Author Archives: ooartist1234

White Hot and Passionate

I began to realize how important it was to be an enthusiast in life. He taught me that if you are interested in something, no matter what it is, go at it al full speed ahead. Embrace it with both arms, hug it, love it, and above all become passionate about it. Lukewarm is no good. Hot is not good either. White hot and passionate is the only thing to be.

Ronald Dahl

In no particular order my white hot passions:

Running

Mental Health

Family

Eating Disorders

Lifting Weights

Cooking/Entertaining

Music

Part of perseverance is the constant discipline of trying to do things better, blending moments of deliberate practice that require you to stretch outside your comfort zone and apply all your effort to build the skills you need to master, with moments of flow that perfectly match your strengths to opportunity and allow for effortless performance.

-Angela Duckworth, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance.

 

Grit is about having an ‘ultimate concern’-a goal you care about so much that it organizes and gives meaning to almost everything you do. And grit is holding steadfast to that goal. Even when you fall down. Even when you screw up. Even when progress toward that goal is halting or slow.

-Angela Duckworth, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance.

Almost mid-July and I am beginning to remember why I love to run. Running is many things to me. It is fun. It is hard. I run with friends. I run by myself. I run because I need the quiet reassurance of footfalls and heartbeat. I run because sometimes it is the only outlet for my emotions, when I have a lack of words to put behind my feelings. I run to clear my head so that I CAN put words behind my emotions. I run to feel strong. I run to feel tired. I run deliberately. I run because I do have ultimate goals in mind. I run because training is a process for me that develops perseverance.

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Stress and performance. Stress and training.

It is a fine line. . . training. . . stress . . . racing. We use stress in training to achieve a new level of fitness. Stress to the body, presented in training cycles or training stimuli can strengthen the body and take your body to another level.

What causes training to go wrong? When is the “stress of life” more than our bodies can handle on top of training stress? Is this called Overtraining Syndrome? Is it simply stress? I am not going to be able to answer all of these questions, but I will share my experience from this past year of training and racing.

Age, to me, is not the death sentence to your dreams. Just because our bodies age and change, does not mean that we cannot pursue things that seem out of reach. Quite the contrary. As I age, I have bigger dreams and the means to run full speed after them. The trouble sometimes is that I also have to balance my life with my pursuit. Not only am I pursuing my dreams, but my family is pursuing theirs.

Stress. . . I struggled for months to figure out what was wrong with my hamstring. Begging my PT for answers,  for help, for some magic. Then, 3 days before my 50K in Colorado, Dr. Price with Elite Orthopedics told me that I had a hip labral tear. The beginning of my race season, Pike’s Peak Ultra, a week from that appointment, with Kodiak 100, my “A” race for 2018, a month after Pike’s Peak.

My training was a struggle from July (2018) through September. I was training. I agonized a bit over running Pike’s Peak and Kodiak. I ended up taking one week off before Pike’s Peak and one week off before Kodiak. My hamstring was very inconsistent. There was nothing that made it a lot better. There was nothing that made it a lot worse. 

Dr. Price suggested a cortisone shot and I decided to do it. I have never had a cortisone shot, and I think that it was a good decision. It helped my hamstring. I asked Dr. Price about racing and he said that as long as I was trained and prepared that I could go for it, and I did. I finished Pike’s Peak 50K. I DNF’d Kodiak 100 at mile 45.

Exercise itself is a form of stress, which triggers changes that make your body stronger. But the system breaks down if you are chronically stressed, as chronic stress impairs your body’s ability to respond to acute stress—such as exercise—because its resources are essentially used up. “Ten Ways Stress Can Mess With Your Workout”

Stress kills motivation. A 2014 study20 in Sports Medicine came to the same conclusion—stress is likely to thwart your efforts at being physically active. This phenomenon proved especially true for older adults and those newer to their fitness schedules. Not exercising when your stress level rises is particularly unfortunate, because exercise is such an excellent stress-reduction tool.“Ten Ways Stress Can Mess With Your Workout”

There are many signs and symptoms of stress, and everyone is different, so one sign or symptom described by one athlete may not be what another athlete experiences. Ray and Weise-Bjornstal (1999) described seven categories in which an athlete may experience stress. These categories are: affective, behavioral, biological/physiological, cognitive, imaginal, interpersonal, and sensory (Ray and Weise-Bjornstal, 260). Each category has its own signs and symptoms. Affective signs and symptoms include: anxiety, anger, guilt, depression, shame and feeling sorry for oneself. Behavioral signs and symptoms include: sleeping disturbances, restlessness, aggressive behavior, alcohol or drug abuse, sulking, crying, poor performance, absenteeism, and clenched fists. Biological or physiological signs and symptoms include muscle tension, increased heart rate, indigestion, stomach spasms, pain and headaches.

