Who is Rumble Girl?

For some reason I really didn’t feel like writing this — but since I haven’t written in a long time I thought this might be either a nice way to end my blog or rekindle it.  We’ll see.  My blog is over 10 years old — not much new to speak of.  But this week I felt a tugging at my heart and I thought I would recap the history of RumbleGirl.

2003 a dear friend of mine went to work for the Leukemia Society and asked me if I wanted to do a triathlon. She wanted to check out their program Team in Training. Least likely choice of her friends but I was the only one who stood up and said yes. Full disclosure in my youth I did a lot of biking, x-country sking and had been playing tennis since I was six through college. After college I fell into pretty much sitting behind my desk and I lived in NYC going out a lot. I partied more. Exercised less. You can figure the results.

In 2003 I was 44, overweight, over-stressed and that first Olympic triathlon was hard as heck but I finished and was hooked.  I signed up for more and kept doing triathlons.  In 2004 I went to watch some people do the Ironman in Lake Placid. Something in me changed. I knew without a doubt that I wanted to do an Ironman. I was meant to do one.  I had to do one. Of course I was still struggling with the Olympic distance triathlons and my run was difficult. I had just learned to swim a full lap of the pool without stopping Memorial day 2003 — so an Ironman was not going to happen the next day.  But that day in June of 2004 I decided I would give myself 3 years to prepare to do an Ironman.  I would improve my running, do a marathon (which is what started this blog in 2005), do some half Ironman’s and come June 2007 I would do Lake Placid Ironman.

I continued with my plan and did a few more Olympic triathlons and in 2005 signed up for the New York City Marathon.  Scared out of my mind.  I was training with TNT and doing all the workouts.  But I now I was 46, still overweight (but getting better).

I was in London visiting my brother.  I had to go do a long training run.  I set out to run the streets of London and it wasn’t very long before my knees started to give out (they did that a lot back then — they never do that now).  I remember running under a train track overpass.  It was crappy day — cloudy and humid and I picked a bad road to run on.  I remember soot on all the walls outside of the overpass.  And then I remember I just stopped.  I quit.  I started to cry.  I gave up.  Everything hurt.  I thought I was too old.  I thought I was too fat.  I couldn’t run like everyone else.  I was always last.  I had quit smoking in 1998 but if someone had rolled up with a cigarette and a beer I would have taken it in a second.  I remember I was bent over, hands on my knees and tears roll with the sweat down my face.  When I finally looked up I was staring into the face of none other than Mohammad Ali.  A poster.  A HUGE poster that was on a billboard right in front of me (I think placed there so people on the train would see it.)   On that poster Mohammad Ali had his boxing gloves lifted to his face, he image was staring right into my eyes and the poster read “RUMBLE, YOUNG GIRL, RUMBLE.”    I will never forget it.  It was not an encouragement, it was a commandment.

Addidas had launched an ad campaign that year with Mohammad Ali and his daughter Laila fighting one another in a video with him speaking over.  It later turned into the Impossible ads, but before that it was just Mohammad Ali telling his daughter to Rumble.

At 46 years old I didn’t feel the word “young” quite fit, but at that moment I claimed that as my Mantra.  Rumble, Girl, Rumble.  I posted those words on my desk.  In my journal.  On my blog (here.)  That year I went on to finish the New York City Marathon.  In 2006 I did my half Ironman.  In 2007 I was thwarted in my attempt to do the Ironman by an accident during the race, but in 2008 I came back and finished.  I was an Ironman.  Then in 2009 I carried that campaign in raising $10,000 for my “Rumble in the Sahara” when I ran 150 miles across the Sahara for the children of Abundant Waters.

Those words remain my mantra today.  I’ve gone on to do countless races of all different kinds — swimming, biking, running all ultra distances.  I did not finish several of them.  I came back did well in others.   There is not much that scares me anymore.  There are not many things that I think I can’t do.  I know in my heart that if I train for it, work for it, barring any unforeseen circumstances, I can do it.  The seed of that belief was planted in 2005 on grimy London road with a poster of Mohammad Ali.  (And yes, I tried to find the poster but I it does not seem to exist.)

This is two years that I have been captaining a team for the Whole Life Challenge and it is called TeamRumbleGirl.  This round we have 48 members on the team from all walks of life — Crossfitters, Runners, Walkers, Couchers….   I love the team and I love the challenge because they embody that spirit that I found on that cloudy, humid day in London.  No matter how down and out we feel, we will get up one more time and give it our best.  Together we will Rumble.

RIP Mohammad Ali

P1030698

Leave a comment

Filed under Blogroll

Tour de Pink 2015

Tuesday 10/13/2015 I did better than I expected at the ride — particularly based on how poorly I did on the Ashford Metric last weekend (cramp city).  In fact I was shocked to find not one single cramp anywhere over the 3 days.  I started the day before with drinking electrolyte water (I used Nuun tabs).  Then, the night before day one, I took three enduralytes.  Then during the ride I drank one bottle of Infinit for every rest stop (15-20 miles), and 1/4 – 1/2 bottle of water with Enduralyte Fizz, and every rest stop I took 3 eduralytes.    I probably ate too much at the rest stops (pb&j a lot of oranges, etc.)  Also they had some kind of chocolate energy cube I took 1 of those each day (warning on box not to take more than 3 in one day).  I think those helped me so I’m going to find out what they were.
This was a charity ride NOT a race.  So there were no official standings.  If you finished you finished, if you didn’t you got lots of love anyway.  For me this was more about setting a personal goal and achieving it.  The official ride was 200 miles with different options to make up that distance.  If you did all the options it came out to 244 miles.  That’s what I wanted to do.  There was no extra credit for doing the extra miles.   I didn’t realize how few people were shooting for that (it was probably me and about 50 others (guessing) who did the whole shebang.  Most of the people were just shooting for 200 because that was the official distance.  In my heart I knew that wouldn’t really be a challenge for me.  I wanted to do the whole thing.  I wanted to do something worth driving all that way and raising money for.  Something worthy of a challenge.  Not to diminish the 200 miles in anyway — believe me that was tough to accomplish and a huge accomplishment for everyone who completed their first century.  It’s just that it wasn’t my first by a long shot so I had to up the ante.
The idea was if you did the metric century on day 1, you would do the full century on day 2 plus the final 57 to make the 200 miles.  OR, you would do all of day 1, (87 miles), plus a portion of the century on day 2 and the final 57 and that would come out to just over 200.  You could break it up anyway you wanted.  There were SAG vehicles at every rest stop and you could get out whenever you wanted. That was actually quite clever because that meant even if you had a bad day, day 1, you could come back and reach your goal. My goal was no SAG at anytime and finish the whole thing.
Day one was hard. MUCH harder than I thought it would be.  The 87 miles were tough.  The first 30 were all hills.  Nothing different from what I usually ride, just a lot of them in a row.  That part was actually okay.  3,800 feet of climbing but nothing I don’t do here in CT on a regular basis.  Some of the less experienced riders had to get out and walk.  At this point I’m more used to hills than flat. I’ll probably never be fast on the hills, but I can climb them now without fear of falling over.  I stayed with my friends for the first 30 but I knew in order to make the cutoffs I would have to leave them and pick up my pace.  They would most likely be cutting out early and as it was I would be racing to stay ahead of the SAG wagon.
For me, the hard part was the last 57.  Mostly flat but non-stop serious headwind.  I rode on and off with different people but by mile 62 most everybody riding around me jumped out to continue their battle the next day.  I kept going and the last 25 miles were extremely hard.  I would be looking at the road in front of me thinking I should be easily doing 16-18 mph.  But instead I’d be doing 11-12.  It felt like I was pushing through jello.  If I stopped pedaling for even a second I would be at dead stop.  People I had passed earlier were passing me on the slight uphills because the only thing I could do was put my bike in the small chain ring and spin.  I saw how hard they were working to cut through the wind.  I couldn’t push anymore — I would surely wipe out my quads and never be able to do two more days.   [I ended up passing those same people later on as they quit and waited for the SAG to pick them up.]  The last 15 miles I caught up to some people and I just tucked in behind them.  My face was burning from windburn.  I had a little chamois butter and put it on my cheeks.  Then I found a big guy and just tucked in behind him gladly accepting the draft but even more to give my face a break.
The ride was for breast cancer and the Young Survivors Coalition (YSC).  It is a wonderful organization providing support services to young woman with breast cancer.  Before 2006, when I first rode for this organization, I didn’t realize how young some girls were getting breast cancer and dying from it.  Many survivors were riding this year (I think 75).  Some of those people were in treatment so would ride a few miles, jump in the SAG wagon to the next stop and ride some more.  Some, like one gal I rode with day 2, were multiple time survivors and it was an honor to ride with them. There were families  and teams out supporting their loved ones who had passed and and still in treatment.  What they had overcome was nothing compared to what we had to tackle.
I was riding for a bit with a woman and commented on how much I loved her bike.  She said it was her niece’s bike.  The YSC and Giant bikes had given it to her niece two years ago to ride, but she never made it.  25 years old and she passed from breast cancer before she could ride the bike.  Now her Aunt was riding it for her and a huge team of friends and family were riding in her honor.  Her name was Kaylee. Her mother was there at the rest stops.  Her aunts and uncles and tons of friends were all riding. I still have to wipe back the tears on that one.  It really put most of my life into perspective.  I am incredibly blessed.  Over and over I just kept thinking I am blessed and fortunate.
Day two was the 100 miler.   I was surprised to find that my legs felt fine.  It was just my sit bones hurt.  Even though it was long, I found day two easier than day one.  And for all the sad stories we heard at dinner there were many stories of hope too.  I rode most of day two with a gal who I rode with back in 2008.  In 2008 she rode while in treatment for her second bout with breast cancer.  Now in 2015 her latest scans have come back clean and she is celebrating having just gotten married and she rode the entire 200 miles, 100 of them on day two with me and my friend Robin.
And of course there is the indefatigable Lisa Frank.  If you want to be inspired, follow this woman on her blog You’re Crying on My Cashmere https://yourcryingonmycashmere.wordpress.com/.  Lisa is a FIVE time breast cancer survivor (she is currently in  treatment).  She is also the founding member of the YSC and co-founder of Tour de Pink.  I first met Lisa back in 2006 (my first ride).  At that time she was a 3 time survivor, kicking A on the bike, and running the show.  Wow, talk about a woman on a mission.  This year she was not able to ride but she was still there in force riding along on the back of a motorcycle cheering and stopping at each aid station lending support.  She is a Queen.  I bow to her and her determination, fight, spirit and love she has for every soul out there — in my book the definition of a Bodhisattva.
Day two was also special because my friend who I came to support completed her first century ride.  She hadn’t planned on doing a century.  She had hoped to finish day 1 but the wind got the better of most people and she was forced to cut her day short.  But day two she really rocked it and finished the century to complete her mission.  That is what this is all about, helping people complete their goals. And isn’t that just a metaphor for life?  We are all just trying to finish strong.  Tackle what comes, find another way to get it done when the first way doesn’t work?  I was really honored to pull my friends for a good portion of the century.  It gave me a little purpose.  It gave me an opportunity to give back a little.  I’ve been given so much.
Day three, I rode mostly with my friends.  It was 57 miles and seemed to go by soooo fast.  At mile 38 there was a rest stop and they said 20 miles to go I couldn’t believe it.  What?  Everyone was happy.  Everyone was riding their bikes and an endorphin high.  Next thing we knew we were crossing the finish line!  A great reception.
I ended up raising $3,750 for the organization.  I put in a good portion this year because I felt a need to give back.  For my friends old and new who face the challenge of not just breast cancer but all cancers.  For my friends who were there for me in 2009.  For my friends who have lost loved ones to cancer.  We are all one.  We are all love.
Namaste
tdp-2015-start-finish

