Friday, November 7, 2014

Chasing Strong

It's not a secret to anyone that knows me that I'm pretty much always trying to lose weight. I used to be really  heavy, then lost a lot, then after moving to Eureka I started gaining again. I got that back under control and am back at my lowest weight since having kids. I'd love to be smaller than this, but right now I'm more concerned with getting strong and being healthy. Do I want to look good? You bet I do. I know I shouldn't care, but who doesn't want to look great? However, last week I read something that I really liked. I was reading a discussion with several women about weight loss. My friend Monica said "I also gave up on chasing skinny. I'm chasing strong and healthy. It's a much happier journey." I love that! I need to stop chasing skinny and start chasing strong.

I could go on and on about how we as women should love our bodies and just embrace the changes that happen when we have kids, and yada yada. I believe all that too. We should not be constantly chasing some ideal body that society tells us we need to have. I believe that with 100% of my being. However, I still want it. What I want more though is to be strong and be healthy and to teach my boys that women just don't have perfect bodies. What is perfect anyway? Who decides that? I carried and gave birth to two kids. I have stretch marks. Lots of them. You know what? I grew people. I made two fantastic little human beings with this body. The second time I'm very lucky that both Adam and I lived. Those stretch marks are my battle scars. If someone doesn't like it that is their problem. I don't go around without a shirt showing them off, but if I do happen to change in front of someone, or run in just a sports bra and someone chooses to laugh at my stretch marks then that is just sad for them.

You know what else this imperfect body of mine can do? It can run 100 miles! It can carry me anywhere I have asked it to so far. It has not let me down. My favorite picture from FlatRock 101k doesn't even show my whole body, but shows my legs. One leg has cellulite. At first I wasn't going to post it because I didn't like showing that. Then I remembered what those legs with cellulite did. I ran 63 miles on an insanely hard trail. Who the hell cares if my legs were jiggly while I was doing it? My legs are strong, not skinny. I'm happy with that. I want to keep getting stronger and have a long way to go to be as strong as I want to be, but my body is capable of some pretty amazing things.

In the spirit of getting stronger I visited the high school weight room twice this week. There are no other gym options where I live, so thankfully I'm married to someone that has a key! Rick and I both lifted. On day one I didn't want to overdo it and end up super sore, so I just kinda messed around and figured out where stuff is and lifted some. It was fun. I got home and told Ryan, my 14 year old, how much I lifted. He laughed out loud. He then told me he's going to coach me. He said he could whip me into shape. I'm frightened. I went again last night and lifted a lot more and I had so much fun! I told Ryan this morning how I did and he said "Ok, good. I can work with that." I guess I finally have the approval of a teenager! That won't last.

I know there will still be times I look in the mirror and hate what I see. I'll wish I was skinny. I'm doing my best to change that attitude though. I'm going to work much harder on chasing strong, not skinny.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Crushing Obstacles

I can't think of anything in life that really matters that doesn't come with a few obstacles. I've heard people say that nothing worth having is free. I occasionally have people say things to me like that it's easy for me to fit running in because my kids are older, or because I don't work very many hours, or something else. That's all true. I can often leave my kids home alone so I can run. Not always though. Adam isn't a fan of being home alone, so if it's just the two of us and I need to run I have to figure something else out. I also don't work a lot of hours. I start at 9 most days and am off by 3:30. However, I also have kids in lots of activities and a very busy husband, and still have a house to keep clean, laundry to do, and prepare meals and sometimes extra snacks for my food allergy kid. It's not like I have all the time in the world.

My point is, everyone has obstacles. It's easy to look at other people that are accomplishing their goals and dreams and thinking it must be easier for them than it is for you. I'm guilty of that from time to time. I have a friend that is the single mother of 4 little boys, works full time, is working on her masters degree, and just finished her first 50K. Oh, and by the way, one of her boys is special needs. I can promise you, if she can find the time to train anyone can. You just have to want it. If you don't want it and have other priorities? That's perfectly ok. I'm fine with everyone doing their own thing. What I get annoyed with is when people assume that if other people are doing what they want to be doing then it must be because it's easy for them. Everyone has crap you don't know about. Even someone that you think you know really well has stuff going on behind the scenes that you're not aware of.

I like to think that when you come to an obstacle you shouldn't tiptoe around it. Don't try to crawl over it or under it or just hope it goes away. Crush it. Acknowledge that it sucks and you wish you didn't have to deal with it, then just plow right through. One obstacle I've face in the past and will again in the future (every.freaking.summer) is the heat. I used to just hibernate in my house and wait for fall. Wanting to do ultras in the fall was not conducive to that. Early on I could finish races without training. The further I wanted to run, the less of a valid option that was. This summer I decided I was not letting the heat stop me. I got up and ran at 5 am, I finally got over my body issues and just ran in a sports bra, I had my husband bring ice, I froze my snacks, etc. I figured it out. I stopped letting the heat be an obstacle. I couldn't let hot summer days ruin my dream of a fall 100 miler.

I mentioned earlier that Adam doesn't like to be left alone. When I can run in the morning that's not a problem. Running in the afternoons in the winter does cause an issue though. Last winter I was training for a spring race, so I had to run. I let Adam be an excuse way too often. He would look at me with his tiny little Adam face and I'd melt and not run. Sometimes though it wasn't an option. I had to go. I ran short one mile loops so I could check in on him, or if it was a nice day I took him to the park and ran laps around it, or I begged Rick to let him come hang out at work with him.

Injuries can really be obstacles that there's just nothing you can do about. Sometimes not running is the best and only answer in that case. Sometimes though, shit just hurts. There's no injury, your body is just tired and sore and you have to just run through that. I had several issues during this training cycle. I had a hip that was constantly cramping and achy. It didn't matter what distance I ran. Same with my foot. When I got to the end of my training I ended up backing off a bit because I knew those two places needed to calm down a little for my race. The rest of the time though I just ran through it. Sometimes Deanna would look at me with a sad face and tell me I was limping. I did my best to not show that I was hurting, but when someone goes that many miles with you they'll see it. I'd stop and stretch and really just want to cry and go home, but I didn't. I ran anyway. I figured out how to manage it. Guess what? Neither of those spots are causing me issues when I walk. I still haven't ran, but before even walking to the bathroom hurt, so I feel confident that it's better.

Please don't think that I'm advocating neglecting your kids so you can run, or ignoring injuries. What I'm saying is don't let things be an excuse. I believe there's a difference between a reason and an excuse. An injury is a reason not to run. Running 20 miles on Saturday and being sore is an excuse to not run Sunday. Sometimes you can't find a babysitter, or don't have any other option with your kids. Heck, sometimes I just need to spend time with my family because it's important for our mental health, or my marriage, or whatever. Sometimes though I think we moms use kids as an excuse because it's handy.

I think fear of failure can be such an obstacle. A mutual friend of mine and Rachel's just started running. Monica is sweet and awesome and has been a huge cheerleader for both of us. Now it's our turn to cheer for her. She recently asked both of us if we thought she could do a half marathon in February. We both like to enable, so of course we said yes. She sent me a message that she was registered. I told her she'd be awesome, because she will. She replied back "or I might go down in a blaze of glory." I told her she should wear a tutu just in case. My point was, if you're going to fail, do it spectacularly. Go out there and give it everything you have and have a great time. I fail sometimes. I DNF'd a race once when I got sick. I technically DNF'd FlatRock since I didn't finish in the time limit. I've also gone into races undertrained and walk almost the whole thing. I skip important training runs and make excuses. I fail often. I keep getting back up and pushing through and accomplishing goals though. I always will.

I'm so guilty of skipping runs, or making excuses. I'm getting better though. My running is improving. I often think of Rachel and the fact that she doesn't just overcome obstacles, she punches them in the face. I want to be more like that. I want to crush my obstacles and laugh when I'm done.

I hope this inspires someone to go out and crush any obstacles you're facing. I hope it also inspires me to keep doing it instead of letting the fact that I don't have a goal right now make me slack. I've said for a very long time that I need to work on strength and speed. Then I don't. Well, I have to this winter, so I'm putting it out there on my blog. I need to quit making excuses. The reason I haven't done it in the past is because it's hard. I'm going to do my best to not let that stop me.

I've been resting, but I'm ready to get back out there next week. Happy Running!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Pumpkin Holler Hunnerd Report

I've been sitting here staring at a blank screen trying to decide where to start. I told my friend Monica I didn't know where to start and she told me to start with the fact that I'm a badass. So, here it is. I ran 103.7 miles on a hilly, rocky road. I'm a total badass. For those that don't want to read a long, boring blog, let me sum it up for you. I had a plan, I executed it. I smashed that pumpkin!

My journey began at 8:00 am on Saturday. 29 hours and 24 minutes later, it was over. It is amazing what a person can go through in that span of time and over that many miles. We all lined up and it seemed like people were fighting to be in the back. At a lot of races people want to be in the front. Not this one. I think most of us knew we had a long day ahead of us, and no one wanted to go out too fast. We took off and as we were running through the campground where the start/finish is, I got a little choked up. I've wanted to run 100 miles for such a long time. I've worked so hard this summer, and it was finally going to happen. The course consisted of an 8 mile out and back and 3 loops of 31.9 miles. The total length is 103.7. Nasty trick, right? 3.7 miles may not seem significant, but I'm here to tell you, it is.

