Current life status: Training for a 100 mile ultramarathon.
Things I’m succeeding at: Running all the miles. Getting my kids to their games/practices (or recruiting help for this). Listening to all the inspirational running podcasts. Feeding the children (most of the time). Doing all the laundry. Forcing my children to play outside (often by joining them in unending games of one on one basketball). Doing 100 push-ups a day (started for Lent and didn’t stop).
Things I’m kind of sucking at right now: Being a physically present friend. Having a clean house. Having a clean car. Reading my daily devotional. Strength work (besides the push-ups). Being one of the social moms. Being a mom that volunteers….for anything. Life outside of my house and running.
I don’t think it’s actually possible to be doing everything well at the same time. I think that this thing called “balance” doesn’t really exist. At least not a balance where everything is equal. In my world, balance means that what’s important is going to change depending on the season that I’m in. If everything was equal, life would be pretty dull, right? If I was putting equal thought and effort into everything, there wouldn’t be a true passion for anything.
Right now, what I am putting the most effort and time into is pursuing my goal to complete a hundred mile run. I’m also making sure that I don’t drop the ball on any of the things that are really important to my children and to keeping our home functioning. But, other than that, I’m letting things go.
In order to dream big and actually live out those dreams, sacrifices have to be made. But I’m okay with that because it brings me tremendous happiness to work hard towards a goal and to always have new adventures to look forward to.
I was reading a book the other day that explained how most people, when asked, admit to wanting to live a happier life. However, the majority of those people also say that they are not actively doing anything to make their lives happier. I never want to be one of those people. I want to be someone who is working every day to live the life I want to live. Balance? Screw it. Who needs balance when you can become a master at juggling the things that are most important to the happiness of you and your family?
If I can get these things right, I’m good with that.
“Don’t worry about failures. Worry about the chances you miss when you don’t even try.” – Canfield
This is where I’m stuck.
Over the last week, I’ve been struggling with the decision I made to not toe the line at the Euchre Bar Massacre. My sister, Rondi, and I signed up for this race back in May. We heard about the event through a group of pretty skilled runners and jumped at the opportunity to try something new, adventurous, challenging, and down-right scary. Originally, we signed up without being fully committed to the race. We figured we would register, and then make a decision a bit later as to whether or not we were going to commit to this off trail, unmarked 25 mile jaunt through the mountains of California, which a woman has not finished in the last 5 years.
Once we officially committed (and bought plane tickets), I knew there were some things I needed to do in order to show up as prepared as possible. First, I needed to put time and energy into learning navigation with a map and compass. I searched for a local orienteering class, but none of them fit with my schedule. So, I planned to just be self-taught with help from YouTube. But, in the end, I never did this. Any of it. Instead, I opted to rely on the map on my phone to show me the way.
Next, I knew I needed to work on incline and strength work, as the race profile looks like this…
We don’t really have any giant hills, let alone mountains, near my home here in Michigan that could properly prepare me. But, I vowed to do 30 minutes of incline work on the treadmill, 5 days a week, in addition to my marathon training plan, in order to be physically ready. I stuck to that plan for about 2 weeks, and then slipped into the “comfort” of just following a marathon training plan, sans true hill work OR strength work. Ya. Big mistake.
A few weeks out from the event, the race director posted this on the event Facebook page:
And at that, I went ahead and jumped right back into my incline work, fully aware that it was too late, and what would be would be.
All of this to say, I showed up at a campground in California for a race that I wasn’t really prepared for. And, in a moment of weakness, I let that fear of being unprepared keep me from starting the race.
Now, I could sit here and list every single GOOD reason we had to drive away from that start line at 5:30 am race morning, but that’s not really what this blog is about. This is just me, owning up to that decision. I said I was going to start that race and give it everything I had, and I didn’t do that. And I don’t like how that feels. I REALLY, REALLY, REALLY don’t like it when people say they’re going to do things, and then they back out of them. And that’s exactly what I did.
To try and make up for that, I decided that the only way I wasn’t starting that race was if we ran 26.2 miles in California and another 26.2 miles in Nevada before heading home. So, that’s what we did.
