Flash Fiction Friday: Tree Wizard

113

The sun pierced the old man’s pale blue eyes despite the brim of his grey hat. The frayed hem of his grey robes rustled last year’s crumbling underbrush, as his quick steps pressed into the carpet of damp decaying brown leaves.

Yellow beaked blackbirds swooped low and chortled at his invasion of their woods so near their nest of chicks. Towering oaks and maple trees crowded against the single-track trail zig zagging lazily up the sunbaked side of Mount Klymene.

Abbernak giggled at the silly little feather heads and kept his pace steady toward his ramshackle home. For home was where he was bound, even if it was only for a moment. The rest among familiar smells and sounds would do his body and mind good.

Stopping at the edge of a small clearing, Abbernak listened. A redtail hawk screeched and dove after a cottontail among the purple and white wild flowers. The emerald green leaves rustled in the breeze. Abbernak scanned the world that stood before him and stepped into the clearing.

His tree was cuddled against the bend of a sparkling creek. The melody of water over the smooth stones reminded Abbernak of quieter times long past. He turned and again scanned the clearing, never can be too careful these days.

A glint of light lashed out of the ancient gnarled trees causing him to freeze. Standing stalk still he listened, the morning birdsong continued to drift among the branches, and the far off rustling of creatures scavenging the underbrush reached for his ears. Shaking his head, he placed a wrinkled hand on the equally wrinkled bark of the tree.  Closing his eyes, he whispered the familiar magic words, and stepped into his home.

A wooden staircase wound its way into the earth. With each confident step of Abbernak’s feet the luminescent moss clinging to the walls of the corridor brightened. At the bottom of the stairs stood a walnut door.It swung open without a sound. He stood there a moment and breathed in the sage, rosemary, and cedar.

A simple straw mattress lay to one side of the room along with four trunks, which contained mostly leather bound books filled with yellowed pages of elemental spells and creature conjuring.

From one of his many pockets, Abbernak pulled a set of small black iron keys. He fit one into a trunk. Neglected hinges gave a sigh of relief as he rested the lid against the wall. He was sure that the book he needed was in this trunk. One after another, the books rose from the trunk and rested on the floor in a neat stack. There it is, he thought. The deep crimson book with a charcoal eight pointed chaos star imbedded on the cover stared back at him.

I never thought I would need you, he thought. At least I had hoped I would never have to turn your pages in more than a casual interest. Times had changed indeed, if a son of neutrality was willing to sink his mind into pandemonium for a mere chance of a better life.  Perhaps he was mad, as all the other wizards of his order believed. Madness had a certain strength about it, for within madness was creation and destruction dancing hand in hand.

Abbernak sat upon the dirt floor, picking his teeth with a bit of stick contemplating the runes on the delicate pages. The runes skittered across the page until he placed his bony finger in the center and spoke an ancient word. He spent many hours hovered over the book. Page after page of spells swirled in his mind like a whirlwind. Thoughts careening into one another and weaving intricate nonsensical patterns that threatened to strip his grip on reality all together.

A crack like that of lightening striking a tree reverberated within his skull. Abbernak sunk to his knees, yanking at his matted brown hair, and choking on his own saliva. Then there was silence so deafening, Abbernak thought his ears were stuffed with wax.

A darkness descended upon the forest like a fog as thick as amber tree sap. Abbernak had not noticed until now that he was holding his breath. He let it out and began to climb the stairs to the surface.

The moon shone upon the world in a solitary beam of white light in the small clearing. He felt her presence before he saw her watching him from the shadows. The deep-set feline eyes of the necromancer sent ice dripping down Abbernak’s spine.

“All your brothers have fallen before me, begging for their souls,” she purred.

“You’ve tipped the scales too far, Nightlark,” Abbernak said, a hint of sadness creeping into his baritone voice.

“You and your balance. You are no different than the rest of the grey robes.”

“Balance can only be maintained so long as there is equal effort on both sides.”