We started the race with the 100k and 50k runners. Not far in we veered off to the right to do the out and back. I had read some blog reports that indicated there was a big hill. I ran a couple of miles and hadn't seen it, so I decided the reports were exaggerated. I was so very wrong. I started going up the hill and went up and up and up. I got to the top and went a little further and came to the aid station where we turn around. I said something inappropriate about the hill I had just come up. I'll just let you all use your imaginations. The aid station had waffles and bacon. I picked up a piece of bacon, but the ends weren't as done as I like (I like it crisp) so I was pulling it apart. Another runner said he'd take the parts I didn't want. Aren't ultrarunners weird? I also grabbed a waffle and put some peanut butter and syrup on it. Refilled my bottle and was on my way. I had gone maybe a tenth of a mile and realized I had left my second bottle. Well crap. I had to have it. I ran back to get it. I got it and headed back. Going back down the big hill there were two guys behind me that were definitely gaining. I didn't consider this a race, so it's not like I was going to speed up. They caught up and we started talking. One was Kelvin and one was Jorge. It was their first hundred too. Jorge thought he knew who I was and we started talking and realized we had both run Flatrock 101k. I remembered him, just hadn't recognized him. I ran with them all the way back to the start/finish.

I was getting ready to take off on loop 2 and heard Kelvin ask if Jorge was ready to go. Jorge told him go on, he'd catch up. I left right after that, but the group Kelvin was in was a bit faster than me. Fairly quickly, Jorge caught up to me. He told me he was going to walk up all the hills, run the downhills and any flats (there were no flats!). I planned the same thing. We stuck together. We were around a mile out from the first aid station, Mad Dog, when we encountered the HILL FROM HELL. I just can't even describe it. Yuck. We finally got to the top, then dropped down into the aid station. There they had all kinds of yummy goodies. I ate a bit and kind of waited, but Jorge was doing stuff, so I just took off. A lot of people stayed there. I don't blame them, the food was good. I headed to the next aid station, which was only a couple of miles away. After it we had to do a 3 mile out and back. The first loop this out and back wasn't a lot of fun, but it was no big deal. That changed the more we did it. Coming back into that aid station on the way back Kelvin and Jorge caught me. We stopped and got pancakes and Kelvin said he was going to hit the restroom and would catch up. I walked and ate. At some point we ran and I told them I'm slow so they could go ahead. They assured me they wanted slow, they had a plan, and we were all going to do this thing together. Sounds good to me!

Nothing eventful happened through here. I was glad for company because honestly, I was having doubts. I was less than 20 miles in and just wasn't having fun. I had company all summer, even on my long runs. That didn't really help me mentally prepare for a long run by myself. If I could do anything about my training over again I would do a few long runs solo, just so I was used to it. As we were coming into Savannah Corner Deanna ran out to grab my bottles to refill. I asked how her 10K went and she told me. She had a huge PR! That just made my day. I'm so happy for her! We got what we needed and took off. The next section sucked. The sun came out and it was hot. There was no protection from the sun so we were baking. I don't think it actually got that warm, but it felt like it. I really slowed down. Kelvin felt great so he kept going. Jorge seemed to feel fine as well, but waited for me. I feel so blessed to have met these guys. They made such a huge difference for me. Once we got to the next aid station it was partly cloudy again and that really helped. We pushed on to Hard Up Ahead, where my crew was waiting for us. Right before we got there Ken pulled up beside us and we chatted for a second. I don't really remember anything about this stop. We got in and out as efficiently as possible, but didn't leave without some pics! Here are Kelvin and Jorge. This picture of me is dorky because I'm laughing, but I love it. I had a lot of fun with these guys and this picture really captures that.

This next section was run on the blacktop road. Early on we discussed this and thought we'd hate it. It turned out to be my favorite part of the course. A break from the rocks was nice. A 135 miler caught up with us during this section and Jorge stayed back to run with her while Kelvin and I pushed on ahead. The next aid station was Bathtub Rocks. They took excellent care of us. My stomach was a little queasy here and they offered me endurolytes. I said they mess with my stomach so one of the volunteers dug into his own stash and got me something else. Saltstick maybe? Anyway, that was very kind of him. They took great care of us. As we were leaving Jorge got there and we knew he'd be back running with us soon.

This was actually taken on the last loop but shows what we had to cross.
I've really got nothing to say about the last 6 miles of this loop. We ran when we could, walked this hills, and just kept going. We got to the start/finish and I went to the bathroom and I think I changed my shirt and sports bra. Then I changed my socks and relubed my feet. My crew had gone to Sonic to get me a cheeseburger. It was so sweet of them, but it had mayo on it, which I'm pretty sure is the most hideous food known to man, so there was no way I could eat it. I feel like an evil b*tch for not eating it, but I just couldn't. I did eat a hot dog though. It was good! This is where I got to pick up a pacer for the first time. I found a hottie that I thought I might enjoy spending a few hours with and talked him into running with us. Here we are:
In all seriousness, it was a big deal for him to pace this far. Ryan was supposed to pace, but got hurt at football and couldn't. Rick stepped up and ran over 14 miles, instead of the 8 he had planned. I can't thank him enough. On the way to the first aid station we told Rick about the big hill. I think I had been dreading it since we did it the first time. As we're going up it he said "Wow, this is really a hill, isn't it." I think he probably wanted to complain a lot, but he didn't. He's awesome. We made it to Mad Dog and I hit the porta potty. OMG. It was gross. I barely made it out before I started puking. Oops. I got some french toast and they were making soup. I really wanted some warm broth but was afraid it had carrots and I'm allergic. I asked and the wonderful volunteer read the label for me. It was safe! The broth was great. We left there and headed to the out and back. When we got there I was hoping for more broth, but the soup had big carrots in it, so that was a no go. I asked if they had bacon. They said they could start cooking it. I told them I'd be back in three miles and would love some. We did the out and back, which I'm fairly sure got longer. I think Ken tricked us by moving the mat every single time. We got back and I peed in front of a truck because I was not risking another porta-potty. We got what we needed and got out of there.

(a break from your regularly scheduled program to tell you I took a break right here to peruse the internet for my next ultra. Thanks Rachel!)

As were were running toward Savannah Corner Kelvin said "I don't remember all of these hills last time." He was right! I remember the first year of Pumpkin Holler, Ken and some friends did the race a few weeks after everyone else. It was the Pumpkin Holler Invitational. Being a long time stalker of his, I read his blog report, and I remember him saying something about the hills getting bigger each loop. It's so true. The aid stations move and the hill and rocks grow.

At Savannah Corner Rick handed off his pacer bib to Libby. She was also taking on more miles than originally planned and I felt some guilt. This would be her longest run ever. I got pretty emotional at this aid station and was pretty ready to be done. We started out and I knew this part of the course was a bit easier, so I was happy about that. Overall I was just in a bad mood most of the time though. It was also through here that I started having to pee constantly. I also started hallucinating. There were lots of leaves on the course and I kept thinking they were other things. Not just thinking "oh, that leaf looks like a mouse" but actually "OMG, a mouse!" It was special. I don't remember much about this section. At Hard Up Ahead I made Rick come in the porta-potty with me. I used the bathroom while he stood there inside. Poor guy. I just needed to break down a little bit and needed him. The more tired I got the more I just wanted my husband. I am so glad he was there. We left there and had the road section again. At bathtub rocks they had grilled cheese sandwiches that were so so good. This aid station was nothing short of awesome every time we came through. They were all great, but something about this one just made me look forward to it every time. I have no clue who the people were running it, but I hope someone knows and tells them how impressed I was. As we were coming to the end of the loop we passed a familiar spot that I knew meant we were almost there. It breathed new life into us. I gave Libby a list of the things I needed before the last loop and she cut off early to go get everything ready while Kelvin, Jorge and I ran around the parking lot and through the finish line. It's hard to keep running through there and not getting to stop!

This isn't a great pic of Libby and I but it's all I've got. Congrats to Libby on her longest run ever!

Me with Jason. I made him take this because when I paced him at Heartland last year I made him take a selfie. I thought we needed one during my race too.

I did what I needed to do and picked up my final pacer, Jason. I knew we had one loop to go and we had plenty of time. Jason was excited and full of energy, so that helped get me going. Kelvin and I looked around for Jorge but couldn't find him. He always caught right up with us so we headed out. We did a lot more complaining about the hill going into Mad Dog. Ok, fine. I'll be honest. I complained a lot. Kelvin probably didn't. Jorge did finally catch up to us, but passed us and did his own thing the rest of the race. I hate so much that I didn't wait for him and didn't get to finish the race with him. Waiting longer and looking harder for him is probably the one decision during the race I would change if I could. In the moment though I just didn't think enough. I just took off assuming all was well and he'd catch us within half a mile.

