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Saturday, November 20, 2010

JFK Race Report

Because I was in the 5am start, I had to get up at 2:30 am to leave by 3am. The pre-race meeting was at 4:20am. I was all set until I got turned around on the highway and added 15mins to my travel! The GPS was telling me I was going to be late, so I got behind a trucker and hauled ass. I made it by 4:25, heard the tail end of the meeting and had enough time to change and get to the race start(we had to walk a mile out to the start)

Off we went at exactly 5am, in the DARK. The first 2 miles or so were up about a 5% grade, then we turned in to the Appalacian Trail parking lot. We spent a bit of time on the trail and then came out on another road to continue up the mountain. Lots of walking and chit-chatting at this point. I was happy to be going uphill on the pavement but had I known what I was in for, I would have MUCH preferred it on the down hill. This was the worst of the hills, and we were getting them out of the way in the beginning which was nice. We headed back on to the trails and were assaulted by rocks for the next 8ish miles, oy. It was tough. Between the dark and the rocks, I was having a heck of a time. I was keeping up with the crowd the best I could as I wanted to have the bonus of other people's headlamps to find my way through the dark :) Once the sun came up I could really SEE what I was trying to get over. Talk about ankle turners! There was not a smooth runnable space in site. I moved along at a safe pace, as I did not want to get hurt at this point in the race as i knew it would be much easier terrain once I hit the towpath. The first handler station I did not expect to see my *crew* so I wasn't looking for them. Apparently, they showed up 5 mins after I came through.

A picture of the aid station to prove they had been there... ;)

The last section of the AT was CRAZY! The last mile out to the second crew station was down the side of a cliff with switchbacks that made my head spin. I kept focused on the trail in front of me so I wouldn't look down. Yikes! I was really feeling the downhills and rocks on my quads and was looking forward to NO rocks and flat :) I got to see my crew at the exit of the AT :)

Coming down the last section into the aid station...
Now we were headed on to the C&O towpath, which was essentially flat for the next 20-something miles. I fetl great at this point, about 15 miles in and was ahead of my planned time, but still within the range I wanted to be in. I wanted to finish, and get in at 12 hours. I was on target for that, and I was happy. I ended up finding 2 women to run with for probably 20 miles, on and off. We did the run/walk for a while, but it hurt me too much to stop running :) so I kept running. It was absolutely a perfect day. The weather was great, the canal was nice along side the trail and every aid station had super happy upbeat station workers :) I was happy for the flat, and there were so many runners, you were never alone. Some time along here the 7am 'elite' runners started coming through. They were AMAZING! The winning male came in SUB 6HRS! I cannot even fathom...I had finished the marathon at 6 hours!
I usually smile throughout races...I am so happy to be out running!

I was supposed to meet my brother at the Mile 38 crew station as he was going to run the last 12 miles with me. I got to the station and couldn't find him or my SIL. Turned out, they were sitting further down the trail! Well, I finally found my SIL after waiting around for 5-10 some smoothie and told her I had to go, and once she found him to just have him catch up to me as I wans't moving that fast :) Within the next mile, he caught up and we were on our way. At that point, I was headed for an 11 hour finish, possibly less. I wasn't concerning myself with it as I was just happy to be there, having fun and feeling good. I was starting to feel a twinge in my left ankle, but I really started to feel it once we hit the road...with 8.5 miles to go. The road section was 'supposed' to be, no. It was rolling...VERY rolling. It was a nice country road through farms and nice houses. We were moving along at a decent clip- 12 minute miles according to my OCD brother ;)
Us, coming into the last crew station...
We hit the final crew station and my SIL with her neon pink *Go Julie* sign :) So we got our last fuel (I was on ginger at that point as the quease had finally set in) We had about 4ish miles to go. I was definitely feeling my ankle, so it was tough going down any hills, and I did take a few walk-up-the-hill breaks. My brother started to pick up the pace a little to bring me home, and I was able to keep up...barely, lol ;) We were in town at this point and the end was in sight. The last mile was flat so I could just give whatever I had left to get to the finish...and I did! Somebody 'smoked' me in the shoot but I didn't care. It was great, I had finished ahead of schedule and did the second half faster than the first. I have never done that before, and am happy I did...that is definitely the way to go!

