Archive | November, 2014

thankful

28 Nov

I drafted a really long, sarcastic blog today about being thankful.  It was full of awesome quips about being thankful for things like a doctor who is so hard-working that she calls me an hour before the office actually opens, waking me up (after a very long drive back to Rochester in the middle of the night in a snow storm) to give me some more craptastic news (you’d think she would be running out of this shit by now but apparently not).  It was a pretty good blog in a completely morbid and self-deprecating way, a way that I have become really good at, particularly after 3+ years of this ongoing battle with my body to do what it was “designed by God to do.”

 

OK I swear I’m going to stop being sarcastic now, even though my witty sarcasm is part of my incredible charm.

 

I spent the vast majority of today moping around the house.  An hour or two ago, I wandered into the kitchen to supervise Eric’s dish-doing.  And he hugged me, hard, and we stood there while I cried into his shirt until I was pretty sure I was going to hyperventilate/suffocate.  Then I resumed my position on the couch with the dog under a blanket watching Walking Dead.  And I kept thinking to myself…what if this is it?  What if there never are babies in this house (that are ours)?  What if it’s the three of us, running and camping and getting through life together…alone.

I just finished reading The Fault in Our Stars.  If you haven’t read it yet, seriously do it.  It’s unbelievably romantic and heartbreaking and beautiful.  In any event, there’s a quote in the book–something about how the world’s not fair and:

love2

And that’s really too bad because there are a lot of wishes I have (in addition to being World’s Most Kick-Ass Mom someday).  But like the quote says, the world isn’t a wish-granting factory, so we just have to accept the hand we’ve been dealt and move on with our lives, because ultimately life is pretty awesome, whether it works out as we planned/we wanted it to  or not.

Amidst all of this moping and sarcastic-blog-writing and zombies-eating-faces-off TV watching, I realized that I am thankful beyond belief for a myriad of good in my life.  Among the things I am most thankful for, my number one would have to be Eric: I’ve written so many times about how wonderful Eric is and how glad I am to have met a man who values me as a partner and best friend and not just an object that’s below him.  But tonight, as we sit here facing another weekend of shots and uncertainty, I have to count him at the top of the list of my MANY blessings and truly be thankful.

Thankful for a man who believes in me when I can’t believe in me, like when he names the latest dominant follicle (poor little Ollie the Follie) because he knows this is going to be the one, and it’s going to make a great nickname for our someday baby.  [This one’s named Dom for the record.]

Thankful for a man who will hold me through the tears instead of shying away from them.

Thankful for a man who gives me my space, too, letting me curl into a ball on the couch and cry or roll over in bed and lose it, there as a silent presence if I need him, but not forcing me to talk or to look at him or telling me to stop.

Thankful for a man who unflinchingly administers my shots every night and never says a word about my bloated, bruised belly, or me being a baby about needles, or cursing if the shot stings more one night than another (which I KNOW is probably in my head, but I swear to God it happens).

Thankful for a man who goes into the exam room with me now and doesn’t bat an eye when there are people and medical objects “up in my shit” and in fact makes jokes to try to diffuse some of the humiliation and tension (that may or may not just be all in my own crazy head).

Thankful for a man who will hear all of my frustration, all of the terrible things I may say about our situation and other people’s situations and how unfair life is, and not judge me for it, even though I probably should be judged for it.

When I woke up today and stumbled down the stairs to a cautious “good morning” from Eric today, this song started running through my head.  And it’s been there ever since.  Because it’s true.  This life would kill me if I didn’t have him.  And we may not have all of what we want, but together we have all of what we need, and that’s all that really matters.  So what happens if there are never babies in this house?  We will figure it out.  We will make it work.  Because that’s what we do.  And THAT is something to be truly thankful for.

if you haven't read "The Fault in Our Stars," go get yourself a copy and a box of tissues.  Best quote (check my page "52 books" for the rest of the quote because it's super romantical.)

if you haven’t read “The Fault in Our Stars,” go get yourself a copy and a box of tissues. Best quote (check my page “52 books” for the rest of the quote because it’s super romantical.)

second (and third) thoughts

21 Nov

Sometimes, I think that maybe I don’t really want to have a baby.

 

Let me explain.  I think babies are kind of boring.  Yeah they’re cute and cuddly and they smell amazing (most of the time anyway)–but they don’t DO anything exciting.  Eat, poop, cry, sleep.  Borrrrrring.  Again, don’t get me wrong–they’re adorable.  I’ve spent a lot of my days with babies (and children of all ages–being the oldest of 10 kids, a babysitter and now a teacher…I’d say the majority of my life has been spent with people under the age of 20).  There’s nothing comparable to holding a sleeping baby, stroking that downy hair, having him grab your finger and hold on so tightly that you can’t comprehend where the strength is coming from, holding his little feet in your hands in amazement that something so small will one day be so big, knowing that you are in complete control of this little ball of life.  But even with all of that, sometimes I have these moments where I am like, “what the f are you doing injecting drugs nightly to try to have a boring baby, you idiot?!?!”