Leave a comment

Filed under Blogroll

9/22/2015 Yellowstone

Thursday.  Home.  What a great week. Mini vacation in Yellowstone, 50 miler, an award, mini vacation in Jackson Hole and helpful people at American Airlines.  All good. Still recovering, but even that is going well.

I signed up for the Yellowstone 50 miler to make sure I had a big enough goal to keep training.  There was a 100 mile version that started in West Yellowstone and went to Tetonia Idaho.  My version was the 50 miler so we started 5 hours later in Mesa Falls Idaho (jumping in on the 100 miler course) and finished in the same place in Tetonia.

You don’t bluff your way through an Ironman or a 50 miler.  My goals have to be big enough to scare me just a little.  But since I did a 50 miler back in May (Rock the Ridge) I have to say I wasn’t really scared.  I was resigned.  I knew I had trained enough to get through it.  I knew it was going to hurt.  I knew that I would probably be disappointed because let’s face it, I haven’t really had a good result in… well I can’t really remember that last one.  I remember a lot of post race tears and incoherence from past races.  But today, finally I can say, darn it all, I had a good race!  It had nothing to do with being fast.  I had a good race for me.  For someone else they might think it wasn’t so great.  But the older I get the more I understand it is all relative.  If you are trying to compare yourself to the winner, unless it is you, you will be disappointed.  And even winners are often disappointed because they may have just missed beating the record or their previous time.  When I compare my race to me, to how my race life has gone since 2009 (when my thyroid was removed due to C) for who I am, where I am in my Journey of Fitness — it turned out pretty good.  So I happily submit my race report.  Of course I think I could have done better, but for once the good stuff overshadows the second guessing and I am happy with it.

I’ve always maintained the sign of a good test in school is when you learn something new while taking the test.   If you can learn something in the questions asked — that’s a golden exam.  I think that is true in races and tennis matches as well.  Forget the score or the time.  Did you walk off that court or course learning a little bit more about yourself or your process or what to do better for next time?  I have to say boy oh boy did I learn a lot in this race.

Wednesday

I arrived in Jackson Hole Wyoming on Wednesday morning and drove up to West Yellowstone Montana via Yellowstone National park (spectacular).  I checked into the race hotel, Grey Wolf Lodge (it’s okay, ultra runners are not known for luxurious accommodations — they will cram 10 people into a closet to sleep if it is cheaper.)  So the Grey Wolf is like your basic motel, clean, adequate, nice people, nothing to complain about, nothing to rave about.  They put out a breakfast for the 100 milers at 3 a.m., that was pretty nice.  But by far it’s greatest feature is it was 500 feet from the 100 miler start!  Roll out of bed, grab coffee on your way out the door and there you are at the race start!  That’s nice.

I had a couple of days to acclimate to the elevation.  It’s about 6,700 feet over sea level in Yellowstone.  From previous training camps in the Tetons I knew that I was okay up to about 8,000 feet.  8,000 I would start to feel the difficulty in breathing, 10,000 it would really slow me down.  But this race was going to be pretty much at 6,700 feet the entire way so in my mind I figured I would be good.

Thursday

Thursday was sightseeing in Yellowstone.  Beyond beautiful and one day was nowhere near long enough.  I would have loved to have done some of hikes off the road — all different lengths and views but I stuck to the car and got out at the major sights.  One of my most memorable moments was when a bison jumped in front of my car to cross the road.  I came to a screeching halt.  He was followed by about 200 other bison.  They couldn’t have cared less that I was there.  I’ll never forget it.  After they passed, I stopped at a hill to snap a picture of them in the valley.  Beautiful.

2015-09-17 06.31.35

2015-09-17 06.31.37

2015-09-17 06.35.16

2015-09-17 06.36.42

2015-09-17 06.37.31-2

Friday

On Friday I drove to Tetonia (the race finish) to leave my car and take the shuttle back to the start.  As this was a point to point race, once I left West Yellowstone I would not be going back.  Many of my fears (bears!) about the race were allayed when I drove the course.  After the first ten miles it was mostly open land as far as the eye could see.  Bears like trees and water so even though I had bought the required bear spray, I figured it would be mid morning in my first 10 miles and hopefully enough cars and people around to shout if I needed help.  Once I hit the open road I knew I would be okay.  The views were so breathtaking I couldn’t wait to run them.  (Wait, did I really think that? No so sure….)

