“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

Commitment to Your Cause…..

I have been thinking for a few weeks about this post, trying to decide which way to go with it. Some days I think I have nothing much to say and yet my mind is absolutely running wild with all these ideas, thoughts and considerations. Other days, there is so much to say that it would take me all day to blog! HAH!

I knew from a fairly early age that I wanted to be a mother. There was only a question of how many children I would have and as each one came, the number changed. Funny how that happened….7 babies later it was decided there would be no more from this body. Although being a mother is something I am fairly adequate at, it is not all encompassing for me. For example, I know women who thrive on the daily joys of being a wife and mother and have no desire or drive to do anything other than that.

It just is not that way for me. By the time our youngest daughter was born 7 years ago, there was an inner burn to do SOMETHING more or different. The few memories I have of my nana and grandmother are bittersweet. Not because of the memories themselves, but because as I look back with my adult eyes I realize that those women who were so instrumental in my childhood were just going through the motions. They were doing what they were told they were supposed to do. They went through their lives doing what they thought they were SUPPOSED to do rather than that which they desired to do.

Of course, part and parcel of being an adult means that there are things we do because we are supposed to do them. I ask you though, is that all there is? Are you willing to simply go through the motions of your life until you are dead? I am not! I think that we are here for some reason. To touch another life, to make a difference and bottom line – we are here to LIVE life not just walk through life doing what we are supposed to do. There must be a fire within! There has to be a reason to keep walking this bumpy road we call life.

I admire those women (and now even a handful of men) who feel it is their calling to dedicate their lives to the complete fulfillment of another human being. They rise and grind every single day in an effort to make the lives of their children easy and as close to perfect as possible. I ADMIRE them…….but I don’t wish to emulate them. The women who drive me, who make me want to be more and inspire me to work harder are the women who have a commitment to their own cause. These women are not satisfied with the status quo and have no compunction to sit idly by while life carries on and they remain stagnant.

This is a choice we make, to live our lives rather than walk mindlessly through it like we are robots. It takes a certain kind of commitment to NOT live up to the status quo. Find what drives you and then work for that hobby/mission or cause until either you can no longer do so or until that particular thing no longer drives you – and then find something else that motivates you! That’s my goal. Run it until the wheels fall off! Literally, run until I no longer can physically or mentally. This is my cause right now which means that I have a commitment to doing everything I can to be better.

Sometimes to be better we have to fall down and take some time away. This was what happened to me at Brazos Bend 100 four months ago. I was injured and had to step away from my passion for about 7 WEEKS. It wasn’t that long really but it felt like an eternity to me at the time. Now, I am back to training and you know what?! I LOVE and enjoy it even more than I did before. I relish the moments I can sneak away to the trail, listen to the birds chirping in the trees and smell the strong scent of an imminent rain. I began implementing some strength training again and started doing weekly tire drags. What an experience THAT is!

While I am usually sneaking away from my life, that is not to say that I am running from it. In actuality, the running adds balance to my crazy life and helps soothe the savage soul within me. Running long distances (as in over 20 miles) has taught me to slow down, and how important it is to be patient – even beyond the point where one believes they cannot possibly take anymore aggravation. It has taught me to listen to my body and heed its warning signs. This is part of being committed to a cause. When you are committed you will do whatever it takes.

What is your cause? What is the passion you have always been afraid to pursue? You will not know how good it can be if you never take the chance and begin….Take the chance, step outside of your comfort zone! Put one foot in front of the other and before you know it you will have traveled further than you ever thought possible.

Until next time…

Peace….

Parenting

There is nothing that will make one feel more inept and often guilty than parenting. Guilt can ride your back like an ugly monkey if you let it. Taking from you every ounce of joy parenting can elicit. I have been on my fair share of guilt trips – both self imposed and those thrown at me by those with less than good intentions. Funny enough, I don’t believe that anyone is able to impose on me a greater feeling of guilt about past mistakes than I can impose on myself!

