Nameless Spirits–Part Two

27 Jun


To read about the lead-up to “race day”, see Nameless Spirits–Part One here.

8 weeks ago, when we cancelled Many on the Genny, we were both so sad. We knew it was coming, of course. But that didn’t make it easier to admit to ourselves and everyone else that it was over for this year. When Eric said, “what if you and I run Many this year?” I was just like, “yeah that’d be really cool!” It seemed like a great idea, until I looked at a calendar and realized how close we actually were to race day. But it was time to walk the walk.

Because we are the first people to tell others “of course you can” when they say “I just don’t know if I can.” I get that uncertainty–I’ve been there…and still go there often. But I also know that if you want it badly enough, if you focus, if you train, there’s really nothing your body can’t do.

So we started training. 8 weeks flew by in the blink of an eye and we were standing at the start line with some of our closest friends. People had given up their entire day to follow us along, bring us food and drinks, run with us, and deal with our stinky, sweaty, cranky selves. Ron was there to video (I can’t WAIT to see what he puts together) and when he asked how we were feeling, I had a brief moment of panic. 8 weeks to train for 40 miles? WTF were we ever thinking.  But then I reminded myself that ultras are just about long days in the woods with friends.  It was a beautiful sunrise, still relatively cool (but SO humid), we had tons of snacks and would be surrounded by some of our favorite people. We had this on lock. At 6 AM, we set out.

We ran the first stretch to Aid One alone. A mile in, Eric mentioned his heart rate and I looked at my watch. We were identical. I was like, “well look at how cute we are–our hearts are in sync.” It was a joke, but also a deeper truth in some way. Looking at pictures tonight, there are SO many where we are stride for stride. It’s hilarious.

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Cruising right along

At Aid One, Jen the Banana Extraordinaire helped me repack my pack, then Katie, Dave, Eric and I set out. We joked, we chatted, we ran, we hiked.  I was thankful for the company, thankful to be running with Katie again, thankful for the jokes Dave made. The miles clicked off. Anita was watching Picasso and brought him to various points on the course–he ignored me, looked for Eric, and barked at us as we went on by.  I’m sad that he’s too old for long adventures, but so grateful that our friends took care of him for the day so he could be there with us in some way.

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Miles just clickin off…

At Aid Two, we dropped off Katie and Dave and grabbed Lincoln and Jack-Henry. The funniest moment was when we passed our cheerleaders and someone asked how we felt. Eric said, “Great!” as Lincoln said, “This is TERRIBLE!” Running with the guys was nice–hearing youthful exuberance and all the optimism and excitement for the future was super energizing, which was good as our energy started to wane a bit. We almost took the wrong turn down the knife’s edge, and at the last second I realized what we’d done. Whew close call!

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Love these kids!

We came into Aid Three, the turn around, and I changed shirts, socks and shoes–it was so hot and humid by this point, and I was soaked. I have not run an ultra where I did not chafe, and I was fully expecting that, but also knew I could mitigate that problem by changing and lubing up–I used a lot of Two Toms and Vaseline to try to ensure a less-painful post-race shower.  At this aid station, we left Lincoln and set out with Scott, James and Jack-Henry. I had come into this aid station feeling pretty beat up, but changing shoes is always a pick me up. (Side note: it was here that I started to feel like I had some blisters forming…but I figured with the dry socks and shoes, I should be good to go.) I left with a spring in my step, but Eric was starting to suffer.  At the marathon mark, we stopped to take a picture. I wish I had video-ed Eric’s advice to Jack-Henry because it was very profound. I had started to feel kind of low, and I was just thankful that the guys were there to help Eric keep moving–at some point his legs had started cramping and every hill was daunting. I was so thankful the guys were there–JH to tell stories, James to make sure Eric was eating (I mean literally he was the only one Eric would listen to) and Scott to get in front of Eric on the hills and tell him to keep moving. And so it went…JH telling stories, James handing Eric bags of chips and Scott pulling us all up the hills with his words. We’d crest a hill, then everyone would fall back behind Eric to let him set the pace.

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Cramping hard

We got to Aid Four after what felt like FOREVER.  There was ice (Tom and Laura had said they were bringing it and we were like you don’t have to we’ll be ok–but boy was I grateful to have it!), water, snacks and our trusty crew who had hiked it all down to the trail. Eric sat down, while I changed sports bras (for some reason I hadn’t done this at the last aid station, and my bra at this point was DISGUSTING). We filled water and grabbed a TON of food (the next stretch is over 8 miles long!) and set out with James and Scott.  The guys had started and I had stayed behind to finish packing more snacks “for the road” when I heard Isaac yelling.  I was like wait what are you doing? “Coming with you guys!”  I was like, “You need some water and snacks!” He was like, “I’ll be fine it’s only like 5 miles.” I corrected him on the distance, but he said he was fine, so we jogged to catch up with the other 3.

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50k done–every step after would be a new distance record for Eric!

This stretch took an eternity, and I’d be lying if I said it was fun.  This is where I really started to notice all the “problems.” My feet were burning–I was positive at this point that I had blisters, but there was nothing to do but press on. I was soaking wet and so hot and smelly. Eric was cramping really badly by now, and watching him keel over in pain and not being able to help sucked. To be honest, I don’t even remember much about this stretch except those things.  James and Scott were awesome about encouraging us to push on–truly the best pacers you could ever ask for. And Isaac kept us entertained and distracted with stories and deep thoughts.  Isaac said, “man, I feel bad for the runners on race day for this course.” Eric didn’t miss a beat and replied, “man, I feel fucking bad for myself.”

At some point, another person joined our little train–he was there to do the course as well, and was out of water. We told him he could go on ahead of us, but he stuck around.  We were also running out of water and super cranky waiting for the water drop, when out of the woods came Jeff and Alan with water!!! We gratefully refilled and then carried on in our grim little procession to where everyone else was waiting. Somehow my sports bra strap had come undone. My sweaty  self needed help fixing it, and Anita and Laura stepped up to the smelly, disgusting plate.  Eric had picked up some extra stuff and kept walking, so I had to run to catch up to him again.  Another eternity later, we finally hit the Final Count Down Aid Station.

We climbed the hill leading up to it, and I was like, this is it, we’re almost there. Sure enough, a couple of minutes later, the music was playing. Eric was in front of our group, I was at the back. I heard him say Oh My God Are you Kidding ME? I picked my head up to see the RRC tent and a crowd of friends. I got misty–what a surprise! We refilled everything one last time.  I mentioned to Katie that I thought I had some pretty bad blisters happening, but she agreed with me that I shouldn’t bother taking my shoes off at this point–onward. On the way out of the aid station, I grabbed an Athletic Free Way Double IPA “for the road” thinking we’d be hiking–but Eric started to run.

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Seeing these amazing humans after such a long day…*cries again*

So there I was, running, beer in hand, trying to catch up.


