Altra 2017

Any of you like to swim? I love it. Well, no. No,  I do not love swimming. Once upon a time I loved swimming. Then I became a lifeguard. Testing pool water and attempting to keep it balanced is enough to gross out most any swimmer who puts their face in the pool and (as anyone who swims will know) drinks (or attempts to spit out) water every few strokes. But I’ve taken to the pool the last 3 weeks in an attempt to let my left foot heal. I didn’t run for 14days straight and now I’m only running some, swimming lots. It’s mental strength training, swimming. I’ve touched the tip of the iceberg on the grossness (trust me, there is a giant iceberg of gross, plunging beneath the surface of the pool water) of swimming. So to mentally know what I’m letting into my facial orifices is already a mental game. Then there are the laps. The pool I swim in is ~32 laps (there and back is a lap) to the mile. That’s a lot of counting. More tedious then treadmills or long distance track running, where someone (something) else is tracking your distance. My go to workout is to swim 70 laps (in about 65 mins- I’m not fast in the pool), then pool run 4-8 laps (without a belt), dolphin kick 2-4 laps then swim 10-20 laps hard as I can. This is a lot of laps. Every so often (normally in the 30’s) I lose count of my laps. It’s easy to do. Just zone out a bit, and BAMB! Was that lap 34 or 39!?!? I always go with the lower lap number when this happens. It’s an exercise in mindfulness and staying present, which is also another form of mental strength training. The swimming truly feels good. My arms get tired. I feel more oxygen deprived in the pool then on a run, and my heart gets to work a bit harder. I try to focus on different pieces of the stroke as I swim. Some laps, its the flick of the wrist on the up, just before the arm comes out of the water. Other times it’s the stretch of the arm on the down stroke, using the abdominal muscles to reach and slightly roll the body. I do love to swim. Not like I love to run though. Which brings me to the point of this post.

I am beyond excited to announce that I have been chosen as an Ambassador for Altra in 2017. When I received the email, I wanted to cry. I have felt like such a loser this year with my running. Not in my brain, but in my heart. I know I can do better and I want to try for more. Having Altra select me and want to offer me support in the year to come is humbling and encouraging. Even if I’m not racing right now, I will be at local races to offer support and encouragement to all the athletes there. One of my favorite things about ultra running are the people who do these events. Everyone has goals and a story. Goals vary and can be personal. Goals often have nothing to do with winning a race.

I know I am on the mend. Nothing is broken, but without an MRI I can not know how long this injury will take to heal 100%. But I am healing. Until I am all the way healed, I’ll keep doing what I can to stay fit, healthy and happy. If I heal up fast, I’ll be at Rocky Raccoon in February. In my Torins and ready to race. Actually, I’ll be there to support and help out if I’m not racing. Fingers crossed I get to race though! The hubby wants a rematch- Rabbers vs Rabbette.

The Year of the 24

Memories get foggy. Dates scramble up in time past, and truths become soft and gray. But the facts remain. Sometimes I wounder what truth is and how facts work. I heard it once said, “Your eyes my not lie, but don’t believe for one second they can not be lied to.” Memories can be like this too. Spots in your brain where you see the past, sometimes so vibrant in color and sound you FEEL the memories as if they are alive inside you. I can still taste the candy cane I ate, sitting on the curb outside my parents house on Christmas day in 1994. I’ve loved eating peppermints in the cold for as long as I can remember. There is something soothing and energizing about the sweet tasting chill of breathing in mint when your breath comes out steam. On this Christmas,  it was so cold my bones hurt being outside. I had pantyhose under my favorite red jeans and a turtleneck under a Christmas sweater. For some reason, wearing turtlenecks made me feel grown up. And the red jeans made me feel suave. I sat there in the misty cold, giant peppermint stick in hand, pouting. Running had recently taken a hold of my heart. I was madly in love…but no time. My day was packed with family and presents and food. The typical teen in me wanted to revolt. Why shouldn’t I have an hour to give to Running? Running is becoming a part of who I am, and no one understands. I don’t care if I’m not fast. I have no aspirations of ever running varsity and I don’t care if folks sneaker at the plump little girl who thinks she is some sort of athlete just because she signed up for the high-school track team. Something inside of me has changed and I know Running did it. I feel more alive now. I know I can do things that I couldn’t before. It’s like a spark has been lit in my soul that makes me strong, brave and free. It’s turning me into myself. I know it is.  I don’t want to back away from Running for anything. Yet I have to…

2016

Running has truly become a piece of me. Sometimes I wish I could cover it up, like I cover my bum in public, and keep my Running private. Sometimes I want to put eyeliner and mascara around it and post a selfie on Facebook. In any case, running is a consistent and lasting part of me. It’s been part of me for longer then any hair on my head or current cell of my skin. My eyes? Green. My hair? Brown. My heart? It beats, my chest rises and falls, my arms swing and my soul runs.

I’m tempted to plunge into so many whys and how comes for my last year. Why race 24 hours? Why try for a lofty 145 miles in 24 hours? Why so many injuries and set backs?

For me, this year has been disappointing and full of running mistakes. But what’s that like? A really bad hair day? It’s not like I’m going to do something drastic and shave my head…

Instead of saying more on the bad parts, I’m going to tell of the strength I have gained and lessons I have learned. As in all life, it is good to grow. Here are  3 big lessons for me from 2016.

  1. Never be afraid to fail.  I can tell you now, I have failed a lot this year. It isn’t fun. I’d even say failure hurts. But my failures have shown me how to better prepare. They have made the success sweeter and given me a fire for the future.
  2. Expect regrets to come. Isn’t there always a “what if”?  But if you allow your brain to focus on the imaginary idea of changing the past, you might miss out on whatever beauty is to be found in today. Try to back away from the “what if”‘s and embrace the what IS.
  3. Don’t expect to finish a 24 hour race if you are less then 99% prepared and 99% healthy. Notice I didn’t say not to start? Lessons to be learned are abundant in failure and I believe in giving your best, even when your best is less then you are capable of. Sometimes the best way to learn and improve is to try and not succeed.