You see, I am quite aware that as a child/mother/wife of 18 years old, I did not set the best examples for my children. I am aware of the fact that I made many mistakes as I was bearing and attempting to raise four boys in my late teens and early twenties. I am also painfully aware that my mistakes cost me to lose so much time with the boys. Time I am unable to get back – nor do I want to.

That’s right! I said I don’t want to take back that painful time. Do I wish I had been a better parent? Absolutely! Do I wish that I had not made the mistakes I made along the way which made the lives of my children harder than they needed to be? Of course! However, those difficult times created resilient young men and helped me be a better parent to my daughters. Those tough times that saw me lose my temper and forget momentarily how precious life is, helped create young men of immense amounts of patience and compassion.

Now, as I look back, after laying next to my youngest sleeping child who had thrown her arm over me and snuggled in for a good nap, I am grateful. Grateful for the knowledge that those mistakes provided. Grateful for the growth that occurred out of the pain. Grateful for the fact that my boys know in their hearts that no matter my mistakes, my love for them is never-ending. There is no reserve amount – no price to be paid. I love them no matter what – even on their worst day.

This is another lesson from parenting you see. I had always heard of the unconditional love of God and my mom always provided me with her manner of unconditional love. I did not truly know the meaning of the term though until the girls came along. You see, there is a different type of relationship (IMHO) between a mother and her sons versus a mother and her daughters. There is no doubt that boys love their mamas without reservation or hesitation – and I them. The love of mother and daughter however, is another animal altogether.

I am not even sure I can put this thought into a cohesive paragraph that makes sense to anyone but myself. With the girls there is an understanding. We communicate on the same plane using the same words that identify emotions. As people of the female persuasion there is a different type of communication that takes place – sometimes it does not even require that words are spoken. We pay attention to the smaller nuances of human behavior and for a great majority of us, this means that we are able to attain a new or different level of understanding.

What I miss about the boys: the sound of raucous laughter and them calling for ‘mama’. The mornings when one of the youngest attempted to make my toast ‘crunchy’ the way I like it, but misinterpreted BURNT for crunchy. They served it to me before I even rose from bed, as though they were serving a queen! I miss sweaty boy hugs and the look of pride on their faces as they successfully accomplished whatever feat they had attempted.

For me, being a parent is quite similar to my ultra running and in fact, the two worlds often intersect in unique and interesting ways. I breathe a sigh of relief as I enter the dirt/mud/cobwebby world of the trail. It is often quite unforgiving, cruel and difficult at the same time it brings me a fantastic sense of PEACE. The trail does not require one to think much beyond putting one foot in front of the other. At the same time, there are an abundance of thoughts that occur within my head simply BECAUSE it does not require a whole lot of conscious thought.

Running, especially as slow as I tend to go, requires some patience and compassion; fortitude and stubbornness….persistence and consistency. Does this not sound very similar to parenting? Ironically I find that many of these characteristics I thought I did not have, I have found on the trail. Not only directed or felt for others….but for myself as well. There is so much we can learn about who we are and in what direction we would like our lives to meander by hitting the open road, sidewalk or nearest rocky trail!

It is my serenity….my peace and the place I go to think. It is where I go to just BE…..me. Not mother, wife, teacher, student, counselor….etc., etc., to just be a body cruising the trail….

I am thankful and blessed to BE back on the trail and that has been another lesson learned. That is a story for another day though.

Until next time, don’t be a stranger…

Peace

~TLT

Random thoughts of Randomness

Been a little bit since I blogged and today although I have a lot to say there is nothing really sticking with me. I think that is par for the course, so to speak! I have these random thoughts that come and go every single day and not many really stick around to make a definitive impression. Those that do stick around have to be pretty raw/intense/powerful in order to do so – that’s just the way my brain works. It takes a lot of information in and then lets go of the majority it deems as unimportant. Unfortunately….sometimes because it means I have no recollection of the bad nor the good. Whereas some have a brain like a sponge and remember everything – my brain is more like a sieve and only retains very large pieces of information.

