To be King…….?

I have heard men speak of wanting or being entitled to be treated like a king or that they are, in fact, ‘king of their castle’. This made me wonder, what exactly IS a king? When I think of a king, I think of an autocratic ruler of a kingdom. Someone who does not discuss anything with others when making decisions, except perhaps to obtain agreement regarding their particular way of thinking. They really do not desire conversation or collaboration – only agreement of their particular idea or opinion.

Being the curious kind of person I am, it made sense to look up the various definitions of the word king as well as any connotations of the word. Interestingly enough, the very first one I found pretty much summed up what I initially thought. Here’s what I found:

The King is directed toward exercising authority over self, over other people, and over situations. This is inherently fulfilled by being in positions where he has established dominion. He wants to be recognized as the master. The realization of his nature is to call the shots. The satisfaction of his essence is to be out in front of others, or ahead of the circumstances. A king sees himself as a sovereign, and other people as his subjects. The negative traits of such a person are: arrogance, controlling, demanding, inflexible, intolerant, overbearing, ruthless, tyrannical. Men of this “king” mindset are very much concerned with the issue of “who’s in charge here”, because he wants to be in charge wherever he is, and in whatever situation he finds himself. He will always seek to initiate the sequence of events. If he cannot do it with leadership, he does it with dictatorship. (http://www.michaelteachings.com/king_role.html)

This is just one definition I found with associated connotations. Somehow I doubt that there are many men who are being treated this way, the way they feel they are entitled to be treated by their families or friends, close relatives or other people in their lives. Let’s talk about another word here: entitled. What does it mean to be entitled? We hear lately a whole lot about this era of entitlement and generally folks are referring to our younger generations. As we see here however, it is not only our younger generation that feels a sense of entitlement, but also those who believe that they are ENTITLED to be treated like a king. Entitled? What does it even mean? Let us see….

Someone who feels entitled often displays a lack of appreciation for the sacrifices of others and at the same time a refusal to accept that their problems are of their own making. Thus, they are frequently unable or unwilling to acknowledge fault or error; this typically leads to being in a state of denial. Here is the one that in my mind, speaks to the idea that a man somehow deserves to be treated as a “king”…the belief that one is inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment. To be inherently deserving means that one has no need to earn respect, honor and the like, rather by virtue of the fact that they are a CEO, VIP….MAN etc., they are entitled to be king. Hmph! Is this the mentality that we are striving for?

As a woman I can tell you this idea that someone is entitled to a particular type of treatment simply because of their gender, position within a company etc really goes against what I believe. To put it simply using a well known idiom, it rubs me the wrong way! I have no problem respecting those in positions of authority or who are senior to me in some respect. My problem it seems is with the idea of someone being ENTITLED….

Don’t get me wrong, there are good qualities of a so called king….when they do not believe that they are inherently entitled to a particular type of treatment.

Food for thought until next time….

Peace

Numb………

This posting is not my usual of the last few months so if lighthearted is what you are seeking, this post is not for you. It’s not about running or fitness…not really. It’s real life – low and full of feelings so many of us don’t wish to acknowledge. Perhaps after Christmas I will be able to post something witty…..perhaps. In the meantime……

As I come down off the high of completing a huge milestone as an amateur athlete, reality slams me right in the face…..WHAM!!! Without warning, though I should’ve seen the warning signs since I have seen them so many times before in the last 15 years…I am mercilessly DUMPED back into a reality that is unsustainable. I think I have just become so accustomed to the pain that it almost doesn’t even hurt anymore. It is my normal. From the outside looking in, the appearance is one of normalcy. Beneath the surface lies the ugly, painful truth and this is where the anger and guilt restlessly sleep.

Compound this pain with the judgment of others about actions taken in the past and here comes the absence of the numb. The heart-pounding, brain thumping, cold sweat producing agitation and guilt. The choice becomes to feel angry at the judgment or to simply sink into the comfort of the known. I am very comfortable with burying the pain – hiding the tears and pretending as if all is well – when on the inside I alternate between seething and wailing at the unfairness of the judgment of those who ought to know better…and then there are the holidays.

