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.

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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