Drinking a beer, covering 40+ miles…no big deal haha

Scott was with us, and we started the slog to the finish. We were both super cranky by then, and poor Scott had to deal with that. It started to thunder and then rain–finally.  Normally being stuck in thunder in the woods would freak me out, but I was just so happy for the rain and cool breeze that had picked up. I had to pee, so I stopped…Eric and Scott kept going.  I sprinted to catch up–I don’t even know why, but it felt AMAZING to be flying…and when I caught up to them, Phil had joined! He ran the course that day, too, then went to work. We hit Hogsback Overlook and knew it was about a mile left. Phil got in his patrol car, turned on the siren and used the loudspeaker to heckle (“Eric Eagan, please run faster!”). Scott sprinted ahead. And it was just us…the minute we hit the trail head, the cheers made me cry.  It was pouring rain.  We ran through the lot…into the pavilion. We high fived Dave and Joe. We hugged each other. We hugged everyone else. We had done it!

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Joe had delicious food for us along with medals he’d made for us! I felt pretty good minus my blisters. I had a blister on the back of my left heel and the entire bottom and side of my right heel was a blister on top of a blister on top of a popped blister–my socks were stuck to the blister that had popped. Taking off those stupid shoes and socks was excruciating (thanks, Jeff, for the assist–I don’t know if I could have pulled the shoe off on my own).  Other than that, I was shockingly unscathed. Eric was still cramping, and we were all worried about him at first, but after an hour he started to look better. We hung out til the mosquitoes started biting…then we packed the truck back up and went home.

I’m not surprised we finished–I knew we would. We are both stubborn AF and this run was about proving something–to everyone else (you can absolutely complete 40 miles…even with limited training) and to ourselves.  We are both beyond grateful to our team that day–we definitely would not have gotten through it without all of them.

To Dave and Anita–for picking us up at 5 AM to drive us to the start line, taking care of Picasso, cheering us on and pacing!

To Jen for transporting all of our food and aid, being the best dancing banana cheerleader ever, and all the encouragement and reminders to eat and drink!

To Katie for the miles over the years and the ones that day, plus all the crewing and cheering!

To James, Amy, Jack-Henry and Lincoln–for the cheering, taking care of Picasso, and pacing…plus all the pictures!

To Tom and Laura–for hauling in aid on the back half, especially the ice…it was life saving!

To Scott–for the miles on that first Run ‘Em All, Hike ‘Em All, the miles since, and the pacing…we wouldn’t have wanted to do this race without you!

To Ron, Elyse and Emma–for filming and following us around on a very long, very hot day!

To Joe–for the post-race food and our medals and 6 pack! So good!!!

To RRC, especially Greg and Cayley–for giving us the full Final Countdown Aid Station experience–y’all are amazing for what you do!

To Athletic Brewing–for delicious NA craft beers! (If you haven’t checked them out yet, you can go here and use code SHEILAE20 for 20% off your first order.)

Every single one of you is such a genuinely amazing person, and we are so lucky to have you all in our lives. We love you and cannot thank you enough for what you did for us that day and also leading up to the race with your encouragement and positivity!

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Enjoying well-deserved post-race AB beers.

Lastly, to Eric, thank you for dreaming big and pushing yourself, me and us to constantly grow and try new things. I’m thankful I have my spider shield back and can’t wait to spend more long days adventuring in the woods with you!

Just like I didn’t know where the story starts, I’m not sure where it ends. The last 2 months have reminded me how much I love ultras, and I am ready to set a new goal, start training and tackle more adventures! But first…rest and recovery! 😛


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Eric doesn’t nap…I will take all the naps for both of us!


Nameless Spirits–Part One

24 Jun

I don’t even know where this story starts.

Over a decade ago, when I met Eric? He was a runner. I was a former soccer player who always said give me a ball to chase and I’ll run, but running “just because”? Nope.  I liked Eric because he challenged me, he made me think.  We’d chat on AIM for hours a day.  So when he started inviting me to the track at Naz…I begrudgingly went…and walked.  Can’t get sweaty and nasty in front of the guy you like, can you?

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We were just babies

But maybe it starts when we realized we were going to eventually get married. I think I found the ring box at some point…we’d already talked about getting married…I knew the ring was coming. We started looking for a house.  Every Saturday morning, we’d go to Breuggers, eat a bagel, then spend the day driving around looking at houses. One morning at Breuggers, I spotted a brochure for Breuggers 5k. We signed up when I saw that there were free bagels at the finish line–and then I asked how far a 5k was.  Our first “run,” I literally made it a tenth of a mile to the end of the street before I gave up.  We persevered.  We ran Breuggers. Then we ran other 5ks.

Or maybe it starts when Eric convinced me to run my first half marathon.  At the start line, he advised me to drink water during the race. I had not trained drinking anything. Every 2 miles, I dutifully drank 2 cups of water. I was going to make him so proud of me!  By mile 8, my stomach was sloshing. I crossed the finish line, puked everywhere and vowed I’d never run again.  That afternoon, I started dissecting where I’d gone wrong and how I could do better and researching other half marathons to run.

Maybe it starts when Eric registered me for my first full marathon.  I was excited for another running adventure together.  Then he informed me he was doing the half and would see me at the finish line. It was cold and rainy and my skittles froze in my waist belt and my whole body hurt…but crossing that finish line and running into Eric’s arms was one of the most exhilarating moments.

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This silly girl had no idea what kind of runs would be in her future…

Maybe it starts when I ran my second marathon–and I trained hard and thought I’d run well. But race day came, and the wheels fell off early. I was miserable the entire race–I got into a funk and couldn’t snap out. Eric had put together Sherpas for Shme–every mile, someone important to me was there cheering me on. I wanted to quit, but I wanted to see who was next. I finished–it wasn’t the race I’d planned for, but it was super fun anyway.

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Maybe it starts with Kevin and Liz, drinking beers and listening to bad music at Beale Street. Liz mentioned the Dirty German 50k, and by the end of the night, we’d decided we’d train for our first 50k in the 11 weeks we had left. We took a couples’ trip to Philly, explored the city, ran the race, and had a fantastic time.

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Maybe it starts with Eric crewing me through every ultra after that. The no nonsense, of course you can do this, put your head down and grind it out, waiting-at-the-finish-line-for-a-sweaty-teary-hug rock that was always there.  Through years of injuries, surgeries and recovery…it was a rough road for him, but he was always there for me.

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They say you always remember your first…my first 50 miler was a doozy and unforgettable

Maybe it starts with Run ‘Em All, Hike ‘Em All. Cross-country road trip plans fell through, and we decided that rather than take a year to hike all the trails in Letchworth, we’d just do them all in a week.  Eric put it out there, and we ended up making a lifelong friend, Scott, who we had hardly ever spoken to before that week in the woods.

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Maybe it starts with all the races we’ve directed over the years and the incredible #TrailsRoc family we have been part of.  From Dash for Dasher to 0 SPF to Ready, Set, Glow to WTF to Mess the Dress to Mighty Mosquito to Last Runner Standing.  Maybe it’s all the aid stations we’ve supported, most notably Virgil Crest and Cayuga Trails…

Maybe you’ve noticed the common thread–Eric, constantly pushing me and us. To do more, to try more, to meet new people. Eric constantly nudging us into the direction of adventure. Constantly telling me I can. Following me around on training runs and races, hauling my junk food and water, telling me that I just needed to keep moving, that I was strong enough to do this. When I didn’t believe I could, he believed for both of us.


We knew in April that the likelihood of being able to host Many on the Genny was slim to none. I alternated between hope that we’d be allowed to host the race (because it’s our baby and one of my favorite days of the year) and annoyance (we should just cancel now because even if we were allowed to host the race, there was no way I’d be comfortable with that many people around).

