Sir Isaac Newton, Laverne and Shirley

L&S

 

“What on earth do they have to do with running,? you may be wondering.

Well, they all were a part of my long run Sunday. A beautiful 20-miler on a gorgeous fall day that I perfectly timed and mapped out to end at my daughter’s softball tournament.

Marred only by my spectacular, agony of defeat-style fall at mile 14. Sir Isaac was right: What goes up, must come down. Or to put it another way: Gravity is a Bitch.

I skidded across a pile of wet leaves to find that a rock was underneath. How did I find out? By faceplanting. Hard. Barely had time to put my hands out. My right shoulder and right knee took the brunt of the fall (was I attempting to Stop, Drop and Roll? Isn’t that for fires?), followed closely by the right side of my face. Ugh.

The fall did have a few casualties: my beloved and now-discontinued Oakleys and my headphones. My stupid $10 water bottle holder, of course, never even left my hand. My Garmin has a tiny scratch but is otherwise fine and I’m not proud to admit that I remembered to stop the timer when I fell so I wouldn’t mess up my pace tracker. Maybe I deserved to fall.

I was lucky, though. Much luckier than Colby in her Spring fall, and I think I even fared better than she did in her VT50 fall. As for my own record, I place this is slightly worse than last year’s wipe-out – I definitely got a little more banged up on Sunday. Are you sensing a pattern here? Suspecting that there is a good reason Colby and I do not perform on the balance beam? More on this later.

Anyway, I took a quick assessment of the bodily damage (starting with my teeth, which were all intact and still in my mouth, thank god) and concluded that all of the cuts that I could see were gross but not dangerous and I didn’t appear to break anything. Phew. I couldn’t see my face, but since I don’t use it for running, I figured I’d deal with it later. I dusted myself off, attempted to restore my dignity and equilibrium, and finished the rest of my run.

It wasn’t until I got to the softball tournament that I realized how banged up my face was. Before I was able to look in a mirror, I looked into the horrified face of my daughter and realized that I might have more than a few facial scratches. I ran up to the fence to wave at her, high on the adrenaline of a 20-mile run, epic fall and more than a few caffeinated sports beans, only to see her recoil in horror. I quickly was informed that I had a shiner, was bleeding from my chin and had road rash on the right side of my cheek.

My poor tween. She was mortified. All the other moms were there on time, appropriately clad in lululemon and sipping chai from recycled paper cups. I know the bubble over her head was asking how she ended up with the fool who came late in sweaty pigtails, off-brand running shorts, bleeding from the face and sporting slightly crazy eyes. She doesn’t yet know that you are always better off with a Quarter Horse in your corner than a Show Pony. But she will, someday. Until then, I feel her pain. I was 11 once, too. I did my best to fade into the background for the rest of the game.

Today was the first time I ran since Sunday and I knocked off 8 miles pretty easily, which was great. I think that confirms that my knee is fine, despite the lack of skin. My shoulder still hurts, but as long as my knee is fine, I am fine. My face will heal (unlike my Oakleys. RIP).

I can’t help but think that Colby and I are the Laverne and Shirley of runners. Ready, Set…Schlemiel! Schlimazel! Or maybe Lucy and Ethel. Why the hell do we keep falling? Does everyone else fall and just not talk about it? Or is this just yet another way in which we are two very special snowflakes? Seriously – what is wrong with us??? Katniss would not be proud and would not want us on her team and this bothers me more than it should.

Please feel free to share your own epic fall stories. Please. Let us know we are not alone.

CSA-Ya Later, Gator!

Sad week in Colby Ville. It’s the final week of our local CSA. For 20 weeks we were happy as could be, buried in local produce.

Mae MobleyGoodbye fresh weekly vegetables. Toodles, magnificent tomatoes. Later, kohlrabi. You were weird, but you sure were tasty. Buh-bye, yummy butterkin squash. You kicked our risotto up ten notches. Even Giada was scared.

Until next season. {Sigh.}

I’m devastated. Now it’s back to crummy, zombie veggies from our local big ass superstore.

zombie veggiesThis was the first year we became shareholders, if you will, in our local Community Supported Agriculture program. CSA programs are fantastic. And as you can imagine, with the influx of people actually giving a damn about what they’re eating, they are gaining in popularity. Yahoo! 

20141024-203053-73853591.jpgCSAs link the consumer directly to the farmer. You commit at the beginning of the growing season to purchase a part of the farmers’ crop. It’s all paid up front. It boils down to roughly $20 per week. Which ain’t much, considering the quality and freshness of the veggies. Well worth it. Paying up front off sets production costs. The farmer plants exactly what is needed for their shareholders. So, less waste. In turn, the farmer gets cash way early on in the season, when they are typically cash poor, and have a guarantee that their produce is already sold. With our CSA, we had a Full Share or 2/3 share option. We opted for the 2/3 share and were SWIMMING in fruits and vegetables.

All. Summer. Long. 

