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Type of Race/Course: Desert, hilly, rocky, sandy trail - some single track, some very rocky, others lots of fun. Expect uphills and downhills.
Location: McDowell Mountain Regional Park, Arizona; Entrance fee = $6 USD
Organisation and volunteers: Excellent organisation. For a change I did not get lost on the trail! It was so well marked :-)
CPs: @ every 3-6 miles with water, gatorade, salty snacks, sandwiches/bean rolls, chocolate, oranges, bananas and excellent, encouraging volunteers.
Weather: 32 degs F - 57 degs F; sunny
Start Time: 07:30
Finish: Ends at start point
Post Runner Recovery: Lots of food/drink

Event's website: http://www.aravaiparunning.com

Having been in Arizona once before, I had expected hot, dry,sunny afternoons and  cool mornings. I had not expected to find ice on my windscreen that I could not scratch off with my bare hands! Emergency shoe, well sandal, saved the day becoming an adequate ice scrapper.

Thankfully got to the park 15 minutes before the start, to a relaxed atmosphere and a breakfast banquet table. Pledge tyre in one arm, Reu in the other, we were ready to recruit runners/volunteers/spectators/others to think more seriously about the trash they generated and to pledge to reduce their single use plastics with a B.Y.O. (Bring Your Own) attitude. Thank you to the organisers for promoting the B.Y.O cause and thank you to everyone who has pledged to reduce their single use trash with B.Y.O. The tyre is now living in Paradise Valley High School to encourage the change makers (students) to find a solution to our society's apathetic attitudes towards trash.
For a slight difference in the journalling, thought you might like a video log and some waffle about the run, the weather and the location.....which I thought was "mind delicious"....could have spent a day taking photos if time permitted....I love them 1...2...3... hundred year old cowboy cactus.

Hardest part of the event was the last 5-6 miles. On 3 occasions it looked like the trail would take us back to the finish point, and then an evil bend would appear to take us further away....a mind torture. There was a final sado-masochistic short steep climb to the finish. It was awesome!

In summary - an excellent organised event and probably my favourite for the year based on the scenery.
PictureHanding over Rizzy to Jack Clark (CREST)
Monday 9th December:
Paradise Valley High School

It was time to give the pledge tyre a name and a home at Paradise Valley High School and CREST.

Here we met the change makers of the future. The generation who can make a difference by changing their ways, find ways to make it easier for their parents and relatives to change their ways.

It was time to pass on the dream to have a zero trash society:
- that reuses and repairs "trash" at home
- and what cannot be reused or repaired is then upcycled or recycled and in turn is again reused

...Thus reducing the poisons we release back into our environment as well as our demand on resources and our impact on our precious rain forest resources. Some will go for the baby steps provided with the B.Y.O attitude, and others in the school will guide the way to help their home, school and society become totally sustainable.

The dream is possible with a bit of determined effort....just as a "gal" drags a tyre in a 50K marathon.

Found dumped and alone in an alley, our pledge tyre was named Rizzy (as in Resilient) by the resident sustainability instructor, Andrew Bernier. May Rizzy inspire many more students to be the change that the world needs.

Thank you to the brilliant teachers for their support and the classes who listened.

 
 
Picture2006: My first beloved tyre called Trang
I am writing this entry to my fellow runners, most excellent volunteers/crew, fellow people who enjoy nature, and any spectators out on the McDowell Mountain Frenzy on the 7th December.

Although I like to hear people chatting away, on the day, we won't have time to chat. My run is your fast walking pace. This means whilst you can comfortably talk to me when you are beside me, I will be gasping for air. If you should chance upon me from mile 20 onwards, and unless there is time in the bag (there rarely is), I will be looking to finish the event before the end time.

So what is with the tyre?

The tyre has become my buddy in all 39 marathons I have completed. For the McDowell Mountain marathon, I will be taking Reu.

PicturePulling a pulk to the North Pole
In 2004, I had decided I would go to the North Pole in 2008. In 2006, I convinced an amazing woman called Matty McNair to be my buddy and guide. So I needed to get down to training! I dislike training and the only running I liked then was to run after a ball in touch rugby or hockey.