 

But then I think about watching my siblings growing up–I think about how cool it has been to see them learning things (and after a lifetime of watching kids learning stuff, I can honestly say that there is actually a look kids get when they “get it” and it’s one of the coolest things to see), saying hilarious things, doing so much fun stuff with them.  I think about our sibling sleepovers, trips to zoos and museums, holidays, homemade presents, games they’ve created…

 

I see our friends’ kids and play with them and love it, even the babies.  Riding bikes to the library with my neighbor and her kids, playing in the yard with other friends’ kids, family parties with friends.  One of our friends was at Oktoberfest with a pretty much newborn baby.  I held her for a long time, swaddled her up when the blankets came undone.  It wasn’t bad at all.

 

I worked for years in middle schools–dealing with brutal mood swings and kids who wanted to test the limits–and loved them just the same (or maybe in some cases more as I watched them trying to figure out who they were and where they fit into the world)…loved having deep conversations, loved the break-throughs with my kids, loved creating classroom “family” with them.

 

And most recently, I go to work in an elementary school.  This year, I teach 2nd graders–all morning long. They are hilarious.  They are anything but boring.  I’ve been in assemblies where families from all the different grade levels come in and watch songs, dances, honor roll assemblies.  Tonight was our translator conference night–the cafeteria was full of parents, brothers and sisters, kids playing. Language didn’t pose a problem or create boundaries–kids from all different countries were playing together, laughing, coloring, building with blocks, playing tag (until we had to stop them before someone got hurt–meanies).

 

And like happens so often at this type of school function, I had to force myself not to cry.  Because deep down that is exactly what I want.  I want all of that–the good, the bad, the ugly and the amazing of parenting.  I want to someday bring my kids to school with me on ELL conference night and let them meet these kids, make new friends, play with my students.  I want to take them to the zoo and the museum and the park. I want to watch them learn, help facilitate that learning.  I want to deal with them testing the limits, struggling, trying to figure out life.  I want the parent conferences, the dance recitals, the talent shows, the sports events.  I want the bedtime stories and kisses good night.  The baby stage might not be too exciting…but that lasts for such a short amount of time before kids start doing REALLY cool stuff.

 

I think the whole “are you sure you really want a baby” thought process is just all about protecting myself emotionally.  It’s easier to pretend that I don’t really care either way.  To brace for the worst news every time, rather than hope for good news.  And I know people are going to want to tell me to be positive, to stay optimistic.  But it’s been  almost exclusively bad news every step of the way so far, so in a way it’s easier to just plan on that.  Then if someday, some way, good news comes, I can be pleasantly surprised by it.

 

But the truth is, deep down this is what I want.  It’s what I’ve always wanted, for my whole life–to be a mom and a wife.  And pretending I don’t care either way and always expecting the worst hasn’t made getting bad news easier.  It doesn’t take away any of the heartache, the tears, the sleepless nights.  So I don’t know why I can’t just stop being a pessimist and start being optimistic, but there’s a wall up right now that says don’t get your hopes up and don’t worry if it’s bad news again because you’re going to be alright no matter what.  And at least I know that the last part of that is true…

 

Gambling

14 Nov

I’ve never been much of a gambler.  It always seems like a huge waste to spend money to MAYBE get some money back.  I don’t really understand the attraction to casinos–I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been inside one, and none of those times was particularly amusing.  Scratch offs are amusing for a brief amount of time, but frustrating when all you win is a couple of bucks. We also don’t really play the lotto–I think we’ve bought a lotto ticket maybe 5 times.  I’ve never bought on my own.  And we go to the OTB a couple times a year to bet on horses, most notably for Derby Day.  I put a dollar or two on each horse to win, that way I am guaranteed a win.

missing a leg...ready for a big party...and a win!

missing a leg…ready for a big party…and a win!

I guess that’s my issue with gambling–I like to know the outcome of things.  I don’t like surprises (particularly)–they make me a little anxious to be honest.  If I am going to invest something (be it money or time), I like to know that it’s going to be for positive outcomes.  Without a guarantee, gambling seems like a waste (and to be fair, there’s a reason casinos and the lotto make so much money…and it’s not because gamblers are winning big).

 

So I’m not a gambler.