2015-09-18 01.15.52

2015-09-18 01.33.57

2015-09-18 01.34.37

Arrived in Tetonia, saw my coach.  Hellos all around.  Took shuttle back to race start.  I had two gals staying with me for the night, K, who I had met before at a training camp, she came in from the Cayman Islands.  She was doing the 100 and had done two other 100’s earlier in the year.  (What?  I know. Crazy)   And M, who came in from North Carolina.  She too was a seasoned UltraMarathoner and had done both the 100 mile and 50 mile version of this race.  She also would be doing the 100 mile version.  Even though I was doing my second 50 miler and I had done stage races and Ironman.  I felt like an underachiever and newbie….

Before pre-race dinner we roomies hammed it up with a picture  in front of the race start bear.  The race starts in front of the Grizzly.

12062394_517176105118415_1370218429_o

Saturday – Race Day

I got up at 3 with the gals so I could see them off for the 4 a.m. start.  I thought it would be fun to see how the 100 milers do it at 4 a.m.  (Ooph that’s rough to say the least, but if you are running for 20+ hours then a 4 a.m. start is the LEAST of your worries!)  It was freezing cold.  It also started in front of the wolf discovery center so you could hear the caged wolves howling as the runners took off — in the dark…. in the cold….  Spooky.

I went back to bed for an hour and went downstairs for breakfast at the civilized time of 6 a.m.  I was meeting my ride to the start at 7.  M.S. and her husband.  I had met M.S. at Rock the Ridge.  She had a great race in New Paltz so I was happy to see her again.

We got to the race start and it was a BEAUTIFUL day.  Weather was perfect for me.  On the cool side so I was wearing layers to start out.

IMAG1030

The First 10

The first 10 miles went great.  A lot of downhill some uphill but I was feeling good.  I had my hip holster loaded with full size bottles of Infinit.  Unlike Rock the Ridge where I wore a hydration pack, I decided to go old school. I wanted to be able to get at my bottles fast…ish.  I wanted to be able to put powder in there and not worry about gunking it up.  At Rock the Ridge I only had water in my hydration pack and it was too cumbersome for me to get at the food… so I didn’t eat as much as I should have.  Now I was loaded up on liquid calories, a couple of snack in my front pouch.  Everything easy to get at.  no excuses.  I was also taking 1-2 Salt tabs an hour (1 being recommended amount) AND taking my Sport Legs 1 an hour.  With the sodium in my Infinit Formula I knew I had plenty.

Miles 10-20

I think it was mile 15 when I figured out something was not so right.  When I got to the cemetery water stop I felt my toes on my right foot curl under.  Ugh, not a good sign.  I would like to say it was some haunting, but since most of my races have fallen to cramps, I suspected it was another ending in the cramp crypt.   I stamped on my foot for a bit to get it to straighten out.  Stamping didn’t work but the strangely the curled toes didn’t hurt either.  So I decided to just keep going.  Next up was a nice long downhill so I thought I could at least do that.

IMAG1033

At this point the Memphis duo caught up to me.  A gal and guy who must have started after me because I didn’t remember passing them.  They seemed about my age and about my pace.  We chatted a bit.  She had done 13 marathons, he had done 11.  But this was their first 50.  They asked me how long I would expect to take.  I told them I would like to finish in under 16 but any time would be fine.  They said “Same for us.”  So we knew we would be spending a lot of time together on the course.  They took off running, I was still trying to uncurl my toes.

Miles 15-20 had some seriously steep hills and a lot of them.  My lower back was starting to hurt.  My quads were getting tight.  It wasn’t looking good for me.   I had been taking my nutrition.  I had enough calories.  I was taking my salt pills.  I was just cramping.  I figured okay, this is just my lot.  Whatever it is, I can’t do long distances any more.  It wasn’t so hot because there was a nice breeze.  My head felt clear and good but I just couldn’t get my legs to move.  My quads and hamstrings were tightening and every once in awhile my calf would spasm.  The spasms.  Yep, remember them well.  I’m done.

Miles 20-30

I get to the aid station at mile 20 and my coach is there.  I tell her I have to get down on the ground and roll out my back and my quads.  They are so tight.  They have a foam mattress there for me to use.  As I lie down, everything seizes up.  All my muscles are cramping and I call to Lisa to show here “this, this is what happens to me.”  At least finally someone could see that I wasn’t making this up.

Lisa was very cool.  Assured me that I was not the only person this happened to.  She helped me put some ice on my calf muscle that was popping out.  She switched me over to Enduralytes and told me if I had some Advil to take it.  (I had in my pill pouch.)  I was now going to take some Enduralytes every half hour instead of one salt pill an hour.  After some painful writhing.  I managed to stand up and was feeling better.

So I stuck to the plan.  Continued with my Infinit.  Every half hour popped some Enduralytes.  BUT, if I felt any kind of twitch or spasm.  I didn’t wait.  So at first it was like every 20 minutes.  Then after about 2 hours of that,  I noticed that the cramping had pretty much stopped and I was actually able to start running again.

I had a moment here as well that felt very special.  It was warm but it wasn’t HOT.  I wasn’t reeling from the heat or anything, but there was very little cloud coverage.  As I was going up a hill I felt the wind on my back.  It was circling on my back like someone’s hand trying to sooth me.  I had to stop for a second to acknowledge it.  It really felt like wind was a person.  Encouraging me.  I thought back to my race in the Sahara, another lifetime ago when it felt there, too, that the wind was a partner in my journey.   I tried to snap a picture of the beautiful mountain range in front of me.  It’s just too hard to capture on cell-phone camera.

IMAG1044

Miles 30-40

By the time I got to mile 30 aid station, I was feeling pretty good. This is the aid station where I had my drop bag with my night clothing – jacket, headlamp, hand lamp, gloves, hat, etc.  As I pulled in the Memphis duo was surprised to see me.  I told them I had been fixed up and was feeling better.  They congratulated me on making up the time and took off.  That was my favorite rest stop because they just waited on me hand and foot.  It was a family.  The mother fed me potato soup and the dad filled my water bottles.  The kids got me coke and helped me get my stuff out of my drop bag.  They filled me up with more enduralytes and I was on my way.  Feeling surprisingly alert.  Had I really just done 30 miles?  I wasn’t sure but I think I might actually be feeling better than when I started the race.  My head was clear, clear, clear.  My legs were feeling fine.  It was the weirdest feeling.    I put on all my garb.  Thanked the family and took off.  I took off running.  Which was blowing my mind.

I was very happy that I had made it to the aid station when I did.  Any later and I would have been running in the dark without my gear.  But now I had my arm warmers, my bright yellow jacket, my headlamp and my other weapon was my hand held bike lamp that I had brought along.  When I had done Rock the Ridge it got very dark and my headlamp was not strong enough for the woods at midnight.  My friend R had come out to find me on the mountain and he had a hand held flashlight.  So this time I brought my own. I had a headlamp and a portable. Wow what a difference it made!

As the sun was setting. The sky was a brilliant display of reds and oranges.  The potato farmers were still working and starting to put on their lights.  There was one tractor in silhouette against the sky.  I ran to catch up to him before he put on his lights.  He saw me running with my camera and stopped and waved.  I clicked my picture and waved back.  He turned on his lights and kept going.  I was overcome by the beauty of that sunset.

IMAG1054

Every 5 miles or so was a plain water station.  I was using them as my mini goals.  It seemed to be taking forever to find the mile 35 station.  Then I saw a car parked with headlights on.  I started running faster to get to it.  Yep, it was the water stop.  I thanked the guy for putting his headlights on.  He said he was there for his wife and saw me coming so he stayed.  Nice guy.

Miles 40-50

When I get to last aid station at mile 40.  The Memphis couple took one look at me, gave me a quick hello and took off.  I thought that was weird but I figured like me they were just trying to get to the end.   But at that moment I decided I was going to not only catch them but I was going to pass them.  The couple at the rest stop were super nice and helped me fill my water bottles with my Infinite formula.  I wanted to eat some real food but that wasn’t happening.  I did manage one mouthful of watermelon and one half of a bite of a peanut butter sandwich.  Stomach lock down had begun.  I was familiar with it and that’s why I had my liquid nutrition.  But I was feeling, dare I say it?  Amazing.

“How far to go?” I asked the guy at the aid station.

“9 miles.  The couple ahead of you said they can do it in 2 hours.”