When we realized our permits were not going to come through, Eric drafted the message about cancelling. He hit send, and I cried. A couple days later, he was like, “What if we ran the course together on race day?” It was a no brainer. Of course we should do that. I never even looked at a calendar or gave it much thought…Why wouldn’t we spend the day we had already set aside to be in Letchworth…to be in Letchworth?

Eric created a training plan that included 3 days a week of running and 3 days a week of long walks, plus strength training and pre-hab/re-hab stuff. We reached out to a small group of friends who were important to the race/our running and asked if they could

  1. Hold us accountable for our training
  2. Help crew and pace us on the day ofKeeHol

So we had a plan, we had a crew, and we were ready to get the party started.

I didn’t really consider how short a training cycle we had until a month or so into the 8 week plan (8 weeks!??!?!), when I was thinking about wanting a cut back week…but we didn’t have time for that. Even so, training overall went really well–we knew that because of the limited time to train, we would do a lot of hiking on the back half of the course and on the hills. So we did a lot of walking in preparation–long walks and hikes after long runs.

Everything went smoothly until we had 3 weekends in a row of long runs–a 16, a 20 and a 15 (and technically the 15 wasn’t on the weekend, because Eric had knee injections on a Friday, so we did the 20 miler on a Saturday and then 15 on Thursday.  It was a lot of miles, piled on.  And both of our bodies were feeling it. During that last 15, Eric wavered a bit–and I just kept reminding him of the lack of recovery weeks and the fact that we’d done a 20 not even a week before…that 15 was miserable, which should really mimic what the back half of the race was going to feel like.

Before we knew it, race week was here. We packed up a cooler of food for our crew and a separate one of aid for us. We were lucky enough to get a bunch of beers from Athletic Brewing Company, so we had those.  On Saturday, June 20, we packed up the car and headed to Letchworth at 3:45 in the morning. It was go time…

Nameless Spirits–Part Two here.

On grief

17 Dec

Friday night we went to dinner with our neighbors. We haven’t seen them in forever, and they are truly the greatest combination of grandparents, parents, and friends that one could ask for.  We love them for a million reasons, and all week we were looking forward to dinner and catching up.


It was a beautiful, warm night–almost 50. I decided to bust out my pink paisley coat–the one that I loved from the minute I saw it on a clearance rack at Target, that Eric took one look at and said, “Why are you wearing a rug?”  But I loved it, and I kept it, and Friday night I decided I’d wear it.  I put it on, walked out the door, went to dinner, had a lovely time eating yummy food and catching up, put it back on when dinner was over, put my hands in the pockets, and…found Lisa’s prayer card and the Red is the Rose lyrics from her wake.  And wanted to just go to bed and stay there until this wasn’t a thing anymore. Except it won’t ever stop being a thing. But bed still sounded like a good place to go.


I can’t believe it’s been a little over a month since Lisa passed away. I simultaneously can’t believe it’s only been a month. It feels like an eternity. Most days I feel like I’ve aged 20+ years.  And yet I don’t feel old enough to be dealing with all of this. I just hang in this weird dichotomy of too-young and old-grizzled-jaded.  I don’t feel equipped to handle it all the “right” way.  Even though I also know there’s no “right” way to handle any of it.  My mantra the past month and a half has been “this is so fucked up.” There aren’t any better words for any of it. And that refrain just fits pretty much every situation–it’s just fucked up.


There have been so many hard days and harder nights.  The horrible moments have piled up–from all the memories of That Night (which was god-awful from the minute we were woken up in the middle of the night, to the crazy drive over to their house, to the EMTs bringing her down the stairs and out to the ambulance, to the ride following the ambulance, to the minute we walked out of the hospital the next morning knowing she was never coming back–and every horrible, heart-wrenching moment in between), to the memories of the immediate aftermath (planning wakes and funerals and breaking the news to people and all the tears and sleepless nights), to the late nights on couches and around tables, talking, crying and talking some more–trying to make sense of something that is, at its core, incomprehensible. I’ve been trying for weeks to make it work in my head.  But I can’t.


I think the two hardest parts for me now can be divided into two categories: the past and the future.


I struggle with the past–the not knowing–because I didn’t know so much about her past and who she was before I met her and who she was and what she meant to other people. I keep thinking of all of the things I didn’t know about her–the clothes we cleared out that I never saw her wear (we found some amazing high heels and boots! OMG my friend wore heels?!?!), the pictures of friends from long ago who I never met, even the wedding pictures–because even though we were so close, we didn’t know each other even 5 years ago.  Everyone has a past, and we can never know everything about someone. But I’m so sad that I didn’t ask her more questions, spend more time with her, know her sooner, and most importantly tell her explicitly how much she meant to me more often.  Finding some high heels and adorable dresses, I wondered why we didn’t ever dress up…then bitch about how much our feet hurt, and then put on sweatpants and cook Tasty recipes and watch The Bachelor.  I’m pretty sure that’s how dressing up with Lisa would have been, at least that’s how I imagine it, since that will never be a thing now. Standing with her dad at her wake (God that’s an effed up sentence starter), watching all the pictures of her as a kid, as he narrated the Lisa he knew…I was so sad that I didn’t know that girl…I like to think we’d have been friends as kids–we certainly did a lot of the same things growing up.


And so thinking about the past, and the fact that I didn’t “know” her (because I didn’t know all of her stories, which I realize is ridiculous because no one knows all of someone’s stories), really makes me sad.  But then I think of the future–all the things we won’t get to do. All of the future “stuff” that will never be. And I am even more sad.  Because I feel like we just started to get closer, and now all of that is gone.  We had just started sharing “secrets” and talking about the more real stuff–and it was all cut short.  All of the things we’d discussed doing…all gone.  The vacations the four of us (Eric, Valone, Lisa and I) had talked about taking. The races we would have run/supported each other through. The parties and events (Eric and I were so excited that our best friends would get to be at our anniversary party, since we missed each others’ weddings before we knew each other…the thought of an anniversary party without her just seems really pointless now.) The recipes she won’t make and then pass along to me. The cooking questions I will most definitely have that she won’t be there to answer. The last-minute texts asking us to go check out a burger place in Syracuse. The Bachelor Fantasy League (that she found…another total shocker…haha).  The hikes and camping trips and campfires and swims on hot summer days. And all the conversations we will never have.  Any future we had as friends (and also as couples) is gone.  It’s like I got robbed of something, and I struggle with the enormity of the loss I feel, especially when I consider that other people knew her in different ways, for longer, and are struggling with losses that I know are far greater than my own.  I have known grief before, but the enormity of this grief is just so different and so much greater than anything else that I don’t know what to do with it all.


And so I’ve thought the past month and a half about the past and the future. I thought that maybe I was being a baby…that my grief should be smaller…that maybe I was blowing things out of proportion.  I worked hard to try to convince myself that maybe we weren’t actually that close.  And then we found a card we’d sent them in her nightstand.  And I broke.  Because it mattered.  It does matter. She mattered to us. And she mattered to me.


