2017: Lows-Highs-Lows

When you start to feel like things should have been better this year, Remember the mountains and valleys that got you here. They are not accidents. And those moments weren’t in vain. You are not the same. You have grown and you are growing. You are breathing, you are living. You are wrapped in endless, boundless, grace, and things will get better. There is more to you than yesterday.

-Morgan Harper Nichols

It is pretty difficult to sum up 2017 in a blog post. What a year! 2017 was filled with extreme highs and lows. There was no neutral ground to life this year. I know it’s changed me. I’m not sure how, yet. Good news, though, I’m still standing.

The lows. . . my parents moved. . . my birthday, merged into Christmas. . . Christmas. . . eating too much. . . eating too little. . . learning hard parts about my story. . . re-living hard parts about my story. . . forgetting self care. . . trying to make people happy. . . “managing” (ie., “controlling”) other people’s lives. . .

The highs. . . my running. . . my training. . . my friends. . . 46 years of life. . . Broken and Beloved. . . Mogollon Monster 100 . . resort living for 2 days. . . Savage Gulf. . . Stage Race. . . Leona Divide. . . Lookout Mountain 50. . .

Looking forward with faith that God will go ahead of me into 2018.

Reminded by looking back that he was ahead of every. single. day. of 2017. I’m thankful that I did not have a glimpse of 2017. As MUCH as I want to see the future. He protected me. He walked ahead of me.

Not sure I’ve wrestled with God (like Jacob), but I definitely have a limp.

Just glimpses of heaven, Lord, not tomorrow. Just glimpses of forever. I’ll be actively looking for impressions of heaven as I move into 2018.

 

Advertisements

Race Recap: Lookout Mountain 50, 2017

Well, it was cold, longer than previous years and fun. This race challenged my “fight game”. I was pretty wiped out emotionally and mentally from the week leading up to the race.

In 5 days. . .

  • 3 evening, school performances
  • 1 uncharacteristically horrible fight with my husband
  • 1 intense (to say the least) personal study session, Broken and Beloved, where I sat in some uncomfortable moments, regarding fear, loneliness, love, my inner critic.
  • 1 emotional and sad car ride to a therapy appointment
  • My 46th birthday!
  • 3 am wake up call on race morning.

I was looking forward to the time away. I was looking forward to the physical challenge. I was looking forward to an escape. . . AT LEAST 10 1/2 hours in the woods and then, a 2 1/2 hour drive home <sigh>.

It was freezing, but I was convinced that the day would warm up, it never did. I wore gloves, two shirts, shorts and tall socks all day long.

What’s new? I love to try new things at every race. This is the first 50-miler that I ran with only one handheld. I liked it. I was able to carry a bar and gel, in case I needed it. I ate at every aid station. I drank SPRING energy drink all day.

Miles 0-18.4 I think this section of the course is the most runnable. This year, I covered 18.4 miles in about 3.5 hours. It is mostly downhill, with the exception of a 3-ish mile climb up to Covenant College where the start/finish is located. The course was in great shape this year. Last year, it was wet, so running down to Craven’s was a bit sketchy. This year, it was cold and there were small random spots of ice, but I did not slip or fall. This year, they moved the second aid station from the area near the Lookout Mountain Nature Center and Preserve that used to be around mile 14-ish to “Blue Beaver” around mile 13.

Miles 18.4-27.2 This section too is downhill for the most part. I am not sure why, but this is where I struggled the most. Just had a hard time getting into my rhythm. I had to go to the bathroom a few times, my foot hurt, my back hurt. . . wah, wah, wah, waah <sad trombone playing>. I got over it, but it was a struggle to stop thinking like a whiner. It was STILL cold. I kept my gloves and buff on.

Miles 27.2-36.4 This section took me from Lula Lake (27.2) miles to Long Branch II (36.4) Just a few changes to note here. Side note: I LOVE the sweet road section right before you get to Long Branch. 🙂 Okay. . . few changes. The aid station at Long Branch used to be located in the little parking lot, right before you begin the loop. NOW, the aid station is at a beautiful barn about a mile from the little parking lot. That was a small downer, when I arrived. :/  They served grilled cheese and hot soup and brown sugar bacon. Oh my word!!!!! I had all three. I prob had about 4 pieces of bacon. YUM!! Again, I was a bit “woe is me here”. I did not cry at all, just struggled to get myself running consistently here and in the previous section. I had the legs and the stomach and the fitness, but I did not have the drive.