“Ah yes, they are from Memphis.   2 hours hmmm?  Well 1:59 minutes for me it shall be!  I will be overtaking them.  He laughed.  I said “I’m quite serious.”  And I was.  This wasn’t like me at all!!  I just finish.  I don’t pass people.  But there was something in the look they gave me when I got to the aid station.  Like they didn’t want me to pass them.  And something in me clicked that I was in fact going to do exactly that.  I don’t know why but that became my goal.  I was going to use them as a tool to get me to the finish as fast as I could.

I took off ‘running’ on the dirt road in the dark.  All of a sudden a car started beeping at me. It was the guy from the aid station yelling to me I had left my bottles at the aid station.  I got them, wiped my brow at the close call and headed out into the night.  Headlamp, handheld lamp —  all was good.

We ran on a dirt road for  several miles.  I stopped for a second and looked up at the sky.  I had never seen anything like that.  When they say “big sky” this is what they mean.  The night was so clear, the stars so bright they looked like you could reach up and pluck them like a blossoms from a tree.

Soon after leaving the dirt road I saw the blinking lights of a car.  Ah must be the turn.  The lights kept moving.  Argh, what the heck?  At a turn I finally caught the lights and I saw it was the same guy from before.  He was waiting for me to make the turn and kept his blinkers on for me to see where he was!  How nice was that?  He was crewing his wife but waited until I caught up.  I thanked him profusely.

A little further down the road I saw him stopped.  His wife was now in the car with him taking a break and drinking some water.  Wow I had officially passed someone.  He waved to me and told me I was doing great and I just kept going.

Calling it ‘running’ would be a stretch.  I was fast walking, breaking into a jog, short run and then back to fast walking.  I was doing about 30 seconds of each.  But I had energy and my legs felt fantastic.  They felt like feathers!   I had never in my life felt this good this far into any race, never mind a 50 miler.  My head was clear as  a bell.  (Flash back to Rock the Ridge when I didn’t even know where the heck I was — all I remember about the last ten miles of that race was stumbling and delirium.)  Here I was doing math in my head.  My attitude was fantastic.  And most of all I was on a mission to hunt down Mr. and Mrs. Memphis.

They knew I was coming.  Everyone had to wear blinking lights.  I would round a corner, I would see their lights.  They would be still, I would see them turn their headlamps toward me.  Then all of a sudden they would take off. I  would say they were about 1 mile ahead of me.  I could only see them if the course was straight.  Any turn and we would pop in and out of each other’s sight.  Every time they would pop back into sight, I was just a little closer.  I was closing in.

Finally at mile 48 I saw three sets of lights.  Hmmm.  Someone else is with them.  The other person went ahead and now it is just the two lights again.  They were moving more slowly.  They were walking.  I’m doing my run/jog/shuffle thingie but I’m moving a lot faster than they are.  And then at mile 48.5 I catch up.  I am cheery.  They are not.  I tell them we are going to make our goal time, we can do it.  They say “you will make it, we won’t.”  At that point I didn’t really care about beating them.  They were simply a tool to get me to the clock before 16 hours.  I do better when I am chasing something down. But I also do better when I’m encouraging someone to come with me. I said some more encouraging words.  Confirmed they only had a mile and a half to go.  They could do it. And they really could.

I set my sights on the next light in front of me.  It was only about a half mile away.  It was moving.  Steady but slow.  Even though I was a mile away from the finish I kept taking my magic pills.  These things are amazing.  Every time I would take one I would feel stronger.

Finally I caught the lamp.  It was my friend MS! I gave her a hug, was so happy to see her.  She had some stomach issues.  I tried to get her to run with me but she told me to go on.  I knew I had to keep going to make the sub 16 hour which I really wanted at this point.  So I left her and kept running. She only had 3/4 of a mile to go.  She would be fine.

At the end they make you run past the finish line around a parking lot and back in.  Ugh, that was hard and painful.  But I kept pushing because I knew I was close.  I ran into the finish and the clock read 15:54!  Woo Hoo I was so happy.  Granted it was not a stellar time (breaking 15 would have been good for me, 14 even better) but based on how I had felt earlier in the day, how great I was feeling at 1 o’clock in the morning, that I had passed the Memphis duo, I was feeling great.

MS came in right behind me, 1 minute to be exact.  That took a lot of guts to run 25 miles on a bad stomach.  Ugh.  Been there. Not fun.

Then at 16:01 the Memphis duo came in.  I congratulated them.  They asked if I could take their picture.  I said sure.  They she asked me if I was in her age group.  I said “I’m 55 what age group are you in?”  She said “I’m 52, we are in the same age group.”  Aha, mystery solved.  She was trying to stay ahead of me.  We had used each other to get to our goal. That’s okay. It worked.

I was so grateful to have a bed there at the finish line.  I collapsed happy.

Post Race

We had an awards pizza party Sunday afternoon. Everyone cleaned up so nicely.  I was thinking I had come in 2nd place for my age group (there was a faster woman who I never caught so I figured she was in long before me.)  As they handed out the awards, my roommates won first and second place female in the 100 miler.  Wow,  Can’t even imagine.  The age group awards went by decades.  They announced my name and I won 1st place in the female 50-59.  The Memphis gal came in 2nd.  Apparently the faster woman dropped out at mile 30.  She had been 1 hour ahead of me.

So this was a small race.  There were only 30 people registered for the 50 miler.  8 didn’t start.  2 didn’t finish.  So only 20 of us who signed up actually finished.  That is pretty much the smallest race I’ve ever run.  Compared to the NYC Marathon with 50,000 runners?  Much smaller.  No place to hide.

In my age group (Female 50-59) there were only 3 of us.  All 3 started, only 2 finished.

So yeah, I didn’t beat a huge field.  I didn’t have an amazing record time. Not even near my marathon pace.  But for me, I had a great race.  I finished in the time I wanted to finish.  I came back from the dead at mile 20 (seriously I think was ready to drop out), I got stronger as the race went on and I can tell you that has NEVER happened. I had zero injuries.  No knee problems, no blisters, my head was clear and my cramps were all gone.  I passed 4 people in the last 5 miles.  That never happens to me.  I crossed the finish line running.  I will say for me, that was pretty darn good and for that reason I accept this award with pride.

IMAG1057_1

My coach Lisa with gals from the Florida running camp.  We all got awards.

IMAG1062

my award.

Namaste

Leave a comment

Filed under Blogroll

9/2/2015 Right Here Right Now

Tuesday.  Woke up this morning feeling pretty great and I wanted to take a minute to acknowledge it.

My staircase is my personal health barometer.  Usually when going up I instinctively press my left hand onto my upper left thigh and press as I climb the stairs.  I don’t know what it does but if feels like it helps – my left knee is just never as strong as my right.  Going down the stairs I usually sidewind or do one leg at a time. Most of that is due to imbalanced hips.

Yesterday I had to go upstairs to get something.  I was shocked to see that I sailed right up the stairs.  No pressing my upper thigh.  It was easy and it was fast.  I’ve experienced this before — before my second Ironman in 2008.  A couple of times right before a big race.  Can’t remember the last time but it hasn’t been this year that I can remember.  When I got to the top of the stairs, I turned around and went back down just to see how that felt.  Woosh.  Straight down, no having to go sidewinding or one step at a time.  I felt aligned and for lack of a better word… younger.  So I turned around and ran back up the stairs then turned around and ran back down them for no other reason than I could.  It felt good.  Not an ache, not a pain, not a hitch, not a hesitation.

I actually feel like going for a run.  I feel good.  I feel like I have good energy.  I’ve been taking my vitamins every day (including my monthly Vitamin D from my doctor).  I’m taking my Garden of Light multi, my prescription Synthroid, my bone nutrient from doTerra which has vitamins C, D, Biotin, Calcium, Magnesium, Zinc, Copper, Maganese and Boron.  Don’t know what any of those do but I was told Magnesium would help my insomnia (it hasn’t).  I’m also taking something called  Multi-EFA (essential fatty acid) which is my vegetarian version of a fish-oil.  It’s made from evening primrose oil  and Lineolic acid.  (I have to look those up,) Last but not least I take sublingual Liquid B-12.  That’s all I’m taking right now though I have some other vitamins I have purchased to try.  Right now I’m going to just stay with this combo as long as I am feeling good,

I haven’t lost any weight in the last month but I haven’t put any back on either.  I’m down 40 lbs in the last year.  I’m okay with it going very slow as long as it doesn’t go back up.   I’m about to start my sixth round of the Whole Life Challenge and many of the “rules” have just become part of my regular life.  I don’t eat sugar anymore and I don’t even think about it.  I’m simply on the otherside of it.  I don’t feel a deprivation at all because it is nothing I crave.  I don’t crave bread either.  And everyday I’m really happy that I don’t have to deal with that anymore.