The reality is that we spent multiple nights a week together.  We texted literally every day in a group text. She and I texted most days on the side. Often those texts were about our worries with our husbands, and we’d end up at one house or the other to be there through a tough time.  One of my favorite memories of her was when we went snowshoeing up at Payne Beach–just the two of us. Eric had been going through another surgery recovery and we were stressed and arguing over stupidity and she texted to ask if I wanted to go snowshoe. Valone would hang at the house with Eric.  And so we ended up snowshoeing up to the lake.  We talked some, but also did a fair amount of hiking in silence.  It was comfortable silence though. The trails were so beautiful that day–all snow covered and crisp and we hit the beach and both were like, “wow this is so cool.” I tried to find pictures of that day, but I couldn’t find any. Both of us would get so angry at having our pictures taken–we hated how we looked in pictures.  Now I regret not having some pictures, even if they were “bad” ones, even if they were “just for me” pictures that no one else saw.


They say grief isn’t linear–and it’s so true.  The first week was awful.  I didn’t know it was possible to cry as much as I did.  It was worse than even Eric’s dad passing away, and that was truly awful.  But then things seemed to get better–it was not better, to be clear.  But I stopped crying so much and could talk about what had happened without crying.  The past 2 weeks, I think I am back to crying when I think of or talk about it.  I have gone from sad to angry to waiting for her to walk in to shocked to sad again.  This morning I got lost on a trail and sat on a fallen tree trunk and sobbed. I sobbed for what was, I sobbed for what I didn’t know, I sobbed for what will never be, I sobbed for what is to come.  Because the reality is that nothing makes sense, nothing is ok, and nothing is the way it should be.


It’s been over a month since she died. But it feels like an eternity.  And I guess this is what grief is.




Cayuga Trails Marathon Pre-Thoughts

19 Jul

This morning, I went for my last run before Cayuga. The past week or so, my mind has been swirling with thoughts about this race.

  • I should never register for summer races. I hate running in the heat and humidity. I knew that the bulk of my training would be over the summer when I signed up, but for some reason thought I could handle it. I can handle it. But man I hate it. And so I didn’t really handle it. Fall races and late spring races are where it’s at for me…
  • All that being said…My training has been pretty lackluster. I will finish. But I have not done what I should have to do my best. I squeaked out a few nice distance runs (a handful of 15+ and 2 or 3 20s), had a few bigger weeks (3 40+ milers, 5 30+ milers), did some decent speed workouts.  Many on the Genny week was full of lots of time on feet… My watch stopped working at one point, and I never wrote down what I was ran then, so maybe I did some extra long runs/bigger weeks that I’ve already forgotten about.  We had like 2-3 weeks of 90 degrees plus high humidity, and I couldn’t bring myself to run–my lungs were hurting just sitting around. But these are all excuses.  I didn’t train as hard as I had wanted to/I should have, and that means that I did not do my best. That irritates me. I’m trying to be better about expectations I have for myself and others (as in lower the bar so that you won’t be continually disappointed). But old habits die hard. I am a work in progress. Even this bullet point reveals a frustration with myself that I am trying to tame.
  • Cayuga is one of the best courses ever. It’s beautiful, and the crowd of runners is awesome, and the vollies are all wonderful. Saturday is going to be fun no matter what because of these things.  Who cares about how fast you go when you get to see favorite things and people and camp?
  • When I ran the 50 miler here a couple of years ago, I was trained much better, but I ran the first 25 miles in 5:3X:00…so ideally that’s what I’d be able to do on Saturday.  But I have no idea if that’s possible.  I know I will push hard to make it happen…
  • Picasso is out of shape. Like after 2 miles we had to stop for a drink break. Then again at 2.5 and again at 3 for a swim. Dude may be playing me a little bit, but I gotta get him back into shape.


    A scenic spot to stop for a swim…

  • Every day I wake up and look around me and am in awe that we live where we do.  We came home from our run today and Picasso immediately jumped into the pond to cool down.  He was tired, though, so he came and laid down next to me on the dock, where we both catnapped in the sun.


As I laid there, a movement caught my eye, and I looked up just in time to see…Minkus!!! I’ve named the little mink that lives nearby Minkus (like the kid from Boy Meets World). He’s adorable. He nervously picked his way across the front of our property while watching both of us. Picasso was too tired to notice or care, but I quietly moved to take some pictures.  This little guy is so cute!!!

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Haha the birds in the upper right hand corner of this pic are fantastic!!


#FliptheScript National Infertility Awareness Week

28 Apr

I’ve thought all week about what I want to say on this, our umpteenth NIAW (National Infertility Awareness Week).  I thought about the hashtag they chose for the week (#FliptheScript) and about what it means and how it fits in with our journey.  I had a blog all set to go in my head. And so I sat down tonight to write, and I re-read last year’s blog, and I realized that not much has changed, and I essentially wanted to say the same thing.


My whole life, I dreamed about the day I’d become a mother. My whole life, I’ve been surrounded by kids.  I never really dreamed about my wedding as a kid, but I made lists in chalk of the names of my babies-to-be on the sidewalk out front of our house. I can still remember the excitement and the amazement when we decided to start trying to have a baby–a combination of “oh my god are we old enough for this?” and “what will it feel like to be pregnant and grow a human?” and “can i really handle the pain of childbirth?” and “will we completely fuck this up?” But after a couple of years of trying on our own, then came all the tests, the procedures, the elation and hopefulness and then the crushing blow each time we were told no. I had never dreamed of it being like this–this process of becoming a parent was supposed to be so fun, so loving, so exciting.  And didn’t I deserve it? Hadn’t we done everything “right”? And wouldn’t I be such a good mom? Wouldn’t we be such cool parents?  Working through all of that…it was hard. It is hard. Because even with all the progress we’ve made, I am a work in progress.  And sometimes I have to remind myself of that.


When we moved to the new house, I guess I saw it as a kind of break from that part of our past somehow.  We were moving, so we cleaned things out, eliminating the stuff we didn’t need or want anymore.  So when we moved, I got rid of most of the things I’d kept in my infertility hope chest...I had secretly stored a bunch of baby things I’d accumulated over the years, thinking that we’d need them someday, but also feeling ridiculous, especially the longer that treatments went on without any glimmer of hope.  When I read the blog linked above, I remember feeling a sense of relief…I wasn’t the only one secretly storing things away.  I donated most of the things in the box I’d been keeping, except for one blanket, the blanket Eric bought one day and proudly presented to me as our kid’s first blankie.  As we packed up our things and prepared to move to a new home and start a new chapter, I was convinced I wouldn’t need the things in that box–there was no way any treatment was EVER going to work, so why continue hoarding it? Throwing that stuff out was hard and sad but also so liberating…all except for that blankie…I just couldn’t bring myself to get rid of it.  So it’s the one relic that remains, tucked safely in the bottom of my bra drawer, as a just-in-case.


I had all but forgotten it, but somehow found it before going in for my first surgery ever this fall (which I naturally took as a sign of good things to come).  I’d been having problems for forever–incessant bleeding and cramping and general misery.  “Just take all my shit out,” I told the doctor. “None of it works right. If it’s not gonna give us babies and it’s gonna make me feel like this, get rid of it. I’m sick of dealing with all of it.” She told me how I didn’t want to go thru menopause, how I was too young, how things still might happen for us.  Just waiting for that lucky cycle. Let me go in, explore what’s going on, remove any problems, and then let’s do another medicated cycle.  I agreed to it, if for nothing else than to stop the bleeding.


