Archive | April, 2016

#startasking National Infertility Awareness Week

28 Apr

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This week is Resolve.org’s National Infertility Awareness Week.  You can read more about Resolve, their advocacy efforts, and infertility here.  It’s a great site with tons of resources for both couples suffering through IF and also friends and family members looking for advice and ways to help their loved ones cope (or just get a better idea of what IF means).

We have been on this roller coaster for 6ish very long years.  I have blogged for #NIAW every year that I’ve kept this blog.  Every. Year. This fact alone makes me sad.

2015

2014

2013

It’s hard when it’s been so long not to be angry, disgruntled or depressed or any other negative emotion you can think of.  I stopped blogging publicly about our issues after what I felt were judgmental comments were made to me and to us.  Maybe I shouldn’t write about all of this.  Maybe I should only write about the good stuff that happens–there’s certainly enough of it to fill up an entire blog.  Because even for all the grief of infertility, my life is full of beautiful moments.

 

But I’d be lying if I said our struggles with IF haven’t shaped me, haven’t made me sad (even depressed at times)–and not writing about those things–ONLY writing about the happy things–would make this blog a sham.  Just another “look at my perfect life” bullshit story like so many blogs are.  And that’s not true.  No one’s life is perfect and I refuse to be fake on here.  As we have delved deeper and deeper into treatment, the more things that just flat out don’t work (my body responds to pretty much nothing), the more that we have started to come to terms with the reality that we may never become bio parents, and we’ve started to work through what other options exist and which of them would fit best for us.

 

All that being said, I try to regularly practice gratitude because, like I’ve said, my life is actually awesome most of the time.  So this year, for NIAW week, I’d like to #startasking what good has come of our battle with fertility.

