Archive | September, 2014

A truly great weekend!

28 Sep

This weekend has been nothing short of amazing.  It makes it so hard to go back to work when you have a weekend like this.  Why so great?

 

Well first, I ran another 20 miler this weekend.  I owe so much to Eric and Liz when it comes to my distance running. I probably wouldn’t have signed up for that first 50k without them.  I wouldn’t have wanted to get in the long runs for either race.  And I would most definitely not have started running in the pitch black alone on Saturday morning.  But having them there to face the wolves and bears (we saw eyes…had to be wolves and bears), chat, take in a breathtaking sunrise and share the miles is just awesome.  It was a good run until the very end, when I started to have some tummy trouble.  I think it was due to the nuun that I put in my water on our second loop…so I guess I’m going to stick with just water from here on out.

amazing sunrise...it looked like we were somewhere tropical!

amazing sunrise…it looked like we were somewhere tropical!

running into a beautiful day!

running into a beautiful day!

"we're going to have run 2 50ks this year.  that's pretty awesome."

“we’re going to have run 2 50ks this year. that’s pretty awesome.”

We left Durand and immediately went to Genesee Valley Park for the McQuaid Invitational to watch my cousin, brother and sister race!  Unfortunately, we missed Cameron’s race, but we were there to see Josh and Leanne kill it AND spend some QT with my aunt/uncle/cousins and my dad/brother/sisters.  It was a gorgeous day to be outside enjoying the weather and cheering on some seriously fast high schoolers.

Go Josh!

Go Josh!

Leanne crushing by some girls!

Leanne crushing by some girls!

My dad and siblings came back to our house, and Amber and Greg joined us for some pie irons (pi’irons) for dinner and a campfire.  It was a good relaxing night.  I was tired and fell asleep a few times by the fire before I finally called it a night.

weekend7

We got up this morning, had bacon, eggs, fruit smoothies and fresh cantalope from our neighbor’s garden.  Then we hit up Durand again for a 4 mile hike.  Eric and I both love the park for it’s incredible natural beauty, but sometimes it’s easy to miss it when you’re running and just focused on not tripping on roots or falling into lakes.  It was really nice to hike it today and see just how much the leaves are starting to change, and we finished up with a trip to the beach where we all walked in the water for a bit and played fetch with Picasso, who was thrilled at the chance to swim.  We came back home, ordered pizzas and watched the first half of the Bills game before they had to leave.  I am exhausted tonight–I’ve napped through most of the football game and I’m looking forward to bed time tonight.  🙂

breakfast!

breakfast!

weekend9

looking for fish...and fishing lures haha

looking for fish…and fishing lures haha

white lady's castle...al wanted to stay with dad the rest of the hike to "protect him" from the ghost ha

white lady’s castle…al wanted to stay with dad the rest of the hike to “protect him” from the ghost ha

starting to see some color

starting to see some color

playing in lake ontario!

playing in lake ontario!

 

It was nice to see most of the family (missed the ones who weren’t here) this weekend and spend some time together outside enjoying the beautiful weather.

family

 

 

 

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7 things I learned about running ultras from working an aid station

23 Sep

This past weekend, we spent over 30 hours getting runners through a 50k, 50 miler or 100 miler.  This was not our first time at the rodeo, and not to brag, but we’re kind of amazing when it comes to aid stationing.  There was very little sleep (maybe 3 hours all weekend???), a lot of work and busy-ness, lots of cheering and screaming and a TON of fun.  Being there was so inspirational.  Every time we’ve done this, I leave feeling so excited to be a runner.  Feeling proud of the people I know that are running and the people I don’t know, too.  I love being able to give back to the community by volunteering and helping people to achieve their goals.  And I always leave wondering what else my body is capable of…

foot

 

Working 3 ultra aid stations now (Virgil twice and Cayuga Trails this summer), I feel like I’ve learned a lot about what to do when I am running ultras in the future.