*that time is the 7am starter time, you have to add 2 hrs for us 5am starters :)

A very nice gal at the end took my chip off my sneaker, which was great as I couldn't have untied my shoes if I tried, lol. I got my finisher's medal and got to see my SIL again. They went to feed my brother and I went inside to get warm. We stayed to watch the awards, and I called Dave and the kids to let them know I finished. We headed home after that and I took a MUCH needed shower, had more green smoothie and iced my ankle.
I feel great about this race. I know I could have broken 11 hours had I not waited for my brother, but it doesn't matter. I am so happy I got to run with him, had a good race and felt good throughout. That means more to me than my time. :)

Now, I am dealing with the Ultra-pneumonia and walkin' like a grandma as my ankles no longer flex, lol. But, I need to mend quick as I am running a Turkey Day 5 miler with Jeffrey on thursday! Or, maybe Dave will need to do that one... ;)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Dropped Down to 26.2 due to Broken Feet :(


This race, which I was SO excited for, was not what I had hoped it would be.

I have chosen to ignore the slightly nagging isuses I have felt in my feet. Don't know when it started, but its predominantly in my big toe knuckles of both feet, extending up the bone..sometimes I can feel it top AND bottom of the 'knuckle' but anyways...

Spent the night with Trail Pixie so we could get up and go early. Hubby and the kids were going to meet me there later in the morning. We got there early and had plenty of time to chit-chat, and get excited! I was. I have been really looking forward to this race. We headed off a little late into the chilly morning. It was gorgeous out...everything was frosty, and once the sun came up a bit more it was absolutely sparkly! I was jealous of all the people who brought their cameras to catch these great pics.

The trails were, well, REAL trails- hard to see, single track and switch-backs. I was thinking to myself that the last lap was going to be a b*tch as it would be getting dark and it would be a challenge for me to find and stay on the trails, lol. The aid stations were great, and the 7m aid station had a Bluegrass band! It was awesome, and made me think of hubby who would be at the loop start/finish waiting for me. I was feeling great, really great. I was going faster than I expected to, and just 'ran' with it. I never plan times per se, I just run how I feel and I was feeling the pace I was at so I figured I would just go with it until I needed to slow down. Slowing down came in an unexpected way...

By about mile 10-ish, I started to really notice my feet. They hurt. Now, running ultras hurts. It is par for the course. You can't run that distance without pain. It is up to you the runner to decide which pain is *normal* and which is something to pay attention to. This pain was not something I was used to feeling.

Went through the first lap in 2:19 which was great time for me. I said hello to the family and got going quick as it was COLD and the longer I stopped the more chilled I would get. Let hubby know what I would need for the next lap and I was off. By the first aid station(mile 3 of the lap) I knew I was in trouble, but I was still in the 'maybe I can ignore it phase'...yeah, no. I was reduced to a hobble probably somewhere between mile 3 and 7. The pain in my feet was about an 8 out of 10, 10 being childbirth. I could NOT believe it. Every root, rock, stumble...sent shooting pain through my feet. I was having the mental battle at this point- what should I do...could I walk and shuffle and still finish? Should I just drop down to the marathon, so I could still have an official finish instead of a DNF which was a possibility if I tried to continue on and didn't start my last lap by 3:30...

During what would be my last 6 miles, I got to see all my running friends. Honestly, it was awesome. I saw Trail Pixie running strong, Michelle and KZ who looked GREAT and I am sure they finished strong despite their own challenges coming into this race, and Dan, doing his first 50 who looked fantastic...I felt SO proud of them all and I can't wait to hear their reports!!! :)

Honestly soon as I started thinking I was going to stop, the race was over for me. I was defeated, spent most of the last 6m crying like a girl. I was disappointed, angry, hurting, worried that my family would be disappointed...and I just wanted to be done and get off my feet. I had a couple moments as I approached the end where I thought maybe I could go on, but if I got worse, I had a LONG way to get back. So, as I came through the shoot, I told the officials I was dropping to the marathon. They sent me out for the last 1.2 miles, and Jeffrey came out to run the last 1/2-3/4 mile with me. He said to me, "Mommy, why do you keep doing these races when you do so bad?" Well, that's kids for you :)