Thats my 2016 Running in a nut shell. I’m madly in love with running. So much so that Running is tangled up into the roots of the tree that is me. I’ll take the rainstorms of this year and see what pruning and weeding needs to be done for optimal growth in the year to come. And I’m hoping for more sunshine.

In closing, a poem from one of my favorite singer/ songwriters, Jewel.

Lost

Lost is a puzzle of stars
that breathes like water
and chews like stone.
Alone is a reminder
of how far your acceptance is
from your understanding.
Fear is a bird that believes itself
into extinction.
Desperation: the honest recognition 
of a false truth.
Hope: seeing who you really are
at your highest
is who you will become.
Grace: the refinement of a soul through time.
                       -Jewel

 

 

 

Dawn to Dusk to Dawn, 2016

Why do I write race reports? I’m really not sure. I feel like I open myself up to criticism and unwanted critique just racing, and then almost ask for more by writing about the racing after. Yet here I go again…

D3. My first 24 hour race. I knew going into this that my A goal was high (145+ miles). Yeah, I’ve never run 24hrs before. Yeah, many experienced 24 hour runners haven’t run that number. Yeah, that is a number more likely to be shot at by a boy then a girl. Yeah, I know how high that number is… but I’ve never been one to let what other people say or do dictate what I think I can do. This has nothing to do with a lack of respect for all the incredible athletes that have run 24 hour races before me. This is most likely due to the fact that I think all people are capable of great things and I am in search of my great thing. I think I can run 145+ miles in 24hours. I STILL think I can run 145+ in 24hours.

This race started at 7am on Saturday, the 14th of May in Sharron Hill Pennsylvanian. If I tallied up the number of hours I spent lying in bed, thinking of every possible reason to start this race with or without music (headphones), I’m sure 98% of the world would think I’m mental. I totally over think everything. Like, Every. THING. And that is why I started this race with my music on. Music on, brain off. I was entering the unknown world of 24 hour racing, but I knew enough about myself before the start to know, for me, to think less was best.

My plan was to start slower then easy and then hang on to what ever snail pace I landed at after 19 hours until the 24 hours was up. The first couple miles went well. But before the first half hour was up, I could feel my lower back begin to ache and knew my gluts were not firing. I’ve been seeing a MAT practitioner, and he has saved my running by helping me feel what my body should be doing when running with all muscles firing. Long story short, I engaged my gluts. This caused my speed to pick up a tad but had my lower back feeling better in no time, so I kept running easy but made sure my gluts were not being lazy!!!!

I thought all was going well and according to plan. But before 5 hours in, I got sick. Pretty bad sick. My intestines were cramping and I had diarrhea. My belly felt swollen and painfully full. I started to cry, but quickly told myself now wasn’t the time for a pity party. I needed to figure out what to do and keep moving forward, or this race would be over way before it should be. I told my husband I was sick and needed more fluids. He gave me pepto-bismol, more liquids and electrolytes and began trying to find things to feed me. I was afraid of sugar (because of my belly), so I didn’t want gels or candies or anything sweet. My belly hurt too bad for real foods (like sandwiches or PB) so it was saltines. Saltines are slow to eat and pathetically low in calories for racing.  (Side note: the tummy problems were not what I did, as I did what I normally do and normally do not get sick…must be what I didn’t do….)

Luckily, we had chocolate coconut water that I could drink while we tried to find another calorie source for me to get in and that wouldn’t shoot straight out. I also found drinking seltzer water helped calm my tummy for a little while. During this time the weather went from 75* with soaring humidity and just a tad too much wind to cooler and raining with wind that was now on the yuck-too-high side.

I saw lots of folks in rain jackets and warmer gear. Thinking maybe I’d feel better less cold, I put my rain jacket on. This lasted maybe 2 laps. In my jacket, I felt clammy-hot. Like I had a fever. Without my jacket, I felt cool, but better. Cool is always better to me, so I spent sometime running in just my sports bra in the cool rain. It felt nice, outside of the fact that Snap, Crackle, and Pop had taken up residence  in my intestinal track.

I’m not sure how long it rained, but I know it was over 2 hours. Sometime during the rain, my iPod died of drowning. As sad as this was, death comes when death comes. No life is guaranteed. I decided to run the rest of D3 (11 or 12 hours) being grateful that I had Pinky’s perfect company in my head the first half-ish of this race. I also sang my favorite song to myself over and over again to keep my brain on low-to-no function.

When we knew the rain was over, I changed my socks and shoes. I knew from having run 100 miles at Desert Solstices this past December that I blister easier on a track then other terrain, so I started this race with blister pads covering the spots where I get blisters. During the rain, a couple of them came off and I did have blisters. Only one giant bad one though. Scott wanted to pop it, but we didn’t have anything to pop it with, so back on the track I went.

I few laps later, the bad blister popped. OUCH!!!! Another quick stop and I was ready to run on. In one pink sock, one black. This had me laughing some how. Which is good, because my feet felt like butchered meat! Luckily, the blister pain went sorta numb as I ran and never got worst. The temperature continued to drop as the sunset, and sometime in the dark I changed into dry gear. I was cold (it was in the 40s) but my long sleeve shirt felt too tight on my swollen belly and I got that clammy-hot fever feeling again. I asked Scott for cap sleeves, and he went to the car to find me another shirt. I ran the rest of the race in cap sleeves and gloves, even though I was cold, because cold felt sorta numb and better then the clammy-hot feeling I kept getting in warmer gear.

Scott (my husband) eventually gave me salted potatoes. I don’t remember when, but it was just in time to save my race. My legs were cramping (low calories along with the running and tummy troubles) and all I wanted to do was walk. I ate two cups of potatoes while walking two consecutive laps. When I started jogging again, the pressure in my tummy was going down. My legs felt less like lead rocks attached to a pelvic shocking device and more like painfully tired human legs. I asked my hubby to keep the potatoes coming every half hour. Luckily for us, St. Nancy of the Kitchen left a giant pot of potatoes, just for me, on the stove for Scott to grab from all night long. ❤

I want to say, “Before I knew it, the race was over! 24 hours of running, done!! I did it!!!!”