 

Eric and I had our first doctor appointment at the RE’s office in months.  I have been a wreck all week thinking about what’s going to happen.  My head was swimming with the what-ifs, and no matter how often I told myself to calm the f down and that worrying doesn’t do any good anyway, I couldn’t stop.  Add to that some family stress and some stress from work, and it’s fair to say that this week (from about Tuesday through today) was not one of my finer ones…

 

The doctor appointment was ok.  My ultrasound showed a medium cyst, but the dr. said it would be OK to start injections and we’d just monitor it.  We were then sent to the room next door to learn how to give injections.  My head was swimming with all the rules (or possibly just from thinking about the needle that was going to go into my stomach)–refrigerate the pen, load the right dose, wipe this and that with alcohol, let it dry so it doesn’t sting when you give the injection, make sure the medicine’s all out before you remove the needle, you can give it in the stomach or the leg, give it when you’re going to relax to lessen the chance of bruising…Eric was there to make sure he knew what to do since he’s going to give me the shots.  I know people give themselves shots all the time–my father-in-law has diabetes, and I’ve helped him test his blood sugar a billion times.  But for some reason, maybe because now it’s my body getting stuck with needles, it just seems insane that you can be trusted to give yourself shots–I mean, shouldn’t a doctor or a nurse be doing this shit????  We left there, I immediately went to get baseline blood work done (hooray more needles), I called the special infertiles’ pharmacy to make sure my order had gone through, and then I tried to relax.  In the form of cooking like a maniac for an hour and a half before our run.

 

I was feeling ok, but then on our way to the group run last night, I got a phone call that my insurance needed more info from the doctor before they’d accept the charges for the injections.  Great.  I needed them today (they were going to special order them for me because they’d messed up the initial order 3 weeks ago), so that meant I wasn’t going to have the stupid pen to start the injections on time.  I asked how much they’d be out-of-pocket.  $2,750, the woman calmly told me.  I laughed out loud–yeah ok 3 grand for tummy shots?  We’ll wait for insurance to go through.

 

“$3,000 for something that might work,” Eric said incredulously.  This has been my feeling for so long now.  We have invested so much time and money into this already.  Hours of doctor visits and copays each time (and thank God it’s only copays and we have amazing insurance that covers most of the treatments we’ve undergone–but copays add up when you’re at the office multiple times a week).  All for a chance…each time, it’s a series of maybes.  Maybe I’ll form a good follicle.  Maybe I’ll ovulate.  Maybe we’ll get pregnant.  Maybe we’ll actually carry to term.  It’s overwhelming to think of it that way–that there are so many things that have to go perfectly in order for this to work.

 

This whole process has been a gamble.  And I’ve already written about how I feel regarding gambling.  We will spend the weekend giving injections.  Monday I go for more blood work to see if things are working/to see if we need to adjust the dosage. Injections will continue.  I will have to go back for another ultrasound, likely toward the end of next week.  The following week will potentially be more blood work/ultrasounds (unless my body doesn’t respond well to the meds, which makes me nervous because my body hasn’t responded well to any of the other meds so far), and then I will have to take off work to have another IUI (which will hopefully be less uncomfortable/painful than the first one).  And then we wait to see if any or all of the maybes worked out.  To see if we win this hand.  But just like a casino, I can’t help but feel like the odds are overwhelmingly stacked against us.

gamble4

My biggest anxiety right now is just the shots and IUI.  Sometimes I’m not really sure how I think I can be a momma–carry a baby, give birth–if I’m scared of a few lousy needles.  I was really nervous about the first shot, especially.  The good news is that today I had to make an emergency run back to the doctor’s office to pick up a needle pen (because of the insurance/pharmacy debacle) during my lunch break.  I got there, and the pen she gave me is different from the one Eric and I learned on yesterday–so she had to show me a new pen, and then just gave me the first dose in the office.  She promised it wasn’t going to hurt, and sure enough, it was fine.  My tummy feels a little bruised tonight, but I wonder if maybe it’s just in my crazy head.

 

So here we go.  The next step of this terrible journey has started.  Let the fun begin.

gamble2

maybe if I reframe it as an adventure, it will seem less sucky?

 

Why fall camping is the best

13 Nov

This past weekend, Eric and I realized we had a 4-day weekend (well, he had to use some PTO…) and we had not taken our fall camping trip this year.  So on a whim we booked a site at the only park nearby that even still allows tent camping this late in the year–Allegany State Park.

 

We’ve been there before, and we didn’t love the sites–very crowded (we’ve gotten spoiled backpacking and camping at Indian Lake Islands).  But we figured at this time of year, we’d deal with fewer campers, and sure enough when I booked there were a handful of cabins that were reserved in the loop, but not one tent site was taken.  Shocking.  No one wants to tent camp in mid-November?!  So I booked the site smack in the middle, site 12, so we’d have plenty of space on either side of us.

 

We pulled into the campground check-in, and the guy at the counter said “You won’t believe this, but we actually had a drive-up registration for site 13 today.  Sorry.”  I must have made a face (I mean really the WHOLE campground and you are RIGHT next to us?!) so the guy said, “Tell ya what–why don’t you just move to another site.  Whichever is fine.  Drive around, check out what’s left.  Sites 16-20 are all pretty private though.”