When we got to Mad Dog I headed to the porta-potty. You might be asking yourself right now, Why? I puked last time, why go in again? Well, I stupidly thought it might be better. It wasn't. I barely made it out before I threw up again. The only two times I threw up the whole race was due to stinky toilets. Jason made fun of me a lot, then kicked us out of the aid station and down the road.

I started getting really tired. I actually fell asleep in the porta-potty. I came out and started crying. I was exhausted. Jason mostly ignored me when I was being like this, which was the right thing to do. No one could fix it, so we just needed to move on. He handed me a pancake and I took a bite and gagged. It was not what I wanted. We headed out to do the out and back for the final time. Jason handed me a cup of coke and said to walk and drink. I needed the calories. The problem was that it was very cold. I was freezing and just couldn't drink something cold. When he wasn't looking I poured it out. He saw the evidence on the way back though! It gave me a good laugh when I needed it. Through here I started thinking people were running up behind us. I could hear the footsteps and even heard voices. Jason kept saying no one was there. Once I stopped to pee and as I was squatted in the middle of the road I thought some people were coming up behind me. I freaked out. Jason assured me that I was just crazy. We got that done and headed toward Savannah Corner. We were really cold and tired and just not happy. We knew the sun would come up pretty soon and that's all we could think about. By the time we got to Savannah Corner we knew we could put away our headlamps. That was something to look forward to! When we got there they had hot cocoa! It was so good. I think I had hot cocoa, broth and some coke there. Probably some solid food too. I really reloaded on the calories. The aid stations were close together at this race, so I mostly just ate at them and not between. It worked very well.

On the way to East of Eden, we kept thinking surely it was around the next corner. One time Kelvin even swore he saw it. It turned out to be a random building. We finally got there and I peed and I think I drank some coke or something. Jason handed me a cup of m&m's and told me to eat and walk. He put way too many in there though and there's no way I could eat them all. I ate several, and then when he wasn't looking I threw them in the ditch and stashed the cup in my pocket. I'm not sure if he knows I did that. Lets see if he reads my blog! Ha!

I looked very much forward to hitting Hard Up Ahead the last time because then the aid stations were only 3 miles apart and I knew it was almost over. Everything hurt. I think my eyelashes hurt. We got what we needed there and got out. We just wanted to be done so we were hurrying. When we left this aid station Kelvin was having severe calf cramps. Jason massaged it for a while, but there wasn't a lot that could be done. We just had to power through. We got to Bathtub Rocks and had Jason take a picture. He fell going over them and broke his phone case. Thank goodness he didn't break his phone!

We didn't even stop at the last aid station. Jason grabbed us cookies and handed them to us on the way by. We were on a mission! I took a bite and threw the cookie. For the record, I only littered food. No trash. I put that in my pockets. With a couple of miles left a vehicle pulled up and Kathy Hoover jumped out. She had ran 135.6 miles, so what was a couple more? She had coached Kelvin all summer, so she came to finish it with him. She was just what we needed. Lots of energy! We started moving faster. Kathy and Kelvin got ahead of me but I was going as fast as I could so I just let them go. Eventually they stopped because Kelvin wanted us to finish together. With maybe a mile to go Kelvin felt a pop. He had pulled or torn his calf muscle. He was in extreme pain, but no way was he quitting. We slowed way down and he hobbled as well as he could. I was holding back tears because I felt so bad for him. We had been through so much together and I couldn't feel his physical pain, but I knew how upsetting that must be. As we were coming over the last bridge I couldn't hold back the happy tears any more. I was getting ready to cross the finish line and get the buckle I've worked so hard for. I could see my crew down there waiting for me and we were waiving and so happy. We came into the camping area and began the long slow walk around to the start/finish.

Coming in we crossed a mat that told them who we were. A huge crowd gathered and was cheering us on. I was crying. We finally crossed the finish line in 29 hours, 24 seconds. Well ahead of the cutoff.

Some finish line pics:

This is what we worked so hard for!

And finally, thank you, thank you, thank you to my crew and pacers! Rick, Ryan, Deanna, Jacob, Libby and Jason. You guys are the reason I finished.

To Kelvin and Jorge: Running this race with you guys was just something special. I am so glad you tucked me under your wings and helped take care of me. You made all the difference in my race. I hope we can all run again together someday. If either of you ever need a crew or pacer, I'm there.

Thanks to everyone else for the messages and well wishes and for cheering for me. I knew so many people were pulling for me. When I wanted to quit, and yes, there were times, I knew how much support I had and I kept going.

Thanks to all of the volunteers! Those TATUR's know how to put on a race!

Now it is time for some much needed rest. I don't know when I'll run again, but I know it won't be for a couple of weeks.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Bring it on!

I can't believe it. It is a few short days until my first 100 miler. How did this happen? I started training for this in May. It seemed so very far away. All summer when I was suffering through the heat it seemed it would never get here. Now it's time. Of course I'm nervous and freaked out, but I'm also really excited. I've trained for this race harder than I've ever trained before. Obviously I ran more miles, but I was more committed and more consistent. If nothing else, I'm proud of that.

I have a big, awesome crew going with me. I want to tell you guys all about them so I'm using this post to do it. Otherwise my race report will be too long. Lets be honest. It will be too long anyway. This will make it shorter.

Rick-My amazing husband. He will be crewing and pacing and supporting and whatever else I need. I think he's very much looking forward to bossing me around! I'm so happy he has started running and so happy he'll be part of this experience.

Ryan-Super Duper Pacer Extraordinaire. Also, my oldest son. He's such a great pacer and really knows what to do to keep me moving. I still get tears in my eyes when I think about my 50 last year and how great he was. So happy he's going!

Libby-Gosh, what do I call her? She's so much to me! Best friend, wailing wall, supporter of my craziness, and so much more. She is going to be crew and pace. She'll be my first pacer and with any luck we'll still be friends when it's over. I will apologize now for anything mean I say Libby!

Deanna-My training partner, awesome friend and the person that can make me laugh like no one else. She's actually going to run the 10K (Go Deanna!) and then crew for me. She'll jump in to pace if I need her. Her son Jacob will be going too and is a really fun kid (guy? he likely doesn't want to be called a kid), so I'm glad he'll be there.

Jason-Oh dear. How to come up with compliments? Ha. Just kidding! Jason will be taking me to the finish line. He'll pace the whole last loop, which is 31.9 miles. It's perfect, because he won't take any of my crap or listen to any of my excuses. I can also say anything to him I want and we'll still be friends when it's over. Well, I hope. He's just the right amount of mean to get me to finish. He won't let me quit unless a bone is sticking out. Hell, he might not even let me quit then.

I've been shopping, and making lists, and obsessing over everything. My dining room table has turned into Race Prep Central. It's covered, mostly in food. Adam keeps eyeballing the snacks, so I'm thinking I may have to hide them or I'll get to the race without half of it. Speaking of Adam, he's not going to go with us. We talked about it and he'd rather spend the weekend with his Meemaw. It would be fun to have his cute, smiley little face there, but I can understand him not wanting to go. I do plan to face time with him a couple of times if I have good enough cell reception.


Result of shopping:

In my defense, a lot of that is for my crew!

The watch I'm using for the race syncs with my phone via bluetooth and lets me get texts and fb messages, so anyone that has my number, feel free to text me! I likely won't reply, but I'd love to get messages. If you don't have my number and are dying to text me, send me a fb message and I'll give you my number.

My next post will be a race report!

Monday, October 6, 2014

The Last of the Long Runs

Ahhhh, it's finally here. The taper! I have worked my butt off the last few months, and now I get to ease off a little until it's time for my race. I'll run during the next couple of weeks, but not a lot. It's time to rest and let my body heal a bit before I torture it for 100 miles.

I had two long runs on my schedule for the weekend. 30 miles Saturday and 20 Sunday. Saturday Deanna and I went to Iola to run on the Prairie Spirit Trail. Well, she biked, I ran. I wasn't far into it when I knew 30 wasn't a good idea. I was still sore from last weekend and I have a couple of issues that are present, but not bad enough to be a true injury. Yet. I didn't want to push it. My plan was to run 5 and reevaluate. It was an out and back, so I'd get at least 10. If I still felt good at 5, I'd reevaluate at 8, then 10, then 12. At mile 5 I was good and at mile 8 I was as well. The wheels fell off around mile 9 though. My hip started cramping and my foot was making itself known. At this point, the only thing I can do is hurt myself or overtrain. This one weekend wasn't going to determine how my race goes, unless I get hurt. I turned around at 10 and ran/walked back. I wanted to walk all the way back, but I didn't. I ran a decent amount. This was not my best long run of the training cycle, but it was fine and I got it done.