It is something that even after all this time of living on my own as an adult, so for approximately 28 years, I still do not understand. It is this feeling of inner disquiet upon the stealthy approach of the holiday season. From sometime in October when I see the Halloween decorations hit the middle isles of the department stores, all the way through the first part of January, I am in a particular kind of funk. It comes and it goes and some days are better than others but for the most part I feel like the Grinch who stole every single holiday from October through to New Years.
I cannot put my finger on this pervasive icky feeling and there really is no rhyme or reason to it. It has not mattered if there is money to be spent on gifts, or there is no or very little money to spend on gifts. The spirit of the season is supposed to be joyful but rather than joy I feel such a sense of inner dread and agitation that it makes no kind of sense at all. I don’t know if this is something that was ground into my inner psyche from years spent living with my mom who had/has severe manic depression that only seemed to get worse during the holidays or something else altogether.
As the girls are humming Christmas carols and getting increasingly excited about decorating the tree and the house and every other thing under the sun with any decoration they can find, I sit and feel…..decidedly unhappy. I’ve heard it said by people such as Rich Roll that we can DECIDE to feel a certain way or not and to a degree I do agree with him and the others whose names I do not recall at the moment. At the same time, I think to myself – if it were so easy to decide how to feel, wouldn’t the thousands and perhaps even millions of people who suffer from an organic form of depression simply tell themselves to snap out of it?
We are so often told: chin up, buck up, pull yourself up by your bootstraps, get over it….by well -intentioned folks but it is just not that easy I am here to tell you. How do you feel a way you have never felt before or have no recollection of having EVER felt that way? I see people singing Christmas tunes and wonder how they feel. How does it feel to have that inner joy for the holidays? Sometimes it is almost like I have wondered through life in an odd state of numbness with moments of pure bliss interspersed randomly and far between.
Ironically, when the inner pain is at its worst, I pray for numbness. I don’t pray for release or understanding, rather I wish to go back to not feeling at all. When one is numb you can just glide through the day, going through the necessary motions of life without too many issues. To feel anything on one side of the scale or the other only brings agitation and pain, either for myself or for those around me. Numb is good.
It is in this quest for numb that I can absolutely understand the how and why behind addictions. An addiction often begins in a desperate act of medicating a particular feeling. Then, once the addict feels that lack of pain they realize that they need MORE of the booze, pills, or any substance really, that enables them to get through the day without feeling the pain. One leads to two, two leads to more and so on and so forth. Before they know it…..they cannot function at all without their drug of choice. It’s to bury the pain. Numb is good.
Probably the only time I truly FEEL me without the ever present numbness….feel who I am….feel where I am and have any sense of clarity at all about what I want to do with the rest of my life is when I RUN…Running is just as much of an addiction I believe as any pill or drink. Only it’s better. It costs nothing but a good pair of shoes…my mind can release from all the guilt and pain…I can push my body to the absolute extreme and in that pain – there is a certain kind of release. A friend said to me, “don’t think, just move” and I believe this is where the endorphins fill us with a different kind of feeling. That double-hitch in my breathing that tells me I just found my second wind and my HIGH is imminent. I NEED that release…..

Before and after…it’s the fog of numb……..

Until next time

Peace……

Brazos Bend 100 – the Aftermath

IMG_1162

You thought the story ended when we came across the finish line? Nope! There is one more part of the story to tell. The story of the agony of the feet and the winning of the buckle. Had an interview with this really cool man by the name of Victor Ballesteros (who designs some totally rad bags I WILL own one day!) at the end of the 100 you can see here:
Thanks to Ultra Sports Live.TV
“We believe that Every Finish Is Amazing. The final 100 Mile finisher at Brazos Bend Trail Races ‪#‎BB100‬ proved just that point. Tammy Tucker finished her race with an official result of 29:58:57, just under the 30 hour cutoff. Congratulations to her and all of the other participants who made the event one to remember.” http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/56468489/highlight/584565

Then I was directed to a chair so we could care for my feet. I have no earthly idea how I was staying on my feet at this point! I was tipsy and off balance. Thank goodness for T2 who kept me propped up whenever I appeared like I was going to fall. She sat me down and Doug gave me some watermelon! Those first few bites were like little moments of heaven! Ahhhhh! Sipping some water and talking to Doug and T2 as they decided what to do about the mess called my feet. Oh….and the pain killers I took about 30 or so minutes before the finish kicked in….somewhere around here.

Aftermath 1

This was not a fun experiment at all! We had to wet the sock a bit then PULL real quick so it would release from the skin on the ball of both feet. I kept telling people that my blisters had made babies and I was only half joking! We did what we had to do and got the socks off which was great until T2 took a picture of my feet and showed it to me – and I puked all the watermelon I had just eaten….then came the next problem. My feet were too sore and too swollen to fit into my slides! Seriously!? There was a bit of a walk through the grass to get to the truck and I was now barefoot with some pretty serious injuries to the bottoms of both feet.

The  agony of the feet!

The agony of the feet!

Robert Goyen quickly solved this issue by saying that he would just CARRY me! What?! Oh my gosh! I was slightly embarrassed I have to say. I was sweaty and wet and icky and I didn’t hesitate to tell him of all these issues. He said he didn’t care, or it didn’t matter or something like that and promptly picked me up and carried me to the truck.

After figuring out how to shimmy myself out of wet shorts and into a pair of jeans….in the backseat of my SUV while T2 held a towel up in front of the door so I would remain ‘decent’, we said “Later” to Doug and a million thanks to he and Rob Goyen and set off to find some FOOD. I didn’t FEEL hungry but Doug made sure to remind us of the importance of getting some calories back into our depleted bodies.

We basically dozed in the back of the truck for the long ride home. We attempted to eat….pretty boring, standard stuff. The next bit of humility and hilarity occurred when we arrived at T2’s house and I needed to pee. Um….my feet wouldn’t fit in ANY shoe, not even a flip flop and I could barely stand. My center of gravity all whacked out because of the situation on the bottoms of my feets. (purposely misspelled)

While N.D was shuffling about like she only ran a marathon or something, I could hardly walk! Have you tried to HURRY when you have to pee but cannot walk fast? Wow! Thank goodness for my little friend (ha ha ha) KdlP because he offered to piggyback me into the house!! I bet THAT was a funny sight to see! We managed to successfully navigate us in to the house and I hobbled into the restroom to take care of business. Fun times!! Have you ever tried to get OFF the toilet without using your toes? Pshaw! Freakin HILARIOUS!

