Post-Op Update: Still Crazy but Getting Better

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I thought after my surgery and through my subsequent recovery that I would blog… a lot. Clearly, that has not been the case as I haven’t posted once since, for no other reason than I’ve been incredibly lazy since going under the knife. Lazy and in a weird place.  A place where my heartstrings have grown greater in number and more easily pulled, a place where my anxiety, which is usually kept at bay through 40+miles/week, has reared its ugly head, and a place where a tiny case of  OCD has developed (seriously, my house has never been cleaner, and things have been in such order. I mean, the bar wasn’t set high though). A place where I watched States, Hardrock, Olympic Trials, and the Olympics while barely being able to walk which was simultaneously incredibly inspiring/motivating and depressing. A place where I have thrown out all goals for 2017 but am determined to absolutely CRUSH it in 2018. A place where my instant gratification, if some is good more must be better, I want it and I want it now self has had to learn to chill the fuck out. A place where solo pity parties and celebrations of the tiniest improvement in mobility have been had.

After eight and half weeks, I finally got out of my boot and into a brace yesterday. The light at the end of the tunnel has started to shine a little brighter. I know the work has only just begun, and it will still be a while before I can start running (I was banned from asking my PT about running again until next week). BUT I am thankful to be where I am, thankful to have come so far (when I was falling down the stairs on crutches 6 weeks ago, I would’ve KILLED to be here), thankful to still be a part of the running community in some or fashion. If it weren’t for hanging out with the RunWILD crew on Tuesdays and Saturdays and for amazing friends who have let me bitch and moan, I’d be certifiable by now. So, not that any gave a flip or wanted an update, but there it is. LOVE YOU, ALL (but that’ll change once my heart becomes hardened again after upping the mileage . . . )

It’s Just Running

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It’s just running. When I get excited about, nervous over, obsessed with my training or a race, there’s always a part of me that says “calm down, girl. It’s just running.” When I went to the ortho last week and he said that I needed surgery to fix a whole slew of problems, that I should find something else I liked to do for a while, my heart sank, my ears rang, my eyes blinked away a tear or two. And then my brain said, “calm down, girl. It’s just running.”

But it’s not. It’s not just running . . . not to me. It’s my life, it’s my family, it’s my purpose, it’s my salvation, it’s my hopes, it’s my dreams, it’s who I am, it’s what I want to do when I grow up. Since my trail-iversary in 2013 (which was yesterday, actually), the majority of my most important friendships/relationships have formed thanks to running. Running has taken me to Chamonix, Oregon, Idaho, and Utah. Running has tested my limits, pushed me physically and mentally in ways I never thought possible, saved and lifted me up on the darkest of days, celebrated my happiness on the best ones. There is no drug or drink that can beat the feeling of an amazing run. There is no anti-depressant or therapist that can make you feel better than a hard, soul-crushing, miserable, suck-fest of a run that strips you down, leaves you raw, and makes you forget everything that may be wrong in your life (at least for a little while). Running has changed who I am as a person. It’s forced me to learn to love pain and suffering. It’s allowed me to stop caring what my thighs look like or what number the scale says and appreciate the fact that my body (big or small) can carry me a 100 freaking miles. It simultaneously lets me run away from things when I need to and run towards something better.

After hearing that I needed surgery, I threw myself a gigantic pity party which consisted of a bottle of red wine and Scandal marathon during which main character Olivia Pope stated she wanted “painful, difficult, devastating, life-changing, extraordinary love.” That’s running to me. I’ve gotten the life-changing and extraordinary part out of it. Now it’s time for the painful and devastating. But at least it’ll be temporary, at least I’ll be back sooner rather than later, and at least it’s just running.

