Monday, August 1, 2016

100 mile re-entry test #1

First of all, going into this race I already had my sights set on a future race.  I was using Beaverhead to do kind of a litmus test if you will.  Beaverhead is a 55K that is in high country and took place on 7/9/2016.  It starts at a low elevation of 7500' (ish) and climbs to over 10K' a couple of times.  I've run a couple races that go into the 9000's and had a few breathing issues but nothing that was a race ending for me.  I have not been eating wheat since the first of May.  It's had some mixed results... I've had NO GI issues on any runs, I wheeze a lot less and I just plain feel better.  During and post-race I had no wheezing AT ALL.  That is a miracle.  I always have wheezing the night after long runs and a tight chest the next day.  I didn't have either of those.  WHOA!!! 

Things that went right:
  • Altra Superiors were awesome.  No issues at all. 
  • I felt so bad and had such a hard time with the 4 miles of bonk-ville that I was fighting the DNF demon like crazy.  I still can't believe I won.  I thought of a recent book I just read and other people I know who influence me.  In the end, I decided that I would take care of myself when I reached the AS and give myself like 5-7 min to get cals in.  That I would carry on and no bonk would cost me my race. 
  • No blister issues.  No clothing problems, I had arm sleeves and a tank top with my jacket in my pack which I did eventually put on when it started raining.  It was so hot I actually took the jacket off and ran in the rain. 
  • baggie for my phone. I loved listening to music when needing to concentrate on the "what".
  • I realize that I don't want to talk or hear anything when I'm in a hard working section when I'm needing to remember my "why". 
  • I drank a lot of water... and stayed hydrated which may have very well saved my race.
  • ZERO wheezing during the race or even after.
  • A fellow runner friend had an elevation profile that I did not have but was wishing for prior to race start.  She randomly offered me a copy just before race start to which I was immediately so grateful.  I pulled that out so many times.  It felt like my woobie!

Things I need to work on:
  • eating MORE and not bonking.  ***this is a long race deal breaker***
  • I was searching in my bag on the way to the start for my clippers that I swear I packed.  I never found them.  My toe nails really needed to be cut.  They paid the price with at least my one big toe and one pinky toe nails due to big blood blisters underneath.  I hate when that happens.  My other big toe nail may go to.  This is normally not a problem for me. 
  • Focus on executing MY race.  PERIOD.
  • My mindset during the race.  I had a lot of fear going into this race.  I could tell that I was getting low on calories before I even hit the first AS.  In the first six miles, I ate two things in my pack and I didn't have an endless supply of food volume to eat like that all day.  I was fearful that I wouldn't have the fuel I needed at the AS.  So I skimped and that was a bad decision made only in fear.  Fear of bonking (happened), fear of quitting/wanting to quit (happened...didn't quit but wanted to)...just generally fearing focus.  My focus needs to be on keeping my body fueled so that my mind makes it do what I want it to do!
  • I need to figure out a lot more food options.  The only thing that got me even feeling a little better was soda.  The last three AS were nothing but soda-fests.  I had food too but had at least 8-12oz of soda at each AS. 
I have a LOT of work to do before I am ready for a 100 miler but I'm going to give it my all.  IMTUF I'm coming back to claim my finish from 2012. 

Random: some people have said to me "it's good to see you're back".  I don't feel like that's quite accurate yet.  I have a LOT more training and prep to do. 

Sunday, August 30, 2015

My Fountain of Youth

Yesterday was my last race before turning 40.  I said it.  I'm going to be 40 TOMORROW!  For the last several years, friends I have grown up with have been talking about how old we are.  It makes me crazy because up until the last year I haven't felt old AT ALL.  In fact, since I started running long distances and working out regularly, I've felt like I'm just getting younger and younger.  Then, two years ago, I made some choices that caused life hit me like a ton of bricks.  Don't get me wrong...I'm in a WAY better place now.  But the last two years have taken a toll on me, mentally and physically.  I've started running again.  I even ran a half marathon last month.  After that race was over, I told my old trail running partner that if I ever sign up for a road race again, she needs to break my knees.  : )  Road races hurt way more than running 100 miles! 