I can tell you that that was really hard, and beautiful, and fun, and hard and loaded with memories that I wouldn’t trade in for other memories. But, I’m left with the regret of showing up at a race without doing the work necessary to complete the race, and then, not even giving it a shot. I don’t ever want to be known as that girl who says she’s going to do something, and then doesn’t do it. That isn’t me. And it leaves me wanting to be better. Wanting to work harder. Wanting to not only do the things I tell others I’m going to do, but also do the things I tell myself I’m going to do.
In the end, I know the weekend went exactly how it was supposed to go. It ended up being amazing, just not in the way it was planned to be. We went to California (and Nevada), and pushed our bodies physically and mentally, and I know that most people completely understood why we didn’t do that race. It’s not really that hard to understand why someone would be too scared to give it a try. But, I don’t want to be that person that’s too scared to give something a try. I want to be the person that is terrified, but still finds the courage to saddle up anyway.
“Every runner will face off with their toughest opponent….the weakness that dwells in each of us and does its best to prevent us from finding the greatness that is in there as well. weakness volunteers itself.
greatness we have to seek….” – Laz
Euchre Bar Massacre. It taught me a lot, and I hope to go back and see what else I can learn.
The longer that you do endurance events, the more you hear about people doing some pretty crazy things. Two years ago when my sister, Rondi, and I made a goal to run a marathon in all 50 states, I joked that if we did one a year, we’d be done before I was 85 years old.
As we started running some races in other states,while wearing our capes (made by our awesome Mom!) that said “26.2 in 50” on them, people began to tell us ways that we could get this accomplished a bit faster.
Come to find out, there are actually whole race series that have marathons in up to 7 states in 7 days, having all of the states within driving distance from one another. So, in theory, you could check 7 states off your list in 7 days. This idea really stuck with us and we decided that we should at least try to run back to back marathons and check two states off our list in one weekend. (Did you know you can actually Google “pairs of marathons” and easily find states all over the country where this is possible?! Yeah, I didn’t either…)
And that is how this crazy idea came to be reality.
After doing some researching and looking at driving distance, the cost of the races, and the weekends that would work, we finally decided on Alabama and Mississippi. We marked it on the calendar, figured that we could leave Thursday after work and be home during the day on Monday, and honestly didn’t think much more about it until a few days before we left.
At that point, I decided to take a brief look at the course maps (noting that race one looked a bit hilly and race number two looked flat as a pancake), make sure there were breweries close by (because we also have a challenging goal of going to a brewery in all 50 states), and check what the weather might possibly be like on race day. Yes, approximately three days before the trip was the very first time that I looked into any of these things.
My older, wiser, sister, who was running her first half marathon that weekend! had looked at the course descriptions and made the brilliant decision to run in Mississippi (day two) because Alabama looked way too hilly for her. She is smart.
As it turns out, marathon number one in Alabama was INCREDIBLY hilly. Our plan was to just go slow, take it easy, and conserve our bodies so that marathon number two would be more tolerable. That was not possible. We ran our slowest marathon ever, and still felt completely beat up. There is actually no pace slow enough to make 26.2 miles feel “easy,” especially on a hilly course.
Immediately after we crossed the finish line, we headed into the golf course club house and hopped in the shower. Rondi was adamant that we needed hot showers ASAP to help our muscles recover. But, after each of us hopped into the two showers that were available, we found out that one (mine) had hot water and the other (hers) was freezing cold. She toughed it out anyways and claims that maybe cold showers are the way to go! And then, thanks to our big sister who played chauffeur for the day, we were on the road to find a Mississippi brewery before packet pick-up for marathon number two.
Upon arriving at packet pick-up, we found that our Mississippi marathon was going to be run in the middle of nowhere. We couldn’t stop laughing at the fact that we were literally going to be starting our marathon next door to a cow farm.
The laughing didn’t last long though, as the realization sunk in that our bodies hurt. Badly. And yet, there were goals to accomplish. Honestly though, if at any point before we stepped on the starting line, Rondi had said that she wanted to just wait and run Mississippi a different time, I totally would have bailed. There was NO part of me that wanted to run that marathon. Everything hurt so much and I just didn’t want to. In a short little video interview in our hotel room on race morning, I teared up because I just didn’t want to run that stinkin’ marathon. Luckily, Rondi cut filming and switched to a motivational YouTube video that reminded me that I don’t need to leave this earth with a body that’s in perfect condition. But, I do need to leave knowing that I’ve worked hard and done what I wanted to do. That I’ve set big goals, dreamed hard, and pushed myself farther than I thought possible.