 

Awesome.  We drove into the loop and quickly picked site 17, a larger site with a huge stack of pre-gathered firewood from the previous campers.  The sites were all along this creek that was moving pretty fast and making lots of noise.  Not another soul in sight–even the cabins that were in use were so far away that we couldn’t see their lights or hear them at all.  It was fabulous–all the privacy of backpacking with all the creature comforts of car camping.

 

We set up the tents, Eric got the fire started with the hot coals leftover from someone else, and we realized that there wasn’t much daylight left…my planned hikes would have to wait for the next day.  We drove around to collect some firewood, came back to the site and relaxed.  I read some books, he read some magazines, Picasso sat like a king in his chair.  I was shocked to be wearing an Omniheat baselayer shirt, hoodie and running tights (plus a fleece blanket wrapped around my legs) and not be cold at all.  We had a roaring fire, had pie iron pizzas for dinner, and went to bed relatively early–I think it was around 9.  By that point, it had been dark for 3 hours, we’d been talking all afternoon/evening, and I was exhausted–I think I’m still fighting off some post-ultra sickness.

 

kind of nice to relax

kind of nice to relax

I woke up at 3 am and thought it must be so much closer to daylight because our tent was completely lit up by the moon.  It was kind of creepy actually to wake up and have it brighter than it was when we’d gone to bed.  We got up to go to the bathroom, and when we came back in the tent, I was a little chilly.  Apparently I told Eric, “I’m cold. Time to snuggle now.”  I don’t remember that at all, but he wrapped an arm around me, I pulled Picasso into my other side, and I fell back to sleep pretty easily.  I couldn’t believe how warm the Omniheat sleeping bag Eric got from Columbia was.  It was COLD–like into the 30s–but I was only chilly when I first got into my bag.

 

We got up around 7.  It was kind of nice for it to just be the two of us, and this is when I started to really realize it–as Eric made me a hot chocolate and kissed me good morning.  We’d had a nice, relaxing, quiet evening, just the two of us, and it continued into the morning.  We were on the way to hike by 8ish.  The plan had been to hike 3 different sections of the North Country Trail to find the lean-to’s in the park and investigate them for future backpacking trips.  We hit the trailhead for Trail 1 (Mt. Tuscarora Firetower Trail), which we planned to take to the NCT, then backtrack.  The first 3/4 mile was straight uphill, and we had to stop 2 times to shed layers.  We hit the fire tower and kept rolling, chatting the whole time about future plans.  The trail was tough to find with all the leaves, but it was well marked.  At the junction for NCT, we saw what we think must have been a weasel…something small and black, running fast along the ground.  Sadly, it’s hunting season, so Picasso had to be leashed, and we were trying to be somewhat noisy to make sure we didn’t get shot at…

 

proudly sporting my #TrailsRoc orange...good for not getting shot at!

proudly sporting my #TrailsRoc orange…good for not getting shot at!

As we hiked the NCT, we found some seriously muddy sections and searched for the lean-to.  We hiked and hiked and couldn’t figure out what the problem was…til I looked at the map again…and realized we’d gone the wrong way on the trail.  I’m not really sure what’s up with the NCT and Trail 1 at Allegany State Park–all I know is that the 3 times we’ve been on either of these trails, we’ve been “lost”–Once because someone leading us stopped following trail markers in favor of a game trail (we ended up getting out ok after meeting another strange lost hiker), once because we didn’t look at a compass and walked the WRONG direction on the trail (which turned out to be just fine), and now this time because I didn’t follow the map correctly.  I was pissed at myself because I am normally really good with maps (or so I like to think), but then I realized that had I not messed up, we would’ve missed some really cool sections of trail including some pretty bridges, most notably this one.

allegany2

We turned around and hiked back to the car, and Eric started getting attacked by these weird fly-things.  They were flies, but they’d lose their wings when you pulled them off.  Then they latched onto his shirt and crawled sideways–like a crab.  Neither of us had ever seen anything like them, even though we spend so much time in the woods.  I biffed a bunch off of him, and we later researched them to find that they are called deerkeds, parasites that latch onto their host and suck blood and are active late fall.  Nasty.  We ended up finishing the 8.5 mile hike around 12.  We were both starving.  We ate lunch in the back of the truck.  With full bellies, we both looked at each other and decided to call it a day, thereby making this our laziest camping trip ever.  We went on a search for Mike’s Hard Lemonade that took us through some little towns til we made it to Salamanca.  We collected a crap load of fire wood, then relaxed by the fire again.  I was super warm all night.