Everything is going well.  I feel good.  My next event is the Yellowstone 50 miler on Sept 19th.  I know I’ll finish.  I know I’ll be hurting a bit at the end.  But most of all I’m filled with a sense of health and wholeness.  I’m just happy sitting here being.  And going for a hike with my dog.

That’s all for today.

Namaste

I was so sorry to hear about the passing of Dr. Wayne Dyer.  I’ve listened to so many of his audio books over the years.  He was one of the first people who explained to me that what you focus on is what manifests.

“Be Realistic, Expect Miracles”

~Dr. Wayne Dyer

Leave a comment

Filed under Blogroll

8/9/2015 Sweltering Summer Ultra and Marathon

Warning:  This BLOG may contain TMI (too much information).  Skip it if you are sensitive.

4:00 a.m.  I’m up before the alarm. I get dressed, gather my stuff.  Let Higgins out.  I’m in the car at 5:06.  Right on time.  Race starts at 7.  Will take me 1:15 to get to Pittsfield in the Berkshires.  Have my breakfast in the car.  I can’t eat.  That’s not like me.  Managed to get down half an avocado and a banana.  That will have to do.  I can’t eat.

6:00 a.m.  I’m driving.  I don’t feel well.  I need to find a bathroom stat.  It’s the Berkshires.  Nothing is open and there are no stores for miles.  All I see are forests after forest.  I have no choice. I have to pull over.  I have some kind of stomach bug.  Had the same thing last Sunday and have not felt tip top all week but I thought it was gone.  Nope.  Not good.  Well that’s over.

6:30 Arrive at race.  Check in.  Set up my aid station.  We have personal spots on the tables where we are to put our water bottles marked with our names and race numbers.  (Environment friendly race, you bring your own bottle — it’s the Berkshires, Hippy land.)  I set up 4 bottles of Infinit and one bottle of water.  (When you are done with your water, you put it in the bottle bucket and they refill and put it back at your station — yeah I had to abandon my OCD for that one).  I also put out 2 liquid energy shots, 2 shot blocks, 2 snack sized bags of fritos and 2 snack sized bags of spice drops (the two things I could eat at the end of Rock the Ridge).  The extras I put in my bag under the table. They had an aid station with the basics, gels, pretzels, potatoes, watermelon.  I’m surprised to see people have set up tents.  They make this into a big production.  There are relay teams.  People are playing cards in their pop up tents.  Reading books.  Waiting for their turn to run.  Who knew?

7:00 gun goes off.  It’s a small race, maybe 100 people on the track?  Yet it doesn’t feel crowded  — we all find our spaces easily enough.  We are running laps around an .3555 mile  oval cinder path. Two groups – the people doing a marathon for time, and the people doing as many laps as they can in 8 hours (my group).  There was a 5 a.m. early start for people who needed more time for the marathon and I was surprised that there were about 5 people already on the course when we started.

9:30 The first 2 1/2 hours are uneventful. I am sticking to my plan run one loop, walk one loop.  It is pleasantly cool.  I don’t feel sparkly but I don’tt feel bad either. Kind of numb — almost like I am still sleeping.  I am in a rhythm.  At the 2 1/2 hour mark I notice that I suddenly feel pretty good.  My pace is quickening.  I decide to switch it up a little.  Half the track was gentle uphill and hall gentle downhill.  I decided to run the down hill side and walk the uphill side.  (I later noticed in my splits a distinct drop in my time when I did that — approx 15-30 seconds per lap — I don’t know if it was the switch in my strategy or the time into the race.)

10:00 a.m. Three Hours in.  I notice I am drinking 1 bottle per hour.  More than I usually do but the temp is climbing and I’m able to keep the Infinite down so I decide instead of alternating one bottle of infinite and one bottle of water I decide to keep the calories coming with Infiinit.  Luckily I had packed extra baggies of the stuff so I could just fill the bottles and top with water.  But all the drinking is also making me go the bathroom.  EVERY HOUR!  I had to go at 8, 9 and 10!!  And they only had 3 porto potties so each time I had to wait. I take a gel at the aid station.  Halfway around the track I am going to throw up.  Oh no, it’s coming.  I start looking for a place to throw up.  Not there, nowhere where people are going to have to run by it.  I start my meditation deep breathing.  It goes away. No more gels for me.

11:00 a.m. Four Hours in. The halfway mark.  We switch directions.  The bathroom breaks seem to stop.  It’s getting hot.  It’s only 80 degrees but there is no shade and the sun is burning bright.  I switch from my buff to a visor to cast a little more shade.  I am thankful it is not humid, I would not be able to do it.  My butt starts to hurt.  Both cheeks.  Deep in my gluts where everything connects.  Ow.  I switch to walking.  It is not going away.

12 p.m.  Five hours in. I am rarely running.  Sometimes a little jog. But my butt hurts.  Finally I stop and stretch.  That does seem to help but the pain moves from my gluts to my quads.  Both legs are on fire.  Every time I try to lift my legs to run the muscles are just too tight and scream no way.

1 p.m. Six hours in .  I pretty much have given up on the running.  My quads are killing me.  I’m too afraid to stop so I just work on my power walking.  I can still manage to get some good strides but I cannot run any more.

2 p.m. Seven hours in.  Same.  I can’t run.  My legs are all tight. I have been taking 1 salt tab an hour and 3 sports legs every 2 hours. Plus salt is in my Infinit Formula.  No cramps but my muscles are tight tight tight.  All I want to do is pull over and do a quad stretch.  But I’m afraid to stop.  If I stop I don’t think I can keep moving.  And my calculation ability is starting to fade and I am not sure how much time I need.  Just keep moving.  A lot of people are walking now.  It’s hot. 80 degrees no shade but still that’s not bad for mid August.  No humidity.

2:40 I finish the marathon, I had been joking with the time keepers on the previous ten laps and we had a count down.  I need to put in one more lap to get the Ultra swag and I need one more lap on top of that for my dignity.  I knew I was not getting 35 never mind 30 miles but there was no way I was going to stop if I could put in one more lap.  There are very few of us left.

2:57:  Me, barreling toward the finish line.  Done!  I hadn’t run for the last hour but somehow managed to dig it out when there was a finish line with a countdown clock and a fear that the last lap would be for naught.  I was sure I was dead last but a couple of people crossed after me and there were a few others that didn’t make it and they just faded off toward the aid station unfazed by not finishing their final lap.  I’m upset with myself.  8 hours and I only got in 76 laps 28 miles?  What the what?  That totally sucks and I’m embarrassed and disappointed that I did not do better.

3:15  Vegan Pizza at the finish line?  Yes! Only in the earthy crunchy Berkshires.  Fake cheese.  Yuck.  I hate fake stuff.  Just sauce and veggies, how hard is it to understand that?  Toss the slice in the garbage.  I just want to go home.  Nice medals, decent t-shirt, a cute bumper-sticker and some peppermint foot cream — all for the people who completed an ultra.  If you did the marathon you just got the medal.

3:30 In car ready to head home.  Open jar of pickles and drink the entire jar of pickle juice and eat a couple of baby kosher.  Much better than baby gherkins and 370 gm of sodium!!  Water, water, water.  I could have drank a gallon.  Afraid of cramping in the car on the way home.  Make it home (approx 1:15 minute drive).  Stumble into the house.  Let Higgins out.  I know I should eat but I can’t.  Aware of no cramps.  This might be a first. But getting prepared to wake up in the middle of the night screaming from legs cramping — that always happens.

6:00 Stomach has settled down enough. Could eat something soft.   Too tired to make a shake so I eat an Avocado.  I know it is not enough, but that is all I can handle.  If the magic pizza fairy had landed in my living room, maybe I could have eaten a slice.  But she did not come.  (To file under things I could do better, might be to have the recovery shake waiting for me in the fridge).