But that isn’t how it went. It was hard. It hurt. I wanted to walk. I wanted to stop. I wanted to sit down and cry. But even more so, I wanted to finish. I didn’t come to quite. I didn’t start this race thinking this would be easy or feel good. I knew my A goal wasn’t with in reach any more, but I knew finishing was still something I could do. 24 hours on the track wasn’t over and I could still keep going. This, I believe, is perseverance. I faced obstacles I had not anticipated. I felt discouraged and broken. But I actively pressed on.

Sometime around midnight I started my period. At least this is something I had expected…maybe someday I’ll think that’s funny.

Around 20 hours in (I think…) I found that I could consistently (with a lot of pain) shuffle-jog 2:50ish laps. So that’s what I set out to do. I told myself, “Over 121 in 21” (meaning  over 121 miles in 21 hours) like a mantra in head, just focused in on that one thought, “Over 121 in 21, over 121 in 21, over 121 in 21”, until I got to 21 hours. Then it was, “over 126 in 22…” and so on. The last hour, I broke it into miles, telling myself 4 more laps..3…2…1…1 more mile, that’s…4….3…2…1 . Until finally, finally, I was done. 551laps, 136.94 miles in 23:58:50 (this race only counts completed laps, and I couldn’t get a 70sec lap out there at the end, ha!) I can tell you quite honestly I was too happy and tired and hungry to cry when it was all over. I just wanted food, a shower and a bed. I didn’t want to think, so I left my brain off…or maybe my brain was actually off of its own accord.

I hurt. I felt like I failed and yet like I conquered. I felt proud of my effort and disappointed in my day. I know I made mistakes, but I do not believe my goal was one of them. What does this mean? This means I will let myself enjoy what I achieved and be pleased with the fact that I persevered. It also means I will try again.

 

See?!?!? I’m smiling. Over 23 hours of track time and I’m smiling. Why? Because in not too much longer, 24 hours is up!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Photo by Israel Archuletta

 

 

Brazos Bend 50 Miler, April 2016

Sometimes, I sit down to write a race report and my mind will not cooperate. I WANT to want to write, but I just don’t want to write…no words…no focus…Candy Crush…here it goes any how.

In Texas, we don’t have seasons like most of the U.S. does. What we have here is summer, and various pollination seasons. Right now it’s Oak Pollen season and my body has decided to revolt. Not the funnest way to go into a 50 mile run. To top it all off, though, I once again had the pleasure of running an ultra during my time of the month. I truly have the worst luck with my hormone cycle and races. I just scanned through Ultrasighup, and of the 37 races on there, only 22 of them where run comfortably in respect to this girly cycle thing. WHY?!?!?!?!? The no fun truth of this is the 24 hour race I am training for looks to land on a bad weekend for me too, as it is 4 weeks out. Ugh. At least this was a shorter race…I was going to leave this part of the story out, but decided not to because of something that I will mention at the end.

The Brazos Bend races are run around alligator swamps at Brazos Bend State Park (close to Huston, TX). It is a trail race, but the trails are not technical or hilly. Terrain wise, it’s an easy race. However! The weather is very hard to deal with. It is hot and muggy, with extremely high humidity. You literally run through swamp lands. And there are hundreds of alligators!!! If you look, you can see their eyes and snouts in all the swamps as you pass. Some gators even come up into the grass and watch the runners pass. I saw a large turtle cross the trail, and lots of gutsy birds dipping in the swamps as well. After the race, I learned that it’s mating season for gators right now. They gather in groups and make a crazy sound, like a honk almost. Hearing them bellow in the 6am dark was eery but super cool!

My 50 mile plan was to not actually race, but use this as a training run and a chance to dial in my nutrition and race strategy for D3 (24 hour race) next month. I need to have a solid goal and be willing to stick to my plan to achieve this goal. Sounds simple, hu? But it’s not, because 24hrs of running is a lot more then 5o miles. Goal setting and pacing for this will be the hardest part for me. So I went to Brazos Bend ready to learn in preparation for my goal race, Dawn to Dunk to Dawn.

I was struggling in my mind before the race on how to “not race” this “race”. Should I really try to run what I want to average in the 24 hr run, or just run it easy pace? My coach said I should run 24 hr pace, but my heart balked at this. In fact, my brain balked too. 😳 In the end, I decide to run easy and take my time in aid stations and just see how that felt.

Truthfully, it felt good. I never ran hard, I stopped for at least a little time in all the aid stations, I took one potty stop and I never felt close to “race effort” coming from my body. This was a 3 loop course, and my splits were 2:18, 2:18, 2:21. The 3rd loop was very hot (the only time the sun was out, which made the swampy humidity feel like a gym sauna) and I had to wait in line at aid stations to get ice in my bottle, which took more time then in the other loops. My running pace slowed just a tad on the last loop too, as I didn’t want to trash my legs and I was seriously HOT so I chose not to push it.

I finished this 50 in 6:57, feeling tired but super good. Some how, I lucked out and came in 1st female, 2nd over all. I’m going to be honest and say that if there had been a speedy gal at this race, I might have run harder then I did and be regretting it now! I don’t like not competing hard when I race, but I so badly need the discipline in pacing for the 24 hour race. So THANK YOU to the speedy Texas gals who didn’t show up. 😉

Things I learned:
1. Easy Pace truly IS faster then I need to be starting a 24 hr race. Though I’m still not ready to run in the 9minute miles from the start!!!!!!!!!!!! Maybe I’ll regret that, maybe I won’t. 😜
2. I HAVE NO IDEA how to do electrolytes and fluids in good weather! I am so use to running in crap heat and humidity, that I over do it in nicer conditions. Please, any one who has dialed in better weather fluid intake, feel free to send me a note!!!! I have had 2 races in good conditions were I way over did fluids and electrolytes. I want to NOT do that again, but when my training is in the bad weather, it’s what I know to do. So, nutrtion not dialed in…
3. Blisters on my toes from Desert Solstices are not all the way gone! But if I put blister pads on them, they are ok. I might need to address  this farther during D3 though.
4. My husband is the best. Truly the best. He can make me madder then any one on Earth can come close to doing, but he loves me and I know it! The support I get from him blows my mind, almost every time I hang out with him (which is quite often). And when it comes to helping me at a race, he can’t be matched. From getting us a hotel due to the Oak Pollen problem (we were going to camp) and fact that I really needed a bathroom, to finding me tape for my earbuds (they wouldn’t stay in due to sweat overload on the 1st loop) to bringing me lemon cake after the race to so much more! Having a supportive spouse makes me want to be my best in everything I do. From the running on to EVERYTHING and being a support for him too!

