“Race” Report (It’s long!)

I use the term ‘race’ very loosely because my reality is that I am simply racing against myself and the times I’ve accomplished on a given distance during a previous attempt. Although, chasing the proverbial rabbit does help me get through some tough patches, it’s simply a game played out in my own mind in order to keep pushing. If you play or have played any sort of sports related activity you probably know what I am referring to. 🙂

On with it then! The first alarm rang at 5:00 a.m on Saturday morning and by 5:30 I was eating some english muffins for breakfast while standing in the kitchen double checking my gear to make sure I had all the essentials. Not very exciting to be sure! By 7:00 I was on the road watching a spectacular sun rise and feeling steady in my mind. As I drove I was picturing myself running under that start/finish banner at the end of the race. I often use this tactic like a mantra in order to remain positive. It seems to help…

About halfway to the race location at the 7IL Ranch in Bellville, Texas which is a 2 1/2 hour drive from my house, I notice the tire pressure monitor warning light up on my dashboard. Really?!  I decide to err on the side of caution and pull over at a gas station with an air pump to check the pressure since the computer on my truck appears to be programmed by someone smarter than I am. Don’t you know, the doggone air pump doesn’t work there. Off I go, praying that it’s a nail that’s stuck into the tire and it holds pressure. A few miles later I see another station and pull in, stick my quarters in and….promptly get eaten alive by a gazillion mosquitos as I attempt to put air in the tires only to find that this pump seems to be letting air OUT of my tire, not putting it in. UGH! I finally get it situated just right to put air into the tire…as I swat blood sucking flying insects SMACK!

I made it to the race location about two hours prior to race start, picked up my packet and stood around for a few minutes talking to my running friends Dan ‘the man’ Macintyre and Dale ‘the Texas Yeti’ Cougot. The fabulous part of this sport is that one can glean so much knowledge from others, if you choose to listen!! Headed back to the truck to grab a protein cookie and chill for a few minutes while taping and lubing my blister-prone feet. I’d heard that there were patches of beach like sand on the course so I wore Altra shoe gaiters to keep it from getting into my shoes. In my experience, sand plus sweaty feet plus friction equals HUGE blisters! Let’s not have a repeat of that issue. Before I knew it we were all lined up behind the start line and it was GO time!!

A phrase you may have heard is that the first mile is a liar.  It tries to convince you that you’re not ready; the body may be a little taut from the taper and your mind may still be caught up on some minute detail. On this day, the first six miles were decidedly unpleasant. The protein cookie didn’t digest well and because of that my stomach didn’t send the right signal to let me know that I really needed to EAT. You must know that a lack of calories in the body really messes with the mind. Here I was on just the first loop and already thinking how badly it sucked, how slowly I was moving (though I wasn’t) and wondering why in sam hill I had signed up anyway.

I didn’t realize until about ohhh 5 miles in that I was HUNGRY!! That’s why my brain was acting so ugly. The problem was, after the three mile mark there was no more food available at the aid stations, so I had to wait until the start/finish to eat. On top of that, I wore my Hokas & I could feel the blisters beginning within the first 3 miles. I ignored it of course and planned to change my shoes at the turnaround. Though blisters and I are very well acquainted, I did not want them to visit on this day!!

