It Gave Me Wings

Who signs up for a race when it’s 2 degrees outside?! Wasn’t so sure about getting out of the car.

An hour later…

Now for the middle part: JS and CS agreed to sign up for the 2015 Red Bull Trail Daze race. Third time in Indy and I’ve done all 3!

I have been ready to start running again and this race was the perfect thing to get me started. I wasn’t paying attention to the weather when I signed up. I just really wanted to get back out there. Same race structure as before. 2011. 2012. But this year, I scored the top spot in my age group. I’m such a dork.


Our prize, a case of Red Bull. JS scored one too! We’re either that good or that stupid and all the stronger runners stayed in the warmth of their homes.

I drank 2 Red Bulls while waiting around for the awards. For someone who doesn’t ingest any caffeine on a regular basis, 2x 80mg was not the best idea. I was super giddy. Everything was funny. Then I crashed hard and passed out. Note to self: Only 1 Red Bull at a time from now on.



Signed up to escort these 2 hooligans to Colorado over the Thanksgiving holiday.


Moms has an airport apprehension and always wants to arrive super early. And the “busiest travel day of the year” didn’t help my timeline. She did really well and was only a few minutes early picking me up. When we got to the airport, damn the crowds.

Not even a single person in line at TSA before us. I’d never experienced that before. 

This monster surprised us while we were waiting for our ride into Longmont. She “learned” how to cross her eyes and was constantly showing us during night 1. Ok. Um. No. She really thinks she’s doing it.

A lot of this happened, too. She likes to be close, real close. I was the sick one this time so I was comfortable feeling like I wouldn’t catch the bird flu from her this trip.

I awoke to a fresh Thanksgiving morning!

And after a great meal, a crisp warm night.

Got a chance to hit some trails to make a trek up Mount Sanitas in Boulder, CO. View from the top!

Hello Boulder!

Passed a huge rock formation on the way down.

A man and his dogs…

Now that I have had a few experiences with dogs who run with you, IF I ever get another dog, he/she must be able to run with me. So much fun watching these guys and having them keep you company while you are out doing this miserable sport. 

In addition to the USA holiday, we had another celebration during our trip. Team Shart’s leader turned 4-0. His neighbors knew that the black color normally associated with 40 would excite our birthday boy. So they went with pink. And luckily his truck was parked outside that night so it got dressed up for the day!

We were able to take in a soccer game for Reagan. Look how excited she looks!


She was a little nervous about all of us watching her play. There aren’t many girl teams in the area, so this group chooses to play against the boy teams just so they can get practice in the off season. Way to go ladies! 

The whole trip was a wonderful family event. We did start a Noah’s ark for each niece this trip as part of their Christmas from Nana and Papa. During the supplies trip, I got B to jump at the sight of a random live snake outside of his cage at the pet store. It was amazing! However, I did enjoy returning to my kid-free, allergy-free, pet-free condo in the Midwest. Clean air is about your own definition. Much Love to the Fuller excursion crew! 

Purdue 5k

CS was signed up for the 13.1 miles around the Boilermaker Campus. I did that once, This time, 5k was enough. After a filling pasta dinner at Puccini’s, we relived some of my collegiate memories by visiting the Cactus. God. I. Am. Old.


The place was still rocking even though the crowd had not arrived yet. It was 9pm.


We stayed for about an hour then got settled to rest our heads at the Union. After driving up 2 years ago for the start of the half, I learned I didn’t want that experience again. We walked to the start line in 10 minutes, hit the portos and were ready to DFW!


The half started 10 minutes ahead of the 5k runners. I was so excited to see my guidence counselor wheeling the line again this year. We hooked up with JL and the boys were off. 

I didn’t know how I’d do and really didn’t care. I, of course, was on the FTP. Fuller Training Program. Don’t train, just run. It’s a mental race most of the time at the distances I run anyway. My face always tells the story I am feeling!

Starting faces:


Mid way:






Me pretty. I crossed the line and the clock said 33 minutes. Mmeph. I wanted to do better but didn’t care. Then I remembered… the first race started 10 minutes ago. Whaaaat?! Didn’t matter. I had a job to get back on the course and cheer CS to his amazing finish! Then I had to watch JL cross the line with his PR before I could figure out my own finish!


It ended up being a stellar day for our whole crew. CS = sub 2 hour. JL = PR. Me = 2nd place age group award!


Refueled at Jakes with the game and some food!




I may have signed up for a 5k but ended up running close to 6 miles to cheer my team on! GPS data…


Go Boilers!