I had to find an incentive and so I entered the Singapore marathon, Dec 2006, since it is where I grew up and is my family home. I managed to do some training towards it (looking back it was pretty pathetic), and then in Dec I coyly stepped onto the line at the back of the crowd of marathon runners. On that day, I had a number of people/reporters tell me I would not complete the marathon and secondly I was only a woman!!! So with pure determination, I completed the marathon and went on to complete 2 others and one 40 miler before going to the North Pole.

PictureA landfill for household trash
Having been injured by the end of each of those first 4 marathons, decided to do a running course in 2009. To prove the tyre and my footwear were not the issue, I took my tyre into 10 marathons in 10 months in 2010, sometimes running in sandals. No injuries. Somewhere in one of those marathons, a challenge was made to do a 100 marathons with my tyre to join the 100 marathon club. I accepted (well how could I not when this lady in her 70s who has done 180 something marathons put down that challenge!).

Yes it is a burden pulling a tyre. Many have told me to drop the tyre - I would be soo much faster!.. but I have a challenge to fulfill. What has kept me going is being able to highlight the burden of trying to reduce our own trash and our consumption of resources in our rapidly developing societies.

PictureEffects of plastic trash in the oceans
As developed nations move towards an automated disposable society, our minds have become apathetic to how much trash we really contribute. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency(EPA), in 2011, the US produced over 250 million tonnes of municipal trash. Of that 31 million tonnes was plastic trash and only 8% of that was actually recovered for recycling. That means @ 28 million tonnes was either landfilled, incinerated, sent to China to dispose of who probably sold some of that back to us in another format, or somehow has found its way into our oceans.

Now you might have heard about the great plastic oceans. There is plastic in all oceans and someone has provided a conservative estimate of about 315 billion pounds (143 million tonnes) - some say is twice the size of Texas! So the yearly rate of plastic trash, the US creates, amounts to about just under 1/2 the size of Texas (if my maths is correct).

PictureReu's stats: Weight=10kg/22lbs; Width=60cm
I Need Your Help...
I need your help, 'cos many people can make a difference.....to pledge to reduce your single use plastic trash. Make BYO (Bring Your Own) your mojo. BYO:
- Thermal cups for take away coffees
- Take out containers for take away
- Bag for shopping
- Bottles for water
- etc

Please sign my tyre as your pledge :-) and let us jointly guide the next generations.

Thank you for reading and see you on the 7th Dec!

 
 
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The Day of the Dead RD had found an abandoned tyre, and knowing TG's affinity for tyres gave it to her. Its treads and ribs were pitted and embedded with razor edged stones.

As the RD made his announcements before the start of the race, TG butted in.

TG: Ladies and Gentlemen, Runners, Spectators and Volunteers: Today I will run with a tyre to signify it takes a lot of effort to reduce our trash. I would like you to help me, to pledge to reduce your single use plastic trash. To concrete that pledge, I would like you to sign this poor abandoned tyre.

RD: ...and we will make this pledge part of our events.....

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Reu: About 2 miles into the route
Last night TG had slept (unlike the night before) and despite the slight stiffness of her legs last night, they were feeling great today. Being the last runner to move out of the starting block, she rapidly caught up with a couple of end runners/walkers.

One of them, Charlie, decided to be her companion for the day and the two of them fixed the trash issue, the US political system, abuse of benefits, tax evasion, plus a host of other topics!

As we encountered runners passing in the opposite direction from the turn around points, a number of runners proudly held up their cups announcing that this was the first and only cup they would take for the whole event.

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Ed: The pledge tyre
Runners/spectators/volunteers signed the pledge tyre but he did not have a name. At the hand over of the pledge tyre TG asked the RD to give him a name.

RD: Can I think about it?
TG: Sure, how does he make you feel?
Volunteers: Call him "ED"
RD: Ed - short for "Educate"

A most excellent name for a pledge tyre and one that will educate people from now on about reducing their trash and all runners to BYOB (Bring Your Own Bottle).....AND this is why the mainly marathon organisers travel with a pledge tyre called Ed!