     As I came in to the start finish for a high-five from Rob Goyen himself, I noticed the clock display of 1:27 for the first loop! I was ecstatic and simply wanted to hold that pace without blowing up on the last loop!!  The medic gave me a baggy of ice which I stuffed  in my bra, ate food (pretzels, pickles, ritz),drank coke and changed my silly Hokas for the Altra Olympus. I was trying to hurry up through the aid station but didn’t want to forget something either and the ice was an absolute necessity. I took off walking while eating pretzels feeling re-energized. The baggy of ice didn’t last long though before it was a sloshing bag of water! I popped the bag and poured the cold water over my head….ahhhhhhh bliss!
     Loops 2 & 3 were MUCH better physically and mentally! Loop 2 had an elapsed time of 3:04 where I repeated everything I did after loop one, except change the shoes. I also got rid of the neck wrap I’d made because the ice was all melted and it just felt heavy around my neck. I was still happy with how I was feeling and progressing through the course. At one of the “unmanned” aid stations on loop three I ran into Dan again and he did a double take when I told him I was finishing up the 3rd loop. He said, “Whatever you are doing, keep doing it!” That was the plan! :)) When running ultras, one must take advantage of the moments when you feel good because whatever goes UP…will come down!!
      As I was beginning the fourth loop I crossed paths with Stephen Moore who was just a few minutes behind me. I told him that I’d see him on the ‘flip side’ and he came back with, “unless I catch you.” HAH!! Guess what that meant? I was going to do everything in my power to NOT allow him to catch me!! LOL! Around 2 miles into loop four, I felt a familiar twinge that told me a blister was rearing it’s ugly little head and it needed to be dealt with. I debated just sucking it up until the start/finish point, but I know from experience how ugly they can become if not handled correctly. I had to stop for blister care. Once done and back up out of the blasted chair, I put  the discomfort out of my head & focused on moving forward – I HAD to make up some time. The stop cost me about 15 minutes!! 😦
     At the start/finish for the start of loop five the clock read 6:22 and I knew not only did I WANT to push it the last 10K, but I needed to do so in order to beat the loss of sunlight. I’d brought headlamps but they were in the truck!! It was a repeat of lap 4 – only faster through the aid station. As I ran that last loop, I walked the uphill and there was one looooong one, then ran every downhill as safely as I could. I thanked the medic (Casey?) and “Waldo” for the tape job on the blisters as I blew through their aid station…Somewhere around mile marker 4 on the course, I saw lightning trying to light up the dusky sky! Seriously? Push HARDER! As I rounded that last corner and the tents rolled into view I knew I was home free. I walked for a few to catch my breath, started jogging then pounded up the chute as fast as my legs would go to the FINISH! When I looked back the clock said 7:52 and change. Not the 7:30 I was aiming for but I’ll take it!! 🙂
     Sorry for the lengthy nature of this one!! There are lots of other details I could put but will spare you this time! 🙂
Until next time friends…
~Peace

Be Your Own Champion!

As I was grinding out 28 miles on the trail today I had an epiphany of sorts. This is often the case but usually by the time I get home and showered, I have forgotten what that AHA moment was. Today, I remember because this topic hits close to home.

For most of my younger years (20’s – late 30’s) I kept wondering why I felt unfulfilled much of the time. There were highs and of course, the inevitable lows but generally, I just felt like there was something missing from my life. The girls came along in my mid and late 30’s and things began to click in my mind I suppose. Now, with birthday 45 knocking on the door, only a month away, it’s fitting that I had a realization.

I have been looking for validation from OTHERS! I have been seeking someone to be my champion. A special kind of someone who knows me better than anyone else and has the ability to lift me up when I am down. This person would provide unconditional love and SUPPORT, regardless of whether they understand my crazy inner drive, or not. Unfortunately, while I was searching for this nonexistent person, life rolled on and the years have passed by.

Fortunately, today I came to the realization that I MUST be my own champion!! I have to be happy with my own inner voice and the support it provides. We cannot count on the support of others – not always. Even those of us who are in committed relationships (married or otherwise) need to be able to stand on our own two feet and know, without a doubt, that we are satisfied with who WE are as people. We cannot wait around for the applause of others because you know….we may be waiting with bated breath for that support and applause until the day we die because some people are unwilling or unable to provide what it is we seek.

Being married does not mean that your spouse really NEEDS to understand your drives, needs and desires, only that we wish they would. If they won’t or don’t know how then it is necessary to have enough BELIEF in oneself to carry on regardless of the fact that they have fallen below our expectations. You see, that’s really the crux of this whole issue of which I speak. Our expectations can be lousy little demons in our heads. They create this inner dialogue that tells us we should be unhappy with what we are receiving from our partner because they refuse to be our champion.

It’s okay!! They no longer have the responsibility of being your champion if you do it yourself!! See how easy that is? Believe in yourself so you can make yourself happy with what is going on in your life. You make the decisions to make your life happen in the way that creates YOUR kind of happiness and then they will do the same. We cannot change anyone and we should  not expect them to be what they are obviously NOT. Allow them the space to be what they are without an expectation that they were created to fulfill you. They were NOT!