Miles 36.4-50+ I looped back to Long Branch and grabbed more SPRING and grilled cheese. I can taste that grilled cheese, now. It was so, so good. It was still cold. I put my gloves back on and went to the bathroom. I started on my way and realized that I forgot my headlamp. I quickly ran back and put that on! My goal now was to make it back to the road, after the Lula section BEFORE the sun went down. This was a good motivator. And, I DID make it to the road. The last 4 or so miles of this race always seem long. There are many twisting and turning sections. <groan>. To my surprise I was running well, here. This is the first year out of three that I ran most of the last section. Crossed the line!!!

CLOSED the door on my 2017 racing, with a bang! It was not the finish time I was shooting for but I ran better than I had in the past. Next year, I will do better at “mentally tapering”. I think the week leading up to the race really had an effect on my racing. I am happy with my stats and I will probably run this race again in 2018!

Your 50 MILER time was 11:40:47

Your pace was 14:01/M

You were number 81 of 148 overall

You were number 3 of 5 in your age group 45-49

 

Lookout 50 2017: training

“There’s never a top to the mountain. Each summit just gives us a better vantage point for the next peak. How high do you want to climb? Give yourself permission to be a giant. “Realistic” is an interesting word we throw around, but we’re talking about going past your current context. Who cares if your big picture goal is a bit unrealistic?”

-Chandler Stevens, “Go Big: Be Your Own Coach” from Breaking Muscle.

“Being prepared means getting to the point where you can forget about all the preparation you’ve done, because you trust that it’s done. You can do all the training in the world, but if it doesn’t translate into trust and confidence in yourself, you’re never going to be able to relax. If you can’t relax, you can’t improvise, or respond intelligently to the actual situation as it unfolds in real time. ”
-Riley Holland, “Get a Samurai Mindset: Unshakeable and Invincible” from Breaking Muscle

“The idea is to be brave not perfect. It’s to be resilient not flawless, confident not complete. . . The best athletes don’t train to be perfect! They train to tolerate discomfort. If you cannot adjust, you lose. Life will never conform to your plan.”

-Eddie Pinero, “Your World Within”

“Average is the norm for a reason. Being exceptional demands extra effort, sustained inspiration and uncommon discipline. When we attempt to give flight to our dreams, we have to overcome the weight of opposition. Like gravity, life’s circumstances constantly pull on our dreams, tugging us down to mediocrity.”

-John C. Maxwell

Some of my fav quotes above, this training cycle!

I ran my 100 mile race, Mogollon Monster, on September 17, 2017. For the first 2-3 weeks, after the race, I did little to no running. I start with no running or exercise for about 5 days. Then, I sat on the bike for a few days. I ended the 2-3 weeks, post race with the bike and hiking on the treadmill, mixed with some running.

I started training for Lookout 50 in October. Here is a brief overview of the months post-100 and leading up to my race next weekend!

October 2017 (249.46 miles/32,455′)

  • October 2-8:  48.33 miles
  • October 9-14:  53.13 miles, 6504′ of ascent
  • October 16-21:  74 miles, 14, 870′ of ascent
  • October 23-28:  74 miles, 11,081′ of ascent

November/December 2017 (365 miles/65,636′)

  • Oct/November 1-4:  75 miles, 11,833′ of ascent
  • November 6-11: 74 miles, 11,507′ of ascent
  • November 13-18:  73 miles, 13,753′ of ascent
  • November 20-26:  73 miles, 16,341′ of ascent
  • Nov/December 27-3:  70 miles, 12,202′ of ascent

My goal for Lookout 50 is 10:30, which is a 12:36 pace. 

I like to try new things with each training cycle. Each race, distance, training, prepares my body for the race coming next. I work specifically with my trainer as I prepare in the weight room. I mix up speeds/climbing as I prepare with my training cycle.

For this race, I tried 3 new things. First, because of my time goal, my trainer suggested running parts of some of my running at race pace. I did this for a week and decided that I needed to get a little more uncomfortable. Race pace was not easy, but it was not uncomfortable enough. I decided to run 4/6 runs during the week, faster than race pace. I did this for the middle 6 weeks of my training. Second, I hiked on the treadmill for 3 miles at a time, rather than 2 miles at a time at an incline between 15%-18%. My race has a significant hill that is about 3 miles long. Finally, my trainer and I worked on power and plyometrics in the gym.

I am looking forward to race day!!

 

 

God is Near. I AM enough. God is good.

Biggest role I will play to date? Mom of a child with a distorted view of eating/image/self. If you have followed my blog for the past few years, then, you know my story. I have an ED.

I’ve always been brave. Not always protected or championed.