I finished in 5:35. Amazing, considering what I was dealing with. Could I have done another 25 miles in 6.5 hours? I don't know. It wouldn't have been pretty and probably would have had me doing more damage than good. I changed, had some green smoothie, chit-chatted a bit and left for home. It was what it was.
By the time I got home, I was in so much pain I was really afraid I had done some real damage. I called my Dr. and she said to go to the ER. Off we went. They took xrays, etc. Try explaining to 4 different people at a hospital HOW exactly I came to be in this state. I felt like they were trying to decide if it was xrays or a psych consult that I needed. In the end, there were no stress fractures(which is what we were thinking) or any other injuries that she could see. She didn't know what to tell me, so she said rest and ice and motrin. Duh... ;)

Interestingly, despite going to bed with my feet THROBBING, I woke up this morning with NO PAIN. Well, the usual stiffness/soreness that is to be expected, but my feet are fine, just a barely detectable soreness. Uh....what the heck is up with that? I'm not even going to dwell on it. Plain and simple, yesterday was not my day. I run because I love it. I run with joy. When it isn't fun anymore, I stop. By mile 26 it wasn't fun so I stopped. It is what it is. Sigh.

Every ultra is a learning experience. I learn on physical, emotional and running levels. Something was off yesterday, and as a result I had some issues.
Physically- I need new shoes. The Dr. said something about wearing stiff shoes while my feet were healing, and something clicked. I have been wearing my Addidas trail shoes for a while. Not the trail shoe of choice for, um, anyone. I happen to like them bc they are flexible and sort of chushion-y. I am thinking that maybe that isn't so great. I need a stiffer shoe, and I can always put a gel insert in.
Emotionally-I do really believe in my running philosophy. Run while its fun, and stop when its not. I did just that. Though today I am feeling emotional about it, I *did* finish a trail marathon, which is still quite a feat. It is something to be proud of. I know I can finish 50 miles, as I have. And I will again. :)
Running-Mental 'space' is so important in these kinds of races. You can feel physically fine and your brain can do you in. Your brain can also convince you to do something you physically shouldn't. I like to think I had a balance yesterday of my mind and body deciding together that stopping was best.

So, now I am going to rest. Scarf down some major green smoothies, and some killer salad today...maybe go out and hang with the chickens and plan some bulbs. No running for me until at least the end of the week if I can force myself to wait that long. I really want to be able to do JFK. And finish. So rest is in order, and I will play it by feel.

Congratulations to EVERYONE who got out and ran the Stone Cat 50...the fact that you walked up to the starting line to run is an amazing feat in and of itself. Be proud :)

Stone Cat 50...done baby!

Well, not the 50 but the 26.2 :) and I am a-ok with that.

I was completely unsure what yesterday was going to be. Having not been able to run more than 10 miles in the last 2...3? months I was woefully unprepared to run the 50. Hell, in my book even the marathon was out of my reach. But, I was going to go out and see what I could do. I knew I had all day to do the marathon, hell...I could have done a lap, come in and taken a nap and gone out and finished and still come in before the course closed, lol.

Stayed with the ever-so-lovely Trail Pixie the night before, as has become tradition, so we could stay up too late and talk :) Then, up at the crack of dawn (hell BEFORE dawn!) to head to the course. There, we signed in and had plenty of time to meet up with fellow TUGers and other runner-friends. The race started 15mins. late due to some sort of telephone pole *incident* causing traffic mayhem resulting in people arriving late. We were getting worried about Steve who was not yet there but alas, he did arrive with books in hand. (he's an author, you can buy his book here:
  I am already 2/3 done with it...I stayed up late last night and read 'til my eyes bled...) We all headed to the start and got ready for whatever the day had in store.

I decided to stay with Steve as he is SO damn consistant with his time and I knew if I went out with him I wouldn't go out too fast and would have the best chance of getting the most miles in. Plus, I think I have told him a hundred times I wanted to or would run with him...then didn't. So, it was time to make things right. The first lap was a blast(at least for me, Steve may have wanted to slap me or possibly tell me to STFU but he didn't...'cause he is just a nice guy like that) and went pretty smoothly until I decided to trip over AIR at the end of the first lap, taking the entire weight of my body on my hands. Ow. My lower body was ok so on we went but damn if I couldn't use my right hand for the rest of the day.