So my journey continues.  I run a little, do some weights and then get bogged down with activities including my children's sports, school starting and my partner in life who was done with his summer vacation as well...he works for a local Junior High.  Life is just getting back into the swing.  I get lost frequently in the doing, laundry, meal planning, carting around children to and fro and the organizing of it all....and I lose myself.  I forgot what it takes to make running a priority.  I forgot the effort it takes on a daily basis to organize and manage life details for a family of six.  So I don't get the miles I used to....some weeks not running at all and feeling physically like I'm spent to the max.  I find that my back hurts a lot these days, mostly a response to my severe lack of core strength at the present time.  I ache after doing farm chores, like stacking hay bales and doing other heavy lifting like moving fence and rounding up pigs.  I am not used to having soreness like this from daily activities.  The thought creeps in and screams at me "I'm getting old".  To top it off, I keep finding strands of random white hairs.  "I'M GETTING OLD", I hear shouting in my head. 

Last week, circumstances fell together that made it possible for me to sign up for the Resort to Rock 32K.  It's a local race that was put on by friends and many other friends were running it as well.  My old trail running partner was doing the 60K.  I really had no business signing up for this as I honestly haven't run much in the last month, actually no running for over two weeks.  The mountains have been calling me though.  I dream in foggy memories of what the trails look like.  I haven't been on a trail run since the end of 2013....almost two years ago.  Since I started trail running, I've never been one to do things in a conventional manner.  So I last minute signed up.  On the way over to the race, I was thinking about what a different dynamic it was going to be to have Jon waiting for me at the end.  I love that guy so much and to have someone like that waiting for me at the end feels like far more than I deserve.  I tried to not think about this because I'm wasn't running this for Jon, I was doing this for me. 

The horn blew to start the race.  I started my garmin and waited for everyone to go.  I wanted to start out last.  We started by climbing and like usual, I'm quick to be sucking wind.  I kept a steady pace as it usually takes me a mile or so to get warmed up before I feel like I can actually start doing some good work.  We climbed mostly gradual climbs for a couple miles and then there was a great deal of runnable trail.  It was GLORIOUS.  I felt amazing.  It kept getting better and better and better.  I hooked up with an old friend Jenny and another friend of hers from Illinois.  I was with Jenny and her friend for probably 6-7 miles.  I was so grateful as those miles included two of the harder climbs of the day.  I began to pull away as we got within a couple miles of the last AS.  I was feeling so elated.  I felt YOUNG again. I felt STRONG again.  I felt LIKE ME!!!  I no longer cared about white strands of hair or being sore or any of the other things that have been screaming at me about my age.  This.  This is what makes me young.  Running long distance in the mountains.  I came rolling into the last AS and there stood my man and my littlest babe.  I began to smile uncontrollably.  I was so happy to see them.  So very sweet of Jon to come see me there.  What a sweet gift.

I knew I had one more climb from that AS and then it would be a comfortable run to the finish.  I headed out and began the last ascent.  My back was screaming at me along with my lungs.  Everything in me was screaming to stop.  I slowed some but that didn't seem to help so I just went back to what I was doing to begin with.  The sooner I get to the top, the sooner I'm done climbing.  This is, after all, what makes me stronger.....when everything in me is screaming to stop and I just carry on anyway.  Once the climb was done, I walked for a short bit just getting myself back to a place of relaxation and then began to run.  Here I was, about to finish the last race of my 30's.  From a long way off I could hear people yelling my name.  As I got closer and could see some friends and there was my favorite guy... just being who he is.  What a treat and how spoiled I am to be cheered for and surrounded by such a wonderful group of loving people. 

What a day.  What a race.  What a dynamic year.  From delivering my fifth baby shortly after my 39th bday to now finishing a 32K trail run two days before my 40th.  Today, I'm so happy in my life.  I am young and I don't care how old I am.  Age is only a number.  My own age is based on how I feel on the inside.  After yesterday, I remembered who I am.  I am that strong girl.  The one that runs in the mountains.  This is my fountain of youth!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Miles, Training, and A New Friend

I’m running again.  Our babe is 8 months old.  I’m literally training for a half marathon.  I feel almost stupid saying that but I’m training with a girl who has never run more than a 10K race.  She just started running a year ago.  Her enthusiasm for running is contagious.  She’s much faster than me, but this is a good match.  I push her on the distance and she pushes me on the pace.  Icing on the cake about this girl….. she GETS me.  She is open hearted, authentic, upbeat and genuine.  I seriously love running with her.  No one can compare to my girl (Emily) but for this time, right now, I need my current running partner.  I just told her this morning that if it weren’t for her signing up for the half marathon and me telling her that I would train and run the race with her, I wouldn’t have gotten my ass out the door nearly as much as I have. 

