Saturday, May 25, 2013

You feeling strong, my friend?

Training in the southern highlands of Tanzania. Leaving behind the sidewalks and running San Diego's canyons. Ultrarunning on trails (excluding rail-to-trails or similar flat-like-a-pancake-trails) . Do these things have anything in common? Well, first they make running insanely fun. Second, they completely distort your perception from what the general public defines as a hill. Sometimes when it comes to talking hills with other runners, I feel like Miles Finch.




Why am I blogging about this? Because I'm in the midst of my usual pre-race insomnia and earlier today I poked a bit of fun about the elevation profile of the upcoming Madison Half Marathon race this weekend.



Madison Half Marathon elevation profile

I'm going to get a bit snobbish here and state that I see nothing difficult about this course. If you did any sort of strength running these "hills" should not threaten your pace all that much, at least not enough to fuss about. If I'm in a good mood and you're a beginner I'll let you call 250 feet of change a hill, because I like beginners, and I fully realize it feels as tough as you call it. Now, if you've got some running experience behind you though, I don't want to hear any whining about anything under 500 feet or I start turning deaf on you. Runners complaining about "hills" and "hill work" here around Stevens Point almost warrant a whole complaint post in and of itself. Let's get real about something. There are no hills here.

Now that we've established what isn't a hill, let's talk about a real hill.  


Kilimanjaro Marathon elevation profile
I still remember the pain from this one back from 2008. It was my first marathon (and race) and training had been less than planned what with all the giardia and hallucinations induced from the medication I was taking (prescribed by the way - I wasn't "that" Peace Corps volunteer). I topped out at 16 miles and I didn't know what the hell I was about to embark on at the start line. I remember stopping to walk in the first portion of the hill and upon resuming the run my feet were in such pain I vowed to never walk again until I hit the finish line. Stupid perhaps, but I did it. I can be incredibly stupid when running blind into uncharted territory. The folks at Amazing Running Tours claims this race has 1500 feet of elevation change and Redknot Racing Co. claims the hill is of 1300 feet. I think this race has set the precedent for my whole running life. To this day if my legs don't burn when I'm running a hill, it's not a good enough hill for me.

I really like elevation profiles. I have a bunch of them up on my office wall. 

This one I cried up. It was unforgivably brutal.


Oriflamme 50K: 5-mile ascent at mile 20ish from 2500 feet to 5000 feet

Aren't they pretty?

And here we have the PCT 50 with 7,500 feet of elevation gain. Basic graph but nothing to snuff at.
 And now for my favorite elevation profile of all time (not counting dream races I haven't signed up for yet)...

 
Superior 50 Mile Trail
How can you not drool looking at this thing!? 

Birds are chirping which is not a good sign. Damn insomnia. Read a book they say. Count sheep they say. Drink some chamomile tea they say. Workout in the morning not at night they say. Not a wink of sleep will be had before this race.
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Monday, May 20, 2013

Ramblings of my goings-on


One of my older sisters invited me to grab some coffee and go for a walk so we could catch up last week. Our schedules haven't aligned much lately and now that we don't have our Thursday coffee dates I jumped at the chance despite having a french press already steeping on my counter. I opened up to her about the recent improvements I was making when it came to running. One of the things I love most about her is she can see things in ways I cannot.

"It's probably because you are no longer struggling day-to-day like you were a year ago. Now instead of going for a run as an vital part of destressing, you get to choose to run just for fun."

Although I have long realized how much running has been a huge source of therapy throughout my divorce and although I constantly tell people "I run for fun," I never put those pieces together with my running improvement. I started adding up different elements in my life that suddenly were making sense to the bigger picture. Not too long ago my younger sister talked me into a certain activity that shall go unnamed. I was actually excited about something other than running for a change! After roughly a month there was an ultimatum that I inadvertently prompted. If I wanted the fun to continue, I needed to devote a significant chunk of my babysitting resources for the next 4-5 months. If you are a single parent, you know full well how desperately essential it is to your social life to not to tax out your babysitting resources. Unfortunately, but not regrettably, I balked.

And not too long after I had this run.


Let me explain this to all of those who don't know me. This was huge!!!! Every single marathon I have run has involved some sort of walking break. The longest I can recall running without a walking break is 14, maybe 16 miles. I've never been strong after 15 so to run that far with no walk break was unseen by me before. I felt I could have gone much longer too had it not been I had a limited time to run before picking up my daughter. The second component to note of this run was that it was at a sub-9:00 pace. This is not a pace I am familiar with maintaining beyond 8 miles. Add these two together with no GI issues, minimal muscle soreness, and no post-run headache and you've got yourself a breakthrough.