Star Wars Half Marathon Recap

Those of you who know me know I love me some Disney World. So, when my dad called and asked if I wanted to do the Star Wars Half Marathon down there, I jumped at the chance. As with all of my races lately, I had grand plans to train really hard and fast for the “shorter” stuff. But the road to hell is paved with good intentions. I also had resigned myself to being in the last corral since I didn’t have a very recent half marathon time to provide (the last half I ran was in 2013). However, the racing Gods must have been on my side because when I picked up my bib, I was in corral A. “@#$% Now I have to actually race . . . Wait, how the hell do you race a half?”

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Corral A . . . son of a . . .

The next day and a half, my parents and I hit up the parks, walking quite a bit, and eating our weight in all of the deliciousness that Disney has to offer. The race was on a Sunday . . . at 5am . . . with a 3:30am last call bus ride. After a 2:30am wake up and some coffee, my dad walked me down to the bus stop. We got dropped off at the EPCOT parking lot where the race would start. The next hour and a half was spent in the port-a-john line and looking at everyone’s costumes. From Princess Leias to Chewbaccas and Darth Vadars, folks were decked out. Finally, it was time to get corraled into our corrals. I started mid-pack in corral A. I honestly had no clue what time I’d run or what kind of shape I was in. I had told my parents to be at the finish line by 6:30am just to be safe but was unsure if I could really run a 1:30. My plan was to start with 7:30s and then just see how I felt . . . but I’m terrible at sticking to plans once the gun goes off.

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Fireworks signaled our start at exactly 5:00am. Right away, I could tell middle of the pack was going to be a little too congested so I worked my way up and settled in with a pack of young dudes. They said their goal was 1:30ish so I felt this was a good place to try and stay. As we made our way into EPCOT, I realized I felt really good and increased the pace just a little (granted this was about one mile into the race). I passed a couple of females here and there but never tried to force it. We left EPCOT, ran on the boardwalk at the Boardwalk, and entered Hollywood Studios. Somewhere along the way, I crossed the 5K mark in 20:something. I thought this was a suicide pace for me but still felt really good. We left Hollywood Studios and were on a road for a while. I picked off a few more girls, and someone told me I was 5th female. “Come again?”

Probably 100 yards or so ahead I saw 4th female and about 50 yards ahead of her, 3rd. “Five miles into the race is too soon to make a dumb move so be patient”, I thought. Ten seconds late, “F it”. I picked up the pace just a little as we hit an overpass. “A ‘hill’!” Hell yeah, perfect. I made my way into 4th and, about 3 minutes later, got 3rd — just as we entered Animal Kingdom. As I moved into 3rd, I picked up a cyclist who’d stay with me the rest of the way. I wanted to tell her not to get too comfortable, that I was sure to implode sometime soon, but I kept my mouth shut. As we came out of Animal Kingdom, I spotted 2nd and her cyclist not too far ahead. She looked stronger than 3rd and 4th had, but, again, I threw caution to the wind and made a move just before a water stop. Dumb on my part as I planned to grab water here, but fortunately, I got through quickly. After that, we were on a road again and approaching mile 9. I still felt remarkably decent considering the pace which was much faster than I’d run in a long time. The lead girl was absolutely nowhere in sight, and I was unsure where 3rd was behind me. My plan was to pick it up once I had a 5k left, but my body decided that mile 11 would be better. Then I really started to feel it. So, I caught up to a guy about 20 yards ahead and tried to sick with him. We finally hit mile 12 and entered Wide World of Sports. The next 1.1 miles were the longest ever, but eventually, the finish line was in sight. It was so great to hear my parents cheering as I crossed. 2nd female, 1:26:36, PR of over 15 minutes.

The race was a ton of fun — bands playing Star Wars theme along the way, big screens showing clips from the movies, characters at some of the mile markers. Disney definitely does it right.

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Best shirt at the expo

River Gorge Race Recap

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Pre-Race pic w/ RunWILD Crew

Rock/Creek’s River Gorge is a 10.2 mile race at Prentice Cooper State Forest. Nashville Running Compay‘s RunWILD: On the Rocks training group had been working towards this race since January, and I was so excited to bring everyone over to Chattanooga for the race, especially the newbies. The weekend started with picking up Phil, Duane, and Brandon on Friday. After a traffic jam, a pit stop for Phil’s new ride, and check-ins to our respective hotels, it was time for one of my favorite parts of the weekend – Lupi’s Pizza! A couple of slices and a few brews later, and it was bedtime.

