Monday, May 18, 2015

Knowing when it's time to back off

Over the course of the last few months I've really questioned what I'm doing and how much I want to keep doing it. Long runs seem to be getting longer. Every run has been a struggle. I have no joy. I spend pretty much every run thinking "how can I possibly run longer than this in June?" Every time I thought about running 100 miles I seriously wanted to cry. Every once in a while I'd get excited about it, but for the most part I had an overwhelming sense of dread. During Heartland 50 I kept asking myself why I was doing this. Why do I keep pushing myself? I talked to the ladies I was running with about it and they told me if I'm not enjoying it don't do it. Take a break. After the race I mentioned how I was feeling to someone and she said the same thing. If I need a break, take it. After the race I talked to Rick and told him how I felt. I was worried because I had already paid a lot of money to register for the 100 and if I didn't do it that money is just lost. He assured me that he doesn't care. He didn't think I should run if I didn't want to.

I've been going back and forth with myself since the 50. I finally convinced myself that it's really just a couple of hard weeks of training, then a taper, then the race. I can suck it up. I can take a break later. I powered on. I got a little bit excited again. Then Friday rolled around and I looked at my weekend miles and couldn't stand to even think about it. Saturday morning I got up crazy early and Rick and I headed to Iola. We did a 7 mile out and back and then Libby joined us. While we were running I started talking to Libby about how I felt. We kept talking. I went through everything I was feeling. All the reasons I should run the race and all the reasons I shouldn't. I really analyzed my feelings and the reasons for doing it and not doing it. In the end, there are so many more reasons to drop out than there are to go for it. By the end of the run my decision was made. I wasn't doing it. The relief I felt was tremendous.

I've really struggled with feeling like I would let myself down and let others down. I didn't want people to be disappointed in me. I don't want people to think I can't handle it. The truth is, right now I can't. Well, maybe I can. I just don't want to. I feel like that's a good enough reason. I cannot run 100 miles to please other people. That's absurd. It's too hard on me and my body and on my family. If people are disappointed in me that is their problem, not mine. If people think less of me, that's their problem. Am I failing? Maybe. I had a goal and I'm not going to accomplish it. I'm doing it on my own terms though. I'm saying enough is enough. I need to step back a little. I need to shift my focus and find my joy again. Right now my joy is not in running for hours and hours at a time.

I'm obviously not going to take a break from running completely. I'm just going to work on shorter distances right now. I'm currently considering a half marathon in October. Sounds about right to me at the moment. I can work on speed and strength and push myself and see what I can do. I want to take some fun classes at my gym and I want to get stronger. I need to step back from the huge mileage weeks to make that happen. After I analyzed my decision to death I have to say I'm so excited. I'm excited to work on other things besides running long. I'm excited to see what I can do. Mostly I'm excited to spend the summer with my family and not running.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Heartland 50 Report

Once upon a time, I thought running 50 miles in the Flinthills in May would be a good idea. In the back of my head I knew it was stupid, but when have I ever made smart choices when it comes to running? I registered and decided that running in the heat with absolutely no shade wouldn't really be that bad. I mean, I live here. I know the area, I know what it's like to run here. I would have an advantage! Hahahaha. Not so much.

Leading up to this race I had an overwhelming sense of dread. I just didn't want to do it. Nothing could get me excited. I did not want to run. At all. I honestly wanted nothing to do with this race. Great attitude going in, right? I think the day before I started getting a little excited, because races are fun. Also, Rachel was coming from Washington to run, and I was excited about that.

Saturday morning I got up, got ready and Rachel and I headed to the race along with Deanna who was going to be crewing. We got there way earlier than we needed to be so I had plenty of time to be nervous and freak out! I picked up my packet and finished getting everything ready. The race started in a different place than packet pickup, so we all headed to the start line. We had a quick pre-race briefing and we were off. I was planning to run the race with Megan and Kathy, who was running her first 50 mile. I knew Megan, but had never met Kathy. Running 50 miles together seems like a good way to get to know each other, right? The first snafu I encountered was that my gatorade wasn't thawing. When it's hot I stick a gatorade in my front pocket frozen. Ad it thaws I drink it, so it's always cold. Great plan, right? Except it was cooler in the morning than I was expecting and it didn't thaw. The result is that I didn't get to drink enough gatorade. I also didn't eat like I should have. Such a beginner mistake! Why do I keep making it? I know better. I know some people don't seem to need a lot of calories when they run. I am not one of those people. I know my body. I know what I need. When will I learn?

The first several miles ticked by. I was having a blast. We hit the first aid station, which was staffed by the always friendly Elden, Debbie, and Jim. I don't remember what I got here, but I think just some pringles? I should have grabbed another gatorade because my first should have been empty, but I had barely touched it. I left the aid station with Rachel, a little ahead of Megan and Kathy. We walked slow while she waited for Krystal and I waited for the other. Soon Rachel and Krystal took off and I waited for Megan and Kathy. This section is the worst. From Battle Creek to Lapland is really hilly. It sucked away some of the fun we had been having, but not all of it! Again in this section I failed to fuel properly. I did finish my gatorade, but should have finished two by the time I hit Lapland. Also, the sun reared it's ugly head right before Lapland. I switched from my buff to a hat to shield my face. Deanna was waiting at Lapland and got me fixed up. I'm not sure who all was at this aid station, so forgive me for leaving people out. Terry and Sherri rider were there, and I'm not sure who else. Sherri and I talked a minute and we all took off. Kathy realized she had meant to change her socks at that station, so she went back and Megan and I strolled along waiting for her.