Ask God for guidance and follow your dreams….Be your own CHAMPION!!

Until next time!

Peace

~TLT

Training….again

Yep! Here we go again with the training for another 100 mile effort in the search for the unholy grail….or rather another belt buckle. Unlike the last time I trained when everyone knew what I was up to, I’ve kept my plans a little more quiet. There have been many more solo runs this time and this may be one of the most important differences between the two training periods.

Actually, the training cycle is about HALFWAY complete with race day only 6 1/2 weeks away!! EEEEEKKK! I feel stronger for the most part because unlike training for Brazos Bend 100, I am doing speed work and training through the fall and winter is completely different than training through the horribly hot, soul sucking heat of Texas in the summer. I’m also following the plan of someone else this time rather than trying to make it up on my own. Tough to be the person who strives for control…that makes a CHOICE to seek advice from someone else on how to do this thing better!

This brings me to the real reason why I sat to write this piece tonight, while the house is absolutely silent for once. Control and the counsel of others. These are subjects that often ring true for many of us who make the decision to run these long distances. We seek to control all the many variables of our lives only to find that there is so much yet completely and utterly OUT of our control. Much to our chagrin and often extreme dismay we cannot control everything no matter how much we think we have it all sewn into a nice tight little bundle.

On the other hand, as we search out the perfect 100 mile endurance event to participate in, listen to the guiding wisdom of others, plan our race down to the most minute detail and otherwise engage in the planning of everything from what we will wear to how long we shall sit (or not) at each aid station, it all boils down to one thing….how much of what happens is truly out of our control and that there is only ONE thing we can control on any given day, race days included…to continue to put one foot in front of the other and keep truckin’.

Listening to the wisdom of others has never been my strong suite, however I have found that there are some people out there who I just GET. For instance, I just finished watching Ethan Newberry aka The Ginger Runner in his film about his very first 100 mile race and am currently reading a book by Ed Ayres called The Longest Race. Both of these men have much to teach, no matter how inadvertently, about how best to get through the journey of a foot race of 100 miles. They are not the only ones who will go with me on this journey to once again do the unthinkable, reach the unreachable and control the uncontrollable…There are some other men and a few women as well who are part of this tribe of people who run and that I look up to and whose words of wisdom I hold dear during those dark moments when the going gets tough.

I listen to my friend Mike who tells me, “Don’t think, just move!” and another friend Doug who assures me that this too shall pass and all I have to do is keep moving forward…relentless forward progress. John, more like my brother now, always there with a steady stare and strong words of encouragement – “You got this”, he tells me. I remember the wit and energy of JoAnna who shares my middle name and has an unshakable will. Even the beautiful daughters I’ve helped create, lift me up with their courage and their love….

The list, my friends, could go on and on. You see, although many of these people will not be on my next journey in person to bear witness to the power of will, they will be there in my mind. There’s no way that any of us can make it on this journey all by ourselves. We take with us all the power and encouragement of everyone we meet. During those moments when our body tells us that there’s no possibility of making it move forward for even another foot, we take the power of the words and use it fan the fire to propel us forward once again.

There is plenty of dark energy, negative matter that floats around inside our mind which tells us that there’s no way we can do this…again. All the negativity of the well-meaning around us who say they have no understanding of WHY we’d want to punish ourselves this way. It’s unhealthy to run 100 miles. You are selfish for putting your family through the pain of seeing you in pain afterwards when your body is completely wrecked…..All the negativity in the world and it serves absolutely ZERO purpose so rather than give in to it, find a way to use it. Use the negative as another source of fire to keep you moving on the darkest path when nobody is around to see your tears…That’s my goal.

The countdown has begun and the journey of 100 miles begins with one single step…

Until next time friends….

~PEACE

 

Insomnia and Compartmentalization…..

As I laid myself down to sleep about two hours ago, I had a thought that I had forgotten to write today as I had made a commitment to do. Alas, I thought! I will just have to write twice tomorrow. HAH! Instead, here I sit unable to sleep in a silent house and I BLOG…

My chattering monkey mind would not quiet and one of the thoughts that kept rolling through was that it was 3 weeks ago today that I crossed the finish line at Brazos Bend 100 with some of the most amazing people there running alongside me and even more waiting at the finish line. What I realized is that there are hours of time that I do not recall at all during those 29 hours and 58 minutes.