In closing, a story from the finish line. So much of me doesn’t want to put this story in here. But it happened, and I think it’s good to go ahead and share this for any other females who might have this happen to them, or have had it happen to them.
As I mentioned at the start of this report, I was on my period for this race. For me, day 2 is always the worst day. Lots of painful cramping and the heaviest flow. But that was my luck this race (again!!!!). Normally, I can go  into 7hours safely without needing to make a long bathroom stop. So I went to the bathroom 10mins before the start and figured I’d at least be ok with all that until I finished. But when I crossed the finish line, I could see blood falling down my legs. Yuck. Gross. It sorta made me mad and embarrassed, because I didn’t even know how long this had been happening or how bad it looked from the back. But then I was just over it- Why does this need to be gross and embarrassing? I certainly didn’t mean for this to happen, but the fact that it did doesn’t need to be an embarrassment. My wonderful husband brought me my drop bag and baby wipes and I took care of the problem before sitting on anything, so I dare to say it isn’t “grosser” then most the sweaty bodies walking around. Maybe I’m wrong in this, but it is my honest take. I am all for using feminine hygiene products and keeping your body clean. But racing is dirty, even without periods. Take chaffing, falling and sweating for instance. All these things are dirty and some of them are even bloody. Seeing dirty and even gory things is often part of racing. As such, I don’t think women need to be embarrassed if a situation arises that gives way the fact that she is menstruating during a race. At least, no more so then the man with the bloody nipple shirt. 😉

Run happy folks!!

Desert Solstice, 2015

December 19, 2015, 8am sharp, and we are off. 24 hours of running (forward motion!) is my goal. I knew going into this that I was under trained and under prepared. But truthfully, I wasn’t sure that mattered much. I feel like the few good running performances I have had came when I wasn’t trained up well or was just totally clueless about what to expect. The times I’ve shown up to a race with good training and a solid plan, I haven’t preformed well. Many reasons for this! And I am going to get things in a line some day…or maybe in lots and lots and lots of circles.

When I decided to run this race back in June (I think, maybe before then) my goal was to run a fast 100. Then I got injured. 😦 I spent a lot of weeks half-training before I realized I needed to do absolutely NOTHING in order to recover. This sucked. But I knew that if I wanted to be able to run strong again, a good 3 weeks of NOTHING was needed. Once I was able to start running again, Desert Solstices was 9 weeks out. When I am running strong, I am training 80-110 miles a week of running and lifting weights, doing core and doing yoga. But I played it safe (and I think smart!) and went from 0-100 miles in those nine weeks slowly. I never added weights, core or yoga back in, because the injury I had was a yoga injury to my core and I was plain scared to push it too soon. I HATE injury. I will give up racing way before I fall into a chronic injury cycle. Running means more to me then being fast, and I want to be running the rest of my life. I also took a 3 week taper, so I had about 5 weeks of over 60 miles a week running. Super low for me.

Three weeks before Desert Solstice, I ran 35 miles on a track. This run felt so good (the whole time!) that I knew going and at least seeing what happened at this race was smart. While I knew I wasn’t in top shape, I felt like I had enough in me to go try. So I changed my goals from a fast 100 to 24 hours. (Hind sight- this was a naive change!) My plan was to run in my comfortable zone for as long as I could and then push into the pain when I had to and then just see what happened. I’ve never run a 24 hour race, so I knew I would learn a lot from going, no matter my performance.

Learn a lot I did!

The first obstacle I faced came less then 2 hours in. My hands were hurting and swollen and turning white. I sorta freaked out, because this is only the 2nd time I have had severe swelling, and last time it lead to dead legs pretty fast. I have always thought that swelling during an ultra was due to low electrolytes. Now I know this is not always the case! When I passed my crew (Hubby and Parents) and flashed them my hands while saying, “I’m swelling. Maybe I need more electrolytes? Check it out!”, my husband began to calculate my electrolyte intake along with calories and water and realized I was way over electrolytes! The weather was good, and I was likely over on water too. So we changed the nutrition plan to acomidate the conditions and my needs. 200+ calories an hour, but way less electrolytes and a bit less water. Less then an hour later, the swelling was going down. I could feel my hands sweating and it felt good. I’m not sure, but this early problem might be what lead to the very bad blisters I had…more on that soon. This mistake certainly is the reason I had to pee almost every hour though. THAT sucked! I’ve never peed so much in a day in my life! And it wasn’t just a little pee. I held it until I felt like I might pop, every time. Still made 11 stops at the port-o-potty. I’m fairly sure I can do better then that next time.

Back to the blisters. The last 100 I did (Rocky Raccoon), I had one blister and I never took a shoe off, the whole race. The 100 before that (Run Rabbit Run), I had zero blisters, switched shoes once but never socks. In truth, I do not blister often and I can not remember blistering badly (like more then a couple blisters per foot) ever before. Yet at Desert Solstice, I had fairly bad blisters on both feet by 50 miles in! I want to know why!!!!! Well, lots of possibility.  I already mentioned the early on swelling. My shoes did feel tight across the foot (not on length), and I do not remember them feeling like that ever before. Somewhere around 50 miles, one of the 4 blisters on my left foot was bleeding and I could feel the moisture spreading along my foot so I stopped and changed socks and dressed the big blister, putting the same shoes back on. A couple of hours later, more of the blisters on both feet had popped and my feet felt too swollen for the uppers of the shoes I had on, so I switched shoes to a looser, softer upper. This was nicer on my blisters, but left less cushion under foot, and my feet were sad. After the race, I asked a fellow ultra runner who has way more track and road experience then me, and trail experience too about the blister problem. She said she blisters a bit more on tracks and roads compared to trails, but not more on tracks compared to roads. Interesting for me, being I ran Mad City 100k (roads) and didn’t blister at all…then it hit me! She also said to think about the shoes and socks. Well, this is the first time I have run over 35 miles in the socks I wore! I almost always race long in wool socks. But for some reason I wore the same socks I train in to race in this time. ($$$$$$) I will try wool next time and hope that, along with proper nutrition helps!!!!!