Somehow I managed to finish that task (I am TIRED thinking about it now 3 days later!). Now to get back in the truck to be driven home. Trouble was….I could barely move. Brilliance occurs and T2 asks her husband about a walker they may have. A WALKER?!! What?! I am 43 not 93 – said my pride within about 2 seconds!!! I am not using a doggone walker! Go ahead and laugh….it’s pretty funny! 🙂

Today is the third day after the end of the journey….I am no longer exhausted – physically and emotionally. I was able to climb out of bed this morning without my husband picking me up and holding me still while I gained my balance. I am just shuffling but don’t need the walker to move around. Life goes on and now it’s time to get the truck downloaded  and get back to something resembling normalcy….although, no more than ever I am not exactly sure that I am entirely normal…whatever it means.

I have always been someone who will comply and conform when necessary but at the same time someone who is an independent thinker who likes to shake things up a bit….what a quandary eh? Rather than bore you any further with more words….I will simply show you the pictures and bid you good day….until next time – PEACE

48 hours and the tape is off..sort of

48 hours and the tape is off..sort of

Right foot after it was all cleaned up

Right foot after it was all cleaned up

What makes them feel better - ice or the big, BEAUTIFUL BUCKLE?!

What makes them feel better – ice or the big, BEAUTIFUL BUCKLE?!

The absolute BEST tribe we could ever wish for!! Thanks guys! Much love - until NEXT time :)

The absolute BEST tribe we could ever wish for!!
Thanks guys! Much love – until NEXT time 🙂

I came to pace…and found heart

The thoughts of my great friend and pacer about the last 25 miles of our journey…

Texas Trail Running Adventures by John

Before you begin, this is an unedited, published draft!  I wanted to get this out while it was still fresh in my head (sort of!)   Enjoy!

“It’s okay to cry” is all that I heard as our entire group walked back to our Crew HQ  from the finish line.  Norma knew how emotional of a finish that was for me and did not hesitate to let me know it was ok!  😉

This journey began six months ago when Lynn and Norma began their journey to finish their first 100mi race.  They both began training for and preparing to race Brazos Bend 100!    While I wasn’t racing, I joined them on a lot of their long runs.   As part of their preparation, they both asked me to take care of crewing for them and Lynn asked me to be her pacer for 25mi.   I was really excited…

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Brazos Bend 100……..50 – 100 miles through my eyes…the pain truly begins

I don’t have a funny quip or smart quote for this part right here. It really was a down and dirty grind for miles. The 3rd loop began with us walking, of course, because the blisters were not getting much better. I had tried doubling up on socks thinking my feet were sliding inside my shoes and that’s the reason why they were such a mess. At the moment I am not sure if that was an accurate assessment. The us I speak of is Mike A. This man is someone, a runner, worth emulating. He has an easy, humble mannerism that makes him easy to just BE with. He was always aware of where I was at physically and with my nutrition. He counted not necessarily the calories I was taking in (or not) but also how long it had been since I had taken any. This loop was the second most difficult mentally and less so physically.

It was dark and I was kinda tired but I had chugged a can of Starbucks double-shot espresso in hopes the caffeine would help wake me up a bit. We walked for probably the first mile while I ate and drank and probably with an ode of things to come, in order for me to reacquaint myself with how to walk or jog comfortably with the blisters on my feet. They were treated but unhappy. Mike was masterful at saying the right thing at the right time to get or keep me moving forward. He cracked me up when he said something to the effect, let’s pick up the pace if you want….and, as soon as you’re ready we can pick up the pace…ha ha ha! I told him that was funny because at that point what I WANTED and whether or not I was READY was pretty irrelevant.

We talked about whatever subject came up and there were moments of silence. Yes friends!! Believe it or not…this girl DOES know how to not talk. For the most part, I didn’t miss my music but there were moments during this loop I really would’ve loved the distraction! This section is pretty much a blur. We made it aid station to aid station and I kept all the negative at bay pretty much until I think we hit Brazos or shortly thereafter because I remember thinking in my head that we’d made around 68 miles and then WHAM! I had a whole lot of WTF’s going on inside my head. Every.Single.Time. the ball of my right foot landed wrong on a stick or stone I felt the water inside the blister move. WOW! That will wake you up fast I promise!

As I said, this section is pretty blurry in my mind and I think because it was a combination of some moderate amounts of pain with extreme amounts of exhaustion. I am an early to bed early to rise lady so I am generally up by 5:00 M-F and in the bed no later than 10:30 and that’s only on the nights I teach until 9:00 and need some time to unwind when I get home. Because of this aspect of my natural diurnal tendencies this was a pretty rough patch. There were some pretty significant patches of mild nausea but I didn’t vomit (thank God!) and almost worse than the nausea was the dizziness that hit me. It’s hard to explain other than to say it was like my rudder was broken and no matter which way I wanted to go….I kept jigging left.

This was unlike any feeling I can relate to other than being tipsy. Just before you reach the point of no return and you are still aware of what you are saying and doing – before the downer occurs but your body betrays you in silly ways like a sway or a slur. That’s similar to what it felt like. I remember even commenting to Mike that I felt like I was drunk! He laughed a LOT….He told me stories about running in the fog on a mountain with narrow trails. There was very, super dense fog Saturday night, early Sunday morning. So dense in fact that it looked and felt like it had rained!