Sunday the original plan was 20, but Jason asked if Rick and I would want to go to Elk City Lake and run the trail with him and Krystal. I'm always happy to have some trail time, so I said yes and talked Rick into coming too. The trail is 15 miles, but I figure if I'm doing what I like to call "Flatrock Math" it was at least 20.  I was unsure of how my legs would feel after 20 the day before. I was also a little nervous about running with Krystal for the first time when I was tired and grumpy from a long run the day before. I did my best to not be a total jerk when I was feeling bad. The first few miles Jason and I traded off leading because there were so many spider webs. One of us would run in front until we couldn't take it anymore, and the other one would jump in and lead. Eventually I just let him lead. Rick and Krystal are both really quiet, but since Jason and I definitely are not, there was plenty of conversation.

I felt remarkably good in the beginning considering my miles on Saturday. I'd say we were about 5 miles in when I started feeling it and said I was pretty much done with the whole running thing. Thankfully the rest of the group was ok with a long hike. We did still run a little, but not a lot. I had a headache when I went to bed Saturday night, and still had it Sunday morning. By mile 10 it was pretty bad. When we left Oak Ridge I wasn't feeling great, but was still attempting to be cheerful. By mile 12 I was done with that crap. I felt horrible. My legs were still good and my energy was ok, but every step hurt my head and I was starting to just feel gross all over. At this point Rick had a couple of decent blisters and his knee hurt. I don't know that anyone had a lot of fun the last couple of miles. I was really happy to finally see the parking lot!

Picture of Rick and I a couple of miles in

This weekend was challenging, but fun. It's nice to have the big miles out of the way!

11 days, 18 hours and 47 minutes!!

Monday, September 29, 2014

FlatRock 50k...Epic Fail

I went into this race full of confidence. My training has gone well, and based on the first half of the 101K on this trail in the spring, a PR was a sure thing. I had not a worry in the world. I knew that for various reasons it's likely my last year doing this race and I wanted it to be a good one. It never crossed my mind that it wouldn't be. Looking back I think this is the first place things went wrong for me. I failed to take the trail seriously, which is a mistake. I finished the race, but did not meet the time limit. I believe I was 39 seconds over. Yes, seconds.

Normally I go through all the details of my race, but I'm not today. First of all, I just don't want to. I need to move on and not dwell on it, and rehashing the whole day is not going to help me do that. I have discussed getting sick with a couple of people and think I have some good tips for going forward so that stops happening. I'm going to start explaining what happened with two miles left in the race. I had left the person I was running with and was trying to finish as fast as I could, while puking and feeling miserable. Heather and I finished together last year and it was horrible for me to leave here, particularly since she was having a lot of trouble. It really made me feel like a bad person. Anyway, I did go ahead and pull ahead. My watch had died, so I no longer had a running timer. I heard the race had started late, but I didn't know exactly how late, so I was running blind. I looked at my phone and I knew there was no way it was going to happen. Still, just in case I suddenly was blessed with the speed of a cougar, I pushed on. I had to sit a couple of times because I felt like I was going to pass out. I hated to do it, but I know it was the right thing to do.

When I was close to the end I saw Rick Mayo, the photographer. I told him I wasn't going to make it. He told me I still had 10 minutes and to run. I tried. I got to a spot on the course where I could cut the course and knew that would help me with time. I started to turn that way, but I couldn't do it. That is not the person I want to be and isn't honest. I went up and around, as we're supposed to. I got to the road and wanted to run so bad. I was just miserable. I didn't hurt, but I was nauseous and dizzy and just couldn't do it. I got close and saw Rick, Ryan and Adam running out to me. Adam got up next to me and said "You have 3 minutes!" I thought I was already past the cutoff. Rick told me I really had two minutes. I ran as fast as I possibly could. I truly wanted to die right then, I was so sick. Adam said "I'm tired, but if you keep running I'll keep running!" What a little sweetheart. I went around the corner and could see the clock. I was a few seconds over the limit. I kept running and finally crossed the finish line just seconds over the time limit. It was devastating. Just when I thought I couldn't feel any worse, someone came up to me and said "You know you didn't make it, right?" He's right. I didn't make it. That was absolutely not the right thing to do though. There are kinder ways to say that and perhaps maybe 5 minutes later when the world wasn't spinning and I'm trying to hold in my vomit would have been a better time.

I've tried really hard to not make this sound like I'm just bitter and whiny and complaining because I didn't finish the way I wanted to. I could have made a lot of different choices during the race. I felt great after Oak Ridge coming back and could have left Heather behind. She was struggling though and I wasn't going to do that. Please don't think I'm saying this is her fault! It's not. I'm simply explaining one of the choices I made. Heather is one of the reasons I finished last year. She pushed me when I didn't feel like pushing. She's great and I'm so proud of how hard she fought this weekend. Her finish was incredible. She was in extreme pain and she pushed on. I made lots of choices that added up to me not finishing on time. Honestly though, I don't think I'd change any of them. I'm not happy with the result, but if I continue to dwell on it I won't be able to finish my 100. I need to get my head in the right place.

To the people that love me and are always there for me: Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Your endless support amazes me. I won't name everyone because I would miss people. I do want to say a special thanks to Ken and Dana Childress, who have never doubted me and continue to tell me I can do anything I set my mind to. I will see you guys at Pumpkin Holler!

I do need to make a special shout out to Max Walker. He is always at Aid 1 and does a great job. This year my son Ryan was doing the 25k (more about that in my next post!) and is recovering from a concussion. I asked Max to please look out for Ryan and ask him how he felt. He did, more than once, and made sure Ryan was telling the truth. It was nice to know someone was out there looking out for him. That was way above and beyond what an aid station worker should be asked to do, so I appreciate him doing it. He also taught Ryan how to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, which is a story for another day :)

I said in the first paragraph that I went in thinking this would be my last FlatRock. I haven't changed my mind. I'm now more firm in that belief. I won't be back. It was fun, but I want to go back to running that trail because I love the trail and want to have fun.

18 days until Pumpkin Holler!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Second star to the right...

...and straight on til morning! For those of you that don't get it (surely everyone does!) those are the directions to Never Never Land. I think of that all the time when I'm running. It won't really make sense to other people, but that's ok. The first time I ever made a reference to that was during FlatRock 101k. I was telling Jason we had to go this direction, then take a turn, run down the road, turn again, and we were almost to the turnaround. The way I described it just made the directions to Never Never Land pop into my head. I said that. He had no idea what I was talking about. I explained but he just looked at me like I was nuts. Then this summer I did the same thing to Deanna. Often on our runs I'll say something like "we will walk up that hill, then run the flat until we get to so and so point, walk the next hill, then turn towards home." I just always think of the directions that Peter Pan gave Wendy when I do that.

Right now, for me, Never Never Land is the finish line at Pumpkin Holler. Well, maybe the whole race is. It's something that I can't really imagine. I've been at other races where people run 100 miles. I've paced, I've seen the finishers. I even paced in this race last year. It still all seems like this magical, mystical place that I don't really understand. I think I know what will happen there and I definitely know what I want to have happen there. It's really just a great big unkown to me. I've followed my training plan, so I guess I have the directions down. I just need to keep following them and I'll get there, right?

Everyone knows Tick-Tock the crocodile in Peter Pan, right? He swallowed the alarm clock and you can hear it ticking when he's around. Captain Hook always freaks out when he hears the clock ticking. Well, I'm going to think of Tick-Tock and that clock that is ticking down the whole race. See, I think I can run 100 miles. Actually, I know I can. I just don't know if I can do it in 30 hours. My biggest fear is being pulled from the race due to time limits. I also worry that I'll go out entirely too fast because I'm worried about the clock and I'll end up blowing up and not being able to finish. I suppose if I were to continue this comparison, that would make me Captain Hook? Hmmmm. I think that makes Jason, my final pacer, Tinker Bell? I like it! I wonder if I can get him to wear fairy wings?

I guess I'm all out of Peter Pan references. I mean, just how closely can one compare Peter Pan to running 100 miles? I think it's probably weird that a silly quote from this movie pops into my head on a lot of runs. It's one of the things that makes me unique I guess! This post really has absolutely no point and is really not that exciting. It's just something that I keep thinking about, so I thought I'd share it with all of you. The closer I get to race day the more scared I am. 32 days!! As of today I'm officially registered! I put that off for quite a while, because now that I'm registered I suppose I have to do it.

I'll see if I can't come up with a much better post in the next few days. In the meantime, Happy Running!


Monday, September 8, 2014

Birthday Miles

Several weeks ago I was looking at my training plan and realized that on Sept 6 I had 30 miles scheduled. Well, my 35th birthday is Sept 4 and I have the day off work, so I decided I could just do 35 and call it a birthday run. It's something I've wanted to do for years, even before I was running ultras. I made a route, stashed coolers, made plans, etc. I was ready to go. The biggest snafu leading up to it is that my Garmin watch died....again. So I was going to have to run it not knowing my pace. Yay! I was still set to go. The weather forecast looked awful as it was going to be really hot and really humid. I talked my partner in crime, Deanna, into going with me.

