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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Thoughts on running and autoimmune *stuff*...

Several days out from Stone Cat and I have many thoughts. Though this won't surprise ANYONE who knows me, lol, as I typically like to beat a dead horse LONG after its dead...

This was an interesting race. I feel like I *should* have done better, and maybe I could have had I not made the clothing/supplement mistakes I had made...maybe not. I am not disappointed with my run AT ALL. I am really happy that I did not quit(though in the moment, not so much, lol) and that I reminded myself of just how much I can do. Having had the experience of not being able to run when I was sick, and thinking I might never run again....makes me TRULY appreciate every run I do :) I simply LOVE to run, and am so grateful I still can.

While out there, though, I did think about all the races I ran and how it seemed like every other race was great, then every other race was not so great. That should tell me something, eh? I was doing a race almost every 2 weeks from June(May?) until now. I know some people can race like that but me...I really shouldn't. Mentally I want to, but I think I am physically taking a HUGE risk.

I have said to friends numerous times that I need to be so careful. My health has been great lately sans a few issues and I really don't want to risk losing that. The LDN has truly been a miracle drug for me and though I know it doesn't work for everyone with Chronic Lyme (and I SO wish it did!) I am definitely one of the lucky ones. In general, I am running the best/longest I have since starting ultras and I am so incredibly grateful for that. The few issues I am having I know are partly due to my body continuing to adjust to the LDN and my immune system trying to right itself. My last thyroid test showed NO signs of Hashimoto's, which is something else LDN helps and was amazing considering how crazy high my numbers used to be! This also tells me that my body is no longer going all sorts of nutty on itself. Well, at least somewhat..

I still seem to have trouble with stomach issues/digestion/food allergies which seem to be at an all time high right now. I noticed after SC that I just could. not. eat. Normally I will eat anything not nailed down, to make up for all the calories burned during the run. It is very hard for me to consume enough calories DURING the run as my digestion sucks to begin with, add running 50 miles to that...yeah, no. I seem to be able to manage on liquid calories, and then eat my weight in al things food the next day. This was rough. I was reacting to everything I ate...even things I don't react to.  Not good.

The LDN works in phases, it seems (and so says the info on it) and this means that even though I have been on it for almost a year, I am still experiencing different affects from it. I notice that during pms I am having an immune response of some kind that feels like a relapse coming on, but only lasts about 3 days or so. Odd. I have NO seasonal allergies whatsoever, which is very cool, but the food allergies and chemical sensitivities are a PITA. Hopefully that will shift, but hard to say...I will probably get retested in Dec. when I see my immunologist the fabulous Dr. Made-Of-Win.

The tricky part of all of this is until my labs show I am over a certian number, I can't say I am *safely* well. We are getting the number we are watching that needs to be at least over 100(normal people are over 200, I was 19 when we started) and I am at 60 last check. I will be checked again in Dec and cross my fingers. It feels a wee bit like Russian Rouette and so far I have won but... you never know. Until I am in the safe zone, anything can happen. I am trying to be good but I am so NOT good at taking things easy... :) I am trying to be concious of it though...Should I take more days off? Probably. Should I taper, do less races, etc, etc? Eh, who knows. I do feel like I probably did too many based on my performance this year, not based on how I feel as I seem to recover very well. Next year though, I do plan on doing less.

I am already pretty much sure that trying for 100m in 2012 is off the table. Until I am SURE I am in the *safe zone* it is simply too big a risk, especially after what happened last time, which I am sure was part of what sent me into my last relapse. Instead, I am going to do some pacing, maybe a couple choice 50m races and then Fat-Asses and timed runs where I can simply get out and do what I for a long time with some of the greatest people I know. :) I also would like to do more cross training, biking specifically, and some swimming as I am going to be doing an epic swim with a good friend of mine :)

I also need to get out on the trails more. Now that I have found the trails by my house I need to spend more time on them. I know my lack of trail training slows me down. Once or twice a month just ain't cuttin' it :) Trails are a different beast, requiring different muscles and focus...something I haven't done much of in a while...its been a LONG time since I used to run trails daily...I miss that.

Sigh. All in all, it is what it is, I suppose...time to head out for a run. :)

Sunday, November 6, 2011

A twofer :)

Since I am the epitome of a slacker blogger, yer gettin' 2 race reports and various brain dumpings today :).

First off- my 40m Bday run.
I have a great 8m loop that I run which is mostly roads but I love it. I used this as the base of my *course* for the run as I could use my house as the aid station. The first loop I added to making it 12.5miles then it was 2 8m loops followed by another 11.5m loop which included 4m on Mt. Wachusett.