Guess what the dense, wet fog did for the slimy muck? Yep! Made it slimier and muckier…lol! That even sounds funny to my own ears! Did I tell you about the dips in the trail? They were kind of like moguls if you’ve ever skied but rather than just going up and over, you go down one then back up the other side. I (less than) affectionately call them dipsy-do’s….energy suckers they are! Anyhow…at this point we were past Brazos aid station and into the muck, I met up with Steve again and Reed who I had been playing cat and mouse with pretty much all day and we’d chat as well we could for a bit and then off I would chug in an attempt to keep moving. I told Mike several times – those guys cannot pass me AGAIN. It was great motivation to make me MOVE! I am moderately competitive….moderately. 😉

I managed to skate down the dipsy-do’s and leverage myself back up the other side and pretty soon we were on the homestretch. During this time I remember we talked about my favorite subject at the end of a long run……FOOD. I don’t know why this is. Maybe it’s the subconscious telling me that I need to EAT or eat more or something…The fog…and Mike just gently pushing me that’s mostly what I remember. The (old) song that goes something like this….’cause it’s easy, easy like Sunday morning’….not that the loop was easy but that his company and the conversation made the loop go by relatively quickly with a few exceptions. The low points didn’t last long and time just moved along…

Some snapshots…just moments in time that partially stuck: me saying “cuss word, cuss word, CUSS WORD..” and Mike telling me to just let it out and say what I wanted to say. There were some very colorful words I wanted to say but told him I didn’t want him to think badly of me the one and only time he ran with me…..Him saying that he couldn’t think of anyplace he’d rather be than having a great conversation on a beautiful trail. The moon was spectacular – even though it was only a half of one. The late night reflection of the moon off Hale Lake (I think Hale Lake) right between this little island like cosp of trees. It was stunning! We joked that it would be hard to express it in words that a photograph would be better and here I am attempting to explain the beauty of it.

Here’s Mike and Doug….another very humble, gentle yet so very STRONG man whom I admire and was instrumental in getting me through.
Mike n Doug

One of my favorite guys in the whole wide world picked me up for the final loop. I am just going to call him out because I know he will not mind. John Stasulli whose name used to be SOOO much easier to remember how to spell! LOL Anyway..he was waiting excitedly to begin when I arrived after the third loop ready to get hot. We worked on my feet again, changed out of some wet clothes? and ate something maybe and generally – I took too long in the aid station there at the turnaround. The third loop took me another 6:45 or so hours I think…so it was not a bad loop speed wise but I knew when we left for the final loop it was going to be CLOSE for me to finish and get my buckle. I was very worried about going through all these miles and also honestly, feeling like I wasted the valuable time of all my friends aka The Crew.

It was imperative that I banish any negative thoughts though since right at this point there was nothing I could do but walk. A previous bout with tibial tendonitis had snuck back up on me and was hitting me like a ton of bricks. For those of you not acquainted with your tibial tendon let me give you a quick class. This tendon attaches somewhere sort of mid way at the top of your foot and runs from there up to your ankle then all the way up that bone (the tibia) and it controls the flexion of your feet. When it’s ticked off….every single bend of your ankle/foot combo hurts. Imagine walking or running without flexing your ankle! Oh and then compound that with a blister that resembles a queen size waterbed on the ball of your foot and every time you move your foot the wrong way – the water in the waterbed….er the blister shifts. When that happens it’s like this immediate, bone chilling, hair raising pain all the way up that side of your body and then into your gut. Unpleasant….

I wouldn’t say I was ready for the final loop but I was determined. I had to overcome so many obstacles to even ARRIVE at this place, to even attend the weekend I had planned for 6 months…nothing good comes easy and nothing that comes easy is good said somebody other than me…that was something I had to keep telling myself. So, John and I laughed or not and walked and dumped rocks out of our shoes seemingly every 5 doggone minutes. At some point the ability to truly function as a sentient human being kinda went out the window….perhaps even more than normal. 🙂

For those of you who do not know John…you are missing out on some kinda guy! LOL Like the trees in the swamp at Brazos, I will do him no justice trying to describe him to you. I will say that he is steadfast, loyal, honest to a fault and the best part about John sometimes is his sense of humor! It’s quirky and sometimes off color (in the right company). Oh yeah and he is super smart!! LOL Makes having a conversation easier when one can hold their side of the conversation! So, we walked and talked and John searched with his super high-beam headlamp for gators to pet. (Liz….I protected him from his own silliness as best I could! At least I sent him home with all of his parts intact!)

Mile by mile and aid station to aid station…we walked. This is when I really started to wish for my music! His companionship was welcomed and I am ever so thankful for it. He refilled my bottles, brought me food and continuously asked how I was doing, what did I want to eat…I pretty much lost my sense of humor here. Just navigating the trail….the branch strewn, rock infested, wet, mucky, slimy trail seemed full of perils for me and my poor feet. The sun came up and I didn’t care. I heard the birds, saw the armadillo that looked white in the brightness of his light, the tree branches that made funny shapes and I didn’t give a HOOT…and that’s putting it nicely. Cuss word, cuss word, CUSS WORD!!!