So, that’s what we did. We waddled to that start line and kept putting one foot in front of the other. We actually RAN the first 3.5 miles without walking at all! Unfortunately, my stomach/butt started acting up and I ended up in the port-a-potty for quite a while, and came out with a head full of dread and a new plan. The new strategy would be to walk for 1 minute, then run for 4 minutes and just keep doing that the whole time. Also, I would eat and drink at every aid station. This proved to work to clear up my stomach issues, which was huge!
In addition, we listened to a motivational book, appropriately titled “Grit”, nearly the entire race. It was the perfect distraction from what was actually going on.
And, eventually, we reached finish line number two. It took even longer than the Alabama marathon, but that’s okay. We got there with zero mid-race mental break downs, and that’s honestly what I’m most proud of! Not once during the race did I think about quitting or did I feel like I wasn’t going to reach the finish line. I didn’t even ever really feel like I didn’t want to be out there running that marathon. I got over those emotions before the race started. Because, once we started, you better believe that we were finishing.
In the end, we decided it’s going to be a VERY long time before we sign up for back to back marathons again. It was hard. So much harder than we thought it would be. But, that just means that we grew stronger, both mentally and physically. And that’s what will help give us the courage to keep dreaming big and keep pursuing goals that might be a little too big for us. But, we sure are going to try and grow into them.
“If your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough.” -unknown
Dream bigger. Work harder. Do more than you thought you could.
Yesterday, my sister, Rondi, and I got to go on a run together.
This doesn’t happen very often. Honestly, we really don’t get to see each other much, but just about every time that we do get together, we make sure to squeeze in a run.
During our run yesterday we were talking about how hard it is for some people to understand why we do what we do. Nearly two years ago we decided that we are going to run a marathon (26.2 miles) or more in every state. In just under two weeks we are headed down South to do our first back to back marathons. We’re running one in Alabama on Saturday and another one in Mississippi on Sunday. It will be our first time running two marathons in two days and we’re hoping it goes well because that sure would speed up this process!
Anyway, that’s just one example of something that gives people a reason to think we’re crazy. Another, is ultra running. Last Fall I attempted my first 100 mile race. I made it 75 miles. Didn’t quite make it to the finish line, but sure did give it a go! I’ve also done a 50 mile race and a 50k. Plus, Rondi and I have completed two full Ironman triathlons (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run). So, I guess there are a few reasons that we deserve to be called crazy, in the best way possible.
I like to think of the question everyone asks us as, “Why do you dream big? And what keeps you pushing so hard?” But really, the real question is normally asked in a somewhat what is wrong with you tone and goes like this…, “Why in the world would you ever want to do that?”
One reason is that it’s rewarding to see what your mind and body are capable of. If you can get past the “why would I want to do that?” and ask “COULD I ever do that?,” that’s huge. Because if you’re wondering if you CAN do something, and you’re willing to work hard and try, it will feel so stinkin’ good to do the thing that you didn’t know if you could do! And then, you’ll be hungry for more.
Another reason I like to set new goals is that there is so much personal growth that happens from working your butt off for something and then either achieving it, or failing to achieve it. No matter what the outcome is, I learn from it, and it makes me a better version of myself.
Also, I absolutely love to have something to look forward to and be working towards. It keeps me motivated to exercise and be healthy because I have so many things that I want to accomplish in life. I need my body to be in the best shape possible so that I can keep checking things off my bucket list for a really long time!
And the final reason I’ll give today is that chasing big goals keeps me sane, which makes life better for me and everyone I’m around on a daily basis. Seriously. Running is my therapy. It helps me clear my head when I run alone, and it gives me much needed girl time when I run with a friend. It’s absolutely my happy “me” place.
Those are just a few of the reasons why we will continue to be crazy, hopefully forever. I highly recommend giving it a try!
Lately, I’ve been kicking butt at running a lot of miles. They’re not always fast, but I’m spending a lot of time putting one foot in front of the other. In January, I racked up 154 miles, which is definitely more miles than I generally put down during the most miserable month of the year.