“Then you have already failed, because the Shadow realm has made a snack out of the Light.” She stepped into the clearing. Purple robes gently waving in the fog surrounding her. Her golden eyes began burrowing into his heart. He gagged and fought for air. At last, she withdrew laughing.

“What is left for you now that your precious balance has been devoured?” she asked as she sent black mass of nebulous smoke gliding in his direction. He moved toward the heart of the clearing. His body was relaxed and his mind quiet.

“New growth,” he said.

His eyes flashed sapphire and green flames crackled in his hands. The flame arched and morphed into red lightening, and then contracted like a coiled snake. All the air in the clearing pulled into center. The fabric of time was wrenched open and chaos spread its great webbed wings.

Nightlark’s voice escaped her and her golden eyes locked on Abbernak. Thunder rumbled across the deep grey sky as the tree wizard released Chaos into the world.

Open Water Swim

polarbear1130 Image by robaquatics.com

Crap, I’m going to be late, I think to myself. Tapping my fingers and listening to my audiobook doesn’t make the traffic go any faster. Orange barrels dot the side of Interstate 15 as they do every summer. I just don’t understand how this road needs construction every freaking year. I’ve been making this 25 mile drive to and from work every day for seven years and every year there is road construction.

“I might be a little late,” I text Jeff.  I drop all my stuff onto my kitchen counter. The dogs dance between my feet as I try to remember everything I need to take for my first open water swim.

I open the door and they propel their bodies on their three-inch legs around the corner of the house along their well-worn trail in the grass, streaks of black and apricot fur and flapping ears.

Trisuit, check.

Goggles, check.

Swim cap, check.

Flip-flops, check.

Clothes to change into after the swim, check.

I think that’s it. One third of a cup of dog food is trickled into each little bowl. The screen door rattles as Ignacious jumps on it. “Hey mom let us in.” Annabelle yips and then sets her tail wagging causing a rippling effect all through her miniature body.

I hate to leave them right after I get home. It breaks my heart. They’ve been waiting for me all day.

“I’m sorry guys. I have to get this swim in before the race,” I said looking from Ignacious’s emerald green eyes to Annabelle’s golden brown ones.

Jeff, Mike, and I drive up to Pine View Reservoir, Jeff voicing his concerns about the swim, and me silently contemplating mine. We park at the dock. Putting on the wetsuit was not as bad as I had made my think it would be. I’ve totally got this, I think to myself. The swim of the triathlon has me nervous and has been a major obstacle to me registering for any tri. I feel crowded in a lane with one other person. At the tri, I’ll have to get in with two hundred other people around me, kicking and circling arms.

With flip-flops thwacking my heels, I walk down to the edge of the water. I feel like a whale in my borrowed wetsuit. It is a size too big for me, which means that water will be getting inside. Mike points to a white buoy out past an island.

“I think if we swim out there and back it should be about a mile,” he says. It looks really far away.

“That one way out there?” Jeff asks. He’s as nervous as I am. Breathing deep, I slip my foot into the luke warm water my toes seeking the rocks I know are going to be on the bottom of the lake. Soft sand wraps around them instead. I take a few steps feeling with my feet. I find the rocks, and then I find the edge where the earth drops away.

I glance back at Jeff who is getting in with as much trepidation as I am. I grin at him, crouch, and reach out with my right arm gliding along the surface of the water.

Art told me I would float with a wetsuit, but wholly crap I’m like a rubber ducky!

I stretch my left arm out and put my face into the water. One, two, three breathe. One, two, three breathe. I catch my arms dropping too early and try to hold it up, but my body is rolling to each side more than usual. My arm drops to try to balance me out.

Slow and steady, get your body under control, I tell myself. I relax and fly through the gentle waves. Rolling to my back I check to where Jeff and Mike are, I’m not waiting. Rolling back over, I stroke toward the bouncing buoy.

Every so often, I pull my head up out of the sienna colored water and lock onto the buoy. Once I reach it, I turn around and roll onto my back. Clumps of white cotton lie scattered in the sky as it does on my living room floor after the dogs have gotten a new stuffed toy.