We made a sort of quick transition through the start/finish and started out on lap 2. Not too far in, I started to falter a bit. Steve told me "Bitch, you are slowin' me DOWN!" (actually, he very tenatively and politely said "Um, this pace is a little off for me..." but the first comment is far funnier, dontcha think?) To which I replied that he should go on as he was much more likely to finish than I. We wished each other good luck and off he went. I had really enjoyed my miles with him and I was sorry I could not have kept up for longer (I had more stories!!!) Ah, well. Next time :)

I downed an 5 hour energy drink and crossed my fingers that I could at least finish the marathon(which was my secret squirrel goal) Several minutes later, I noticed that mentally clearer than I had been in MONTHS! Seriously though, I would drink one of these daily if they weren't so dagum expensive. I was thinking I could quite possibly finish this...or at least doing 3 laps. Too bad my body wasn't receiving the same message...

I ended up meeting up with a few women, one of which I ran with until the end. She was a LOVELY woman and I really enjoyed my time spent with her. I realized during this lap that I would in fact, at the very least, finish the marathon and I was thrilled. I was so happy to be out on the trails, doing something that I loved, that is such a part of me. I was so thrilled to be able to be out there, shuffling along, in spite of everything else that has been going on with me. I truly was not sure I would be in any shape to run even one lap. So, to be able to run was an emotional ending for me, that's for sure.

But, before I got to the end, I started to notice a few things...little signs my body may not be handling things. Things I wouldn't expect to feel until much later in the day/race. My feet were starting to give me trouble, my legs were getting sore(which is par for the course, but it came much earlier than I expected) and my kidneys hurt. I was warned, that although my kidney function was back to normal after VT and all was good, once you have renal failure you are more suseptable to it. Even though I was/am now super-ocd about my fluids and output, they were still getting 'irritated' and that concerned me as again, that is something that doesn't usually happen until later in the race. But, considering the meds and herbs I am on, my kidneys are already working pretty hard so...though mentally I felt like I could go out for another lap even though there was no way I would finish the 50, I decided to err on the side of caution and just be happy with the marathon.

After I changed into dry clothes (and many layers of them, at that)and made an emotional call to my Hubby letting him know I indeed finish the marathon and talked to my kiddos,  I joined Trail Pixie (who SMOKED my ass as she WALKED most of the marathon...this girl is amazing. She can power walk with passion! Seriously, she is the BOMB!!!) to watch the rest of the race unfold. We had a GREAT time chatting our fool heads off and cheering on everyone coming in. We got to see our peeps go out for their last lap and I watched the clock dutifully so I could officially start to worry, when necessary.(hey, its a mom thing. Its how I roll.) We were ELATED when we got to see each one of our TUGers come in...2 of which completed their first 50 miler!

I have to say, though, waiting for and then seeing some of my friends come in is a very emotional thing. I can't even explain it. I don't know if its because I know them better, know of their challenges, or they just push my emo button but...waiting for KZ and Steve do that to me (though I will say I did get a wee emo over knowing BH Dan finished the marathon after SUCH a hard spring/summer) I get very teary when I see KZ come in. He is a dear friend. I want to say more than that but...he *knows* how I feel. And of the funniest men I know, (though I secretly think he is a teddy bear on the inside :)...I will ask his wife about that someday...)guts it out to the can you NOT get teary over that? I also cannot leave until I know all TUGers have been accounted for.

Then there was a newbie, J who after several attempts finished her first 50. Holy my....I am still teary about it. The look on her face when she finished was priceless. She did a great job and I am so glad we got to see her finish. The very last girl to cross the finish line was there doing her first 50 as well, and EVERY time I saw her all day she had a BEAUTIFUL smile on her face. Everyone that was still there made a human tunnel for her to run through to cros the finish line...the 'tunnel of love' :) How's that to top your emo basket? Yeah. :)

All of that and so much more is why I love this sport. The friends I have made, the time spent on the trails, the support from fellow runners and all the crews and people who come out and volunteer at aid stations cooking and catering to us runnin' is a community like very few others I have had the chance to experience. Amazing.

