Archive | August, 2015

Dear GMA and Cassie Kelley…

28 Aug

I am enjoying my last couple of days of freedom before school starts again by doing things I will not (and don’t normally) do.  Things like watching morning/daytime TV shows.  Yesterday was The Price is Right–man that show is the greatest.  This morning, I just happened to turn on GMA.  Fascinating to me how a “morning news show” can be filled with mostly drivel and very little actual “news.” But I digress.
I was going to turn the TV off to go be productive when they did a teaser for a segment coming up that I JUST HAD to see.  Because they were doing a story about Lady A’s singer, Charles Kelley, who with his wife dealt with infertility.  And I find these types of stories fascinating.  Because when I think of infertility, I think of old ladies and people who are overweight, and I’ve been working hard for the past few years to come to terms with what I now know: some people who are older than me or heavier than me have conceived no problem and some people who are younger or thinner than me can’t get pregnant no matter what.  There is no rhyme or reason to it.  And Charles Kelley’s wife, Cassie, was young and beautiful and thin…and also infertile.

Except that she never went through any treatment (at least based on the story that she shared on GMA) and just “got pregnant on her own by surprise.”  The advice from GMA for other infertiles: This proves to just keep the hope alive. OK.  Go through 5 years of useless, humiliating, painful treatment, then tell me to just “keep hope alive.”  That statement irks me almost as much as “just relax and it will happen.”

So I was annoyed by the segment. Then I went to Cassie’s actual blog, because I started to wonder if maybe there was more to the story than they’d told–namely months of treatment like me.  But according to her website, nope.  It really just happened on its own.  They were told they had a 1% chance of conceiving, and lo and behold it happened.

So then I was feeling a smidge of hopefulness–maybe that would be me and Eric.  Maybe it would “just happen” for us, too.  In 5 years, we’ve tried both with and without meds.  A lot.  And NOTHING has worked.  And I’m not entirely sure if I’m more bummed that the natural way didn’t work or that they drugged up way didn’t work.  And I’m not entirely sure how many more drugs I want to inject into my stomach or catheters I want through my cervix before I tap out since nothing has ever worked.

But her pregnancy announcement was a feel-good read, until I got to this: “Our baby decided to join our family in God’s time, which is always right.”

God’s time…

You MUST be kidding me.  I have talked about this before.  And I realize it’s going to be controversial and I don’t care.  In my opinion, GOD has nothing to do with your baby.  How can he?????

Did God give the baby to the crack mom who doesn’t take care of the baby and the baby goes on to be another crack head proliferating the crack heads of the world?

Did God give the baby to the teenage girl who is terrified sitting on a toilet looking at that pregnancy test freaking out wondering how she’s going to raise it??

And most importantly:

Did God decide NOT to give us (and some of the MOST amazing couples I know) a baby???

If God GAVE you your baby “in his time,” that means he’s chosen to withhold a baby from us [and thousands of couples like us].  For 5 years.  And guess what.  I don’t accept that. I can’t accept that there is a God making the above decisions…unless it’s a God who doesn’t actually love us and care about us as people.  Do you know what I accept in place of God???  I accept that biology happens.  Science happens.  But God…God does not happen when it comes to conception.  And every time I see someone talking about how they got their miracle, how they just prayed really hard, how God will decide if/when we are ready to be parents, I want to scream.  Because you are trying to justify the incredibly painful, incredibly shitty monster that is infertility.  You are trying to explain why you got what we want.  And there is no explanation for it.  You got lucky. We have not.  Be happy.  Be thankful.  Be ecstatic. We are happy for you.  Trust me, we don’t wish what we’ve been through on anyone.  Even the people who I can’t stand, I would never want them to have to deal with this.

But please don’t tell me it’s because of God. Tell me that this sucks.  And that there’s no guarantee in this battle.  Don’t tell me to keep the hope alive.  I want to know where the stories are about the couples who decide to quit trying because the YEARS of pain and wasted time and money get to be too much.  I want to hear about how they move on with their lives, how they live childfree but NOT by choice.  We never hear about that.  It seems to me there are two types of “parenting” articles: The martyr parents who talk about how hard it is/how they have put their entire lives on hold for their precious bundles and we should all worship them because of it and the childfree by choice who talk about how everyone should choose to be childfree because kids are terrible, soul-sucking demons.  But there’s never anything from the people who don’t get to choose–they are childfree by default.  And it’s really freaking hard at first, but then they get through and they make a life for themselves.  I want to hear from the people who wouldn’t have chosen this life, but that still have incredibly fulfilling lives, even without kids to raise.  Because right now, that seems like the only hope that we have.