Around 1.5 miles outside the Brazos aid station I was so DONE. The sunrise pissed me off. I was supposed to draw energy from it but instead it made me angry because I couldn’t enjoy it. It gave me no relief from the pain. Screw the dang sunrise….again, this is me putting nicely what was going on inside my tumultuous mind. My monkey mind was really busy chattering at me telling me all the negative things I really did not want nor need to hear – especially at this point. This may have been the very lowest of my lows. John and I talked about me dropping down to the 50 miler and calling it a day. He said to me, “Let’s just get to Brazos aid station and we’ll ice your ankle and decide what to do.” I KNEW he was doing exactly what I wanted or rather – needed him to do in order to get me to the finish but the other part of my mind was flipping him the bird! I wanted to SCREAM…not at him. At the sky. At the dang birds that sounded like chattering MONKEYS…ARGH. I didn’t want him to see me cry. I knew it was coming….the low black dirty chattering monkey and I didn’t want him to feel any worse than he did already. I told him maybe it would be a good idea for him to run ahead to the aid station to get the ice ready for us to use to bring the swelling down. He agreed and off he went.

It was all I could do just to SHUFFLE…this was not even an airborne shuffle…more like the shuffle of someone with bindings around the ankles that prevented them from moving their feet too far forward or backwards. Part of this was mental. I know after finishing that mile and a half or so was really just preparation for a future test. The minute I could no longer see his lime greenness….the tears came. With the tears came more pissedoffedness….not a word but it’s mine. 🙂 I won’t go through the entire inner dialogue with you. Just know that every possible negative thing one can say about themselves or others have said about you all avalanche on top of you like a Colorado blizzard. Tears were streaming down my face and I tried to pull myself together multiple times but it just wouldn’t stop. I thought about just sitting down on the trail and waiting for someone to come get me….shuffle, shuffle…..flippin shuffle.

Finally, after what I can only guess (no tech remember!) was 45 minutes I made it to Brazos for the last freakin time. A few runners had passed me and each set asked me if I needed anything, if I was okay, if they could tell someone I needed help…and each time I relayed to them NICELY that my pacer was just up ahead waiting on me. As I walked up the little trail to the aid station, I saw the nice guy from the HATR’s who’d been there (I think) every time I hit that aid station and he asked me once again, can I get you anything. Not sure I had a response. When I saw Johns face I knew before I even asked him about the ice that the aid station had NONE. Oh my gosh…I don’t think furious would even cover that feeling…I don’t recall saying anything – I just turned around and started back down the little trail. Shuffle…shuffle but now there was a little fire in my tank because I KNEW now that I had to walk 11 more miles or so to get back – buckle or no. There was nothing else until the blasted jeep road….

Lynn and her amazing strength pushing through the mud!

We talked minimally. John was trying everything he could. Texting Liza and tweeting and probably praying for a miracle. Dumping freakin evil rocks out of our shoes..They weren’t NORMAL rocks! They were like the winking trail trolls…they somehow got into your shoes then settled right at the ball of our feet like evil little pieces of sand paper. John kept reminding me about food simply by asking me what I wanted to eat and providing options. Blur……blur…Pain….PAIN. We discussed Mike bringing the pain meds when we were 3 miles out. Do you KNOW how far 3 miles out seems when you still have 6 miles to walk at a 22 (guesstimate) minute mile? FORever that’s how long. There were no more tears to come. I refused them.

Somehow….through the muck, the slime and the horse divits…and then here comes Mike and Doug, my boys in blue!! I don’t even KNOW how far we had left. Only that time was really running short if I was going to get my dang BUCKLE. Oh….I forgot to mention my friend I don’t see often, he is such an unassuming soul – Jason. Jason came along for the last 8 miles I guess so he joined us before the boys in blue. What I adore about Jason and really ALL of these men is that they came to give me a hand UP. They are humble, kind and positive men and will give you the shirt off their backs – literally. BUT – you have to be willing to do the work.

The boys in blue, Jason and John plus me…I felt awed. I took some pain meds and off we continued on a quest for the BUCKLE. Doug….oh Doug!! He looked at his watch adjusted his stride (he has legs to the sky I think!) and said, “this is the pace you have to make in order to get your buckle.” I would get into a decent rhythm pushing with my arms…how do you push with your arms when you are walking with your legs? Come see me some time in about 2 weeks when I CAN walk – I’ll show you! LOL Then I would step on a branch, a pebble or have to go down a dipsy-do and climb back up the other side and lose my momentum. Mike was walking next to me, reminding me to breathe, concentrate, focus your breath…he kept saying, “don’t think just move.”

For awhile that was a cadence in my head: don’t think just move, don’t think, just move…..then step on something and the waterbed in my foot would send that pain again. My heart was breaking it felt like. John was RIGHT THERE at my elbow…”you got this” he kept saying; “you’re doing great”….I didn’t have any energy in reserve to say much. I tried to hum a song and couldn’t come up with a tune in my head. 3 miles out Doug said….3 more MILES!!!!

The push begins!

I bent over, put my hands on my knees….I cannot DO THIS…there’s no way I am going to make it!! Oh my GOD I hurt so bad. Feet feel like raw hamburger meat…silence and then there was Doug. I couldn’t hear him really. It was like a foggy tunnel and I could see he was talking to me but not what he was saying – entirely. I heard him say…”WHY did you start this? Find that reason….you CAN do this.” So, we played the tree to tree game. Pick up the pace on the sore tendon in the left ankle with it’s own blister on the ball…and the waterbed of a blister on the right foot that was squishing every time I landed. Unpleasant….nah…Then walk, push those arms, breathe..you got this…you can do this..2 MILES…and up the gravel jeep trail that felt like HELL.