As to the race plan…

Early on, keeping it easy was hard. I wanted to bust out a fast mile and then settle back into “comfy” pace. “Comfy” pace felt boring and dumb and Slow. When 2 girls on the track were steadily lapping me, and I could see them working hard, I began to second guess myself. Why not push it a bit…why not one fast mile…maybe I am wrong to run easy…but I knew I was way too under trained to deviate from my plan. This sucked for me. I have run a couple trail 50 milers in under 7 hours, and running 49 miles in 7 hours on a track felt kinda draggy. While I knew I was running smart, I felt like I was running blah. This is partly because I’ve never raced long on a track before and partly because I was under trained. I want to go try trained up, and with a solid plan! I think my plan might have been good, but my lack of experience had me doubting myself early on, which is not good! It is a good thing I tried to keep my pace in check, because I was right about being under trained! My legs felt dead by 60 miles, even though I ran easy. That, along with the painful blisters that I wasn’t sure how to deal with lead me to the biggest lesson of the day:

THERE IS NO SUBSTITUTE FOR GOOD TRAINING AND PREPARATION.

When it comes down to it, running for more then 10 hours will hurt. And handling the pain is mental- maybe more of a choice then physical ability. However, making the jump from 100 miles to 24hrs is, I do believe, a physical, mental and even emotional thing. ANY missing piece and forget finishing the 24hrs. It will take me another try. And I am supper excited to train up, take what I have learned, learn more and give it another go. I think the 24 hour race will be the hardest and most rewarding of all the races for me when I achieve it. 2017!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

In closing, thank you to Araviapa Running for putting on this amazing, competitive event. It was mind blowing to see all the goals people set, and see them execute. I am so glad the port-o-potty’s were in lane 4!!!!!!!!

Thank you to my parents, for flying into Phoenix to crew me and cheer me on and support me in this endeavor.

Thank you to my husband for believing in me, encouraging me and taking care of me before, during and after the race.

I am blessed and grateful for the opportunity to try, learn and grow.

 

 

 

Run. Run far. Run fast. Run hard. Run until you fall and then get back up and Run. Let your legs burn, your chest burn, your side ache and your feet hurt. Let your heart quit and your brain curse you. But Run. Run.

What is your passion? I mean, really. What gets your heart pounding, blood flowing, brain racing and sets your spirit on fire? What would you go after, so hard, that pain is ok and quitting becomes an impossibility?

There is much to this world and to the people in this world. There are things to love and show passion for everywhere I turn. But figuring out how to direct a passion in the proper way is tricky. Passion itself is tricky. Like…define passion. We have the loving, supportive passion. And then we have the destructive, tear it down and change it passion. Both scary, awe bringing things when understood and directed appropriatly. Yet when we are talking about passion, define appropriate…and so it goes.

As I examine myself, in hopes of personal growth and gaining a better ability as a human being to better this world, I find myself looking at other peoples passion as a way to learn. It blows my mind, all the beautiful and crazy passions there are coming from the amazing people on this Earth. I do believe all passions are needed, and that is part of there beauty. We are all equipped differently, and as such, have different passions and ability’s to contribute….

It’s beautiful and innocent to me when I see people fighting to save the animals and the trees. It’s beautiful because these things matter! How can we as human beings, with the power and strength we have over all other species on Earth actively destroy pieces of our amazing world? We should be protecting this world, nurturing this planet. Saving the Rainforest should be a no brainier. Taking care of the animals IS our job. I have a very loving soft spot in my heart for the people in this world who can, and do, fight for these things to be taking care of as they should be cared for by us humans. I can not, however, put my passion there. I am not innocent enough to do it. I wonder if I ever was…maybe once. But I see so much ugly. So many hurts and wrongs that are being inflicted on humans, by humans. Something in my head and heart feels guilt when saying, “Save the Animals!” with my attention and resource. Not because I think we shouldn’t save the animals and protect nature. But because Human Trafficking is real. Child abuse is REAL! Real, live human beings around the world starve to death. An embarrassing number of people have no access to clean drinking water. Moms are faced with the reality of choosing which of her children will live and who will die, not because she wants to ever make that choice!!!, but because she has no resources to take care of her sick child. Uhg! I just can’t really let myself think too hard on all these ugly things. It’s overwhelmingly painful. But it is truth. I can spend 5 minutes looking at all the different coffee creamers at HEB, imagining how each might taste in my coffee, choosing one based on my mood or whimsical desire. And more often then not, going with whatever is on sale. Someone else just spent three times that long walking with a jug for water…. water that looks dirty and I’d be hard pressed to even drink. Its so wrong…….I feel sad that I can’t afford to send my children to better schools or put them in the best soccer club. But my children have so much…when they get sick, they are taken care of. When they are hungry, they eat. Many parents can not give these things to their children…the money spent on all the frivolous desires is embarrassing for me to take in when I think about this. Yet I know that enjoyment is good. I enjoy many many things, and I take pleasure in seeing my children enjoying what I provide them. Such is the battle line in my heart. Its a double edged sword that I live my life on, and a sword I am learning that most people do not understand. Am I a hypocrite for buying coffee creamer and Greek yogurt instead of putting all the money I can into water wells in Africa? Is it wrong for me to ever eat at a nice restaurant when I am fully aware of the need others have for any food at all? Sometimes I think it is. But I still want to enjoy things and live in this amazing, privileged piece of the world that I live in, in this time that I do live in. There has to be a way!

I am still searching for my way. I want to live a life that is giving and caring of others. I want to give my children everything I can (including discipline, respect for others and appreciation, mind you!). I want to enjoy and appreciate all I have. I want to appreciate others and give to other people’s lives as well.

