Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Ready...Set...NO WAIT

Ok I will admit, I may be the worst blogger in history; it's been over a year that I have even logged onto this site to update my races/competitions or my life. So here's the short version of 2015-one crazy year:

View from my living room of Grandfather Mountain
From about late October of 2014 I was living by myself in a shack of a house in Blowing Rock. After a disastrous break up, I am not afraid to admit I sank into a very deep hole. I was barely eating- spending every moment either lifting, running or drinking to keep my mind and heart from shattering more. I was dealing with an hour and a half commute, a senior dog with failing health and one crazy ass landlord and  if it weren't for my amazing support system up there I don't think I would have made it through. I loved my friends dearly for pulling me past some of my darkest days, but in order to move on- I had to move.

I was heartbroken that a place I loved had become such a painful place to live. By February of 2015 I had decided to come back to Charlotte- I needed to distance myself from one of the most damaging year and a half of my life. I remember driving away on  tears pouring down my face and vowing to come back.  For most of us change is never easy but thankfully two things made it easier for me.

First was that my friend Steve let me move into his home. My belongings fit pretty much into the spare room (what little I had) and Daisey had two new playmates with Peanut and Buddy.  Steve and my friendship goes back years through mutual friend Tom Patch (aka Patchman).
Like the older bro I never had (Steve)

 Through races, divorces, depression and many late night talks- we have become good friends. He is like the brother I never had and I am so eternally grateful for his generosity.

Finding inner peace in my practice
The second blessing that made my transition easier was a suggestion from a friend that a local Crossfit gym was looking for a yoga instructor. After a successful trial class, Abby and Jeremy brought me on the teaching staff and I have been a member of the South Charlotte Crossfit family for over a year.  I have met some of the most amazing friends there and don't think that anyone will truly understand how much finding that gym meant for my sanity. This also culminated my love for Crossfit... but we will come back to that.

After a disastrous DNF in my last race the desire to train, run and race was draining out of me. I had one last race on the docket for April-  Leatherwood Ultra 50 miler. Tim Worden is the RD and I had been wanting to run this race for years mostly because of the handmade trophies he gives to the top finishers which are crafted from horseshoes. (spoiler alert) Still to this day one of my favorite trophies of the collection.

Problem was I had barely been running and this race has a history of being wicked hard. Leatherwood usually involves cold and rainy conditions that create shoe sucking quagmires of mud that make it a soul crushing race with almost 25k of elevation change- AKA a f*ckton of climbing.  Fortunately for me it didn't rain on race day or the day prior which saved us from a majority of the knee deep mud holes and slippery climbs. However the humidity and 80 degree temps in mid-April were less than ideal in their own way.   The race was hard to say the least- most of the people I knew racing had dropped at the 50k point or had not even made it that far. There were a ton of familiar faces on and out on the course which made it a lot more enjoyable and not even an option to drop.
Second Place Female- 2015 Leatherwood 50 miler
I crossed the line as second female at 11:50:44 and was grateful to be gifted one of those coveted trophies. Things seemed to be getting back on track for me. Little did I know that would be the last time I would race successfully for almost an year.

What happened next can be summed up as history repeating itself relationship-wise. Once again I would find myself second guessing all things I thought I had known. I was overwhelmed with the sense of complete failure by trusting someone who did nothing more than create toxicity everywhere he went. Vulnerability can make you blind and an easy target for those twisted souls who thrill in the advantage it gives them. <<Clears throat>> Anywhooooo.....

At a race in mid-June I got the best advice from a fellow racer and friend, Joe Parker, who told me that the only expectations I had to meet where the ones I had put myself.  I had a pretty amazing sponsor, lots of wins under my belt but I still wasn't happy. I needed to be able to give myself permission to fail; permission to walk away from something that wasn't bringing me the same joy it had. I took a deep breath- DNF'd at the 50k mark- pouted over a few beers- put my shoes in the trunk of my car and walked away from Ultra Running for almost an entire year.

Functional Thickness
In July I moved into my own place (while Steve ventured off to Canada)and took time to focus on myself. In that time I found peace under the weight of a bar, the fatigue of max efforts and the cheering of my family and teammates. The strength mentally and physically that Crossfit granted me was something I hadn't felt in a while. I had to stay and face the demon in the form of a workout- I couldn't just run through it- I had to lift it, move it or climb it . You dig deep during an Ultra but you have a lot of time to sort it out mentally during a race. Crossfit is reactionary and balls out all the time-you don't have time to think, you just MOVE. So it was I drank the entire jug of Kool-Aid and loved it.

In August I competed in my first solo comp, then a charity partner WOD in September. For October I teamed up with three of the best teammates a girl could ask for. Kelly, Paige Nicole and I formed "Functional Thickness" and trekked to Asheville to compete in the scaled all female division of Beer City Beatdown.  After all the chips settled we finished in third place out of 42 teams. Once again the thrill of winning sunk its teeth in and it felt gooooooood!

Funtional Thickness- Me, Nicole, Kelly and Paige 

Sidenote-  South Charlotte Crossfit sent 40+ athletes and we brought home podium finishes in all but the masters category. What Jeremy and Abby have built at their SCCF, Beer City and Rocky Top gyms exemplifies the meaning of community.  I have never had so much support from such a huge crowd in such a cool venue. Almost 50 athletes on the arena floor at a time- lifting, rowing, lunging and jumping all for a chance to stand on the podium.

SCCF Family Photo 

After bumping through the holidays and a few personal set backs,  I decided to try my luck again at competing in a competition here in Charlotte called Superfit. Typically these competitions are known for being tough and heavy even for the scaled division. I snagging my partner Kelly from Beer City Crossfit in Asheville and when the workouts were announced- we immediately knew we had a decent shot at doing well at the comp. They were big engine workouts with no heavy weights just a lot of constant movement. We both have very comparable endurance and whatever she wasn't good at, I was and vice versa.

The day of the comp couldn't have gone more perfect. Even though this was the first time working together- Kelly and I clicked immediately! We rolled through the workouts clinching the top spot every time. We went on to the finals to win it all thanks mostly to Kelly's clutch ability to butterfly chest to bars. Standing at the top of the podium this time I realized that my "year off" was more about finding that competitor side of myself again, just through a different medium. I have one last competition coming up at the end of April at River Ruckus in Asheville with a 4 person team including Kelly and two other BCCF members Shelly and Brooke then I have some decisions to make.

I want to take a minute now to thank the unwavering support that I have gotten from my sponsor and teammates in the INKnBURN family. Megan and Rob never blinked when I said I needed time off of racing and in fact they supported my journey and I am so lucky to be a part of that team. The INKnBURN label stands for more than just amazing clothing with stunning artwork- they back their athletes with whatever is needed- that says a lot about the company and about them personally. Thank you is just not enough- love you guys! 

So as I type this I will gladly admit that the fire has once again been ignited in my soul to compete.  I have managed to dig my shoes out of the back of my car and started running again. I fully embrace the "Ultra runner with a Crossfit problem" label and enjoy flirting with both ends of the crazy spectrum. I look forward to finding that balance that defines who I am as an athlete. 

In closing- this past year has represented so much personal growth and has taught me a few things:
1. You can survive almost anything through faith in God and trusting the path He has set you on
2. Without a solid support system you can't get far- love your tribe and love them hard
3. Your passions will always be there but reigniting them is up to you
4. People aren't always what they seem- trust your gut and when it says run- fucking sprint!!
5. You gotta find what makes you happy- and to do that,  you must look inside.  

These lessons are invaluable to me and I am grateful for the experiences that helped me learn them. Time to move forward.