Move those feet and swing those arms!

Move those feet and swing those arms!

Come on, another turn and you’ll be off this crappy jeep trail…keep pushing…I was thinking that this is like giving birth naturally. Just keep pushing until it no longer hurts…Sorry guys!! 1 mile put your dang head down and just go (I told myself!!)….a football field Doug said…we were jogging on and off…I heard Doug say something about a 10:30 pace – IN MY DREAMS I thought…keep going…you got it..I had to stop jogging once more just to catch my breath..then I saw the finish line and the CLOCK…the dang CLOCK..I couldn’t see all the numbers but what I saw showed 29 hours…crap!!!

I REFUSE to come all this way and be beat by a few seconds on a clock!! Push…get your asssss moving!! I refuse to let those who told me I couldn’t do it be right! I have all these awesome friends here with me who have VOLUNTEERED their time and energy to help us with this journey – do NOT let them down…think about the girls…the buckle!! The daggone BUCKLE!!! Pick it up…Pick it up……..cheering. John saying to me – “Go Lynn….it’s all YOU”…..DONE!!

Hope you enjoyed the journey to my (our) first 100! Thanks for reading. There will be one more about this race if you aren’t sick of reading about it already…LOL It will be all about the aftermath of running 100 miles as a newb.

Until next time….
Peace

Brazos Bend 100 mile race….through my eyes the first 50 miles

The alarms were set in 5 minute increments between 3:15 and 3:30 Saturday morning and I woke up at 1:45 unable to go back to sleep no matter what I did. It’s RACE DAY MORNING peeps!! I meditated and tried to doze all to no avail. At 2:30 or so T2 woke also – having to pee is a great motivator to wake up and hit the bathroom!! Since neither of us could sleep we do what most females do in the absence of anything else – we talked. We brought a new meaning to the phrase ‘pillow talk’…ha ha ha! I crack myself up! I won’t bore you with the details….It was a new day…RACE DAY and it began at 3:30 telling N.D it was time to get up! That was funny!

The IMPORTANT PEK!

The IMPORTANT PEK!

The morning didn’t really go to plan exactly because we ran a bit later than intended but being flexible is important so I just rolled with it. The important part was getting in the line with that mass of humanity of the other runners at 5:58 after we had said a prayer of safety, guidance and strength! Here we were! Oh my GOSH! 6 months of planning, training and so many early mornings and some late nights too and it all came down to this very moment – or so I thought at that very sliver of time. There used to be a soap opera that began with an hourglass tipped up so the sand was running out – that image has new meaning to me now!

We're here!!

We’re here!!

Mile one we ran with several other runners and I kept slowing myself down because the pace was far, far too fast. We’d been training at 14 minutes per mile except on fast days when we’d drop it down to 11 minute miles and the first 4 miles we ranged between a 12:01 and 12:45 or so! Waaaaay too fast for the 100 miles in front of us that was all unknown. Here we go with the plan – which was for us to stick together for 50 miles then N.D would take her pacers and go kick some tail. I needed to slow us down and I did. The key for me really is if I don’t feel like talking because I am focused on just breathing we are going too fast. So, anytime there was a conversation taking place around me and my overactive brain didn’t feel like participating, I told Norma we need to slow down. Miles 5-7 were respectable 14’s and then we were caught by some other folks we know and our pace went back up to an 11:18. Ironic as I look back! In order to participate in a conversation I have to run slower but whenever we run with other people it makes me run FASTER! Silly….

This was at the very start of the race! Look how HAPPY we were!!

This was at the very start of the race! Look how HAPPY we were!!

The first loop was fantastic! Seamless almost. We ran, we talked and laughed and we ate whatever we felt like eating – crackers mostly for me. My stomach is a finicky piece of work and I worked at NOT eating anything that could possibly upset it. About 90 minutes into the first loop the sun came up and we could see it poking its rays through the beautiful trees as we ran eastward on the perfectly manicured trail.

Oh yeah, I didn’t mention that! This trail we ran on was almost perfect for running! There were sections of pavement that I later cussed and at the end of the race was painfully looking forward to. Other sections were made of gravel that was probably one of the primary reasons I am in the situation I am in at this moment with my feet. Other parts of the trail were comprised of packed earth with crispy leaves overlaid, some with intermittent trail trolls aka tree roots and there were also some wooden pedestrian bridges going over the tops of bogs where the gators roamed. Like I said, almost perfect trails for running! Oh, and the trees….WOW! I cannot describe these stunningly beautiful trees in enough detail and do them any justice at all. Tall, majestic healthy trees with a circumference I cannot possible guess at times. Along with the trees there were the already mentioned stinky bogs, a tunnel of trees that seemed to stretch for miles, Some of the trees had spanish moss hanging from them which really accentuated the feel of the entire park. Okay, I digressed……

We hit the halfway point – or so – Brazos aid station in about 2 1/2 hours so we had covered 13 miles in that amount of time. I was happy! N.D was happy and all was well with the world! Then….we hit this awful, terrible sticky mud mess. Ugh! There’s Murphy with his ugly head! We had to sort of scamper through this because it was a combination of sticky mud and slimy mud and it made running hazardous. Well that sounds silly for a trail runner to say! Ha ha! But there are some hazards worth taking for newbie 100 mile runners and other hazards that are simply NOT worth it and this one was not worth the risk – so we scampered – running when we could and walking when we had to. We still made great time!

