100 miles begins with a single thought

Okay peeps, this one could be a bit long so I will apologize in advance if it is. You always have the option of moving your mouse to the red X in the upper right hand corner of the screen and moving on to bigger and better things! LOL

Here we are with 16 days and a “wake up” away from the day I’ve been planning for the last SIX month! We ran our last “long” training run of 20 miles yesterday – around a 1.25 mile concrete track. I thought this would be great preparation for the fortitude we will need to push through the miles that may be hard, boring, painful etc., when the big day arrives on December 13. Today as I sat here drinking my first cup of coffee I thought this would be a good day to talk about the journey up to this point. I am going to skip over the points that are more personal in nature and attempt to stick to the material that is training relevant. πŸ™‚

The journey truly began back in May when I saw an ad on FaceBook about this race. It claimed to be the flattest, fastest ultra in Texas. This appealed to me immediately! As a relative newbie to ultra’s and trail running as a whole with only 20 months on the trails at that point and several ultra distance races where I was moderately successful, I felt somehow COMPELLED to run this race. I asked several of my running friends who have finished 100’s themselves whether they thought it was possible for me to FINISH a flat 100 with 6 months of training. The response was all positive! My friend A.B who is a beast on the trail said that my base was solid and I would be ready in six months.

I thought about it for a couple weeks, trying to figure out how to break the news to my husband and wondering how I could possibly come up with the entry fee. One thing lead to another and guess what?! I realized that I was MEANT to run this race when my entry fee was comped. That’s right! When pieces fall together almost effortlessly in my world, that means that whatever it is I am contemplating is meant to be. I bit the bullet so to speak and went ahead and registered to run 100 MILES! Then the FREAK OUT came! Oh. My. Gosh! What was I thinking? What am I going to do now? I said I would do it….now there has to be a plan. One cannot simply jump willy nilly into something like this without some idea of how they will progress!

The planning began and the base building, strengthening began in June. Since it was early summer there was quite a bit of bicycling going on as cross training. This is when we began testing out running in zone 2. Why zone 2? Well, after doing a lot of research and reading I came to the conclusion that in order for me to go further than 26.2 miles it would be necessary to keep the heart beating slower while still running er…jogging. This was a process in itself let me tell you!

From mid-June through the first week of September there were days when I thought we would not get to the point where we could JOG for more than 100 yards without having to walk and our pace per mile would drop under a 15 minute mile. The sense of frustration was immense! I am a performance/goal oriented person so when things do not go the way I expect them to it really gets to me emotionally. This was yet another lesson to be learned! During this same period I played with running while depleted. Have you done this?! Essentially, you run your training miles without eating anything prior. It was tough at first I have to say. Eventually, it was possible to run 12 miles without eating breakfast beforehand.

12 miles is really my limit though. It is shortly after this point that I crash….HARD. Have you ever allowed your blood sugar to drop down to the point where you simply feel shaky, sweaty and as if you cannot move? It’s not pleasant by any means! Even with drinking tailwind (a FAB electrolyte with some calories drink mix!) I was unable to get beyond the 12 miles while depleted. Once our long weekend runs exceeded 12 miles on regular basis, I stopped running depleted at all except for our short mid-week runs that didn’t go over 10 miles. Crashing physically takes me an entire day to bounce back from!

August was a tough month! This is the first summer that I have ran any distance over about 10 miles. I do NOT like running in the summer. It is just so HOT!! There were a couple runs where the saving grace was the fact that the trail we run on regularly is next to the lake. My training partner and battle buddy at this point, suggested we take a dip in the lake at the tail end of a particularly grueling 26 miles. We had about 4 miles remaining and I was fading FAST. My feet hurt, stomach was cramping and I just felt like….garbage to put it nicely. So, we walked about 50 feet down to the sorry looking lake (we’ve not recovered from a serious drought) that appeared as an oasis. Shoes,socks, garmin and vest were ditched….and we entered the blissful surrender of the water. WOW! I’d say we spent about 15-20 minutes there just soaking our over-heated bodies (It was around 96 degrees by noon that day as we were finishing up!)