 

Tuesday morning, we woke up, and Eric’s stomach was in rough shape from some bad beef jerky.  We decided to forego another hike in favor of checking out Thunder Rocks, a cool section of rock formations left by glaciers.  I’ve never seen it without people there–it’s a pretty popular place to go, especially with kids because you just drive up and climb around.  We had it completely to ourselves, and it wasn’t the first time that we commented how creepy it was to be so alone in a park that is normally pretty popular.

allegany4

allegany

It was awesome to have the park to ourselves.  It was even more awesome to spend so much time with Eric, alone.  We had very limited cell coverage, and it was good to just hang out, talking about where we see ourselves in 5 or 10 years and how small the world really is and other romantical topics.

 

I’m sad that camp season is over.  But we’re already plotting a full summer of additional camping trips and new adventures.  I can hardly wait.

the post-ultra [sickness] blues

8 Nov

There are a lot of things that are allegedly “common” occurrences for marathoners and ultra-marathoners.

1. They go stir-crazy during taper time, as they cut their miles and rest and heal up for race day.

2.  They are depressed and feel lost afterwards because they don’t have a plan/goal to work towards anymore.

3.  They get sick afterwards because their immune systems are depressed following the big race.

 

I have never felt any of this.  None of it.  I embrace taper time.  By the time taper rolls around, my body (and maybe more importantly my mind) are ready for a break.  I’ve never felt depressed afterwards, most likely because we are so busy that there’s always something else to replace the long hours of training runs…and if I start feeling lost or like my running needs a boost, I just find a new race and make a new training plan and get back on the proverbial horse.  Basically, I ride a runner’s high until it’s gone, then I sign up for the next big race and get to work.  And I’ve never been sick post-race…

 

Until now.  I felt great Sunday and Monday–a little sore, but completely manageable.  When I sat still for too long, I’d be stiff and sore, but otherwise, I felt good.  I woke up Tuesday with a super hoarse voice.  I went to work anyway, because I felt completely fine.  By the end of the day of teaching, I was almost completely voiceless.  I ended up home Wednesday with pretty much no voice (but no other symptoms of sickness) and Thursday with a bit more of a voice but a lovely cough developing.  I forced myself to get to work this morning, feeling so much better, but I am home tonight with a terrible, hacking cough that is making my head and chest hurt.

sick

Being sick is the worst.  I keep telling myself this is my body’s way of telling me to slow down a bit so everyone else can catch up so my legs can properly heal/rest up before I go back to regularly scheduled runs (AKA life).  That I’m going to be better in no time at all.  But I seem to be getting worse rather than better.  Lame.  Doesn’t my body know that we don’t have time for this?? We’ve got miles to go, mountains to climb, people to see and things to do.

 

So I am spending my days hiking, reading and daydreaming about the next big adventures, including a scouting trip for next summer’s “run ’em all/hike ’em all” challenge.  All I know is I am ready to nix this illness crap so I can get back to enjoying my runner’s high.

run

Mendon 50k race report

2 Nov

An exact timeline is foggy, but a long time ago (2-4 years…your guess is as good as ours), Eric signed up for the Mendon 50k.  I trained with him and some other people (this is when we met Lisa and really started running more with Liz).  By trained, I mean they would do loops and I would run 1 with them, moaning and complaining the entire way about how hard it was.  I would finish one loop and call it–either read a book at the cars or go to the store or something.  I swore up and down that I would never do this race.  No sir.  This is NOT my style.  The “hills’ in this race? More like mountains.  My asthma does not enjoy hills.  I can’t ever seem to get enough air, which leaves me walking up them and gasping for breath at the top.  Flats and downhills?  I can crush those.  But hills were something (at that time) that I avoided at all costs.

 

Last year, watching from the warmth of my car (because it was, as usual, freezing cold and miserable), I saw carnage…twisted ankles, people hobbling.  And I again said, “Oh hell no.”

 

Then we ran our first 50k.  I really owe all of this to Liz, to be quite honest.  I’m sure I’d have done a 50k at some point in time…but she definitely expedited the process.  In any event, riding a post-race runner’s high, I registered for the Mendon 50k.  It’s 30 bucks.  We love the RD.  I’d have a ton of support from people I know.  And you’re supposed to face your fears…right?

 

Today I went into the race wanting only to finish.  This had been built up in my mind to be a monster…an unconquerable, hellish monster.  And so I wanted needed to tame the beast.  Truth be told, my ultimate goal was a sub-8 hour finish.  Initially I had thought that I could maybe run as fast as I’d run at Dirty German, but when I broke down the kinds of times I’d been running on every loop day we’d done, I realized that a sub-7 was a reasonable-yet-challenging goal.
50k4

