“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

Anniversaries

An anniversary is so much more than simply a date on the calendar and when I hear people say that they married their best friend I wonder.

I wonder how it is that one can be just a best friend to someone who sees you at your very worst and loves you even though it hurts. I wonder how it is that one can be just a best friend to someone who sees you at your very best and loves you beyond life long tests.

I used to be envious of those couples who seem so in love whenever I saw them out and about but then I remembered what goes on behind closed doors is shrouded in clouds.I wonder how someone can love me for who I really am, if even I don’t know who that person is. I wonder how someone can love me through the good and the bad, when sometimes it seems that bad is all there is to be had.

It seems to me that saying one is married to their best friend may be undercutting the height to which love transcends. Marriage must transcend it all through the thick and the thin; through the times of financial struggle and times of ease; through the times of illness and of health. Yet those are only words we speak because when the line is drawn in the proverbial sand, you have to make a choice as to which side of life you will stand.

There are no easy answers and no instructions to follow, whether you are flying high as an eagle or drowning in a pool of sorrow. How will you manage to hold true to your words when they’re left tasting bitter on your lips? Why would you want to leave the person who steadies your emotions with just a hand on your hip?

A decade plus of marriage surely must show you how much you truly do not know this person you have married for better or for worse. Almost two decades of communication between the two surely must indicate that there is so much left to learn. There are choices to be made daily. That’s right I said, there are choices that have to be made – daily. As a wise woman recently said, life is all about choices and when we fail to make a choice that is a choice in itself.

Being married to another person is a study in patience, understanding and stamina to name but a few. When I am out among the trees, I am reminded of the likeness between my love of running and that of marriage.

There are hills to climb and as my friend Doug once told me, you are fighting yourself climbing those hills. Just go with the flow, he said, in his infinite wisdom. Take smaller steps and don’t work so hard. Being married is that way when every step feels like quicksand trying to pull you under to flounder in your misery. Quicken your steps, lighten the load and before you know it you feel as though you are once again floating along effortlessly.

I ask God to help me bite my tongue and guide my words daily. You see, some degree of faith in a power greater than me is necessary to trudge my way through when times are tough and the going is slow. There are things in this world I believe that only He knows. We make the plans but he sets the path and once again this is similar to running a race. We make plans to complete this race or that. We follow our plans and aim for a successful conclusion but sometimes there are lessons to be learned in the falling down and failing.

Anniversary is but a simple word that really means so much more….

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

A motivating factor fear

Let’s talk about FEAR shall we?

Fear is a powerful emotion whether you are a three year old afraid of the boogeyman under the bed, or a 30 year old afraid of spiders. Ironically, fear is a driving force, which typically enabled us to choose the right path when we were children. The fear of receiving strong discipline from our parents if we did something naughty, was often enough to persuade us to make the right choice. If not, and we chose the wrong path, there was the other fear which occurred when the discipline arrived. This type of fear motivated us to STOP behavior – or perhaps, to never act on a childish impulse in the first place.

There are as many types of fear as there are people in this world, for we are all unique individuals and as such, our fears reflect our uniqueness. Fear of new places, new people and new guidelines may keep us from taking a particular job offer or even submitting our resume’ to begin with, for fear of receiving yet another letter of rejection. As someone who has been in search of an employment situation that works for me for the last two years, I can tell you personally – those rejection letters are ugly, nasty creatures that can build any insecurities already living in your mind.

Fear has the ability keep you stuck in place like quicksand. It could be the job you trudge through daily because you are afraid to take a chance and make a change or a toxic relationship that makes you second guess all you believe and how you feel about yourself and the world around you, but you are too afraid of the unknown to make a change. Fear of what others may think, fear of rejection and pain all serve to keep us stuck in place – never moving, never truly growing.

There is a flip side to fear though! I can tell you, for me personally, fear is a great motivating tool! When I was a teenager, looking through my teenage eyes at my surroundings and all of the people I saw who were STUCK in the same small town, doing the same job, in the same house for the same pay – year after year – I made a decision to move. In my late 20’s, after four beautiful boys and a failed marriage already, I felt stuck. I felt as though I was being sucked under and then trampled underfoot by the myriad of bad choices I had made. I was living through the painful consequences of those choices and found it to be unacceptable. I was AFRAID if I did not make a change, I’d grow old and die without having done anything – without having served a purpose. I believed then, as I do now, that we all have a purpose.

That fear propelled me forward into a new era of my life story when I signed my name on the dotted line to join the Armed Forces….It seems like ancient history now, though it’s only been 18 years, to the day almost, since I began basic training. Unfortunately, my time in the service was ultimately cut shorter than I anticipated it would be by a decision based, at least partly, on….FEAR. We can make the choice to let our fears make our choices for us or we can become aware of what is taking place and utilize it to our advantage.

One way I do this is by planning. I LOVE to plan activities, vacations and of course, my own training schedule. I have even helped others plan for various events! Rather than allow fear to decide, I make the conscious decisions necessary to be successful in whatever mission(s) I happen to be working on at the time. Is there fear of the unknown? Am I afraid of failing at whatever it is I happen to be working on? ABSOLUTELY! Am I “successful” at every single mission I set out to accomplish? NO! What drives me more than the fear of failure though is the fear of NOT trying. The fear of growing “old” and having done nothing in my life to affect change. The fear of hitting my 90th birthday and looking back with regret, not at all the mistakes made for that is a natural progression of life, but regret for all the things I “should have” done.

I had a conversation with a friend a few years ago and we were discussing getting older and my unhappiness with this prospect. They told me that there’s no use in trying to fight aging, it’s a fact of life and therefore unavoidable. I told them, of course we all age and eventually die, but I will go kicking and screaming the entire way. Like the poem by Dylan Thomas

Do not go gentle into that good night, 

Old age should burn and rave at close of day;

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Dylan Thomas

Until next time my friends……USE your fear rather than be used BY your fear

Peace~

(From The Poems of Dylan Thomas, published by New Directions. Copyright © 1952, 1953 Dylan Thomas. Copyright © 1937, 1945, 1955, 1962, 1966, 1967 the Trustees for the Copyrights of Dylan Thomas. Copyright © 1938, 1939, 1943, 1946, 1971 New Directions Publishing Corp.)

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