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!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The good, The bad and The happy days

So, there's been a mega inversion in the Treasure Valley for the last several weeks following Christmas.  It honestly didn't dawn on me until Saturday's 50K sweep of the Wilson Creek frozen 50K that we may also be dealing with poor air quality.  Nonetheless, the lows have been in the single digits to negative numbers and highs during the day are a swealtering 20 on a good day!  So, all outside running no matter when you go is pretty brutal.  I did get run down at Christmas with family here but doesn't everyone?  I had very low miles in December and I just figured I'd pick back up after my sister left to go back to OK on Jan 5th.  The very next night I met up with my training friend Emily and ran a 10 mile death march.  First off, we were meeting people at the Lake Lowell Refuge and my understanding was that we'd run a straight line from her house which would be less than 2 miles.  Well, leave it to Emily to have something more pleasant. She had a 3 mile route planned out and since we had just under 30 minutes to get there, I realized I was going to die.  #1 I've gained 15 pounds since my BigHorn 100 finish in June 2012.  That's been very difficult for me not only psychologically but physically as well when it comes to my work of breathing on a run.  #2 I ran less than 50 miles in the month of December.  Compared to the 150ish miles I'd been running every month in 2012, Dec was a very low running month.  Needless to say, those 3 miles of sub 10 min/mi was like a full out sprint and in single digit temperatures...the combo was just no good.  I was a wheeze fest on the way home from that 10 miler but the fact that I finished and didn't die and honestly didn't even walk (I may have spent 15-20 seconds wretching at the top of the 3rd roller) in less than 2 hours was great.  Just to know I could knock off a 10 miler felt like all wasn't completely lost. 

However the week following my "almost died but knocked off 10 miles" run, I didn't run even a step.  Between the dance classes for my two daughters and my oldest son's high school JV basketball and not to mention, I have a job, make dinner, do the laundry and try to squeeze some sleep and a few showers in....I feel lucky to have a moment to breathe every day.  Sunday night came around again and I thought it would be prudent to go ahead and do that 10 miles again with Emily knowing that I should be able to have a few days to get more miles in than just 10 that next week.  This 10 miles we ran with Tony Bunt.  He is a super fast guy who was gracious enough to allow me to slog on behind him and Emily.  I swear I've turned into more than a back of the packer, I'm like the little fat kid running behind the entire group waving their hands saying "wait for me"......only in reality I'm the one wheezing, dying on the inside, trying to find that part of me that really does love this. 

All the dang wheezing....and along comes the WC50K.  I've had some serious panic and doubts about my ability to finish this distance knowing my peak flows have dropped, it's absolutely sub-artic weather outside and an orange air quality to top it all off.  Luckily, Jon K and I only had to do about 24 miles and a good deal of that was with the last 20 mile runner who was going at a pace that was completely comfortable for a wheeze machine such as myself.  Even still, on the way home if I tried to talk to many words or laugh or exhale/inhale with any kind of force, it would send me into a mass of smoker's hack sounding cough spasms. 

I swear I can't live like this.  I yell at my kids, I'm angry with my husband and life in general is not pleasant for those around me.  So I gave in and called the doctor this morning.  They got me in today.  I had a fever that was low grade.  She said this likely meant that I've been having "this" lingering and my body has been working hard to fight it off.  OH, maybe that's why I have a stupid cold sore now!  Anyway, she said I had either one of or a combo of walking pneumonia and a sinus infection.  Back to the drug store for my antibiotics and steriod anti-inflammatories.   MORE MEDICATIONS.....I keep telling myself it's for the greater good of my wellbeing.  Not just for running because if that's all it is for, then it seems only selfish to take meds and spend money like that.  I mean I do feel better when I can breath and all but somehow it just doesn't seem fair.  I said as much to the Nurse Practitioner that I saw today and she said it's really not ok for me to just sit around since that doesn't make me short of breath.  Yesterday, pushing H (my 5 y.o.) and D (my 4 y.o.) in a cart at WinCo, I was so short of breath, I had to take H out of the cart to get the grocery shopping done.  Defeating to say the least. 

The good: Doctor's orders say that I am UNLIMITED in the amount of inside exercise I can engage in.  So my 60 min on the eliptical yesterday wouldn't have been considered "naughty".  So I ran 4 miles at the Rec tonight....just nice and easy. 

The bad: I have to take more medicine.  I hate taking meds....I feel like I AM Walgreens!

The very happy day: I am going to get better and feel awesome in less than 3 days and I can really start knocking out some miles!!! 

8 1/2 weeks and counting.  I'm focusing right now on keeping my miles up and getting my weight back down to 130.  This morning I was at 142.2.  IMO this weight is as important as getting my mileage.  "Ain't nobody gonna convince me otherwise!" 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Time and training, pt 1

Time is a weird thing.  It seems like time is the seasoning to most things. 

Training for a mountain 100 feels like turning the treadmill/eliptical/row maching or whatever you are using to the max tension and then trying to train at that level.  It is very very hard.  Don't get me wrong.  I love it, but it's really honking hard.  I have been training like that since May 2012.  It is what I really like to do and I really do like some super hard work.  I signed up for Antelope Island 100 for a couple of reasons.  I really think the island is mysterious so there is a draw to that.  And also, I want to finish a 100 where I am running a very good portion of the time.  Climbing is what I'm the least good at.  So clearly in a mountain 100 (and when I say mountain 100 I mean something with elevation gain in the upward of 10K'-15K'+....Bighorn had 18K') climbing is a big part of the game.  I remember enjoying training last year for pacing Emily at Salt Flats because all I had to do was run.  No climbing, no hiking, just plain ol' running.  What a fun and happy thing to do!  So now, as I prepare to do the same with Antelope Island, I get to just run and run and run some more!