I’m staying motivated to get out there because my sister and I put a goal on the calendar in March that is a little bit scary. We are going to be running a full (26.2 mile) marathon in Alabama on a Saturday, then driving to Mississippi and running another full marathon there on Sunday. Two marathons. Two days. Two states. Yikes. It’s a bit terrifying, which is what makes it a bit easier for me to stick to my training plan.
That is always what works best for me. I set a goal so big that it scares me enough to get out the door, because I know I probably won’t reach the goal unless I put in the effort to get there.
So I work REALLY hard. And then, what’s been happening the last couple of years is that all of that really hard work makes my body freak out. And suddenly, all of that motivation to get out the door is interrupted by my body telling me I need to take it easy for a hot second.
That’s where I’m at.
Last weekend, I went out on Saturday morning for a 16 mile run. (I’ve been doing long runs on Saturdays and Sundays to try and adequately prepare for these back to back marathons.) I decided to try something new for fueling, and it didn’t sit well with me. Starting around mile 11, I was doing the butt clench, shuffle/run for about 1.5 miles until I made it to a bathroom. After that, I had stomach cramps and felt awful for the rest of my run. That day I was left feeling completely exhausted and dealing with Ischemic colitis. To put it bluntly I had diarrhea and blood in my poo all day long. Not fun. (Sorry….TMI, I know….)
Sunday morning I hit the road at 7:45 AM to meet up with a friend for an 8 mile run before church. I wasn’t feeling great, but this is a problem I’ve had in the past and normally it comes and goes. Well, apparently it didn’t “go” this time and by mile 4 I was off the road, behind a tree, squatting in the snow to find not poop, but just straight up blood. That stressed me out a bit, but being 4 miles from home, there wasn’t much I could do but turn around and run home. So, that’s what I did. And I felt awful.
By the time I got home, I was in the midst of another bathroom emergency and ran through the house to make it just in time. My stomach and bottom hurt so bad that I was on the toilet, taking deep breathes, trying unsuccessfully to hold it together, and crying tears of pain and frustration while beckoning my husband to bring me some Pepto. It wasn’t pretty.
I made it to church, but had to come home afterwards and take a long nap, and still felt miserable the rest of the day.
All of last week I took it really easy on my runs and still dealt with blood clots after every run until Saturday. Not cool.
I don’t tell you all of this for you to feel sorry for me. I tell you all of this so that you know it’s not easy. I love to post pictures like these:
Because I think they inspire people to get up and move. But, sometimes, I know that these pictures don’t portray the reality.
The reality is that any dream worth chasing is going to be hard. It’s going to have its ups and downs, and probably more downs than ups. It’s going to hurt. And it’s going to leave you questioning why in the world you’re doing what you’re doing. But, it’s going to be worth it.
So, fight through the pain, and keep chasing those dreams.
What is consuming your mind? Your thoughts? Taking up space in your head?
Recently, I had a long stretch (well….a few months) of not feeling super motivated to write. Not motivated to eat healthy. Not motivated to exercise regularly. And, not really inspired to set new goals.
Luckily, I pulled myself out of that slump and am back at those healthy habits that fuel my drive to be the best version of me.
So, naturally, I wanted to figure out what it was that helped get me out of that funk. And, although I know that part of it is just a normal roller coaster of life, I think that the other REALLY big part is what thoughts I’m allowing to flood my brain. By this, I mean what TV/Netflix/Movies I choose to watch, what I listen to in the car, what I read, and what I browse on social media.
I’m always looking for shows to help the time fly by on the treadmill and books to occupy my mind on the commute to and from work. Without thinking too much about what I was choosing, I was hooked on Shameless for a while as my Netflix go-to. If you’ve never seen it, it’s kind of like a car wreck that you just can’t look away from. It follows a dysfunctional, inner city family that is really, really rough. Like, reeeeeeally rough. The show made me feel like I was winning at life because no matter how much I was messing up, I was still doing waaaaay better than those people.
And for books, I was stuck on the author John Green. He writes young adult novels, and although I really did enjoy most of them, again, they didn’t leave me feeling inspired to change the world.
Well, at one point I ran out of audio books from the library and stumbled upon a running podcast that I really enjoyed listening to in the car. The host interviews different athletes (not all runners) and they chat about life, goals, accomplishments, challenges, and more. They also discuss book recommendations and talk about some really inspiring people.