The shore rises to meet me much sooner than I wanted. I stand up and water runs down my legs. Jeff and Mike are starting back toward shore from the buoy. Waiting for them to come back in is not my idea of fun, so I get back into the water and swim out to them.

Once we are all three on shore, we go up to the truck for some watermelon and water.

“We ought to swim out to the point on the island and back just to practice a little more,” Mike suggests.

The sun is setting behind the mountains when we reach the small island, as it dips below the peaks we slip back into the darkening water and race back to the mainland.

The swim was a huge boost to my confidence. My own wetsuit arrived today, and I’m going to try it out on Saturday. The gentle rolling waves is calling to me…

Perspective

lenses

The lenses through which we see the world are colored by our prior experiences in life. We are able to choose how we see situations and how we respond to them.

Choosing one’s perspective is one of the most powerful and effective parenting skills I have ever learned.

My arms were full of books, my lunchbox, and writing materials. I struggled to get the backdoor open. The dogs darted out the door between my feet. I pushed my way in and dumped my stuff on the dining room table.

“Hi bud, I’m home,” I called into the house.

“Are you ready to go Sky?” I asked my thirteen-year-old son. He stared at me blankly from the walnut brown loveseat.

“You have a doctor’s appointment in fifteen minutes,” I said. “Get your shoes and socks on, please. We need to leave.” I tossed him his shoes. He stood up and then stopped.

“I’m not going unless you take me to Game Stop,” he said. (Game stop is a video game store).

“You don’t have money for Game Stop.”

“Grandma gave you my twenty dollars yesterday.”

“Sorry, you owed me that from a month ago when you used money without asking.”

“You can’t just take my money.”

“I’m not just taking it. We talked about this when you earned it from grandma, and you agreed to give it to me because you took my money without asking. Get your shoes on we need to leave.”

“I’m not going.” He folded his arms across his chest and plopped into the couch.

“You will have to pay the cancelation fee.”

“I’ll only go if you take me to game stop.”

“I’m not taking you to game stop and I am leaving.” I walked out the door. I called for the dogs to come into the house.

The dogs ran into the house when Skyler opened the door to get in the car.

“I’m not answering any questions, and it better not take very long,” Sky said slamming the car door and buckling his seatbelt.

“Okay, but it will take longer if you don’t cooperate.”

In the lobby of the office, he sat curled into a ball on a chair in the corner lips pursed and eyebrows knitted together. He wrapped his arms around his knees glowering at everyone who walked passed.

“Hello, Skyler,” Dr. Davis said. Skyler stalks past to the office.

“Sky we need your height and weight come back in this other room, please,” I said and beckon him with my hand.

“No.” He sits in a chair in the hallway, folds his arms, and crosses his legs. He smiles.

“Has he grown? He seems a lot taller,” Dr. Davis said from in a small room with a scale.

“Yes, he has grown a lot actually,” I said.

“He looks thinner too,” Dr. Davis said. “I’m not sure how this measures height.”

“I can do it,” Skyler says popping out of the chair.

“129 lbs. 5 feet and 4 inches. Wow, you’ve grown two inches,” I said. “One more inch and you will be as tall as me.”

“Then I can pat you on the top of the head,” he said.

“Yes,” I said wrapping my arm around his shoulders.

He answered all of Dr. Davis’ questions, and we were able to leave within fifteen minutes. He didn’t ask about Game Stop the rest of the night. He was happy and compliant.

Skyler frequently demands that other’s met his needs in this manner.

Some parents and most people looking in from the outside of our family would see Skyler’s behavior as disrespectful and manipulative, and it certainly is that but it is also much more. It is a hurt child trying to get what he wants in an immature and hurtful way. I can choose to see him as a disrespectful manipulative child, or I can choose to see him as a child who is hurting and lacking in skills.

I can choose to respond to Skyler’s words, tone, or to the emotions underlying both of these. If I want to change my son’s behavior in the long run, I have to respond to his emotional need first and then address the words he uses and finally his tone.