The next morning was cool and clear – perfect race weather. We got to the start of the race with about a half an hour to spare. After gathering up our group for a “team” picture, I ran a nice warmup, said hellos to Jeff and Jobie (who graciously stood watch for my woodland bathroom stop), and took my place at the start line.

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Emerging from pit stop; practicing for AC100. Photo cred: Jobie Williams

The race starts on a road, uphill before taking a left onto a rocky jeep road. This is always a fast start, both out of necessity and adrenaline. It’s pretty important in this race to get a good position early as the trails narrows quickly. I decided to go out a little harder early on than I usually would in such a race. I knew there were some super talented girls, and my plan was to try and put enough space between them early on. And it worked . . . for about 3 miles. From almost the get-go, I settled in behind Rock/Creek’s Samuel Hammonds at a really good but hard pace. Just before the first aid station, I heard Jeannette come up behind me, moving really well. She passed me, and I was able to keep her in my sights for a mile or so. After a while, however, I couldn’t spot the bright NRC jersey. I told myself to just run for time – shoot for a PR. I could tell by now that CR was way off (originally, this was my goal, but my lack of training over the last few months screwed me on that). By the time we reached the jeep road climb around mile 7, I was ready to hike but also ready for the pain that I knew would follow. This is the point in the race that I look forward to the most. It’s where the race essentially starts. It’s the point in the race that I mentally prepare for the entire previous 7 miles – looking forward to the pain, excited for the suffering to come. I hiked a little more than I wanted to, and after passing the 2nd aid station and hiking most of the switchbacks, it was time to rock ’n’ roll. I tried to turn the burners on as much as possible before the rock garden slowed me down. I had resigned myself to Jeannette’s win and was happy that it would stay in the NRC family. I may have thought briefly that I was going to burn my jersey since I had yet to win a race in it, but I swear that was just a fleeting thought.

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Photo Cred: J. Williams

Soon, the terrain became rockier and the trail darker. Rock garden time, baby! Shortening my stride, I made my way over the increasing-in-size rocks. As I looked up to get my bearings, I saw Jeannette about 10 yards ahead of me. I think I audibly exclaimed “holy shit”. At first, I thought she was having trouble on the rocks, but turns out, she twisted her ankle a mile or two earlier. After checking to make sure she was ok, I continued on. And then thought “crap, now I gotta run this”. Even injured, I knew Jeannette cold be strong enough to take me down. I had never really run through the rock garden, but you gotta do what you gotta do. I picked it up and hopped rock to rock as best as I could. Jobie, Jeff, and Conrad were somewhere along the way, but as I was trying not to die (or at least not bust my teeth out), I don’t think I even acknowledged them. After getting out of the rock garden, I knew it was about ¾ of a mile and that I needed to RUN. My legs felt like they had just run 98 miles though. If Jeannette hadn’t been so close, I probably would’ve just hiked. However, I forced my legs to go as fast as they could. I caught back up to Samuel, and even though I knew how far we had, I croaked out a “how. much. further?” “Half mile”. . . which sounded like 17 miles in my head. We crossed the jeep road, and I thought the next climb was the one to the finish. WRONG. Finally, though, I could see the arch and made my way across the finish line. I finished and wanted to die – I thought “Phil would be proud”. There was definitely no smiling for a couple of minutes. I was freaking spent.

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 “Running” through the Rock Garden     Photo Cred: Jobie

Finishing time — 1:28: 37. First Female. Jeannette finished a couple of minutes later. I love winning. Like love it love it. Like love it more than anything (duh, I’m a Bama fan). But the win seemed a little hollow. This was Jeannette’s to win, and she even seemed on pace to break the CR if it hadn’t been for an ankle turn. The trail is a cruel mistress though – which is why I respect it, fear it, and love it.

