Saturday, December 8, 2012

Grand to Grand Ultra

So I know it's been quite a long time since running in the Grand to Grand Ultra in September - but time has been short, and I've been struggling to find the words to sum up this amazing event as well! So what's the best thing I can do? Will do a quick recap - but really summing it up with pictures I've taken off of facebook, via fellow runners and the G2G site. Pictures are worth a thousand words no?! Short and sweet summary..... If you have the means (time, money) to do this race DO IT. It's an incredible event, like no other I've experienced. I was worried about my performance a bit, since I had found out I was running it 20 days before but made my mind up to go there and enjoy the experience 100 percent! Big thanks to Ray Zahab and Impossible2Possbile for making the race happen for me. I traveled to G2G as an ambassador for them, and every minute was an amazing experience that I won't soon forget. Originally it was supposed to be team i2P but we wound up running as individuals - as the other team in the race, the Backpacker Magazine team was short one individual. (I found this out when I arrived in Utah and was somewhat relieved, as I was nervous about being the weakest link and didn't want to hold the guys (John Zahab and Brian Henderson) back!) Even though we ran the race as individuals we all ran together for the long stage - 47 miles. I caught up to them after a couple miles during that stage and that was that - we spent several hours running, walking, climbing, and (for me anyway) literally CRAWLING up sand dunes. The crawling was a tad embarrassing ;-) During this stage I thought lots of my dear friend Micah True as it was the 6 month anniversary of his passing. Before I shut off my cell, just before the race, my son had let me know that Micah's girlfriend Maria sent me some stones and a lovely memorial card. Still miss him every day and thankful for him, Maria and Guadajuko. The days came and went - I spent most of the day after the long stage walking due to pretty serious shinsplints that lasted the rest of the race, but hooked up with some really great guys for the last 5 miles - Kanab Dave and Vincent. We laughed so much and had a great time b.s.'ing that all pain seemed to disappear for those miles. I'm so lucky to have run into them! Then - the final day. Even though the miles were short, I was dreading this day. Why? The map was showing it as all uphill. I have a hill complex. (translation - I suck at them) Although a little miracle occurred for me, and it was mostly thanks to my smart ass-isms. There was to be three waves of runners going off for the last stage. Ray wanted to put me in the 2nd wave, but I told them he better put me in the 1st as I thought I would probably be walking most of it. He did, and I heard him say later that night he was waking up in the morning and would be marking the course for us runners before we start. In my typical smart ass-ism manner I laughed and said "Hey aren't you worried that I'll catch up to you?!" hahaha. Looking at me he said "You know LC the thought actually crossed my mind." Hmmmmm. It was then that my new goal was set. Catch up with Ray and the others marking the course. Didn't know if I would, but hey - it was the last day and worth a shot! We started out early and it was dark. Bonus points for no sand. I got in front and never looked back, going as fast as I possibly could. Some parts were technical, and since I was trying to haul ass I did fall a few times. Got up, brushed myself off - and kept on. After awhile I saw lights ahead of me and grinned. I think I can do it!! Is all I thought. Well, dummy me I did!I say dummy me because #1 there was no aid station yet where there should have been one and #2 I made the mistake of thinking I would just casually trot up the hill with them while they marked the rest of the course. Wrong. I caught up, they were done with there glow sticks - and Ray said let's go now we'll run up together!! WHA??!! All I could think was this is what I got for always being a smart ass! There would be no casual la dee da up the hill. I had (or I thought I had) used up everything to catch up with them, but now I had to run even faster. And on hills. And with one of the world's greatest super athletes. I got over my "oh shit" moment and dug in to what I didn't know I had. My friend pushed me up the hills at a pace I didn't know I was capable of for hills. Granted I sounded like Darth Vader doing it (while Ray didn't even seem tired!!) - but did it! In the end it made me realize I can do more than I think I can. I am stronger than I think I am. Pain - the pain in my legs was still there but somehow I pushed it aside. The mind is an incredible thing. The greatest challenge in ultras is not necessarily physical, but mental. I had heard it before, but never quite experienced it. I came out of it LOVING hills (gasp!) I may not necessarily be the best at them, but am really looking forward to the challenge of getting better on them! Ray and I crossed the finish line as the G2G crew was just setting up the finish line banner. It was nice to see everyone finish and be able to congratulate everyone. Soon we all loaded up onto the busses and made our way to Las Vegas, for an amazing dinner and night at an amazing hotel. I was lucky enough to get my own room (which was amazing!!) thanks to Ferg Hawke. See I took his place on team i2P - and shortly before I left he sent me a message stating he had paid for a private room. He offered the room to me - and even though I offered to pay him for it he refused. SUCH an awesome guy!! When I opened the door to my room I couldn't believe it, had never stayed in anything so amazing before. Shortly after arriving the festivities began. (formal...GASP!!) I felt a bit awkward in a dress, but it was better than smelling like 7 days of funk. And I was with some pretty great people. What could be better :-) G2G in pictures: None of them I took - but gives you a feel of what the race was like:

Wednesday, September 19, 2012






TERRAIN: Hard packed sand, soft sand, sand dunes, forest trails, shallow river crossings, rocky roads and slot canyons.

START: North rim of the Grand Canyon

FINISH: The Grand Staircase

Total ascent over the entire course is 21,791ft (6,642m). Total descent is 17,965ft (5,476m).


STAGE 2 - 28 MILES/45 KM

STAGE 3 - 44 MILES/71 KM

STAGE 4 - 24 MILES/38 KM

STAGE 5 - 26 MILES/42 KM

STAGE 6 - 15 MILES/24 KM

CHARITY: Impossible2Possible will receive a portion of the proceeds from this event!!!

How did I get sucked into this one?! It wasn't hard. I got a text sometime Sunday night less than a week before I was supposed to run Pine Creek 100. "Call me, 7 a.m." Whaaa?? An unusual text had me wondering. Was everything ok? What happened? Hoping it was nothing bad, I called Ray at 7 Monday. "Got any plans at the end of September?" Was the first thing I heard. Hmmmm - no I sure didn't! Ray then proceeded to tell me about G2G, how they were down a man on team i2P and could I join the team in his place? I was excited of course, but doubtful that work would give me the time off. So, I held in any excitement thinking I would get shot down - due to it being month end, and the fact that we've had a bit of a mass exodus of people out of our department recently. I went to my manager, who went to her manager - and quickly heard "YES". YES. HOLY SHIT! Game on. I let Ray know I was in and then actually started to think about it for a minute. Now I was very very excited - and very very scared! The teammate who can't make it? Ferg Hawke. I am DEFINITELY no Ferg Hawke!! Ferg is one of Canada's - and the world's top ultra runners. I hoped the other two teammates knew what they were getting in me!! Laurie who?! Ha. So there it is. I have joined team i2P, we are a team of 3 people. Myself, John Zahab, and Brian Henderson. This will not be a relay, but a joint effort with all three of us running each mile together. For a split second I thought of running both Pine Creek 100 and G2G but quickly changed my mind. These two guys have been training their hearts out all summer and I wasn't about to get selfish and greedy with races and potentially damage the run that they've worked so hard for. Pine Creek OUT, Grand2Grand IN.

I had 22 days to prepare. Yes I had the miles in training for the 100, but none run with a 20 pound backpack! Trust me, that pack makes a huge difference. Hell, I didn't even have a pack!! (Since the race is unsupported, we have to carry all our food and gear with us for the entire journey - backpacks, sleeping bags, all of it)

The first weekend was spent running with a 20 pound weight vest. Thankfully was joined for a bit by my hubby, Zack Johnson, and Tim Harber on one of the days. I ordered a pack, had it shipped overnight and the following weekend was spent running with that. (There's even an extrordinary difference between the weight vest and the pack, as the weight in the weight vest is so evenly distributed therefor making it a bit easier) **but both are killer workouts! ;-) This past weekend was no different, ran with the pack. And that's it. That's my training for Grand 2 Grand. AYEEEEEEEEE!! I spoke with John over the phone about the run, what we would be eating, drinking, and wearing and he sounds like a great guy. Just crossing my fingers and hoping I can keep up with these guys and their speed!