My biggest pet peeve has always been close-minded, judgmental people. But it wasn’t until very recently that I began to understand why. It comes from my own very deep desire to be understood. I know I don’t “add up” in a liner way. But if you follow the right order of operations, I make perfect sense. The thing is, many people do not want to take the time to understand the multiplication and parentheses needed to “add” me up.  And I have got to say, that is ok!! We only have so much time in life. Sometimes it is wise to give others space. Some folks are not going to mix well with other folks. Does that mean we can dismiss, judge or say f you to folks we do not mix with? No!!!!! When anyone throws out labels, creates a motive for anothers action or dismisses another person out of their own ignorance I get mad. Agree to disagree, but there is no need to start judging or to be mean. Maybe this is a complicated thing…???? I, for one, have a hard time throwing out ugly words or thoughts towards someone who I don’t know. Like, the lady yelling at the checkout girl at the grocery store? Seems pretty mean to me, but I have no clue as to what is going on in her life. Maybe I’d yell too if my best friend just died, I found out a loved one has cancer or any number of painful things!!!!! I mean, it just isn’t my place to say or even think a mean thing about anyone else when I am only me and can’t possibility have all the information needed to put meanness out on another being. That’s not to say I think it’s ok to yell at the checkout person, ever…Maybe this is complicated, ha! I just wish people would be nicer to each other and I honestly do not understand why we are not nicer and helpful and more grateful, as the rule.

And I could keep going. In circles. I WANT TO BE NICER TOO!!!…..

Instead, I move on.

I move on to an idea. What if more of us tried to live our passion??? Not another’s, but OURS!!?!????!!!?????

Arkansas Traveler 2015

The Arkansas Traveler is a mostly rutty-type jeep road 100 miler with 7 or so miles of spectacular single track trail early on, and around 1200 ft of elevation gain. This isn’t one of the “hard” 100s but it’s no Rocky Raccoon either (and I don’t think RR100 is quite as “easy” as it’s reputation, just FYI). I came to run this race this year because my husband planned to run it and I thought it looked fun, so why not?…

The why not’s:

I’ve spent the last few months training on faster, flatter terrain. Like a track. And the treadmill.

I currently have no trail shoes to run LOOONNGG in.

A few weeks ago I injured a muscle deep in my lower abdomen. As a result, I spent the last 2 weeks doing nothing, not even one vinyasa, in hopes of avoiding an MRI and a potentially more aggressive approach (like surgery) to “fix” my hurt muscle.

When it came down to it, I knew I could start this race (my ab felt good!) but I was not sure how far I would go. I knew I had to be willing to drop to avoid possibly worsening a pull and creating a tear to my abs. I was so thrilled that 2 weeks off had good results that I in no way wanted a 6 week lay off, and I knew that any miles would be a happy thing if I could run uninjured.

I also knew my lack of footwear could be an issue, though I wasn’t too worried about that. What I did was stick insoles into my Sketchers (I normally run without the insoles that they come with). The Sketchers I have are so perfect on roads and flatter trails but my foot moves around a bit too much on rocky hills. I need to get me a trail shoe for some things. 😦 In hindsight, I would have worn different shoes! Ouch toes and that meshy upper I love so much was no bueno on the Rocky type bigger hills.

Still, the biggest goal of all for me was to avoid a real injury that would take more then a few weeks to recover from. I’m hoping to run a fast 100 in December. The December race takes priority for me, so I was willing to view this race as training and hoping I would get to mile 60 before I had to push into the “bad zone” where your muscle just rebel. This did not happen.

Somewhere around mile 17 my legs started to feel crampy and yuck like they do later in 100s or when I’m reaching the end of shorter fast races. I wasn’t running hard ever and my heart rate was low. I also had a headache (though I thought that might be due to some insect that stung me in the head around mile 12. Ha! Funny, but it even bumped up and stung bad. First bug bite in a race for me.) I thought I had my nutrition right so I was confused as to why I would feel kinda blah so early on. A few miles later I noticed my hands were hurting. I looked at my right hand and it was supper puffy! My fingers from my knuckle to my nail were white. This creeped me out a bit. Soon after, I had to stop and pee. I suspected I was low on electrolytes. At the next aid, I ate a pickle, took extra electrolyte tabs and refiled my bottle with Gatorade. I had been taking electrolytes, but I was thinking I needed more. I also grabbed 2 GUs (yay salted caramel!!!!!)  At this point, I stated walking more hoping my legs would feel better soon.

All told, it only got worst. 😦 I kept taking in more electrolytes then normal with nothing getting better. Around mile 30 my head began to ache bad bad, and my ears were ringing off and on. When I started tripping every few steps, I knew I was done.

Could I have walked it in and finished? Likely, though not assuredly. My main thought was that I would end up with a new injury if I continued. I also began wondering if my abs might actually have something to do with my legs, though I think  more likely not. The only times I felt my (hopefully old) injury was when I tripped after mile 40.

Right now, my legs are mostly trashed but I think I’m fine. I so much enjoyed getting in a nice long run. I so much enjoyed meeting many trail runners from many states. I enjoyed the little running time I had with old friends and my hubby. I very much appreciate Mr. Crownover’s  words to me, both in asking thoughts and advise and in giving thoughts and advice…Mediocrity is something to be pondered for me. I also purposefuly wore a tank that said “live in the moment”. This was such a beautiful thing for me, having a constant reminder to stay present. This reminder helped me take honest inventory of my body and mind. It helped me stay positive and not let the beauty of the moment I was in escape me, even though there was pain too and a little frustration and disappointment. Over all, I wouldn’t trade the day I had for anything other then the day I had.

Now, after a burger and fries and a SHOWER!!!, I’m going to head back to the finish line to see Scott finish. GO SCOTT GO!!!!!!!!! 🙂

Hells Hills 50k, 2015

The last three races I’ve run, I’ve decided to run last minute. Why? Because my training is totally unfocused and funny right now. Why? Because I am not sure how to dial in for a race- what to train FOR. Yet I love to train. So I’ve been training, building speed and getting my miles back up for the past couple months. In the back of my mind (and in my training…), I kinda want to race a short road race. I’ve also upped my time spent with weights and core work. This has left me feeling faster, stronger and more warn out. Hills Hells fell at the tail end of a three week build in training. I knew when I signed up Thursday that I wouldn’t be putting out a top time for me, but I felt like I could do really well. I wanted to race tired for the practice of pushing, too. Because I feel like my weakest point as an athlete is pushing into the tired places that ultras take us. So I was excited to challenge my mind by pushing my body harder then I normally do and testing out my speed. Last year I ran the 50k as my first race back from a long injury. In 2009 I ran that 50k as well and set the course record there, so I felt like racing this year would tell me a lot.