  1.  We can easily do what we want.  I’ll start there because it’s a favorite thing for ignorant/tactless parents to point out in an attempt to “make us feel better” about IF.  (FWIW, you shouldn’t say this to anyone with IF.  It’s super lame that I’d even have to point that out.)  We are aware that life without kids is very different than life with kids.  We are also aware of the changes that would be made and the sacrifices that come with being a parent–sleep being a major one.  So while there are no kids in the picture, we live it up.  We book a spur-of-the-moment trip to Ireland.  We go canoe-camping.  We ditch dinner plans and end up at Windjammers at 7 on a weeknight for dinner and drinks. We run whatever races we want and we train however we want because there are no little humans depending on us.  And it’s nice.  Along those same lines, we have extra money/space.  Well…to be fair…fertility treatments are not cheap.  Even when covered partially by insurance, which luckily is the case for us.  Many people, though, pay entirely out of pocket.  But we don’t have to buy clothes and shoes for kids who are constantly outgrowing them (little weeds that they are), foot the bill for extracurriculars, or find room for more “things.”  And that’s also nice.  Basically we don’t have any of the “inconveniences” (as some parents like to make them out to be) of having children.
  2. I have learned to let go a little bit more.  I like control.  I like planning.  I like researching and knowing what’s coming and not being surprised.  But with fertility treatments, there is no “for sure.” At least, not for us.  My body has responded differently to every round of medication we’ve done, even when it’s been the same medication and same dosage.  There has not been one cycle that’s been the same or even similar.  When meds should take 7 days, they often takes 20+ with me…but the numbers are all over the place, so the only guarantee is that we will do meds longer than “normal” people do.  Getting phone calls the day after blood work and hearing “come in now” completely disrupts any and all plans that we may have made for that day.  And I hate it.  But I’m learning to let go and just roll with it.
  3. I have learned that I have someone in my corner.  Always.  Even when it’s really shitty to be in my corner.  Those marriage vows are for real, yo.  Through awkward doctor appointments (where he makes jokes or holds my hand depending on what I need), through tear filled nights, through complete melt downs about life and how unfair it is.  Eric is there every step of the way.  Also he is good at giving me shots…except the first night, when he stabbed me with the needle…but I digress…
  4. Babies are lucky.  When you start looking at statistics for how many cycles (both medicated and unmedicated, for infertility patients and “normal” women) end in live births, the numbers are shockingly low.  The fact that we are surviving as a species is astounding to me.  The things that need to be in place for a baby to be brought to term…well…I’d say a huge amount of luck is involved in baby-making.
  5. I am stronger than I thought.  I don’t care what they say–catheters through your cervix hurt.  The HSG test that I had was the most painful thing I’ve ever experienced.  Nightly shots for weeks on end, blood draws ad nauseum (one of the girls at the lab was like, “how much longer are they going to make us torture you?”), and dealing with the disappointment of negative test after negative test…those tests have all made me stronger mentally.  Maybe not when it comes to dealing with all of the IF crap, but certainly when it comes to dealing with the other not-so-nice things I may have to deal with in life.
  6. I am still weak.  Enough said.  I appreciate the people in my life who are there for me when I’m at my weakest.  The ones who can see how tired, scared, depressed I am, and love me through those moments instead of expecting me to “get over it” or “put on a happy face.”  The ones who ask me how I am or what they can do.
  7. We aren’t here to fix each other.  There are things in life that can’t be fixed by friends.  All we can do is be there for each other, listen to one another.  No judging, no “well at least you…” Just pure empathy.  Here’s a seriously amazing video about that.  I mean seriously.  If nothing else, watch this.
  8.  Empathy (coupled with a shared struggle) has led to true connections with amazing people.  People I had no idea couldn’t get pregnant, struggled to get pregnant, are still struggling to get pregnant.  It’s like a little sisterhood.  Granted no one actually wants to be a part of it, but man…the women I know going through this shit are some of the most supportive, most loving ones I’ve ever met, and I would never have known them if I weren’t a part of this group.
  9.  That being said, empathy comes from many people, not just those who literally have been through or are going through the same things you are.  Some of our “fertile friends” have also been the greatest.  From being gentle with their pregnancy announcements to giving us our space to understanding why we might say no to a kids’ party (but inviting us anyway) to asking a simple “how are you?”  I have no idea how to navigate all the feels that come with wanting a baby, not being able to have a baby, then watching other people get/have what you want…especially from an up-close view of being good friends.  I’m sure our friends with kids don’t know how to navigate their feelings about being happy for their kids and still trying to be tactful of our feelings.  But I’m glad that we have friends with kids who are willing to try to learn how to maintain those friendships, to feel the feels with us instead of judging us for the feels we experience.
  10. Life goes on.  I never imagined I’d be here.  I thought I’d have a mess of a kids by now.  But then I also never imagined I’d have an awesome dog, go on super sweet camping trips, run 50 mile races…  Life may not work out as I’d planned, but it does keep going and things do seem to work out.  I have no idea what will happen as far as babies go.  But I DO know that regardless we will have adventures for years to come.

 

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sibling day

11 Apr

Today is Sibling Day! What a lovely day!

 

I am lucky in a thousand and one ways.  I have so much that is so good in my life.  I am beyond lucky.  But maybe the most lucky I am is that I grew up as the oldest of 10 kids.  Always someone there to play with, to hang out with.  Also always someone to blame things on.  Someone to be higher up on the “shit list.”  Someone to talk to.  Someone to argue with.  Someone to borrow from, to learn from, to teach.  Because of how I grew up, I have 9 friends.  No matter what.  We stick together.  We take care of each other.

 

Sometimes, I feel like even though I’m not a mom, in some weird hybrid way I get to be a mom (in all the best ways without any of the stress of actually being a mom).  Because my siblings (especially the littlest ones) are in some ways like my kids.  I love them fiercely, and I want nothing but the best for them.  I would help them any way that I could.  I would do anything for them.

 

Valerie, my first roommate, the one who stayed up all night waiting to hear if we had a new brother or sister (many times…even while bugs were sucking her brains out).  She is the best about checking in, the best about being there for people.  (Dear Val, next time we’re together, let’s take some pictures so I have some that aren’t from the 90’s…mkay?)

