time! Thank you so much Team RWB! It was a special day! We look forward to sharing some trails with you again soon.

photo credit Katrina Strich (Allison Caldwell, Dave Caldwell, Brandi Henry)

If you are interested in joining Team RWB here is a link to the website

Thursday, August 29, 2013

My favorite Kale Salad- perfect for a travel cooler

Salad Ingredients-
  • Large handful of raisins or cranberries
  • 3/4 cup toasted sliced almonds (cool before adding to salad)
  • 1 pound Kale cleaned, drained and dried off well:                                                                                            I have a great CSA program with Troggs Hollow. They grew a variety of different kinds of Kale which was really fun to use. I've also made the salad with the curly Kale that is easy to find at stores. It is yummy either way!
Dressing ingredients-
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp seasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp honey (I was a little heavy on the honey)
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper


Use a knife to cut out the tough mid-rib of each Kale leaf and discard. Slice the leaves in to 1/4 inch wide slices. I like to stack the leaves together, roll up in a cigar shape, then slice into slivers. Put the kale slivers into a big bowl.

Whisk dressing ingredients together is a small bowl

Add the raisins, cooled toasted almonds and dressing to the kale. Mix up and put in a travel bowl. It held up for me for 1 week (then I ran out). Fresh Kale salad holds up really well in a cooler. I used this recipe on many of my summer road trips. You can add grated Parmesan or Romano Cheese on it if you would like. I did not use the cheese while traveling. When using a cooler I try and use as little cheese or milk products. They go bad much easier.

This tasted really good with a pesto potato salad or a yummy macaroni salad. I packed this is my cooler for my Mother/daughter road trip and Leadville 100 adventure

Leadville 100- We are gonna have a good day!

Selfie picture of Scott and I

“All mountain landscapes hold stories: the ones we read, the ones we dream, and the ones we create."
-from the Editor's Note, The Alpinist (April 1, 2010)

― Michael Kennedy

Check out these links to Leadville 100 pictures by Runnerpics: 
Link to pictures by runnerpics

The summer went by so quick! My son studied ballet at the American Ballet Theatre and I used his time away to spend quality time with my daughter on a mother daughter road trip spent camping and traveling. My last big adventure would be heading out to Leadville 100 with my good friend Scott Laudick. He is an amazing photographer that shoots trail running races around the country.  I was so excited to help him shoot this 100 mile ultra classic.

I packed us a big cooler of food for the road trip. I'm pretty good at this. I like to eat healthy and not spend a fortune on food while traveling.  I made my favorite Kale Salad (recipe is here). It holds up really well in a cooler and was a summer travel staple for me. I also made a pesto potato salad, spicy tuna salad with rye bread, cooked apples and I brought some beef sticks. We had enough food to last us for quite a few meals.

The road trip just flew by. Scott and I are both chatty and during our drive there was not a minute of silence. That added up to 15 hours of non stop talking and laughing. We solved the problems of the world and discovered we both laugh at the silliest things.

View from Winfield Aid Station

We arrived at our first photo scoping location- the Winfield Aid station and Hope Pass trail. We took a hike part way up the Hope Pass trail. It took us about 50 feet and the elevation effects hit us like a truck. Talking and breathing at the same time was no longer easy. This was when we quieted down for the first time. Silly as we are, we stopped and laughed at the fact that it took a mountain to get us to finally shut up. We are fit people and feeling the effects of elevation first hand gave me even more respect for this course.

We still had  many places to scope out so we decided not to hike to the top of Hope Pass. Hope Pass would be really busy on race day so it would be hard to get good pictures. We drove to our other planned locations. On a course full of beauty it was easy to find picturesque spots to photograph the runners.

After we had our race day plan in place we drove into Leadville. This is an adorable mountain town that I never wanted to leave. We met up with friends Shelley Cook, Alec Bath, Dave Zeisler and their families for dinner at a charming little restaurant Tennessee Pass. I had the goat cheese and spinach enchiladas which was delicious!  Shelley and Alec were so generous to invite us to crash in their hotel room (thank you!). So we had a nice dinner then headed back to the room to go to bed early and get a few hours of sleep before race day!

nice little tidbit: we stayed at the Leadville Super 8 and they had a sign up that breakfast would be served at 2:30 am . I love when businesses take care of there customers. Now if they could have just done something about the nearby barking dog...did anyone else hear that? 

Race morning we were up and at the starting line by 3 am. We were some of the first people to arrive. I watched as the streets quickly filled with runners and crew. I looked at them knowing this race is something they have been working at for months, or even years to be prepared to finish. There were people of all ages, sizes, male and females. Everyone looked peaceful, excited and thankful to be there. I know I was. 

Me on race morning trying to get my phone camera setting correct so I could get a picture of the race start. Pic by Scott of runnerpics

After the runners started we headed off to our picture spot. We wanted to be sure to get pictures of the leaders. So we set up our little camp for the day and waited. 