The first loop was great, tried to take it easy as I really wanted to run as much of this as I could, as a training run for Stone Cat. My friends Michelle, Dave and Mark came out to run with me and we all did this loop together. Mark actually came out early and got in 16m before we started as he couldn't stay all day. We were not super quick through the aid stations, but we didn't dally too much. My Hubby had set up a plan whereby he had a box for me to open after each lap, which was very cool :) My first lap was a John Deere winter hat(we love John Deere's here)

Mark left us, and we headed out on our second loop. It was a perfect day, the weather was great- sunny with a breeze, in the 50's. We were jabbering so much the miles passed pretty quickly! We finished up loop 2 and Michelle opted out of loop 3 as her tootsies were aching from all the pavement, but she was going to rejoin us for loop 4. Loop 2 left me with a gift of a John Deere steering wheel cover:) Somewhere in here my friend Pranee came out with her adorable baby to run/walk a loop. I was so happy to see her! Dave and I headed out for loop 3 and got in our own groove with tunes, and conversation. At the end of loop 3 Michelle was waiting for us ready to go. I got my 3rd box which was a massage gift certificate! :) We also found out Pranee got lost and was WAY far away, so Hubby was sent off to find her. Loop 4 was different as we were going to head to Mt Wachusett and summit. Also, Jeffrey was going to join us when we hit the woods for the last 8m.

The last loop was the best, imo. Though we were tired, and the mountain was SO crowded(like, panic attack crowded) we got it done. Jeffrey had a great time with Michelle talking her ear off, and Dave and I brought up the rear. We got back home, having run about 8:30 for the whole thing and I felt really good. My final gift was a CAR! My Hubby found me a 240 Volvo wagon, which I LOVE in this awesome yellow color :) Also, Dave had completed his FIRST Ultra distance ever which was very cool :) (Oh, and we found Pranee btw, and she was tired and sore but happy)

All in all, it was a sucessful run, and a good day spent with great people.

Stone Cat 50m
I headed into this race feeling pretty good. I even took *2* days off this week! I had planned to do the first half in 5-5:30 and the second half in 6hrs...I really wanted to come in under 12 hours. Ya know how that goes... :) Friday my stomach was all out of sorts which I was hoping would rectify before Saturday. Other than that I felt like I was ready to go.

It was going to be chilly to start, I knew that much but I had anticipated it warming up some and didn't want to overdress with my sweatiness and all...that was mistake number one. I should have worn pants of some sort for the first lap (or the whole thing) I also wore my Mafates, which are waterproof. That means NO DRAINAGE. Oy. Mistake number 2. I did not have my SCaps, and had to rely on Enduroytes which I thought would be fine since it was cold but should have known better as they really don't work for I was nauseous pretty much from hour 2 on...So, it was not setting up to be a good day.

Lap one I ran most of with Michelle, or at least had her in my sight. Once we went through the water at mile 3.75 (a .2m stretch of sometimes calf deep FRIGID water that was unavoidable) I realised my errors at this point. My feet were now soaked and stayed that way for 8.5 more miles, I was so cold I was shivering, and I could barely speak. This my friends, is not a good thing, contrary to what my Hubby might say. I was not sure what was going to happen at this point as since I could no longer feel my feet I was not clearing any obstacles aka kicking every gawd-forsaken root and rock in my path. Though I couldn't feel that either, it would trip me up and I knew that jamming my already arthritic feet was my undoing at my first attempt at SC. First lap done in 2:35ish.

Lap two was better. Before I headed out I ate some ginger to quell the nausea I was plagued with(already, grrr) put on some clothes, wool socks and my other sneakers, my Stinsons. I also donned a pair of fleece socks as gloves and a winter hat. This all made a HUGE difference. Though my second lap was slower, the water section still sucked, BUT my shoes drained and my feet dried and thawed some. However, I was now walking the hills as I felt kind of junky. I was contemplating the effect of how many races I had done in the last few months(probably too many), my training(not enough time on trails), and my rookie mistakes(I know better) that were culminating in me wondering if in fact I could finish this thing. I gave myself a good smack-down, reminding myself I still had plenty of time, my family was coming all the way out here to watch me FINISH, not DNF, and THE JACKET. Could I really let another year go by without getting the Jacket? Especially when it was the best one they have had to date? Oh, HELL no.Lap 2 done in 2:50.