September was a month of epicness – on both sides of the coin. There were lessons learned like: running 28 miles on one Sunday means my body will NOT be ready for another long distance run over 20 miles the following Sunday; over-training happens and when it does one MUST simply take some time off and re-evaluate priorities and finally….it’s all going to be OKAY. I told you that I am a planner and someone who takes goals to heart. This is all well and good except, one has to know how to let go and lower expectations. I don’t do well with this and training for 100 miles has helped me (a bit) with this. Nobody is perfect. No plan ever goes exactly as planned – ever. That doesn’t mean one should not plan! It means that we need to build contingencies INTO our plans. Have a backup plan and a secondary backup plan! πŸ™‚

November arrived without much drama and the long awaited Fat Ass 50 mile run we’d bee planning since September was upon us! The PLAN (oops there we go again with the PLAN!) was we’d begin at 6 pm and end the night at 6 am or 50 miles whichever came first. Ironically, this also happened to be the night daylight savings time ended! The night started off great! We did a couple loops, then J.S one of my good friends and often a running partner said he had to bail because his wife was sick. We were disappointed as was he, but priorities are what they are, so when we got back to the turnaround point he took off. Loop 3 really was where the separation between the few of us running became more evident. I knew by the time we finished that loop that I was in trouble physically. My left ankle was painful and didn’t want to bend correctly. Not good!

The 2 young men who were remaining said they’d had enough before we began the 4th loop and that left myself and my battle buddy N.D to finish up. At that point I knew I had to suck it up and deal with the pain, try to work through it and keep on pushing. The alternative was to quit. That’s NOT an acceptable alternative! I tried my best. Stretched my foot on the run, accentuated my foot strike by consciously bending my ankle…we made it about 4 miles in and I broke the news to N.D that I didn’t think I’d make another 5 miles never mind another 18 to complete the 50 we were aiming for. We wound up walking the last 2 miles back to the trucks. I was upset with myself but knew that if I kept on pushing it was just going to make whatever was going on even worse…

Here we are at the end of November and it’s Thanksgiving. I am thankful for so much! Thankful for the friends I have who have stuck by me through good and bad training days and the various moods we find ourselves enveloped in. The 100 is WEEKS away…and many lessons have been learned. Now it’s time for rest and to allow the body to HEAL while trying to keep the madness away. 100 miles is not that far!! This is simply one more test of my internal fortitude and a goal to be accomplished. As one of my Lieutenants used to say….CAN and WILL!!

I hope you enjoyed taking this little walk with me!
Until next time…..PEACE


Band Wagon Jumping

As promised in my previous post, here is what’s been on my mind. In this age of digital availability we are able to search for information on any topic we may have an interest in. In this case the topic of focus is our dietary intake. Some people call it a DIET but to me it is quite simply a choice – a way of life. So what’s the problem you ask? Great question!!

Remember the availability of information on the internet I spoke of? This is a great tool that can be used to obtain details, determine advantages and disadvantages and help us make decisions. The problem is that there is so much information and so many variations on the information available that it is often difficult to determine exactly what is the “truth”. Every industry has their own version of the truth. We are subjected to their “truths” on a daily basis. We are told that eggs are unhealthy, only egg whites are healthy and we should not eat the yolks; eggs are obtained from chickens who endure terrible living conditions and we should abstain from eating them at all.

We should abstain from eating chicken, pork, beef and lamb because of the cruel methods used to house, transport and even slaughter said animals. We should only eat the meat from chickens because the other types contain unhealthy levels of hormones used to keep the animals healthy enough for human consumption. We should not eat any meat at all because doing so increases the likelihood that we will contract a disease like cancer.

You’re an intelligent adult – you get the picture. Here’s where my issue lies – all of these truths may or may not be true to some degree and as adults we have to determine which lie we are willing to accept as our truth. Does that make sense? In my mind it does! πŸ™‚ Now, we have made a decision about which version of the truth is acceptable to us and our manner of living. We make a CHOICE to live in a particular way. Whether we choose to live as a fruitarian, vegetarian, vegan, omnivore, herbivore…..etc, etc, the choice is ours.