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Jeff, the one who I can always have a serious conversation with, and who will talk religion without judgement.

Chris, the camping, beer-drinking, cursing pal (who used to come run away to us when he was in trouble).

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Matt, my hippie brother who will keep us alive in the apocalypse because he knows which plants are edible and which will kill us.

Kyle, the one who will push and stretch the limits of an argument, making both people stop to think about their ideas. (Also, we need to take more pics together, dude.)

Leanne.  My Banana.  My god daughter.  Since day one, seeing her in the NICU, wearing the dress and headband I’d (poorly) knitted, she’s been my baby girl.  I will never forget the nights rocking her to sleep, and I can’t believe the beautiful young woman she is (and the old lady I’ve become!).

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Josh, the little man.  As a baby, he swept the floor (one of his favorites).  We had the most killer nerf gun war when he was a baby.  That is how I will always remember Josh, no matter how old he is.  Giggling hysterically, running around with a nerf gun twice the size of him.

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Alyssa, the athlete.  The total tomboy, which I completely identify with.  Rough and tumble.

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And Emily.  The stubborn baby.  I hope that stubbornness remains as perseverance because she will be unstoppable.

It was not normal, the way I grew up. Growing up in a big family is not “normal” anymore.  But I can’t imagine anything else.  Love you guys. Thanks for being the greatest siblings I could ever ask for!

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Cast a Shadow…my second mud-run ever

10 Apr

For some reason, this never posted back in February.  So here it is, a race report a couple of months late. 🙂

 

I had the pleasure of running my second mud-run ever (after Muddy Buddy).  No…it was not supposed to be a mud run.  In fact, it was not even a race that was technically on my radar.  Normally a snow-shoe race, I have been trying hard to stay focused on my training for Cayuga, and so I figured I’d do my long run separately and just cheer on Eric and our friends in their races.

 

Then Eric’s dad went into hospice and we were busy with taking care of him and helping him to smoothly transition.  Among the things I’ve learned about death in the past 3 weeks, it’s apparently a transition or journey.  Luckily for me, I’d previously had very little experience with death, and the few times I’d lost someone, it had been quick–one day I saw them and they were fine, the next I saw them in a casket at a funeral home.  Having a front-row seat to watching someone fade, being responsible for their care…well it certainly gave me a new perspective on the whole process of dying thing.

 

It also left me with limited time and energy (both physical and mental) to run.  We had started off our time in Buffalo strong, but by the end of the two and a half weeks there, I was not running and was eating mostly junk.  When we realized Cast a Shadow was not going to be a snow shoe race, and I realized that the chances of me actually doing any kind of a long run without support of some kind were slim to none, I knew I needed to sign up for this race.  6 hours to do however many miles I could get in.  The course was a super flat 2.6-ish mile loop this year (changed from previous years to try to avoid some of the wetter spots since there was no snow).  Because the loops were so short, I decided to start without my pack (I don’t even know the last time I haven’t run with a pack) and see how the day went.  No reason to carry extra water weight if I’d be able to get a drink every 2.6 miles anyway.  Even if I was hiking the loops, I could do them relatively quickly (I thought ha).  I was worried about the mud factor, but was told by people who ran early (before 12) that the ground was hard in most places.

 

Except that our race didn’t start til 1.  And by then it was warming up and the sun was coming out.  I  had no idea that this would be a bad thing, and so I started the race optimistically thinking I’d hit the marathon mark around 5 hours (if I took it easy) and then possibly try to run a 50k because why not.  While the optimistic part of my brain said to do that, the more cautious side reminded me that I have not run long in quite some time again, and if I was feeling injured, I should stop and not hurt myself any worse.