In Feb 2009 I started running (consistently) because at the time I had a 4 month old babe and was ready to take control of my body again.  I hadn’t ever run a 5K or 5 miles.  I had a goal of losing baby weight (15ish pounds) and getting my fitness back that I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying during my adult years.  So I decided two miles was the golden ticket and that was my regular work out.  Two miles, some push-ups, planks, and other miscellaneous exercises…..  The thing is, I had nowhere to go but up from that place.  Today on the other hand, is a very different story.  I’ve already been an ultra runner.  I’ve covered that 100 mile distance more than once.  I already know how it feels to be in tip top shape.  But I’ve had another baby and it’s like I’m starting over again….except for what my mind knows….. ultras, long distance runs, mountains, trails, the mental push.....I keep comparing my current self to my ultra self.  I’ve had to figure out how to stop doing that.  Last time (in 2009) I was just taking it one day at a time.  I’ve struggled so much in 2015 fighting internally about not running enough, feeling exhausted and calling myself lazy and fat (on the inside of course…. that ugly voice that creeps in).   But something happened a couple months ago.  I met Christa who was looking for someone to train for a half marathon with.  I thought it would be a great opportunity to start somewhere….  The first race I ever did was a half marathon.  Why should I do anything different this time? 

So here I am….training for a half marathon.  I have a super training partner right now who is motivating me with her enthusiasm for running.  She says she wants me to teach her how to run long.  Funny thing is, I am not really teaching her anything.  She’s teaching me to love to run again.  To love running even if it’s only 3 miles at a time.  I ran over 46 miles in the month of May 2015.  The last time I ran that far was in Aug 2013 (140+ miles that month).  I will easily pass that 46 mile mark this month (June).  I really cannot believe I’m doing it.  I’ve lost 10 pounds so far (still have 15 more to go) and I’m RUNNING!  I feel so much better and my heart is so happy.  I was thinking earlier today that the last two years were not necessarily what I would have planned out for myself in terms of running and my home life….BUT I can honestly say that I wouldn’t have it any other way.  I’m so much happier now in a million ways.  I won’t EVER take for granted my fitness, my running and my spirit for running 100 miles in the mountains. 

Bear 100, BigHorn 100, Plain 100….. I’m coming after you…hunting you down like a wolf to its prey. 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

I say three months, but what if it's six months or even a year?

This last weekend was the running of the BigHorn 100 miler in the Bighorn mountains of WY. This was the setting of my first 100 mile attempt and finish in 2012. I had no pacer. I had no crew. I had a log worth of miles and giant pile of determination built up in my soul.

I should back up.... I have asthma and am going to have another baby in about 3 short months. Asthma, pregnancy and my body all hate each other. Generally I can make two of them get along, body + asthma OR body + pregnancy BUT, not all three. It's such a balancing act and it feels so ridiculous. Asthma is one of those things that I can't muscle through. Believe me, I've tried. From wheezing all night, to a resting heart rate of 142 in the doctor's office because of an asthma exacerbation...I hate asthma. It has been fairly well controlled up until this last January when I got pregnant. Since this is not my first rodeo with pregnancy, I knew fairly early and stopped taking all allergy and asthma meds since I had no clue what was safe and what wasn't.  So of course I've gained weight.  Hello, that's what you do when there's another person growing in your belly.  I have run less and less and the harder I try, the more I wheeze and end up back on stronger meds.  What a ridiculous struggle and cycle this has been. 