At the same time we have people from all directions telling us that we should or should not eat this or that, we have an abundance of misinformation about how many calories we should eat, what percentage of micronutrients should be present in the food we eat as well as what percentage of macronutrients should be present. What is our daily activity level? What is your basic metabolic rate? Do you see a commonality with these questions? They are all about YOU! What works best for YOU? It matters not what works best for your best friend who happens to be one of those naturally thin folks who never gains an ounce of weight. It doesn’t matter what works for your husband, your wife…..your third cousin or your personal trainer.

We have to be responsible for what we put into our bodies based (somewhat) on an educated guess and perhaps even some minor experimentation. Not every method works for every single person – at least not that I have found yet and I am here to tell you that after delivering seven children which meant gaining and then losing over 350 pounds….there are some methods that simply do not work. Starving yourself- doesn’t work. Living on a liquid diet and expecting to have any energy to deal with real life – doesn’t work. Restricting your body to only 1200 calories because that’s what somebody told you ought to be done – doesn’t work. We have to make the smart choice! We have to advocate for ourselves and that means EDUCATE ourselves and those within our circle as to what works.

For me, it really is about the QUALITY of the food I put in my body. If I eat 1600 calories of junk food every day for a week and run my 35 miles (average)…I will GAIN weight. On the other hand, if I eat 2000 calories of, at least, semi-healthy food choices and run my 35 miles…I will not gain weight and may even lose a pound or so. It is such an individual thing! That’s my point! It is YOUR CHOICE….your body and your calories – you decide. Don’t jump from bandwagon to bandwagon looking for that perfect fix – it doesn’t exist.

As usual – this is simply my opinion – πŸ™‚
Until next time…..peace

On NOT running……and feeling fluffy with a side of headache

Wednesday was my first day back running after 10 days off and there are a couple things I need to say about this self imposed time away from running. Not that any of you would expect me to have a lot to say or anything!! LOL

The reason for the time off was to sort out something that is going on with my feet/lower legs, particularly the left side. Apparently, the long-standing issue I have with my piriformis also affects my IT band…which then translates to angry tendons in my lower leg. All Greek to you? It was to me as well until I was attempting our Fat Ass 50 miler 2 weeks ago and my left foot decided that it no longer wanted to lift up. Not only did the foot NOT want to lift, it hurt quite a bit. I’m no baby when it comes to pain so I sucked it up and tried to make it to the 50 mile mark but fell short of the goal by about 18 miles.

My good friend and training partner ND told me that we should err on the side of caution and just call it a night rather than push through it and risk further injury. NOT pushing is not my strong suit but with my eye on the prize (my FIRST 100 mile event!) I called it a day and went home to lick my wounds. I think my pride was hurt more than my body! Saying “Uncle” is not something I am ever overly thrilled about!

I gathered information from reliable sources such as athletic coaches, PA’s who are also runners and a couple friends who have ran 100’s. The consensus was, take time off from running to heal the angry tendon while using as many alternative methods of healing as possible. I was not a happy camper but thought to myself, how hard can it be to take a week to ten days off from running. I can do some more strength training, some aqua jogging and get some rest. Hmph! Right!

The first few days were alright. I played in the pool w/the aqua belt, iced my leg and waited for the swelling to go down. On the third day the area around my ankle was still swollen and I had an “ah ha” moment. I remembered there were some compression socks hanging around in my training clothes! The compression socks were found and promptly worn and VOILA like magic when I took them off 7 hours later- the swelling was GONE! Okay, great the swelling was gone but the lower leg/ankle area was still a bit sore to the touch.

My fabulous friend PW offered to give me a massage! Ooops….our schedules didn’t mesh and I was about to go stir crazy. I was agitated and felt bored….and did I say AGITATED?!! I needed to go run! I told my friend that I was going to run on Thursday and she promptly told me to WAIT. ARGH! Again with the waiting!

Through the entire week I still ate basically what I eat any other time, but I did have some foods that are not normally on my menu like red meat, pizza and peanut butter. I didn’t go overboard or anything but man was I feeling fluffy by Sunday! Sunday…my friend PW told me she had time to give me a MASSAGE!! WONDERFUL! Yah…wonderful and painful and OUCH! Have you heard of Active Release Therapy? My friend uses some of these techniques while massaging the body and I have to tell you – IT HURTS. She has these crazy strong fingers for such a small lady!! LOL When I walked out from the massage I wasn’t exactly sure if I felt better or not! By Tuesday though, I could tell my body was healing!