So I had surgery, and it was ok [minus having to sit in my hospital gown with no bra in a spot where I was positive everyone could see me (y’all I don’t NOT wear a bra around people–this may have been the most traumatizing part of my experience, which I wrote about extensively in my post-surgery questionnaire), and also minus them needing to try multiple times to get an IV in (I fucking hate needles and I hated both those nurses for digging around in my elbows until the third person finally came in and efficiently started one in the back of my hand), and also minus sobbing the minute they injected me with whatever shit they do first to make you start getting sleepy (apparently I blubbered my way all the way back to the OR), and then again sobbing upon waking up when I realized I’d survived (because death was a very real fear of mine)]. Suffice to say that my first surgical experience was not terrible–I did wake back up when it was all over with, after all.  Recovery was not at all what I’d anticipated, but then things finally started to feel better.  And since then, I’ve secretly been holding out hope that things would just happen…on their own…the good old-fashioned way.


Because while I still really want to be a mom, I don’t think I can stomach the crazy hormones, the emotional roller coaster, the needles and tummy bruises, the weeks of it (because god forbid my body react the “normal” way and take just one week), the rushing around before/after/during work to try to get to the doctor for every-other-day ultrasounds, the every-other-day-when-you-aren’t-at-the-doctor-for-an-ultrasound blood draws til the phlebotomists know your name and start asking how much longer they’re going to have to poke you because this is ridiculous and your poor arms. So I have just been being stubborn–if my ovaries want to be stubborn, then so can I, right? But in my head, I kept hearing my doctor, saying we should try one more combination of medicines, because maybe this will be the magical combination and the magical time.  [I have added the word “magical” here because it seems like something she meant to say…]


I think what bothers me most about the idea of going back to medical treatments, aside from all the pain, discomfort and general misery of fertility treatments, is that it might not work.  It often doesn’t work.  I just read yet another article today citing statistics from 2015 that only 26% of IVF cycles result in live births.  IUI (the procedure we’ve had done multiple times) has an average 10-20% success rate. There are absolutely no guarantees in all of this–and if the past history has anything to show, as my doctor said last time I saw her, “Well….nothing really has worked at all so far, but I guess the best cycle we had was with Clomid, so maybe we could try that again and add in some injections and see what happens.”  The reality is that some people will not be able to have their own children.  Sometimes medicine will fail us, there will be no real answers for why, it just won’t work out.


So when I think about NIAW and the theme of #FliptheScript, I think that’s one thing that needs to change about how we talk about infertility.  ART (Assisted Reproductive Technology) is really amazing, and so many people get to become parents thru medicine.  It’s amazing and something to celebrate! But others don’t, and it’s really damaging that our society sells IUI and IVF as panaceas. And it’s literally being sold.  I’ve heard “just do IVF” so many times over the past almost decade that I could scream.  IVF and IUI aren’t for everyone and don’t work for everyone, for a variety of reasons, not limited to but including financial, emotional and medical concerns.


It is so easy to get sucked into this endless (for some of us for whom the “normal” treatments don’t work) downward spiral because society tells us that women should be moms, that being a mom is the only way to have a fulfilling life.  Don’t get me wrong…I still think that being a mom is a truly fulfilling job–one that I’d love to have a shot at.  But the societal norm that women should be moms, and women who choose not to pursue that goal are somehow damaged or flawed is a huge problem in our culture.  It creates mothers who shouldn’t be (they aren’t ready for it), it causes too many women to lose their sense of self outside of their identity as a mother (because a “good” mom sacrifices it all for the sake of her family), and it makes women (and men) who are dealing with infertility willing to go to great lengths (and a lot of money and time) for the HOPE that maybe they will have the lucky cycle.


The reality is that just like any other personal identity–sister, wife, daughter-in-law, aunt, cousin, friend, teacher, mentor–being a mom is just one facet of any person’s life.  And just because it’s not a facet of my life, doesn’t make me any less of a woman, sister, wife, daughter-in-law, aunt, cousin, friend, teacher or mentor.  It’s just one hat that I don’t wear. I likely never will.  When I finally started accepting that, I found so much peace and comfort.  When I finally decided that I couldn’t take one more needle if it was going to be followed up by the doctor sadly shaking her head and telling me how frustrated she was which was then followed up by one more tearful conversation with Eric about what our next move would be…I felt peace for the first time in a long, anxiety-ridden time.  The past couple of years, on our “break,” I’ve felt peace with my body (except right before and after surgery this fall ha).


If we were to get pregnant on our own (and crazier things have happened and everyone knows someone whose cousin’s aunt’s sister’s best friend got pregnant when she was least expecting it), we’d be thrilled.  But the idea of more medical interventions and fucking with an already fucked up body and system…it just has no appeal to me right now.  And the reality is that saying enough is enough is ok.


I used to think that stopping treatments, that saying “I can’t do this anymore” was weak.  And I’m not fucking weak. But over the past couple years, I’ve realized that it’s not “I can’t.” Because I could.  I know I could.  It’s not “I can’t.” It’s “I won’t.” And it’s not weak. I don’t have to be what I always thought I’d be (a mom).  I can flip the script and pick a new path, one that hasn’t been planned out in my head since the time I was a little girl.  I can say that we will be ok (and we are ok), whether we somehow end up pregnant or we never have kids of our own.

MFAMTL–a race recap?

25 Mar

Pretty sure I haven’t written a race recap in over a year. Because I haven’t raced in that long.  Or even really ran all that much.  There are various reasons for that–I had a stress fracture last spring/summer, Eric’s been recovering from surgeries and running without him is just not as fun, this summer was too hot and humid…these are all excuses, of course.  I think a part of it is likely just that I was burned out.  The last time I was putting in big miles, I was training for my year of ultras.  And honestly I think it was just too much. While the break was probably good for me mentally, this fall I decided it was time to get back to a training plan, albeit some shorter races, so that I could focus on getting faster and stronger and not make running a part time job again (training for an ultra is, as Liz says, a total time suck).


This past fall, I was hoping to run well at MFAMTL 8 Hour, but I ended up super sick.  I pushed myself to 22 miles and spent the rest of that day and the next on the couch, hacking up pieces of my lungs and burning up with a fever. I actually don’t remember much from that day–at one point, I took some DayQuil with a beer (smart? nope.) and staggered my way around the course. It was a mess, and I was really bummed things didn’t go well for me…


So I was determined to run well at the spring version yesterday.  I intentionally didn’t look back at my training leading up, because I knew that the reality is that I haven’t done too many double-digit mileage runs in the past year. While training has been going well this winter/spring, my long runs have been stalling out around 12 miles–I get to that point and then decide that I’m too tired or too hungry or too sore to continue.  The good news is that I’ve been running a lot more mid-distance runs (8ish miles) during the week, and there’s been some speedwork happening (in addition to the usual Tuesday night hill work). I’ve been consistently putting in 30ish mile weeks, which is a solid base for sure.  But it’s nothing earth shattering, and those “short” long runs were a lingering doubt in my mind going into the race yesterday.