 

Loop one was uneventful–I ran with Janel, and we chatted and for the most part the ground stayed pretty hard.  There was just enough give in the ground to make it cushy, and I thought about how nice this run was going to be.  I swung into the aid station (aka the back of the truck, aka trailgating), swigged some water and was on my way.

 

During loop 2, I got myself onto an island and ran alone most of the rest of the race.  Which was fine because this was a 2.6 mile loop, with the beginning section an out and back–there was a TON of interaction with people going the opposite way in that section, not to mention all of the people passing by (there were some SUPER speedy solo runners and a bunch of team relayers).  I was still moving alright this loop.  I swung into the aid station, had some drinks, changed shoes (my water proof ones were giving me a hot spot on my big toe) and then kept moving.

 

Loop three was when things started to get tough.  The course started to get pretty chewed up from all of the runners churning the mud.  It had gotten pretty bad, and my hip flexors were starting to get angry.  When my hips hurt, I usually listen because a. the hips don’t lie and b. my only major running injury was a hip flexor one when training for my first half and it took me out for about 6 months.  I made it through the loop and mentioned my hips hurt.  Eric gave me a silly massage while I drank a little water.  Then I was back out.

 

Loop four was bad.  My hips really started burning at this point, which worried me.  I came into the Trailgate Aid Station almost in tears.  I think I got heckled by Chris O. at this point for standing at an aid station for too long.  When people dilly dally in aid stations, I think it’s usually because they don’t want to go back out.  At least, that’s why I do it.  I had some internal struggles, debated myself and then finally took 3 ibuprofen, grabbed a water bottle for the road, and told Eric I was just going to hike this one and see if I felt better.

 

Loop 5 was pure misery.  Every person I saw had to hear about how much my hips were hurting.  I was the whiney complain-y girl.  Sorry, kids.  I hate being that girl.  The beauty of trail running, though, is that everyone is always positive–lots of “good job”s, “nice work”s and “keep it up”s were shared out there yesterday.  And being able to tell people that they were doing well helped take my mind off how shitty I was feeling.  I hiked most of this loop very slowly.  The runners had really churned up much of the course–I’d say probably about a mile of the loop (if not more) was 6 inches of brownie batter mud.  Other sections that weren’t muddy had turned to puddles.  There were definitely runnable sections, but also a lot of spots where I’d slow down to just hike.  During loop 5, I started to consider quitting.   A half marathon was good enough.  But then I thought some more.  I couldn’t quit.  I told myself to make it through one or two more loops, even if I had to walk (I knew I still had like 3 more hours that I COULD go for).  I had 18 on my plan anyway, so if I could get to 18, I’d be fine.  I came into the Trailgate, got a new water bottle, and left.

 

Loops 6 and 7 were not much better.  I kept moving, though, slowly picking my way through some of the more chewed up sections of trail.  I had taken 3 more ibuprofen I think before I left for loop 6, and toward the end of it, I think they started to kick in.  I decided to run the last 3/4 of a mile or so during loop 7, and found that it didn’t actually hurt any worse than walking.  Then I started to get really pissed at myself.  I had been moving so well and I was being a big baby.  Mud shouldn’t make a difference–I’m a trail runner, goddammit.  Fucking run some trails.  I got to the Trailgate, and I think this is when I had shoe change number 2.  Putting on clean, dry socks and shoes made me feel better (until I hit the next section of mud and destroyed them haha).

 

Loop 8 was still slow-going, but I was trying to move a bit faster now, running a bit more.  Eric had encouraged me to “run the dry sections” and I’d laughed and told him not much was dry anymore.  But I found the spots that were and tried to get my feet to move faster.  I thought about how Eric’s dad couldn’t even walk at the end, and here I was bitching about “getting” to run.  I started to get teary and had to shift my thoughts from anything having to do with the past 3 weeks.  Just focus on moving quickly.  I hit the Trailgate, quickly grabbed some food and water and kept moving.