The weather was atrocious, prompting me to say that there IS something in life that’s guarantee-able…crappy weather for the Mendon Trail Runs.  In my initial post-race write up, I had said something about Mother Nature being a cruel whorebag of a bitch…it rained the WHOLE time I was out there today and temps hovered in the low to mid 40s.  It was miserably cold.  However, Mother Nature also provided a beautiful backdrop of rolling hills (ok not 100% beautiful to me as far as running, but if I were just stopped and looking at them, I’d think wowza) and so many colors, including one particularly amazing stretch of rollers (but mostly downs, yay) that was so yellow it seemed like something out of a fairy tale (Angie’s words, but I concur).  So I guess she was only a little bit of a whorebag…
In any event, I was in my own little world at the beginning of the race today…so much so that Eric looked over and said, “dude you’re going to miss your start time.  What are you doing?”  I went over to the group that was lining up and chilled with all of them.   I knew I was going to start out super conservatively (so I thought).  Here’s the shakeout of how things went down:

Loop 1–1:15:00 (all loop times are approximate…results are up, but I can’t see split times yet)  Life is Good

This loop was pretty uneventful for me. I wore a jacket to start but by the time I got to the gate, I was too hot so I left it on the gate.  I figured if someone stole it, oh well, but then I was like, well I could call Eric.  So I breathlessly told him, but the guy in front of me thought I was talking to him and turned around to give me a puzzled look.  I settled in early with him, a guy named Charlie from Ithaca.  We were discussing races we’d run and he mentioned he’d just done Virgil this year.  No way!  We aid stationed.  Which aid station?  Uhhh I don’t know the one at the ski slope.  Oh yeah you guys were great.  I did a shot at your aid station!  Oh MY GOD!!! You’re SHOT GUY?!?!  Awesome!!!  So I knew Charlie and I would be good.  We had some good conversation about his family–his wife works at Cornell and they have the world’s largest library of animal sounds.  I mean what a sweet job?!  He’s traveled a ton and done a lot of cool races, so it was nice to have his company.  At some point in this loop, Angie started running with us too.  I haven’t seen her in FOREVER (she moved to DC), so it was cool to catch up a bit.  She’s a pretty laid back person, so I was happy to have found 2 runners who were cruising along at a similar pace to me (walking all the hills like I knew I needed to do) and were chatty enough to take my mind off what we were doing.  We rolled through the timing mats and I broke from the other 2 to stop at our #TrailsRoc tent to refuel.  I told them to just go without me if they got to the aid station on the other side of the field and I wasn’t there yet.  I mentioned I’d thought we were kind of fast, but Sean was the first one to say “perfect pace for the first loop.  Keep it up!”  I grabbed a handful of potato chips, finished a fun pack of skittles and was on my way.

 

On top of "speedbump"...my smile is actually hiding a thousand curse words.  Also, this is the last time I smiled going up this beast.

On top of “speedbump”…my smile is actually hiding a thousand curse words. Also, this is the last time I smiled going up this beast.

Loop 2–1:23:00   This Ain’t So Bad

Charlie and I reconvened, but Angie was no where to be found.  HBO said to just start walking up the hill to get back out to the course, she’d catch up.  I felt bad, but it was so cold and Angie’s so strong that I figured by the time I walked up the hill, she’d just catch us.  As we walked, Charlie informed me that his goal had been 8:30/Km  I had no idea what that meant, so we did some basic attempts at math, which is really effing hard to do when you’re sucking wind going up a hill, but we decided that was like a 13ish min/mile.  His watch was telling him our average pace was 7:30/KM.  Too fast.  But we both felt ok.  So we cruised. Around a mile and some change in, “Angie” passed us.  She blew by, and I was like hmmm she’s feeling good.  Too bad, it was cool hanging with her, too.  A couple of miles later, Real Angie caught us…it had been her sister (who is apparently NOT her twin…the things you learn when you run 31 miles with someone).  Some of the people from the 10k, 20k and 30k races started passing us, and it was cool to be able to cheer for them (but annoying to have to jump off the trail in the sections where there were major washouts).  Also, some girl almost took us out coming down a big slippery hill.  I’m not sure what she was thinking…but I was thinking how I should’ve tripped her.  Other than that, this loop was pretty uneventful, and when we crossed timing mats we again made our “if someone’s not there at the aid station, just go without them” pact.  I grabbed some more chips and skittles and peaced out.  My goal was not to spend too much time at the aid station, which I knew would be a major downfall for me and was my biggest concern of this race…all the chances to stop and just call it a day.