I've spent a long time analyzing changes that have happened (beyond my sister's) so I could keep on course. The two main changes I can attribute are (1) consistently training and (2) nutrition.

Consistency 


I completely changed my data entry business so that I can have two guaranteed solo quality runs a week. If I was going to get faster I simply had to have some non-stroller runs. No doubt stroller running has made me stronger, especially now that my girl is approximately 30 pounds, but if I was serious about going after a marathon PR I needed to commit. I'm paying dearly for that commitment but I'm very fortunate for the job I have which allows me the income for it. My daughter fully enjoying the socialization at daycare is an added bonus. I've had days where she cries, kicks and screams when it's time to go home which is the surest sign of the right daycare for your child, or so I've been told. Dependable child care is something I did not have for the first 1.5 years of my daughter's life, and it has made a world of difference, for both of us.

Nutrition


A couple of months ago I decided it was time for a diet tweaking and went with the following changes.

Maca powder: For women's health reasons and reported energy boosts. I found it disgusting to smell and almost non-consumable at first. Its unique flavor profile overpowered anything I tried adding it to but with consistent use the flavor has since become undetectable and the smell no longer repulsing. Makes you want to try it, right? I use it in my daily afternoon smoothie.

Hemp protein powder: For protein (obviously!). Initially I started using this as a partial flour substitute in baked goods but now use it in my daily afternoon smoothie. This has been a marvelous addition since dairy/whey protein and egg protein disagree with me.

Local honey: For allergies and immunity boost. This isn't a new addition but I now take it daily instead of when I think I'm coming down with something. For the first time in years I have not suffered Spring allergies (knock on wood).

Lentils: For digestive health and protein. I am still a flexitarian and don't plan on giving up red meat as pescetarians do. What can I say? I crave beef after a long run. Long ago I swapped ground turkey for ground beef. Now I'm swapping out ground turkey for lentils. By far my favorite swap out as been for tacos but this soup sealed the deal for consuming lentils on a regular basis.

This past Sunday I decided on some more tweaking. I'm now going to attempt adding lucuma powder, carob powder, and mulberries. Eliminating all sources of carrageenan is taking a top priority which will start with committing to making 100% of the nut milk we consume.

The latest recipes that really trip my trigger: Cool-aid, chickpea blondies, and baked cinnamon apples (using coconut butter and serving like a cereal with nut milk).




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Monday, April 22, 2013

Not just another run

My run today gave me the most unanticipated cathartic relief. I had been harboring something in me that needed to come out and it did so with gusto.

This morning I awoke with the most intense ultra fever and am not sure why I caught it. My goal for the year is to become a faster runner. I thought that's what I wanted. So how come when it comes time for me to "push" myself out on a run all I do is dread the lack of air in my lungs and pit in my stomach and stop trying? Why do I long for the burn in my legs that only distance running gives me? Why am I constantly daydreaming of mountains and single-tracks? Why was I looking up local ultramarathons instead of flat marathons? What brought me to the point of almost signing up for a 50 this morning?

Instead of forcing myself to answer the yet unanswerable, I went out for my Monday run which was to be about 8 miles. My mind was spinning trying to figure out what truly were my current running goals versus perhaps romanticized bucket-list items. Halfway into the run I abandoned the route and went wherever I felt the urge to go. I was on the verge of figuring it all out and I needed time to think.

It was starting to get close to the time I needed to pickup my daughter at daycare so I reluctantly ended the run. Upon checking my watch I was stunned to see I had been running for 1 hour and 59 minutes. It felt like it had only been an hour. Upon checking the mileage I was even more stunned to see I ran 13.1 miles by the time I stopped. Never before have I held that comfortable of a pace for a half and finished in under 2 hours.

I wanted to quick write about what I was thinking about during this run before they were gone but the words wouldn't come out. Frustrated I went on Facebook to vent.


Me: Writer's block, snarf...

Molly: Break thru the wall :)

Me: Maybe tonight lol there's too much fog in my head after today's run. At first I can see what I want to write and then it get's completely cloudy again only to be revealed for a few more seconds. I can't get enough clarity to grasp the thoughts long enough to write! Not sure if that makes any sense.