 

Loop 9, I was moving well.  I came across Valone and Katherine and walked with them for a bit, but then kept running, knowing that I wanted to do 10 loops, which by my watch would put me at a marathon on the day.  Not bad for someone who considered quitting at mile 13.  I came into the aid station and cruised back out.

 

During loop 10, I realized I’d been running for a full loop in the dark by myself.  I started to get a little spooked–I really fucking hate the woods at night, even when we’re camping, and I do everything I can to avoid being alone in the woods at night.  Then I reminded myself to keep moving forward and stop thinking about what might be lurking in the woods to get me.  I started dogging it a little bit because I knew I could finish the 10th loop with plenty of time to spare.  Sections that I should’ve run, I would stop.  At one point, I came into a clearing and realized how starry the sky was and stopped to walk and look around and take it in.  It was incredible.  I kept moving and crossed the timing tent at 5:42:18.  A super muddy marathon on under-trained legs that had not had much sleep in the past 3 weeks and with a brain that is pretty emotionally spent in 5:42:18??? I’ll take it.

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Some take aways:

  1. The more you run long, the more your body can handle it.  I never believed in that stuff, but other than my hip flexors today, I feel good.  If it hadn’t been so muddy, I’ll bet I’d have felt fine today.  There’s something to be said for muscle memory.  Of course, training is a good plan, too…Maybe I should try that next time…
  2. While it pains me to say this, I guess snow may have been better–not enough to need snowshoes, of course, but enough snow and cold to keep the ground frozen.
  3. I was a little disappointed with myself and then I realized that only 5 other women ran farther than me–3 did one extra loop and 2 made it to 13 loops (which is SERIOUSLY impressive).  It’s hard to be disappointed when I can see how much I’ve grown and improved in such a short time.  A year or two ago, I’d almost definitely have quit running this race.
  4. Chafing really hurts.  Blah.  I need some new sports bras.
  5. If I decide at the end of a race (that I’ve been falling apart in) that I am going to race again, I can do it.  At Virgil, I gained some time back after a couple of bad spots.  Yesterday, I managed to pull it back together at the end of the race…it still wasn’t pretty and I’d have liked to run better, but all things considered, it was alright.
  6. I have the greatest husband in the world.  Among other things he excels at, he is a master aid station-er.  He doesn’t let me stick around and wallow in my misery (but does give me hip and butt massages before making me go back out).  He helps me change shoes.  He kept my fruit roll ups warm (insider tip: they crack into a billion pieces if they get cold).  He heckled when I needed to be heckled, he was understanding when he needed to be understanding (without being soft and letting me bitch too much or quit).  There is no one else I’d rather come into an aid station to see waiting to help me out.  He is the reason that I can keep going.  I love you, Eric, for giving up your whole Saturday afternoon and evening to watch me get muddy and sore and tired and keep me going.

 

Palmers Pond Fatass 50k

3 Apr

Yesterday I had the pleasure of running (hiking?) the Palmers Pond Fatass 50k.  You can read more about the idea behind it here, but a fatass race is one where entrants don’t pay, they just bring a good attitude and food/drink to share with everyone else.  Colin did an amazing job putting together a great race and a stellar group of people for his inaugural race.  Everyone out there fought through some pretty tough conditions to get ‘er done.  Here’s my recap of the day:

 

We were planning to camp at Palmers Pond, but weather looked potentially iffy, so we scrapped that idea, opting instead for a night inside our warm, dry home.  This meant, however, an ass-early start to the day–alarms were set for 3:15, and we were up kind of late last night on the phone dealing with some family stuff and then recapping to each other, so not much sleep happened.  As we drifted off, Eric said, “You needed sleep last night anyway. Tonight doesn’t count.” Which is somehow true of races. Strange.