I've not had enough time to research lightweight gear, packing, etc as much as I wanted since it's so last minute - but I have had some help in Ray as he's letting me borrow some of his stuff. Sleeping bag, sleeping pad, and Canada Goose jacket - all super lightweight stuff. (A friend is someone who lets you borrow their jacket to wear day after day when you'll be completely nasty and sweaty and won't be showering!) We went over some things via Skype video this weekend and he'll be looking at my pack when I get to Kanab, as I think it's heavier than it really should be.

This month has been a whirlwind of activity, planning, coordinating, you name it since I found out. Lots of phone calls and texts to Canada ($$$ !!!!) It's been stressful but exciting at the same time. That's what makes this great. The unknown. The fear of not knowing. Wondering what it could possibly be like. Wondering if I can do it. Wondering if I can keep up with some great dudes. And - nothing beats your first time. You will never have another first marathon, first 50k, first 50 miler or 100. The raw emotions experienced on the "first" of anything completely pump me up. There's just nothing like it. So - my first unsupported stage race. Grand2Grand. WONDERFUL!

For those wishing the follow along during the race, the race website will be updated at:

For those who wish to send me some positive vibes during the race, you can actually send me emails! (Trust me, running with these 2 speedy guys I'm going to need all the positive vibes I can get!) All you do is send an email to In the subject line put "Name of Participant - Laurie Colon" or whichever participant you choose to contact. (it would also be awesome if someone can send me updates on my NC24 friends and Steve and Rachel at Virgil as well!!! Please!!!!)

The Grand to Grand facebook page will be updated as well, look them up, "like" them on facebook for info!

I leave tomorrow morning. I will be flying out of Akron/Canton at 11:25 and arriving in Las Vegas around 3:40 tomorrow afternoon. I will spend one night in Las Vegas (paid $44 for a room - ummm I hope I am NOT getting what I paid for with that)! Friday afternoon I will meet up with other runners and we will all get shuttled to Kanab, Utah. We'll spend one night in Kanab and the next morning wake up and do some prerace briefings, check ins, etc. Following all the neccessaries, we will then get shipped to camp site one where we'll enjoy a catered dinner and one last sleep before the race starts on Sunday. It ends the following Saturday and is finished with a great celebration in Las Vegas. Wish me well all! I'm gonna need it! I definitely don't want to let the team down so I'll be giving it my all and then some out there! I'm so incredibly grateful for this opportunity, there's just no words I have to describe how excited and thankful I feel! And nervous. And scared. But you know what - no matter what happens, I'll be running happy :)

Monday, September 3, 2012

Burning River 100 and Beast of Burden Crew/Pacer Reports!

Lots has happened since my last blog post! My family and I visited my brother in Myrtle Beach and my husband has run his second 100 miler. I paced hubby at Burning River and my friend Kathy at Beast of Burden, my son started school again as well as cross country - and got accepted into the Perry Fire Explorers program. The little bugger is getting his temps in a couple weeks. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Busy as always!

After a very good running season my husband was more than ready for Burning River. The race was held at the end of July.
Like a big dummy, I forgot to charge my camera. So this is the only pic that we have. (Thanks Chaney!) The week was like any other, busy - and the night before the race my son had an interview with the Perry Fire Department's Fire Explorer Team. (HE GOT IN!!!)
Being the interview was late at night and after work - I had tons to do to prepare for the weekend. Hubby went to bed early as he should have, however chauffer duties and crew duties kept me up for quite a bit of time. Long story short I got a whole 3 hours of sleep the night before I would be up 24 hours plus! In the end lack of sleep wasn't an issue though, as I had not had any caffeine for a month, and just a small amount of coffee sent me through the roof. Problem solved. One of them. In the morning I woke up, jumped out of bed and felt a stabbing pain shooting through my foot. Not knowing what it was I tried to keep it to myself as I had to pace the old man for 38 miles. I was hoping it would go away FAST. I pushed it into the deep dark part of my mind and got the family ready and off we went! BR 100 start! The foot hurt during pacing duties even after popping one Aleve before pacing (do not recommend) at some point after we finished the pain went away. *POOF*! Like magic. I don't know what the heck it was but glad it didn't last.

Many friends were running this race so it made time at the aid stations fun. Eventually though everyone spread out and settled into their pace.