Molly: Totally makes sense. I've done both strategies: take a break and come back later; and just start writing, even if it's sh!t at first and as I work, finally the idea gets out (then go back and delete all the stuff I wrote first lol). Either way, you will break through, I know it :)

Me: I'm always "writing" when I'm out running. My thoughts are so "in the moment" that I'm always afraid if I don't jot them down they'll be lost forever. Today I figured out what I wanted after being hit behind my ultra fever but I'm totally failing to form the answer in a concrete way. Perhaps I'm struggling with the abstractness of it. My running goals aren't tangible. It's not a medal I want to touch. It's something undefinable at the moment.
Molly: That sounds like a "write write write" and it will eventually come out thing to me :) Take a break and then make yourself write, even if it's not coming out as what you want to say, start somewhere and it will eventually come out. You'll find a way to represent the abstract idea :) Or - this could work too! - wait til your next run and run with paper/pen tucked in a backpack? Or voice recorder on your phone? ;)

Reading back on that an hour later I'm not even in sure what I was trying to say and I see an obvious conflict in my own words. Let's just leave it that I was lost in thought. What followed immediately after the chat with Molly wasn't pretty. I was driving to daycare and kept going over what I had thought about during the run. It stung through me like I had been struck by lightening. I identified my goal. I called Molly up in tears. Why the hell I was crying I don't know. I got emotional over it, what can I say? I'll always be a chick in that aspect no matter what. I've built this wall up around me this past year but sometimes it crumbles. I'm human.

Somewhere between the tears I got what I needed to off my chest and the tears stopped. In turn Molly reassured me that this was why Über Mother Runner was created. I definitely should write about it. 

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” 

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Sunday, February 17, 2013

My confession

Confession time. I have suffered from eating disorders for as long as I can remember. As a child I gnawed ice chips until my gums bled. I didn't know until adulthood that this is a form of an eating disorder called pica and can be a result of a nutrient deficiency. (I've suffered from iron-deficient anemia for all of my childhood and some of my adulthood). In high school I tried (yes, tried) to become anorexic. This did not work for me and wrecked my already fragile self-image. I became bulimic in high school and this continued into college. Freshman year after passing out on the steps heading up to class I realized I had a problem. A went to the doctor for help and he sent me to a psychiatrist. After hearing my initial concerns the psychiatrist lead me to a scale, my most feared place, and had me step on it. She tsked-tsked at me, nodded dissaprovingly and stated I "weighed too much to have any issues with eating". She prescribed me some anti-depressants, said I needed a tutor to help with my grades then sent me off. Each visit with her left me feeling worse than before stepping in her office.

I felt lost, hopeless, and utterly foolish. The doctor said I was in excellent physical health, and with a psychiatrist telling me I didn't have a problem either, I turned towards binging and purging for a "quick fix" in my mood.

Then an article caught my eyes that has changed everything.

I have no idea what magazine it was or what the article was actually about, but I do remember reading that a half hour of daily exercise can be more beneficial than anti-depressants. It suggested to take up running. I immediately weaned myself off anti-depressants within a couple of days and went out for my first run. I was a failed high school track member so running again terrified me, but I wanted something in my life to change. I had no idea what I was in for.

It was no easy road to get to where I am today. My eating disorder was at it's worst when I served as a volunteer in Peace Corps.  I became the strongest I ever had been physically while training for my first ever non-track meet race, the Kilimanjaro Marathon. With no watchful eyes around me I became the skinniest my 5-foot 6.75-inch medium-built frame has ever been.

137 pounds....

This number has haunted me since I left Africa and came back to the states. I wanted that number on the scale again oh so bad but even in times I suffered relapses I never saw it again.

I last relapsed approximately a year ago with a single purge fueled by rage I felt during the initial period of time I was dealing with separating from my almost-ex-husband. For the first time ever I did not get the "high" afterwards. This flipped something in me, something I've needed flipped so desperately. I no longer think of binging and purging. I no longer purposefully go without eating for "just a little bit" to see if the number on the scale will budge. None of that at all. It's an incredible, freeing thing to not be held captive by food and a number.

These days I live for food and love cooking. My flexitarian foodstyle fuels my body with an abundant amount of energy, keeps me strong, and enhances many aspects of my health. Each and every day I look forward to eating. I have no fear of food. I rarely step on a scale these days. The last time I stepped on a scale was back in December.

