My Amazon Picks

Saturday, June 22, 2013

More Musings...

One week out from the longest race I have EVER run and I feel pretty good. My left ankle is swollen like woah, and I have the most horrific case of poison ivy but aside from that...I feel good. And THAT is good. :) I am BEING good and taking my time getting back up to my prior mileage...given what I was dealing with before the race, I figure I need to be careful and so I am. I am giving myself at least 2 weeks of easy, low mileage(for me, so betw 5-8m) runs. I saw my Immunologist this week as well and he was quite impressed :)   He does believe, though, that I did indeed have a classic herx and wants me to go right back on the abx and just muddle through. Last year when I started the abx, I had the same reaction, and then went on to have 6-8mo of the best health I have had in 5 years. I cannot deny I will suck it up now, when I have nothing coming up, knowing I will be long over this before the next race on tap. I will continue doing everything else I have been doing as it seems to be working,

Its so interesting, and actually quite humorous the way Ultras play out....I was struggling very early on, and had pretty much decided that 50k was my new distance of choice. Maybe an occasional 50 miler. This 100 mile stuff is for the birds. I had other goals, I wanted to run through the suck(done) I wanted to incorporate walk/run, I wanted my gut to behave...I met those goals with flying colors. I got through 75 miles, I ran for 24 hours...and I learned a LOT. Mostly I learned I am FAR stronger than I ever realized and I CAN do whatever I set my mind to.

That being said...
Without my dearest, most badass friend ever, I never would have made it through those first 50 miles. There is something to be said for someone knowing you inside and out, good and bad, logical and crazy parts...when you know someone THAT well, they can probably get you through anything...and she did. She knew what to say to talk me off the ledge(several times) could relate on many levels, and could absolutely sympathize with my medical shit...And there are very few people I can spend 24 solid hours with...mostly because THEY get sick of ME! lol ;) But, we spent that whole time and would have spent more if the cards stacked up right...but they don't always, and that day was just not meant to go past 24 hours for us as a team. I am SO incredibly full of gratitude for having her with me, and having her in my life...she helped me through some dark places last friday night and without realizing it, she is WHY I had the strength to meet my goal of running through the suck. :)

Then there was my pacer.
A guy who I know from our running club, never have run with him, ever...only in passing at other races. He volunteered to pace me with his wife(who I never had the pleasure of running with...maybe July? ;)) I jumped at the chance to secure a pacer as I knew I would need one and wanted to be sure I had all my bases covered *in case*...and I am glad I did. Michelle got me through that first 50 miles. When I was finishing that lap and knew I would not finish within the cut-off bc I could not go fatser in the mud and did not want to face another night out there...I still HAD to do one more lap. I HAD to. For me- because so much of who I am is tied up in running and being a *runner*...I have been a runner over half my life...I don't know how NOT to be one, it is literally part of my identity AND I was NOT going to let this damn disease beat me one more effing time... for my kids- I needed to show them I did not give up because things got hard,  for the people who believed in me and were rooting for me to finish, Enter Michael. He literally bounced into my space, ready to go. His enthusiasm was AMAZING and exactly what I needed. He allowed me to *be* wherever I was, encouraged me to run, and was a constant cheerleader when all I wanted to do was be DONE. He GOT me to 75 miles. I really do not know if I would have made it that far. Emotionally, this was one of THE hardest races I have ever run. There was just so...much. So much emotion that I have not even fully processed and he certainly did NOT know what he was getting himself into, lol. But let me tell you....I would not have wanted to be alone that last lap and am SO happy and grateful he was there with me. (I am also very grateful he pulled me out of the shoe-sucking mud puddle I got stuck in...otherwise I would still be there....)