My friend Doug had told me that it would all disappear and leave nothing much left but the finish and I had thought that there was no way my mind could possibly FORGET such an epic tale. I spent the better part of something like 6 hours and 45 minutes, give or a take a few, with my friend Mike….SIX HOURS only 3 weeks ago and yet I recall very little about those moments. The brain is an amazing thing is it not?

I spent even MORE time with my great friend John and the only thing I have left in my mind are the sneaky little snapshots he took of me looking grumpy! That particular moment probably would have escaped my recollection as well….except for the photograph he took and posted with me looking decidedly unhappy. I do remember scolding him because he said he sent the picture to his wife….I told him that at least he could’ve warned me so I could wave or something! Funny!

My feet are pretty well healed and I am a toenail shy at the moment but for the most part – the body is close to 100% back to ‘normal’. Not quite there but certainly closer than it was 3 weeks ago when I had to use a granny walker to even move!! That will NOT happen again until I am somewhere around the age of 95!! The granny walker that is….

The brain, as I have learned through my studies, and now with more personal experience, is a wonderful computer / organ with the ability to wipe away all the pain you KNOW for certain you felt because pain is not something you simply forget. And yet, I really do not remember the pain per se, rather there is just the knowledge there that I WAS in pain. How does it do this? I would love to complete research on this topic!

There are some who subscribe to the whole idea that we are simply not meant to know the ins and outs of everything and sometimes it is better to not ask WHY. For me, however, I thrive on the unknown, on the questions that remain unanswered,  and sometimes it gets me into trouble with those who really wish I would just hush. Unfortunately for them, and tonight for me as well since the monkeys in there will not cease with their endless chattering, I don’t do well with being told what to do.

Yeah, yeah….I know! We all must at times take orders or what have you. Allow someone the privilege of thinking that they control the situation and in turn, controlled what it was you thought or did. It is not something I am very good at however! I am good at asking questions and if there are no answers readily available – I will find them!

The other thing on my mind is that although I AM almost healed, I am not quite there and that’s what scares me. I have things planned, races to attend and PR’s to attain……but if my body does not heal soon – like in the next 2 weeks TOPS….my attendance at the next event will be seriously in doubt. You see, one of the things that motivates me is EVENTS…

Racing events generally my goals, but it can be any type of event where I have to plan something, then follow through with the execution of the plan and bring it to fruition. It helps me stay focused and remain accountable to myself for my fitness goals. Right now I feel like the next 12 weeks of my training are truly in limbo and that is a dance I don’t like much….the limbo. I do have some other irons in the fire, so to speak, but none of which have anything to do with my fitness.

That may not seem like a big deal to some but to me, my personal level of fitness is a pretty big deal. If I had RAN today….I’d be sleeping right now. If I had ran today….I would not be sitting here with my tummy growling because it became accustomed to me eating basically as often as I wanted to…..while I was training. I can’t eat like that normally. I would be able to pass for the sibling of Shamu if I did!!

I only partly jest! 90% of the women in my family are heavyset women. With my stature, any amount of weight that is not muscle or some semblance thereof does not look attractive in the least. Love handles? Where did that phrase originate? There’s nothing lovely about having fat poking over the top of my jeans…..ugh! Okay, that’s a topic for a different blog or maybe not at all.

Apparently I am TIRED because I have digressed considerably from my original ideas so I suppose, dear reader, you can consider this the free-write of an insomniac who has a tendency to go off on these little tangents….Who am I kidding though really – I go off on tangents even when I am NOT tired!! I hope some of you who actually know me found some humor in that!! I sure did! I almost had a chuckle at my own expense…but I didn’t want to laugh too loudly and wake the girls who are all snuggled in their beds thinking about the first day back at school tomorrow after the very LONG Christmas break they had.

Okay…there it is…some of what was keeping me awake at least and now it is 4 minutes until Monday, January 5th and I have successfully written today! I shall post before the clock strikes midnight for sure! This reminds me of New Years Eve counting down the last few minutes with the youngest 2 of my brood!! Hah! Okay……..posting now

Until next time friends……

Peace