I ask to “walk on water”, but I think that I have been walking on water. His arms stretched out. He knows that I am brave. His arms stay out. He is SO strong and SO patient. I get out there . . . in the waves. . . in the wind. . . in the path of the squall line. . . He gives me a choice (and He loves me no matter): stay in the boat, get out of the boat, walk, retreat back to the boat. . . He waits. He could make me, walk. But, He made me brave. He knows that I can, and He reminds me that I have nothing to be afraid of (even the bravest need to be reminded).

Maybe? It’s not so much about protecting __________________ from it. Instead, helping them to be safe. Helping them to establish boundaries. Helping them to know right/wrong. So, when, NOT IF, they are disappointed, when, NOT IF, they feel out of control, they will know they have a choice, too,  and I will love ______________ no matter what!

People in our lives are NEVER there by chance. It’s our journey <just that>. . . ours: our sorrow, our grief, our joy, our race. . . But, OH! the people he brings to walk with us. The creator of all things. The God of purpose. The God of intention, He KNOWS. He knows the ones we need. He knows the ones who will be with us in the deep, dark. He’s sent the ones to sit in the still and stagnant. He’s appointed the ones to take our joy to another level.

And His tears–Oh, don’t miss His tears. They came from a heart as broken as yours or mine.

-Max Lucado, THE MANGER

As women a disordered view of food/image/self can become a fight for life, a fight for freedom. Never would I have imagined my beautiful child. . . my precious, beloved child. . . taking up this fight too.

“God is near. I AM enough. God is good” has been my prayer, my truth, my desperate plea. And, it is true. It has been true in the middle of the night when I wake up in fear. It has been true in the counselor’s office when the tears will not stop. It has been true on my long runs, when I am not sure I can do this. . . 

Mogollon Monster 100, my 32:20, 2017

"In a limitless world, why set your sights on the attainable? The prize within an arm's reach? Why not think a little bigger? Our expectations are the foundation for our accomplishments. The target you aim for is more than likely going to be the target you hit. You are worth more. You are capable of so much more than you give yourself credit for, but like anything, if you don't recognize and do something about it, the impact will be minimal."

-Eddie Pinero, "Setting Targets" Your World Within

Temps were outstanding: 85 for a high and 48 for a low. Delaina and I got up at 4:15a, and we were out the door at 4:45a. The Mogollon Monster 100 started at 6:00a after a brief race meeting. 

Food: I brought less of my own food this year, anticipating the “non sweet” race food. I mostly ate race food, quesadillas, ramen, peanut M&M’s, grilled cheese, a few oreos, peanut butter pretzels and Gatorade. I had some of my own food too, one chocolate/coconut GU, one cinnamon/white chocolate bar, one lemon cookie bar, 5 Skratch electrolyte mixes.

What I wore: Through mile 43, I wore compression shorts, sport’s bra and tank. Miles 43-78, I added a long sleeve, gloves, buff and compression socks. Miles 78-100, I got rid of the long sleeve, buff and gloves and put on a tank top. I wore my Hoka Challenger ATR 3’s. I had on my Ultimate Direction pack for all of my running, except miles 43-78. I had on a hat and my Suunto Ambit 3*.

*my Suunto lasted the entire 32 hours and 20 minutes with 32% battery life left.

New Things: Contrary  to popular belief that you should “not try anything new on race day”, I did and I do. . . . I ditched my pack for miles 43-78 and ran with two handhelds instead. I picked up my pack again for miles 78-100. I have never ran a race with two handhelds. It worked out fine, and it gave me a break.

Miles 0-6 were a gradual ascent with rocks and switch backs. I started near the back and ran behind 2 runners from Colorado. The were running/hiking conservatively. I stuck with them for a while and moved in from of them about mile 3.

Miles 6-10.3 were a gradual decline to mile 10.3, where I would first see Delaina (my crew) at the Geronimo I aid station. More switch backs down, some steep. I stopped at the aid station, briefly, for refills of food/drink. This part of the trail was mostly exposed. The weather was great. The sun was out and a cool breeze was blowing.

Miles 10-20.3 started with a two mile climb. This was the most exposed portion of the trail. It felt warm here. Parts here reminded me of Zion. I arrived at Washington Point I aid station. Delaina refilled my drinks and restocked my food. She also gave me ice for my hat and for the arm sleeve that I wore around my neck.

Miles 20-26 began with a STEEP (understatement) climb up a rocky ascent (this will be repeated again at mile 43). I’m estimating a 20%+ incline up.  Once up top, it was more climbing, on a forest service road to Houston Brothers I aid station. I would have liked more ice for my hat and sleeve at this aid station but they did not have enough to spare.