3 am rolls around and Deanna showed up. She had a present with her. I opened it up and she had given me the most hilarious present I've ever received. Toilet paper, wet wipes, vaseline, and bath salts. The first three are things I often use on a run and the last was for after the run. Perfect! I laughed a lot. We took off for the first section, which was a 4 mile out and back. Nothing exciting. Just ran. It was really hot. At the end of the 4 miles I was already dripping sweat. I put on my hydration pack, ate a small snack, and off we went for the rest. Within a few blocks my stomach was shaky. I didn't know what was up. I kept running, thinking it would settle down. For a couple of miles I really struggled. I just felt gross. Six miles into the run I threw up. Great. I still had 29 miles and I was already puking. I started again and still didn't feel great. I was worn down, just completely exhausted, sweaty, and my stomach hurt. Yuck. I kept going thinking it would get better. It didn't. I whined. A lot. Deanna finally said maybe I should go home and finish the rest that night. I didn't want to as it felt a lot like failure. I decided I had a couple of options to keep going and at certain points it would be easy to just turn around. By the time I got another mile down the road I just knew it wasn't happening. I could have kept going, but hey, it was my birthday. Why spend it completely miserable? I turned around. I was almost home and had to stop again to throw up, but this time it was mostly just gagging. So much fun! I got 15 miles total and just felt awful. I got home, went to the bathroom, and laid down on the bathroom floor. I was dizzy, the room was spinning, and I was wondering what the hell was wrong and why the hell I do this to myself. I then realized I was super thirsty and my lips were chapped. Had been for days actually. brain wakes up and I realize I'm probably really dehydrated. I had emptied a 20 oz bottle of water as well as a 2 liter hydration pack and a 20 oz bottle of gatorade on my 15 mile run. I had also had water before the run. That's a whole lot of water in a short amount of time, and I didn't have to pee. I kept drinking all morning. Finally at around 9:30 I had to pee a little. For those of you keeping track at home, that's twice in a few weeks that I did this to myself. Will I ever learn?

Late morning Deanna and I headed to Wichita to go to lunch at Olive Garden. My tummy was finally happy and I ate a ton. We also did some shopping and had a great time. I got home, napped a bit, then went to watch Ryan's first football game of the season. He scored a touchdown! I watched until halfway through the 4th quarter and went home to get ready to finish my run. All day I doubted my ability to do it. I know what a wimp I am and how tired I was. I got ready anyway and started. Miraculously, I felt great. I don't know what it was. I just felt good. I decided to just go with it as long as it lasted. The first 5 miles or so were uneventful. I was cruising and felt fabulous. Things sort of started going downhill at that point. The day had caught up with me. I was still doing ok though. Maybe 6 miles in I started noticing under my arms were chafed. I called Rick to see if he'd bring vaseline. He was sooooo excited to do it! Ha! While talking to him and not paying attention I almost stepped on a copperhead. In town. Eeeeewwww. I freaked out, then told Rick I had to go. I'm normally super scared of snakes (shocker, right?) but I guess I was too tired and delirious to worry about it. It wasn't moving, so I threw a rock at it. It didn't move. I decided it was dead. I ran up and through the country club, and Rick found  me. I lubed up and took off again. On the way back past where the snake was I found out it was not in fact dead. It was gone. The only way for it to get off the road was to slither, so that meant it was alive. Aaaahhhhh! I got out of there ASAP. I was 8 miles in by then and just felt awful. I suggested to Deanna that maybe we could pretend I was 25. The meant when I got home I could be done. She wasn't having any of it. I think she was really ready to be done also, but she was kind enough to keep encouraging me. I finally got home and was 10 miles in for that run, 25 total for the day. Just 10 more!

I decided I would run as much as I could for the next 5 and Deanna said she'd walk the last 5 with me. Woohoo! I'd love to say I ran most of the next 5, but I'll be honest, I didn't. At one point I was bragging about my illustrious high school forensics career and unfortunately for Deanna, recited one of my pieces. I also tried to recite the Gettysburg Address, but she shot me down. Who doesn't want to hear the Gettysburg Address at 11 pm? It's exciting stuff! I think I also sang a little bit and who knows what else. I was way past the point of being tired. I just wanted to sleep. There was a lot of giggling. I got the bright idea that we could do the final four miles on the track. It's flat, I wouldn't have to carry water, and well, it just seemed like a brilliant idea. Deanna wasn't convinced of it's brilliance, but like the steamroller I typically am, I just ignored her and forced her to do what I wanted. It's shocking that I don't have more friends. I mean, who wouldn't want to be friends with someone like that? We got to the track and started walking. It was a blast! Ok, not really. I'm such a liar. It was awful. Then it was exciting! We were walking and suddenly see a lawnmower flying down the road away from the schoool. I mean, this guy was hauling. It was midnight. Why would someone be driving away from the school on a lawnmower in the middle of the night? We were sure it was one of the schools mowers. I called the cops and told them what was going on and they hurried to catch the guy. We felt all victorious, and like we had saved the school, etc. I call my husband to relay the news about his wife being a hero. He said "are you sure it wasn't soandso?" Ummm, who? He said the janitors get off work at midnight and one of them often drives his lawn mower to and from work. Oh dear. Well, surely it wasn't this guy! He was acting weird and driving super fast. He must have stolen it. Rick was laughing hysterically and telling me he's pretty sure it was the janitor. Huh. Well, maybe. Then Michael, my friend Misty's husband, (aka one of the cops in town) shows up at the track. The first humiliating part of this is that I wasn't wearing a shirt. I only had on a sports bra and capris.  It was hot and the middle of the night, so who was going to see me? Well, someone did. The second embarrassing part was that it was in fact the janitor, on his very own mower, that we had called the cops on. Wow, this is humiliating. We talked to Michael for a few minutes and then started back on the track for the last couple of miles.

It was FINALLY time to head home. I live just 3/4 of a mile from the school. Longest 3/4 of a mile ever. I think I might have sang a couple more songs on the way home. I don't know. I know I was almost home and got really cold and was shivering. Since it was around 80 degrees outside I'm thinking it wasn't due to the temperature. I finally arrived at home with 35 miles complete!!! Victory is mine! I took a bath and crawled in bed and passed out. It was an amazing birthday! I will NOT be running 36 miles next year. I'm retired from craziness like that. At least until Saturday when I have to run 30 miles.

I wish I had felt a little better at the end of 35 miles. I cannot fathom how I'm going to run 100 when 35 was so hard. It doesn't make sense to me. I know though that before my 50 and my 101k that my long training runs were brutal and I felt the same way. I just can't quite imagine how it's going to work. Maybe it's not? Maybe I'll fail? I don't know. I'm going to give it everything I have though.

Race in 39 days!!!!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

It Takes A Village

I'm a firm believer in the theory that it takes a village to raise a child. We've been blessed with a wonderful village of people that are helping our kids grow up to be the people we want them to be. It occurs to me lately though that it takes a village to build and ultrarunner as well. This is where I prove once again that I'm a total wimp and need a lot of support. I know there are lots of runners out there doing it all on their own and don't have the amount of help and support that I have. That's awesome that they can be that tough. I'm...not. Well, maybe I could be, but I hope I don't have to find out any time soon.

The most important people in my village of helpers are my running partners. The person that goes the most miles with me is Deanna. Bless her heart. If I'm running long she rides her bike with me and if I'm doing a shorter run she runs. She carries my stuff in a pouch on her bike, she gets up at all hours of the night to start with me (we started at 3 am last Friday), she waits while I stop to poop, then stop to poop again, then stop to pee. Then I stop to relube with vaseline. I tell her way more than she wants to know about my life. She does it all with a cheerful attitude and a smile on her face. I'm lucky to have her! Lately I've also been joined some by Joy, who is as wonderful as her name indicates. She's always happy and is just fun to be around. Someone I don't get to run with very much is Tammy. I wish we could run together more, but our schedules don't match up well. She's great because her husband is also a school administrator and I can talk to her about things that no one else understands. It's nice to end the run feeling refreshed both physically and mentally. One of the sweetest people I've ever met, Misty, walks with me on Monday nights. It helps loosen up the muscles after the weekend long runs and is just an hour of fun chatting that I look forward to every week. Without these ladies I would skip a lot more runs and when I did run I wouldn't have as much fun.

Besides people that run with me, there are those that let me stash stuff at their house or on their property. Joy lives in the country and has the absolute perfect spot to stash a cooler. In fact, oops, I still have one there from this weekend! I will go get that tonight. I hope. I've left stuff at lots of houses and am always so grateful that people let me do that so I don't have to worry about something happening to it or having to carry everything at once. If all else fails, Rick will bring stuff to me, but both of us hate it when he has to. I've met a few people in Eureka that tell me any time I need water or a bathroom please feel free to stop at their house. I just need to meet some more people out in the country!

I've talked about my friend Libby on here before, but I can't express how much she means to me. Not just with running, but in general. She's a really great person and I'm not worthy of her friendship. She supports me no matter what. She makes me believe there's nothing I can't do. I could go on and on, but just suffice it to say she's one of the most important people in my life. I'm also thankful for Rebecca, who I "met" on a running forum and have become friends with, even though we've never met in real life. She listens to me via facebook messenger and she gives advice or just an ear. She's always encouraging and is totally my diet/fitness role model. My dream is to look like her!