What did Skyler need? He needed love and attention. He had been home by himself (13 years old) while I was at work, and he needed to know I cared about him. For Skyler, gifts make him feel loved. So, that was what he demanded to fill the void created by being alone.

If I had yelled at Skyler and demanded that he treat me with respect, he would have lashed out at me, and he would have felt rejected and unloved. He would not be willing to listen to me about how to ask for things in a more appropriate way.

By addressing his emotional state first, I free up his mental resources so he will able to hear and respond to what I say about the words he uses. The tone will have to be addressed at another date and time. Baby steps.

Wolf Moon Weekend

werewolf

The glaring light pierced my eye through the crack in the window curtains at 3:00 in the morning. Incoherent and blinded, I peered out to see what or who was in my backyard with a spotlight. It was the moon. Comforted, my head hit the pillow for another hour.

At 4:30 am, I stepped out the front door, clicked on my Garmin, and began putting one foot in front of the other going west along toward the farms on the outskirts of the city. Once I was out among the fields of amber waiving grain, I turned to look at the purple mountains to see if the sun was lighting up the canyons yet. Not quiet.

In the west was the Great Salt Lake and Antelope Island. Above the island was the moon. It was huge hanging there in the early morning sky watching the world go to sleep on one side and come to life on the other.

After ten miles, I met up with my friend Jeff, and we went south beginning a twelve-mile loop of long steady hills. We strategized our next relay race. Jeff will be my co-captain at Epic Relay, and we’ve never run a relay with time cut offs. We discussed nutrition, the Spudman triathlon, and Pony Express 100.

We began our last long climb along highway 89. Highway 89 has a speed limit of 55 mph. It is four lanes across and has a center turning lane. We pulled in behind another runner plodding along in our direction. I paused in our conversation and then said, “Was that what I think it was?”

The runner in front of us continued along the road, head down, so the wind from the traffic didn’t grab ahold of the bill of her hat.

“What?” he asked.

I stopped, turned around, and pointed to something on the edge of the highway. Just off the pavement, in the weeds and scattered gravel, lay what appeared to be a body. Black shoes stuck out the bottom of a thin grey blanket. Jeff stared. I stared. We stared at each other.

“Should I call?” I asked.

“Yes.”

“Let’s see if the person is alive first.”

Jeff nodded.

We took a few steps, and then a few more.  Now we could see the person was rocking back and forth a little. About two feet from the body, Jeff said, “Are you alright? Do you need some help?”

No response.

“Excuse me. Hello. Are you alright?” I said.

No response.

I stepped back and dialed 911.

I gave the dispatcher our location and explained that there was a person lying on the side of the highway wrapped in a blanket.

The man stood up. He was six feet tall. He didn’t look that big while lying there, I thought. His grey stubble on his chin was in high contrast to his milk chocolate skin. His eyes were bloodshot. His jeans were coated in black. The light brown jacket was worn white at the elbows. He turned and looked at me.

“Hold on, he just got up,” I told the dispatcher.

“Does he look alright?” she asked. The cars and sixteen-wheel diesel’s continued whipping by us.

“He looks okay. He’s walking south along the highway.”

“Should we send someone?”

“I think someone ought to check on him,” I said. He bent down and picked up two plastic grocery store bags caught in the yellow weeds. He again turned and looked at me with dim eyes.

“Alright we’ll send someone.”

“Thank you.” I hung up the phone.

Jeff and I continued and turned down a neighborhood street to finish our loop.

Back at home, I told Jasper (17) what happened and he said, “Probably a werewolf mom. Did you see the moon?”

Flash Fiction Friday: Frostfire

frostfire

The ice gods had forsaken the Mirawraith people. They sent the burning sickness among them scorching their young from the inside. Their small blue hued bodies twisted with the flames that licked at their muscles and organs as it fed on their internal frost. It devoured whole generations. The Elder Mother of the tribe warned the people not to turn from the old ways, but Kipland’s father, the chief had grand new ideas.