7:30 I don’t care if it is only 7:30.  Higgins, we are going to climb the stairs once and only once so we are going to bed now.  Wash up.  Crawl into bed.  Turn on the massage option.  I spent a fortune on this bed.  Used that massage option maybe 3 times when I first got it.  Suddenly worth every penny I spent on it.  It runs for 20 minutes and shuts off.  I ran it 4 times in a row with legs up and legs down options.

Midnight:  Bathroom.  Sweet Cheeses! Could barely make it to the bathroom – can’t walk.  Muscles sore — hmm, haven’t cramped yet, will probably happen soon.  Back to bed, another massage.

4 a.m. Bathroom.  OMG, I think I will never be able to walk again.  It’s my butt muscles and my quads.  Feet okay (not one blister!)  Long talk with myself.  You are too old for this crap.  Whats wrong with a half marathon? That’s the perfect distance.  For now on that’s it.  No more than 90 minutes of exercise a day.   You are killing yourself.  You can’t even walk.  This is crazy.  There is no way, no how I can do a 50 miler in a month. I don’t care I can’t do it.  I start to draft the letter to my coach.  I’m pulling out.  I simply do not enjoy this, I will cancel my reservation.  Save the money. And that will be 50 miles of pavement, that will hurt even more.  And it will be a lot in the dark.  Screw it, life is short.  I don’t need this stuff.  Ultras are for whackos.  I’m mad at my dismal performance but I’m even madder that I sign up for these stupid things.  What’s wrong with me?  I am no good at this.  Why do I keep hitting my head against the wall?

6 a.m. Stumble in the shower, get dressed.  Man o man.  My legs hurt bad. But I didn’t cramp.  That’s an absolute first.  Pickle juice works!!! Screw the eating plan, I give myself permission to eat anything I want for the entire day!!  I drive to Panera and get two bagels with avocado and tomato.  I’m a little happier.  Coffee.  I’m even more.

7 a.m. They post the results.  I’m ready.  Give it to me, I know it will be last place.  Two divisions, people running the marathon and people running the 8 hours.  53 people in my 8 hour division and I didn’t come in last, I came in 43rd???  10 people behind me? How did that happen? Two of the people I beat because they stopped at the marathon.  They probably had time to do more laps but didn’t — sorry Charlie.  The other people didn’t even get to the marathon.  Although I’m secretly surprised with a glimmer of pleasure,  I continue to add notes of explanation of why I’m withdrawing from Septembers race to my coach.

8 a.m.  My garmin uploads my data.  Hmmm it says my moving time was only 7:30 hours for the 28 miles.  I didn’t really stop at the aid stations, just grabbed and went, so that 30 minutes was all time in the bathroom.  Geesh that would have been enough time to do the two extra miles to make 30 and I would have been happy with that.  Looking at the splits I could tell the story of my run, first 3-4 hours not too bad.  Then a slow steady descent into hell.

9 a.m. Became aware this was my first time doing a timed run. And maybe I needed to adjust my thinking on pacing.  It was also my first time running endless loops.  Usually I’m running for distance.  I didn’t really have a check in place to make sure I stayed on pace.  If I had been running a regular marathon I would have checked my pace every mile and I would adjust.  Here I was just running loops.  Sometimes I would look down and it would say my pace was 13 minute mile, sometimes 16 minute mile.  But I didn’t really have a goal per loop.  That would have helped a little I think.  It also occurs t me that I haven’t taken a pain reliever of antiimflamatory for years.  Hmmm, I wonder what would have happened if I popped a tylenol?  Would that have helped?

9:30 a.m. Facebook abuzz with everyone posting what a great time they had at the race.  The event was so well organized (true).  The people so nice (true).  And although it was the hardest marathon they have ever done they would be back.  One guy wrote he got dizzy running so many loops. Hmm, I’m not the only one who thought it was hard?  Then it occurred to me, there are no easy marathons.  Nobody finishes a marathon and says “that was easy, let”s run some more.” It is supposed to be hard.  If it’s not hard, you are not trying.  You are supposed to overcome.

10 a.m.  Walk Higgins out to the field and throw the ball.  Hmm.  It really hurts to stand up but once i am up I can move.  Keep moving, oil the muscles.  My joints are fine.  Realize that I did the entire race with no knee pain.  None.  Well at least that was good.  I do some stretches.  Stretching feels good.  I wonder if I had taken a few minutes before each 20th loop if that would have helped.  Yeah for the 50 miler what if when I come to each aid station at 10 miles, I take 3 minutes for a thorough stretch?  Stretch the quads, stretch the gluts.  Preventative stretching.  That might help.  And then I realize what is happening.  The post-race rationalization that wipes away all the logic found in the pain.  Of course it makes no sense but I am left with the nagging feeling that I could do better.  I start assembling my list of improvements.  Oh no.  My resolve is dwindling. I delete the letter to my coach.  I check the date and time on my plane reservation to Jackson Hole.  Well I can at least get on the plane, we’ll take it from there.

I will try again.  That’s all we can do right?

RumbleGirl

IMAG0804[1]

IMAG0803[1]

IMAG0800[1]

IMAG0799[1]

Leave a comment

Filed under Blogroll

5/4/2015 Rock The Ridge

Monday. Ooph. Well, I finished. Rock the Ridge 50 mile endurance challenge. 18 hours and 38 minutes. Yep, you read that right eighteen hour and thirty-eight minutes. My goal had been 15 hours. I now know that probably the best I could have done would have been 16, but first the wheels fell off, then the transmission went and finally the engine just died. I will say I found the “race” hard, beautiful and hard.

The number one thing that keeps coming back to me is how blessed I am to have friends who would give up their valuable time to come out and support me for the entire weekend. I truly underestimated how much assistance I was going to need. My friends Rob and Mo helped me get my gear together the night before, got up at 5 a.m. to drive me to the race (then go park and take a shuttle back). They were there are the rest stops (later Steph and Tim joined too) feeding me, cheering for me, reminding me of things. Then helped me finish. I am truly blessed to have such amazing people in my life.

The first leg of the race, I prepared for because I had done the first uphill on Lenape Lane many times in my Trilife training. I knew from the get-go that I would walk it. It is too steep for me to run and continue for 45 more miles, and most of the “normal” people were walking. I felt I was doing my plan exactly on point — walking the steep uphills, jogging the downs and running much more than I thought I would on the flats. I was feeling good. I made it to the first aid station right about the correct time. Then I immediately gorged on every bad piece of food they had there and didn’t care. I ate pop tarts, banana, peanut m&m’s and just for good luck ate another pop tart! Right there I blew all my challenge food points out of the water — gladly. Didn’t care. I think I did not fill up my camelback (water pack) fully.

Leg 2

The next leg was the climb to Skytop. From mile 10 to approx 15 mostly uphill. There was one short section through the woods (meaning, woods trail not carriage trail). Logs and rocks underfoot. And then a staircase to climb. That was my first indication that hmmm, I’m kind of tired. When I got to the top of the staircase, climb, climb, climb. I was just about to say “this sucks” when it breaks into an incredible view. Looking out over the mountains with Mohonk Mountain House below was the definition of majestic. There was a little platform that jutted out over the cliff. I was too chicken to walk all the way out, but I did snap this picture from the edge.

IMAG0379[1]

But that picture does not do it justice. The views are incredible, and I immediately forgave the steep climb. When I got to the top of Skytop, I was surprised that there was no rest stop there. It was quite a climb, and I thought that 5 miles was a long way to go without a water station. I took time for a restroom break and quick stretch. On my way back down I saw the final runners (followed by sweeper), so I knew I was close to the back of the pack.

Around mile 17 I ran out of water (that’s why I suspect I did not fill my camelback correctly at mile 10). I asked a guy (who was hiking up) if he saw a water station below, and he said yes, about 2 miles and then asked me if I needed water. I said yes and he said he had plenty and gave me a 16 oz bottle of Poland Springs. I guzzled it down and thanked him profusely. Mile 19 had the real water station, and I filled up.

This water station placement is what I don’t understand. Why would you have me go 9-9.5 miles with a really steep climb and no place to refresh with water, but then put a rest stop at the bottom of the hill 4 miles from the major rest stop? I’m sure there is a reason (probably permits) but it stumped me.

