Monday, September 5, 2016

It happens in the hard, lean WAY in - 09/03/2016

Jon and I went up to McCall late on Friday night.  It was nearly dark when we left Nampa...Joy safely tucked in bed with G'ma at the house to care for our precious piece of life.  We arrived exhausted from a long week of firsts, first xc meet (Jon is the coach), first week of school for kids, first week of full volleyball games, etc.  I slept in the back of the Durango with the dog.  Jon slept on the ground outside.  I didn't set an alarm but woke up about 6:45am with some light.  We got up and quickly got to work since we two summits to climb and some miles to run in between. 

In the HARD places, is where the real work happens.  I'm trying to focus on the shedding of my old self which looks more like scar tissue being broken up or like a sledge hammer breaking up concrete.  Once these things are loosened up, it gives way for water, air and sunshine that cultivates growth for a sprout that is my true thirsty self, so desperate to drink and grow.  I want to develop this growth.  This way of BEING, me being the self I was created for and meant to BE from the beginning.  This manifested on trail of the second of two HARD climbs for our run.  The climb up Snowslide (first climb) is a crazy level of hardness.  Jon was staying behind me and this was bothering me so much.  He kept saying he just wanted to go at my pace, that bugged me to an inappropriate level.  Jon is experienced on trails, stronger than any human man I've known.  Never once was he on my heels or doing anything annoying, it was just that he was behind me, potentially watching me.  This was clearly MY issue and about me, nothing that he was doing.  I was so frustrated and eventually demanded that he go in front.  I didn't want to be responsible for his training, or lack thereof.  He said "I am my own person and I can make sure I get my training needs met".  Nonetheless, he went on.  I kept asking myself what the big deal was and why couldn't I be okay with him behind me.  

Enter a couple of hours later as we are climbing up the Fall Creek trail (second climb) which is another ass killer of a climb.  Jon was running ahead of me and would run back to where I was a couple of times, just to say hi and then carry on.  Eventually he had stopped to give the dog water and I was in a good rhythm so I passed him.  We had just over a mile of steep climbing to do.  Because of my raw mental state (what happens with miles on end of 1000' of gain per mile) I got very upset after he and the dog caught up to me to just stay behind me.  In an exacerbated fashion, he did not understand why I couldn't be okay with him just hanging back behind.  He went ahead in a tone of being stonewalled and I felt bad knowing this was about me and my issue.  He did not return to check on me this time...I asked myself repeatedly, WHY CAN I NOT BE OKAY WITH HIM BEHIND ME?!  I nearly asked it out loud.  The answer was loud and clear.  I want Jon to think I am strong.  I want him to think good of me and I desire his acknowledgement of this.  Having him behind me on a climb is NOT showing him strength.  It's showing him my frailty.  This...THIS...is my scar tissue, concrete, old ways of being.  Giving power to the man in my life that doesn't belong to him.  Whether it's my dad, my adult son, or the man in my life, the power of knowing I am strong doesn't belong to a person.  That power should rest safely in my spirit.  Climbing is my relative weakness.  It exposes the side of me that stops for rests.  It lays raw this part of me that I don't like.  To show that side of me to the one I've given power of deciding whether or not I am strong is like a lose-lose situation.  In that brutally exposed moment of seeing the scar tissue/concrete for what it is, I began to lose my composure.  I was still heavily climbing and could not keep my breathing.  I bent over, hands on knees and had some minutes of letting myself cry at what I saw.  Finally, I stood up AND CARRIED ON!  This new idea of what I had just realized was sitting very heavy on my heart.  I knew what I had seen was true.  The extremely overwhelming idea of how I could ever change was daunting to say the least.  I crested the summit and took some pictures.  We started heading down and I began to ask my Creator, how will I ever be able to know that I'm good/strong in my weaknesses if it doesn't come from my Dad or any other man I've given said power to?  It's not going to be relative to others or dependent on any other human.  In the same way I know I'm strong enough for other things, I will learn and know in my depths that I am strong on the climb, in life, in whatever.  I will know this and grow this sprout of knowing.  Period! 

It felt exhaustive mentally to do this work. A mentor of mine says the reason people don't do this work is because it's hard.  A couple weeks ago when I visited with her she asked, "Do you know why people don't do this kind of inner work?"  I replied, "Yes I know why.  Because it's so hard."  I added, "You know why people don't run 100 miles?"  She quickly smirked and said "Yes, I do!".  I won't quit.  I won't quit on myself, I won't quit at working on myself and I won't quit at IMTUF! 

Trifecta

8/27/2016

Part 1:

The vertical grounding.  Mind, Body, Soul.  Very separate entities with specific purposes.  The daily grounding and quiet reminders of where I've come from and who I was created to be.  This is my daily morning Jesus/coffee time.

Part 2:
 
Stabilizer: the thing you can't NOT do.  Running, physical exercise, dance, moving my body, doing HARD HARD stuff.  It's a portal.  A portal to my Creator and a way that I access a limitless cauldron of will, determination and stick-to-it-ness.  A name for the stabilizer would help.  My soul knows but in order for my physical body to recognize, I need a visual and a name.  I'm inspired to study about Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce trip from the Wallowa Valley (OR).  Chief Joseph's given native names was Hin-mah-too-yah-lat-kekt which means Thunder rolling down mountain.  He was a leader, a peace seeker and someone who did not give up easily.  He was described as having an iron will.  I'm working on the name for my stabilizer and a picture too.  The healing power of electricity which is part of what creates thunder.  A lightening bolt may represent the vertical grounding part 1).  I can LEAN into this because it's stronger and bigger than myself.  It is not intimidated by my insatiable needs...the ones that reach deeper than what is ever seen by others, the needs that are known in the deep.  I don't rely on it to do work that I need to do, I lean on it while I do the work. 

Part 3:
Mindset.  The mindset is the path.  The path of where I'm headed and who I am going to be.  The plain, simple, old-school me.  The me that my soul and spirit remember but have been given reasons to not BE.  The me that loves pure beauty that only nature can offer.  The me that hates AC and microwaves.  The part of me that wants to do it the hard way, wants the rugged, tough and tired path.  It's worth it.  The peace that comes from this mindset and path of life, is insurmountable.   

How does this manifest into a finish at IMTUF.  I'm not exactly sure yet.  Maybe it doesn't matter, but I have a deep seeded feeling that it's the deal breaker or rather the deal sealer.  Prior to my BigHorn 100 finish in 2012, I knew I would finish.  I was solid in that no matter how horrible I felt, there was just nothing short of a fracture in my femur that would stop me.  I have tried to figure out what got my mind in that place and get there again.  Somehow, it's resurrected...that mind set.  Like a phoenix.  I'm excited.  I'm ready to explode with desire and drive. 

Three weeks from tonight I will be running all night.....the "thing" that sets 100 milers apart from all other ultras.  The over night component.  I will run my race.  I will focus on what I need and not where I am in comparison to others.  I may come in DFL but it matters not.  What matters to my spirit is that I finish.  The end.  I will conjure my iron will that hasn't quit on my life and is just getting started.  The call of the mountains is so strong in me.  The mountains offer limitless opportunities for HARD...the portal. 

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 100....my 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 like....how 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 again....in 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 age....in case anyone had that burning question in their mind, I'll be the first to tell you...it'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 from....you 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.