Anyway, for the next hour and a half, we cheered on the whole RunWILD crew as they made their way through the finish. As much as I love racing, it’s just as fun to watch everyone else have a great race, or their first race, or their 12th race . . . especially this one. I absolutely LOVE this race. It’s probably my favorite race of all time. The course, the culture, having all of our crew down there, seeing all of our Chattanooga pals, all of it. I don’t think I could have asked for a better day. Big thanks to Rock/Creek for another awesome race, and HUGE congrats to our entire RunWILD crew!

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Post-Race Pic w/ RunWILD crew

Goals, Goals, Goals

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Oh, Harvey. You’re such a hottie.

I love goals, and I love to plan. I make to-do lists and schedules for myself at least once of day. I have 2 paper calendars and a google calendar. I keep a legal pad that’s just for my “agenda”. For goal races, I’ll post my goal time on the mirror with a sticky note or on the fridge (usually near the beer drawer which is where it’ll get the most eye traffic). I always make A, B, and C goals for these races and write them down everywhere. As much as I love both of these things, I don’t think I’ve ever planned out my goals for the year (Maybe I have and there’s a previous blog post that’ll call me a liar, but I’m too lazy to go fact check myself). And for accountability/transparency’s sake, I’m sharing this with you, my loyal 22 readers.

General/Vague Goals — Faster/Stronger/Mentally Tougher

Mileage — 3000 for the year

Races:

Mt. Cheaha 50K (Feb 27) : no time goal really (no, I’m serious). Sub-6:00 would be nice but using this has a “get back in shape run”

River Gorge 10.2 (March 26): Course PR

WDW Star Wars 1/2 Marathon (April 17): PR BUT with Disney crowds this may be hard

Bend Marathon (or 1/2) (April 24): This is a questionable race b/c of time, finances, and the fact it’d be one of 4 straight road races. But another pour from my Smith & Lentz growler, and it’s about to be unquestionable

Rock ‘n’ Roll 1/2 Marathon -Nashville (April 30): running this in conjunction with Nashville Running Company and Monroe Carrell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt’s fundraising opportunity

Strolling Jim (May 7): sub-6:00

Race Against the Sun: No expectations; just a “fun” night race in prep for AC 100

Angeles Crest 100 (Aug 6): Don’t die/Finish — and that’s lofty.

The rest of the year is kind of dependent on AC100 recovery and what not. Would love to do Upchuck 50K. Up to suggestions for end of year races!

 

 

 

 

Best (and Worst) of 2015

I haven’t felt like writing/blogging/stream of consciounessing for a while. I’ve been kind of bummed about how long recovery is taking me. My legs haven’t felt “good” in quite some time, and I’ve been battling just a twinge of post tib tendinitis (Thanks, Leah Sawyer for the help with that!) I have barely averaged 20 miles a week (until last week), and this really affected my mental/emotional state. I think I need at least 40 miles a week to feel good and like a normal person. So, to get me out of my funk, and since it’s the end of the year, I decided to compile a list of my running/racing/RD’ing bests from each  month this year. And with the bests must come the worsts, right?

JANUARY

Best: RunWILD Tour of Trails begins (still time to sign up for NRC‘s 2016 training! #shamelessplug); running Bearwaller Gap for first time

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Worst: Having to DNS Mountain Mist 50K

FEBRUARY

Best: Black Warrior 50K (sub-5 hr); fun runs in the snow

Worst: The Ice Storm postponing Dry Creek

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MARCH

Best: Taking the RunWILD group down to River Gorge (come run it with us this year!)

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Worst: March was pretty good . . . so I guess it’d have to be the soreness from RunWILD’s St. Patty’s Day “Hill Repeats”? 😉

APRIL

Best: Boston – experience (being there with my mom, the race environment, seeing Bree in Boston obvs) and marathon PR; meeting Sage Canaday

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Worst: April was pretty good month . . .