I can't write about the people that support me without talking about my husband and kids. I've gone on and on about them, but I'm really thankful for them. Ryan is always willing to pace me or crew for me or do anything else I need at races. Rick is just there for whatever I need. He's not always happy to do things like bring me ice when it's really hot, or bring me extra toilet paper, or get up early and ride his bike with me if I need him to, but he does it. He has started running and we're having a running date tonight. So excited! Adam is just Adam, which is a pretty special thing. He's not old enough to do much, but I know he supports me. He talks about me with pride at school. He brings me water or snacks if he can. He waits at home alone while I go run even though he hates that. He will put in a mile or two if I need him. He also makes me smile and laugh every single day, which is priceless.

There are so many other people that are helping "raise" me into the runner I want to be. I could go on and on. The Eureka Run for God group has been great! They continue to motivate me to reach my goals and encourage me. I meet so many people in town that are really nice and encouraging when they find out what I'm training for. Of course, they think I've lost my mind, but they're generally nice about it.

I've had people lately comment on how much more dedicated I am these days and how much more I run. For a while I was all proud of myself and felt pretty awesome. Then I realized it's not me that deserves any credit for that. It's my village. I've built this village up around me and they're the reason I continue to get up at 4 am (or even earlier) and put in the miles. I know that without their help it wouldn't happen. To everyone that has helped, is helping, and will help in the future: It may not always seem like I appreciate you or notice what you do, but I promise I do. I know that if (when!) I finish the 100 it will be due to your efforts.

Monday, August 11, 2014

When all else

August 7 was my 15th wedding anniversary. Yay!! I've been anticipating this for months. I was excited and it felt like a big milestone we should really celebrate. Rick and I had an amazing summer, spent a lot of time together, and I was really happy. Well, I say "we" had an amazing summer. I did and I hope he did too. Anyway, the anniversary was coming up. I made plans, got a babysitter, etc. I mentioned it lots of times. Rick told me he had enrollment that day, but that's no big deal. Our plans were for the evening. Then Ryan's enrollment papers came home and I started reading through them. There it was in what seemed like enormous font. Enrollment lasts until 8 pm. That meant Rick would work until at least 8:30. On our anniversary. The boys were already scheduled to go to Rick's parents house, so I was going to be spending my anniversary home alone. To say I was angry was putting it mildly. I was furious. It's no secret that I've struggled with Rick's work schedule and not getting to see him much. I was so nervous about school starting this year but we had both vowed to make sure we spend more time together, have dates, and communicate better. Then this happened. It was like his job was punching me in the face. Overdramatic? Yeah. I probably was. I just felt like this year was going to be  repeat of last year and I cannot handle that.

I moped and whined and was hateful to Rick. I complained to friends. I was mad. I decided I'm not even going on a date the next night. Just forget it, we're not celebrating our anniversary. Then I realized I was being a giant baby and sucked it up. I had 15 miles scheduled for Sunday. It was going to be hard to get that done as my brother was getting married that day. I thought that it would be perfect to run the 15 miles on Thursday evening. I could do an anniversary run. 15 miles for 15 years. Deanna agreed to bike with me. I was really dreading it because we all know I'm a heat wimp. I was right to dread it. It was HOT.

We started at 7 pm and the sun was bright. Within half a mile I had sweat pouring off of me. I pushed on. At nearly the two mile mark a dog came out and chased me. Long story short, I used my pepper spray on him. Sadly, the pepper spray came back and hit me in the face. Within a couple of minutes my face was on fire. I pressed on. I finally had to stop. I was almost in tears. I had a frozen bottle of gatorade so I held that to my face for a few minutes. It helped. Deanna asked if I wanted to go back. I did. So bad. I was hot, my face was burning and it sucked. This was my anniversary run though. I hadn't given up on my marriage in the tough times, so I wasn't giving up on the run. Plus, I'm trying to be less wimpy and learn to tough it out no matter what. I walked a bit, then started running again. We came to a big hill that I knew was going to be hard. We were doing the usual loop backwards. I normally run down this hill. By the time we got to the top I think we were both cussing.

We trudged on. Up and up and up. I was not pleased. I felt horrible, it was hot, and I had no energy. I was trying out Tailwind Nutrition as I've heard great things about it. Well, it just isn't the thing for me. It's a powder you mix in your water so it is your nutrition, hydration and electrolytes all in one. The problem for me is that it means every drink you take is flavored. When it's hot and I'm thirsty I just want cold water. I don't want flavor. I got the the point that I didn't even want to drink because I didn't want the flavor so I knew it was time to make a change. It was late enough I thought Rick would be done working so I called him to bring me water. He didn't answer. I texted him to call me and waited. He didn't call back so Deanna called her husband Ryan. He was kind enough to bring me some water. I dumped out the tailwind and filled my pack with water. Ahhh, so much better! I was 8 miles in and thankfully had a lot of downhill from this point. The sun was also going down, so it was a tiny bit cooler.

Not a lot to say about the final miles. It was just a lot of walking with some downhill runs thrown in. Lots of nasty frogs! They were everywhere. I was thankful for Deanna's company because it was late and dark and scary out in the country. I wish the run would have been a little more enjoyable. The important thing is that I finished. I'm so much stronger than I was a year ago. Mentally and physically. I'm happy with where my running is. Just have to keep pushing!

The moral of this story is, when it seems like everything else is falling apart and you don't have anything else to do, just go run. Running will always be there for you. It might not always be pretty, but you learn from the tough runs and they prepare you for the tough times in races.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Similarities between ultrarunners and infants...

I have an 8 month old nephew, Jaggar, that I've spent quite a bit of time with lately. The more time I spend with him the more I notice the similarities between his lifestyle and mine. I've often thought that the tail end of training for a race, where you're getting big miles, is similar to when you are the mother of a newborn. I know when my boys were born I walked around in a fog of fatigue for weeks. I'm the same way when I'm running a lot. I'm just so tired I can't focus on anything. I didn't realize before just how much ultrarunners are really like giant newborns though.

Here are the ways in which I think ultrarunners and infants are similar:

1. Frequent naps-Perhaps I'm just a wimp and extra tired, but I take naps a lot these days. I get up at 4:30 or 5 on the weekdays to run. Weekends are even earlier. By the time afternoon rolls around I'm just done. I need a quick nap. When I'm with Jaggar, our napping schedules tend to be similar. In fact, I love it when he's at my house or I'm with him because he likes to have someone lay down with him to go to sleep. I quickly volunteer myself for that duty. Last Saturday we camped and I took two naps with him. I had gotten up at 3:30 and put in 20 miles before heading to the lake, so I was ready for some sleep.

2. Frequent meals-Like our napping schedule, Jaggar and I also tend to eat on the same schedule. Every few hours we need a snack of some sort. His comes in liquid form, which doesn't seem like a lot of fun. I eat whatever I can get my hands on. I'm starving all the time. I'm trying not to eat everything I see as I've been fat, didn't like it, and don't really want to go back.

3. Excessive Laundry-both Jaggar and I tend to generate quite a bit of laundry. A lot of it is wet and stinky. My sister Keli does his laundry, but sadly I'm left to do mine by myself. One time I asked Rick to wash my running clothes and he was so grossed out that I think he almost left me, so I guess I'm on my own with laundry.

4. Schedules-You know how when you have a baby your entire life revolves around their schedule? When they need to eat, nap, etc, affects when you can go places. Sadly, that's what my family is experiencing right now. Want to go camping this weekend? Yay! But first I need to run 20 miles. And by the way, I'll be going to bed early so I can get up and run again the next day. Right now my training schedule takes priority. Obviously some things would come first, but I'm doing my best to stick to it.

I'm sure I could think of many other similarities, but right now I'm tired and hungry. Also, there is a huge pile of stinky and wet clothes on my bathroom floor that need washed.

Here is a picture of me with the cutest 8 month old ever. Notice I'm in running clothes. I think I got him all wet when I held him.

Small brag: Three weeks in a row of 50+ miles! My training is kicking butt. I'm happy. 100 miles here I come!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Updates and randomness

Let me start by saying I have no title for this post. Maybe by the time I'm done I will? Also, I need to get back to blogging regularly instead of just doing race reports. I have so many cool experiences when running. I just know you guys love hearing about them! ;)

I'm pretty sure everyone has been on the edge of their seats wondering what I'm up to and what big race I'm doing next. At least, I'm sure there's still one person out there that hasn't had to listen to me obsess about it for hours. After the 101K I knew I wanted to run 100 miles sometime in the near future, or at least within the next year. The first challenge is picking one. I looked them up, read race reports, read race info packets, asked for advice from friends, and narrowed it down to a few. I then started talking to Rick about it. I knew I needed him to be on board. For one thing, it's a huge commitment and I needed him to be ok with it. I also want him to go with me to crew and just be there. After much debate and discussion, I'm doing Pumpkin Holler on October 18 in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. The next thing to do was talk to some people about pacing and find a training plan. I still don't have all of my pacers lined out for sure, but I think I've got enough people that are willing to do it that if my first choices can't do it I'll still be ok.

