Armed with a smile and a lawn chair

“Volunteers are not paid. Not because they are worthless, but because they are priceless”

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I may have the punctuation wrong, but the sentiment is correct. This is the phrase printed on the back of the Burning River 100

volunteer shirt. Every time I see it, I get a little misty eyed. Having been on both sides of the equation, I can say with certainty, it is one of the most factual statements ever.

Yesterday I spent my day volunteering at the Burning River 100. Last year I also volunteered and it was a magical experience. Some of you may recall the energy and memories Gale and I found during our camp out at the Covered Bridge aid station. Part of me wanted to recreate that night, but as Grunt Girls passed on doing a station, I was left to my own devices in finding a place to help.

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Station #1: Me, Tap, Gale and Ed

Through word of mouth and Facebook (as everything seems to happen these days) I found myself agreeing to be a part of the welcoming committee. The first station with live bodies, approximately 5 miles into the journey. Despite having to get up at 3:30 in order to arrive by 4:30 (I got lost and made it right before 5:00) to see everyone fresh and clean and hopeful was completely worth every moment of lost sleep. Each runner began their steps at 5:00 in the morning too, some made it to us shortly after, and others came through an hour or more after. Some may think this sounds slow, however keep in mind they are on a ONE HUNDRED MILE journey, speed is not the important factor.

It was odd for me to be awake, but the energy in the atmosphere kept me going. Playing high tempo music from the back of a car, looking around at everyone jumping and laughing, even laughing myself when I look over at the parking lot and see every car covered, not slightly decorated, but covered in various oval sticker proclaiming victory over treasured courses. Someone brought coffee, doughnuts and bagels, because they love us, and we all had a bit more to celebrate. The window of runners was fast compared to other stations, and luckily we did not have anyone ask to drop.

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Getting ready to leave Station #1

After a very quick 2 hours it was time to say “good-bye” some were off to other stations, some back to bed, others to cheer on their friends or loved ones. I was assigned to another station, but not for another few hours. Since I needed to kill time, out came the phone, and I searched for a new destination. Earlier I heard someone say “Egbert is hurting for people” so I mapped a route and the next thing I knew I was walking up to total strangers asking if I could crash their little yellow shirted party. Everyone seemed more than happy to have me. This station had been run by the same family every year of the race, and unfortunately many people had to bail at the last minute due to family or work obligations and they were in need of people.

After we were set up I found myself assigned to intake (this also means I couldn’t take pics). Along with a lovely woman named Gale and her husband we were recording the runners as they entered and calling them into grand central station. OK I have no idea what we were calling them in to, but I left a lot of voice-mails and I can see from this year’s sheet I did NOT mess it up like last year! Working with Gale was wonderfully easy and fun, not to mention I learned she was on the Board of Directors for a company I would LOVE to work for one day. See, you never know where life will take you! And you never know who does what so watch your moth and actions!

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100 mile giraffe “Gnarly”.

 

Fewer people made it to our station and a few dropped. We were 23.4 miles into the route, so to see people have to stop was heartbreaking. One girl apparently passed out on the course, and another guy was hit by a car and taken to the hospital. No one caught his # so we couldn’t drop him. Several hours later (I told you each station has a larger window) a guy comes running from the woods. He explains he was the one hit by the car and spent 2 hours in the hospital! Still, he went back to where it happened and did he make the cut off? Can he keep going? We all stood there more than slightly slack jawed before answering, yes, he was 30 minutes before the cut-off, and he went on his way, hospital bracelet, bandages and all.

Egbert was the most laid back station I have ever seen. We were in an open field and had tables upon tables of goodies. People brought their dogs to cheer on runners or to keep volunteers company. We snacked on leftovers and hung around in lawn chairs. The fog was slowly lifting and the mist over the tress and national park was breathtaking. A runner with a giraffe on his pack told me it was his racing buddy “Gnarly”. Who has made it through a 50K, but skipped the 50 mile in Florida because he was afraid of the ‘gators. One of my favorite moments was when Hope came through and I ran over to cheer. She looked at me, bright eyed and relaxed and asked “Do you need anything?” Seriously? Isn’t that what I should be asking HER?

