Friday, February 10, 2017

And now for something completely different…..

Blog much? No, not really.

So what’s been going on? Something that is TOTALLY NOT RUNNING!

After I ran a 50k at a 12 hour race last year and decided I had zero interest in running the 50 mile race I had trained for, I kind of found myself floundering. I had spent so many months fighting back to running an ultra and then, viola! I ran one! And then, hmmmm…. Ok what next? In a past life, what’s next would be, what are the next 3-7 races you can train for? Please note: that is the kind of thinking that got me into the great thyroid mess of 2015, so that’s out.

I’ve been a member at an AMAZING gym for 5+years now. In that time, I have done mostly semi personal training. My coach and I would talk about my goals and then my coach would design a workout for me. It’s made me a healthier runner for sure. But even that was starmting to feel stale.

Enter Olympic lifting (not Crossfit, not that there’s anything wrong with Crossfit when done safely… end disclaimer). My gym has a pretty great Olympic lifting program and they have been offering an Olympic Lifting for Dummies class (it’s not actually called that, that’s just how I felt when I signed up for it). So, even though I’m scared to death of new things and change, I thought, what the heck, let’s tip toe out of this comfort zone just a bit and see what happens.

What’s happened is…. I LOVE IT! It’s way different from endurance running and that’s kind of a good thing right now. In fact, my sacred Saturday long runs have turned into lifting days!

I haven’t stopped running, but lifting heavy weights with big movements has certainly changed how often I run and how successfully I run. For the first month or so most of my runs made me feel like Godzilla because my legs were lead weights from lifting. But three months in, my body seems to be adapting a tad.

Most of the “lifting only” lifters can’t understand how or why I run and most of the “run only” runners can’t understand how or why I’m loving this type of lifting. And I’m just in the middle trying to figure out how I can make them work together and not destroy my thyroid again.

The cool thing is that adding Olympic lifting has made me appreciate my running more. I love being in the noisy gym with people cheering each other on and dropping loud weights everywhere, but that environment has also made me appreciate the silence and Zen of a nice run even more.

I’m still not sure what all this means as a runner, an unltrarunner, a lifter, and all the other labels I’ve given myself through the years. But I do know as a person, I’m really enjoying this new stuff.

Oh and also, who gives a sh!t about all those labels?

Friday, October 21, 2016


When one of my nephews was about 2 or 3, he was playing in a fountain. He was so overwhelmed with pure joy and that all he do was scream

That’s kind of how I felt for most of the race I did on Saturday.

I had a plan of running 31 miles during my 12 hour race and calling it a day. I had planned on using the race as a test to remind myself what a race felt like, to test nutrition, to figure out shoes, to get a training run in at a different location, and to see if I had any interest in running a 50 mile race in a month. What hadn’t planned on was having so much fun.
I don’t have a play by play to describe the race. It was a three mile course that had a little bit of everything. A little uphill, a little downhill, a little grass, a little pavement. It was good. The food at the aid station was great. The weather was perfectly overcast. The participants were wonderfully supportive.

It was freaking magic. And it freaking hurt. Holy crap I haven’t run that far in a while and my feet were killing me. But I felt so content. I was/am so grateful I was able to get to this point healthy and be able to enjoy it. It’s been two years since I’ve run that far and although it hurt it felt amazing.
And I don’t want to run 50 miles in a few weeks. Like, at all. I thought that after twenty some odd miles but I told myself I can’t make that decision while I’m hurting in the middle of a run. But I’ve been rolling it around it my head ever since.

Am I just scared?

Am I just tired?

Am I just ready for a taper?

Am I just worn out from a long training run?

Well, yes, to all of those. But the other factor is. I just don’t want to do it. Why would I show up at a starting line when my heart isn’t at least 90% interested in the race?
I’ve worked really hard at finding a balance between my health and my love of ultra running. I’ve worked hard at actually trying to listen to my body and what my head is trying to tell me. And I’ve worked really hard at finding out that I just like to run and I don’t need lots of races a year to prove that. There’s nothing wrong with lots of races a year if that’s your thing, but there’s nothing wrong with no races a year. And I think I had to convince myself that there’s nothing wrong with saying… Screw that, I don’t want to do that race I signed up for anymore. I think I’d rather just take my victory and move on to the next thing. Whatever that is.
So, I think I’m out for a 50 miler this year. But it was super fun training for it.
Here’s some other tidbits on the weekend.