Like I said, the first loop was fabulous and we came in to start the second after 5:45 or so. Perfect timing and EXACTLY to plan with the exception that I was having tech issues and didn’t feel like fighting with my headphones and ipod for the next 75 miles so I dropped all tech at that point. A FIRST! I did mention to my crew that I had a hot spot on the ball of my left foot so we had to take some time to deal with that. Added some body glide and turned my compression sock inside out thinking the threading was causing the issue. In hindsight it was a combination of issues that caused the blisters I believe but we aren’t there yet. I honestly already do not remember what I ate at that stop. It took 10 minutes because we were unsure what to do about the hot spot on my left foot.

Hot spot repair

Hot spot repair

Back out on the trail for our second loop and we walked a bit at first because we had both grabbed something for food and were eating it while we walked. I was also trying to get the watch I borrowed from another friend to pick up signal to track the second loop…and it wouldn’t so I just forgot about it. So important to keep that forward motion and momentum going!! A truly valuable lesson to learn first hand! You can read it, hear it, etc, but until you have to live with your consequences…you don’t really KNOW. The second loop was not quite as festive but it was still a great run we felt like we were making great time. Our drop boxes were perfectly placed in the front half of the course so we were able to eat early and often. The minute my belly started remotely telling me it was hungry I made sure to have something to dump in. I have to say that ritz crackers and those squeezable fruit purees are a real blessing! The good thing was I didn’t eat too much of any one texture or flavor – except maybe the crackers – so it’s unlikely an aversion to a certain food will arise from this fabulous path we traveled!

I cannot tell you exactly where it happened but at some point around 4 or 5 miles from the Brazos aid station I realized that I had missed an essential task before we left the hotel or the turn around point and it was now coming back to haunt me. Most runners know what I am speaking of. The reason why if we are going to eat before running we give our bodies plenty of time to do what it must before we start running. There was no choice but to walk. N.D could’ve gone on ahead but she chose to hang with me and try to take my mind off it. Sure, there were trees on both sides of the trail but we were in a wildlife preserve where wild animals live – including feral hogs I was later told AND the kicker for me was the possibility of meeting with a poisonous snake. The last thing I wanted was to meet one of them while in a exposed position……so I waited for the next porta-john and we walked.

N.D kept saying, ‘I’m sure it’s right around that bend in the trail up there’, and we made jokes about how the RD must’ve been playing a trick on the runners and making the porta-john move from where it was in a disappearing act! LOL What fun!! I told her, we can try to jog a bit and she laughed and told me another story – so we walked. What a great training friend, battle buddy and friend she has been! We sort of started this whole thing as a fluke almost. I am a firm believer in a couple things. The first is that people really do come into our lives either for a reason, a season or a lifetime and the second is that there is 2 types of karma and whatever goes around is like a boomerang and will come back around – you just don’t know how or when it will get you. N.D has been patient with my talkative nature and kind with my spirit. She has given when she had no responsibility to do so and persisted when she could have easily just went and did her own thing. I am truly grateful for this woman and the impact she’s had on my life!! I could say that there’s no way to repay her but to put a payment on her gift of friendship would cheapen the relationship we have and I would never desire to do that.

Alright….so the porta-john was at Brazos aid station so we were back to approximately halfway through our second loop. Gravy baby! Neither of us were really having any issues at this point that I recall. We went back through the icky, mucky, slimy bog oh and I failed to mention, after the bog there are 2 fields where apparently horses play football or something. There were divits in the trail that were horrible to navigate. I determined during the first loop that there were about 6 miles of bog/divits to slow us down on the backside of every loop. Ugh! At this point we were looking forward to picking up our pacers. KdlP was going to take N.D through 50-75 miles and M.A was going to pace me through the same stretch. For me it was a little intimidating to run with him. We’ve never ran together before which was a good thing because I knew I’d need him to push me some but he runs 100’s pretty often and is super good at it. Very fast and agile on the trail!

Somewhere at this tail end of the 2nd loop we ran into Tony C and he of course made a joke about how he only had 8 miles left to go since he was running the 50 rather than the 100. Ha ha HA Tony!! You got jokes! LOL! Speaking for myself, at this point I was really looking forward to picking M.A’s brain about a future 100…….wait, WHAT?!!!! A future 100? Really? Where the heck did that come from and why was I even THINKING that at that moment? Insanity must be the explanation! Through this section, we ran into Brittany C and she was hurting so I stopped and gave her some of my aleve and encouraging conversation. I wanted to help but not take too much time and lose my momentum so off I went – wishing her well. A few miles later I ran into Romero another runner I know by name and by his picture on social media…he was laying down on a bench trying to stretch so I stopped and offered my assistance to stretch his IT band and move on out. N.D had left me when I helped Brittany so I was solo at this point and that was okay with me.

Running with music in my ears is generally the way I tune out the pain in my body or the negative thoughts in my head but at this point I was music-less and it was not a big deal. The day was beautiful though a bit sticky and the scenery was breathtaking in spots. Plus, we kept playing leapfrog with the same people. They’d run and pass us while we were walking then we would pass them up again when we ran our 15 minutes of the Galloway split we were doing…..except at this point it was more of a run when we feel like it and walk when the body says to walk. I had some wonderful conversations or moments of conversation with a few people out there and those help keep you moving.