 

1.  Be prepared.  Bring what you think you might need.  Aid stations usually all have a wide selection to choose from (we rocked a variety of candy, fruit, chips, quesadillas and bacon…yes, bacon), but if there’s something specific you want, pack it for yourself, either in your pack or in a drop bag.  One of our favorite runners came into our aid station every time with his own goodies (most notably single serve guacamoles) to add to our stuff.  Had we not had anything he ate (he was vegetarian), he was prepared with his own nutrition.  Other runners had their own electrolyte mixes.  It’s smart to plan ahead and bring along some of the things that you used during your training runs (that whole train like you race so you know how your stomach is going to handle things idea).  And this goes for non-food items as well.  SO many runners wanted things like Pepto, Tums, Ibuprofin, salt tabs, or anti-chafe stuff…if you’re doing an ultra, pack ’em in drop bags (or give them to your crew), just in case those things are unavailable at your aid station.

 

2.  Don’t sit down (for too long).  I personally think sitting down is a bad idea in almost all cases–in fact, stopping movement for very long is a bad plan.  I get to a place in most long runs and races where starting to run after a break hurts worse than just continuing the “ultra shuffle.”  If you do sit down, you might want someone to help you get back up.  We had a guy sitting down by our fire Saturday night, and when he tried to stand up, he almost fell into the fire!  Don’t be the guy that falls into the fire.  Get some help if you need it.

 

3.  Which brings me to point 3: Let the volunteers do stuff for you. Give them your hydration pack or bottle and let them refill it for you. Ask for what you need. Let them pick up your garbage. Don’t waste your energy doing tasks that they are there to do FOR you.  I would normally be mortified to let someone get close to me/touch me if I’m sweaty and smelly and gross after miles of tough trail running.  But guess what?! I never once noticed that I was touching someone’s sweaty pack or that they were stinky or anything like that.  All I was focused on was helping whoever was in front of me with whatever they needed help with so they could get back on the trail.

 

4.  Listen to your body.  Know when to push through and when to call it.  There’s a fine line between being tired/sore and being hurt.  We’ve seen some people who were pretty messed up when they first got to our aid station.  Some of them just needed some food, a few minutes of human interaction, some rest and they were good to go again.  Others, though, were not ok.  We’ve even had some scary moments when runners were REALLY not ok.  I have a lot of respect for runners who know when to call a race before it gets to the point of calling EMTs.  Making the choice to DNF is never easy, but you have to trust your gut.  The only one who knows what is really going on in your body and how you are feeling is YOU.  So learn to read the signs that you are done and then listen to them.

 

5. Night time is the right time…to drop. Don’t. Get through the night however you can. So many drops seem to come when people had to run in the woods at night. I personally understand this perfectly; I find being in the woods at night terrifying, and it is a major reason I am not sure I ever want to do a 50 or 100 miler. If your race allows it, get a pacer to keep you company. If not, find another runner who is a similar pace  to go with.  Or at least to be able to see their head lamp once in a while and know you’re not alone.

 

6. There are going to be really good times and really, REALLY shitty times. Just push through the shitty times. A few runners came in, and when we asked how they were doing, they just said “well…ya know…” or something to that effect. The truth was, they were not feeling great. They were hurting. They were tired. They wanted to stop. But they also knew this was all part of the experience. Hurting, tired and wanting to quit, but continuing on anyway…that’s how you get through an ultra. Which leads right to my final point…

foot

7.  Enjoy the experience.  I think this is probably the key, and the one thing that I will really have to remember for future races.  The people who seemed the strongest were the ones who were the happiest.  The ones who skipped up the start of the ski slope (they didn’t skip for long haha) or who triumphantly raised their hands over their heads coming down the mountain as we cheered them into our station.  The ones who were joking around or who were all smiles on the way in and the way out.  In both marathons, when I started feeling worst, just shouting a thank you to volunteers manning aid stations or road crossings made me feel better (marginally).  Be thankful to be in a place where you can run and be in pain and still overcome it and finish something that most people won’t ever even contemplate doing.  The look on non-runners’ faces when I say “50 mile race” is priceless. Often I forget that ultras are not “normal” because they are pretty normal for the majority of the circle I hang with.  So take the experience for what  it is–the good, the bad, the ugly and the incredibly spectacular.  You are kicking ass just by putting one foot in front of another and not giving up, especially when you least feel like moving forward.