Side note: Rereading this I feel like I sound much more upset about childfree by default than I actually am.  I just don’t want to hear from people with kids about how God gives you what he thinks you are ready for and just keep hope alive.  Both are incredibly insensitive and rude comments. And I am over it.

70 +

24 Aug

Some people don’t know, but Eric is a very talented runner, and in high school and college, he was seriously good.  When Eric and I talk about his “glory days,” at some point total mileage comes up.  “Back when I was running 70+ miles a week…” he’d say.  And I’d think, “What in the hell? 70+ in a week??? Clearly you must mean in a month????”

This week, I knew I was going to hit some big numbers mileage-wise.  That’s perfect–I am now just 26 days away from Virgil Crest Ultras.  This is a terrifying realization–I made a paper countdown chain and it has quickly dwindled and while it is exciting to see, it is also nerve-wrecking.  26 days is not much time.  But I also know that I have been putting in the work, and I am probably ready (or so I’m told).

But I’ve been getting in some amazing runs and hitting numbers I’ve never seen (and never even dreamed about seeing before).  Consistent 45 + mile weeks??? What the???

This week, I managed to get in almost 30 miles before the weekend.  Which is insane.  Before this training cycle, if I hit 30 miles in a WEEK, that was a good week for me.  But I’ve been gradually building and ramping up miles, and I hit 30 by Friday just like I’d planned.  I was tired and sore, which is the whole point of the ultra training plan–build up miles and wear your body down and then keep running so you know what it’s like come race day to keep moving through fatigue and muscle soreness.

Saturday’s long run was supposed to be a recon mission in Letchworth for a project Eric and I have been kicking around for a couple of years now.  I mapped out a route on the “busy park” side of the river that went from the Mt. Morris Dam Overlook all the way up to Upper Falls, using mostly the trails running along either side of the road (sadly there was a stretch of 3-5 miles–not sure exactly how long of road, but we were able to run on the grass for much of it, so it wasn’t terrible).  Luckily, for the first time this cycle, I had company for my long run–Jen!  Jeff joined for a few early miles, and Valone hung out with Eric and Picasso and aid stationed/crewed for us.  We had decided that after we ran, we’d hang in the park, hike a bit, then backpack out to the lean-to on the other side of the river, camp for the night, and be at Dam Good Trail Race today.  It was a perfect plan.

The weather was PERFECT Saturday morning–a little chilly, but the heat and humidity from the week was finally (mostly) gone!  We met at the park at 6:45ish and got started pretty much right away.  The miles started ticking off and before we knew it, we’d covered all of trail 20, 19a, and 19.  Jeff had to turn around to leave, so Jen and I soldiered on.

ready to get going!

It’s go time!

beautiful sunrise over the gorge!

beautiful sunrise over the gorge!

The miles kept ticking by, Jen and I talked about everything–funny, serious, running, life.  Thank goodness she was there with me to keep me company and entertain me. 🙂 Somehow we ended up getting through some awful trails (17, 15, 11)–super overgrown.  This is the second year we’ve done these trails, and both times they were disasters.  I will probably never try them again, but they got us some great elevation as we cut straight down toward the river and then got stuck in a jungle and had to climb back out and to the road.

Eric and Valone kept driving back and forth, yelling at us, cheering, refilling water bottles and leaving us surprises on the road–like a memorial to Rocky the Raccoon (“you’ve got about a mile to the dead raccoon…go get it!”)  They also hid in some bushes on Trail 11 and scared the bejesus out of me.  Their antics definitely made the day more entertaining, and as usual I am so glad that Eric (and this time Valone) were there to support me–I could NOT have done it alone!


RIP Rocky. Thanks, guys, for being so hilarious!

Somehow, we made it to mile 18 relatively quickly.  Jen and I started talking about how my Achilles was hurting and my legs were feeling pretty shitty, and she was like, “Tired and sore are fine, just keep moving” (I’m paraphrasing, of course, but it was sound advice and we did).  The guys went to go get Pete (who had biked up from Rochester) and then tried to catch us at various spots along our route.  I couldn’t believe how well I was still moving–Jen is an amazing runner, so I knew she’d be fine, but my legs have been so tired and we were entering the part of the run where the uphills were starting to become more sustained–nothing too terrible, but just non-stop (heading toward the falls).  We rocked our way to Trail 1 and began working our way along the 7 miles of Trail 1 toward the Falls, seeing the guys a bunch along the way.  The park was PACKED, and seeing people was nice–so much of my running has been by myself on mostly deserted trails, so it was just good to have so much human contact.

mobile aid station stop for some food and drink refills!

mobile aid station stop for some food and drink refills!

after they scared us, the guys ran a bit with us, too!

after they scared us, the guys ran a bit with us, too!


crossing wolf creek!

crossing wolf creek!