Training started out well. I was happy. Then I crashed. I got sick. Strep throat and a double ear infection. That took me out of two weekends of long runs. Then I pulled a muscle in my back. The worst part of that was that I missed out on going to Dizzy Goat, which is a race I had looked forward to for months. It was a few days after the injury. I think it's entirely possible I could have ran that day, but sitting in the car would have been misery. It was I think a 5 hour drive to the race and there was no way my back could handle that. It was depressing and the worst part was that a few people questioned me a lot and seemed to get pretty upset with me for not going. I don't know why and it was pretty upsetting. I think in the end I'm the only one that knows my body and knows what the right choice is. In this case, the right choice was to defer my entry to next year.

After those things happened I just had a hard time getting back out there. I was doing my runs during the week because I have awesome company (Tammy and Mindy are amazing and let me chase them around town three days a week). The weekend long runs just weren't happening for me though. On 4th of July I had a 22 mile run scheduled. I was planning to run 14 alone, jump into a 5k race, then finish after. I was a few miles into the run and just felt awful. My stomach hurt, I was so tired I felt like I might fall asleep and it was just terrible. It was 5 am, dark, I was out in the middle of nowhere in the country on a gravel road and I just started crying. I stood there on the road bawling my eyes out. I was asking myself why I was doing this, do I really want to run 100 miles, and lots of other questions. I finally got myself together and ran a little further. I finally realized it was just not happening for me and I walked home. I still went and did the 5k race and had a lot of fun. Tammy ran it with me and I told her about my run, how I was questioning myself, etc. It felt good to talk it out. I also met a lot of people from Eureka. After nearly a year I'm finally making friends and feel like part of the community! There is a group here called Run for God. I joined it and it's so fun! They have a monthly mileage challenge and people post several times a week what they did that day, how many miles they've ran, etc. It's very motivating! My morning ended on a high note.

Rick and I talked quite a bit that afternoon and I told him I really wasn't sure I want to run 100 miles. We decided I didn't have to make a decision right now. The next day I decided I would redeem myself and run 22. Two miles into the run I felt horrible again and was practically falling asleep while running. I was at the park so I decided to sit at the picnic table for a few minutes to see if I felt better. I fell asleep. I decided to call it a day and went home depressed. I finally realized that two nights in a row I had taken Advil PM hoping it would make me fall asleep fast and sleep well for my run the next day. Well, with only 4 hours or so of sleep after taking that I wasn't sleeping it off and couldn't wake up enough to run. Lesson learned. I talked to Rick some more and I decided I need to re-evaluate my training plan as there was no way I could just jump into where it had me after missing all of those runs. I also decided to give it two weeks before I make a decision. I wanted to follow my plan for two weeks and see if I could turn things around. Well, I changed up my plan quite a bit and actually followed it for two weeks. I'm feeling so much better about things. I'm out of my funk and am back to feeling confident about running 100 miles.

I'm getting rather spoiled and most of my runs are with people instead of solo lately. I run with Tammy a lot, and sometimes on the long runs Rick rides his bike with me. That's a lot of fun. Yesterday I was really hateful to him when I got tired. I hope he'll still go next time I ask! I did apologize. Saturday I had what was probably my best ever long run. I started at 5 am with Deanna riding her bike with me. We did about 9 miles, maybe a little over. She probably got to know me a lot better than she wanted to while riding beside me! Poor thing. She even had to wait for me while I used the restroom in between rows of round bales beside the road. I had a great time though. Then I ran to Tammy's house and she ran 5 miles with me. She had to wait while I went in Casey's and went to the bathroom. It was not my best day when it comes to bathroom issues! After Tammy ran her 5 she decided (or maybe I talked her into) doing the last few with me too. We ran back to Deanna's house and picked her up for the last 3ish. After a few blocks her knee hurt pretty bad and she told us to go on. Well, that wasn't happening! She had gotten up at 5 am, rode over 9 miles, helped me a ton, then waited while I ran 5 more, then was willing to run 3 to finish it out. I wasn't leaving her. We told her we were happy to walk. We walked a little less than 3 miles I think. It was decent training as I'll certainly walk a lot in the 100. When we got back to Deanna's (which is right by my house, she's my neighbor) I still had .68 to finish the run. I ran Tammy back to her house, then back to Deanna's and was finished. I had left my hydration pack there so I got it and walked home. I took Adam to get a donut at Casey's because I hate using the bathroom somewhere and not buying something. I also bought a bag of ice so I could take an ice bath.

Anyway, long post just to tell everyone what is going on. I had a few crappy weeks but I'm back! I've been enjoying some lovely weather and having fun getting to know people on runs. I have some big miles coming up that I'm nervous about, but I know I can do it. I hope everyone is having a great summer!

Disclaimer: I haven't edited this post for grammar and spelling errors. Maybe I will later. Maybe not. Don't judge. It's Monday morning and I've only had half a cup of coffee.


Monday, April 28, 2014

FlatRock 101K

As I sit here with my feet in a tub of ice water to reduce swelling, trying not to vomit from the persistent nausea I've had since Saturday afternoon, I ask myself, "WHY?" I don't really have an answer, besides that I had something to prove. Guess what? I proved a lot of things. I'm tough, I'm persistent, and there's nothing I can't do if I want it bad enough.

Race day started at 4:00 am when I got up to get ready. I woke up, gathered my stuff, and made sure Libby was awake. She had stayed the night at my mom's house and needed to be at the race bright and early to volunteer. I'm so glad she stayed there as she helped me finish getting my drop bags ready and kept me sane. I went downstairs, got dressed, and went to the kitchen to forage for food. I had just sat down with a bowl of cereal when Rick came in the kitchen and said something about rain. I looked at him like he was crazy, and he pointed out the thunder and lightning. I hadn't even noticed. I started freaking out. I think we all remember the craziness that was the FlatRock 50K in the fall. I did not want a repeat of that today, especially when I was doubling the distance. I had done a decent job of not freaking out about the weather, even though the forecast said it would be really hot and it might storm.

I finished getting ready, got Ryan up, tried to get Adam up, and loaded up the car. Adam wouldn't get up so I left him at my mom's house and made arrangements for Rick to get him later. We started driving and I could see it had rained quite a bit. I was getting upset. I started telling them I couldn't even start. Rick and Ryan were having none of that. I got to the race and didn't start feeling better. I just got more nervous. I started getting ready and went to check in. I talked to Jason a bit. He signed up for the race planning to run it with me. I was thrilled because it meant I didn't have to spend hours and hours on the trail alone. Eric did his prerace briefing, I took some pics, and it was time to line up.

The race started and I was running nice and easy. My plan was to go into the woods in last place. I hate the first part of the trail and hate when people are behind me and I have to go faster than I want. After running on the road a bit we hit the trail. It's like being dumped into hell. The first part of the trail goes up and up and up. It sucks away your air, makes your heart race, your legs burn, and just generally sucks. I think it's likely that I'm just a big giant baby, but I just hate this part! We eventually got to the top and then settled in to run when we could. Jason wasn't liking the first part any more than I was, but I assured him that soon we'd be out of that crap and then have some sections that are a lot easier. See, I know this course. Well. I used to run it all the time. This is both a blessing and a curse. I told Jason he'd get sick of me telling him where we were and what was coming, but he never said if he did.

Not a lot to say about the first few miles. We were taking it easy and chatting. We hit the first aid station, Max's Place. Got some food and drink and kept going. More running, more chatting. Sometimes other people would run with us, then they'd take off ahead. We were ok with that, we knew it was a long day, a tough trail, and were 100% ok with coming in last place. The next aid station, formerly Oak Ridge, is now Dana's station. This one is manned by Ken and Dana Childress. For followers of this blog, you might remember I paced Ken the last 25K of this race last year. You would have thought that would have convinced me to not do it. He just made it look easy! They helped us refill water and whatever else we needed. I don't remember a lot about this stop as it was quick.

We took off and were enjoying the relative flatness of this section of the course. Still not a lot to say, we were just running easy. Talking about a lot of things, though I don't really remember now what we talked about. Jason would slow me down every once in a while, reminding me of the long day ahead. It had also started to get pretty hot and sunny. When we got to the turnaround station I was greeted by my family. Ryan was helping out until he paced and Rick and Adam were there to crew for me. I started reloading my hydration pack and Sean came over to make sure I didn't need anything. I was pretty well set. He told me I was really red and I said yeah, I was sunburned and didn't have sunblock until the start/finish. Another runner was there with his crew and he had some sunblock. I rubbed some on as quick as I could as I needed to get out of there. I'm not entirely sure who it was that let me use their sunblock, but I really appreciated it.