Corporate Challenge Captain time again! Still can’t find the elusive female cyclist at my company, so I borrowed another bike and lined up at 7:50 for an 8 am start. I always have to ask for an early start because I have to hightail it over to volleyball right after several miles away. As I rode up, I was the first one in line! Ok by me. ISC Event chair walks up and says “First in line Natalee?”! We have known each other for almost a dozen years and he knows my dilemma each year.

Off to volleyball!


Had a pregger sub on stand by just in case I couldn’t get to the courts by the first game. Luckily the other team was late, so I made it in time!


Made it to the tournament but lost in the semi’s again. We are going to get this next year! 

Weekend 2 brought some gorgeous weather. Looking east over the IMS infield.


With the new venue, teams lost their bleacher spots. We opted for a team tent space as home base.


I manage to place other runners in the 30 age group but that left me the 10K. Urg. With my lack of exercise recently, this was not going to be fun. 8:27 pace like a turtle. But man, did my hair look nice after that race!

photo 1 (1)

How many times did I get to golf this summer? Zero. So I was the perfect candidate to do the chipping challenge for us. I nailed the bulls eye on my second shot. Except it was the bulls eye for the teams in the line to my right. I asked for half points? Nope.


I was prepared for Tug Of War, but game was on while I was out doing other events. My trusty side kick got people organized and over to represent our team. So I became the cheering/yelling section. “PUUUUUUUUUULLLLLLLLLLL!” I really enjoyed just yelling at people!


TOW tough with mascots!


Last event of the day was the newest. Pit crew challenge. Team of 4 had to change a tire on each front side of a real Indy car. NS manned the air gun while I handled the tire exchange! So fun!


Also new this year, a free cold one at the end!


Team OneAmerica turned out 4th in our division! Very pleased with the results. Crossing my fingers for some swag with the Golden Hanger award!

IndyQuest Adventure Race 2014


Want to hear a story about how this 42 mile GPS map was built? Keep reading…


Win Or Lose We Still Booze were ready to defend our title of Champs as the PA Urban Sprint Race. Except we couldn’t because they changed the name. It’s now IndyQuest. Fine, let’s race!

We arrived at Fountain Square Brewery to sign in and get our paper work. This year we only had 1 map at the start and a clue sheet. We assumed our usual roles of BA as clue guy, KOD as navigator and myself as passport keeper. Last year we used clear contact paper instead of map cases and it worked really well so we employed that tactic again. Having 1 map was great so we folded it over and didn’t have much to mess with while riding.


The race always starts with some challenge before you take off. Helps spread the field out. This year, the first challenge wasn’t meant to be a tough challenge but turned out that way for a few teams. At the start of the race, the RD (race director) puts up a map. You have to go on foot a marked location and get your passport. BA always leads us off, so he took the honors of this. And BA took off the wrong direction with about 5 other teams. The RD was stunned. After a few deep breaths, he got on the megaphone and said, “If you are traveling NORTH you may be going in the wrong direction.” Problem was, BA is a fast little guy. He was gone. Gone for 8 minutes. As we saw him returning, KOD took off the other way to get the passport. We were literally the last team to leave the start. We had some ground to make up.

Checkpoint (CP) 1-5 on bike:

We rode our bikes from Fountain Square to downtown to CP1, a 30 story stair climb. At first I was glad this was first and on fresh legs (except for BAs). A week later, my legs are finally back to normal. I hobbled for 4 days after. We blew by many teams here. Made up a lot of ground by not stopping at all on the stairs. CP2 & 3 were clues to find at different downtown spots. The green box in the background had a colored circle on it. We had to note the color on our passport.

Michelle Craig Photography: Indy Quest Urban Race &emdash;

Photo courtesy of Michelle Craig Photography

CP5 was a frisbee challenge. 1 team member had to knock over a 2-liter bottle, 

Michelle Craig Photography: Indy Quest Urban Race &emdash;

then get the coveted punch on the passport attached to these flags. You see these flags all day long!

Michelle Craig Photography: Indy Quest Urban Race &emdash;

Photo courtesy of Michelle Craig Photography

Besides the fun obstacles you encounter on the race course, you meet competitors with sweet outfits like this guy.