At the halfway point my sister came out so we could take my car to the finish, and so she could drop me off at the next aid station, all in time to pace my hubby. Maybe not such a bright idea, as I already know - every single race, no matter what the distance halfway in hubby starts the mental business. He gets nervous, starts to think about how bad 100 miles hurts, etc., you name it. Sure enough when I was at the parking lot at the Nat I got a phone call from a poor volunteer at an aid station....Husband said don't forget this, husband said grab that, blah blah blah (bless her heart for satisfying him and calling me!) All I could do was laugh and say "Ok". My sister dropped me off at the aid station and I waited, talking with some friends and waiting some more. This time last year I was waiting for him in the dark here, but this year there was PLENTY of daylight to go around! All of a sudden I saw him, grabbed my gear and we were off - 38 miles to go! It was nice running through the ledges when it was light out. Hubby was feeling tired, but really pleased with the time he was making. He was so far ahead of what he did last year - just amazing!


Enter in the hubby shuffle. He slowed to a walk, but mostly it was just mental. I could tell from last year, he was still feeling strong. So I had said, "Well just try and walk every minute, then run the next. I'll tell you when it's time to start and stop". That worked for awhile, but I could tell when I started to annoy him with the whole "RUN" now "WALK" bit. Quite frankly, I was starting to annoy the hell out of myself, too! Soooo I decided to trick him a bit :) I started to make a shuffling sound, like I was running - and thought maybe that would work. VOILA ! Sure enough it did! Every time he stopped, I'd wait a minute or two then break out the shuffle. (Now that he knows what I was doing I don't think that will work again, ha!) Soon he didn't have long to go (don't recall since I'm a blogger slacker but it was 3 miles I believe). He really picked up the pace during this portion. As if he got a bit of an adrenaline rush, or just a rush because "thank god this shit's about to end" or something, I'm not sure - but he really pushed it through to the end to get a near 6 hour p.r. on the course! This race ends his running season for the year and so proud of him! He's really come a long long way. Way to go babe!!


One of my favorite races, Beast of Burden was held at the end of August in Lockport New York. What makes this race so awesome? Bottom line: the people. Just extraordinary. It's like a family! (Funny in running, you gain more than friends but family - it's great! I've got i2P family, Copper Canyon family, BoB family - love all of it!)

Early in the morning I volunteered at my son's XC fun run 10k - manned a water station and took some pics for the team.

My hubby got off of work, met us at XC and we were then headed off to Lockport! I had the awesome job of pacing my friend Kathy for part of her first 100 mile finish, which was incredible! We got to the finish line and waited for Kathy's husband, Ray Zahab. In the meantime I snapped pictures (of course!) and talked with some friends - no wait - -family!!

Not too long after Ray showed up with his friend Nathalie. Her husband Jeff was pacing Kathy, we got the low down on what was going on and chatted for a bit. Then Kath came and her, Ray, and I were off for the next 12-ish miles! They're fun people to run with, easy going and just great people. We soon got to the turnaround and I went with Kathy for the next 25 miles. I can say out of everyone I've paced, I have NEVER ever seen anyone run so much as Kathy during! She was amazing and got a kick butt time out there! It was great getting to know her more and be out there with her - truly an inspirational woman, and seeing her cross the finish line was extraordinary! And I might add, a mother of two young kiddos....apparantely to someone's surprise at the finish line - I just heard a gasp and..."WOW, she's a MOM?!" from someone. I smiled and thought... Heck yeah man! Moms are TRUE Badasses :) CONGRATS KATHY!!!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Training, I2P Updates, Eat and Run Review, Salomon Pack Review, and More!


The last few weeks of training have been going great, I have an awesome schedule thanks to Ray Zahab and have also been going to a self myofascial release class.  My running schedule has been building up in intensity and miles slowly but surely, just the way it should be. All my pieces and parts are feeling fabulous and I'm getting more excited every day!  The self myofascial release class is great, and I have learned a few handy tips.  All of a sudden I'm finding myself more flexible than I have ever been at any point in my life.  For the first time ever (EVER!!!) I can put my palms on the floor when stretching my hammies.  VICTORY!!!  
Before going to class due to many years of running and not stretching,etc I felt a bit like this:

And NOW I feel like this:



The youth ambassadors for Expedition Africa 2012 have been announced!  Congrats to all the youth who will make the extraordinary journey with the Impossible2Possible team!  These youth will travel for free to Africa, and will be running in Botswana!  Throughout their journey they will be relaying tons of information back to classrooms that have signed up for I2P's free program.  Teachers please don't miss out on the chance for your class to particpate in this extraordinary learning adventure!! The expedition details can be found here.  Teachers  - to sign your classroom up you can go to the Impossible2Possible site! Check them out!