As the race started, I hooked in with Alison and we chatted a bit.  I thought maybe it was too fast…the 11-12 minute miles just kept ticking off.  The trails were in decent shape–one side was mostly in shade, so the trails were snow/ice covered. The other side was in brilliant, warm sunshine, and the trail was glorious dirt! We were running all the “hills” (there’s nothing major, but every mile had just under 100 ft, which is not negligible by any means).  The miles clicked by, and somewhere around 4, I realized that my splits were pretty even…and pretty fast for me if I was planning to run for 6 hours…but I made a decision.


I would just keep running this pace for as long as I could. My goal was to hold on thru mile 15.  I figured that would give me a decent idea of what kind of shape I was in for the Cayuga Trails Marathon, one of the only races I signed up for this year (the others being, of course, the MFAMTL series).  I decided to use this race to gauge my training thus far and decide how it should look moving forward.  I wasn’t so sure I could make it to 15 like this, but it was a solid goal, and if I managed it, that would leave me with 3 more hours at the end to run/hike my way thru 11 more miles to a marathon, which was my ultimate goal for the day.


The miles kept clicking by–a few times I had to stop to grab a fruit roll up or mix and refill my bottle with some Tailwind. Eric was out taking pictures for a lot of the day, and seeing him made me smile and push on. (All photos in this blog are from him!) I chatted with a bunch of people and eventually found myself running alone, which was perfectly fine.  Scott passed by me at one point and asked how I was doing.  I said something about hurting or suffering and he asked if I wanted company. I said nope I prefer to suffer alone, and he kept going.  I did, too.

I hit 10 miles in under 2 hours.


I hit 15 in under 3.  I was right on target.  My splits were way even. I couldn’t believe it.


At that point, we switched directions on the course, and I decided my goal was now to run each mile loop as close to under 2 as possible–at this point, I knew that anything could happen.  My longest long runs had been 12 miles.  15 was great. And I likely couldn’t expect too much more from my body…boy was I wrong.


I had thought this direction would be easier, but it started with a big(ish) climb, followed by a lot of flat, fast, then another climb, then some rollers, before a final road uphill. The climbs started to get really annoying–I power hiked them as much as I could.  The rest, though, was awesome–I felt like I was flying.  Every time I passed someone and we said our hellos, I felt stronger and stronger.  I started seeing the people I passed as some kind of video game energy boosters–pass, pick up the pace.  I just cruised along…and made it to mile 20 in under 4 hours! Still on pace for a 30 mile day! At this point, everything was really starting to hurt, especially my hips.  But people were dropping and I realized that maybe I could place if I just outlasted some people.  I had no idea where I was in the rat race–by this point I was running huge chunks on my own.  Just keep moving, just keep moving.


Another hour in, another 5 miles.  Suddenly, as I came thru the loop, Eric mentioned that I was one loop behind the women’s leader.  Hustle up, he said. This is my hustle right now, I shot back. But I picked up my pace, and as I came around the corner, I saw Kimberly climbing the hill.  I caught up to her, then I passed her and took off thru the flat sections.  When I got to the next climb, I power hiked and kept watching for her–but when I got to the top, she was nowhere to be seen. I kept moving, but at some point in those next few miles, I realized I was going to run out of time to catch her again.  I was mildly disappointed by this, a little annoyed that I didn’t have enough juice left to push harder, but mostly ok with my performance.  I kept thinking about my lack of long runs and the fact that it was amazing to have come this far this fast…


I almost called it…I almost hiked the final 45 minutes…but when I found out Katie was right behind me, I knew I had to keep moving.  She is one of the strongest women I know, and I knew if I stopped running, she’d easily pass me.  I just had to hold on for another couple of loops, and I’d be fine. I’d come this far, I could suck it up for another 30 minutes.


I came thru my final loop with 10 more minutes until cut off.  Eric wanted me to go back out, but I knew I wouldn’t run a 10 minute mile at this point…I called it and laid down on the ground to wait for everyone else to come thru.  I had run 29 loops? (I think?? maybe it was 28??)–almost 30 miles (the loops were a little over a mile).  Good for second place female and I think top 5 overall.  I had a great day.  I still can’t believe it.


So what went right?

  1. More faster running. Eric and I have talked a lot about this–I’ve noticed that many of our best trail runners in the area run fast miles on road sometimes. I hate road running, but I want to be faster. So I hit the roads sometimes and push the pace.  The roads at Durand are good and hilly, so the fast running is “in the woods,” on roads that are closed to cars (I am terrified of getting hit), and at my favorite park.  I guess I can do it…
  2. Wegmans chocolate chip muffin for breakfast.  You know the ones? The giant things with 540 calories per? Yeah.  I didn’t have milk for my usual cereal, so I grabbed the jumbo muffins as I cruised thru Wegmans yesterday morning to grab some fuel for my race, and I think it was a really good choice. Gonna start using those before races I guess.
  3. A great mindset. Every now and then, things just click.  At Virgil, I had a great day.  Things hurt, but I never focused on them. I was tired, but I just kept moving. I was talking to others, but also very in my own head (in a good way for a change).  I ran largely alone, I didn’t really think about too much, I was just in the zone.  I don’t know how to purposefully get to this mental state.  But I love it when I do, and I hope it happens all the time.


Thanks so much to the Valones for putting on another awesome event. We spend a lot of time putting on races, so it’s always good to be able to race low key events with good food, good friends and good fun.  If you’ve never run a MFAMTL before, get on the wait list now! You won’t regret it!

What’s next?

MFAMTL 5 Miler–March 24

Cayuga Trails Marathon–July 21

MFAMTL 8 hour–Nov 17


14 Mar

A few years ago, I was teaching middle school in a charter school. I have a lot of thoughts on charters and whether or not they are good for education. But one huge positive of working there was that I had a lot of autonomy within my classroom. And so we did a TON of “culture” lessons.  And not just food or holiday lessons. But really meaningful stuff.


You see, when I think about my view of education and my job, while the reading and writing and math are obviously hugely important, the real, overarching goal is for students to leave me ready to be better citizens.  To be good human beings who are kind to everyone. To be those good humans even when no one is watching. To be open-minded and respectful to others who are “different.” To be able to identify good sources of information.  To recognize when someone has a bias/motivation for telling you something which might make it untrue. To be lifelong learners committed to self-reflection and improvement.


So one year in the charter, I decided to do a unit on El Movimiento–the Chicano movement. In the 1960’s, Mexican-Americans fought for their rights and against discrimination. We looked at the historical events of that time, talked about how it was like the Civil Rights Movement, discussed our government, how laws are changed, and methods of non-violent protest. The kids got super into it–having heated discussions about non-violent versus violent movements and whether things had changed or not since the 60’s. I sometimes facilitated conversations, but often they just took charge. They were 7th and 8th graders, but they had plenty to say (including many jokes about how they were gonna walkout of my class ha).  We culminated the study by watching the movie Walkout.


I had all but forgotten this, and then today, as I watched some video footage of the walkouts happening around the country, someone said “walkout” just the same way as in the movie, and it all flooded back to me. The main character had organized a walkout in her school to protest poor student treatment (I haven’t seen the movie in a long time, but one scene that really stood out to me was when students spoke Spanish to each other in the halls or at lunch, they got hit–there was a sign that said “if it’s not worth saying in English, it’s not worth saying.”).  Anyway at the designated time, she stood up, mid-class, and quietly said, “Walkout.” Everyone looked uncertain until she said it again. And again.  And again, louder, and eventually joined by other students. It was a really powerful scene in the movie. The walkouts today were, for me anyway, similarly powerful and moving.