foot

 

I’m not sure if a 50 or 100 mile race is in my future.  I know that the thought of it intrigues me and that I am curious how far I can go and how my body might react to a super-long endurance event.  I am curious where my mind would go after running for 12 or 24 hours.  I am curious, which means it will probably happen, at some point.  In the meantime, I am perfectly content to volunteer and keep learning lessons from all the badasses out there rocking ultras.  To those runners who made my weekend an amazing and unforgettable one, thanks.  You all rock!

why running in the fall is the greatest

13 Sep

I used to be a summer girl.  I loved all things summer–sweltering in the sunshine, tan lines, cold drinks, beach days, campfire nights, and of course vacation.

 

Then I became a runner.  And suddenly the sweltering days became miserable.  Getting up at 5 am to get started with a 20 miler because it was going to get up to 90 with 100% humidity? Yup been there.  Done that.  Actually truly contemplating getting into the ponds at Durand Park to cool down??? Gross.  But yeah done that too.  Skipped runs because it was just too damn hot?  Uh huh.

 

So now runner Shme finds herself looking forward to the fall–cooler temps make running so much easier.  I’ve had 2 weeks of miserable runs.  It’s been in the 80s and humid pretty much every time I’ve been out to run.  I hate it.  I feel awful.  My lungs struggle.  I used my inhaler 3 times in a mile and a half on Tuesday night.  That’s insane.

 

This morning it was gorgeous for runner Shme–50 and overcast and drizzly.  Here’s why I loved the weather today:

 

1.  Cooler temps=easier to run.  I did almost 20 this morning and never felt really bad.  There were moments where I felt better than others, obviously, and there were a couple of times where I questioned the sanity of this.  There were a few points where my quads started to get real tight, which I can only assume was because of the colder temps since we didn’t do anything particularly hilly.  But there was no soul-crushing sense of defeat that I’ve had the past few runs I’ve attempted.  So that was nice.

2.  The drizzle cooled me down a bit.  When it’s still *kind of* warm and it rains, it’s the best feeling.  In a couple of weeks, rain and running will be a miserable combination, but today it was a-ok in my book.

3.  Running in the woods protects you from a lot of the rain anyway.  We were watching the rain falling on the ponds and it looked like it was raining so much harder than I’d have guessed based on the amount of water actually getting through the trees to me.

4.  Hot showers are one of my all-time favorite things in the world.  I even take warm showers in the summer when it’s super hot–I hate cold showers.  No matter how warm it is outside, I am almost always cold immediately following a run.  A long, hot shower feels so much better after a hard run in the cool temps.

5.  After the shower, football!  I got out of the shower and heard the Ohio State game on the TV and was so happy.  We have been having a lot of discussions about whether or not we should even be watching football anymore, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t genuinely enjoy lazy Saturdays and Sundays watching games, especially the ones that I really don’t CARE about, so they’re purely entertainment.

6.  Football and napping go together for me.  Snuggled under a blanket, Picasso on top of my legs, it’s really easy to just doze off to sleep for a bit, especially on a gray, rainy day like today.
So yay.  I am pumped about a good run, thankful for good company (thanks Eric and Liz!) to keep me plugging along, and excited about nicer, sunnier weather tomorrow.  And I am super excited because I feel like training for Mendon has finally really started, I am starting to nail down a workout routine with the new work schedule, and the weather is finally starting to cooperate a bit!  Hello, Fall (a little bit early, I know).  Bring on arm warmers, long sleeves and capries during runs and hoodies post-run.  It’s time!

 

love and marriage

8 Sep

Mid-July, I went to the library to return a stack of  books and get some new ones out.  Normally, I read like crazy over the summer, but somehow this year has been a little less reading-intensive.  My 52 books in the year challenge is a little behind schedule (26/34 isn’t terrible, and I’ve got a couple of books here started that I just need to finish up).  It was a pretty lofty goal anyway.