 

Loop 3–1:30:00    Someone just F#&$ing Kill me

Angie, Charlie and I started this loop together (I think).  He was telling us as we cruised up the hill to the trail that we were getting closer to his goal time, but were still at like a 7:45 or something.  I was secretly glad because I always slow down at the end of a run, so that left us with some cushion.  I started feeling really shitty on this loop–I was cold and soaking wet from the rain.  It made me nervous because I had not expected to feel crappy so early on, but the feeling passed…or maybe not passed.  But I was able to forget about HOW bad it was for a few minutes at a time.  This is what endurance running’s all about–the waves of crappiness.  The hills were really starting to take their toll–my hip flexors were getting a little sore and the bottoms of my feet, too.  In addition, all of the extra foot traffic and the rain were turning the course into a pretty muddy disaster…and I knew it would only get worse over the last 2 loops.  I was so thankful to have Angie and Charlie there, pushing me along.  I had watched Walking Dead last night with Eric, so there was no way I was going to run alone in the woods if I could help it.  Every time they ran, I ran, too.  Walk the hills, plug away on the downs and the flats.  We reiterated our pact at the timing mats and I headed into the #TrailsRoc aid station.  At this point, I was soaking wet and freezing cold–Charlie had looked at my hands at one point and he was like, are you cold?  My hands were completely white (side note: I think I have Reynaults or whatever…sometimes after a long run I’ll notice them turning white and getting all tingly, too).  I came in and got out a fresh shirt, then thought about not changing, since my bib was pinned to my current shirt and my hands were so swollen (happens when I run long distances usually) and cold that they weren’t really functioning correctly.  Elnora stepped up and unpinned and repined.  Meanwhile, Kirsten helped me put on Eric’s watch (mine was going to die) and get my fresh long sleeve on (and Eric gave me a boob squeeze for good measure).  So thankful to these ladies for helping me in my time of need. I peaced out as soon as my costume change was complete.

Loop 4–1:35:00   Don’t Fight the Trail: Take What it Gives You

Having fresh clothes on made me feel a lot better.  I hit the aid station and Charlie was already gone, but Angie was there.  We headed out together.  I must have told her a bajillion times to go without me (save yourself), but she just stayed with me the whole time.  We had been chatting for a good part of the race, but the conversation started to wane as *I think* we were both starting to dig deep at this point.  I kept telling myself that with each hill, it was only “one more time.”  We saw Charlie at the aid station, but we left him around that point of the course.  At this point, I started thinking about how strange it is that time can simultaneously go so fast (damn only one more loop!) and so slow (for f’s sake, we’ve been out here since 8 am…and it’s still raining…wtf).  I also towards the end of this loop started getting kind of dizzy and seeing people in the woods.  I’d turn my head to look and it was just trees.  I know they say people hallucinate during 100 milers…but I think I was a little loopy today during a 31 miler.  MY back started tightening up here, and it was super painful, which also happens sometimes when I run long (and I think means tight muscles…Eric says, duh it was 40 and raining all race. Of course your muscles were tight.).  ALSO at this point the course was REALLY getting muddy–there was a fair amount of slipping and sliding, which is never fun, especially when your hip flexors are already kind of screaming from all the hills.  I followed Angie’s lead for most of this loop–there were times where I wanted to walk a little longer, if she started jogging (the ultra shuffle), I picked up the pace, too.  So thankful for her.

50k2

As we were coming to the timing mats, we agreed that we weren’t spending any time really at the aid stations, so we could just finish.  We crossed the mats and the clock read 5:34:XX.  I glanced at my watch and saw that the last lap had taken us 1:3X:xx.  I was minorly disappointed that a sub-7 hour was going out the window, but then I reminded myself of how much I didn’t want to do this race and how tough it was.  Even if I was a LITTLE over 7 (which I would be), it was fine.  Just finish what you started.

Loop 5– 1:25:00 Fighting My Inner Demons

At this point, we decided to walk all the uphills–even minor ones.  Both of us were tired and starting to really feel the miles.  As we were walking up the hill to the trail, Angie looked at her watch and said, “I think a sub 7 is doable.”  I said how I had thought that would be a phenomenal time, but then said how there was just no way that was going to happen.  We had been consistently slowing down for each loop, and I was tired.  There were some hills we were walking that I literally fought back tears because I wanted to just sit down on the side of the trail that badly.  About a half mile after she mentioned sub 7, I started to really think about it.  But I still just couldn’t make it work out in my head…At this point, there was a lot of internal chatter for me (much of it negative), but I was doing a good job of telling myself to shut up.  This lap was definitely our quietest…there was little talk, and what little talk there was was mostly about race strategy–where were we going to run, where were we going to walk, how tired we were, etc.  But after another couple of miles, and I had made up my mind.  We were walking hills, but any time the trail was flat or down, one of the two of us lead the way.  We were really moving, and I felt surprisingly good (not good…but good given the craptastic conditions and the fact that I had run more than a marathon at this point).  Every big climb we conquered, I’d get to the top and think “You never have to run that beast again…unless you want to…and you probably will in a couple of weeks when all of this is just a blur anyway.”