MAY

Best: Strolling Jim suffer fest; Running at Frozen Head for the first time

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Pre-Strolling Jim ass kicking w/ Jobie

Worst: the day after Strolling Jim. I couldn’t leave my house because stairs must descended to do so.

JUNE

Best: Running in the big boy mountains of Idaho and solidifying my love of the West

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Worst: DNF-ing River of No Return 108K where the big boy mountains chewed me up and spit me out. Not even Little Red Riding Hood could get my ass in a good enough space to continue that race.

JULY 

Best: Pulling the trigger on signing up for a 100; Bowie Park race having record numbers

Worst: Pulling the trigger on signing up for a 100; losing my key on the Bowie course and spending hours “sunbathing” in the parking lot waiting for help

AUGUST

Best: RunWILD: Hot, Wet, & Wild started; knocked out my annual 5K @ Tomato

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Worst: hardcore face-planting at Beaman during our first RunWILD run from which I still have the scarred up knees

SEPTEMBER

Best: Running in Chamonix (and London, Paris, Cinque Terre, and Rome); I’ve wanted to live and just run in the mountains ever since I went westward last year, but running here really made me fall in love. #movemetoColoradoorBendASAP

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Worst: Leaving Chamonix

OCTOBER

Best: Defeated Creek — this was my baby race of the year. Thankful to NRC and others (Phil, Duane) who helped me bring this to fruition in just the way I/We envisioned when setting foot out there for the first time. Having such a big group at StumpJump; Mini Tour de Rouge (when we doing 10, Jeff and Jobie?)

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StumpJump bathroom pic

Worst: The nerves prepping for Pinhoti

NOVEMBER

Best: Pinhoti 100 — probably the highlight of the year for me; Riverside Screw, duh.

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Worst: Recovery from Pinhoti; post race “blues” –> always hard to deal with for me no matter the race but extra bad for this one #WhyGodMadeBeer

DECEMBER

Best: Wrapping up a decent first year as RD with Peeler park; focusing on running with my own pups; slowly getting mileage up

Worst: Loss of fitness and speed from taking a little too much recovery

So, that’s my pretty boring yet incredibly self-indulgent Best/Worst of Running for 2015.

Stay tuned for my Goals for 2016 which is sure to be riveting.

Recovery — Apparently, A Necessary Evil

My plan following Pinhoti was always to take a “break” for a couple of weeks. I say “break” because my intention was a break relative to my training and a couple of weeks was a loose description ( a couple really meaning one). Basically, my “break” going to be just to pacify potentially concerned family members and friends. But, a funny thing happened — the whole week after the race, I had ZERO desire to run. Nada. Zilch. And I was perfectly fine with it. A week after, I ran a couple of miles and felt decent-ish. That one run seemed to squelch whatever need to run I had for the next couple of days. Then, I couldn’t get my appetite up which, in turn, exacerbated my fatigue. Cool, I thought. Good reason not to run. I saw others who ran Pinhoti were back running and feeling good. I was a little envious but more so just surprised. Not at them but at me. I had just assumed that, since things had gone so (relatively) smoothly at the actual race, I’d take a week off and be “back to normal”. It’s as if my body knew of my intentions and decided shut that whole thing down.

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So, for 3 weeks, I’ve run a few times with my own dogs (who are in training of their own for a springtime trail adventure), done some yoga (thanks Ryne for sharing Fiji McAlpine with me), and ran my longest run a the Riverside Screw. Finally feeling better, I’m cautiously getting back at it this week — taking it slowly, focusing on good form (getting those arms down and at 90 degrees instead of flapping in the wind), and incorporating core, hip, and ass work.

I have a new, HUGE appreciation for those that can do the Grand Slam and recover so quickly. I also have a new, huge appreciation for rest and recovery. But, it’s time to get back on the horse.