Cognitive signs and symptoms are frustration, worries, distortion, exaggeration, unrealistic performance expectations, self-defecting statements and self handicapping. The imaginal signs and symptoms include images of failure, images of reinjury, flashbacks of being injured, images of helplessness, and images of embarrassment. The interpersonal signs and symptoms include withdrawal, manipulation and argumentation. The last category, sensory, includes tension, nausea, cold sweat, clammy hands, pain and butterflies in the stomach (Ray and Weise-Bjornstal, 260). There are many signs and symptoms of stress, which are not all experienced by each person, and each person can experience a variety of signs and symptoms. -United States Sport’s Academy, “Stress and Anxiety in Athletes”

Sports performance is not simply a product of physiology (for example stress and fitness) and biomechanical (for example technique factors) but psychological factors also play a crucial role in determining performance. However, every athlete has a certain stress level that is needed to optimize his or her game. That bar depends on factors such as past experiences, coping responses and genetics. Stress during sports, as in anything else in life, may be acute, episodic or chronic. For the most part in sports, it is episodic, whether during a competitive match between friends, or a championship game. While acute stress may actually act as a challenge, if not harnessed, it can evolve to not only an episodic stressor that can affect one in the long term, but can also hamper one’s play. -Ashwani Bali, “Psychological Factors Affecting Sport’s Performance”

I went through a period of time where I felt like I was in constant “fight or flight” mode. EVERY problem, big or small, significant or minor, triggered a “fight or flight” response. It was exhausting.

It is difficult to differentiate between over training syndrome and (excessive) stress. If you look up the symptoms of each they are almost identical. Trying to maintain a high level of training PLUS saying “yes” to more things than I could handle, caused a significant stress response in me. I grew tired in the physical sense and the weary sense.

After my finish at Georgia Jewel 100. . . I was tired. It was time to  r e s t, really rest. Take the time off that I rarely need to or want to. AND, I was actually looking forward to less. I sat on the bike and did some light strength training, mostly bodyweight exercises until the end of November. I did run on occasion.

It’s December. . . I hired a coach for Georgia Death Race (GDR). I started back with my strength coach. I am feeling rested. I am feeling good. My hamstring has been a complete NON ISSUE. I am still pinching myself about this. It just seemed like it would never change. I have been working hard running and my body is loving it.

Stress and overtraining are different for every athlete. Not always easy to define or determine. Pay attention to your body. Pay attention to your emotions. Pay attention to your mind.

 

Marriage. My Double Decade!

“When over the years someone has seen you at your worst, and knows you with all your strengths and flaws, yet commits him- or herself to you wholly, it is a consummate experience. To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.”
Timothy Keller, The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God
 This song by Lady Gaga, “Is That Alright?” gave me pause. The first time I heard it, I had to repeat and repeat. I sat in silence and listened. I could see in pictures my dating story to my marriage story play out in the words.  It is a story that communicates my hopes from beginning to now. . .
Life is so simple
A little boy, a little girl
Laughing and loving
Tryin’ to figure out the world
Growing up. Dreaming. Living.
It felt like summer
When I kissed you in the rain
And I know your story
But tell me again
Nothing you say wouldn’t interest me
All of your words are like poems to me
I would be honored if you would take me as I am

Dating Byron. Taking more time to look a certain way. Mostly, giving him the best of me. Lots of letter writing and cards. Expressing how I feel. Fear. Joy. Tears. Not wanting to be apart. 

I want you
To look right in my eyes
To tell me you love me
To be by my side
I want you
At the end of my life
I wanna see your face when I fall with grace
At the moment I die
Is that alright?
Is that alright?
I wanted this before I ever knew Byron. I wanted this when I was a little girl. I wanted this when we were dating. I wanted this when we were newly married. 

❤️ I just realized, only recently because I’ve spent my time praying, thinking, reflecting and sharing, on marriage THAT I WANT THIS NOW MORE THAN EVER.

I hope you’re still with me

When I’m not quite myself
And I pray that you’ll lift me
When you know I need help
Byron has been. He has a very large heart. He loves me and I know that.
It’s a warm celebration
Of all of our years
I dream of our story
Of our fairy-tale
Family dinners and family trees
Teachin’ the kids to say, “Thank you, ” and, “Please”
Knowin’ if we stay together that things will be right
Let’s be honest. . . I think there’s been equal time in ‘cold disgust’ (being selfish and ‘putting up’). I dreamed of THE fairytale not my marriage. Marriage has never been easy. There have been seasons of contentment with each other, seasons where we are tag-team parenting, briefly seeing one another and seasons where I think we both needed a break from each other’s selfishness.