All of that podcast listening motivated me to search for some documentaries to watch during my treadmill runs. And, ever since, I’ve been hooked on reading (and listening to) all of the books and watching all of the inspiring documentaries that I can get my hands on!
And that’s how I realized a couple of weeks ago that what I put in my head completely affects my daily thinking and habits. For real. All of the athletes that I’m listening to make me want to be a better human. They make me realize that I’m not dreaming big enough, and that it’s okay to fail, but you better get back up and try again. That you need to take risks! And, one of the most powerful themes that keeps recurring is that our THOUGHTS and our character are what will make or break us.
These are the things I want to drive me. I want my thoughts to wander to a podcast where they challenge you to “define yourself” instead of thinking about if some character on a show is going to have an abortion or not. I want to hear about amazing accomplishments and risks that people have taken and be driven to ask myself if I could do that. I want to fill my thoughts with dreams so big that there’s not enough time to reach them all, but there’s definitely the inspiration to try.
So, I will continue to fill every car ride and every treadmill run with things that motivate me to work harder, be bolder, dream bigger, and live more fully. That’s what’s going to fill the space in my head. Because when those are the thoughts running through my mind, they push me to be the best version of me.
My life is better when I’m training for a race. Now, I’ve recognized before that I don’t run consistently if I’m not following a training plan. But, what I realized last week was different than just that.
Over the last couple of months, there have been some stresses in life at my house. The number one being my husband’s hand injury. He accidentally stabbed himself in the palm and it went down into his wrist and damaged tendons and nerves. He had corrective surgery at the beginning of October, but it’s just not healing very well, leaving him in A LOT of pain and not able to do all of the things he wants to be doing.
Add to that the regular stresses of work, motherhood, and adulting in general, and I have found myself completely caught up in keeping very busy carrying all of those weights around and making it my job to worry about them. A lot.
So, when I was running on my treadmill the other night, I was thinking about all of these things, while simultaneously feeling so strong and good on my run. And, it came to me that that was the problem. I didn’t have anything to take my mind off of all of the bad stuff, the stresses. When I’m training for a marathon, I’m distracted. I am spending my energy trying to figure out when I’m going to get my runs in and worrying about how hard it’s going to be to do my speed work, or my hill work, or my long run. But, when I’m not following a training plan, I have extra time to spend worrying about all of the things that are much better off left for God to worry about.
And, in addition to having a distraction when I’m training for a race, I also have daily built in therapy! That’s exactly what running is for me. And I need it. My mind needs it. My heart needs it. And really, my family needs me to have that. It makes me a better mom, a better wife, a better friend, a better human.
So, as of yesterday, I’m officially training for another marathon. And, it feels SO GOOD.
I can’t even tell you how good it feels to “stress” about when and where I’ll get my runs done. For the time being, that’s what I’m deciding to carry around with me. I’m going to set everything else down and trust that God will handle it without my “help”.
December, you and I are going to get along just fine.
Last weekend, I showed up at the start line of the 100 mile race that I signed up for last January. Honestly, I had no right to be there. Having dealt with health issues most of the summer, my training was laughable. Most 100 mile training plans call for upwards of 60 miles a week minimum, and multiple marathon distance training runs. My longest training run was 10 miles. To put this in perspective, that would be like signing up for a 26.2 mile marathon and having a 2.6 mile run be your longest training run. Ummmmm….ya. Not prepared is an understatement.
But, my health symptoms had mostly subsided, so I decided I might as well give it a go and see what I was capable of. I figured I wouldn’t tell many people about it, so that I didn’t feel the stress of living up to anyone’s expectations but my own.
Luckily, my good friend, LeighAnn, had also signed up for the race (it was actually her idea that I was joining in on).
She was MUCH more prepared with the logistics and that pretty much saved me. I was able to borrow a couple of her pacers and that made all the difference!
The course was a 16.6 mile loop through mostly root and rock covered single track trails with a few miles of dirt roads and packed limestone mixed in. The race began at 4:00 PM on Friday, and we had until 10:00 PM on Saturday to finish. That’s a 30 hour cutoff. For the first two loops, you’re not allowed to have a pacer run with you. For the last 4 loops, you’re allowed to have someone run with you that is not in the race.
