Monthly Archives: May 2018

Racing in 2018

I am excited about what I have planned this year. It has not been a training season without bumps that is for sure. Let me tell you what I have planned.

Chattanooga Mountains Stage Race. June 15-17

Pikes Peak 50K. July 28

Kodiak 100. August 17-18

Lookout Mountain 50. December 15

2018 racing in brief: Chattanooga Mountains Stage Race was SO MUCH FUN last year. VERY hot and humid and I loved it!! It was cool to start and finish with the same group of runners for 3 days, to share stories, run together, laugh, groan. . . My fav day was day three on Signal Mountain. MAN! The last time I ran on Signal Mountain was for my first trail race in 2012, Stump Jump! I had an entirely different comfort level and experience this time around.

I am running Pike’s Peak 50K in Colorado Springs approximately 3 weeks out from my 100 miler. Pike’s Peak 50K starts at an elevation 6,200′ and climbs to 11,224′. This will be the highest elevation that I have climbed in a race. I am not nervous. I just have absolutely no idea what to expect or if I will make it! 🙂 A D V E N T U R E!!

The Kodiak 100 Ultra Marathon is a dream course with a lively Start and Finish downtown in The Village of Big Bear Lake. Runners will circumnavigate the entire Big Bear Valley including a visit to the summit of Sugarloaf Mountain (9,963′)** and a trip through the rarely visited Siberia Creek Canyon. This is a true mountain 100 miler, with technical footing and a lot of running above 7,000′, per the course description.

**at mile 65, begins approximately 8 miles of climbing to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain at mile 72. Approximately 7,000′ at mile 65 to 9,963′ at the top of Sugarloaf.

Lookout Mountain 50. If I am able to run LM 50 this year, it will be my fourth consecutive year. I almost have a set of 4 glasses, and they had brown sugar bacon last year!! It is a nice end of the year, closer. They added a 20 miler two years ago. It is a beautiful 20 mile course.

Bumps along the way: My hamstring!! My hamstring has been bothering me since January. Nothing crippling just frustrating. I personally do not like running when my body does not feel at least 98.9% normal to me.

In April and May, I completed all of my training miles, and I took specific steps to alleviate my hamstring irritation. I continue to work with my trainer on Thursdays. I love this day. It is usually hard, but I have enjoyed the creative ways he is targeting my muscles this training season.

I had several visits with a Physical Therapist (PT). My PT, Craig, told me that I have a strain in my hamstring. He was helpful. I think he was most helpful “calming some of my worst fears”. He does not want me to stop running. Some days I wish it was as easy as “not running and getting better”. I think it IS this easy but there is a cost. I am not sure I want to stop or that I need to stop. So, I will trust and be patient.

I have completed all of my training miles for May and I am so, so much enjoying running in the heat and humidity, again. THIS weather is a bonus to those of us who live in the South. It is a free training benefit. I will take it!

. . . add several days of hill repeats to the heat, humidity and triple the bonus!! Love it or leave it. I choose to LOVE it.

As far as my hamstring goes, I am feeling better. I am being patient. I am being conscious of how it feels, how I feel and I am pressing in to month two of training!!

 

 

 

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Stars In The Night

I think that I am going to let this song, STARS IN THE NIGHT by Tenth Avenue North be the narrative for the past 6 months. It will put ‘grand/lofty/high’ words behind this chapter for the past 6. months. It is so hard to communicate the lows without the lows sounding too desperate. It was, at times, heart breaking and hopeless but I refused to give up, I reached out, I spoke out and God refused to let me give in.

No matter where you lead
We wanna follow you
The trouble is we forget who we belong to
We chase the wind and tides
We chase the reasons why
Chase the spark inside each other’s eyes
Desires are at war
We want that final shore
Sailing on until we find what we’ve been looking for

December and January were a blur. On many nights, I found myself driving around downtown sitting in my car, in the absence of sound. Looking at the stillness of the lights. The cold nights brought fewer people than most months. Gosh, like in search of stillness. In search of numbness.

We fix our eyes on what we know is true
Even in our shame grace makes a way through
We are obsession, a constellation
You are light in and out of every season
So we keep pressing on
With our redemption song
No one can undo what you’ve done

February and March: What I learned to be true was that I am not hopeless. I went to the doctor to see if I could change my antidepressant. I cannot say enough of the steadfastness of my friends. There were some days I did not know what I wanted or needed. To have the freedom to be vulnerable and the freedom to be me. . . that is what they gave me.