I can't wait for the next race :)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Mandatory pre-Stone Cat post.

Hey, everyone else is doing it...and I've always been a follower ;)


Several interesting things to report. Still having good days and not so good days, still struggling emotionally some days with what I wish I COULD do, but I am hanging on even if some days its only by a thread.

Sunday I ran in the Busa Bushwhack, a somewhat challenging rocky, root-y, hilly 10 miler. It was a good test for me to see what I had in me for SC. Each loop in SC is 12.5miles, and rolling. I did ok. Not wonderfully, but ok and I certianly enjoyed myself. It was a beautiful day for a run, the woods were gorgeous and due to my blazing speed I spent much of the race alone. When I finished, I felt weak, but not too bad overall.

So, what does that mean for Stone Cat? Well, I am signed up for the 50 and in my wildest dreams I would love to finish. Chances of that? Eh, I don't know. My brain says no problem, totally possible but my body says "What you smokin' woman?" I think it will very much be a lap by lap kind of day. The 10 miles took alot out of me, I hate to admit. I know that running less (ie 4-5m) is probably more realistic. Even running the 26.2 option will be a challenge, but I may give it a go. The time limit is still the same, I would have 13 hours to finish. I am pretty sure I could crawl and finish the marathon in less than 13 hours, lol. So, that is my goal. If I run the first lap, come in and bundle up and head out to walk the second lap I will get a marathon finishers sweatshirt. Considering the last several months...I'll take it. Besides, this is a huge TUG family reunion day and really...I am actually more excited to see everyone than I am to run... ;)

In other news...I now have to eat shoe.
Remember my tirade about where all the raw vegans went? How they were all eating meat now? Yeah...about that...
I have been looking at my diet. Listening to what I am craving (you crave what you need...)and since it seems like what I *would* have eaten is not working for me and my stomach is not loving it....I looked back to what has worked, what I did before I ran/walked the Relay For Life (when I was first really sick) and I thought, hmmm....something tells me I need to revisit.

When I became a vegetarian, then vegan, part of my reasoning beyond simply not liking meat, was that I felt if I could not kill/prepare an animal, I had no right to eat it. (I am COMPLETELY against hunting, however if one hunts, and then preps their own animal to feed their family out of need I have far more respect than if you are hunting for sport)I always felt I could catch and prep a fish, though I never actually have, if I had to. So, in my vegetarian life, I have consumed some fish. I am allergic to shellfish(plus- bottom feeders, ew) so that is not an option.

I thought about eating cooked vegan, as for whatever reason, my body is really not enjoying raw. I will spare y'all the details, but it isn't working. Even green smoothies aren't working. I can do fruit smoothies but add greens and life is not good. Though, under ideal circumstances(ie better health) I would totally not think twice about doing a fruit based diet. Right now though, where my health is generally NOT good and I have alot of healing to do...I need to make some changes. This was very hard for me to accept as I truly believe in the lifestyle I live, consuming a predominantly raw diet. But now I am eating whatever does not make me want to hurl, and well balanced it is not.

So, cooked veggies, quinoa, barley, and salmon have been added to my diet. I am drinking fruit smoothies still, but to get through this time, I am going to need to make some drastic changes. I am still avoiding most grains, (rice, wheat and corn) but cooking my greens, rustic grains and other non-starchy cooked veggies are the basis of my diet now. And, guess what? I feel better. No intestinal distress. None. My achiness has decreased. I have more energy. Go figure.

I am still struggling with my choice even though clearly it was the right one for me right now. One more lesson in letting go, I guess. I need to do whatever is necessary to heal my body right now. If that means I need to forgo the raw diet for be it. Funny, Dr. Jerkface was right about one thing- I needed to be open minded and look at my diet(though this isn't what he meant, the message was there) So, thank you Dr. Jerkface. You were right about this. I will give you that.

My plan for this week is to get a few runs in, get as much sleep as possible and eat really well. Then Saturday will be what it will be. I will head out with friends, enjoy the trails, and be grateful for the opportunity to be there at all. I know in the grand scheme of things I am so much better off than many Lyme sufferers. I thank Spirit for that every day.