 
 
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Type of Race: Trail - it is 100% flat! This is a series of 4 marathons in 3 different states. I did the last 2 days
Goody Bag: Great shirt and picture card momento
Course: Trail route that is out and back. Day 1 repeats the route 4 times; day 2 repeats a varied route 2 times
Organisation and volunteers: Excellent organisation, despite the organisers travelling to different states for the 4 marathons in 4 days with equally excellent volunteers.
CPs: @ every 1-2 miles with water, gatorade, salty snacks, sandwiches, chocolate, oranges, bananas. On the second day there was pizza at a lot of the CPs
Weather: Day 1: @ 35 degs F - 75 degs F; Day 2: @ 40 degs F - 75 degs F. Both days there is a lot of sun
Start Time: 07:00
Location: Day 1: La Lorona Park; Day 2: Field of Dreams
Finish: Ends at start point
Post Runner Recovery: Lots of food; milk; drinks

There is a prize for the last runner. I was honored with this on my first marathon day!

Marathon #38: Breaking the Rules
I have read and been told the ground rules of marathon running and I broke all of them for the first marathon.

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Reu dolled up with box and bones
1. Sleep well the nights before the marathon.

These count more than the night just before the day of the marathon. Had about 4-5 hours a night for the last 4 days (work and jetlag), including the night before as I was trying to dress up Reu (my tyre). The day of the marathon, my neck was sore :-( and still is sore. Ahh the joys of stress!

First 10 miles was fine but quickly after that my head and eyes were tired. I wanted to lie down. Thankfully Frank (one of the volunteers who was lead biker) decided to keep me company for the last 10 miles! Although I normally hate talking during the end stages of a marathon, the brain stimulation helped and was gratefully accepted.

2. Carbo-load the day before the marathon.
Didn't have much of an appetite the days before the marathon, but I did eat bread and junk snack food 2-3 days before the marathon. The night before the marathon, I wanted something healthy so I had a large green leaf salad.

On the day of the marathon, I carried 3 cereal bars and ate all 3 of them starting from mile 6 onwards. However the aid stations had plenty of food. Despite the leafy green salad, I did not particularly feel massively hungry and bowel functions were fine! No nasty "chemie" gels (like gu and others) were consumed. As DIY Diva (a running buddy) would say - "eat before you are hungry". This is a philosophy I now always use and don't need to eat those nasty gels!

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The "evil" goatshead thorns
3. Never try something new in a marathon.
As well as Reu being a virgin tyre and would be her first run with me ever, I'd forgotten my sandals that I'd run in for the last 5-6 marathons with Ecuder. I had a pair of shoes I'd run in, but really wanted a pair of sandals as I hate hot feet. So the day before the marathon, I went sandal shopping. As this is the wrong season, shops were not selling sandals. However at the nth hour someone directed me to a "Payless" store. I power walked over there as time was ticking on towards shop closing time.

There was one style of sandals, a mens sandal reduced to $8. There were 2 sizes available: mens 8 or 9. I tried to kid myself I could fit into an size 8 and ran around the shop in them to test them. The shop assistant tactfully told me the mens 9 would look better on my feet! She was right, a mens size 9 fitted better, and so purchased them and ran in the marathon the next day. No regrets at all! Just had to learn to avoid the "evil" goatshead thorns that clasp onto your flesh and wedge into the sole of your foot. Having pulled out a ton of them from my sandals, I was glad I was forced to purchase a new pair of sandals as these nasty devils would have certainly pierced through the sole of my older pair.

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In the Army
Doing a out and back 4 times to complete 26.2 miles is a brain challenge. As I am not particularly fast, a change of scenery helps stimulate my brain. However, quick exchanges of encouragement between runners is also helpful.

On the second lap of the out and back, the army were doing 5K runs along the trail. Am not sure if my exchange of "If I can take a tire, you'd better beat me to the finish!" was helpful. Well I was called an "animal"!

Having high-fived a number of marathon runners, one runner (Scott) pressed a medal into my hand. He runs for the fallen military heroes who have given their lives to their country. Although I certainly do not feel worthy of such a medal, thank you Scott for the encouragement to continue on with promoting "Reduce Your Trash".

Am hoping all runners can BYOB: "Bring Your Own Bottle" - to fill up with water/energy drink along the marathon course. This has the added benefit of being able to drink when you need it, rather than to drink when you have to because you are waiting to get to an aid station. Drinking from cups means the contents often spill on the ground and then the runner tossing the plastic cup on the ground a couple of hundred metres from the aid station.