Now it had been 9 days since I ran last! I could FEEL the agitation rising in my brain and I had a headache every single day that I did not run. Every.Single.Day. By Wednesday I could not take it anymore and headed out for a run. Granted, it was around 30 degrees outside with the windchill making it feel around 21 degrees, and I was running on the road – not on my trails – but I was HAPPY! No pain in my leg and an ache in my lungs….heaven on earth!

Then I made the mistake of stepping on the scale……Oh crap! REALLY?! According to that particular evil contraption I GAINED 5 pounds in the 10 days I did not run!! 5 pounds! What the……….? So, this brings me to my next topic that I will post later today or tomorrow – this fascination we have with trying to follow the eating habits of other people and jumping on every bandwagon that happens along telling us that we need to eat this, or not eat that…..or that we can eat whatever we want as long as it’s in moderation….

Until next time…..

Oh yeah….and the story that I began last time is still taking shape and will most likely appear in pieces like this until maybe one day when I can put all the pieces together to put Humpty Dumpty back together again! πŸ™‚

Letting go vs. holding on

Some very powerful and true thoughts spoken here!

Cristian Mihai

β€œDo not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage, against the dying of the light.” – Dylan Thomas

The say there’s one lesson of importance that life keep trying to teach us: letting go. Accepting whatever happened and moving on. Understanding that it is futile to fight back fate, destiny, or the will of the gods.

That, I’m afraid, is a lesson in humility that I never learned. And I think that it’s a different lesson altogether. That of holding on. Of being brave in the face of adversity, of being bold and persistent. Of forging your own destiny.

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In the beginning….a story of sorts

I have been wanting to tell this story for a long time but the issue always arises of how to begin. How do you tell a story, replete with the adjectives, adverbs and many nouns that will not only adequately communicate the story you wish to tell but perhaps, maybe, move someone. I do not mean move in the sense that their bodies will move, rather their psyche will be forever changed by the story. How to begin a story that really begins in the same way every other story begins, at the beginning of the life of a character or two. The problem as I see it is that this story began long before the teller has any knowledge of the facts and behaviors of the characters. One could make up the back story. Does that make the real story any less real?

Let’s try and see how this process goes from moment to moment. You see, the story of the story teller really began long before she was even a thought in the mind of those who were destined to bring her into this world in a very ordinary way. Her arrival was really the last bit of ordinary though, at least for her, for almost thirty years….

Their family looked like any other family from the outside looking in, as the five boys and one girl were all born in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s to a most unassuming looking couple. The method and manner of their meeting is unknown, though I am sure it occurred in the most usual of ways. Perhaps it was an arranged marriage as was not uncommon during that era. Or perhaps they met at a sock hop at the local church. They were both small town kids from apparently traditional families.

Gary was a dark haired, dark eyed young man of average build who did not stand out in any particular way. Although he was of above average intelligence though, and a man who liked to start out with a cup of coffee on any given day. Mary was a very petite girl of 14 when she married Gary and this did not change much even while she carried each of their children in her womb. The babies all came pretty much one behind the other with birthdays happening about two years apart with the exception of the youngest boy Timothy. Timothy was not exactly planned but came along in the usual way to join the family.

This family was large by the standards of today but not during the decade in which they came to be. Every able body had a job to complete and you had better finish your chores without being told if you really wanted to eat. The relationship between Gary and Mary was strained and I’ve heard tell that it was odd at times as well. Their economic status was not all that wonderful and Gary had a roaming eye for the latest pretty thing walking by. There were stories told down at the local diner, where all the good gossips met, that Gary often brought home a guest to spend the night on a bet. Fact or fiction, the author does not know. Only that there were many stories told by the mongers who could give a listening ear the blow by blow.

An open arrangement is the term loosely used today but for the sake of this story, please understand, that it was not an ordinary household by any stretch of the imagination for children to be raised. It was said that when the older children had sleepovers, it was common to find them all in one bed and even in the bed of Gary and Mary. Timothy may have had life the easiest since by the time he came into this family it was about to be split apart. But, the elder children: Diana, Johnny, Jimmy, Joseph and Marshall were subjected to the odd personality quirks of their parents and their wandering hearts.