Right before the turnaround the first time

We headed back out for the next 25K still feeling good. It was getting really hot though. I was staying on top  of my hydration and nutrition and felt good. We cruised through Dana's station again and entered the harder section once again. Something I haven't mentioned yet is snakes! We saw so many. Not far past Oak Ridge I saw my first copperhead of the day. I stopped and threw my arms out to stop Jason yelling "Copperhead!" I wanted to stop and he made me go around it. So gross. I eventually lost count of the copperheads I saw but it was more than 5. I can't even guess how many snakes total. I have ran mile after mile on this trail and have only seen one other snake. I think it was in here that I saw a baby armadillo. It was so cute! I asked Jason if he would pick it up and put it in my hydration pack so I could take it home. He said no. He told me I'd look like a redneck Paris Hilton. I cracked up!

Random photo that I just really like for some reason (because I'm weird?)

 When we got back to Max's place with 4 miles to go I was starting to feel the run a bit. I was ok, but I was hot and getting tired. Thankfully nothing really hurt yet. Michael Mora was at the station and he looked a little rough. I told him to come with us and he could stay with us as long as he needed. Michael, Jason and I left the aid station at the same time as William Sprouse, who I hadn't met before. The four of us ended up finishing the first 50K together. I don't think we ran a step of that last section until we hit the road. As we came out of the woods Jason realized that if he hurried he could have a new 50K PR on that course. He took off and said he'd meet me there. He got his PR! So did I. My previous fastest 50K there was 9:13. I finished Saturday in 8:56 (I think). This isn't an official PR for the course as it's part of a longer race, but I know now I can do it faster! I was thrilled with that and it gave me the motivation to go back out.

At the aid station Rick and the boys were ready to help me with whatever I needed and Libby was there also, along with my friend Krystal. They helped me change shoes and socks, I relubed everything and went to the bathroom. I also tried to eat but my stomach was starting to rebel. I had 1/4 of a sandwich but when I tried to take another bite I threw up. Decided that was enough of that. Got some watermelon and that was better. Ryan was ready to jump in and pace. We left the aid station and were ready to tackle the second half. It was time to do what we had just done all over again.

My super duper pacer/son.

 Same story as before, the first part sucks. This time it was worse though. My heart was racing and I didn't feel well. I just couldn't get going. Jason was moving faster and I told him to go on, run his own race. He kept waiting for me. He'd get ahead and stop and wait for me. I kept telling him to go. Maybe a mile before Max's Place I threw up. It was massive. Also rather humiliating considering both Ryan and Jason were standing there watching. After I threw up I felt better so I started going again. We finally made it to the aid station and I sat down a couple of minutes. I got some food and liquid in me and took off. I was feeling awful and all I could think was that I had over 20 miles left of this. I knew then it was going to be a long evening/night. At the start/finish I had heard some reports of people dropping. At Max's I heard even more. The heat was really getting to people I think. I heard of so many people that had cramping and nausea. Every time I heard that someone else dropped I think I was more determined to finish. The conditions were brutal and that just made me want the finish even more.

Ryan was awesome. He kept his eye on the time and told me when to eat and when to take an endurolyte. He also kept me drinking. He asked a lot how my stomach was and I tried hard to be positive, but I was miserable. I just kept moving and was finally at Dana's station. Joell was there with William as he didn't have a pacer and she wanted some extra miles. She was going to be pacing me the last 25K but was hoping to run more. She did! She paced an entire 50K. What a woman! Ken and Dana got me food and snacks and were positive. Dana told me she was impressed with how far I've come since I met them. She's such a sweetheart. Rick was here to help me. He was originally not going to be at this station, but I was getting chilled and wanted a dry shirt so I asked him to be there. The poor guy. I was so demanding and he was so patient and nice. I changed my shirt and felt so much better!

We left and were happy to have some easy trail. About the time it started getting dark we hit the trickier part of this section. There's about a mile that just kind of sucks. No other way to describe it. Someone was behind us and ran with us for a bit. He stopped to do something and we got ahead, but I had to sit once to eat and try not to throw up. I had reached a point where eating anything was super challenging and I definitely couldn't walk and eat. After the man got ahead of us he stopped a said "It's moving away, but there's a really big copperhead right there." I was so tired and sick and I freaked out. I way overreacted. I was done with that race at that point! He told me I had to go around it and it was moving away and I'd be ok. I finally went around. What a baby! He talked to Rick at the finish line and I think he had gotten quite a laugh out of it. I wasn't amused. We kept walking and were finally almost to the turnaround. With less than a mile left I threw up again. A lot. Really, it's a shame no one got to see it. I don't know how a person could have so much liquid in them. Poor Ryan just stood there waiting for me. Have I said how great he is? He's a good pacer for me and really just a good kid. I'm so proud of him. When I got to the aid station Adam came up and hugged me. He's so sweet! Sean got me some broth and some ginger ale. Both were great. Joell was getting ready to pace me and I think Ryan was relieved to be done. I sat a while and I finally asked the time. I told Joell what time I wanted to leave because I knew she'd make me.

I eventually left for my last 25K. I knew I could do it, but I just didn't want to. I was sick and dizzy and my heart was racing. I just wanted to get to Dana and Ken because I knew they'd fix me up. I also knew if I left that station I'd finish unless I got pulled due to time. A few times I had to stop and sit and just let everything settle. I'd climb a hill, get really nauseous and dizzy and have to rest. There really aren't words to describe how hard it was. Imagine having a stomach virus and still running/hiking/basically crawling a 50K. On a really tough course. I think I threw up a couple of times through here, but maybe just once. It was a massive amount again. Joell tried to get as far away as she could because it makes her sick and I just felt so bad that she had to listen to that. She was concerned with the amount of liquid I was losing. I got to Dana's station and sat down and told her I need help. She gave me some soup and as soon as it hit my throat I started gagging. It tasted great, but I couldn't really swallow anything. One of them told me to suck on some pretzels. I did that and then Dana had me put salt under my tongue. I sat and ate pretzels and salt. She told me that I needed to do the same thing at the next station and also sent some with me. She told Joell that if I threw up again within 2 miles I had to come back to her station. I knew that meant if I did it again I was done. My race was over. At that point I was determined to hold everything down. Alternatively, there was absolutely part of me that was hoping I'd throw up again and the choice of whether or not to finish would be taken away. I hated that part of me, but it was there. I wanted to be done. Hours ago. Rick was here again and he just looked concerned. I'm so glad the boys were sleeping in the car. Adam certainly didn't need to see me like that. They helped me get what I needed and we started out toward the finish.

Closing my eyes for a few minutes

I really don't remember much of this section. I walked slowly, I probably cried, and I certainly whined to Joell a lot. She was cheerful and sweet and just kept me going. She put up with me when she was probably ready to push me off of a cliff. I don't know what I did to deserve having her as a friend. She's wonderful. Not too far from Max's Place I told Joell a creek was coming up and I think I want to soak my feet. I did it and wow! It felt wonderful. My feet were just killing me. My toes felt like someone had been stomping on them for hours. The cold water felt great. That motivated me to get going and get to the last aid station. We got there and someone handed me a flashlight and said he was told to give it to me. He didn't know who it was and I haven't been able to figure it out either. Can someone please tell me so I can thank someone? As we were leaving the aid station I did something weird and caused my headlamp to only have a red light. That wasn't going to work. I used the flashlight the last several miles instead. Talk about a lifesaver!

We tackled the last section knowing it meant the end was near! I don't think we talked much. I think I whined and we just walked. We stopped a few times. I threw up again with about a mile left. Eventually we could see the finish. I got so emotional knowing it was almost done. When we had about a mile to go I asked Joell to call Rick to make sure he was going to be there. While she called I kept walking. I was so happy. I knew I was going to sit down soon! I told her when we get to the road I want to turn off our headlamps so we could sneak up on the finish line. We got there and I so wanted to run, but it was not happening. I told her I'd run when we got to the gravel road. I also picked a spot where I wanted to turn our lights back on. Right before we got there someone saw us and started blowing the air horn and ringing the cow bells. I ran through, slapped the hand, and started crying. Eric came up and hugged me and gave me my buckle and 101k sticker. I cried on him. Then Rick came and hugged me and I was sobbing that I was so tired. I'm such a baby. Jason had waited to see me finish and he gave me a hug and said he was out of there, he felt awful and wanted sleep. He met his goal of 22 hours! I, however, did not. I finished in 23 hours, 14 minutes. I finished though! That's all that matters. Libby gave me a hug and asked what I wanted. I wanted biscuits and gravy! She fixed me some and I sat down to eat.


I think 49 people were registered for the race (maybe 48?) and 37 people started. 22 finished. I was one of those finishers! I couldn't be more proud of myself. A little braggy maybe. I feel like I have something to brag about though. Not because I'm an awesome runner and had a great race. Because I'm an ok runner, I had a horrible second half, but I did it anyway. You don't have to be the best to accomplish great things. You just have to want it. I wanted this race.

I am so thankful for all of the volunteers at this race! They were all amazing. It was a long day and night and they gave up a lot of time to help us crazy runners.

For more photos, click here  Rick and Kristi Mayo of Mile 90 photography took pics and they are amazing!

I have so much more I'd like to say and so many more stories I could tell, but I think this post is already about twice as long as it should be. I'm ready to take a couple of weeks off to rest and recuperate, then it's time to start asking, "What's next?"