Last lecture: Volunteers volunteer their time which is often unpaid time. Although picking up runners trash has become part of a volunteers role, it would be nice for them never to have to pick up runners' trash especially sticky gel packs that become glued to the ground. Runners: BYOB and leave trash at an aid station.

Marathon #39 to be written up at the end of next week!

 
 
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TG's first mail item!
Postman: Package for Tyre Girl. Please sign here.
TG: Really? My first package EVER!

Amused, TG signed for the package. It had a bit of weight and noted it was from altruistic Elaine, the RD from the Leading Ladies marathon.

TG wondered if it was one of Lady Suzette's shoes or perhaps something she'd left behind.

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Cryptic words
As TG explored the packaging, there on the taped side were some cryptic words:

19+ Champ Full
Tyre Girl
And why not?!
7 yrs old


Preplexed TG carefully opened the package. Upon seeing its contents TG burst into laughter......

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TG, Reu and the champions trophy
A champions trophy for the under 19

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On behalf of Ecuder, Reu accepts the champions trophy!

Reu's will be tasting her first marathon event on the 1st November.

 
 
Silver Sunday is a day of free activities for older people and on the 6th October. I had been pulled in to help organise the Paddington Mile for the charity SilverFit (http://www.silverfit.org.uk/). The morning went really well and we had about 15 silver surfers running round a track for a mile. I had been told to expect times of about 20 minutes. These silver surfers (aged between 50-80) ran times between 6-10 minutes!

The day went well, although received an ear bashing from a lady in her 70s who took exception to the day being called Silver Sunday and the charity being called SilverFit. Respectively I took Obama's stance: "I did not call it Silver Sunday, London called it Silver Sunday. As for SilverFit, it is a charity that was started by a lady in her 70s...."

And so I received even more ear bashing about how disrespectful and condescending I was.

Just hope I don't become a grumpy old lady when I grow up!!!

I hope I am like the 99% of the other ubber cool 70+ women I met, who had a sense of joy, humour and an active life :-)
 
 
I've looked everywhere.....under the tyres, in the wheels, within the collection of running shoes.....but I can't find it anywhere. My mojo fled after the 100 miler at the end of June. Long runs were beaten into submission.

Had hoped the last 2 marathons might have helped but no, "Lala" came out to play.

At the moment I don't like long runs. My head sometimes thinks it must go training, but after the first mile the brain melts to an unshakeable CBB (Can't Be Bothered) moment and soon the quick steps slow down to a plod. Two more miles are forced walked in the hope that the brain can send a signal...."OI legs! Do your job". The legs faff about further and the command centre forces the body to return back to base.

A quick check up on the body:
- Legs fine
- Body fine
- Head has an atitude problem.

With damp, grey days blasting away the last hot days of the year, nestling in a warmish room feels so much more motivating. Going to have to use diversion methods to shake up the brain to respond to running. Back to circuit training and spinning classes and maybe some hockey might sort me out.....

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In the mean time a new tyre is being prepared. Maybe she (Reu) might inspire me to get running.

 
 
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Running Thru the Barrel Room
Type of Race: Road and trail with signs; CPs @ every 2 miles. 
Course: Some short uphills but mostly flat. Police control at traffic junction; coned areas on the road
Organisation and volunteers: Very good
CPs: Oranges/bananas, gatorade/water
Weather: Started in the 60s, warming up to the 90s
Start Time: 06:00
Start Location: In Jullian Park
Views: Riverside + vineyards + run thru the barrel room of the De Loach vinyard
Post Runner Recovery: Fruit + pancakes + beer
Pasta Dinner: Beautiful serene scenery at the De Loach vinyard. Great pasta + fantastic desserts

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Reunited with Rec, joined by Chris
Someone has to be last in any event. I regularly hold that honoured position in marathons and ultras. On this occasion it would be the privilege of a young woman called Christine Bliss and I would like to tell her story. 

She started her first marathon with me. In my dopey stupor (morning brain), she guided me round the first couple of miles through the city of Santa Rosa. When we got back onto a track I was familiar with, I ungraciously left her, confident that she would easily catch up with me later on when I would begin to slow down. Pulling a tyre is always a drag, and my race plan was to be at least:
- 5 miles into the course when the lead runner would over take me
- Closer to mile 6 when the rest of the pack would catch up 
- over half way done when the sun would be blasting down heat (10am)

(During the event, the second to seventh caught up with me before crossing a bridge.  2 "spectators" directed us along the wrong path for a 100m before all had to u-turn to get back on track)

I thought of where I wanted to be, whereas Christine would be in a constant mind battle fending off the negative thoughts that wanted to suck her into a dark hole of depression. Note: Christine has suffered from long bouts of depression and being active has helped lift her moods, unveiling a renewed confidence in life.