Where am I now?  I have three months til I have another sweet cutie pot to love for the rest of my life.  I cherish this gift and I don't want anything I say about running or my future goals to ever give a different impression.  Nonetheless, I have a drive and hellishly stubborn determination that cannot be ignored and it's really rearing it's head lately.  As the Pickled Feet 24 run passed by this last March.....I placed 2nd overall female for the last two years and didn't even participate this year.  I was a co-RD this year for the race but my RD partner and I had discussed me running during the preparation for this event.  Last March I ran my most recent 100 miler, so now I'm officially a year out from running beloved distance. An now, I won't get to do one in 2014 at all.  Yes, I know that there are more important things in life and this is temporary and will not last forever, etc.  "Look at the big picture AMY!" is what I hear from EVERYONE.  I recognize I'm whining and complaining. 

But on a serious note, as I look to the future and have been counting down the days til I can hold my cutie in my arms and take back control of some things in my life, like breathing (proper asthma medication that has been on the shelf during pregnancy), I ponder things long before I will run again?  Will I have to struggle to just run two miles again?  That's where I started in 2008.  Do I have to start all the way back there?  Can I nurse a babe and run an ultra?  I only ran half maries last time I was nursing.  I never tried to go any further.  So what if I can only run the 13.1?  As I watched all the posts about BH, I wondered if maybe I could do this 100 as a "re-entry" into my ultra life 2015?  I mean that would logistically look like me training heavy for six months in 2015 (assuming I take two months off from Oct - Dec 2014 to recover and drop some weight, stabilize lactation and babe, etc.).  I don't think it can happen.  It's too much, too fast.  I'm not 20 or even 30.  I'll be 39 in Aug and pregnancy is not as easy when you're this case anyone had that burning question in their mind, I'll be the first to tell's easier when you're younger. 

I love my babe and I wouldn't change a thing.  But I do wonder and am beginning to realize that my ultrarunning may have to wait a bit longer than the three months I've been telling myself.  I probably won't be capable of training at the level needed to do a hundo in 2015.  Hmmmm.....we will see.  I can say that I've had some pretty good mental training through this last year.  At least I have THAT going for me.  Plus I have a person in my life that is super supportive of me running and training.  My children are in a MUCH better place than I've ever known them to be.  Whose to say this isn't going to be the best running season yet...2015 that is?  I could strive for a half marathon PR! or just go for a new weight goal.  How often do you get to burn some extra cals during the day just by being alive (lactation)?  I can make this work for me.  Not that it's all about me, but I mean really.... I need goals and things to look forward to.  I don't have to attain every single goal in my life, but I do want to have something to work for. 

Okay, enough babbling...carry on and happy running people.  :)

A new way to "BE" - a non-running post

***I found this post that I wrote in December 2013 that I never published. I'm not sure why but I'm going to go ahead publishing it.

Most of my journey over the last six months has been what you could affectionately refer to as a train wreck. I have a very close friend who keeps telling me "from an outsider looking in at you, I see you getting better". I was looking back at some old journal entries over the last five years. Mostly circa 2008-2012. Probably the most crazy insane times of my life. Anyway, I have so many thoughts. So many things I want to say about myself because I feel like I was so very misrepresented as I tried to balance things in my home, I would jump to extremes and completely abandon who I really am on the inside.

#1 I love my children. I don't necessarily think I misrepresented this about myself but certainly have never been truthful about how much I really WANT each one of my babes. I do tease around how both of my boys (ages 16 and 5) were entirely unplanned but truly from the place in your soul where you love your children know, that deep place that has no real words to describe the depth of feeling....I wanted my boys and love them to the max!!! The relationships I have with my children NOW are what I make of them. I'm not parenting them to any one else's satisfaction or out of the needs of someone else. My children, these relationships are how I make a difference in this world. If I cannot do good in their lives, then what good am I to the people I clearly have MUCH less of an influence on? "100 years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove....but the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child"

#2 I am random. I'm not organized except for what things I HAVE to organize. I can do really good at organizing things and I always feel a sense of relief when things are organized but anyway. I spent a long time being so organized I nearly made myself insane. I don't do that anymore.

#3 I procrastinate. I'm really bad about this.

#4 I want to be needed and I want to be wanted. I have really struggled with this over the last few weeks.

#5 I want a partner. A person that I am vulnerable with and who is vulnerable with me. Someone that I may end up sharing many, many years with. I have many doubts that this will come to fruition in my life. I no longer believe that this partner person has to be a spouse. I don't even think this person would be someone you have to live with. I don't know what I believe about this partner person but I'm trying to figure that out.