Before I knew it, we were at upper falls, at the end of Trail 1.  We had done 23 miles, and I knew we had at least 5 to hike out to the lean-to for the night.  I considered calling it, but Jen and I decided (with a lot of heckling help from the guys) to take Trail 2/2A to go see Council Grounds and then come back to make it a full trail marathon.  We headed out, hiked a decent chunk, but ended up finishing running and smiling!  A trail marathon with over 4k of elevation gain on tired legs in 6:18ish (5:46 of that moving time)??? I’ll take it!

End of Trail 1!

End of Trail 1!

selfie at the falls!

selfie at the falls!

council grounds...what up, mary Jemison!

council grounds…what up, mary Jemison!

Valone’s wife, Lisa, showed up, and we decided to hike to Stone Bridge and do a short hike together, then headed to Brian’s USA Diner…we’d never been, but it’s where everyone goes after running in Letchworth–affordable meals and HUGE portions.  We left Picasso in the car with the air running and headed inside to eat.  It was lovely.  Then we said our goodbyes and went back to Letchworth, to the other side of the river, to start our backpacking excursion.

woman walking by: I can take that for you guys. Valone: OH no, this is the whole point. haha

woman walking by: I can take that for you guys.
Valone: OH no, this is the whole point. haha

Eric and I organized the car a bit and grabbed our packs and hiked about 5.5ish miles out to the lean-to.  I felt shockingly good, we made great time (especially considering carrying a heavy pack and the miles already done), and the pack didn’t bother me much, especially when I changed from my tank top to a tshirt (note-to-self: you can’t really wear a backpack with a tank top and expect your shoulders not to end up raw).

start of the trail

start of the trail

making our way into the woods

making our way into the woods

checking out the gorge!

checking out the gorge!

eating Pringles and drinking a warm Mike's...I deserved it!

eating Pringles and drinking a warm Mike’s…I deserved it!

It was a long, terrible night.  I could not sleep (which made no sense)–I kept thinking about farmers coming and shooting us, then coyotes attacking, then the Walking Dead.  It was stupid.  I kept building the fire up, and Eric almost killed me because he was trying to sleep and I kept getting up, turning on my head lamp, moving firewood and tossing and turning.  Around 4, I finally fell asleep and slept hard until Eric woke me at 7.  Sadly, something is wrong with Picasso’s foot–we are taking him in for xrays and a consult tomorrow.  He was a trooper and hiked out with us, but we were slowed down by his gimp, and I felt terrible forcing him to walk, but there was really no other option at that point…

Resting his leg, cheering on runners! Hopefully it's nothing serious and this guy is back on the trails with us soon!

Resting his leg, cheering on runners! Hopefully it’s nothing serious and this guy is back on the trails with us soon!

We packed up our gear and headed toward the race start line through SUPER thick fog.  We saw a pile of coyote poop not even a tenth of a mile from our lean-to, so the coyote fear last night was legit. Later that day, we’d learn that one of our friends who is a Park Police Officer had tried to pull someone over and the guy (who had a huge rap sheet already) ran away into the woods and he was trying to find him in the woods by us…so I guess my panic was legit? Ha.

We spectated the race on the trail as people came out, then hung out at the start/finish line for a while before I told Eric we had to go.  The shower today never felt so good, and cleaning things up always makes me feel accomplished.  I passed out on the couch around 4ish, and Eric woke me at 5 to tell me to get dressed, that we were going back out for another 5k…because I was that close to a 70 mile week!  So we hit up Seneca Park for some relatively flat, easy miles.  My stomach was a mess, so it was very slow.  But it felt really good to be out, running with Eric.  And knowing I hit 70 miles.  Wow.