Came into the turn-around point and the 2nd loop took us approximately 45 minutes longer than the first but that was expected so it was around 6:30 or so when we got in. I had to sit down and take care of my feet at this point and N.D was picking up her pacer to take off on her own adventure. This was my first experiment in really popping my own blisters and it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be…..I really had to talk positive to myself at this point. My feet hurt but other than that I felt great! Grabbed a double espresso shot – I was kinda sleepy and we headed out. I was a little upset because there was to be a turkey dinner for the runners and I had been looking forward to some real food. The crew informed me that there would be no turkey dinner for at least 30 minutes from the time I was leaving. Really?! Too fast or too slow I was…either way I was unhappy with that situation….

To give credit where credit is due….I know there is someone or something I am missing from this accounting but runners brain is in full effect and my brain happens to be rapidly erasing the painful memories…..and some of the good ones too…

Interested? Look for the next one (hopefully) by the end of the day. It’s pretty emotional so be prepared.

Until next time…
Peace

Preface to a bigger story of heart and plain old gritty determination

A word of warning….this is a LONG post and will have several parts…

Today is simply another ordinary day. I overslept the alarm or actually completely FORGOT to set the thing when I climbed into bed last night. My brain was telling me as I did so that I didn’t need to go to sleep yet, it was only 10:30 and I didn’t feel tired. Not surprisingly, I was more tired than I surmised!

Now, the sun is rising and lighting the house through the windows. There’s no noise other than the tapping of the keyboard as I type and I am sitting here with my feet kicked up trying to get some food in my stomach – and thinking and trying NOT to doze off…what?!! It’s early in the day and I managed to get a good 7 1/2 hours of sleep, so why am I sleepy?! I am so sleepy in fact that I find myself dozing off as I type leaving a trail of some random letters on my computer screen. Zzzzzzzzzzzzmmmmmmmmm

Ahhhhh….there’s a story to tell peeps so sit down with a cup of joe…perhaps slightly laced with a splash of Bailey’s…and get ready for a tale..I hope I can do it justice!!

This tale began on Friday December 12, 2014 as a group of 4 (myself, my partner in crime N.D, our great friend T2 and a young man with a big heart KdlP) loaded up the back of my expedition with all the gear we thought we’d need for a 48 hour excursion, and in hindsight, probably some stuff we did not need. It was pretty comical to watch if I step back from my own two eyes to see it unfold. Like a clown car…how much stuff could we squeeze into the vehicle and still leave room for 4 full-sized adults?

There were storage totes of various sizes with apparently random items within, duffel bags, camp blankets, pillows, sleeping bags….oh and bags upon bags of food (mostly fruit) from the grocery store. All that prodded and moved around until it all fit. Well, with the exception of KdlP’s rucksack – that had to be strapped on top of the truck! We managed to hit the road at noon and everything was moving according to plan. Yes, there was a plan! There’s ALWAYS a plan!!

T2 and Kevin

Three hours and 45 minutes later we arrived at our destination and another 20 minutes or so after that we made it to the briefing about the race…Oh yeah…didn’t I tell you? This is about a running event several of my friends plus myself registered for and were going to participate in. My good friend and training partner were going to run 100 miles! Several other friends were running distance from 26.2 miles all the way up to 50!!

I digressed a bit and took a nap…..back on track…so there we were at Brazos Bend State Park in Rosenberg Texas listening to the race director (Robert Goyen of Trail Racing Over Texas) give us a safety brief. He told us things like don’t jump over the gators and if you pass them do so behind them, not in front of them. He informed us about the course markings, the Christmas dinner that would be served for the runners and the condition of the trail. This information was definitively understated we were to find out later!!

The finishline

The finishline

This is all pretty boring stuff ya know and that’s okay. Consider it the preface to the real story! So after we leave the race brief we placed our drop boxes in the appropriate places and headed back out on the road so we could EAT and rest. Mind you, on the way to Brazos Bend state park there is a series of about 6 almost 45 degree turns and this is also something to think about for a later date. We checked into the hotel – Springhill Suites in Rosenberg where we had some very nice accommodations and guess what – we were still on plan. It always makes me HAPPY when Murphy does not poke his ugly head into my plans!!

T2 happens to be a great friend of mine (ours) but generally life gets in the way and we seldom see each other unless it is exercise related so it was nice at dinner to have a real conversation with her. We ate a leisurely dinner at Cracker Barrel – making sure to eat NOTHING that we had not eaten before and staying away from evil fiber or greasy foods…Trust me when I say THAT is a very important thing to do the days before one runs 100 miles!!! We sat and ate and enjoyed each others company for a bit then N.D left the table for a while and when she came back she came back with GIFTS!! I LOVE GIFTS!! Well, who doesn’t but this isn’t about them…..

She gave me a little stuffed Mickey Mouse! You see, she had asked us a little earlier who was our favorite cartoon character. T2 said Hello Kitty and of course I said Mickey Mouse. I like the classic Mickey cartoons though – when they were funny. I digress again but y’all should be pretty accustomed to that by now if you read my blog or know me personally. Back to the hotel we went for last minute prep and some well needed sleep the night before a race. The plan was that T2 would order some pizzas for us to eat at breakfast while we re-packed or whatever we had to do.

Finally after we all settled down and the pizza was ordered, the alarms were set and the plan for the mornings activities were discussed, I took a sleep aid and it was lights out…