Hallelujah
We’re running to you
On fire from the mercy in your eyes
And through the dark
Singing we are yours
Your love will lead us through the fight
Like stars in the night

April and May: It was like I was moving out of the “fog”. I had more clarity. I felt like I had more choices (even though I had these choices all along.) I decided to stop attending my “broken and beloved” study. I went back to my doctor to alter my prescription again. I made an appointment with my therapist to catch up and get some clarity. I am for sure feeling more like myself. More enthusiasm, more energy, less sadness, less crying.

More living. . . less wilting It is strange to not feel like yourself. Stress is a powerful thing. From December to early April I was in constant “fight or flight” mode. What is a healthy response to fear/danger became stuck in the “on” position. Instead of saving our lives, it can contribute to insomnia, depression, panic attacks, and a host of other health concerns. Instead of being a life-preserver, it can wreak havoc on our health, performance, and quality of life (Dr. Patricia Fitzgerald, “Is Your Stress Response Stuck in the ‘On’ position?”).

I believe that it took my husband, my friends, my doctor, my therapist, my God and my self to REFUSE to give up or give in. To anyone reading, who is in a desperate place, a dangerous place, a dark place. . . there is absolutely hope, and it is not just one thing. It is a combination of support that can bring a powerful change. It is not easy to reach out or to be vulnerable, but I have no regrets. Life is tough sometimes. We are all wired differently. I just refuse to stop fighting!!

Broken and Beloved: Chairs

What if God allows brokenness to bring us into closer relationship with Him? What if the pain is to reshape us to understand how beloved we truly are? You will learn how to build a compassionate and Christ-based identity out of difficult experiences or past shame using biblical study, psychological principles, and art therapy. Includes teaching and small group processing.

-Jill Baird, “Broken and Beloved

 

Several months ago, I was working on a chart in my Broken and Beloved group that began with a particular “event”. That event triggered an emotional response in me that I was not expecting. 

My “trigger” was an incident involving a close relative. In that moment, I was replaying everything that I have watched for several months. I was replaying,  watching her in the beginning of this relationship and how loved she is by my husband, how beautiful she is, how smart she is, how capable she is, how independent she is and in that moment I was afraid . . . because . . . in her anger/selfishness she was “going to lose it all”.  She was getting ready to lose and throw away EVERYTHING that I never had. . .  at her age: beauty, independence, talent, intelligence, the love of her dad, the love of someone who thinks she hung the moon and then some. . . 

Then, I took these thoughts/feelings to a “circle chart”. The chart has 3 circles: vulnerable self, critical self, ideal self. The intersection of these 3 circles is a “dotted-line” heart, the healthiest of all 3.

This was an emotional activity for me, because I explored and challenged all of the thoughts that I had in that moment with her.  As I explored those, I uncovered MORE. I uncovered deeper. (After this day, I cried all day and had the worst headache.)

The following week, I took the thoughts and feelings that I wrote on my circle chart and volunteered to process them openly. . .  There were 4 chairs: vulnerable self, ideal self, critical self, coach.

 I took 3 shards of glass/pottery from our first group meeting when I broke a piece of pottery/glass into chards with a hammer, as an activity to express a “shattering” to eventually display these pieces as “broken and beloved”. On each piece, I wrote down 3 things from my “trigger” event that stood out. THEN, I chose one of the pieces to bring to the chairs. WHOA. I chose, “you are going to lose it all.” My eyes got giant as I moved toward the chairs, not sure what to expect. 

I moved from chair to chair and looked at the chair as I talked to that particular part of myself. I took what I felt in the moment of the trigger event, she was getting ready to lose and throw away EVERYTHING that I never had. . .  at her age: beauty, independence, talent, intelligence, the love of her dad, the love of someone who thinks she hung the moon and then some. . .  and spoke those out loud to myself. At times, it was hard to speak without crying. It hurt to hear these things. These things. . . I would tell myself in private in hope that I would stimulate a change. . . were now being exposed. It made me sad to think that I felt this way about myself. The most vulnerable part of myself was scared and afraid and being silenced.

 I yelled at my critic to stop being mean, that she was hurting the vulnerable self. I told my vulnerable self that she was beautiful and she was going to be okay.  I looked at my critic and told her that she was going to be alright too. On some level, each part was hurting and scared. Each part needed to know that she was going to be okay.

And suddenly, she found herself grateful. Grateful for all the darkness and the heartbreak because it allowed her to recognize true love when she found it. And she knew without a doubt, that all the broken, shattered, forgotten pieces of her soul were worth putting back together again.

-Megyn Blanchard