While I was assigned to Boston Store at 10:00 my services were needed at Egbert. No one else could get the call system to work, and I know nothing is worse than the timing system being off or not being able to find your runner. People rely on the info to plan pick me ups. I stayed. I emailed Frank so he would understand. Egbert lasted for me from right before 8:00 to just after 12:00. As I left I couldn’t believe I was already 7 hours into my volunteering experience…and wasn’t headed home.

I wasn’t tired. As I wasn’t tired, I drove down to Boston Store to see if they could use extra help. Once there I found Tap again (she was at Gate’s Mills) and her kids. Frank did get my email as was more than understanding. He says being late because you were already at an aid station is a fine excuse, considering some people aren’t volunteering at all. When the runners arrived I learned I only missed the first few leaders and started working drink duty. The rest of my major shift at this station included making drinks, fetch giant tubs of water, answering odd and understandable questions, running back and forth to verify check-ins and basically lots of sun and lots of time on my heels and toes. occasionally I grabbed a cup of water, Coke or HEED and at one point was able to snag a small square of sausage pizza. Luckily the bagel from AS #1 and half a turkey sandwich and cookie from Egbert was keeping me filled.
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Tom J looking good!

 

The next thing I knew it was starting to cool down and I noticed it was nearly 6:00 at night. WOW 13 hours? Gale came to the station to help cheer on Tom J, along with Katie and her husband. I disappeared behind the building with them for a little while. Also, I needed to go to the bathroom. What I didn’t need was to find a thong in the bathroom. WHAT? Who is running 100 miles in a cotton thong? Not OK. And really, you can’t move it two inches to the left and up to make it into the trash can?

I wondered back over to the main part of the station, expecting to be told to leave already. Instead I was told I was such a trooper (or something) for helping so long and the day was almost finished. I was placed on “emergency reserve” haha and went to crash in my lawn chair. Sitting was too strange at that point though…so I stood and chatted a few more hours. When the pacers finally finished their loop (I wish I brought different shorts, I could have done the final loop with them! Yes, even after 15 hours on my feet, in the sun and up since 3:30 I wanted to go running…only 4.5 miles) the tiki torches were extinguished and we called it a night. Part of me felt guilty the last few minutes (maybe hour) I was less than involved with cleaning. My body just went into zombie mode and everything is a blur.

On the way back to my car, chair in bag over my shoulder, I couldn’t believe how wonderful of a day it had been. For something I was complaining about (having to get up early) I sure stayed involved and happy much longer. I was sad I couldn’t carry on to the next stop, but it was time for food and bed.

I took a bath (sweat + sunscreen + bug spray + who knows = eeeew skin) ate a sandwich and went to sleep! I was home for less than an hour. I woke up in the exact position I hit the bed in 11 hours later.

Today I checked the timing site and found Hope finished her first 100 miler (score) and my new hero (the car guy) did not make it. Nearly 300 people began this race, only a little over 100 completed it. Yikes. Much like Buckeye, you have to wonder if the heat were not a factor, how that number would change. Guess it’s part of what makes it so special when you cross the finish line.

CONGRATULATIONS to EVERYONE involved with the epic event! Here’s to many more successful years!

Body Wraps : My initial impressions

Wednesday I was super excited to try something I have heard about and been interested in for over 10 years. I recall being in high school and hearing the commercial for American Body Wraps. They still exist in other parts of Ohio, but not here. As a teen, I of course imagined and hoped every and any treatment was the cure to my “I’m ugly” syndrome. Tanning beds should instantly make me a perfect shade…make up should make my skin smooth…lemon juice should make me blond, and body a body wrap should make me lose 3 dress sizes. I’m older now and I’ve learned tanning beds are expensive, spray tans stain your friend’s car and your clothes, lemon juice makes you smell horrible and to turn brown hair blond takes a lot of time and money at the salon.