LeighAnn and I ran together for the first 2 loops. We probably ran a little bit faster than we should have, but it was fun and there was a lot of excitement as we ran off our nervousness. However, by the end of the very first loop, I felt nauseous. And, at the beginning of the second loop, I told LeighAnn that I was probably just going to do the 100K, instead of trying for the full 100 miles. Dropping down to the 100K is an option that you have, and you can still get a medal if you stop at that distance. I just felt sick and I couldn’t imagine running 5 more loops.
But, by the end of the second loop, I was feeling so much better. My friend Stephanie graciously offered to pace me for this night loop (about 12:30AM-5:00AM). Originally she was only going to run the first half of the loop with me because she was going to be pacing LeighAnn for her 6th loop. BUT, she’s an awesome friend and decided to stick with me for the entire 16.6 miles!! And honestly, they were probably my best miles of the race. Which is completely crazy because that put me at 50 miles, and it was pitch black the entire time…
By the time I began my 4th loop, I was pretty stinkin’ tired. My sister, Rondi, was my pacer for that loop. I also told her pretty early on that I was just going to do the 100K (62 miles). I reasoned that I had never done a 100K race and I would be really proud to make it that far with such a minimal amount of training. She was kind and allowed me to own that decision as long as I wouldn’t regret it. I assured her that I wouldn’t, but then we got to the point where the 100K runners went one way (a short cut) and the 100 milers went the other, and I just couldn’t bring myself to follow the path of the 100K runners.
So, I continued on. I decided that I had a little bit of gas left in the tank and I wouldn’t feel proud of myself unless I left it all out there. In my mind, I decided I would just take it one aid station at a time, and get as far as I could.
For loop 5, my friend Mike was my pacer. I was terrified to have Mike as my pacer because he is a very experienced ultra runner, and I knew he had no intention of letting me quit on his watch.
When we reached the first aid station of loop 5, at mile 71, I was spent. My legs weren’t quite working right anymore and I was in a lot of pain. My parents were at that aid station and I remember barely being able to muster up a smile for them.
As soon as we walked out of that aid station, the tears began to flow. They were silent tears, and I wasn’t ready to say it out loud, but I was done. 29 miles from being a 100 mile finisher, and I just didn’t want to do it anymore. Everything hurt, and my body just didn’t have that much left to give.
I shuffled and walked through the next 4.5 miles very slowly. At some point of that I did tell Mike that I was quitting at the next aid station. He was not okay with that, and I didn’t want to argue, so I didn’t talk about it much. He kept encouraging me to pick up my pace, and he was saying I was doing an awesome job, and overall, just being a great pacer. But I had already made up my mind.
So, when we got to the aid station at mile 75.5, I went to the bathroom, took forever, came out and declared that he needed to call my sister to come get me because I wasn’t going anywhere. Mike’s response was to throw a cup of water in my face and tell me that I wasn’t quitting. I responded by sobbing uncontrollably, sitting down in a chair, and reiterating that I wasn’t continuing. This argument lasted quite a while. I was ugly crying the entire time, aid station volunteers joined in to try and convince me to continue, and finally, Mike grabbed me by the arm and yanked me out of the chair.
I walked very slowly down the path that I knew would hit a road crossing in about 1/4 mile where my sister could pick me up. I told Mike I was only moving forward until we got to the road, at which point I would be sitting down and not moving until Rondi came to pick me up. And, that’s what I did. There was a lot more crying in there, but eventually Mike called my sister. He actually only called her because he thought she would be able to get me moving again. But, I don’t think there was anyone who could have done that. Mentally, I was done. I honestly hadn’t thought I could even get that far. So to try and convince my mind to keep going was useless. And physically, my body was absolutely done. Eight days later, and my feet, knees, and hips still ache. I’m thinking that’s partially due to my thyroid still mending and my inflammation markers being high….but still! That kind of distance take a serious toll on the body!
Mike and lots of strangers told me that I would regret giving up at that point in the race. They said I wouldn’t forgive myself for quitting. But, I can say proudly that I don’t regret it. For me, on that day, that was what I had to give. 75.5 miles. 20+ hours. I’m stinkin’ proud of that. No medal. No belt buckle. Just the knowledge that I left it all out there. And, the desire to get healthy, train properly, and go out and do it the right way eventually!