So...I do not see this as a DNF in the traditional sense. This race was a HUGE win for *me* personally, now that I am looking back. I am very uch looking forward to continuing on my path of healing and weight training, running and training...and my next 100 miler in October where I will have the absolute gut-busting JOY of running along side(not literally as they are both faster than me) 2 people that are just...awesome. :) I really cannot wait for that well as the journey along the way. :)

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Post Race Musings.... one but my sister-from-another-mother REALLY knows what went on during the TARC 100 for me...but to say I was all over the place would probably be an understatement, lol. However, despite that roller coaster of emo I actually am in a very interesting place post-race:

-Despite being on my feet for 75 miles/24 hours I am not that sore. HOKAS!!!! These shoes save my life.
-All the work I did the last 6mo DID pay off...I was far stronger physically so despite having had 2 weeks of sick, I could still pull this off.
-Mentally I am far stronger than I ever gave myself credit for. I could have quit at 25 miles. There would have been no shame in that with conditions what they were. I embraced the suck and kept on going, which I really needed to do *for me*...
-My stomach CAN endure an Ultra. YAY!!!
-I can finish 100 miles. No, I didn't...but based on what I experienced under what were probably the worst conditions for *me*, I made it to 75 miles. Take away the 2 weeks prior and the mud/water...I would have done it.

Though I SWORE never again...within 24 hours I knew that was not true. Having had time to reflect I know I will take another stab at it in October, as the course I will be running is again ideal for a 100, the temps will be cool, very little elevation...and 4 months to prepare. I know I can make it to 75 under duress, so I have it in me. I do not see this race as a failure even though I did not finish. I accomplished SO much and earned a lot about exactly what my body can handle and recover from. It was an amazing experience, and one I will remember for years to come. There is even a rumor for the sister duo to go back for a re-do... time will tell...  :)

Sunday, June 16, 2013

TARC 100...aka my First 75 miler :)

We can all sit around and discuss the logic behind me going to this race in the first place...seeing as how Monday I ws not even able to get off the couch, and this week was not a great week health wise but....ultr-runners are not always a logical bunch. :) Once I actually GOT to the race, and the excitement kicked in...I did not regret my choice. Plus, I knew I would be spending the next 30 hours with my cohort Michelle so...It was all good. I had packed everything I needed, knew the kids would be off having fun, had great pacers set up, pus, TARC races are simply THE best around in terms of aid and support so I had NO worries.

AND, even better, my friend Steve showed up at the beginning! I love this guy :) he and I hve run many a mile together nd to see him pre-race...awesome. Getting to see everyone before the race, so many familiar faces, knowing what we were about to set out to do...yeah, its pretty great this thing we got goin' on... :) say it ws a perfect race...yeah.

Conditions were rough. Brutal at times. This course should have been IDEAL for a first  100 miler. There is not  ton of elevation, the trails are nice, aid well placed...but Mother Nature had other plans...the actual wether for the run could NOT have been better. But the trail conditions themselves...yeah. There was mud. Shoe-sucking, thick, quicksand mud. Long stretches of it some with water, some just mud. There were water crossings that, though they felt great, were calf deep up to mid thigh(and higher on the shorter folks)Basiclly this ment you ran with wet feet almost the entire time. That was tough for me.

But mile 10 I ws struggling. MILE 10! We could not move fast because of the mud. I felt defeated before we even started and really questioned wtf I was doing. Breakdown #1(there were numerous others, trust me...). Michelle, in ALL her awesomeness suggested we power hike. Like, all night. And that is exactly wht we did. We hiked, with a few fits and spurts of running for 40 MILES. We were cranking out 4 miles an hour at some points which was pretty good and honestly I don't know that I would have run/walked much faster. It was a rough night for both of us, but I will say I would not trade it for anything. I spent 15 hours with one of my dearest friends and we got through it together. It was REALLY tough...mentally and physically. Though I really knew I was in the best shape I have been in in a long time, this last 2 weeks of health crap took a LOT out of me.