The race started at 6am, in the dark. Right off the bat 2 guys took the lead. I ran in the 3rd spot for most of the 1st 4 miles. My goal was to go out a little hard (like race effort for a fresh-legged 50k on those trails) and stay there. At mile 4, I caught the lead guys and passed one of them. Then things got harder. I knew my legs were not fresh. But I had hoped and expected to feel comfortable with the hard effort I was running at for 12 or so miles. Reality was my legs began to cramp about mile 6. Being the thinker I am and the natural way I “play it safe” in my running, I backed off the pace enough to give my legs relief. I hit 7.75 miles in about 1:04 and was super bummed. I had hoped to be closer to 1:02, but that wasn’t the day I was having. I kept running hard, but just under the legs-start-cramping-hard pace I had wanted to run at. My mind was playing tug of war with itself…why not just push harder…but then you might not do as well…but you need to learn to push harder…but don’t run dumb…just give it all…what is all???? And more thoughts too. Thoughts about life and love and God and why I am me and what does that mean… At the half way point my time was 2:10:something and I was in 4th overall. Last year, I ran a 2:10 first loop. When I set the course record, I ran about 2:08 and 2:12. My legs felt too trashed to negative split it, but I figured I could beat my time from 2014. The goal heading into loop 2- under 2:15 second loop and as close to 2:10 as I could get.

I was feeling really ok heading into loop 2. My legs were tired, but I found that I could run in the 8:30’s still if I pushed the up hills harder. So I did. Just before hitting the last aid-station on the second loop, I saw who I thought was the 3rd place guy up in front of me. This race is super twisty (its a mountain bike park), so getting an idea of where your competitors are is hard. But I was pretty sure that was the guy I wanted to catch. The last aid-station is about mile 26.2, leaving less then 5 miles to go in the race. Just before reaching this aid station, I KNOW I saw the guy I thought was in 3rd. I began my push to the finish, making a goal to catch this guy. With 4miles to go, I caught him. I was running pretty fast, like in the 7s and this is a hilly section.

When I crossed the finish line, my time was 4:22:something. Somehow, I had missed passing the guy I thought was in 2nd, so I finished 2nd over all and1st female. All told, I feel good about this race. I know I can run better, given better preparation, but I want to use more races as training. So this was great! I am also very pleased with pushing well on the second loop. And I love that I was able to beat my time from last year by a couple of minute, even with tired legs. That was a confidence boast for sure!

I still haven’t dialed in my training for a goal race. Most likely, a 100 miler this fall. Just got to decide on which one!! Next up? Maybe a track meet this Friday. 1500m or 5k. Painful fun there! I like the short stuff too. 😉

Nueces 50k, 2015

For fun 50k races are my favorite! “For fun” means it doesn’t involve tapering, planning or training like a “Race” would. A for fun race is a training run that’s a race.. All Fun!!!! 🙂 And 50k’s are short enough to be much easier then 50milers. This adds to the fun for me big time. 😉

Nueces this year was freezing cold. It was 28* and drizzly at the start and the temps stayed under 30* until after 9am. The 50 milers started at 5am, 50k at 6 am, 25k at 7am and 10k at 7:30am. The start times were different this year (earlier) then in years passed and certainly added an element of hard, especially with the cold temps. Slippery, frozen rocks and more dark running. Yikkes!

After the tummy troubles I had running in the cold at Bandera, I was super excited to try racing in similar conditions to improve and learn more about racing in wet cold. And boy did I learn a lot! It feels so good to be gaining knowledge and confidence with myself as an athlete. I’ve never been a big racer, and I am happy that I am learning how. I want to race more and learn more and race more and…yeah. I have a lot to learn. Here is a list of things I learned racing the 50k yesterday.

But first, the race results! So often I forget to put those in my reports. I came in second female AND second overall. Two girls chicked the field! Pretty fun. 😉 I believe she ran a 4:32 and I ran a 4:49. Given the bad weather and the fact that this was a just for fun race for me, I think I did great!!! And the gal who won it did super great! We both came in under the previous course record, even given the ice. I fell hard on an iced over bridge the first loop and scooted myself across, clinching the ice handrail, moon-walk style both times to keep from falling again. It took me about 1minute to cross the little bridge hanging high over a river…I do not regret the time lost to safety and staying out of the river! Scary.

Now the lessons:

1. Running in capris rocks!

No leggings for me, unless I’m actually running in snow or sub 18*. I don’t like to be hot when I run AT ALL!! At Bandera, the leggings were a big mistake. I didn’t make that one at Nueces, and I am so glad! Even though it was colder at Nueces, the capris rocked.

2. Sugar is needed, along with the slow burn carbs for me to run hard efforts.

At Rocky Raccoon 100, I didn’t eat a lot of sugar. I mostly ate Hammer gels. I ate like 30 something gels (in 16 hours!) at RR 100 and that worked well. I never felt like I had a sugar low and I felt like I got calories in consistently and easily. But I bonked a bit at Nueces. I didn’t take in any sugar the fist 25k, only gels and water and I felt it in my brain before half way. Once I got a little sugar in me, I felt better fast!!! Back to being able to focus well and try to race. I think I only need sugars when I push the pace a bit. Probably anything fast…like a road 100k even.

3. I have a giant handicap when running in wet cold. And that is that!

My hands go numb way easy. They were so numb by the 25k that I couldn’t tell if I was holding my water bottle or not. Today, my forearms are sore and I am sure it is from me clinching my fists so much, trying to get blood in my hands. I had hand warmers in my gloves and everything, but because of the misty rain, my hands wouldn’t warm up. At the half way, I stopped for 5mins, with the goal of warming my hands. I put on dry gloves, moved the hand warms from on top of my hands to the palm area and switched to a dry handheld. All with the help of my friends because I couldn’t do it myself. An hour later, I could feel my hands! Numb hands = huge handicap for me to race with! First, I couldn’t get to my sugar when I needed to. I had candy in my pocket from the start, but I couldn’t get my hand to go into my pocket. So no sugar until after half way. 😦 I also spilt a ton of water onto my hand at the aid stations, leading to colder hands, because I had a hard time getting the lid of my bottle back on after refilling it with numb hands. Pretty much, my hands were not functioning. This also causes me mental stress and some huge physical discomfort. I like my hands and want them to work. It’s scary when they go as numb as they did yesterday. Now I at least know where to stick the hand warmers to work better next time!