Thank you SO MUCH to Leigh Ann who was brave enough to sign up for this race (and she finished it because she’s an absolute bad a$$!). Thank you to Rondi, Mike, and Stephanie for pacing me. Thank you to Sarah for helping take care of me after the race. Thank you to Elizabeth for being there and supporting LA and I. And thank you to my parents for being there, showing your unending support, and bringing TimBits!!! I learned SO MUCH from this experience, and probably the biggest lesson was that it seriously takes a tribe of amazing supporters to reach that kind of goal.
“Set a goal so big, you can’t achieve it until you grow into the person who can.” – Anonymous
Dream big. Work hard.
Total miles run by our crew:
Sarah = 16.6 miles
Elizabeth = 16.6 miles
Rondi = 16.6 miles
Mike = 25.1 miles
Stephanie = 33.2 miles
Kendra = 75.5 miles
Leigh Ann = 100 MILES!!
Total = 285.6 stinkin’ miles run by an amazing tribe
My sister and I were supposed to run a 50K in West Virginia yesterday. It was going to be state number 7 on our way to running a marathon or more in all 50 states.
But, that didn’t happen.
Why it didn’t happen is something that I really haven’t wanted to talk about. And, honestly, I still don’t want to talk about it. But, I’ve decided that it’s something worth sharing, so here goes.
On Wednesday, June 28 I woke up with a REALLY bad headache. And every day after that for about 2.5 weeks I woke up with the same, miserable headache. Beginning on July 5, that morning headache was accompanied with body aches that started every evening around dinner time, and night sweats in the middle of the night. And to top this all off, every run I went on felt like I was going to die. No matter how slow I ran, I couldn’t catch my breathe, and my muscles hurt all day, as if I had never run in my entire life. I finally went to the doctor and was diagnosed with strep throat…. Odd.
The antibiotics began to work on day 5 (the last day of the prescription). But, just 3 days later, my symptoms came back. Plus some other weird symptoms. So, I returned to the doctor. He decided to order some blood work, which came back showing elevated inflammation, anemia, and hyperthyroidism.
Back to the doctor I went. He discussed my results with me, referred me to an endocrinologist, and wrote me a script for a thyroid ultrasound and an EGD (scope of my throat, esophagus, and upper digestive tract). I went in for my thyroid ultrasound a couple days later and was notified that they found a 2.7 cm (just over 1 in) nodule on my thyroid.
I called the endocrinologist and was able to fast track my appointment with her, which was originally scheduled for August 29th, to August 2nd. At that appointment I was told that my body “is producing waaayyyy too much thyroid hormone” and that I have a “rather large nodule”, and the only way to diagnosis what is causing this is to have a test called a 24 hour thyroid uptake scan. That’s happening August 9th and 10th. Then, I will go back to the endocrinologist on August 14th to find out if I have an autoimmune disease, just an out of whack thyroid, or a cancerous nodule causing me grief. My scope to try and figure out why I’m so anemic is happening August 8th.
In the meantime, I’m left with a hyperactive thyroid that is leaving me a hot mess. My symptoms began with headaches and body aches that were pretty rough. Then came the exhaustion. I was sleeping nearly 9 hours a night and still needing to lay down and close my eyes for a bit each afternoon. Next was the muscle weakness (and dropping things…). Thrown in that mix was a frequent racing heartbeat. And finally, full blown anxiety. Some days I only have one or two of those symptoms, and others, I have them all.
I always thought that body aches and pain were worse than high anxiety, but now that I have been living with both of those things, I can say without a doubt that I would take body aches over anxiety every day of the week. I’ve had a few days of the kind of anxiety that almost leave you debilitated. Where you feel nauseous for no reason other than the fact that you’re on edge. And you really don’t want to see anyone. And you definitely don’t want to talk to anyone about what you’re going through. And when you do decide to speak briefly with someone about it, you’re left a sobbing mess. And even though you know you’re having anxiety because your body is messed up and your hormones are off, that information is useless in controlling your racing heart and crazy emotions.
And that is what I don’t want to talk about. I don’t want people to know I’m having a hard time. But, can I tell you how exhausting it is to constantly be feeling this way and always be pretending that I’m just fine?! That everything is just great! It’s exhausting. And I’m over it. (At least for a minute while I spill my guts via this blog…)
I feel like there have to be more people out there going through this, or something like it, that also don’t want to talk about it. And that’s why I decided to talk about it for a minute. Because it sucks to feel like you’re alone and you’re the only one having a hard time. So I just wanted to let you know that I’m right there with you. And…this too shall pass.