 

We had a pretty uneventful drive down to the race start area.  Colin had hooked us up with a porta potty and tents and a campfire, so that was pretty cool.  The vibe at this race was awesome–exactly what I love about trail running–chill and laid back–just some people hanging out running in the woods, testing their limits.  We set some stuff up and just hung around waiting.  I am bad at patience, so I just wanted to get the day started.  I had anticipated a relatively flat, relatively fast course.  With the training I’ve been putting in for Cayuga, I figured a 6ish hour finish would be possible, and I was looking forward to possibly PR-ing.  We got some race directions from Colin, who told us we were starting on the dry side with really nice running.  And then we were off.

 
The first half mile, I was running and I incredulously voiced my concern:  If this is the dry side, what’s the other loop going to be like?  I started having flashbacks to Cast-A-Shadow.  We were almost immediately hitting mud–the slide-y, thick, yucky mud mostly, although also some sections of just deep puddle-y mud–over my shoes deep.  Somewhere in this loop, I also stubbed my foot, heard a crunch, lost my balance and almost fell head first into a tree in the process.  I caught myself and almost started to cry–my foot was THROBBING.  All I kept thinking was I broke something.  A mile of hobbling, though, and the throbbing subsided (or I just couldn’t feel it because my feet were frozen).  No matter, I cruised along, and there were dry spots, including this amazing section through pine trees.  My phone died, so I never did get to take a picture of the other cool part, but it felt like something out of a fairy tale.  You come to the start of it and it’s like stepping through a door into the pines, and then there’s a pond-thing on one side and pines on the other and it was just breathtaking.

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this pic doesn’t do it justice. it was amazing.

I crossed the street, stopped at the car to quickly grab some fruit rollups, and then got back on the road.  At this point, I had decided I would do 2 loops–roughly 11 miles, just to see what this next loop was about.  Then I would get up and run tomorrow.  The next 5.2(ish) miles were sloppy.  There’s really no other word for it.  The mud was ankle deep most places and I saw why Colin had said the west loop was the dry one.  I was fine, but just not able to really run, so I kept considering calling it a day.  But then I thought about having to get up early to run 20, and I was like, meh just do the loops the opposite directions again (per the race) and then you can do a 10 miler tomorrow and be done.  It sounded like a reasonable compromise, which looking back seems ridiculous.  Whatever it kept me out there.  I also found Todd at this point, coming back from a wrong turn.  We ran “together” (mostly he was in front of me a ways).  There was a section of bushwhacking, and this was when I started to notice that plants and bushes were tearing up my lower legs.  I also started to think about how this was like an adventure race or something, which made me feel moderately better about the nasty conditions.  At one point, it started to rain…but it quickly turned to snow.  FML.  Then as quickly as it started, it stopped.  The sun came out, birds were chirping, and there was no more mud.  Well…some of that is true.  I came to the start/finish, refilled my water and tailwind, grabbed another handful of fruit rollups for the road, and headed back out.

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there was a whole lot of this arguing going on yesterday

The third loop, after the terrible east-side loop, was a breeze.  It was muddy, but I had gotten used to  just power hiking through the particularly bad spots and hobble-running through the “runnable” stuff.  I started to think about the reality of how slowly I was moving–I knew everyone was, but I started to question continuing on again.  Is it better to just get the time on feet in and finish this training run or better to go somewhere tomorrow to actually “run”?  I played with that question a lot the next 10+ miles.  I also thought about how this was truly the perfect location for Mess the Dress, how little I was eating and I needed to fix that (but never actually did..fail),  how I had put way too much Tailwind in my water bottles and I needed to water it down (finally did that on my last loop), and about my baby sister (who is really sick and in the ER again…an ongoing thing and hence the late night last night).  During the end of this loop, I realized that I was close to the front of the race for women.  And that was when I realized that I needed to finish no matter what.  We didn’t drive all this way for a 20 mile run…we came for a 50k, and that’s what I was going to do.  Oh I would be remiss if I forgot to mention that I almost fell again multiple times in this loop.  I was having a hard time staying upright, but somehow managed to never actually fall all the way down. Small miracles WERE happening.