"Being happy doesn't mean everything's perfect. It means you've decided to see beyond the imperfections."

For the first time in my life I love my body, imperfections and all. Today, I stepped on a scale. What I saw shocked and amazed me in the same moment. My love of fitness (particularly running of course!) and my exploration into a flexiatarian diet has allowed me to beat the beast.


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Monday, January 21, 2013

First DNS

DNS - Did not start

I always wanted to be a runner even when my body physically wasn't capable of it. Being known as a runner was a lifestyle that I wanted...no wait...had to have. I couldn't run more than a mile at first without burning lungs and legs forcing me to halt before I felt like I even started. I spent six months strengthening my body and tuning into the world of running. When I crossed my first finish line at the Kilimanjaro Marathon, I was not only just a runner...I was a finisher.

Since then it's been the same. I finish races. I have never signed up for a race I could not handle. Sure I'm often at the back of the pack on the longer beasts, but I finish. Whether it be running through pregnancy, running from trail demons, or neglecting to train seriously, I still finish (and do so uninjured might I add). I don't always do the right things along the way, but I'm constantly learning what my body can and can't do, and the journey so far has been incredible. I've stepped up to start lines wondering if I was really gonna be able to get to the finish line but come January 19th something happened at the San Diego Trail Marathon that has never happened to me before.

I never started.

I managed a full recovery from an exhaustive go at Tuscobia and have been feeling pretty fantastic for the past two weeks. Although I was tired from the flight just 19 hours before race start I was feeling quite chipper. Then I started feeling "funny" and before long my appetite went from ferocious to zip and soon I had waves of nausea crash over me. The following few hours I only got worse. Just two evenings prior my daughter had been ill with some unknown 24-hour virus that emergency room staff could not figure out. Strep - negative. Influenza - negative. I'm certain I was getting nailed with the same thing. 

Chills. Sweats. Nausea. Dry heaving. Aversion to food and food smells. Body aches and headache. Not exactly my ideal physical condition walking up to the start line. 

I ended up going to race start but did not run. I collected my bib and am hoping to be able to run the course unofficially before I leave back for home in a few days. I did a test 3'ish mile run on Sunday after I felt much better; however, I did not fare well. I will never know if I could have finished the marathon on Saturday, but I do know it would have been terribly risky and I would have been flat out miserable. My first finish line was in 2008 and back then I felt an intense need to prove myself (I'm pretty sure the tears at the end of that race prove that). Now in 2013, I have nothing to prove. And you know what? I'm 100% okay with a DNS on my record.

It is what it is!

Revival run on Sunday - not marathon ready yet






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Saturday, January 5, 2013

The Great Plank Challenge


My story
During the 2nd trimester of my pregnancy I suffered diastasis recti, a split in the rectus abdominal muscles (a.k.a. the 6-pack). Hold your middle 3 fingers together and place them vertically above your navel. That plus a little more is how separated my abs had become. For the remainder of my pregnancy I was instructed not to flex my core because doing so could cause the split to widen. After giving birth I was then advised to only follow the prescribed therapeutic core exercises until that gap was closed. Performing certain exercises, like crunches, risked the separation becoming permanent. It took almost 6 months to close the gap. I didn’t time my first plank postpartum, but I do remember it was only seconds long.

The Great Plank Challenge
Recently a friendly plank competition started between my friend, Molly, and I. In just a few weeks I’ve reached numbers I’ve never hit before.  When we realized our little “max plank war” was inspiring others we started The Great Plank Challenge on Facebook. The current group record, held by Molly herself, is 6:30, and anyone, anywhere is welcome to join in! In just a few short days we are up to 28 members and growing. One of our group members had this to say on dailymile: “I joined The Great Plank Challenge on FB. I am a newbie to planks. But after running 7 today I made it through to my best time yet.” It’s incredible seeing so many people post their PRs, some as plank rookies and some from people who haven’t planked in a very long time. All those PRs inspired me to write this guide so that they can continue on their journey and keep posting higher and higher PRs!

What is the core?
Your core is the center of your body and is where stability and power originates so you can perform essential, daily functions such as standing and walking.  Some of the muscles involved are the rectus abdominus, transverse abdominus, internal and external obliques, lumbo-pelvic-hip complex, and muscles of the back such as the erector spinae, quadratus lumborum, paraspinals and the psoas major.