I never EVER would have thought I’d be here with my running.  I didn’t know my body was capable of this–or maybe I did, because I know I can do pretty much whatever I WANT to do, but I never really thought about testing it to make sure or see what it was like.  What it’s like:

  1.  Tired a lot–naps are my friend right now.
  2. Starving all the time.  Last night, my stomach was rumbling and sleeping on the wooden floor of the lean-to, I swear it just reverberated through the whole thing, amplifying the sounds.
  3. Chafing in places you’ve never chafed–every long run, I discover a new place to Two Toms–I’m just going to start doing my whole body to prevent any of it.  This week’s chafe is along the lines of my pants on my stomach and back. Fun stuff.
  4. Feeling like a badass pretty much all the time.  70 miles?  Over 7k of elevation gain? Amazing!  I have one final week of big miles, then I can start to taper and get ready for the big day.  This weekend, though, was another huge confidence booster!

my crew

16 Aug

Last night, people were commenting about how I have been doing so much of my mileage alone.  Truth be told, except for Tuesdays, when I am running, it is by myself.

But to clarify, I’m not alone.


my guys waiting for me!

Because this guy is always there with me.


Literally, every long run I’ve done, he’s been there.  Hiking, hanging out, waiting for me. Picking me up snacks if I want them, cheering me on.  A friendly face when I need it most, a “you look good, now go get back out there,” a reminder that “it may hurt, but it’s gonna hurt on race day, so just keep moving forward.”

I am so thankful.  I know how much he wants to be out running (and how much I wish he was out running with me, to eliminate spider webs and keep me company).  I can only imagine all of the things he’d rather be doing than sitting in a car waiting for me for hours on end.  But even though he can’t really run just yet (although he’s getting there!), he’s still with me on these long runs.  For HOURS.  It’s got to be boring.  Eric and I both hate waiting.  But he does it, no questions asked, week in and week out.   And it’s just one more reason I love him to pieces. ❤

My crew!

My crew!

I couldn’t do any of this training without him.  Or maybe I could.  But why would I want to?

mixed emotions

14 Aug

Who knew things like kick ass training runs, running marathon + distance “just because,” and getting a new watch could bring mixed emotions.

Because on the one hand, I can be excited and proud.  I can be beyond excited that my body is handling 40-50 mile weeks like a champ. I’ve never been  here before…it’s an interesting place to be.  I think I might stay a while.  At least for the next 2-3 weeks before taper.

I can be excited about hill repeats and getting to a place where I look at Ski Hill or Coyote’s Den and at the top, I think that maybe somehow those “mountains” have been cut down somehow…they are not as big as I remember them being.  Sure they’re still a great workout, but they are no longer insurmountable.  They are just part of what I do.

I can be excited that I have run 2 marathon + training runs on super tough trail on tired legs and then finished my day out strong.  Because there was a time when an 18 miler on the roads would have left me sleeping on the couch under blankets covered in ice packs for the remainder of the day.  And ain’t nobody got time for that now.

I can be excited that I needed a new watch–my Garmin Forerunner has treated me well, but I have used it so much the band fell off the other day.  It’s ok.  Eric got to superglue it back on, and any day that he gets to use superglue is a good day.  But poor Garmin just couldn’t handle these long runs–I needed something with way more battery life.  My plan had been to just switch watches with Eric every 4-5 hours or so, which was working really well for me during the marathon + efforts, but Eric loves having his watch on his wrist and is a little OCD.  Not having it while I was using it was driving him nuts (although he did it, because he rocks). So Eric surprised me yesterday with a new watch–with a 30 hour battery life!!! We are still trying to figure it out, but I am pumped to be able to use ONE watch and have one less thing to think about during these long efforts–now I can focus solely on things like “what kind of food do I want to shove in my face?” and “do you think maybe you should use a real toilet or are you good for another few miles?”  Ya know…the major questions of life…

So on the one hand, I can be excited…

But on the other, I can be crushed.  Devastated. Something so far beyond “sad” that I don’t know if there is a word for it.

Crushed that I can put in marathon + efforts.  Because I have the time. Because I am “not doing anything else”…like growing or raising a human or anything.  People will point that out to me, and my heart will ache–I would give up the running like this if I had a reason to.  If you’ve had to give it up, it’s because you had a CHOICE.  I don’t get that luxury.  Be thankful that someday you can go back to running long…and then come home to a baby/child to love and nurture.  I don’t have that.

Crushed that I need a watch that lasts longer than 5 hours.  Because as much as I’ve always said I want to keep running during my pregnancy, I would never run past 5 hours, much less 30 hours.  This new watch is clearly an “unpregnant” watch.

Crushed that I didn’t (or couldn’t?) cry after our last shitty doctor appointment on Thursday.  Some tears here or there may have squeaked out, but nothing major.  It was like I was numb.  Until I was running long on Wednesday, almost a week later, when I sobbed for a good 45 minutes while I stumbled along the trails, alternately embracing the release and trying to stop it (mostly because I worried if someone else was in the woods I would terrify them).  But crying in the woods during harder workouts has become my MO these days.