I found it difficult to run again after that. When I finally got to mile 23 (the rest stop) I thought I was doing so terribly I should probably quit. But my friends were there, and they lifted my spirit, assured me that I was not far off of my goal and encouraged me to keep going. None of the food I brought was appealing to me. But, all the crap (the sugared gummy bears I had stuck in reserve), and Rob had a bag of Fritos (which I love but never allow myself to eat) all seemed wonderful. They had steamed potatoes (yeah!) with salt and some tomato soup (not bad). The massage guy rubbed my feet a bit. I was there 20 minutes and then took off feeling not too bad.

Leg 3

Leg 3 starts out innocent enough, through woods past Awosting Falls (gorgeous) and then takes a wicked turn uphill. Okay, I was prepared for it, uphill just keep it going. Then downhill and a water stop. That felt strange to have a water stop only 2 miles from the major stop at Lyons road. They did say it would be hot out on that loop, and they would be handing out water bottles but I made double sure to fill my camelback AND fill my emergency water bottle AND fill my emergency hand held. I drank them all in that 13 mile loop. It was basically six miles straight uphill (and not gradual uphill), climbing, climbing, climbing while looking over the cliffs. Stunningly gorgeous but I spent the whole time thinking “where is the mile 30 marker?” I knew mile 30 was the end of the climbing. According to the map, the first 30 miles were mostly up, and the last 20 were mostly down so in my head I had set the goal — just get to mile 30. These were the longest 6 miles of my life. Winding along the cliffs — up, up, up. Gorgeous views that I got to take in because I was climbing so slowly that I could see it all.

Finally I got to what I thought for sure was the top. There were two people and their dog taking a rest looking out over the stunning view. This was Castle Point. Wow, gorgeous. I took a moment to take it all in. But I was aware I had STILL not found the 30 mile marker. The couple took my picture.

IMAG0386[1]

Then I set out to continue the search for the 30-mile marker. I thought maybe I had passed it and missed it. (BTW my Suunto watch had stopped when I took off my second shirt at rest stop 1 and I didn’t notice until 6 miles later — I’m selling it for cheap on Ebay.)

About another half mile (guess) I passed another wandering couple and I said “any chance you saw a white sign that had “Mile 30” written on? She said “why yes, we did it’s just up that way…..” Before she could even finish I was yelling behind me “THANKS!” and I bolted to find the sign and there it was. Mile 30. Yahoo!! Everything was going to be easy from here on out. Yeah right.  (Later, the two army guys who were behind me said “we lost sight of you at Castle Point, all of a sudden you were just gone!” Woosh the adrenaline rush set my feet on fire.)

And then steep pitch down. Just because it is downhill does it mean it is easy downhill. Now I feel my big toe is shoving into the toe of my shoe. I had to stop and tighten my shoes but the damage was probably already done, I could feel my toenail was loose. I was eating the organic sugar candies — gulping my water, eating the Fritos, more water. They were actually quite a nice combo. Intense sugar and then salty. Everything in small bite sized pieces. Then only problem is I found everything hard to reach. To constantly be going to the side pockets was a pain but it is what it is. I was glad to have my extra water. Had to stop a couple of times to put it the water and figure out how to do the handheld with my poles (I stuck it in my belt). Had to stop a couple of times to pee in the woods. On the run, I had company – two army guys and another guy with his wife all about my pace. We all just kept trading spots. Anyone paused the others would pass. But we all remained in sight of one another.

Then after that another water stop. I guess they couldn’t put one up at castle point for parking reasons? I do not understand the water station system. At this point I am getting tired — I just want it done. Though I realize I have to keep eating. I have been taking my salt tablets and something called Sports Legs. I am aware that I have not had a cramp yet (a problem that has been plaguing me for the last couple of events) and I’ve had not one bit of knee pain. Considering all the climbing, I thought this was a win.

Any thoughts of quitting left me at mile 30. At this point, I was going to finish no matter what.  I was now officially willing to crawl to the finish. I made it to mile 30 and the hard part was over and now I was not going home without that finishers medal. I knew my 15-hour goal was out but I still thought maybe I had a shot at 17.  The cutoff was 24 hours. But, now I was heading toward sunset and that was going to bring on a new set of problems.

Mile 37, Lyons road aid station. I didn’t want more soup. I think I ate a potato, can’t remember. More Fritos, yes, I found another bag of the candies. I tried some applesauce — blech too warm. But my feet were okay. I took 10 minutes and then got on the road. My pace had come to a slow one. I wasn’t exactly hurting, it was that my legs felt stiff like peg legs. Everything was stiff. I’m sure I was just out of energy.

My friends met me at mile 39 and walked with me for a bit before they went off to dinner. Gave me a chance to vent a little. We said our goodbyes and then I pretty much descended into darkness. There was a full moon, but it kept going behind clouds. I found the trail scary because on the right side was a cliff and on the left side it was rocky and not as smooth. My trekking poles (which I used the entire time and thanked non-stop) saved me from falling several times. As I was getting more and more tired, and it got darker, I could see only three feet in front of me (I had a headlamp and Rob had adjusted it before he took off so it was diffusing the light properly). It became a chore of one step in front of the other. The last 10 miles were seriously difficult.

I finally made it to the last aid station at mile 42.2. I was almost crawling. If not crawling I was doing something akin to a death march. I had felt something go twang in my calf. It felt like a cramp but not as bad. I must have pulled a muscle.  It wasn’t that bad, it wasn’t like I couldn’t move.

I was aware of a few headlamps behind me. I didn’t want to spend a lot of time at the aid station. They didn’t have a coke left for the back of the packers. But I decided to take a gel — (chocolate cherry that wasn’t that bad) because it had caffeine in it. Anything to help perk me up. A gal who had been following behind me sat down on the rock to rest — something I knew I could not do otherwise I would never get up. I asked the aid station attendant if there were any more big climbs. She hemmed and hawed and finally the gal who was on the rock said “I did this last year. Mile 44-45 is a long climb. Last year I cried when I got to it.” I smiled weakly and said “but not this year, this year no tears!” I took off immediately after that. Just get it done, just get it done.

Along the way, I climbed a little up hill here and there. Hmmm did she mean that hill? Did that make her cry? Hmmm, maybe I’m done. That caffeine seems to be kicking in. And then I see some lights in the distance. Hmm, who are they? Is that the finish line? I get there and it is a truck with a very nice guy and two gals directing me. “You are going to go left here, do this loop, come back here and then head down there.” He gave me another gel with caffeine. And then I started the loop. Holy Guacamole, a mile straight uphill. It’s almost like a spiral. As you are climbing, you can see the people ahead of you above you climbing up. And then when you get up to the top you can see the headlights of the people behind you below. Dark of night so I couldn’t see bodies but I knew that gal from the last aid station had to be the person below me so I yelled how “we are doing great. No tears, right?” And she yelled back “not yet, but there is a distinct possibility!”

And then the descent down. Not too, too bad but not runnable, in the dark with a headlamp and cliff (was that a cliff? I don’t even know I couldn’t see how far down the drop was). It was simply self-preservation at that point.

And then I heard the guy call out my name. What? Oh, no what did I do? How does he know my name? Did I do something wrong? Am I disqualified or something? He said “you have someone here looking for you.” It was my friend Rob. He had climbed up the mountain nearly 4 miles in the dark to make sure I was okay. I don’t think I had ever been so happy to see anyone in my life. He had an extra flashlight. I didn’t care if it was illegal to have him walking next to me. The trail was bumpy (we were off the carriage path but heading back towards it). I was getting more and more tired. I had lost all track of time. It took forever to get down, but I’ll say this, I’m not sure I would have made it on my own without an injury.

Finally, one step at a time we made it back down to Lenape lane and there Mo, Steph and Tim joined us. I was fading fast. Only a mile or so to go. The longest mile in history. I was getting delirious. I did not eat enough for being out there that long. I also think because I felt safer since they were there my mind just kind of went. It wasn’t until I woke up the next morning so clear headed that I realized how muddy my head had been. I don’t want to think about what I might have stupidly done in those woods by myself. Fallen asleep, fallen down or worse.

I have no idea how long the last 3-4 miles took but could have been 90 minutes easily. Heck, the last mile might have taken an hour. I don’t really know. I just know that it took some help from my friends to get me there. For that help I am extremely grateful. I’m just sorry that it took me so long and I had to keep them up so late.