There are a few things on my mind today though. I have been in a blue funky place in my mind for awhile….probably about 6 or 7 weeks long. The moments come and go and some are better than others but for the most part – funk is where I am at. Just when I begin to feel better and maybe climb out of this hole I seem to have fallen into, something comes along and knocks me right back in! I get my cravings for garbage food under control…….and then my craving for LARGE amounts of caffeine kick in, thereby making it so I do not drink enough water. This in itself is not necessarily a bad thing since I haven’t really been running….until I decide TO go for a run and get a headache because I have not drank enough water!

Thankfully, I am pain free while running now…..well….at least there is not pain from the injury I sustained back in December. Now the pain is simply from working hard at getting my base level of fitness back. Starting over really does suck in case nobody told you! Hopefully, tomorrow will be good to me and I can break the 10 mile mark for my long run! If so, it will be the longest I have managed since the middle of December! Perhaps this lack of distance in my life is what is keeping me in the blue funk since those neurotransmitters aka chemicals the body makes like dopamine, serotonin, adrenaline etc are some that help balance MOOD. Perhaps….

Perhaps my blue funk is a natural progression due to the changes occurring in our lives. Perhaps it’s an adjustment issue. Perhaps….I hope it is simply the fact that my body, my psyche, brain…..whatever you want to name ME..is in desperate need of some time to run amongst the trees in varying speeds. Perhaps it is the desire of an endurance junkie to get my fix of fresh air and heavy breathing. Since running is the only outlet available where one can simply BE…There are no labels in the trees and on the trails…You are just you and I am simply me – going as fast or as slow as we are able. I know I miss some friends, near and far – and I hope that you are SAFE (JS and AK) no matter where in the world you are!

Conversations this week with students provided endless entertainment and debate about topics such as whether or not homosexuality is a choice or if it is genetic; if we are somehow programmed from birth to be this or that (computer programmer, teacher or psycho killer, child molester) in addition to a very stimulating conversation in 3 different groups of students on the same topic: the lack of a ‘fear’ in the children of this particular generation which is thereby making it less likely for them to have a balanced locus of control.

For many, the locus of control growing up was a healthy fear of what our parents would do or say should we make an inappropriate choice. Somewhere along the way, children were given the power over the parents (as evident in any grocery store in almost any city in the United States) and that healthy fear of the repercussions of our actions was stilled at best and completely reversed at the worst. We talk about children who sass their parents; the children who run through the clothing racks of the nearby department store, seemingly unconcerned with the concept of courtesy or manners; and the fact that parents seem unwilling or unable to get control over these children.

My brothers and I have spoken about breaking the cycle of abuse that many suffered at the hands of parents who had no idea how to parent and made it up as they went along, like so many did. The problem, as I see it however, is that the pendulum swung too far the other direction in a quest for balance. It went wide, to the other side of the spectrum and now we suffer those consequences. We have parents too afraid to tell their child to sit still and enforce that stillness. We have parents too afraid to ‘lay hands’ on their children in order to instill some discipline on them for fear that someone will report their parental judgement to a governmental agency that tells the public spanking is abuse.

I do not intend to start a debate about the evils of corporal punishment, nor the lack thereof in this generation of minions and ‘beasties’, only perhaps AWAKEN the consciousness of some people. If we continue to pretend as though this is not an issue, the issue will continue to grow and fester – and society will pay the price. It is our FUTURE we are talking about after all!

That was another topic discussed this week – that of consciousness but I think it requires more thought on my part and therefore, I will save that particular blog for another day! 🙂 Oh and an EXCITING post about a documentary I watched at Endurance Outfitters last weekend is brewing in the back of my mind as well…..Be sure to remind me!! LOL

Tonight I sleep (thank you Lunesta) and tomorrow…….we RUN!! 🙂

Until next time friends…..
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…

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. 🙂

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! 🙂

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