Planking is one of the greatest, if not THE greatest, way to strengthen all the muscles of the core. According to LIVESTRONG, a stronger core can “reduce the chances of spinal injuries and lower back pain, improve athletic performance, result in better balance and coordination” and assist you in achieving a toned look of your abs and backside.

Many have asked why can’t they just do a bunch of crunches? Won’t that achieve the same thing?
Here’s why…



So…how did I go from a 30-second plank to over 6 minutes???

With just a few minutes of commitment a day you will impress yourself with how long you can go. Planks have never been the bulk of my fitness program, and they shouldn’t be yours either. Instead use them to compliment a cardio and strength training program for overall health and fitness.

I treat planks with the same approach as I do marathon training. If you want to be able to run 26.2 miles, would you start with 20 miles, 5 days a week? No, of course not! You would start with shorter runs a few days a week, with a long run of, say, 6 miles once a week - then build that one long run per week up to 8, 10 miles, etc., until you’ve acquired the strength and stamina to go for 20+ miles. Your core muscles are like any other muscle and will fatigue quickly if overworked. Planking every day is fine (and something I enjoy doing) but you won’t be all-out maxing your effort every day. We need to respect our bodies by planking smart! 

Step 1: Your first plank
First off we need to learn proper isometric plank form. Here is a great video on how to execute a plank.
Image courtesy of Getfitwithnikki.com
 Check yourself in a mirror or have a buddy spot you and correct you until you nail the form. It is a far more effective workout if the plank is performed correctly for 30 seconds vs. incorrectly for 3 minutes. Start it off right and I promise you’ll be increasing those digits in no time!!

Once you’re confident your form is right, perform a plank and hold as long as you possibly can in proper form until you are forced to drop down and remember this number. Whether it’s 20 seconds or 2 minutes it doesn’t matter because you are working on YOUR best time. Don't think you can manage pushing through the burn? Put on your favorite song to distract you. My favorite for plank work is "Try" by Pink.  You jotted down that number right? That number is what is referred to as your PR or personal record, and you’ll be using that number to customize your very own progressive plank plan.

Step 2: Your weekly plan
Now that you know your PR, pick a day of the week that you will be attempting your next PR. Because I tend to use weekends for long distance running I’ve picked Wednesday, but you can pick the day that works best for you. Before we look over the plan, don’t forget to stretch when you’re done! Lie flat on your back and extend your arms up over your head and stretch yourself out from fingertips to toes or try upward-facing dog. A tabata timer can be extremely helpful for timing the rotations, repetitions and vacuums.

§  Day 1: Rest or plank 50% PR (E.g. PR of 1:30 = 45 seconds, PR 3:00 = 1:30)
§  Day 2: Plank rotation, 3 sets or until forced drop (reverse, side, standard, side). Watch how here. Reverse plank can be performed straight armed as well according to comfort.
o   Level 1: 10 seconds each plank
o   Level 2: 30 seconds each plank
§  Day 3: 25% PR plank repetitions with 30 second rest drops, repeat x3 or until forced drop
(E.g. PR of 1:00 = 0:15 repetitions, PR 3:00 = 0:45, PR 6:00 = 1:30, etc.)
§  Day 4: Learn a new variation or perform your favorite variation – this day is purely for fun!
§  Day 5: Perform abdominal vacuum (see instructions below)
o   Level 1: Hold 15 seconds, release 15 seconds, repeat x4
o   Level 2: Hold 45 seconds, release 15 seconds, repeat x4
o   Level 3: Hold 1 minute, release 10 seconds, repeat x4
o   Variation: Try pulsing instead of holding
§  Day 6: Rest or plank 50% PR
§  Day 7: PR attempt: If you don’t PR that is OKAY. In the beginning you will likely experience many PRs followed by plateaus. The key is to keep at it and not give up! Remember how far you’ve come and how much easier it is getting. Have you noticed the shakiness occurring later and later? Is your breathing more relaxed and less labored? These are all signs of improved core strength. Keep planking! Your next PR is just around the corner!!

Abdominal vacuum
This move, also known as the stomach vacuum, activates your transverse abdominus which compresses the abdominal viscera (your internal organs). Think of it as a built in girdle. To execute the vacuum, stand upright and place one hand on stomach and one hand at the swell of your back, exhale all the air out of your lungs, completely. Expand your chest, and bring your stomach in as much as possible, and hold. Visualize your navel sinking into your backbone. Once mastered, this can be performed in variation from standing, kneeling, seated, or lying position. Get creative and try them at your desk at work, while you’re sitting still at a traffic light, while washing dishes…the possibilities are endless and you will be rewarded with a sleeker waist! And ladies, once you master this move you can double-up and perform Kegel exercises at the same time. This is a great postpartum exercise.