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At mile 16 when a San Francisco buddy caught up with me, I asked if she had seen Christine. She had, and Christine had been worried I might have got lost as she had not seen me. We had 10 more miles, but was still sure she would catch up with me as 10am was fast approaching and I had started slowing down.

By mile 18, the heat was liquidizing gels that runners had dropped on the ground and Christine could have quit/wanted to quit (I was at mile 19/20). I remember my first marathon was in Singapore, 2006. At mile 18 with salt depletion, I had hit the wall and had a buddy who I held onto to ensure I didn't fall flat on the floor.

At mile 18, Christine had no other support but herself. She was "flagging" and a thought drifted into her mind to quit. As the heat poured down, the nagging thought became louder. She was now at war. It would be so easy to give up, to fling herself onto the pile of despair, hopelessness and helplessness. Within herself, Christine found her warrior soul and by mile 20 she slew the demon that threatened to take her out of the race. Any further thoughts were "swish swash" destroyed. Christine once again conquered herself and she won the race. More importantly she has moved another milestone her life.

Rock on Christine 'cos you are a marathon finisher and you have a PR!

If you want to get yourself off the couch and become active, these URLs might help
For all ages: see www.parkrun.com (worldwide) - free community based 5K runs every Saturday at 09:00. Need to register on the site.
For the 50+ see http://www.silverfit.org.uk/  (London based) - fitness activities with openly friendly faces
For anyone who would like to get into track and field see: http://www.sfactoracademy.co.uk/ (London based)

 
 
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Albert Tenaya's plays with his heart and soul
The Santa Rosa Marathon Expo was held in the countryside at the Deloach Vinyard. Walking to the main house, one is greeted with exhibitors and vendors providing the scene for a village fete, spiced up with an outdoor oven: baking pizzas and serving the local vino.

Walking through a tree lined arch to register, the spiritual melodies of an American Indian flutist (Albert Tenaya is a brilliant flutist) surrounded you, leading you through a histroic journey where man and nature once walked and danced along the same path.

And in the background, an old friend waited patiently for us to arrive.


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The amazing SAMM team
But just as we turned a corner, Ecuder spied the amazing Surgical Artistry Modesto Marathon team with offerings of KT taping, and runner's products with their registration. (They offer an excellent service at their marathon event to all runners and a very flat course into the countryside bar one small hill - report here). Ecuder rolled over to hugs and kisses, becoming a playful puppy dog.

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Nice running form from Sammy :-)
And with that magnetic rubber personality, he managed to leash a human to become their coach. Ecuder was having a party.

After visiting various stalls to obtain pledges to reduce trash (if you want to pledge and have your name on a tyre, see the Pledges link), Ecuder playfully rolled over to the Barrel Room and persuaded Tyson to prove he was the Fastest Tyre Dragging Mixer of the West.

We had to slow down the video because Tyson was sooo fast.

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May Ecuder retire happy and prosper
At the end of the day, a dedication to Ecuder whose spirit will be to encourage everyone to be active and reduce their trash by:
- refusing single use "stuff" (like coffee cups, take out containers, wrapping paper)
- reusing "stuff"
- repairing "stuff"
- use organisations like freecycle and freegle

He reminded runners about the poor volunteers who have to scrap off gel packs off the road when they are dropped anywhere and everywhere and leak their yucky goo onto the road.

Note: there are a number of runners who owe $5 to the organisation's charity as well as to Earthwatch for slowing us down to pick up gel packs off the road.

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Ecuder's final retirement home is in the hands of an inspirational high school teacher at Gregori High School, Modesto. Ecuder will be helping change makers raise trash awareness. We got him a junior pledge buddy to keep him company.

Thank you everyone who signed and pledged to reduce their trash. Collectively we can change our disposable society's habits.

Let's do it!

(Registration shwag: light weight track top + bottle of wine + lots of other eats + glass of wine)