The Mirawraith were people of the cold. Frost clung to their essence. Kip had survived the burning sickness as a child, but was forever marked with crimson eyes and hair. She was one of the few. Most of the others fell in battle due to her father’s continued arrogance. The people dropped to their knees begging the ice gods for forgiveness, but it was too late. Chief Amun had gone too far by declaring himself equal to the gods.

Enormous fireballs rained from the sky. Searing yellow bolts of lightning lashed at Amun’s people. Those not burned from within were burned from without. With blackened, cracked, and oozing flesh the Mirawraith fled to the foot of the mountains.

That was ages ago, now Kip, one of last of her kind, struggled to free her foot from the two feet of crystalline snow. Her foot broke through the frozen outer crust with the transfer of her weight and dropped to the ground beneath. She forced her cracking determination to continue putting one foot in front of another.

Her breath came in heavy huffs turning to ice just past her sapphire lips. Snowflakes formed on her eyelashes and brows. Icicles hung in her crimson dreadlocked hair. She pulled a gray course fur cloak tighter around her shoulders. The elements of ice and fire were at war within her. Her fingers contorted with a searing internal fire. She grimaced and bit her lip.

A blue and purple marbled glacier loomed above her. The black and gray clouds rolled overhead like thick suffocating smoke. She wrapped one hand protectively around her swollen belly. It’s nearly time for this little one to break free and join the Mirawraith people.

She could feel the fire of his essence warming her from within. Her heart skipped a beat, knowing that his fire would be her undoing if he did not come soon. Kip leaned into the pressing wind stinging her face, and took another step. The leather harness around her shoulder tightened preventing another step. She looked behind her. Her eyes followed the rope to a small sled piled with food and furs. A mound of shaved snow bared the path of the runners of the sled.

She gripped the rope with her hands. Clenching her teeth, she pulled hard and pressed her right shoulder against the leather harness. The sled was jostled free. A low growl emanated from the furs. A moist black nose and emerald eyes peered out from under the pile.

“We’re nearly there Hailstorm,” Kip called to the obsidian wolfhound nestled in the warmth and safety of the sled. She couldn’t leave her behind, and there was no way Hailstorm’s broken ribs had healed enough for her to make this journey on foot.

The orange and yellow light of the sun sliced through the storm above for a second. Kip turns her ruby eyes from its burning light. The child’s body within her own twisted and caused a ripple to course through her stretched muscles. She must hurry.

They had tried to come to the life-giving cave a week ago, before the descent of the arctic winds from the north. Hailstorm had pulled Kip out of the path of an avalanche only to be swept away by the cascading ice and rock. Their survival was a gift from the gods. Hailstorm was her only companion now, and nothing could make Kip go on without her.

Hailstorm would have to be the one to gather meat for the months they would spend within the cave after the baby came. The cold intensified the child’s strange unnatural warmth. Kip was at home in this frozen land. Her child would not be. She had not figured out how she would manage to reconcile their differences, but they had not killed one another during the time they have shared her body.

A crackling rumble pushed through the night air as she stepped through the unseen veil at the mouth of the cave. The warmth of the life within her made her own body rebel against its frozen nature. She had made it just in time.

Quartz crystal of every hue clung to the walls and ceiling of the cave. A deep green moss covered the ground. The fur cloak fell from her shoulders revealing her sapphire skin, which was bare other than the deerskin camisole and loincloth she wore. She stepped into the turquoise spring at the back of the grotto. Walking into it depths, the muscles in her legs relaxed in the cold clear waters. Pins and needles clawed at her skin as the blood began to bring the inner heat to her skin. The vigor of the child within her made her wonder how she would ever provide for him.

The center of her body contracted sending shards of pain through her back. She let out a low moan and pulled her knees toward her chest. Squeezing her eyes closed hard, she exhaled through pursed lips and then let her breath go in a gust.

Small eyes like molten gold peered up at Kip, and a high-pitched wail escaped the child’s throat. Swirls of golden hair were plastered against his pale sapphire skin. Kip’s cold blue lips curled into a crooked grin and she pressed them to his warm skin.