At one point, I thought about whether I’d ever want to do this race again.  I amused myself with the phrases “one and done” and “hit it and quit it” (which no one else seemed to find as funny as I had out on the trail at mile 28…weirdos).  Every time I glanced at my watch and did the math (as best I could), I realized we were going to be cutting it close for the sub-7.  How close I couldn’t exactly tell, but it was going to be tight.  Coming down the last hill, I could hardly see the clock and I had to blink a couple of times to see the 1:57:xx, with only a short downhill field to run through.  Easy peasy.  I turned to Angie with relief, and she said, “should we finish together?”  Well of course!! We crossed the mats to cheers from an awful lot of amazing runners and friends (who stuck around in the crappy weather to cheer us in).  Angie and I hugged, then we went our separate ways to change clothes.

I’ve never in any kind of endurance event run faster at the end than I had during.  I’ve never negative split.  I’m not sure if this would count…since loops 3 and 4 were slower, but I am really proud for pushing so hard that last loop.  It took some major will power.  This may be the biggest victory of the race…bigger than the finish or the finishing time…just to have run the last loop almost as fast as loops 1 and 2.

 

After thoughts

1.  Give me some flat trails…I think I would own the course if I was in this kind of shape.  My lungs just don’t handle the hills.  I’m wheezing like a champ tonight–I keep puffing on my inhaler but to no avail. I used it before the race and during.  Lame.  I don’t know if I can do anything to change this…just something to keep working on I guess…I’m really proud of how much stronger of a hill runner I’ve become over the course of training for this race…hills will probably never be my strong suit, but I guess they don’t scare me (as much?).

2.  I really hate the post-endurance event “unhunger.”  It’s lame.  Leading into a race, I think of all of these things that sound so good, but nothing sounds good come post-race time.  So yesterday I had 3 fun-size packs of skittles, a couple handfuls of chips, 4 m and m’s, a couple of cups of flat pop (which when I first started researching ultras sounded disgusting to me, but dude so good), a bagel, and 3 pieces of pizza.   Today, I look forward to the rungries and eating everything in sight.

3.  Endurance running has very little to do with athletic capabilities.  Well, not true.  If you want to be fast and win shit, athleticism is a factor. (Or not? Maybe it’s just working hard to get faster and stronger?) But if your goal is to finish something, it’s not your athletic prowess that’s taking you across that finish line.  It’s a lot of hard work and dedication and learning to tame your mind.  It’s hearing your body saying “no more” and knowing when it really needs to stop (because of an injury, hydration or nutrition issue) and when it’s just tired.  And THAT is why you have to run long…not to be able to finish, but to learn when it’s a real “need to stop” and when you can push forward.  To learn what it feels like to hurt but not in an “injured” kind of way.  Just in a “you’re a badass” kind of way.

well she probably hurts from running roads...someone should tell her how soft trails are...;)

well she probably hurts from running roads…someone should tell her how soft trails are…;)

The human body is amazing.  31 miles? At once? 50? 100?!  Insane.  Your body will go where your mind pushes it.  I never once thought about quitting.  I knew going in that I would finish, and around loop 3, I just “put my head down, gritted my teeth and pushed.”  I was damn well determined to “get ‘er done.”  And I did.  Cuz that’s how I roll.

 

4.  I owe a lot to Charlie and Angie.  There were a lot of times I may have slowed down (not sure, but it’s probable for sure) had they not been there.  I had just watched Walking Dead yesterday night, so I had to keep it going so I was with people when the walkers came out of the woods…Seriously though, they were great and the time flew by with them at my side.  I love that you can go from hardly knowing someone to really covering major ground during a race/run.  It’s a pretty cool thing.  So thanks, guys, for being so awesome this morning.  Charlie, in my post-race stupor I left without even saying goodbye to you.  I’m so sorry!  It was wonderful to meet you!

5.  Eric always supports me in these endeavors.  In fact, before I started believing that I could do it, he was believing for both of us.  I see so many people who have spouses who aren’t even interested in what they do, and I know I am so lucky to have someone who runs with me, trains with me, comes to races, stands in the cold, locates cowbells (since I love them SOOOOO much) and gathers a personal #TrailsRoc cheering section.  What we have is special, and I am thankful for it every day.  There is no one I would rather have threatening to smack my ass when it’s cold and rainy. ❤

6.  About 10 minutes after we got home, I voiced it.  “I wonder how much faster I could run that course? If I did the last loop as fast as 1 and 2, then if I could’ve held it together for 3 and 4, I could’ve run closer to a 6:45.”  Eric just shook his head, because he’s heard all my shenanigan lines about “never again” and then watched me sign up for more races (or signed me up ha) again and again. And such is the curse of the runner–it’s a slippery slope for me because once I see what I am capable of, I want to do more, go farther and push harder.  I don’t know what the future holds for me (or us) in terms of our running or other personal goals that we are working on.  I DO know that I want to do this (maybe while wearing a shirt that says this):

50k5

This. I want to do this. For the rest of my life.

I’m not 100%, but I would CONSIDER running this race again…the support from friends was pretty sweet, the trail is really beautiful (albeit unrelenting) and who wouldn’t want to spend the majority of a Saturday running through cold November rain???