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this is how i felt most of the day yesterday…

Loop four was pure misery.  I wanted to punch someone, but I think this is where I lost Todd (you’re lucky, buddy hahaha seriously though nice spending some miles with you even though we didn’t talk much).  I wasn’t even sure if I was on the right trail at one point (I knew, but I didn’t KNOW if that makes sense).  And then, like a bat out of hell, here comes Mertsy, the opposite direction from me.  In this race, the runner got to choose the direction of the final two loops.  Holy hell, I thought, Mertsock is beating me by more than 10/11 miles.  FML I AM moving slow.  After another 3 or 4 guys went by me the wrong way, I finally asked, “you’re in your last loop??”  But no, second to last.  Colin was allowing us to choose which side (sloppy east side or kind of sloppy west side) to do second to last and last!!!  This put some pep in my step as I thought about which side to do first and also which direction to go.  Somewhere near the end, I saw Dan, who said something about not wanting to see me again and we laughed.  Oh and it snowed/hailed off and on for the rest of the race.  It also got sunny.  Mother nature was confused.  AND I kept stepping in puddles that looked “fine,” but then I’d sink in to my knee (literally) and mud would splash up in my face.  Disgusting.  I also wiped my nose a billion times on my shirt.  I was a hot mess, let me tell you.  Glamour is the name of the game when it comes to trail running, people.

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this…as far as the eye could see…

I headed out for loop five on the messy east side, because I wanted that side DONE more than anything in the world.  All the guys in the front were going the opposite way I’d just come, but I thought I remembered liking the way I just did better.  I considered going with the crowd but then thought, “just run your own race, dammit.” (Apparently I chose the “hard” way to do the loop…I’m not sure there was an easy one ha.)  Off I went, opposite the people in front of me.  Which ended up being great because I saw people once in a while and could laugh at Dan and tell him he had to see me again, sorry!  Toward the end of this loop, I caught up with Jeff, and we talked about how he was going to go farther than ever before today–possibly even the full 50k!  It was so good to see a friendly face at that point in the race.  We came into the start/finish, but I took off pretty quickly knowing I was almost done and the worst was behind me.

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under all that mud? sticks and stones to trip you up.

Loop six was a mess.  I was frustrated with how much walking I had to do, frustrated by all the mud, frustrated by my overall time, cold, tired, hungry.  I had forgotten to grab any solid food in my rush to leave the aid station, so I was drinking tailwind and listening to my stomach grumbling the whole way.  The only thing keeping me moving relatively quickly was knowing I was in the lead for women, but not knowing where anyone else was behind me.  I tried to really focus on hiking as quickly as I could, which wasn’t particularly fast with the mud and my hamstrings begging for mercy (I love that quote about how it only hurts so much, then it doesn’t get worse…it is so true, you get to a certain point of pain and then there is no MORE pain, it just is constant pain of the same magnitude).  But I kept moving.  Before I knew it, I came to the fairy tale spot, and I knew I was close.  And then all of a sudden, boom.  Finish line!  I touched the PP (literally 2 P’s strung together) and was handed my first place female award!!!!

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Colin made them for us at the finish line!

Negatives from yesterday:

  1. This was by far my slowest 50k ever.  It took me just over 8 hours to finish.  I would be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed by that.  On the flip side, the men’s winner was something like an hour and a half slower than his PR.  It was just a slow day with tough conditions.
  2. I seriously considered quitting–multiple times.  I tried to justify it in my head, and I came pretty close a couple of times.  Much closer than I ever have before.  I was in a negative head space for most of the 8 hours yesterday.  That’s no good.  No more of that.  Goods and bads and just flow with it.  Or some other hippie bullshit.
  3. My nutrition was off.  I was hungry multiple times, kept forgetting to actually drink, and I kept chugging Mountain Dew at the aid station.  I know my stomach doesn’t handle large quantities of food/drink.  So why I chugged I don’t know, and why I wasn’t consistently eating a little at a time I also don’t know.  Gotta fix that for Cayuga.
  4. My foot hurts today.  My legs are cut to shit and itching like crazy.  My sneakers went in the garbage, along with my socks–everything was holey and caked with mud.  That course did a number on my physically and gear-wise.  (Plus side to the holey gear–not having to clean it!)