So I can be excited about Virgil.  And I am.  I am excited, proud, a little nervous, but mostly pumped to really put myself to the test again and see what I am made of.  But in the back of my mind, there is also a sadness and a pain that goes with it.  But if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that a long run in the woods can help put things into better perspective, and if nothing else it’ll exhaust you to the point that when you go to bed at night, you just fall asleep, rather than laying there thinking of all the things you know you shouldn’t think about.  It’ll remind you that your body can’t do it all, but damn can it do a lot, and that is something to be unbelievably grateful for.

cut back weeks

3 Aug

Cut back week is officially here, and I am officially excited about it.  My legs are feeling every bit of the almost 60 miles (and almost 7,500 feet of elevation gain) I put on them last week, and the two 45 mile weeks before that.  They are tired and a little bit sore.  Nothing too concerning…they are just letting me know that they are ready for a little break time.  Break time from:

Hill repeats…

Coyote 4X4--4 major climbs, 4 major descents, one majorly tired girl when she's done running this loop a few times...

Coyote 4X4–4 major climbs, 4 major descents, one majorly tired girl when she’s done running this loop a few times…

Beautiful but hilly running/hiking at Buttermilk Falls and Robert Treman…

lots of this...uneven, death-trap stairs

lots of this…uneven, death-trap stairs

but beautiful scenery

but beautiful scenery

why not climb up pinnacle rock a little ways??? do one thing every day that scares you, right?

why not climb up pinnacle rock a little ways??? do one thing every day that scares you, right?

swim in waterfalls to cool off and relax.

swim in waterfalls to cool off and relax.

swim time!

swim time!

And a 27 mile training run on the 0 SPF course…And let’s just talk about that for a minute.  I. Hate. The. SPF. Course.  With a burning passion.  It is hard.  The first time I ran it, we were checking it out with Ron, Ben and Sean.  It was probably February–there was still snow/ice on the ground and it was chilly.  We started early enough to need headlamps.  We got to the top of power lines (not even a mile into the run), and I was already exhausted.  “Where do we go now?” I asked lamely.  “Uh down,” the guys replied with the duh-tone.  It was slippery and icy and I was on my ass 3 times on the way down that thing, and I got to the bottom and told them to just go on without me…except then I realized I’d have to turn around, go back UP the mountain and then run alone in the dark…ain’t gonna happen.  So we went to Woodcliff, I was miserable, and I have really disliked the course since then. I’m not actually sure how many times I’ve completed the whole course, but it’s not many.

I was looking at trails to do my long runs on this past week, and decided on SPF simply because of how difficult it is and how much elevation I could get.  It’s not Virgil, but it’s one of the closer trails in the area, and running it on Thursday, when I’d already run 5 miles of hill repeats at Coyote on Monday, 8 miles in extreme heat at Whiting on Tuesday, and 4 miles at Durand on Wednesday (followed by 2 hours of trail building) made my legs very tired.  Combine that with the fact that around 3 on Thursday I woke up (to a disgustingly humid morning) with a very upset stomach that never actually settled until about halfway into the run, and I’d say this was a very successful training run.  Also, it’s only the 5th time I’ve ever run a marathon (or longer), and the 1st time I’ve done that “just because” and not because it was a race.  So yay.  Important things learned here: you can run even if you feel like shit (literally), you need to two toms yourself (because explaining to your doctor why you are very badly chafed is embarrassing), you need to eat even if your tummy feels bad (those last 6-7 miles were a lot tougher because all I’d eaten were a couple of nectarines and drank 10 oz of tailwind).  But it was done, I’d say it was relatively successful, and I am feeling much more confident about my abilities to soldier on when the going gets tough.

not a smile...a grimace...

not a smile…a grimace…

I love cut back weeks and taper–so many people get anxious and feel badly about them.  Not me.  I may feel a little lazy this week, but overall I love having the extra time in the week to chill and recover.  This week, “chill and recover” will be code for “prep and direct the Mighty Mosquito 99 Mile Relay and Ultra.”  So even though it’s a cut back, I will be on my feet a ton and be busy.

Then I have 3 more big weeks planned to continue my training.  And then we taper.  50 miles is a long way to go.  Virgil is no joke with something like 11k of elevation.  But I am starting to feel much more confident in my ability to go the distance.