1.       Animals spotted during/after the race: 2 snakes, 1 woodchuck, 1 opossum
2.       Sleeping in my car was genius and surprisingly cozy. And the moonlight was amazing.

3.       I seriously need to figure out a shoe solution. Cause dang my feet hurt.

4.       I stood at the aid station for what felt like 10 minutes eating bacon and pickles at one point. I think that ultra running might be the closest I ever get to understanding pregnancy food cravings.

5.       Fall is an awesome time to be a runner (also a minefield for those of us with puny ankles).

6.    Leaves caught: 2

7.    Only music on my iPod that I liked: The Ramones.

8.      Sometimes making peace with grown up decisions feels like garbage. But other times it feels like a win.  

Monday, October 10, 2016

Ready Set..... GO!!!!!

It’s been a weird year. Due to some hypothyroid stuff, the last race I ran was in July 2015 and it was a half marathon that I knew I shouldn’t be doing, but it was a great excuse to hang out with a friend on some new trails for a few hours. Shortly after that race I finally found a doctor that agreed that there was something wrong and we set about treatment.
In December, we looked at some new bloodwork and saw that everything was WORKING! I wasn’t out of the woods, but the things I had been doing had made a huge impact. We were both thrilled, well cautiously thrilled.
Then I told him my plan/dream/possibly stupid idea for the year:
I want to run a 50 miler in November.
Here’s why I love my functional medicine doc, he didn’t laugh. Ok, he might have rolled his eyes, but he listened to my proposal.
We think that part of the reason my thyroid went to sh!t was because of over-racing (of course there were other factors too). So, I sat down and asked myself, if I could only do one race this year, what would it be? And the answer was the Tunnel Hill 50 miler.
This will be the third year I’ve signed up for this race. Year one, I DNF’d. Year two, my thyroid hated me and I went with a friend to crew for her/hang out. Third time’s a charm?
I signed up and didn’t really tell anyone. Maybe because I was/am scared. Maybe because I couldn’t handle all the supportive Facebook style rah rah stuff (what a jerk right? I just couldn’t handle feeling like I might let these supportive people down). Most likely because I needed to convince myself that this was a worthwhile project.

So here I am.

This weekend I'm doing a 12 hour race. Not because I want to run for 12 hours, but I wanted a 30ish mile run (I hope that doesn’t take me 12 hours) and I thought it might be good to remember what a starting line feels like before I show up for a starting line of a 50 miler.
I’m at this place that’s somewhere between terror and excitement. And considering it’s been over two years since I have lined up for an ultra I’m having a difficult time remembering if that’s normal. But then again when have my reactions and emotions been normal?

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Avoiding the Gottas....

A forced break from running, a reassessment of how I run, and a reassessment of what I want from running in the past year have been terribly frustrating. On a bad day, it’s heartbreaking to look at all the running I used to do and the way I could do it whenever I felt like it. On good days, I’m so stinking grateful for any running I get to do even if 95% of my running is walking. Because in my mind, if I ran three steps the whole da&* thing is a run. And if 100% of it was walking? Who gives a crap? My chances of being an elite athlete were always zero. Now it’s subzero. Does that make me sad? Nah, I am who I am and I’ve punished my body in the name of fitness enough. So now I’m just trying to respect it and learn its boundaries.
So there’s the stuff that I miss and the things that make me sad, but there’s some good stuff too. Here’s something I don’t miss.