UN-TEACHING the kids to say shut up, butt, stupid, dummy, ugly. . . K I D S. Boy do they change the dynamic. Knowing, I committed to this marriage and it is a covenant. . . I can’t go. . .

I want you
To look right in my eyes
To tell me you love me
To be by my side
I want you
At the end of my life
Wanna see your face when I fall with grace
At the moment I die
Is that alright?
Is that alright?
Is that alright?
I do not want to be alone. I do not want to start over. I don’t want to pretend things were never done or said. I have a lot right now and I may not show it but it feels safe. My marriage feels like a safe place for my tears and thoughts and laughter. 

For me. Working on my marriage means pursuing the God of my heart to satisfy the deepest of longings. To love Byron, knowing that I am completely loved by God. 

 

Georgia Jewel 100

This was not the race I prepped for. This was not the prep I had in mind for a 100 mile race. My “A” race this year was Kodiak 100 in Big Bear, CA, August 17-18, 2018. This race did not go as planned, and I dropped at mile 45.

Two days later. . . at the LV airport. . . I signed up for the Georgia Jewel 100 (September 22, 2018) at the urging of my husband. I prefer to train in the heat and humidity of the South and to race in the altitude and cool air of the West. So, this would be something different. I decided that because it was close to home, and $200. That I would sign up. If I decided that I would not be able to race in 4 weeks, I would only be out $200.

Lead up to the race:   I rested for a week after my DNF (45-miler).

  • August 20-26–39 miles
  • August 27-September 2–16 miles. UGH! I pulled my hamstring!!
  • September 3-Sept 9–walk 15.5 miles/run 30 miles
  • September 10-Sept 16–41 miles
  • September 17-Sept 21–rode the bike
  • Sept. 22-23–race day 100 miles

Logistics: The trip from Franklin to Dalton, GA was about 3 1/2 hours. Our hotel was 1/2 mile from the race start. The room was nice and this gave my crew a place, close, to nap and shower as needed throughout the next two days.

Drama: This race was not short of drama for me. I dislike drama. My two crew members/pacers were first rate, cool as cucumbers, happy, fun. I COULD NOT have finished this one without their consistent, calm reactions to my ‘drama’.

  • around mile 16 I fell, slid off the trail and came to a stop with my head against a rock. The hit jarred my jaw. I sat for a minute. Thought to myself, everything seems okay. “Surely, my head is not bleeding from that!” I put my hand to my head. I was bleeding. The blood covered my hand. I took my tank off and used it to put pressure on my head and I walked for a while.
  • around mile 93, I started my period. REALLY?! This was laughable. I was not necessarily expecting it but in hind sight it helped to explain my ‘sleepy’ tiredness and the fact that I had to poop, like 5 times!! (In my past two 100s, I was not tired in the sleepy sense. I also rarely have to poop in a 100-miler. I usually do that before and after.)
  • around mile 96, I could not squat fast enough to pee. I peed on myself. The worst part about this was the instant pain from the extreme chaffing I had from my pubic bone to the top of my thighs. I took my tank off and tucked it into my shorts. I did my best to situate it so that it did not look like I had a bulge in my compression shorts!!!  HA.

My pacers/crew: Mary and Kathy were the highlight! These two did not skip a beat. They are made from the same calm, collected mold!! They both crewed me and paced me. They let me cry. They let me sit. They let me feel sorry myself, B R I E F L Y.

(at mile 19) “Guys, I hit my head and I am bleeding. . . “

Kathy, “It looks okay.”

Mary, “It will clot.”

(at mile 43) “Kathy, I think I want to be finished.”

Kathy, “Okay. Let’s finish the next loop and then, make that decision.”

Kathy and Mary are seasoned ultra runners. I think it was challenging to crew and pace, because they did not get to rest much, if at all. They were always on. These two were probably 50% of the reason that I finished this one.

This race was an easy one to crew and pace. Miles 42-71 start and end at the same aid station. There are 2 loops to complete, 2 times each. Mary paced me for 1 of loop 1 and 1 of loop 2, miles 50-63. Kathy paced me for 1 of loop 2, plus the distance to Snake Creek aid station, miles 63-81. BOY, it was great to have them both. I moved faster with them, then if I were on my own.

The course: I loved the early start. This course was pretty. This course was tough. This course was fun! LOTS of ups and downs. The Keown Falls section was the toughest part in my opinion, not the first time through during the daylight hours, but the second time through during the night! Wow! Tough. I think one of the best running sections for me was the part of the course from miles 42-71. You have four loops to run, before heading back to the finish. These were very runnable miles.