Frostfire’s birth was proof the gods had not abandoned the Mirawraith, at least not her. His birth wove the elements into one. He gave them a reason to reclaim their lives and become great once again.

Labor and Deliver don’t make you a Mommy

Birth

Getting pregnant and giving birth do not make you a mommy. Many mommies never go through these experiences, and many women who do go through these experiences repeatedly never become mommies.

July 10 is my oldest son’s birthday. In a sense, it is also my birthday. It was the day I was reborn. The day he gave me a reason to reclaim my life. His gift was much greater than mine.

Some people believe that being a mom is instinctual. Maybe it is for some animals, but not for humans. For human’s, it is a choice. A choice one must make every morning upon waking.

Today I will love you more than I love myself.

Today I will put your needs before my own.

Today I will sacrifice my desires for yours.

Today I will work my fingers to the bone to see you smile and hear your laughter.

Today all that I do, I do for you with no expectation that you will provide something for me.

All birth parents love their children, but it is not always enough to overcome their own demons of addiction and violence. I have come to understand that love does not conquer all the dark and challenging things. In my corner of the universe, birth parents choose partners, drugs, gangs, fetishes, crime, and violence over their children.

Some will argue that it is out of love that a birth parent makes the choice to not be a mommy because they know that they are unable to do so for such and such a reason. I am not saying that relinquishing one’s parental rights to a child for adoption is not a noble and loving act because under many circumstances it can be. I have the utmost respect for a person who recognizes they are not in a good place to be a mommy or daddy and chooses to provide a better life for their child.

Through their choices, some parents cause irreparable harm to their children, who are drug along for the ride. As parents, all of our choices affect our kids, even the small decisions have a ripple effect. But most especially the big ones such as who to allow into our lives and the lives of our children.

Mommies are the gatekeepers for their children, twenty-four hours a day. We filter the world, its people and ideas, that come in contact with our children.  As our children grow, we stand guard alongside them and then we hand over keys to the gate. Our children learn who and what to allow in and to deny based upon our prior decisions.

So guard the gate well.

Relay on the Brain

What does it take to run an ultrarelay? Five of your closest friends, liquid awesome, and determination.

Most relays are about 200 miles total or thirty-tree miles a piece for six runners. Well, that would be the case if the legs were evenly divided between each runner, but they’re not. The total distance is broken up into 36 legs anywhere from 2 miles to 11 miles. Some positions may have a total mileage as low as ten miles, and others may be as high as twenty miles. While this is excellent for a twelve-person team (because you can have runners of all levels on your team), it could pose a problem for an ultrateam.

Running a relay is hard. In ways, it is more challenging than running a marathon. A marathon requires continuous effort for three to four hours for most people. A relay requires sporadic effort for 24-36 hours.

There are no rules on how you split the legs between your six runners. Option A: The easiest and most obvious would be that each runner would take two back-to-back positions. This maintains the three legs for each runner typical of a relay event. This makes each of the legs longer.

As an example, let’s look at how this would look for Ragnar Wasatch Back total distance 193 miles:

Runner one on an ultrateam would run both position one and two totaling 36.6 miles

Runner two on an ultrateam would run both position three and four totaling 33.9 miles

Runner three on an ultrateam would run both position five and six totaling 32.6 miles

Runner four on an ultrateam would run both position seven and eight totaling 26.4 miles

Runner five would run both nine and ten totaling 33.4 miles

Runner six would run both eleven and twelve totaling 33.5 miles

Option B: You could also split it up, so each runner runs shorter distances, but runs six times:

Runner one would run both position one and seven 33.2 miles

Runner two would run both position two and eight 29.5 miles

Runner three would run position three and nine 38.2 miles

Runner four would run position four and ten 29.2 miles

Runner five would run position five and eleven 38.1 miles

Runner six would run position six and twelve 28.2 miles

Option WTF: Things get more complicated if you have both ultrarunners and non-ultrarunners on the team. There are an infinite number of ways you can split it. This is just an example from the Red Rock Relay total 186 miles