The Gottas
I don’t miss saying things like:

I gotta get X number of miles in

I gotta get a stupid run in

I gotta run for 489 hours on Saturday

I gotta figure out how to fit in a long run if god forbid I want to do ANYTHING other than run on a Saturday.
I understand that at some point of training I always used to get tired of training. I feel like that’s normal…. Or at least not unnormal. But even when I wasn’t training for something (which really wasn’t often, over race much?) I still felt like the I Gottas caught me a lot.
So, what’s it like now? Well, I haven’t trained for a race in over a year now. So, that takes quite a bit of pressure off.
I also REALLY try to ACTUALLY listen to my body. Runners claim to listen to our bodies all the time, but frankly we are terrible body listeners. Because seriously, a big part of running and especially ultra running is learning to ignore the ow and push through. What I’m currently trying to do is learn what is actual ow and what is safe to run through. UGH…. It’s exhausting. I mean, conversations in my head can go on forEVER….

Am I just tired or am I thyroid tired?

Is that muscle soreness normal or is it a problem?

Should I just run a mile and see how it feels?

But the first mile always sucks, should I run two and see how it feels?

But if I’m going to run two, why don’t I just suck it up and run three?

But is three too far?

But if three feels good should I push to four?

Maybe I should just walk?

But am I really going to get out of bed at 5am to go walking?

Ok, but if I don’t run or walk, will I just lay here in bed wide awake and be pissed about it?

Oh crap, I’ve spent like 15 minutes trying to figure this out. I mean, that could be my first mile or so….

And on and on and on…..

It ain’t pretty, but it IS nice to have the option to lay in bed and say screw it to the whole project.
But now I’m considering trying to do SOMETHING in the Fall. I’m feeling better (am I really feeling better or do I just think I’m feeling better… you get the idea, nuthin’s easy). So, I’m wondering how “training” works when you are trying not to stress yourself out about training? Can that even work?

I guess I’ll soon find out. I mean kind of soon…. Should I start soon? Should I wait til the last minute and try to cram for the test? Is this all a terrible idea?

Oh lord…. This is gonna be interesting.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Ultrateering... It's a Thing... That You Should Definitely Be Doing

Whenever road runners ask me why I run ultras and how I can stand wandering around the woods on race day for 6+ hours at a time, I always have a ton of reasons.

I love the woods!
It's an adventure!
What else have I got to do today?
I can pee (almost) anywhere I want!

And most importantly......


It's like a buffet just shows up in the middle of the woods! And the longer the race, the better the snacks! 

When I switched to trail racing more than road racing, I remember noticing the volunteers a lot more than I did during road races. Road race volunteers have a tough job, they typically stand out in the blazing sun, arm extended, waiting for you to grab a cup filled with gatorade or water. Don't get me wrong, it ain't glamorous work and I've always loved them being there. But these trail volunteers.... They're out in the woods all day and they don't just hand you a glass of water, they fill your water bottles, your hydration pack, they untie your shoes, they pull your socks off, they remind you to eat, ask about your salt pills, they cheer you up, and they talk you off the edge. They can make a race day magic. Ultra volunteers ARE magic. And you should be too.

Ultrateering (it's a word now, so go with it) is one of the most satisfying and healing things I've found since discovering trail running. If you've read this blog you know I've been wrestling with health issues that require me to reassess the racing I do. I like races although I'm not a RACER. I like the feeling of a race day, the battle and the victory. I miss doing races and there's no way around it. But Ultrateering lets me be part of it! I get to feed off of all the race day excitement! As a volunteer I've watched people come into an aid station crying and come back on their next loop rejuvenated! I've seen people take a nap, get up, and kick the snot out of a race. I've watched runners make hard choices to call it a day when it isn't working. I've wiped away tears, I've hugged, and I've high fived. I've peeled off socks, I've untied countless knotted shoes, and I've made a complete ass out of myself to get a smile from a stranger in a tough place.

It's hard work. And you don't get a medal or a buckle when you've finished your 5-20 hour shift. You don't get to upload an amazing run to STRAVA, and you don't get race photos. But instead of just patting yourself on the back, you get to be part of HUNDREDS people's race! You get to play a part in their victory!!!!

I think about all the hours of racing I've done... I've still got a lot of giving back to do. And I love it. I watched a video clip of a guy talking about volunteering at a race he had run for years... he said something about how he had taken (run the race) for X amount of years and now he wants to give (volunteer) for X amount of years. As someone that loves racing and volunteering, that teared me up because I totally get it.