Imagine my excitement, when Groupon suggested I try a body wrap for 20 bucks!

Herbal Therapy Wraps is located about 20 minutes from my house and specialize in body wrap treatments. Since they are not a spa, they are able to offer services at a lower rate. Many spas will charge between 70-200 dollars for a single wrap. I do not think I am allowed to disclose fully the pricing I was offered, but I can say depending on the package you buy, the price per visit is between 20-30 dollars and each time you renew there’s a better discount offered. What would you need to keep renewing if it “works”. Well, from what I was told, the inch loss doesn’t become long term until the third or fourth wrap, when the treatment can get into and past the muscles to shrink fat cells. Also, many people enjoy the “feel good” benefits of it more than the physical looks.

I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was still hoping for glowing skin and 10 million inches of fat loss. My technician, Stephanie, explained in great detail what goes into the process. Feel free to read more about it on their website, linked above. If I go back, I plan to ask to take my own photos for a review, hopefully they will agree.

Client being wrapped. Taken from official webpage

First, the client is measured all over for an assessment. I was measured at my upper arm, middle arm, lower arm, chest, waist, tummy, hip, thigh, upper calf and mid calf. Really probably more too, but that gives you an idea. Then the client is wrapped in medical sized bandages (think giant ACE bandages) which have been pre-soaked in herbal mixes. At first the wrap feels very warm, but it quickly cools. Some of the wrap design depends on your goals. For me I wanted my chest to be lifted not reduced, so she wrapped me a certain way. Also, I wanted my butt to be lifted and reduced, so that involves a particular technique. You are wrapped in bra and underwear, cotton is the preferred material. I was warned if I drink a lot of water, I will feel a puddle form under me. Yum. After the wrap is applied, you are fitted in this giant spa suit. It’s hard to explain this thing…it’s a little stiff like plastic, but also movable. Ever see one of those cheap table clothes that are somewhat plastic for easy wiping? It reminded me of a suit of that material. Next, you are guided to the relaxation room. Or lounge, let’s not be too fancy.

Relaxation room w the lights on. From official webpage.

The relaxation room is very dimly lit, with the kind of music you would expect at a crystals and herbs shop to be playing. I was told to plop into a chair, it reclined and I was covered in a blanket. For 45 minutes I dozed on and off, I can’t sleep on my back, and my ponytail made me uncomfortable. Finally I am unwrapped and presented for measurements. After the 45 minutes I was soaking and needed to pee! I dried off and put on my dry/clean bra and underwear and awaited the results. Overall I lost 9 inches, which is easy to do when you lose a quarter inch from 100 spots (obviously the math here is wrong). Still, I lost a half inch from my waist, hip and thigh.

I was told to drink plenty of water for the next 2-3 days, but to always drink water anyway. 48 hours later I can tell you, I do not think it was just water weight I lost. I could truly see a reduction in my stretch marks on my hips, tummy and breasts. My routine was not changed much and I drank just as much water as normal. Friday is my official weigh in day of the week, and the half inches are still gone. One thing I didn’t like, I thought I smelled like the ocean or something for the past two days. No one said anything, but I don’t wear scented anything, so even a light scent drives me nuts.

I went in hoping for massive size lost, feeling great, and maybe getting rid of the pain in my knee. Two days later, I have minimal inch loss, feel like I have felt for weeks and the pain is still there.

THAT BEING SAID…aftermath realizations

I went to the CVNP fun run on Wednesday night (same night as body wrap). We ran a part of the Buckeye Trail for about 3.6 miles. I FLEW through the first part. I mean FLEW. This was part of the trail I ran in 15 min pace during the race and felt strong.  I was running just under a 13 minute pace that evening! I didn’t feel gross at all. Was it just what happens after a big race? Shorter feels better? Maybe for some, but I’ve never experienced it. We snacked on ice cream and fresh blueberries afterward! Yum.