Run one runs legs 1, 13, and total miles 10.8

Runner two: first run legs 2 and 3, second run legs 19-24, third run legs 31-32 total miles 54.5

Runner three first run leg 4, second run legs 14-17, third run leg 35  total miles 33.6

Runner Four first run leg 5, second run legs 10-12, third run legs 33-34 total miles 33.5

Runner Five first run legs 7-9, second run legs 26-29, third run leg 36 total miles 39.6

Runner six runs legs 6, 18, and 30 total miles 13.4

 

Option A is the most rational choice. Runners have the longest time to recover, sleep, and eat. It maintains the classic three legs per runner. Frankly, I think it is easier to run longer three times in a twenty-four hour period than running shorter six times during a twenty-four hour period.

For an ultrateam, there are increased risks of dehydration and heat stroke.

  Dehydration Heat stroke Heat exhaustion Hypoatremia
Symptoms Thirst

Dry mouth

No sweat (clammy)

Lightheaded

Weakness

Less urine

Temp 105

Throbbing head

No sweat

Red hot dry skin

Muscle weakness

Cramps

Nausea/vomiting

Rapid/shallow breathing

Rapid heartbeat

Confusion

Disorientation staggering

Seizures

unconsciousness

Confusion

Apple juice urine

Dizziness

Fainting

Fatigue

Headache

Muscle cramps

Nausea

Pale skin

Profuse sweating

Rapid heartbeat

Craving salt

Confusion

Convulsions

Fatigue

Headache

Irritability

Loss of appetite

Muscle spasms or cramps

Muscle weakness

Nausea

Restlessness

vomiting

treatment Get out of the sun

Walk or stop

Drink water

Get out of the sun

Place ice on neck and groin

Get in cold water

Take to hospital if no improvement

Get out of the sun

Place ice on neck and groin

Get in cold water

Walk or stop

Electrolytes

Salty food or S-caps

No water

Take to hospital if no improvement

 

Good advice whenever you are running an ultra is be prepared for anything and take care of problems as early as possible. If your stomach starts to act up or you have a hot spot, it’s probably not going to get better in 20 more miles. It’s going to get worse, so you need to do something about it as early as you can.

My team keeps a cooler in the van full of ice and giant sponges. We use them to cool off runners during the heat. Other teams use spray bottles, squirt guns, and fertilizer spray jugs. I have found that the sponge seems to work the best and keeps the runner cool the longest. They do end up soaking wet by the end of their run. For runners who get blisters with wet feet this can be an issue so a lubricant like hydropel, which is waterproof, would be a good idea as well as lots of extra socks. The ice-cold water squeezed above the runner’s head can be shockingly refreshing, as noted by the sharp inhale of breath and the “oh my god!” reactions.

 

Training for a relay race requires you to run three times in one 24-hour period. Your body responds differently under these conditions. It is just smart to know how exactly your body responds so you can be ready for it, and you know if what you are experiencing is due to the multiple runs or some other issue or injury. Many people think, “Oh, I can run three miles,” the length of one leg.  Rather than “Oh I can run 10 miles,” the total of all three legs.  The final leg for each runner is more like the last six miles of a marathon than just another three miler because you haven’t eaten well, you haven’t slept well, you may be dehydrated, and you are probably sore and tight. Keep in mind that your first run affects your second run and runs one and two will affect run three. They are too close together to not affect each other.   There is not quite enough time in between each leg to recover. Recovery takes eight hours or more of good down time. Think in total miles, not single legs. If you do, you will be prepared for this run.

 

Locating your runner in the dark is a bit of a challenge because everyone is required to wear a headlamp, reflective vest, and tail light. I add glow sticks to my runners, usually through their shoelaces

Stomach issues are common among ultrarunners. Keeping various options on hand to address stomach problems is essential for any ultra. Pepto-Bismol, ginger chews, tums, and ginger ale are all good options.

A relay is great for first time ultra because you have your crew right there to provide aid, encouragement, and anything else you may need along the way.