Reading the comments on the videos from the news today, I was so saddened by the hatred and condescension of adults. I don’t know how we’ve forgotten that students and young people have been behind so many of our biggest social movements.  And why shouldn’t YOUNG ADULTS (not kids…they’re not little kids anymore) have a say in the country, since they’ll be the ones living in it for the longest? Why are we trying to silence them, as though that will stop the progress and change that they are so determined to make. Why not engage with them, debate them, listen to them and support them? Shouldn’t we be pushing kids to think of ways to make the world a better place, to fight for what they believe in and to work tirelessly to accomplish their goals? What message are we sending by trying to silence them or treat them like babies with nothing important to say?


I, for one, am insanely proud of all of the young people who planned, organized and carried out walkouts today.  This country needs more people to step up and lead the way to make sure we grow into the best possible version of ourselves, individually and collectively. We need an engaged, informed electorate to make sure our democracy is as strong as it possibly can be.  Sometimes, teaching is really tiring.  But watching those kids today, I felt so hopeful and energized.  At a time when things often seem bleak and challenging, seeing the signs, the students, the orange…it gave me hope that maybe, just maybe, we are going to be alright.

Run ‘Em All/Hike ‘Em All Challenge 2.0

10 Feb

They say sequels are always worse than the original…but clearly “they” have never been on an adventure-version-2.0-type sequel of a running/hiking adventure…because THOSE are always fun, original or version 2.0…
Back in the summer of 2014, Eric and I decided to finally tackle an adventure from our bucket list–running and/or hiking every mile of trail in Letchworth State Park.  As kids and young adults, we’d both spent a lot of time in the park.  We both wanted to see more, together. Getting to experience it all with friends almost 4 years ago was an incredible, exhausting and fulfilling week.


It is astounding to me how many people from the WNY area don’t know about or have never been to Letchworth.  I’m going to pause here and say that this park is incredible–there is really something for everyone here–plenty of amazing spots that you can drive to and avoid getting dirty (for my not-so-outdoorsy peeps!), plenty of really easy hikes (for my friends with small kids), and a ton of challenging trails (for all the crazies I know), too! And the views…oh man the views…one of the best parts about visiting the Grand Canyon of the East is all the great look-out points.  For more info on trails and my take on each of them, you can visit this blog.  Or you can just look at these stunning images Eric has captured!


upper falls…from the opposite side of the gorge that people usually see them!


small waterfalls and creeks are everywhere on the FLT


Dave almost ruined the amazing views! 😛


sun coming up over the foggy gorge


the BEST part of this park!!!


middle falls from the “usual” side


This year, as we discussed summer shenanigans, Eric expressed interest in a second attempt at the Run ‘Em All/Hike ‘Em All  Challenge for a project he wants to work on…and so I hastily booked a campsite for our “home base” and planned out this year’s adventure.


Looking at it, the schedule seems daunting.  But Eric pointed out that we had plenty of time, last go-round, to hang at camp eating and drinking.  We made it work then.  We’ll be fine this time, too.


Sooooo…We’ll be in Letchworth from August 6 thru August 13.  Our plan for the week is below…everything is obviously subject to change (based on weather/how we’re feeling). None of these runs/hikes will be fast…we’ll be stopping for pictures and video and just enjoying some time in nature. But we LOVE company and if anyone wants to explore with us, we’d love to have you.  Book a campsite (they’re already filling up a ton! so do it fast!) and join us for Version 2.0.  I guarantee you it’ll be a ton of fun!!!



Date AM PM
Monday, August 6 Hike Trails 10 and 10a (roughly 6 miles)**Weather dependent we will do this in the AM or else after we check in and set up camp** Check in to camp (site 101) and situate for the week 🙂
Tuesday, August 7 Trail 1–7 miles one-way (depending we can drop car at end or hike back to starting spot for a total of 14 miles)
Start time: 8 AM
Trails 13 to 11 to 14–6.5 miles
Start time: 5 PM
Wednesday, August 8 Trails 4 and 5–4 miles  

Start time: 8 AM
Trails 2, 2A, 3–8 miles

Start time: 10:30

Trails 17 and 15–6 miles
Start time: 6 PM
Thursday, August 9 Trails 7 to 6 to 6A–14 miles
Start time: 9 AM
Friday, August 10 Trails 18, 19, 19a and 20–14.5 miles
Start time: 8 AM
Saturday, August 11 Trails 9 to 8 to 8a back to 8 and 9–9 miles
Start time: 8 AM
Sunday, August 12 Check out of camp
Hike 5.5 miles on the FLT to Lean-To #1
Start time: 10 AM
Lunch at the Lean-To
Hike 8.5 miles to Lean-To #2
Start time: Whenever we finish lunch and feel like it hahaha
Monday, August 13 Hike 8.5 miles to Lean-To #1
Start time: hopefully not as early as last time (thanks, coyotes)
Hike 5.5 miles to cars.  Celebrate the past days of amazing running, hiking, friendship and trail love!


How to Make a Racing Schedule

26 Jan

Mostly this blog will be me blathering about stupidity, mostly for posterity (for myself because no one else wants to hear about this crap now or later). If you are looking for advice for how to make a racing schedule, do not…I repeat DO NOT…read this blog. Or listen to me. It will not help you.  Trust me.  I am the least decisive person on the face of the planet. I have hemmed and hawed over a race schedule, wrote down the pros and cons of various races, tore all that up, rewrote them, talked while I ran, talked while I drank, talked on the radio (oh yeah! Guys! I’m on the radio now!!! Check it out sometime!!!!) And at the end of the day, my decisions came down to which races and which plans make me most excited to get out and run.


SO first the backstory. I had registered for Twisted Branch 100k last year.  I was training and things were going ok, and then we spent a lot of time dealing with massive flooding at our house. Coupled with Many on the Genny, life kind of took the wind out of my sails a bit (let’s be honest…I got a lot of hours and time on feet and lugged a ridiculous number of sandbags around, but it wasn’t “training”).  And then I decided to pile miles on again and got hurt–some kind of shin action that the doctor suspected was a small fracture.  So I was in a boot and my TB-dreams went out the window. I deferred with every intention of racing it this year.  But this year, as I get back into a regular running schedule, I realized I just wasn’t into it. Not that it’s not a great race, not that I won’t ever do it, not that I think I’m not capable of the challenge.  Just that my heart isn’t in it–it’s not something that makes me excited to get up and run, to put in the tough miles of training.  And if that’s how I’m feeling now, then it’s not my time to run this race.


As I grappled with the decision to race or not race Twisted, I’ve been struggling to find my running mojo…and I think I may be getting it back.  There are a billion reasons why it was lost…and excuses are annoying AF. If you really want to do something, you find a way. I didn’t find a way to do it. I spent the summer and fall running less than 20 miles a week. And I didn’t really feel too badly about it either.  Which tells me it was likely time for me to take a time out from bigger miles.