4.Learn to focus

I tend to just run, having fun and enjoying. Thing is, this will never get me to be my best. I need to set goals for focus when I race (not necessarily all races, but the big ones). I need to write down my plan and then execute as best I can instead of just going to run. Of course, I won’t run that way all the time! I need fun runs, like this one, too.

Whats next for me? No clue! I’m thinking that through. But for now, a picture of my frozen pigtails at the finish line. A few folks commented on my frozen pigtails during the race, but until I saw them I didn’t get it. I had icicles in my hair!! HA!!!image

Rocky Raccoon 100 2015

imageRocky Raccoon 100 was a ton of fun. I can hardly believe it, but I ENJOYED that 100 mile trail race! I immensely enjoyed that trail race…almost every singe mile, on up to 100. This was way more fun then the last two 100s I did, and if my body would let me, I’d want to run another 100 miler next weekend. As it is, my left IT band is no bueno and I do not think I will be  running even 10 miles next weekend.

When I dropped Bandera at 42ish miles a few weeks back, I wanted to find another race to run soon. After talking it through with Joe P, I was 90% sure I would go ahead and run RR 100. Only 90% sure. Here is where you get the warning I put in some of my posts. I’m going to write very honestly about how I had to mentally prepare for this race and the thoughts that went into deciding to run the RR100 this year.

First, I already hit on the fact that I am not confident in my 100 mile abilities. I have so much to learn here, and before running Rocky this year I felt like I was a poor 100 mile runner. Mainly because I hated the previous experience. This was actually a reason to go and run! If I want to get better at running 100s, I need to run more 100s.

Post Bandera, I hit a hard spot emotionally and personally. I didn’t run much and didn’t want to run much. I just ate junk and (no joke!) put on 6 pounds of fat. In 3 weeks. Darn fast food Mexican temptations in SA. At *almost* 5’5″, I felt like I was dragging to run with the extra pounds. I also went and bought bigger run cloths because my too tight gear was causing chaffing. :O Yucko feeling going into a big race. (Side note: I still know I am healthy! Big for me, as an athlete. But I will be the first to say I run better a bit big then too thin. I have been both.) I jokingly told friends I needed to go run 100 miles to burn off some fat. And I not so jokingly told myself I need to go run 100 miles to snap myself out of the bad funk and back into my real runner self, with a strong mind.

But the biggest reason I was wavering with the decision to run this race? The date. I am a healthy female Lady and as such there are a few unideal days every month to be out on the trails for many many hours. I knew RR 100 would fall on a bad day for me, and I had to seriously think of how to handle this, both emotionally and in the real physical sense. I know myself, and I know how much I hurt on certain days. How bad my back aches just lying down. How blown up my tummy feels and how nauseated I get even when NOT running. I knew running 100 miles like this would not feel good, from before mile 1.

I goggled and read articles about other women who had to deal with something like this. While I didn’t find anything to really sway my choice in either direction, I did feel like I could handle this 100 no mater what day it was. A few cool facts (I’d site them all, but you can use goggle to check it out. Books too.).

1. Women tend to have a lower core temperature starting even the day BEFORE their day one and going all the way until ovulation. While there isn’t enough research to support this as something that boasts performance, it sure could!

2. Hormone levels are at an optimal level for performance for most females by their day 3. And racing post ovulation *could* be much harder for a lady then during the front end of her cycle due to hormones.

3. If about to start menstruation and during, women athletes need much more sodium then they do during the rest of the month.

The interesting facts go on, but there are a few highlights.

So I decided to run RR 100, no matter the day. The worst part for me was planing the logistics of bathroom needs during a race. My crew totally rocked with helping me here. I had to write things down by hours, not knowing where I would be but knowing by what hour I would need to stop and what all I would need to handle that in a sanitary way on a trail. NOT fun. But it was done. I have to say, I feel very blessed to have a guy in my life willing to help and encourage me through these type of sucky things. I also want to say I loved the fact that RR has a couple bathrooms with sinks just off the course. Made me feel better for sure!

So I showed up to the starting line, day 2 for me, back hurting, head throbbing, tummy nauseous, feeling like the size of a pregnant cow….and it was time to start running 100 miles. Honestly, my thoughts went like this, “Man, this is a crappy day. I ache and hurt and yuck! Might as well run 100 miles, because I’ll be feeling like this no matter what I do.” I told myself this several times that day. “My back hurts so bad! Guess I’ll just keep running. I’d feel about like this lying on the couch. I want that 100 mile finish instead!” It worked well for my brain, to have that internal dialect going with the discomfort.

All told, I really had a good day. I felt bad from the start, had a few high points in the middle, felll off at the end. But learned a ton and truly had fun. My crew was the best. Supported me all day long and gave me encouraging words. The biggest kink in the race was when my headlamp died at night. Luckily, I was less then 1/2 a mile out of the first aid-station (on lap 5) because I couldn’t even see the trail!!!  My crew had a headlamp on and gave me a handheld, then spontaneously became my pacer. A pacer in cargo shorts for the last 17 miles. I loved that. 🙂 At DamNation, I had a drop bag with extra lights for us both. Unfortunately, the lights were sucky ones and we really couldn’t see well. The headlamp I had that died was the rockin’ light. But those things happen. And I think I liked the excuse to slow down and enjoy my company.

For my next 100, I will focus on keeping some intensaty in my running the last 30 miles. I just sorta got tired and let myself slow. I know I can push harder and I know harder will be just that. Harder. But I am going to go for that. Harder push, better finish. Sounds like crazy fun to me. Going faster next time. Run crazy and have fun everyone!!!