Planking with known injuries
We've had several people join TGPC who have had a varying history of injuries including those of the shoulders, back, knees, and ankles. Planking is a full body effort and many of these people reported that they felt too much pressure at the injury site. Some plankers dropped out of the challenge while a few still planked with obvious limitation. Some of the plankers were able to reach a PR. This is highly dependent on the individual and their specific injury and the amount of work involved! If you are wishing to plank with any injury I encourage you to discuss this with your care provider beforehand to avoid any potential for further injury. 


When you're ready to aim for double digits, head here.

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Friday, January 4, 2013

Tuscobia Winter Ultramarathon: But what does it mean??

Term: Tuscobia [origin of place name]

Definition: From the American Indian word "tuscola" meaning "a level place". 
[Source: Milwaukee Sentinel, Aug. 29., 1939.]

I've never gone to a race and had strangers walk up to me knowing who I was (and not I'm not referring to the fact my name was scribbled so elegantly on my bib). What a bizarre feeling! Because of social sites like Facebook and dailymile I was connecting with racers before the big day and after just a few moments I was able to match the person before me to the person I knew online. It was surreal and very much like running Tuscobia was, my first (and last?) winter ultramarathon. According to Outside Online, it's the "slighty saner" winter ultramarathon so it can't be that bad, right?



At a Glance
Location: Tuscobia State Trail, 74-mile abandoned railroad grade trail in northern Wisconsin
Total Race Distance: 35 miles (although by the talk afterwards it might have been a smidge closer to 36)
Time to Finish: 9:45
Elevation Gain: Maybe 450 ft
Wunderground.com






   
Starting Temperature: About 22° F
Ending Temperature: About 17° F
Quotes of the Day: "Wow. How boring."
                             "But what does it mean?"
                             "I'm over it"

Toughening Up
The physical challenge of running on snow didn't worry me too much. I felt prepped enough from the sand running I did earlier in the year. Surprisingly for being utter extremes the two are similar in perceived effort. As long as my core and extremities were warm the burn from breathing in the chill never phased me. For the most part I feel like my training for this wasn't about mileage but learning how to layer. If I didn't dress warm enough I could freeze like I did at Kickapoo. Adversely if I dressed up too much I would end up sweating which could chill me to the bone. Learning what layers worked in order to keep me warm without provoking sweating proved a task but come race day I had layers tuned in for as low as 15 degrees and had run in temps as low as 11 degrees. Any lower and I would just have had to hope extra layers were enough.

Final Picks for Race Day
Winter hiking boots

Bra, merino wool socks and undies 
Outerlayer jacket (waterproof, wind-blocking, breathable)
Midlayer top (merino wool blend)
Pants (with a brushed interior)
Base layer (merino wool -- packed but not needed for this race)
Two water packs, one for undercoat with water, one for over coat with food/coconut water
Insulated water bottles for outer pack
Hat, wool mittens and water resistent mittens
Required safety gear: reflective vest, 2 flashing LED lights, headlamp
Salt capsules, chapstick

Race Start
For the first time in a very long time I arrived at a race early, way way too early. I had a whole hour to kill and although I was loving the late race start of noon, I was exhausted from tending to my sick daughter the days leading up to the race. Standing around killed what peppiness I had acquired from coffee. I soon found myself at a gas station buying a Mountain Dew just to stay awake but as soon as I returned the gang was leaving to climb onto the shuttle bus. Only one other time have I been shuttled from the finish to the start but that was merely a 10-minute shortcut across the route for the San Diego Marathon. We followed the trail, all 35 miles of it, to Ojibwa. It was best not to think how long the bus ride took knowing we had to make our own way back.

Off the bus and mingling I was fluttering to keep my core temp up. I wasn't gonna bunker down before hand like I did at Kickapoo. Thankfully there were great people to meet and by far the most organized chaotic start line I've been to yet.