Michelle Craig Photography: Indy Quest Urban Race &emdash;

Photo courtesy of Michelle Craig Photography

CP6-10 on Foot:

Arriving at CP6, we got our O course map. We could get these 5 points in any order. We like to get the farther points sooner rather than later, so we switched directions from most teams here which was a great strategy to gaining time. The first circle we hit was at a bridge. Knowing the RD, I told the guys it would be under it in the water somewhere. And I was right. Moving to our next CP, we were looking at our first creek crossing. KOD says, “Do we want to win this thing?” YES! On the 2nd arrow below (green is where we started from), we crossed a creek and likely the source of my current poison ivy shit, into a trailer park. It seemed like something out of a movie. Random people coming from the woods running across lawns like the apocalypse. Once we got to the spot of the CP, I asked BA, “What’s our clue?” His response, “I don’t know.” You are the clue keeper! He left the clue sheet back at the green circle where our bikes were. We were stumped at what to do. Until… another team had followed our path and agreed to help us. That is not cheating and is allowed in this race!


The O course also brought us to the Indiana Medical History Museum. Here we had to find the hours of operation on a sign. The CP on the map was at an intersection, but I knew exactly what building the IMHM was. So I yelled to my boys ahead of me (they are fast) to stop. With confused looks I told them I had been to the IMHM before so I knew where the sign was. We didn’t need to go any further. KOD says “Of course, you’ve been there. Why wouldn’t you have?!” I am random at times.

Back on the bikes to CP11 for Ladder golf. 1 teammate had to get the balls around 1 of the top 2 rungs. Check out that form!

Michelle Craig Photography: Indy Quest Urban Race &emdash;

Michelle Craig Photography: Indy Quest Urban Race &emdash;

Photo courtesy of Michelle Craig Photography

The boys turns

Michelle Craig Photography: Indy Quest Urban Race &emdash;

Michelle Craig Photography: Indy Quest Urban Race &emdash;

Photo courtesy of Michelle Craig Photography

CP13-15: Canoe time was up next! 

Michelle Craig Photography: Indy Quest Urban Race &emdash;

Photo courtesy of Michelle Craig Photography

We got CP12 on bike across the river before hitting the east side of the river for CP13-15. Upon arrival, we learned that we were now in 2nd place overall! This year the RD supplied the paddles and PFDs. We quickly learned that we needed our own double sided paddles. We probably did 3x more strokes without the double sided ones. But of course, we still were having fun!

Michelle Craig Photography: Indy Quest Urban Race &emdash;

Photo courtesy of Michelle Craig Photography

CP16 looked amazing! We rode up to a bunch of stuffed animals lined up at the bottom of a hill. Teddy bear bowling was invented! Just like in golf, I took the first pass at this so the boys could see my line. KOD went 2nd and nailed it. We were making quick work of these things!

CP18-21 on Foot:

We arrived back to the home base to receive our next set of maps and clues. This was a foot course in Fountain Square for CP18-21. 2 were clues about signs on things. We were hoping the clue at La Margarita was about tequila drinking. It was, but not for us to drink. We had to count the tequila bottles on 3 shelves behind the bar. We divided up the shelves among the 3 of us. Then rotated to get another set of numbers. I randomly selected a number from our list from each shelf, and surprise! We got it on our first try. Not sure if there was a threshold clause, but we didn’t care. Off to the next one!

Michelle Craig Photography: Indy Quest Urban Race &emdash;

Photo courtesy of Michelle Craig Photography

We went around the back of the restaurant to find climbing gear laid out for us. 1 person had to stay down and 2 people had to go up to the roof. 

Michelle Craig Photography: Indy Quest Urban Race &emdash;

Photo courtesy of Michelle Craig Photography

I, as videographer, stayed down and sent the boys up. As I looked at these pictures today, I remembered that BA doesn’t like heights. His facial expression while climbing the sketchy scaffolding was priceless. Here’s KOD going up.

Michelle Craig Photography: Indy Quest Urban Race &emdash;

Photo courtesy of Michelle Craig Photography

Seriously, they were high up.

Michelle Craig Photography: Indy Quest Urban Race &emdash;

Photo courtesy of Michelle Craig Photography

The point of going up was to throw darts off the side of the building that needed to hit a watermelon.

Michelle Craig Photography: Indy Quest Urban Race &emdash;

Photo courtesy of Michelle Craig Photography

It was like a dangerous game of Plinko with the wind. There were 10 darts I sent up in a bucket that the boys would rope down. KOD hit it after 5 darts! Let’s move out! And this is where we noticed where the 3rd place team was… Arriving as we were leaving. But we weren’t sure what order they did the foot course in. It was a good gut check going into the last leg of the course. 

CP22-28 on bike:

We were still in 2nd place at this point, but 10+ minutes behind the leaders. They were strong bikers. We (me and BA) are not. KOD makes it look so easy! Our goal was to maintain.