Congrats kids! Enjoy your journey!


I've finished reading Scott Jurek's book "Eat and Run".  It's a great read - has some recipes that I'm excited to try and is written well.  It was a bit strange for me reading the book and reading about some people I know (Leah, Caballo, Valmir).  The book wasn't terribly long (translation: working, training, mom, wife can read in a respectable amount of time).  Grab the book and check it out! You won't be dissapointed!    


I've had a few hydration packs in my day - but this one so far is the best.  Previous hydration packs of mine have all been Nathan and Camelbak products.  Those served their purpose, but they weren't fabulous.  I had been watching my hubby run in his Salomon pack for almost a year now, and longingly looked at the way it just seemed to form to his body.  It looked so comfortable, I had to try it. 

When I received the pack I immediately thought it was made just for me, as their was a special little spot just for my chapstick! (FYI, Yes I am a chapstick addict.) From this point forward, it was instant love.....

I hadn't run with a hydration pack since October, so I assumed I would come off the first run having sore shoulders, as that typically happens with my Nathan and Camelbak.  I was relieved to feel no pain at all! The pack, true to what I saw on my hubby, formed so well to my body and was so comfortable. There are many little pockets for extra things, with the larger pockets more torwards the back (If I would change anything about the pack, it would be to move those larger pockets closer to the front of my body).  Due to this even distribution of items due to the locations of the pockets, etc, etc. there is one small problem. Anytime I fell while running on the trail with my Nathan or Camelbak, the one single main compartment would be so full of crap that when I landed it felt like I was landing on a pillow! During some races it was damn near comfy and I wouldn't want to get up. (seriously) With the Salomon pack everything is so well distributed, I don't get that big pillowy cushion :) Hopefully that translates into faster running times since I'll get up faster!


Big shout out this week to my sis, Kelly - who came running with my son and I at Girdled Road.  Her max distance thus far has been 5k, road.  She hit the trails Tuesday with determination and grit, and conquered those hills! CONGRATS SIS!!!


Last Weekend was the traditional Young Eagles free airplane rides operating out of the Geauga County Airport in Middlefield, Ohio.  I've taken my son nearly every year since he was old enough, and he always has a blast!

This year we took my son's friend Christine along for some airplane action - it was her first time on a plane and when she landed she was all smiles. These pilots are quite extraordinary as they use their own money for fuel for these flights, with most of them flying kids around for 4 hours - each group of kids getting 15-20 minute flights.  The lucky kid who gets to sit in the front of the plane gets to fly for a bit as well! Kudos to EAA Chapter 5 -thanks guys for another great flight!


With no volunteering duties we were lucky enough to have LOTS of free time last weekend! On top of the Young Eagles flight we were able to see my friend, Dan Holt, perform at the Beck Cafe in Lakewood.  It was SO unbeilevably nice just sitting outside, relaxing and listening to great music.  Thanks for the invite Dan!  Hopefully we can come out to more of these!

Yesterday was my husband's birthday.  He awoke to a car decorated to the fullest extent!

Party pooper that he is he drove his motorcycle to work.  Booooooo.

Father's Day was spent with my hubby. No car decorating involved. We went out to eat, played some mini golf, and went to the movies. My husband's movie of choice: Men in Black III.  I groaned a little bit on the inside when he told me that's what he wanted to see, but it actually wasn't half bad.  (Not really worth a trip to the movies for though!)

The day before Father's Day we went to Cedar Point, but not before going on a 3 a.m. "Goodbye Run" for Scott McGrew! Scott and his wife Bri moved to Washington (state).  I wish we would have had more time to hang out with them, as they are really great people who we're going to miss.  Scott had paced me at Beast of Burden 100, summer - and I paced him at Oil Creek 100.  My family and I met Bri and Scott at the Cleveland Marathon last year, right before my son was heading out to run his first marathon. 

McGrew family we will miss you! But remember......


Happy Running all!