Fellow BAMR and 2nd place female, Maggie
Photo Credit: Maggie's hubby
Photo Credit: Phillip Gary Smith
Pick Your Posion: Bike, ski, run or snowshoe
Miles 1-17
I must have been giddy over this race because I never did my self checks beforehand. You see, I hate sloshing. That rhythmic swish-glug-swish-glug coming behind me from my packs annoys me to no end. Within the first mile I stopped to dink around with my packs to stop the slosh. I took off again and a young guy filled with happy-nervous energy got a shock.
  • Him -- "Hey! How you feeling? Feeling good?" 
  • Me -- "I don't know man," shrugging shoulders. "I'm thinking of quitting."  
  • Him -- Cue jaw drop. "But we just started!" 
I felt the need to inform the guy I was just joking around. Of course it was too soon to be thinking of quitting. I hadn't even hit 2 miles yet! More sloshing started and I stopped to tinker with my straps once more. Damn the slosh. At this point I had an outrageous number of people pass me with these two gals being the last, and they would end up being the last runners I would see in front of me for the rest of the race.



I eventually made it 5 miles out from Ojibwa and hit Winter, a check-in station and only station until mile 24. After the race I found out some people dropped out at this station and one person never even made it. Looking back it seems my joke wasn't as funny as I thought. 

I was trying to play catch up to anybody in front of me but I couldn't catch even the slightest glimpse of anyone. I heard a creek up in the tree branches overhead. Stupidly I thought of the movie Predator. The infamous drum cadence crept between my ears. That'll send a shiver down your back alone out on Tuscobia.

I couldn't help but kick myself for wasting so much time tinkering with my gear. I kept a steady pace and then just stopped in my tracks. I had an overwhelming sense of boredom rush over me. I actually asked myself, "Do I really want to run this?" I never answered myself but I did start running again.

Up ahead after no more than a mile I caught glimpse of a bar across the road. I found myself standing on the trail side of the highway. I still couldn't catch sight of anyone ahead. I paused and looked behind me. I couldn't see a soul. So I crossed the highway and waited at the bar for a quick spell. When I came back out still no one. I pressed on.

Miles 17-35
It didn't take long for night to start settling down. I stopped to throw on my vest, get my blinkers going, have a snack and swap my empty pink guava coconut water for my mango coconut water. All of a sudden a shuffler approached me. It was another racer! We exchanged a few customary how-you-dos and he soon drifted behind. The sky was complete cast over so there was no chance of getting by with using any moonlight. My little bubble of world was stark and getting cold. I stopped to layer up. 

Nightfall came down and crushed my vision and that's when my body started behaving strangely. At first it was slurred speech which I assumed was just my typical Elmer Fuddism sinking in or it was from my face being exposed to the cold. The dizziness started to bother me, not that I was worried just that I was annoyed to be feeling it at all. I was also drifting really bad across the trail any time I would turn my head to the side. When I would take a moment to glance behind me the twisting would really catch me off balance. I didn't fully realize this for many miles though. 

The tiny little blink of light from the other racer slowly faded out of view only to be quickly passed by another. The new mass of lights seemed to have a decent pace. I toyed with the idea of slowing down so I would have someone to talk to. What madness I was speaking! But a slight dizziness was spreading over my head and I thought maybe slowing down wasn't such a bad idea. I thought if I walked a bit the racer would catch up. After half an hour the racer was closer but in order to wait for him to catch up I had to stop completely. 

In it 'til the end
 His name was Wayne, and he was more than happy to make conversation. This was his last race on a year long challenge to complete over 1000 race miles. I don't think I have ever run 1000 miles in a year so that pretty much blew my mind. I loved comparing war stories and finding out about races I've never heard of. We both were glancing behind us occasionally except when I did so I would just about crash into Wayne and get nauseated when I straightened myself back up but only for a sheer moment. What started off as amusing turned into frustration which turned into legitimate concern. I felt confident nothing was seriously wrong beyond some sort of exhaustion setting in and was content to just shuffle to the end. 

Meanwhile, on the trail...can you guess which was my fave? 
"I like your stamina, Call me! 867-5390" 
"Your legs will forgive you...eventually"
"Who needs toenails?"
Each time I stopped to take the above pictures I paused for no more than 30 seconds and yet each time I was already chilled and close to shivering when I moved on. I would shuffle hard for a bit then fall back to walking. I wanted to take off running but thought better of being alone on Tuscobia. I could feel that my body was on the verge of some point of exhaustion but I hadn't figured out what that was quite yet.

Finish
It took 9 hours and 40 45 minutes to touch the final marker. I was beyond stoked to leave the hypnotic tree tunnels behind me with barely any soreness throughout my body. It didn't take long to get stiff though once I stopped. Racers amnesia graciously kicked in immediately.
Boo-yah!!