Miles 26-43 were some of my faster miles. SWEET single track on the plateau and a break from the rocks. The forest was dense at the top. It was beautiful. In this section, I ran for a while with the course designers and former race director’s, Jeremy and Noah (brothers) and Jonathon. These miles took us through two aid stations and back down the steep, rocky hill we climbed to Washington Park II aid station. 

I started to have a bit of a mental struggle around mile 40. My stomach was a nauseous and I was thinking about how nice it would be to go to sleep in a bed and not run all night. I cried. I think that the elevation on top of the plateau and the faster running may have contributed to the nausea. I told myself that I would be able to sit down for the first time in the race at mile 43. I would let myself rest and eat. The nausea would go away. 

At this point, I was approximately 1 1/2 hours ahead of my projected time. My pacer was not there, yet, I had to wait. (I found my pacer, Maria, on the Aravaipa FB page. She agreed to pace me ALL NIGHT for 35 miles!!!! I was pretty lucky to find her). 

<<blister intervention: it was here at mile 43 that I decided to pop my one and only blister on my big left toe. One of the EMT’s walked over and offered to help. I decided to let him, because I was still waiting on my pacer. I popped it with a safety pin from my race bib, and I had started draining it. They decided to scrub it with a disinfectant soap. (yes scrub). That hurt. Then, they used a large syringe to poke into my blistered toe in order to further drain it. They used that d@%m needle twice. It hurt like heck!! They topped it off with an alcohol wipe, mummy wrapped it and sent me on my way. OUCH.>>

My pacer, Maria, arrived. I changed into a long sleeve, put on a buff, gloves and headlamp. We were off. BACK up the rocky, steep, 20%+ climb to the top of the plateau. We’d stay here all night, until sunrise, running at around 7,100′-7,800′. 

Miles 43-78, these miles covered all of my night running and four aid stations. Delaina went home to sleep. Our house was about 20 minutes away from the Washington Park aid station. Delaina would be back at 5:30a. 

Maria and I left the aid station around 7:30p and returned around 6:30a. Our night segment was pretty uneventful. It did get colder on the rim at night. We made sure to eat hot soup and hot food at each aid station. I was tired but moving well. I was slowing down on the climbs but cruising the downhill and flat miles. We heard elk and coyotes but only saw a mouse and a bunny. The sun started to rise at 5:30a. It was beautiful and windy on the plateau. I was looking forward to a change of clothes, food and the last 22 miles. 

Miles 78-88 at this point I was so happy to have made it through the night! I came into the aid station and grabbed a change of clothes from Delaina. She fed me some more quesadillas, and I ate some peanut M&M’s. This section was “rolling” and exposed. It ended with a downhill into Geronomo aid station II. It was warm, but the breeze was cool and felt great. I tried to run/hike this section but it turned out to be only a power hike. My toe was in a lot of pain and I continued to hit it on an occasion rock, AGH!! I passed a few runners on this section. I still had my music. There were moments of tears, mostly out of frustration. If my toe was not so irritated I could have done some running. My body felt good. 

Miles 88-95 HOME STRETCH! This section had more ascent than decent and more rocks!!!  I came into Geronimo and briefly stopped.  I did not want to sit down or stay too long because my legs felt good and there was not anything I knew to do for my toe at this point. So, Delaina was quick to get me going. Little did I know, the surprise I was in for, right before the aid station at mile 93/95!!! GLAD I was unaware of the difficulty! This section was mostly shaded. We were running with the 35K racers for most of this. (let me tell you, this is one heck of a 35K!!)

The surprise? A ridiculous, not even laughable, because it was so steep, switch back climb to the aid station. Guys!!! At times this was so steep that I had to use my hands. I did have to pause several times here to catch my breath. It was tough. Once at the top, I thought I had 5 miles until the finish. The ladies at the aid station told me that I had 5 to the Pine Trail Head and then, 2 miles to the finish. I almost did not believe them. I just wanted to be done!! Tears again and again. 

Miles 95-101.5ish mostly downhill and mostly rocky and forever. 😦 At this point in the race my watch was off by about 12 miles. It dropped the satellite many times over the course of 101 miles. So, I was relying on my time estimation to know when I was close to the trailhead. Every turn. . . every straightaway. . . every climb. . . “was I there yet? Can I be there already?” The tears flowed a bit here, because it was over. I made it. I finished. 

Then, I saw Delaina. I could NOT have been more happy to see her!! HA! I was there. I was done. She was so happy to see me. She was happy to see me for all of my 32:20 hours. I was MORE happy to see her this time. We walked the last 1.5ish miles to the finish. Closer to my ‘5 GUYS’ burger and fries. Closer to my shower. Done and Done (as Teresa would say to me.) It was a good feeling. Other than my toe, I felt good! What a race! 