Lately I’ve been really struggling with motivation. I think that happens to me at the beginning of every Summer break. Finally, the hustle and bustle of the crazy spring sports schedules is over. School is out. And there’s time to just be still and do fun things that are not linked to any kind of responsibility. It’s pretty great.
But, at the same time, it is a BIG change that leaves me literally not wanting to do ANYTHING that a responsible adult should be doing. Laundry is just sitting there, grocery shopping isn’t done, the house is a mess, and my early morning workout alarm is nonexistent. It’s not that I keep hitting snooze; it’s that I am actually not even setting it anymore. Instead, I’ve left my runs to be squeezed in whenever it’s convenient throughout the day. And sometimes, it’s just not convenient at all. And therefore, not happening. Or it’s happening, but the runs are short and sweet. And although I love short and sweet, that’s not the kind of runs that are going to get me across the finish line at a 100 mile ultra marathon in September. (Insert terrified face.)
This week I had decided that it was my week to really amp up my training and get my butt in gear. And, overall I did that. There were a couple of brick workouts (mountain bike ride, followed by a trail run) and two longish runs of 13.1 miles and 10 miles with only one day in between, and not a rest day either, but a nearly two hour brick workout on the day in the middle. Finally, I felt like I was ready to face the reality of what I’m preparing for.
But really….I’m not.
Yesterday my husband started asking me a bunch of questions about the race, and it hit me that I really didn’t know the answers. Granted, I’ve never been an overly anal person that studies course maps, aid station fuels, elevation gains, and all of that. But, generally when I’m taking on a new challenge, I do look into things a bit more. And I’m thinking I should have been able to answer the questions like….what’s the time cut off? When can you have a pacer? How long does it generally take people to finish? How do you think you’re going to run for 24 hours straight when you’ve never even stayed awake that long? ….. Yikes.
So, this morning, I took a deep breath and went to the race website to see if I could find the answers to any of these questions. The first thing I decided to click on was a link to the elevation profile. I don’t know why I chose that as my starting point, I mean, I ran a 50 mile race on the same course a few years ago. But, that’s where I started. This is what I found.
And immediately, I was in tears.
That’s when it hit me that the reason I’ve been so incredibly unmotivated to train for this race is that I’m absolutely terrified of this race. And that fear has left me paralyzed. Instead of it pushing me to work my butt off, it has left me scared to even take the first step towards doing all of the work that needs to be done to prepare.
One of the things I do to stay motivated is that I follow people on Instagram that have similar goals and I listen to podcasts and read blogs of like-minded people. Over the last couple of months, one of the women that I follow on Instagram, who is a big ultra runner and has finished multiple 100 mile ultras, DNF’d (Did Not Finish) her latest 100 mile attempt. Another Instagram inspiration of mine DNF’d a 100 mile attempt a few months ago, but came back and finished her first 100 miler at the beginning of the month. Her blog detailing the event was cringe-worthy, explaining how the chaffing in her lady parts was so bad that she was bleeding through her pants and it was visible to not only her, but everyone around her.
Ummmm…really though…what am I doing?!
I also looked into the previous female finishers times for this ultra, as well as the cut off time. For my 50 miler on that same course, I had a finishing time of 10 hours, 33 minutes. I know that just doubling the time isn’t realistic, so I was thinking that maybe 24-26 hours was a reasonable estimation. When I told this to my husband, he couldn’t believe that I wouldn’t be able to finish in less than 24 hours. So, I looked up the times. The cut off is 30 hours (phew) and last year, the first place female finisher finished in 22 hours, 14 minutes. Second place was 24 hours, 32 minutes. Twenty-seven women started the race, and eighteen finished it.
To sum it all up. I’m scared. Reeeeeeally scared. But, it’s time to stop letting that fear leave me frozen. It’s time to run all the miles and do all the work because you better believe I’m showing up at that start line and I’ll be doing everything I can to make it to that finish line!
“Courage is not the absence of fear. It is the ability to act in the presence of fear.” – Bruce Lee
Yup. That’s just it. We all need to realize that it’s okay to be scared. It’s okay to be paralyzed briefly. But then, we must move past it because there are goals to reach and dreams to be chased!