Ultramarathon chicks....just the right mixture of sassy and sweet
 The crew did an amazing job keeping us all fed when the race was over. I had Reuben pizza for the first time, some insanely delicious soup, cookies, cake, cheese...freaking yum! After relaxing for 1.5 hours I made the drive home. I was missing my daughter and ready for some solid sleep.

Just a couple little blisters. The right middle is being stubborn with healing.

Recovery
I have had a hauntingly familiar feeling weigh me down since the race. So far I haven't bothered getting a check up, but it sure feels like I'm anemic again, which isn't surprising considering the 6 hellish weeks of red demon torture leading right up to the race. I feel the need to sleep 'round the clock and have needed to focus more to make basic motions at times. My concentration is currently out the window. The second day after the race I tried snowshoeing and couldn't catch my breath no matter how hard I labored. The lack-of-breath feeling sickeningly reminds me of my horrid track days in junior high when I was made to run the mile but physically couldn't. I often faked an Achilles tendon pain or cramp as an excuse why I couldn't finish. I thought my lack of breath was a sign of laziness and being physically unfit, not that I didn't have the oxygen in my blood to perform the task. I'm working on increasing iron sources from my diet as an alternate means of supplementing iron which never worked for me in the past and only created problems. 

I'll see if the fatigue lifts by Monday otherwise I will  finally consider checking in with my doctor. After all, I do have a marathon 15 days out.


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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Dr. Suess for Nursing Moms: Wordle

I have loved the poem "Dr. Suess for Nursing Moms" since I first read it. I have no idea who to credit for this poem (though I wish I could!)...still...being on a Wordle kick I decided to input the poem into the generator and see what came up. Must say I love that the outstanding words are nurse, perfect, mommy's, milk and food!


Dr. Seuss for Nursing Moms
Would you nurse her in the park?
Would you nurse him in the dark?
Would you nurse him with a Boppy?
And when your boobs are feeling floppy?
I would nurse him in the park,
I would nurse her in the dark.
I’d nurse with or without a Boppy.
Floppy boobs will never stop me.
Can you nurse with your seat belt on?
Can you nurse from dusk till dawn?
Though she may pinch me, bite me, pull,
I will nurse her `till she’s full!
Can you nurse and make some soup?
Can you nurse and feed the group?
It makes her healthy strong and smart,
Mommy’s milk is the best start!
Would you nurse him at the game?
Would you nurse her in the rain?
In front of those who dare complain?
I would nurse him at the game.
I would nurse her in the rain.
As for those who protest lactation,
I have the perfect explanation.
Mommy’s milk is tailor made
It’s the perfect food, you need no aid.
Some may scoff and some may wriggle,
Avert their eyes or even giggle.
To those who can be cruel and rude,
Remind them breast’s the perfect food!
I would never scoff or giggle,
Roll my eyes or even wiggle!
I would not be so crass or crude,
I KNOW that this milk’s the perfect food!
We make the amount we need
The perfect temp for every feed.
There’s no compare to milk from breast-
The perfect food, above the rest.
Those sweet nursing smiles are oh so sweet,
Mommy’s milk is such a treat.
Human milk just can’t be beat.
I will nurse, in any case,
On the street or in your face.
I will not let my baby cry,
I’ll meet her needs, I’ll always try.
It’s not about what’s good for you,
It’s best for babies, through and through.
I will nurse her in my home,
I will nurse her when I roam.
Leave me be lads and ma’am.
I will nurse her, Mom I am.


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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Just another run: Wordle

I've seen these floating around in various locations before but had no idea I could create my own Wordle until MyFiveFingers shared the link. I simply had to create one for myself. I first used my blog address on their create page but I didn't like that Wordle because the words that became so prominent were all about Mocha's condition. I miss and will always love my dog but I wanted a Wordle about RUNNING. So I used the text from my just another run post and with just a little tweaking got this....


I'll be going back to San Diego to visit in January, and I'm already imagining the feel of sand between my toes again. I also have a trail marathon to look forward to, and it's only 3 weeks after the winter ultra. Booyah!


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Friday, November 9, 2012

Kristin Armstrong Quote

This was on my Facebook feed tonight courtesy of "I <3 to run." I have never paid much attention to Kristin Armstrong before now. This quote seems exceptionally wise to me. I must look further into her writings.


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