If you love to race, then volunteer at a race or two or seven. Seeing the other side of the race will only make you love running, racing, and the running community more. And we could all use a little good karma, huh?

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Change is Weird

I read a few old blog posts today, which is awesome, because it’s kind of like having a diary to go back to. It was really cool to read some things about old races and training, what worked, what failed, what seemed like a good idea, what was a horrible idea. But the weirdest thing was that it almost felt like I was reading about someone else’s life. I mean, I remember all those things, but when was that me?

I get it, things change, goals change, people change, blah blah blah… but I didn’t realize how I have changed and how much that shows in my running.

Last year I tried to recreate my first 50k. I signed up for the same race, signed up for the same marathon as a training run, I wanted to recreate that magic. Obviously, my thyroid had different ideas; I DNF’d my training marathon and never even got to the starting line of the 50k.

And a lot of things went to crap from there….

But a lot of things got really cool…..

I’ve found that the people in my life that liked me for more than just running still like me and want to be around me. And the people that only liked me because of running now awkwardly back out of a room when I say I don’t have any races planned, they stare at me with sad puppy eyes, they say awkward comments that sound like/might be insults, or completely disregard that ever ran, do run now, and will run more races in the future. It’s been sad and weird and liberating to see that happen. It makes me care less about keeping all the plates spinning because I’ve found out that half the plates that I was spinning never cared if it was me spinning them or someone else.

Enough about plates….

I like running, I like runners, and I have found a new appreciation for what I am able to do no matter how pretty or ugly it looks. And my running has become oddly personal for a person who tends to share and overshare many things.

So, it’s fun to see how different it is. Sure, there are less blog posts, but that’s just how it is right now. And maybe that will change. And maybe if/when it does change, it’ll change into something that’s also awesome. It’s funny, because just when I think I have myself all figured out, I don’t at all.

I guess that’s the neat part about life and running… you never know how things are going to change. And trying to recreate a magic that happened before will probably always fail, because that magic happened then…. Today I get to make new magic.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

NEW YEAR! what to do.... what to do....

It’s the time of year where people start resolving..

 I’m gonna workout more

I’m gonna eat better

I’m gonna clean the toilet more than once a quarter…

You know, the usual. Me? Well, I had a complete meltdown at my gym the other day because my personal trainer asked me to set a goal.
Yep. Hysterical woman, table of one please?
We talked it through and I’ve thought about it a lot in the days since. And I guess there are a few reasons why such a reasonable and appropriate question set me off.

   1. I set goals last year. And they were all thrown out the window when my thyroid went to hell. I lost oodles (or all) of the progress I had made in the gym and running. It was like being punched in the gut and then looking up and watching all of your goals and plans flutter away.

   2. I’m a runner. We love goals. We have goal races, goal times, calorie intake goals, distance goals, pace goals, cute outfit goals… we LOVE goals. However, in my current recovery state I can’t really set those. When I met with my doc I was given (and agreed with) a hard NO on spring races. That news was expected, but still a tough pill to swallow. But moving forward from that the plans are so wishy washy. Maybe this, maybe that, adjust daily, blah blah blah. Words like those are like nails on a chalkboard for someone (like me) who loves schedules and game plans.

So, this paints kind of a bleak picture, sure. And I had no idea a question like that would set me off. But what I did realize is that I have been working on goals, they’re just different than any goals I've ever set since I began running and weightlifting.

In my current state it's MOST important for me to focus on what’s working NOW. When I go to the gym it’s a victory when anything goes well. When I go for a run, it’s a victory if it felt good during and after. My main and most important goal right now is trying to listen and figure out what is working today, what worked yesterday, what works in the next five minutes. If I look too far ahead, I tend to get panicked or sad about what I can, can’t, might, or might not be able to do.
I guess it turns out I do have goals. They’re just different goals than I’ve ever had. Maybe they are a bit less measurable, but for right now they are what I've got. And please don't ask me about them..... at least not anytime soon.