 

I used to go to the library with a list of books I would like to read/authors to look up.  Lately, I’ve just been going in, wandering the stacks til I find a title that I like, then reading the jacket and deciding to keep it or put it back.  Completely random, but I’ve found some decent books that way.  So maybe it was fate (if you believe in that kind of thing) that one of the books I picked up could  fall into my lap at such a perfect time.

 

the most perfect section of the novel for right now

the most perfect section of the novel for right now

 

A month or so ago now, my parents told us that they are officially, legally separated.  And even though I knew they had been having problems for a long time, even though I had counseled them on many occasions to get a divorce and move on and be happy, I would be lying if I said this news was anything but devastating.

 

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about why it bothers me so much, given what I knew of their strained-for-the-past-few-years-relationship.  I grew up with a pretty abnormal childhood–I had 9 brothers and sisters and parents who were, I thought, madly in love with each other.  There was never much money, but we were so happy.  We were a tight-knit family, and so I grew up with this image of what I wanted someday–a husband who adored me, a mess of kids who were adorable and bright and got along well (I think very highly of us kids haha), a cozy home, and blissful happiness.   And I am so incredibly sad that my youngest siblings won’t have what the older kids had–this model of a good relationship.  On the flip side, I wonder if the older kids saw a good relationship or they saw a fractured one that had been gilded over.  I feel like a rug’s been ripped out from underneath me, like everything I thought before about love and marriage  is potentially wrong.

 

So my aunts and I have been talking a lot.  One of their things is to always look for the positive.  The lesson you can learn about life.  How to apply the situation to make things better in the future.  It’s a good way to look at negative stuff, because it really does make you feel even just the teeniest bit more hopeful about things.

 

So anyway, the book I took that quote from chronicled a couple’s entire relationship–how they met, got together, got engaged, when they had kids, and then their ugly divorce.  Throughout, there were problems.  The problems got more heated at the end, but there were issues throughout the relationship–things one or the other did or didn’t do that caused issues.  The relationship lacked communication–they fought, but never really communicated about the fight.  They fought unfairly, saying horrible things to each other out of anger rather than walking away and biting tongues to be less hurtful.  Neither individual person ever looked at what he/she could do differently, just blamed it on the other person.  There was not much self-reflection going on.

 

The other day, when I was looking up stuff on how to help kids deal with divorce (because my little siblings are who I worry about most in all of this), I found this quote:

marriage

 

I guess if I had to find the take away in all this disastrous separation business, I’d say that it has made me think more about the quote above.  About how the grass is always greener where you water it; that marriage is a choice and a commitment, and it’s one that comes with a lot of work and responsibility.  Does it sometimes go with the flow, all easy and Disney-princess-fairy-tale-esque?  Sure.  But there are also times where it is work, and damn hard work at that.  But it’s work that is worth it if both people are willing to commit to doing it and to be constantly working to become better, stronger, more unified.  I guess when people decide to split up, it’s because they’ve decided they just don’t want to work on the relationship anymore.  And that’s really sad to me.  It makes me wonder why not.  Why was someone good enough and someone you wanted to work for at one time, that you stood up and said so in front of family and friends and even God for some people, but then you just quit feeling like putting in the work?  You just wanted to give up responsibility for keeping the relationship alive and healthy?  Where does that breaking point come in?  When do two people look at each other and say, “Used to love you passionately, but now I hate you and want you out of my life?”  Why does it take some people a year or two and others 33 years ?  And I guess it’s like the book quote says, that “it is all the rot beneath that makes for the collapse.”  So the key is to make sure there is no rot that forms, that if you notice rot, you clean it out immediately to make sure the foundation is strong enough to withstand anything life can throw at you.

 

Some people would hear “marriage” and think of love, romance, flowers, hearts.  But the reality is that marriage, while it is those things, is also work and responsibility; a job, and arguably the most important job you have.  The book ended relatively happily–with the couple able to talk to each other without anger (although there was still a little bitterness for sure) and their daughter was no longer saying she hated them both.  They worked things out so that they both saw their kid equally and that they were able to be there for their kid together.  And I guess at this point, I just hope that my family can get to that point, sooner rather than later.