CP22 had us doing the limbo at a winery. CP23 was a home made golf ball launcher, with our target being a tile board that we had to break a tile out of. It was quite the contraption dreamed up by the RD.

CP24 & 25 was our downfall. The clue read “Bike to CP24/25 for a Special Challenge worth 2 checkpoints”. At the pre-race briefing this CP was also called out for being worth 2 points and we’d have 2 choices upon arrival. Many points in the race, the beginner teams don’t get all the CPs. If you want to win, you get all the CPs. Our interpretation of this clue was that we had to complete both puzzles to get 2 points. WRONG. We arrived to several stations with a round wood puzzle with the British flag on it. The boys immediately let me get to work. It was double sided, so I knew once I got one piece to line up, it was just a matter of trying to match the edges (you’ll see it in the video below). Once we got that one done, we moved over to what we THOUGHT we had to do for the extra point. It was 9 pieces of 4×4 wood cut in the same length. They had random colored dots on different sides. We tried lining them up. We tried color coding. Nothing looked like a finished piece. We asked the volunteer “Did the first team through do both?” She said no, so we agreed to keep trying until the 3rd place team arrived. Which we did wasting 8 minutes on something we didn’t need to do. Just 1 puzzle was worth 2 points since they were so “hard”. After the race and all my Survivor analysis on what that 2nd puzzle was, I was stumped. I had to ask the RD. Guesses anyone?!

CP26 & 27 were clues on signs. Then we were treated to one last challenge at CP 28 of corn hole. We arrived here exactly with the 3rd place team. Finished about equally and took off to the finish. Even had to wait at a red light right next to them! But they were bikers. We were not. They beat us to the finish by 1 stinking minute. I look happy, but deep down I was bummed.

Michelle Craig Photography: Indy Quest Urban Race &emdash;

Photo courtesy of Michelle Craig Photography

We got out of our wet clothes to freshen up and hydrate. My face here says it better. Waahh wahhh. 3rd.

Michelle Craig Photography: Indy Quest Urban Race &emdash;

Photo courtesy of Michelle Craig Photography

We made 3 critical errors this time. 1. Go the right direction at the start. 2. Always bring your clue sheet. 3. Always read your clue sheet. After being down 10 minutes, gaining that back, then losing it at the puzzle… it was defeating for me. It was our strategic choice to make and I still think with what we knew, we made the best decision for us. So, after 2 weeks, I’m over it now! Ready for next year and some flaming arrows!

And note to self: Cover all skin all day. I don’t want to go through this F’in poison ivy shit again.

Here is some video I managed to shoot while out on the 42 mile course!

Bad Sherpa

How fitting that at the 2014 OneAmerica Mini Marathon packet pickup, while wearing one of my Drumstick Dash shirts, the Drumstick Dash mascot is there!

Fwd: Gobble

Previously. This year’s belt only required a banana and lip stick for Mama. A water bottle for me.


We had a beautiful crisp clear morning for the start.


Shortly after the 1 mile mark, I think we made it on the local news. If so, I was that girl on camera pointing mine back at them.


During the race, Mom and I chat it up like we haven’t seen each other in months. Funny thing about this time, we actually have seen each other 3 weekends in a row. Guess we can’t get enough of each other!


During our chats, Mom and I lock arms. Apparently our other-halves say we tend to meander when walking. Maybe subconsciously, we do this to stay close. We’ve done this each year. For some reason this year, people noticed. A LOT of people noticed. So much so that after the 6th different person patted my Mom on the back and said something to the effect of “Are you ok?” or “She’s got you, you are doing great!”, Mom starts checking her back for a sign that says “Help me!” Even at the track we got noticed, but for a different reason. One lady passed us and said, “Didn’t you guys do this last year?!” Yes we did! We felt semi-famous. Also while at the track, I saw my first inspiring runner. Notice the guy in the yellow. He was not having the easiest time, but damn, he was grunting it out!


At the track, we started snacking on the grapes Mom was carrying with the goal of eating the banana once we left the track. Right before we got to the bricks, I pulled out the water bottle and noticed the banana was gone. WTF?! I know we had it just a few yards back and then vanished. I contemplated running back but didn’t want to leave Mom in the rare chance I couldn’t find her again in the sea of people. Then I got mad at whoever was behind us that didn’t say, “Hey, you dropped your banana!” Were people not paying attention at all?! I managed to find 2 people’s drivers licenses on the course and turn them in. (Hope those made it back to them… I turned them into the Police and asked they radio it into the lost and found tent. If nothing else, I tried.) So, that’s when I became the bad sherpa and Mom’s spirits got a bit deflated.