This next section was fairly uneventful. The sun went back away and it sprinkled on us a little. We got to see the front runners in this section headed back to the finish. That was so cool! It's amazing to see these strong speedy runners out there killing it. Coming into Teterville the wind had picked up and I knew it would be in our face a lot of the rest of the race. This is where the wheels really started coming off for me. I was cranky, getting tired, and way behind on calories and electrolytes. Deanna was ready for me and had everything I needed. I'm so glad she was there! Jason was at this aid station and it's always nice to see him and get bossed around a little. April Calaway was volunteering too and she always has a smile on her face. Her daughter was there riding her bike up and down the road and is such a little doll! We got what we needed at the aid station and headed out. I texted Rick to update him, and also my mom, who I had asked to come see me finish. I think I texted Libby here too.

The next few miles were again pretty uneventful. I was still doing ok, but starting to feel pretty nauseous. At mile 28ish (maybe?) I thought I was going to puke so I sent Megan and Kathy ahead. I just did some dry heaving, and started going again. I no longer had gatorade because the taste wasn't something I was interested in. Again, poor choice! It started getting really hot through here. Like, running through the bowels of hell hot. Ok, I'm exaggerating. It was hot though. At the bottom of the hill leading into Lapland we saw Kathy's dad waiting for us. He had a flower for each of us. So sweet! We all started crying. Then Kathy's husband came down the road to meet her. It was so sweet. She was so happy and it was so neat to see her whole family there cheering for her. We made it to the aid station and I did a lot of complaining about the heat. Deanna was awesome again getting everything I needed. Jason sprayed me down with sunblock and I sat on a bucket eating for a little while waiting for Kathy to fix up her blisters. This time leaving this aid station we knew what was ahead. We knew the hills between here and Battle Creek sucked. We knew we could do it though. We had plenty of time.

This section did indeed suck. There's no other way to describe it. It was awful. I was tired, like falling asleep tired. I couldn't eat because my stomach was a mess. I couldn't run much because my stomach was a mess. It would calm down for a few minutes, then start rolling again. I just powered on. I am so very thankful for the ladies that were with me that stayed with me and kept me moving. I could not have done it without them! I ate when I could, and tried to drink as much as possible. We made it to Battle Creek and I needed to use the bathroom desperately. Yay portapotties! I did what I needed to do, then parked my butt in a lawn chair and ate a popsicle. It was sooooo good! Debbie got me some cold wet cloths and I used them to cool off a little. It was hard to leave this aid station because there's a giant hill climbing out of it. Once you're past that though, it's smooth sailing. It's not hilly and you should be able to speed up a little. HAHAHA. That didn't happen. I started really really struggling. Some of it was mental because I didn't know how far I had to go. I knew the race was more than 50 miles, but I didn't know how much more. I got overly anxious about how much further I had to go. The other ladies were feeling much better and wanting to run, so with maybe 4 miles left they pulled ahead. I wanted so badly to keep up but I couldn't, so I let them go. I called Libby through this section and cried and vented. She was kind, but firm in telling me to keep moving. I could do it. I finally caught back up, but then got really sick and slowed way down and puked massively. A few minutes later Jason and Carina came along breaking down the aid stations and picking up course markers. I cried and asked Jason for a ride. It was a no go. He said I had to finish. I think I had 2.5 miles to go. That seeems like so little, but at the time it did not. After that I caught back up with everyone and we stayed together.

The last 2 miles were incredibly hard. I was dizzy and nauseous and though I might pass out. I kept going though, mostly because I didn't have a choice. When we finally got back to Cassoday I was soooo happy! Megan said we were running to the finish line. I think I told her no I was not, and she assured me that yes, I was. I did. We crossed together holding hands. My family was all there, so that was really cool. I got some cold water, some food, and sat and talked to my friends. I didn't get that elated "omg, I just ran a really tough race and finished!" feeling that I normally get. All I had was regret for the mistakes I made, and dread about my next race. I'm sort of passed that now, but not completely. I'm not happy with how I did. I'm dreading my next race. Hopefully knowing the mistakes I made this time will help me next time. I woke up Sunday with a sore throat, and by afternoon I was covered in a rash. I'm a freak, and I get a rash when I have strep. Aha! That explains a little bit of my struggle. I went to the doctor monday and sure enough, strep. Yay antibiotics! I thought I was dying for two days, but woke up yesterday feeling great.

I have my next 100 in a month, and to say I'm looking forward to it would be a lie. Hopefully I can shake it off and be back to my normal run loving self soon.

Thanks so much to my family that came to watch me finish, to Megan and Kathy who ran over 51 miles with me, and Deanna for crewing. Also, Barry and Jason for putting on such a great race, as well as all the volunteers that were awesome. To Amber Lane, so glad I got to meet you! Thanks for your help and support!