#6 Learning to love myself has been a bizarre thing. I mean I want to teach my children that they are loved and loveable creatures simply because they have a heart beat. They do not need to do or be or say or act any certain way to earn my love. How is it that I can teach this to my children as truth if I do not believe it or own it for me? I have much to learn in this department.

Friday, September 6, 2013

some serious mental training

***pictures to come***

For those of you that know me, you understand that since last summer my life has been spiraling out of control....literally to what has felt like the pits of hell.  From the disolution of a 13 year marriage and the massive collateral damage to my relationship with my oldest son (16 yr old) to me now hardly running even 10 miles a week and working almost double the number of hours I was a year ago.  My new status: I have chosen to be alive.  I don't have a clue what that looks like, but I'm going to live life alive.  No more survival mode.  No more self loathing.  Bring on life and living. 

My birthday was last Sat (Aug 31) and I turned 38.  I am so young it's not even funny.  I don't have arthritis.  I don't have any fatal diseases (other than being mortal).  In fact, I'm a damn healthy person.  I have allergies and asthma but since the break up of my marriage can you believe that my peak flows have actually improved?!  I still get allergies shots every two weeks and that's a pain in the ass but they are working.  I've been around cats.  I've even petted them as well as dogs without any reactions whatsoever.  I've been weaned off of some of my medicines.  The time of year has come when sage and chenopod run rampid and my allergies tend to soar which reeks havoc on my respiratory system.  So far, so good this year.  This is great news.  All of this leads to strength and the ability to overcome. 

This summer I've had the most random training...if you can even call it that.  I've had sporatic (at best) weight training.  Running has been as high has 60+ mi a week to zero mi a week.  So...pretty consistent in the wildly varying dept.  Don't ya think?  : )  I ran the MTC 40 mi in July and discovered the most amazing things.  #1 I had zero training except for the horrific mental training that I had been experiencing.  #2 I had nothing but positive mental places to be.  There were some hard climbs in the nearly 10K' of gain over the course and I actually ran out of water for several miles.  I had some generally unpleasant things happen just like in most races but something different happened at this race.  I didn't spiral into a mental low that looked like a bottomless pit.  In fact, I didn't spiral at all.  When I ran out of water, I knew I was within a few miles of aid and so I told myself "it's ok Amy.  This is going to hurt some because you want water.  You'll get it.  You'll be fine.  Carry on and get your ass to the AS".  So, I did.  No mental spiral.  I finished this race in the top 10 females.  I think there were only 11-12 girls but still.  I finished 8th with a time of 12:22:43.  I was so happy about that I think I smiled for a week.  Then in August, I was going back to Wild Idaho.  That was the setting for my very first ultramarathon in 2011.  So much has occurred in the last 2 years.  I never would have imagined.  This year however instead of barely being able to finish a 50K, I planned to dominate a 50 miler.  And dominate I did.  I took that race by the horns and owned it.  I made an agressive pacing chart and once again, with little to horrible training, I finished 4th female (of 5 total) and had a finish time of 15:09:28.  That 50 miler has approx 16K' of gain.  Beyond happy with my finish.  Of course this is after I had marked about 9 miles of the course the day before but hey, who ever said trail running was for pansies. 

Then just last weekend, over my birthday I got to help sweep the 100 mile IMTUF course with one of my favorite people, Emily Berriochoa. I've mentioned her in some of my previous blog posts but she is seriously one of my most cherished running friends.  She is a friend as much outside of running as she is in my running world.  We swept a little under half of the last of the course together.  We rang in my birthday at the Snowslide AS where one of my very best friends (Shanda) and I got to hang out for a while.  I felt so lucky to be alive in that moment.  Two other friends, Kristine Goodman and Kayla Meeker were there too and we sat around for a short while talking and sharing.  It's really amazing how you can inspire others and never even know you were doing anything.  Never underestimate the power of relationship.  I love my friends.  They've held my hand while I walked through fire this last year.  They've helped me put one foot in front of the other when I forgot I even had feet.  They've reminded me of who I am when I forgot.  They have loved me and supported me in ways that I never knew possible.  I will not underestimate the power of these bonds.