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    some of my battle wounds

Positives from today:

  1.  Let’s start with the obvious:  I stuck it out and finished in first place.  (Side note: small field.  Other side note: Eric always says you can only race the people who showed up.)  Holy shit, guys. I won a race!!!!  All I’ve ever wanted to do was place in my age group–I never thought I could win…overall for females.
  2. Good people.  There’s nothing quite like a tough day and seeing people sticking it out together–on the trail, racing, and under the tents, volunteering and RD-ing.  The camaraderie that comes from a day like today is so much better than anything else.  In fact, if I had to pick a word to describe yesterday, camaraderie might be it.  Thanks for all the awesomeness out there yesterday, guys!
  3. Another solid training run in my 50 miler plan… and my first 50+ mile week of this cycle! Rock on!   No taper either, so I guess I should take that into account when thinking about how slow I was.
  4. Thought I was going to be hurting pretty bad after this one, but somehow today I feel pretty good.  We’ll see how tomorrow goes, but I’m guessing I’ll be alright!

In the neutral category, I do want to mention that after these long runs and races, I often struggle to have an appetite or to sleep.  I don’t know why–is my body just still processing what the hell we did?  Who knows.  I just know I wasn’t particularly hungry yesterday (don’t worry–I’ve been eating like crazy today) and I slept maybe 3 hours last night.  I was wired.

Overall, yesterday was a great day!  Thanks to everyone who came out, who encouraged, who stuck it out too.  Thanks to Colin and his wife for volunteering and spending countless hours prepping so that we all could have a great experience!!!  Despite the tough conditions (or maybe because of them), yesterday was super fun and a really cool experience.  What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and all that!  And as always thanks to my number one supporter, the guy who tells me I can when I think I can’t, the one always pushing me to do and be better, and loving me no matter what–dressed up and ready to go out or with mud all over and snot on my shirt.  Eric, I love you.  Thank you for doing this with me.

 

 

1 Apr

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Tomorrow I am going to run my 5th ultramarathon.  It’s weird because I still remember my first 5k.  The feelings I felt and the thoughts in my head then were the same as the ones I have had at the end of every ultramarathon…really every race I’ve ever done.  Granted in a 5k, there’s a lot less time to be uncomfortable than there is in a 50 miler…  But ultimately the human body is capable of an awful lot.  It’s the human brain that tries to say stop.  Knock it off.  Go sit on the couch and eat some potato chips.  And so running is just about telling that voice to shut up (for 30 minutes or 30 hours or anywhere in between…just depends on how far you’re planning to go).

 

Sometimes it’s really hard for me to explain to non-runners why spending hours in the woods is where it’s at for me.

Maybe it’s something about the deeply spiritual experience I have–knowing that I am so small, just a little piece in a massive picture, and even if I still don’t know who or what is responsible for that picture, I’m thankful to be here experiencing my place in it.

Maybe it’s playing in the woods for hours, splashing through puddles, hopping over creeks and fallen trees, feeling the sunshine on my face (or raindrops or snowflakes, as the case may be tomorrow).

Maybe it’s the way that the worst day can turn into a good one with a little (or a lot of) trail therapy.

Maybe it’s the way that even the best day can get better with some trail therapy.

Maybe it’s the amazing people I’ve met–people who have shared deeply, who have let me share, who are down for crazy adventures–4 am wake up calls, hours-long traipses through the forest, exploring new trails, sharing snacks, random stop offs and road trips.

But mostly I think it’s something about knowing that you are capable of more than you think, of what other people think.  It’s feeling completely and utterly worn out, but in the best way possible.

 

So tomorrow I’ll run my 5th ultramarathon.  I can’t believe I got here.  But man am I glad to be here.