Lap 3 was when the wheels were really starting to come off. The nausea I had been battling all day was preventing me from consuming enough calories and the lack of proper electrolytes made my legs crampy. My feet were gettng cold again and the water section was really painful this time through. Then I fell. I caught my foot on a rock(again) and went head-long into a cold, deep mud puddle. My calves imediately cramped and I was stuck. I could not move, or get up and I was I waited for the cramps to subside and off I went. Cold and wet, yet again. But now the added bonus of being covered with mud. Hey, if you are clean you didn't have fun, right? ;) Somewhere after this, I think at the next aid station, my friend Steve caught up with me and we spent the next section running together. He was not having the best day either, so we had time to chat about too many races, our aches and pains, and what we would do if we didn't make the cut-off, which we were dangerously close to. We did the whole *I don't care* BS but I think on some level we probably both did, though it wouldn't have hit us until today. Steve motored on in the last mile and I simply hung on. I was pretty sure I was done since I *thought* the cut-off was 3 or 3:15pm and I was not going to make either time. In THAT moment, I really did not care bc I was in so much pain. Hubby met me about .5m out and said I had 20 mins to finish and I could make it. I told him I didn't care, I didn't want to go on, to which he responded I should just get there and then decide, as Steve was waiting for me. Ugh :) He waited. Lap 3 2:55ish.

Lap 4. Another 10mins in the aid station to grab pants, gloves, more ginger, and to say hi to the kiddos and the 50m winner(who, not only kicked butt on the course, he STAYED and volunteered after! He is made of awesome sauce for sure)off we went. But, not before we dragged along another gal who *thought* she was done :) We figured we would stick together and get through the loop...somehow. It was going to be tough as Steve and I were definitely hurting and our new friend Marilyn had her fair share of mishaps throughout the day, a stellar bunch we were not, lol. I will say despite the agony, that farking water, my frozen nubs, and my emo moments during the last 5m, the loop was actually pretty fun. We chatted most of the way, Steve had us *shuffling* whenever he could motivate us, as did Marilyn(I was never in that motivating role, mind and despite being PUSHED through aid stations(literally, someone was PUSHING Steve! We were last...)We met up with the actual last person through the cut-off who caught up with us and eventually passed us. He hung with us for a while and pulled us along with his rather zippy hike pace which was great.

That last 5m was rough. We made it to the last aid station before dark but we knew we would be running in the dark. I don't mind starting a race in the dark, bc I know it WILL get light. But to still be running when it gets dark really messes with my head. I had to ask for mileage updates from Steve to keep myself in check, as I knew I had come that far, I only had 3, 2, 1 more mile to go. We aso had this REALLY nice biker/sweeper guy follow us in. He was very nice, and encouraged us the whole way. He kept his distance most of the way but caught up with us the last mile or 2 and kept us company. Somewhere in the last mile or 2 our friend Marilyn got her last burst of mojo and off she went! She did great and was running SANS headlamp! Steve and I were greeted by my kiddos and Trooper Dave at the back of the field(the home stretch) which was lit up with flares, and we got the traditional Person Tunnel reserved for the last runner(s) to finish. It was pretty cool. Trooper Dave, Michelle, Rob(who finished his FIRST 50!) and my family were all there and it was awesome to see them. I got hugs from Michelle, who made me cry a good cry and I GOT THE JACKET! I thanked Steve...whom I didn't like very much for part of that last lap :) but honestly, I never would have gone out for that last lap without him. Lap 4 done in 3:40ish.

All in all, it was a good day. Despite all the mistakes, it is a cool course, I got to see so many of my Ultra peeps and let me tell you what a great group of peope they all are. I have met some truly fantastic people I am proud to call friend through this sport. I was also reminded what can happen if I don't plan well. Despite that, I did finish which reminds me just how much I CAN do, if I push outside my comfort zone and go with it. I always think this course is an *easy* 50 but really, it isn't that easy. There are no HUGE hills, but it is significantly rolling, and technical. 

I did ok with hydration, probably should have drank more but with the nausea I had trouble. Was down some in the wt. dept but no more than is normal for me, and will be made up today between drinking and eating. My legs feel pretty good(thank you Hokas!) but my feet/toes ankles are absolutely trashed. Trying to walk is comedic. Unfortunately, I am not sure I will bounce back in a day or so as per usual, it could be a few days before I can run again...we will see how it goes. A hot bath and a massage may do the trick! :) Sleeping last night was a trip, as my body didn't realize it was done and I kept twitching and *tripping* in my sleep.

The Jacket...she is mine. :)

Next up? Possibly Nougat 100k...though I am leaning more towards 50k(hell, 25k anyone?) which I am sure will change as soon as the memory of this pain fades and the crazy slips back in :) I have thought about spacing out my races more though, as I am not sure 2 races a month for months on end is the best choice but that is just about what I was doing. Its a bit rough on the old body and I am certianly pushing my luck with my health. Time to have a *down season* and scale back and relax some...maybe pick a few key races for next year and do more Fat Asses and/or timed events where there is less pressure to chase cut-offs and its more about getting out there and running really far with friends. :) Sounds good to me. :)