The aid station at Dry Creek was fantastic, after each loop, the runner came back to the same spot. They had a bathroom and my favorite aid station food, almond milk, peanut butter, banana smoothies. YUM!

N E V E R give up. The last 10 miles were so hard. I cannot tell you how many times I was ready to stop. Thank you to sweeper extraordinaire, Ginny Kelly!! (Is there a moment when she in not a spirit of joy?) She helped me keep moving forward.

And there I was D F L.

 

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Thank you to Jenny Baker for an exceptional race. Well run. Well organized. Well staffed. Great race. Put it on your race calendar!!

Race Report: Pike’s Peak 50K

I chose this race back in February, after my trainer, David, suggested that I travel to the “Garden of the Gods” in Colorado Springs, CO to run at altitude for a weekend in order to prepare for the altitude at Kodiak 100.

I decided to see if there was a race to run rather than just go out and run for training. I found Pike’s Peak Ultra, 50M, 50K, 30K. It fit perfectly into my training schedule, climbed to a height of 11,200′, started at 6,800′ and averaged between 8000-8500′. The total gain in climbing was approximately 9000′ in 15 of the 31 miles. (half up/half down)

It was easy to get to the start. It started and finished at Bear Creek Regional Park in Colorado Springs. Plenty of parking and plenty of bathrooms at the start. They staggered the start, 50 milers started at 6:00a, 50K at 6:30a, 30K at 7a.

I hiked and jogged the first 7 miles. These trails were a mix of scree-lined double track, fire road and beautiful single track. Aid Station one was at mile 7.5. This is also where the 50K and the 30K split. The next section continued uphill to the highest point for me at 11,200′. This is the highest altitude that I have ever ran at.

Woo Boy! The hike up to 11,200′ was slow and go. I was proud of myself for not stopping. I did not need to catch my breath. I took it easy and maintained a steady cadence. This got me to the top. It was very cool to look down at my watch and see 11,240′.

If you know much about me as a runner, you know that I LOVE uphill climbing/repeats. Downhill? Not so much. 

Now the descent to the finish, approximately 15.5 miles. The first 8 miles was mostly single track, steep in many places. The single track ended at a jeep road (very similar to Frozen Head in grade and look). One last aid station and the jeep road dumped to a paved road. The last 7 miles was the same as the first 7 miles. The road ended at the Park trail, that lead to the finish line.

Hardest place in the race for me: The entire descent! HA. Really, mile 20 was a low spot, but I at some bacon-wrapped potatoes and bounced back! The last 4 miles were complete with a thunder and hail storm. I love this stuff.

I would highly recommend this race!! Easy to fly to Colorado Springs. The race had fantastic volunteers, great aid stations, plenty of parking and it was well organized. I had a great time and may go back and run the 50 one day. It would be tough!

“Dead Man Walking”

My follow up appointment with Dr. Price was Wednesday, five days after my results came back, over the phone.

My worst fears. . .

“You’re 46. This is a part of aging.”

“Running is one of the worst things that you could do for a torn labrum in your hip.”

“Race on Saturday? Not for you.”

I resigned myself to the fact that I was NOT running my 100 in August. I determined that my Saturday race was just a 50K and maybe?

I was most concerned about my hamstring. I did not think that my hamstring had anything to do with my hip joint. Dr. Price was not “most concerned” about any of it really. I sat and listened and trusted and decided to follow his suggestions.

Dr. Price believed that the hamstring “feeling” was a result of the hip labral tear. He was confident that  a cortisone injection to my hip joint would alleviate my hamstring response within 5 minutes. OR, nothing would change and the partial hamstring tear is what is causing the inconsistency and irritation.

I have been offered cortisone in the past but refused it because I believe rest should come first before any “quick fix”. In my history of injury, rest was what I needed, and I did not need a cortisone shot.

This time felt different. I had patiently rested, rehabbed and waited. I was scared, but I agreed to the shot. Dr. Price had a student doctor working with him. I like having the students join the doctor because they have more time to spend with me to thoroughly answer any questions.

Did I mention that I was n e r v o u s? Brave but scared. A scared courage. HA! This injection requires an ultrasound machine to get the needle to the correct location. I did not look at the length of the needle but I did know the entry point was 6-7″ below my hip joint. The student doctor injected the numbing agent first. It did to hurt at all. It was identical to the dentist injecting several places in your mouth before he begins his work. Then, the steroid is added. This did not hurt, either. It feels more like a balloon being blown up in the joint and pushing it apart. Start to finish? 1-2 minutes. I did ask for a Sprite soon after because my adrenaline was high. I sat. . . a bit nervous to get up because the top part of my thigh felt weird.

