Friday, August 9, 2013

Anticipating the pain

Just need to take a few quick moments to get thoughts on paper-

After taking the time to just enjoy a fun run at the Grandfather Mountain Marathon with some of my favorite running friends, I am so excited and ready to race. Tomorrow I lace my trail shoes to run in the Annihilator 50k at South Mountain State Park in Connelly Springs, NC.

Feel free to check out the challenge here >> Annihilator 50K

I have been training -hard- for this race. Running countless hills in Boone, ripping up trails, and ceaselessly pouring over course maps, descriptions and elevation profiles.  I started my Ultra career on the trails and it's  a love/hate relationship. This is going to hurt- there is no other way to say it. There will be brutal terrain, lots of uphills and not to mention the weather- but I have been craving all of that.

It's beautiful if you think about it; being able to run through a gorgeous setting and feel the thrill of racing simultaneously. I love to focus when I run; hear my footfalls, the rhythm of my breathing and learn to run with the pain. I get asked a lot if I run with music and I usually laugh and look at the person like they are crazy. Why would I take away the most elemental sounds of the wood/trails/nature? I will never forget seeing and hearing the New River for the first time on that crisp October morning that marked my birth into the Ultra world. Yes my ipod is always packed should I need it but I can think of only twice I have ever used it.

My heart rate is cranking at 100bmp as I just sit here typing about it. All I can hope for is a good solid race with 110% effort forth. Those who know me well know just finishing won't make me happy. Fingers crossed I want some hardware but coming home with a finish will still make me smile. It feels good to stand up and stretch my wings.

Time to fly- time to race- time to do what I do best- run like hell.

Side note- yes I will have the infamous Uncrustable or two stuffed  in my pack (extra smiley faces there)

Friday, June 21, 2013

Return to Innocence

Whew- it's been a while. I may be a little rusty on how to write race updates but the next season for Ultras is right around the corner so I am flexing my finger muscles and getting back to it. Since deciding not to raceat Weymouth Woods,  I have found myself simply enjoying the act of running. The social, therapeutic and slightly ego centered aspect of it. I have found my joy again from roads to gnarly trails...I'm baaaaack! That being said I have raced since January- here's the shortened version:

I was excited to take a trip to Boston to participate in the ever-sought-after 117th running of the Boston Marathon. The experience in itself is spine tingling! My mom joined me on the trip north along with two dear friends Emily and Phyllis. The fanfare was easy to be caught up in!

Unfortunately on Saturday night I found myself feverish and unable to swallow effectively. After a terrible night of sleep I awoke with glands the size of golf balls. Trekking over to Boston General and the fantastic staff at their Sunday clinic (brilliant idea and covered by my insurance) they told me I had strep throat. The doc said "no go" when I asked about running. I literally sobbed for almost an hour, which hurt like hell in my state.  I refused not to race, I hadn't trained that hard to qualify and come all this way to sit on the side and not race. So I called my mom and she made an "in house delivery" of chicken noodle soup. I swallowed the dose of anti-biotics, painkillers and tucked myself in to sleep as much as I could saying a slew of prayers.

Monday morning we woke to say the least- giddy. I could swallow and there had been a drastic improvement on how I felt. Gear was donned and we were off to experience the bus ride out to the start. There are so many things that are part of the race that it would take me forever to recap but just know; it was magical. You want to pinch yourself and you can't help but grin.
The starting line

I had decided it would be an easy race- sit back and enjoy the scenery and have fun was the sage advice from my running partner and friend Tom. We headed towards the corrals and waited for our turn to run. Emily and I started out together but just about around mile 9 I had to drop back. I wasn't feeling too hot and slowed. All I can say is it is the most wonderful 26.2 miles anyone can ask for. Beautiful rolling course and a million fans screaming for you to do what you do best; run. From the screaming girls at Wellesley college to the kids on the side of the road handing out water, the city and every village in between supports this race like nothing I have ever seen. I could not stop smiling. I was part of something some people never get to race and I was loving all of it!

When I crested the small hill by Fenway Park- I knew I was almost home. Allowing my pace to quicken I zoomed comfortably to the last stretch of the race down Boylston. The cheers from the crowd are almost deafening. You feel like you could fly and soak every second in down that stretch.  Crossing the line drew a gasp and a few tears from my tired body. But it was when the volunteer placed that coveted medal around my neck that I was truly appreciative of what I had come to be a part of. I picked up my gear and headed back to the hotel- calling my dad along the way to tell him I finished and listed to his pride gush as his voice broke over the phone.I finished in a respectable 3:50 something time frame. Not shabby but by far not my fastest but I am happy to have ran and finished safely. 

What happened next has been on every paper, news cast and magazine around the world. I do not want to dwell on it because it is still a very raw memory for me and I want to remember the good in this race. We did not hear the explosion, but we did witness the chaos of police, national guard and military influx into Boston Common across the street from where we stayed. All I can say is we were scared, shocked but relieved to be safe. The stories that come from the survivors tell a far better account of the fear that gripped that city. A dear friend of mine and her family were injured in the bombing and the news of it shook me to the core. I am happy to report they are recovering beautifully. With that being said, the 117th running of the Boston will have a sour note to it however the good memories are still there for me.