Thursday evening I went out with CRTR. Jason Robillard was there giving a barefoot clinic. More on this aspect later. After the clinic we ran 4.7 miles on the trails, and we were all permitted to test a pair of Merrell pace gloves if we wanted. I’ve been meaning to use my minimal shoes more, so I went for it. I have done this route once or twice with a running group and few times on a hike. I always struggle. Again, I was flying last night. I was keeping a steady pace; I even managed to power up the hills. Steep hills, fresh with mud, which I normally slide down and curse.  Except for the muddy hills I ran the WHOLE THING and felt great! It was such a pretty night too. High humidity for the week, then a gentle rain fall right before the run, and just at the start of the sun setting. I was alone on the trail, since I opted to change shoes at my car and words don’t do it justice. Elegant fog, bright golds and reds from the sun. Amazing.

Back to back GREAT trail runs, with a great pace, no pain during, and minimal pain after…that includes in minimal shoes. Either my body magically adapted after the 50K in under two weeks, or there is more to body wraps then simple weight loss. I’m going with the latter.

Given the chance I would suggest everyone test out getting a body wrap. They offer a deal for first time clients, even without a groupon, to try for 20 bucks.

Angelcots and Bunchkins

One thing I have been trying to do this summer is eating healthier…such as eating more fruits and veggies. Honestly, I love fruits and veggies. I could and would eat them all day if given the chance. OK that’s a lie. I would and could if someone cut them up for me and walked around offering them to me whenever and wherever.

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The same reason I don’t do so well with cooking meats or other meals, although I am actually a good cook …is that I don’t like taking the time to prepare stuff. However, what could be easier than a fruit or veggie? Pull from basket or fridge, insert into mouth, ta-da! Yet, I don’t.

Now, I have a “good” reason for this…although many will not agree.

Braces. Yes, I am using my braces as an excuse once again. Hear me out. I can’t and don’t like to eat anything hard or too cold. In the past my fruits and veggies of choice included apples and whatever you might find on a veggie tray platter. None of those feel good in my mouth anymore. I need VERY soft and/or VERY warm foods. Cooked/steamed veggies = lovely.  Only I don’t want to cook or stream them. Some fruit = good, but not the fruit I taught myself to enjoy.

Naturally I am more than pleased when I come across a fruit/veggie I enjoy and don’t mind taking the time to insert it into my mouth. I am introducing you to two of my latest fruity finds! I saw each of these at my local Giant Eagle and had no clue what they were, but had to try them. Being unemployed also leads you to seeking out “quests” in your normal life.

In the past I have gone on other quests for other fruits and was not pleased. A few years ago I tried grapples (the grape flavored apple) and was les than impressed or convinced the advertising was correct. Maybe it was because I did and still do have a thing against red apples, but to me they just tasted off.

Apples are not the only fruit where I will eat one skin type and not another. Grapes also have this ranking system. Red grapes are OK, green grapes I can only do in a mix with other fruits, but black grapes…especially seedless black grapes…are A-MAZ-ING! I came across the below items about a month ago.

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They were small, cute, a fruit, and had a great name…so I took them home! After a little research I learned they are nothing more than champagne grapes. Still, they were BLACK champagne grapes, so I was sold! These little guys are awesome. Awesome in a salad.  Awesome in a cup. Awesome all the way around. If you have a chance, try them.

This past weekend I came across another interesting find.

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How could something with a halo steer you wrong?

No one at the store seemed to know what they were, but I wasn’t afraid. Again, after a little research I was able to uncover the mystery of the angelcot. Sadly, nothing too fancy or even a cool hybrid fruit. Just some California white apricot. Never fear, at least they are juicy and sweet and wonderful! As with the Bunchkins..if you have a chance, buy these babies too! I hear they are sometimes at Trader Joe’s.

What about all of you? What are some of your favorite “unusual” fruits? Do you have a ranking system for your fruits and veggies?