I would definitely recommend this race. It was tough, beautiful and exciting. Logistically, It is an easy race to crew and pace. The volunteers were top notch. The race directors had things planned and executed well. Cannot say enough good things about it. I would not change a thing. 

 

 

107 miles in 6 days, done & done

Without knowing it, this week became a celebration, a culmination of the word DONE and the apex of the last 3 months of living.

DONE with my 100 mile week. This was physically exhilarating. Days of fast, days of slow, days and days and days of climbing. I love this kind of stuff. I live for the big weeks, the hard weeks. It really makes me feel alive.

DONE getting my kids in school. . . lots of firsts this year. I have a high schooler, now. There were some fears going into day 1, but to my surprise, each of my children had a better than expected start. It was a relief to pick up each one and hear a similar story of how excited they were about their friends and teachers and school.

DONE with my parent’s move. This is a tough one, still is. My parents moved to Michigan at the end of July.

DONE trying to orchestrate the matters of a 14 year old’s heart. This was a huge surprise to me, this friendship, this relationship. It caught me off guard in too many ways to name. Boy,  did I have a lot to learn about beauty, about being 14, about caring about other people, about boys, about girls. Still learning here.

Monday Trail: 18 miles, 3177′

Tuesday Track: 9 miles/Stairs: .30 (10 minutes)/Trail: 8.7, 1300′

Wednesday Trail: 21.3 miles, 3300′

Thursday Road: 7.16 miles/Trail: 7 miles/Treadmill: 1 mile @ 15%, .60 @ 5%, 2078′

Friday Road: 8 miles/Trail: 19.5 miles, 3175′

Saturday Trail: 6.25, 965′

107 miles and 13995′ uphill 

Great people and great athletes realize early in their lives their destiny, and accept it. Even if they do not consciously realize the how, the where, the what.

-Percy Wells Cerutty

Storms, rainbows, self care

I woke up Sunday morning crying. I was hurting. I was not exactly sure what I needed but I did not want to go anywhere and I did not want to be around anyone. I asked my husband if he and the kids could go to church without me. I needed to have space to cry, uninterrupted. Cry without worrying my kids. Cry without my husband worrying about me. I laid down and cried. . . sad tears, angry tears, tears of loss, tears of uncertainty. . .

<<Sob>>  that’s what it was. . . sobbing.

Fortunately, in the raging storm of sadness, the rainbow of God’s overpowering love would intermittently light up the sky. Dazzling multicolored ribbons of light waves exploding from heaven to earth never come on cloudless days. They are impossible without the same wind and moisture that causes darkness and gloom. The same raindrops falling from the sky become prisms for the rays of light to reveal their true colors. Rainbows are always around us–they are just invisible without sadness in the sky. The same nerve endings that allow you to feel the pain of searing loss also allow you to feel God’s presence and his glory to a degree that previously could not have been reached. When you don’t numb the hurt but rather grit your teeth and face it, God meets you there and allows the deep trough of your sorrow to become a reservoir full of his presence.

Levi Lusko, “Swipe Right: The Life-And-Death Power of Sex And Romance”

God will stop at nothing to heal my broken soul. That means it might hurt. I kept a notebook by my bed, open to the page where I wrote, I know that you are here. I know that you are with me.

To stop yourself from grieving because it’s against the rules or because you think it shouldn’t hurt so much leaves you emotionally stunted and numb.

-Liz Seda, “We Have A Right To Grieve Losses Big and Small”, tinybuddha.com

Own the grief to the fullest. Do not let the messages or discomfort of people around you keep you from this. They may want you to pull it together and get yourself under control so they will feel comfortable.

-Robert Burney. “Heal Your Inner Child.com”

I am learning about self compassion, self care, meeting the needs of myself when I am in an emotional, sad place. In a place where I am stuck emotionally. Being kind to myself. There are many different ways to show self care. Here are mine.

protect my boundaries. . . defend them in the trenches if I need to

have a safe place to land (spouse)

have a friend who is your safe place to express, share emotions

Ask for what you need, no matter how silly or unimportant it might sound to others.

Time alone to cry. It is difficult to be sad around my kids.

seek advice of a professional

involve others in the care of you (me) & ask

Finally. . . 

Grief is a strange and new thing to me. I am better. I am getting better. Thank you to the women in my life who have listened, who have cried. . . without judgement, sharing my journey to an unknown destination (still on course). You, ladies, have been completely willing to end up where I need to go. You have given me your heart. You have not controlled me. You have offered unconditional support.