Much love to the BAA and the city of Boston for handling the tragedy flawlessly. Unbelievable city, unbelievable strength in its'

people. Makes me smile with tears as I type this. My heart goes out to all victims of the tragedy, but we will run on #BostonStrong 

Upcoming for me will be my return to the Ultra world. The Annihilator 50k in early August will be a true test of grit for me but I have great company for that race and am excited to hit some trails. Followed up by the
WC Ultra Trail Marathon at the US National Whitewater Center. I am eager to get out there and race. LETS DO THIS!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Running from Regret.

Some of you may have noticed my continually lengthening of time between reports even though I have raced since my last one. I owe you an explanation. As I sat watching my hero divulge years and years of secrets and admit to his lies, I was moved by Lance’s look of relief and my heart was filled with a realization and complete understanding about what it is to carry a heavy burden of your own creation.  I woke this morning with an overwhelming need to tell my story and using this blog may be the best way possible. About a year ago my sense of selfishness crept up to a level that even I couldn’t understand or control. I made a lot of mistakes and I found myself “thinking” I was incredibly unhappy with my home life and that somehow it was holding me back. I had just been brought on to a spectacular racing team and offered an opportunity to work with my favorite shoe company. I had it all in my hands and I thought that going out on my own, flying solo would be the best thing. Life at home was nothing more than pressure into children I didn’t think I wanted and strained conversations over a late dinner because once again I was running late with other priorities. I didn’t take the time to work on or with the people or things that should have been first in my life. I ran to “run away” from it all and all I wanted to do was win. To run for the next victory, write a dazzling review of my races and show the pictures of my trophies.

So shortly after my success at Umstead 100 (literally a week) I packed my bags, left my husband and moved out of my house to a 1br. apartment in Charlotte. At the time I was thrilled. Being on my own, alone and making decisions only for me for the first time in my life. I could race everything and only have myself to deal with. Heaven was what I thought I was getting, but it turned out to be my own personal hell. Yes I had a shelf full of trophies but an empty apartment and when the music stopped and the lights came on in life, I began to realize how truly alone I was. There were some very dark days where I will admit that even brushing my hair was a chore let alone getting out of bed to run or pretend to everyone that I was OK and happy. Most people would not have recognized me or believed me in those moments, but they were there. I suppose everyone has those times and I am no different. But I am an excellent actress and can assure you that many people did not see the struggle.  

Let me say now that I am grateful to my wonderful husband who remained supportive through all of this turmoil. It truly takes a beautiful person to love someone through their selfishness, and now is his time to be selfish and I do not begrudge him that. I will also give a wonderful shout out to all my friends who have helped me along the way and have been there whenever I have needed it. But even they couldn’t help fill the hole that I had begun to notice that running was not even filling. I turned to counseling for answers and to shine a hard light on what was really going on inside my head. I did not want to go, didn’t want to feel like a crazy person and didn’t want to pay someone to talk to me. I couldn’t have been more wrong about the outcome. Sometimes it’s just hearing things out loud with someone who doesn’t judge that can make you realize your own mistakes and help you find the way to a happier you. I send mad love out to my sister-in-law who listens to people every day and helps them in life; Kristen you are truly and angel on this earth. 

As I sit here and write this, my heart and head are full of regret. I have hurt so many people; ripped apart my marriage hurt my husband and now I am left with the shattered pieces. Sometimes they say you must walk through the darkness to see the light and believe me I have a lot of walking to do. I can’t go back in time and fix what I broke, I can only move forward and ask for forgiveness. I have found myself turning to my faith for healing and for comfort and I have begun to “re-prioritize” my life. I have come to a deep understanding that first and foremost running will always be there for me. My irrational fear of not using my talent and the need to race/win have become laughable to me. What is a win if you have no one to share it with? Understand that I still love to race and win, but those voices have quieted for now. My focus has turned on putting back together my life in whatever way God has deemed me to. I am looking know for a balance in my life that allows me to live my purpose and pursue the running that I love. “God gives his hardest battles to his strongest soldiers” is a quote that I found that quiets my restless heart.  It is a hard long journey that I am on but I do not believe He gives impossible tasks. There are several things that I do know already:

1.       I want my marriage back, if it is in the cards and my future. That is an unknown for right now, but I am patient
2.       I want to have children. I want to pass on the passions I have and shape a life that I bring into this world with someone I love
3.       I want people in my life to know they are loved, appreciated and are important to me
4.       I want to continue deepening my faith. Without that, I am truly lost
5.       I want to give back to the world in a way that is meaningful; I haven’t found that specific cause yet but I know it is out there

So as many of you sit scratching your head as to why I am writing this now and today?It is because I have decided to not race this weekend at Weymouth Woods 100k. A race that just weeks ago I was sure I was going to not only win but was training to set the course record for females. I am content in my choice and can assure you that I have been asking and praying for guidance all week on my decision. This is my peace and I am ok with that. Priorities lay ahead, racing can wait.