Anyway, I was still kicking around longer ultra plans…if not Twisted, maybe a 50 miler or even a 50k somewhere.  But the reality is that training for an ultra is basically a part time job, and I wasn’t ready to commit to that, namely because my favorite running and adventuring partner in crime is still not at 100%.


Eric had surgery on his other heel. Recovery is going so much better, and he is able to run! Running with him on the indoor track has been amazing–I’ve missed running with him so much. Training for a major ultra like TB or a 50 miler would require hours of training, most of which Eric could not do with me. And I kind of like hanging out with him. 😛


So I’ll say it again, just to make truly sure that I am committed to the decision. I’m putting TB dreams to bed for another year. It’s not a “never” it’s a “not now.”  Which is cool.


That being said…I was still left with major choices of what races to run. And…#firstworldproblems…we have some amazing races in our area, and I suck at decision making. But after a lot of careful thought, discussions with Eric about his race plans, and thinking about which races make me excited, I think I’ve settled on a decent race schedule for the year.


I need to take February and March to build my base back up.  It’s been a miracle for me to hit 20 miles lately, so I’ve got my plan all made to work my way back to consistent 30+ mile weeks.


April, May and June will be full of really intense training. The goal will be to get faster and work hard at running, while also continuing to lift and add in some cycling (once Eric is able to do that again!) We are currently kicking around a relay team for Medved Madness. But really the major focus is going to be running to get faster. June is also MFAMTL…in Durand (my home park)…and hopefully this version I will be healthy and actually remember the miles I put in!


All that hard training will be geared to training for the Cayuga Marathon (25 miler? IDK I should probably find out the distance, huh?).  I love this course.  I love these trails.  They are beautiful, they are challenging, they were where I spent a LOT of training runs thinking about life and figuring shit out when things were their bleakest. I love this race’s vibe. Whether volunteering or racing (I’ve done both), this race is just the best. When I ran CT50, I remember Sean saying, “This is a perfect course for one loop.” So I’m going to test out that theory.  With this amount of time, I should be able to get in some solid training miles and really do well at this race. Cayuga got moved to July, so basically I’ll taper a bit at the beginning of the month and then race and then recover the rest of the month.


August is Lucifer’s Crossing.  We swept it in a massive rain storm one year.  It was beautiful.  Someday I will do this race. Maybe this year.  We are also doing a #TrailsRoc team for the Mighty Mosquito.  I am super pumped to be able to actually race one of our amazing brain children races (I’m sure it will be different than our iteration, but still!)


Sometime in the summer, we’ll do the Saranac 6-ers. Mostly I’m just excited to get back to the ADK and any time I can do some camping is a good time. This summer, I’m going to try to be less of a bum and paddle more (spiders in the kayaks scare me though so if anyone wants to be my spider-killer, let me know), ride my bike more (fatty lyfestyle), and keep lifting.


In the mid-fall, I think I will aim for a speedy 50k.  I’m currently torn between two (shocking, right???) Watergap 50k would be a speedy course, but I’m worried about the flatness of the course (hahaha who the f am I??? Flat is your friend, Shme.) and we’d have to travel. Mendon 50k is in Rochester, but it’s roll-y and the weather is sometimes dicey and while I’m sure I’d PR with proper training, the course is not really “peak PR” material.


Re-reading this, I feel like there is very little actual commitment. But I feel like I have a direction with my running for the first time in a long time, and I am excited to see what I can do with some training to get quicker.


SO to recap:

May: Medved Madness?


July: Cayuga Trails (**Goal race)

August: Mighty Mosquito Relay, Lucifer’s Crossing?

October: Watergap 50k (**Goal race)

November: Mendon? It’s All Downhill From Here?


Confederate flags

13 Aug

My grandparents lived in West Virginia for most of my early childhood.  We would go to visit them on road trips in the summertime.  I loved their house.  We’d drive thru a huge tunnel on the way, which we all thought was so cool.  We’d get there super late at night, and grandma would make us toast with jelly (even though it was long past our bedtime).  We’d get tucked into Uncle Patrick’s room (with all the toy horses).  We’d spin in the rocking chairs til grandpa came in and yelled at us. We’d walk to the marble factory down the road and pick through all the “garbage” marbles that were not perfect enough to sell (and got dumped out back of the factory). We’d walk to the town park to go swimming (it’s where I broke my brother’s chin open with some soccer cones one time…but that’s another story).  It was a lovely place to visit.


I remember a couple of years ago having some Facebook fights with some of my cousins over their use of the Confederate flag.  Eric quickly deleted them from his FB when he realized they were dead serious about their heritage and being proud of that flag.  But they were my family.  I couldn’t delete that quickly.  I couldn’t give up trying to show them that they were wrong.  That flag had nothing to do with their heritage and everything to do with hate.  Be proud of where you are from, by all means.  Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could all be proud of where we’re from and have happy memories of childhood.  But for God’s sake don’t be proud of a flag that represented a treasonous group of southerners who started their own country and went to war with the US.  Don’t support a flag that was used during slavery and then again by the KKK to intimidate and murder people with the “wrong” skin color.  And don’t yell about immigrants flying their countries’ flags when you want to fly a flag of not just another country, but another country that fought a war with us.  Just don’t.


The conversation derailed, I gave up, I deleted them as well, and we all moved on. But it resurfaced yesterday as I watched in horrified tears as the streets of Charlottesville were flooded with Confederate and Nazi flags, skin heads, men armed with massive guns and homemade shields.  I took in the images of the blond haired men, standing with lit tiki torches on a university campus–the fire lighting up their eyes enough that you could see the pure hatred burning there.


And so last night I slept fitfully, heart heavy with the knowledge that this is part of my background, too.  Because I have family members who are racist and love their Confederate flag and think that white people have to fight for our rights, despite being called out on those false beliefs.  I couldn’t think of any new way to point out  the hypocrisy of a statement like “the Confederate flag is just celebrating my heritage and it has nothing to do with racism.”  Until yesterday.


I want to know where are the “the confederate flag celebrates my southern heritage” people now?  The ones who want to insist that they aren’t racist, they just love where they’re from. Why aren’t they coming out in droves to denounce their flag flying next to Nazi flags and being used at a white supremacy rally? Shouldn’t they be out, asserting that their precious flag doesn’t stand for hatred and white power–it’s just about sweet tea and farming and small towns and all that is good in the American south????


And while we’re calling people out for being silent now…I want know where are the Republicans who defended their vote for trump, saying how they believe in conservative policies but they aren’t racists. Where are the people who voted for trump because Hillary was “worse”????  Where are the people who mocked the “liberal snowflakes” after the election?  The ones who put up memes about the sky falling and said things like “it won’t be that bad…I had to deal with Obama for 8 years…you can deal with this…it won’t be that bad”???  Why aren’t they coming out en masse to denounce a “unite the right” event full of nazis and torch marches? If it were me, I’d certainly be saying please don’t take my title as “right winger” and bastardize it by associating it with this disgusting terrorist display.


But do you know why these two groups aren’t anywhere to be found?!? Because they are (at best) complicit in the kind of evil we saw this weekend. They are ok with Nazis taking their symbols and their names and using them in an ugly display of hatred, violence and terrorism. Their silence is tacit approval of what happened. Their silence is deafening.


Fuck your silence. Fuck your hatred.  Fuck your ignorance.  But most of all fuck your traitor Confederate flag.