Five minutes later, the doctors came in. Dr. Price re-examined me. He asked me to re-create the positions that triggered my hamstring. My left hamstring felt just like my right hamstring! The test that I failed (with flying colors), ten minutes prior–lay on my back, with both legs straight, lift the left while keeping it straight, resisting the direct pressure he was putting on my leg–I now passed. Before, my leg went right down as he pushed on it. This time? I could resist the pushing and keep my leg up!

W O W! The body is amazing. My hip was protecting itself. It’s a reflex. The muscles that should engage and resist were not firing to protect my hip joint. This contributed to an imbalance in strength on my left side and too much work coming from my hamstring.

Dr. Price said to me:

“Enjoy your race on Saturday!”

“If you trained for the 100 miler in August, go for it!”

“Your hamstring is strong and I am not concerned about it.”

 

Managing my “Not Normal”

My hamstring started to bother me, during my race break in February. I spent more time running on the road. Soon,  I became aware of a very inconsistent “feeling” in my hamstring. I would not call it pain.  It did not bother me at night or during a run or during weight training. It usually started to feel tight when I hit mile 10.  When I did notice my hamstring, I just knew “my left didn’t feel like my right.”

As late March rolled around, I decided to take some decisive action to figure out what was going on. I started with rest. In my experience, rest is a great place to start, and it usually does the trick. So, I rested from running. I rode the stationary bike for five days. Five days was not enough rest, I gave it a few more days on the bike.

I found a PT, Craig O’Neill with Results Physiotherapy. He was informative and thorough. He tested my range of motion, muscle strength, and state of mind (HA!). He did not suggest a break from running, just a break from high mileage, and some strengthening exercises to help a weak left glute, a strained TFL and strained left hamstring. “OK!”

I used a lacrosse ball on my piriformis and my TFL. I used it to hit some trigger points. This seemed to give me some relief to my hamstring. I thought maybe it was piriformis syndrome?

Piriformis syndrome is most often caused by macrotrauma to the buttocks, leading to inflammation of soft tissue, muscle spasm, or both, with resulting nerve compression. Microtrauma may result from overuse of the piriformis muscle, such as in long-distance walking or running or by direct compression.

May, then June. . . some changes, but still so ridiculously inconsistent. I could run 12 miles and not notice my hamstring at all. I could run 5 miles and walk away aggravated because all I felt was my hamstring! Why was my left hamstring not feeling and functioning like my right?!

On my race calendar:

Stage Race in June

Pike’s Peak 50K in July

Kodiak 100 in August

Mid June. . . back to PT in tears, of frustration, this time, begging with each tear for an answer or fix. Craig suggested seeing my sport’s DR. I walked out of his office a bit defeated and A LOT questioning my running plans for 2018. I gave myself some rest. I spent time working with a great PT. I called to make an appointment with Dr. Johnson.

I called Elite Orthopedics to schedule with Dr. Johnson, only to find out he went into practice on his own. His office moved to Nashville, and he wasn’t seeing patients until July. I called Elite back and asked to schedule an appointment with one of the doctors who were taking Dr. Johnson’s patients. They scheduled me with Dr. Price. He is a hip specialist. (blessing in disguise)

SO nervous. I met with Dr. Price. He examined me. He asked about a prior MRI, and we decided on an action plan. He prescribed meloxicam for 30 days. If after 30 days, I did not notice a change, I could call back and schedule an MRI.

I wanted changes. I thought about changes. I wished changes. But by late June, I knew deep inside I needed to get MORE information. I called for an MRI.

My MRI was on a Tuesday morning. I lay in that loud machine as it announced, “this will take 3 minutes” and “this will take 5 minutes”. Done! And NOT expecting any shocking result, I walked out. I expected to hear “there’s some inflammation in your hip joint and you have a strain in your hamstring. (To confirm what I wanted to hear and so that I could ‘stop imaging’ something’s not right.)

Wednesday. . . Thursday. . . Friday*

*the length of time that passed without any news confirmed TO ME my diagnosis, right?

Mrs. McClain? This is Dr. Price’s office, and I have your MRI results. (She sounded calm and pleasant.) . . . partially torn hamstring, hip impingement, labral tear. . . 

I did not know what to say. I just cried. I called my PT,  and I called my trainer. BOTH, were helpful and calm. Really, this was the worst news,  and I took my thoughts down the road of the worst possible outcomes. Lived in limbo of sadness and relief. Sad because I was planning to drop all my races. Relief because now, I know what is not right.