“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
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Music for my Soul….

I’m not sure if it is an unfortunate aspect of my crazy life, or something I should be thankful for but I do not have many memories I can recall with relative ease. There is one exception to this though…memories that have a song attached to them somehow. Isn’t that funny? I’m not musically inclined really, though I do have a great love for most types of music.

Memories like, crying over my most recent boy related heartbreak, sitting in front of my mom’s old console stereo and listening to the 45 record of Dr. Hook belt out Only 16…on repeat. To flying down the highway (I don’t remember the name of) somewhere around Thetford, Vermont in the black AMC Eagle, racing my crazy friend Jeff in his Nova or whatever piece of metal he happened to be driving at that time….blasting Sammy Hagar’s “I can’t drive 55” as loud as those little speakers could handle…

Good and bad and maybe a few crazy memories here and there interspersed for good measure, I remember my life in snapshots filled with music. The names and faces of people I grew up with here and there as my family moved seemingly constantly for no real reason as I recall. I have very little recollection of many people or even places we lived with the exception of a very few. Music even now fills my soul. When I am feeling blue one of the best ways for me to dig myself out of the pit is to SING. Now, don’t laugh at me. Doesn’t it make you feel better when you sing? Preferably belting out a favorite song in the car or the shower where nobody else can hear and where the acoustics are more friendly! Ha ha!

Then there’s running which is the music for my soul now but before I knew running, there was music. The only time it’s bad for memories to be attached to music is when it brings forth those painful memories that are better off buried in the recesses of my mind. I heard a song this week. Perhaps you’ve heard Sarah McLachlan sing Angel? Whenever I hear this song, I cannot help but be transported back to a little church in wintertime Vermont, 9 years ago in March when my Nana had passed on and her funeral was taking place. There I sat, telling myself I would not cry, I would be strong enough to get through the funeral without crying and then that song came on. I will forever associate that song with the breaking my heart felt that day knowing that the woman I loved dearly was not coming back.

As I look back, I see how vital music has been to my survival and even my sanity perhaps. Now, as I prepare my body and my mind once more for another trek through the woods, running in circles, chasing shadows and meeting new people doing the same, I realize that music used in conjunction with the rhythmic tap of my soles against the earth soothes the aches that chase me. Someone once asked me of my running, “What are you running from?” HAH! The joke is really on those who think that I am running FROM anything!! I am running to something!

What am I running to you ask? I am running into my future. Running to the music I hear in my heart and soul that tells me this is the way to peace. Music and running ease my queasy stomach, squelches the monster in my head telling me in its quiet, steely voice, “You can’t do it, you’re not fast enough nor small enough nor determined enough.” Listen to enough of Marshal Mathers aka M & M screaming at you, telling you that if you give up now you’ll never know what could have happened if you had only tried harder…You will try harder. You will keep moving on in the direction of your passion as you listen to the music that soothes your soul….

Until next time my friends….

Peace

~TLT

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