We tried not to focus on the lack of ‘naner and eat some grapes. For the last few miles of the course, I tried to inspire her by using those that came out to entertain us on our journey. We were about to pass a group of kids that wanted high-fives. I said, “Mom, go do some low-fives with the kids.” Response, “Those are booger eaters. Full of germs.”

Then, the best memory of the day happened. Best.  (2nd was a few F-bombs to the finish line) Mom and I have locked arms again. Just chatting the last 1.5 miles away. Mom says, “Why is this guy hovering? He’s hovering!” I look to my right and a bike medic is slowly rolling beside us. I look up and make eye contact. I said, “She’s fine. She’s old and hungry.” He asks her, “Are you ok?” She says “No I’m not ok. I’m hungry. She lost my banana. Do you have any food in that bike pack?” OMG. Only my mother would request food. At this stage of the race. Amazingly, the guy while trying to maintain a steady bike, reaches into his pack and gives her a granola bar. I stopped in the street, bent over, hands on knees crying and laughing. Then she runs after him.


I just belly laughed writing that. That memory will last beyond a lifetime. So we made our way down the last long mile, walking and jogging to break up the muscle memory. Crossed the line in a similar mark to years 2010-2012. 3h 34m.


Spawn’s Mom celebrated her first race with us. CS had a stellar 2nd effort. Mom…. her 7th! And she’s kickin the ass of her first time 7 years ago by 19 minutes! No stopping us now… until that bus picks us up for the first time. Then, it might be time to retire. Until then… we are already signed up for next year!

The Other Side

I’ve been wanting to try out the volunteer side of racing and the perfect opportunity finally came up! My company’s sponsored 15K training run was this past weekend. Of course, just when it got freakin’ cold again. We arrived at 7 am to set up the station. I had 2 layers of pants, 2 layers of tops, a TNF long jacket, hat and gloves. I could have used more. Knowing how cold it was we weren’t expecting a lot of activity at our tables until the walkers showed up. Me in action…


I admittedly got a little emotional when runners would say thank you. I do that during my races because I do want to thank people for getting up early, warm or cold, and doing this little thing to support runners. It’s nice knowing strangers share the passion for the sport. Interesting part of our station was most volunteers weren’t runners. They just give back. Amazing.

On a side note, listening to non-runners give runners words of encouragement was quite interesting. Things I, as a runner, do not find encouraging:

1. “You are doing great!” –> How the F do you know that?! I’ve been running by myself this whole time, you don’t know me!

2. “You are almost there!” –> No, no I’m not. I’m almost there when I can see the finish line. See it, not sense it.

3. “Only X more miles to go!” –> X representing a ridiculous amount of miles OVER what you are really completing. Humor and facts don’t mix at this point in the race.

4. “Ice cold beer!” –> Who do you think I am? JT?

PR @ 36


I didn’t even post about the 2013 Holliday Park Trail run. That’s how dismal it was. The last 2 years, I went into the race with an injury (thanks tailbone and hamstring). This year was looking to be no different. Left hammie had been acted up since I got back into the swing of running. Acupuncture didn’t work last time. Been at the chiro getting the graston technique but it wasn’t providing the results I was looking for. I had a light bulb moment one day and remembered how well ART worked for me. That’s active release therapy. Called up the chiro and yep, she can do that! I quickly made a series of 4 weekly appointments.

That coupled with a foam roller and icing, the hammie felt great at the start line. Several friends had lined up with me but I had no thoughts of them as soon as the gun went off. I just wanted to run my race. I was at the course last week and ended up with terribly muddy shoes. I was glad to see the dry week had taken the slick edge off of the trails. I begrudgingly awaited my fate at the College Ave. underpass to be told what place I was in for the lady runners. But he wasn’t there! It was a weird feeling. I never liked to hear, but now that I didn’t, I wanted to know! About a mile down the trail, we turn into a neighborhood. As I rounded the corner, I quietly heard “You’re the 11th female.” What?! The volunteer had just moved positions this year. So began the counting of ladies that would pass me until the end. Which I ended in 16th overall female. But the great news, was I PR’d the thing by 2m 41s! 

Me in yellow coming up the big hill in Marott Park


We stayed around to watch our friend win her age group award, but got increasingly colder as our sweaty clothes turned frigid. I commented to CS on the way back to the car that I couldn’t feel my fingers. I wasn’t shocked when the gloves came off but this was the worst I’ve ever seen my WFD. 4 left fingers.


4 right fingers.


Maybe I’ll wear my snowboard mittens next time.