The race director put the finisher’s medal around my neck. I remember asking “make sure it is the solo medal, not the relay medal. I did that whole thing myself — not a relay.” I still don’t know why that was so important. Silly stuff.

My friends drove me home. The gals helped me get dressed and to bed. I begged them not to make take an ice bath at 1 in the morning. I fell into a deep sleep. I woke up the next morning and it was the clarity of morning that made me realize how unclear I had been last night.

I had a short massage at the dayspa across the street. She thought I had damaged a ligament in my calf. She’s not a doctor or anything, so I figure I will just watch it and see how it feels. The ligament is almost all better already. I’ll just hold off on the biking and running for a couple of days until it is better. Meanwhile, I can get back into the pool and do some easy stuff there.

My big goal in this event was to get my brain back to the place where quitting is unacceptable. Of course if I felt that if I was truly injured I would have stopped. But I wanted to make sure I could once again gut through something. That just because it was uncomfortable I could keep going. That just because I wasn’t doing great and was not having a PR (personal record) — I could still stick it out. In the end that’s what draws me to endurance sports. First I love the adventure of seeing the world, going to places that most people don’t get to see. Second there is no other time in my life when I feel so connected to myself. It’s the deepest form of meditation (for me.) Those moments of 100% alone in the great outdoors only my own thoughts for company. In these moments I get glimpses of myself.  Every single time I have one of those moments I feel like I am placing a piece into the bigger puzzle. Competing, contemplating, completing.

Namaste

Ice bags on my swollen tootsies.

IMAG0390[1]

Leave a comment

Filed under Blogroll

4/20/2015 Hot to Trot

Monday. Just got back from my Monday night ride and I’m feeling pretty good. I was a little nervous because I was in Florida last weekend for my running camp, and I came home with a whopper of a cold. My first big event of the year is this coming Saturday. This past Saturday, I was bummed that instead of my 20-25 mile run, I only got in 17. My coach says not to worry. Intellectually I know there is nothing I can do the week before to improve my fitness for a 50-mile run*. (*When I say run, I mean walk the uphills, run the downhills and do an “opportunistic”** run/walk on the flats. The first 30 miles of Rock the Ridge are uphill and the last 20 downhill, I think I’ll be hiking for 30 miles and jogging for 20 if I have anything left in me.) Total elevation is approximately 7,000 feet of climbing. **My old coach ‘Shifu’ used to call it opportunistic walking and I’ve kept that in my vocab. Instead of walking by a set time, walk vs. run when it is most advantageous.

The real reason I’m feeling proud of myself is because tonight I made it up the stupid little hill by my house on my bike. I’ve ridden up it a million times in my life but at the beginning of every season I can’t make it up. It pisses me off. I thought for sure after my winter of intense cycling classes I would zip right up, but no. Both weeks I tried to spin, spin, spin, but by the time I got to Dry Bridge Rd I was just too burnt to spin up it. Tonight, however, I zipped right up. Well, zip might be a stretch. I made it up with no problem, and that is going to make me sleep well tonight. It’s my little benchmark. Make it up that hill and I am doing okay. If I have to walk…. zzzttt. I made it up so easily that I suspect there might have been a problem with my bike before (new tires put on today and tightened the hub).

Running camp in Florida. Good as usual. This trip was to my third running camp with Dreamchasers. I’ve been to camps in Arizona and the Grand Tetons and this one in Florida. (Lisa Smith-Batchen hosts them. She is coaching me for Rock the Ridge and possibly another stab at G2G — but first I have to finish Rock the Ridge). As much as I have been feeling really good about myself having lost 25 pounds in the last year, standing next to a bunch of short, thin ultra runners is never good for your ego. I still have a long way to go and was twice the size of most of them. It was an mostly short crowd. But like most ultra runners — super nice, super supportive and though they can run circles around me, never made me feel less than equal.

At lunch, Lisa made us go around the table and tell everyone what ultras we have done and for what event we are training. The resumes were impressive to say the least. Most of the people there were training for the Keys 100 next month (100 mile run in the intense heat of the Flordia Keys). A couple of campers were doing their first 50, but most of them had done several Ultras. (One gal just got finished doing a 6-mile swim followed by a 112-mile run or something crazy like that). One guy is going to run across Cuba (yes the entire country!) to commemorate when he escaped by kayak 20+ years ago). So when it finally got around to me, I was feeling a little less than worthy and said “I’ve only done one ultra.” Then Lisa made me say it, “Marathon des Sables.” As usual everyone oohed and ahhed, and I felt like a big fat fraud. I always feel like I have to qualify it. It was another lifetime ago. I was different then. That’s before cancer — before my parents dying. That’s not me. I don’t even know what to say so I just say nothing. Yeah, yeah, I can hear someone yelling “you can’t take that away from yourself.” Sure I can, 3 DNF’s outweigh one ultra. I couldn’t even pull out my Ironman medal. It seemed everyone at the table had done at least 3.

So now I want to get something on the plus side of my board because I’ve changed again. I’m a different person now than when I had all my not-finishes. I’m feeling so much better than those years — I’m just not the same. I’m not nervous about Saturday. ‘Running’ 50 miles with approx 7,000 ft of elevation — I should be nervous. But I’m not nervous because if I let myself go there, I’ll just puke, and that won’t do me any good. So I’ve just opted to be delusional. I’m not allowing in any negative thoughts. Yep, I’m going to do it, and I’m going to finish. If I have to come crawling in on crutches, that’s what I’m going to do. I’ve done enough of these events to know that worry does nothing to help — though it does make you alert. I have clicked that part of my brain that just says ‘go.’ At this point, it is a mental game. In my fantasy, I finish in 15 hours. Lisa says to make that my A plan and then make a B and C plan. So A=15 hours. B = 17 hours. C=18 hours which would be midnight and blue cheeses if I don’t finish by midnight, we go to plan D, which is to crawl.

Back to camp because I’ll forget about it soon enough. A big focus in the camp was how to train in non-optimal conditions. We talked about how to train for a high altitude race in the flats of Florida, or train for an ultra when you are really short on time. So we did a ton of cross training. Pulling tires up and over a bridge. Pulling tires backward, sideways, inside out (just kidding) and more squats, lunges, cartwheels (yeah, I couldn’t do cartwheels as a kid never mind at 55). All different kinds of drills, tons of drills and more drills. Then when you were nice and tired, you get “tire-ed” and have to pull the Goodyear up and over the bridge one more time.

We did drills on the beach (remember crab crawls?) — humiliating. We did drills on the stairs – a lot of variations on the stairs. We did drills everywhere. A lot of drills I hadn’t done before (and some I’ll never do again! lol). When I got there on Thursday, they had started already, so I jumped in and ran up and down the bridge for my gait analysis. They said I looked good. Then it was more, run here, jump here, lift this, drag that. Now do it again with your arms over your head!

On Friday alone according to one guy’s watch we did 25 miles. I did an extra 3 miles each a.m. because I liked to get up early, and power walk the boardwalk to see the sunrise. (Can you blame me after being stuck in CT for the worst winter in history?) Each afternoon I did a swim in the ocean — heaven. We ate most of our meals together. Saturday night we were hosted by Bob Becker, who is the race director for the Keys 100 and was also a camp participant. What a nice guy and what a lovely evening and dinner party.

By Saturday night, I had lost my voice but I felt fine. I did my final run on Sunday morning and flew back home. I then proceeded to have a cold/flu from hell. It lasted until Friday. So the only workout I got in was an easy ride with a lovely flat tire! And then right into my long run on Saturday which I started too late and as I said — wrapped up at 17. But it was a hard 17 — all trail, all rocks, and the middle 9 miles alone were 2,000 feet of climbing. But then I got a big fat blister and chose to stop.

So that’s where I am. Friday I leave for Rock the Ridge. It starts at 6 a.m. Saturday morning. Hopefully by 9 p.m. I will finish — coherent and standing. I have lots of lists to compile. I can’t forget one of a million items. What if it rains, what if I get a blister, what if I get cold, nauseous, hot… I have to plan for every situation. But I’m going to be good because I made it up that little hill tonight, and if I can make it up that little hill, I can do pretty much anything.

Namaste

Leave a comment

Filed under Blogroll