At some point during that 2nd loop I realized there was no way I was going to be able to finish the 100 miler. With conditions what they were, and me not being fast, I could not make up time. And honestly, the thought of running into my SECOND night with no sleep and all the water and mud to navigate...knowing I would be tired and that's when the BIG mistakes happen...I just decided I would gut out one more loop and be done.

We finished our second loop and my amazing friend needed to be done. She has accomplished some UNBELIEVABE things recently...over 400 MILES Of running a week ago and yet she came out here to run this race and be with me...but her body had  enough and she REALLY needed to be done. It wasn't safe for her to go on. We had an extremely emotionl goodbye as she handed me off to my pacer.

At this point I changed my shoes and socks which made a HUGE difference as my feet had swollen SO much they were tight in my old shoes. Bigger shoes and some food and I was actually able to start running again. SO, off we went.

Conditions were actually WORSE, if that was possible. After hundreds of people traipsed through the mud and water, each person with shoes that needed to drain...the mud was worse and stretched on for longer distnces. Plus, my reflexes were slower and I was more tentative through these spots. Despite that, I ran more on my 3rd loop than any other time. At this point it hurt to walk, it hurt to run, but running hurt less and was faster I did. My Pacer Mike was mazing. Perfect aount of entertainment, encouragement and care taking. :) He got me to run, kept me running, made sure I was eating and drinking, gave me space when I just needed to cry(which I did, often, actually...this was a very emotional event for me)let me complain and was right there to point out the positives to keep my spirits up... He really and truly got me through that last loop. Man, if you EVER need a pacer, this is your guy :) I wanted to stop SO many times and he just made it fun becuse HE was having so much fun, it was great.

Sometime while we were out there they instituted a cut-off time...which by the time I found out, was 10 minutes off and we were still over 5 miles out. I knew I was not going to make even that...and it was really ok. There were a few moments on tht last lap where I thought about trying for the 100 still...but I knew it was probably not the best idea, plus this was something Michelle and I were going to do together and I couldn't do it without her. And honestly? There is no way I could have. When I crossed the finish line with 75 miles done....I was DONE. I could NOT have gone out again.

So, HUGE thanks and love to my super awesome friend Michelle whom I love more than chocolate, my AMAZING pacer Mike, and ll the fabulous volunteers and of course the GREATEST Rd's Bob and Josh...they are good stuff.

There is a lot of good that happened in this race and I need to focus on that... :)
I set a goal for myself to run through the suck. I have always been someone who would run when its fun and when it wasn't I would stop. I trained for this mentally, as really, running 100 miles is NOT fun. At least not all the time. :) I did this, as the whole race was a challenge for me, and I did not give up, quit or stop. I ran 75 miles in 24+ hours which is not only the farthest distance I have eve run but the longest time I have ever run for. I had NO stomach issues whatsoever. This is HUGE. I took one anti-nausea pill when the heat felt like it was making me roll sightly and it was enough. I ate almost every hour, drank the perfect amount, pee'd often(important ultra stuff, lol) I learned that I CAN actually walk/hike fast and incorporate that into my racing without losing time and it is what saved my stomach. And, I really believe that despite my other issues, had there not been so much mud/water, and had I not had the 2 weeks leading up to this race I had had...I woud have finished. I have no doubt.

As difficult as this was, I regret nothing. It was an amazing experience with some equally amazing people in REALLY tough conditions. ONE loop was brutal. Really. Anyone reading this that chose one loop and to be done, NO shame in that. This was the hardest thing I have ever run through, and I have run a lot of races. Races with elevation can be tough because climbing when you are tired is rough, BUT you know you get to go DOWN too! This mud/water...was MENTALLY just mind-numbing (well, and dangerous which explains all the injuries that took place...LOTS of rolled ankles, sprains, hip flexor strains, oh my...)

So overall I feel as I would expect to feel...tired, sore, my feet are HUGELY swollen, and my neck hurts from looking at my feet for 24 hours :) But I am happy.

So....though I told everyone never again...never say never....