We sat there looking at the most gorgeous mountains trying to figure out where Hope pass trail was. There was a trail way up there above tree line that the runners would soon be following. We felt very small in this massive land. It was amazing to think the runners would be going up this mountain at mile 40 then turning around and coming right back. For me personally it looked like a nearly impossible challenge. Although at the same time being there, soaking in this pristine land I had a strong desire to run this race one day.  I sat there planning how I could prepare myself to accomplish this. I've been inspired by so many strong minded people that I  allowed myself to believe I can do this. So I decided to come back next year and camp with friends and family for a few weeks, maybe even a month before the race. This would help get me acclimated to the elavation. Then pace a friend, Craig Branaghan would be awesome if he will let me. This would give me a chance to learn more of the challenges that would face me at the race. Then 2015 come back and go for a Leadville 100 finish. My dream team will be having Holly & Royal crew, Tim pace me, and Scott from Runnerpics photographing. 

Helping Scott photograph the race was a 30 hour day of joy. I am in awe at the strength, determination perseverance of the runners I saw. There is a kindness and camaraderie in the ultra-running that brings warmth to my heart. Leadville 100 will be a day that will brings a smile to my face for years to come. This is "the good old days". 

Scott setting his camera up while we wait for the runners

My amazing view, watching strong runners for hours

This is heading into the Twin Lakes Aid Station

Tents set up on trail near Twin Lakes
Trail views
The tiny town of Twin Lakes had so many cars. The police directed traffic all day and cars were packed along the edge of the street for as far as you could see. I've never seen so many runners and crew.

Scott Jurek coming through Twin Lakes Aid station. Heard it was an amazing sight to see Hal Korner  & Scott bomb the downhill at Hope Pass just before this.

Ashley Arnold finishing 1st overall female at Leadville 100!

The pictures above are all the ones I took with my phone.

Be sure to check out all the great pictures and video that Scott Laudick of Runnerpics took. The bravery, fight and strength it took for these runners to run this race is captured and will surely bring tears of happiness to you. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

CAUTION This trail is Strenuous! Inov-8 Roclite 268 review

Summer of 2013 Mother/Daughter camping road trip

I spent the summer traveling & camping in a tent with my 13 year old daughter.  I feel pretty darn lucky she still likes to hang out with me so I took full advantage of it with a good old fashioned Mother/daughter road trip! We are both outdoorsy gals that love to spend the day hiking and running trails- then ending it around a campfire cooking a good burger and roasting marshmallows.

We left on our trip with no definite plan.  I handed my daughter the Garmin GPS and a few travel brochures and said "pick a State or National park, where every you want to go and we are on our way!" She would choose, type it in the Garmin, and then I drove where ever it told me to go. We traveled through Wisconsin, South Dakota, Texas, Illinois & more... We had tons of fun every where we went but my daughter had a clear favorite park. Petit Jean State Park in Arkansas. It has awesome trails with beautiful mountain overlooks! 
Inov-8 Roclite 268
This sign screams...I dare you...RUN THIS TRAIL!!!

Traveling to all these parks was exciting! I got to wear my Roclite 268's on many different kinds of terrain. 

This was a fun uphill- I suggest clicking on the picture to enlarge to see how rocky the course is

The picture above is on the Cedar Falls trail at Petit Jean Mountain. The trail head of this challenging trail has the bright read sign that says "CAUTION THIS TRAIL IS STRENUOUS- If you have health problems you are advised not to hike this trail". How can a runner read this and not think? Run me! Run me!!  It is a 2+ mile round trip. The trail goes on a steep downhill to the Cedar Fall waterfall. It's 3/4 of a mile downhill, then some flat trails that run along a river with anything from smooth dirt to big rocks. The trail ends at the waterfall. Then you get to turn around and run back up! The run back was my favorite part! Everyone was walking so they all thought I was a little crazy (can't deny it, I am), I had fun giving it my all !

I love these trails!
I wore my trusty Inov-8 Roclite 268's. These are the trail shoes that I wear for 100 mile races to 5 mile speed runs. On this day I would try them on a quick run across slick sandstone,  wet rocks, steep inclines, moss covered trail. Some pretty challenging stuff.  The Roclite's, gripped and held my feet in place perfect! They proved many times to be a great all around trail shoe.

My feet measure a 10 female, medium width. I always size up for running shoes since I am a long distance runner and my feet tend to swell. I buy the Roclite 268's in a women's size 11. They fit comfortably snug at my ankles, heels and at the top of my foot by my shoe laces. This is perfect for holding my feet and ankles in place. Then the shoe widens out in the toe box. This gives me enough room for the swelling of my feet, but they are not so loose my feet are moving around in the shoes. The toes have a flexible non bulky heavy duty piece of rubber on them that is great for protecting my toes when I inevitably catch a rock or root. The sole is lightweight, sticky, and easily bendable. They grip to everything and give me a solid "feel" of the trail while giving my feet a comfortable ride.  I run confidently knowing they are going to stick, hold my feet in place and breathe.

Inov-8 Roclite 268's are my perfect trail shoe! 

This is a smooth part of the trail 

I love this rock path!