In talking with a friend today who is currently running a 5K a day for the entire year of his 39th year of age, I thought....I should do something like that too.  I don't see myself being able to commit to a 5K every day, but I can certainly commit to a minimum number of miles per week.  This is what I did a few winters ago when I needed to simply maintain my fitness.  So, I think I'll do something like that for my 38th year of life.  I'm not really about defining much or putting my goals in a box lately so I'm just going to leave it all flexy and say that I'm making this a hell of a year and am getting back to more and more of who I really am.  I like the "real me" better than the "survival mode me". 

OK, all you trail runners.  Carry on with your badass selves.  Go soak up some trail dirt and whether you're climbing, running a nice flat path or slamming a downhill, go for your life ALIVE and full of passion.  Don't quit, don't stop, push forward through the tough stuff.  There really is some light up ahead. 

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Training and a dream....part 2

Do you ever have those training days where everything just goes right?  Like the world was set in motion this AM just to bring me some stuff to smile about!

Have you ever drifted off to sleep and somehow immediately began to dream?  You know the type...where you wake up with a hard jerk that shakes the entire bed.  That's what happened to me last night.  I was drifting off after reading.  The material I was reading was very profound and quite thought provoking.  I knew that it would take some days of processing before I could fully grasp.  Nonetheless, as I drifted off I could see myself running down a trail.  I was chasing myself as I tripped over a large root in the ground.  That's right, I JOLTED myself in my bed as I tried to catch my fall in my dream.  I nearly threw myself out of the bed but then sat there with my heart beating a million miles an hour.  I love falling asleep to running and especially on a trail.

At this point in the training, I'm looking at 3.5 weeks until I once again attempt the 100 mile distance.  There's something about the 100 mile that draws me in, that distance is set apart even from the 100K least for me.  It's the overnight portion that puts it in another category.  I lost a great deal of confidence after IMTUF for a variety of reasons that weren't all connected to running.  Since January and my recovery from supposed "walking pneumonia" and a sinus infection that caused yet another asthma flare, has been like a catapolt to a new level of breathing.  A new level evidenced by peak flow volumes I've never seen from my lungs.  I feel amazing.  I've had tempo runs that reminded me that I don't always have to be a 17 m/m trail slogger (no offense to any of my slogging friends) but that I can still run some sub 10 m/m and even sub 9 if I go for it.  I still get a bit anxious when I start breathing hard (if I'm going for a sub 9 m/m) and I'm still about 9 pounds above where I was last year.  BUT I'm working on it.  I'm stronger because of it.  Today, on my run after a particularly insightful conversation, I ran with food for thought.  I imagined myself as a muskox.  With the strength and knowledge that comes from a journey that is wild, rough and unrelenting.  I thought about what Emily told me right before we started IMTUF.  She told me how she'd been telling herself all night long how she was strong and could do this.  She was coaching and self-motivating.  (WOW did that ever work!!!)  I realized that is exactly what I was doing only it was happening during a short 6 mile run.  Last week my tempo run ended with the fastest mile split I'd seen in a year.  9:33.  Today, my second to the last mile was a 9:35 and I nearly panicked.  I own negative splits and I make them happen.  When I saw the 9:35 I immediately doubted my ability to pull off an add'l mile with a negative split.  I figured I had nothing to lose for trying.  I was going home and would literally be right at my driveway when the mile clicked over.  I had no reason to hold back.  Not only that but this is my peak week for mileage so might as well make it a peak week for pace too right?  I did it.  9:07!  I almost pee'd my pants from surprise.  In fact I completely started crying.  Right there.  In my driveway.  Bent over at the waist heaving with tears.  I did it.  I am strong.  I am a runner. 

A recent quote that I've wrestled with is "this is how he grows: by being defeated decisively by increasingly larger beings" -Rilke  I've been defeated by IMTUF.  I've been defeated by respiratory problems.  I've been defeated by the breakdown of my marriage and my family.  These defeats have taught me lessons.  I'm stronger now.  I'm wiser now.  I recognize past "beings" as no longer having the power they once held.  Today this manifested in my run.  I've learned how to manage my respiratory system.  I've learned some of the lessons of a DNF.  I'm growing as a Jesus girl and it's making me a better person, better wife, better mom and friend.  I have much to learn and lots of room for growth.  For this moment, I'll bask in this good run day!