Some weeks there were CRATES of extra veggies which you could help yourself to. Subsequently, we od’d on pears. And beets. You know that moment you wake up, hit the loo, and think you are dying? Nope. Just beets. Crisis averted. Here is just a short list of some of what we got. Stress SOME. There was a lot more. For real.

mayamo veggie Peaches, kale, green beans, sweet peas, beets, corn, tomatoes, strawberries, blueberries, asparagus, yummy peppers (That’s an actual kind. And, yes, they are yummy.), eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, apples, lettuces, fava beans, broccoli, cauliflower, onions, garlic, pear cider, apple cider, cranberry beans, spinach, local honey, local cheese, basil plants, herbs, pumpkins, seckel pears, acorn squash, collard greens, butterkin squash, butternut squash, Brussel spounts, The Evil Kohlrabi and these little weirdos:

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Ground Cherries. Who knew?!?! Kind of like if a cherry tomato punched a tomatillo in the face then pelted her with mangos and pineapples. Weird? Yes. Tomatoe-y, mango-y goodness. Whatever the hell they were, I liked ‘em. I liked supporting our local farmers even more. :-) Here’s to 20 weeks of fresh, local, delicious, weird veggies! Until next year!

Have you ever participated in your local CSA? Do you have a local CSA? Have you ever eaten ground cherries? Kohlrabi? Cranberry beans?

I Hope You Can Stand Another Post About Body Image. (Because Here It Comes.)

Recently Jennifer Garner was asked if she was expecting because media types had noticed that she was sporting a “baby bump.” Her reply was pretty awesome – she said that while she is not pregnant, she does indeed have a baby bump – from her 3 existing kids – and it apparently is here to stay.

And THAT is how nice girls say “Stop commenting on my goddamn stomach and leave me alone.” Way to Go, Jen!

I was at a mothers’ coffee once where someone told me I was the perfect candidate for a tummy tuck. True Story. And I barely knew her. A group of women were complaining about getting their pre-kid bodies back and one of them commented that I wouldn’t know what they were talking about because I am a runner and in shape. I replied that I knew exactly what they were talking about, because all the running in the world wouldn’t get me back into my old jeans, especially given the – ahem – changes in my midsection after having 3 kids in 4 years. (Note: I didn’t say this in a way that suggested I wanted to do anything about it – I was merely pointing out that your body changes over time – Que Sera Sera.) At which point an almost-stranger turned to me and (after slo-o-o-o-wly looking me up and down) said, “Oh, you would be a perfect candidate for a tummy tuck! You should definitely do it!”

I almost spit my coffee out. What is the appropriate response to that?

Thank you?

Screw you?

Are you on commission for a local plastic surgeon?

While, let me tell you – I am NOT the perfect candidate for a tummy tuck. First, I don’t want one. Second, even though it is probably done in a pretty office, it’s surgery. I generally try to avoid surgery. Last, but certainly not least, I have an almost-11 year old daughter. She sees me as an athlete who honors and takes care of her body, and uses it to do all sorts of wonderful things. There is no way I would be ok with sending her the message that the body I have – which is strong enough to scale Spartan Race walls, climb mountains in snowshoes and run marathons – isn’t good enough. Is so “not good enough,” in fact, that it is in need of surgical intervention.

While I feel for Jen Garner having everyone think she is pregnant when she probably just has been eating a lot of Chinese food, she at least is in a field where scrutiny over her body is to be expected. And is probably part of why she handled the comments with the grace that she did.

I, however, am a freaking lawyer. I’m thin by nature and fit from running. But am I expected to be shredded as well? In my field, you don’t have to look perfect to get work. In fact, your clients like to see you looking like you have been putting in the hours at your desk, not the gym. So why should anyone expect me to look like looking good is my job?  I have a job, and that ain’t it. My body is the amazing vehicle through which I live my life, not a mannequin that exists only to be looked at.

I saw a piece in Glamour the other day on body image, and apparently women feel worse about their bodies than ever (Rest assured, the irony of a magazine called “Glamour” running a piece on body image is not lost on me. But stay with me here.).

Apparently, the biggest factor in the decline in positive body image over the years isn’t the effect of seeing celebrities with perfect bikini bodies. Nope, it’s the fact that lots of our neighbors are now jacked, shredded, tucked, liposuctioned, tightened – whatever combo of diet, workouts and surgeries gets people looking like models.

And it’s true. Nowadays, celebrities aren’t the only ones making it their job to look perfect. Especially in Type A suburbs where Colby and I live, lots of regular folk do it, too.

Well, I am not jumping on this bandwagon. When you get to that point, it’s NOT about being fit and NOT about being healthy, no matter what people claim. Hey, if you are happy working out like it’s your job, and want a little nip and tuck for that “perfect” body, that’s fine. But I refuse to buy in and anyone who suggests that I should can go screw themselves.

These “imperfections” on my body are the direct result of many happy decisions I have made, whether it was to have children, share great meals with friends, or hang out on the couch with loved ones instead of hitting the gym. And I’m not trading any of them for a body that looks perfect in a bathing suit.

So if you end up at one of our neighborhood coffees, feel free to come stand by me. I’ll happily point out my permanent baby bump, I’ll eat (not split!) a muffin with you and I will never, ever, suggest that you erase the visible evidence of some of your most positive life decisions by going under the knife.

Don’t Call It A Comeback

Call it a TRIUMPH!

Who listened to her body and iced, rested, elevated, stretched, rolled, massaged, applied moist heat, bitched, moaned, kicked, screamed and lost their goddamn mind during a 12 day running hiatus due to a bum Achilles after running her first Ultra Marathon, only to emerge like a Phoenix from the Ashes, and have 3 PERFECT PAIN FREE RUNS this week and it’s only freaking WEDNESDAY!?!

THIS HAPPY GIRL!

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Holy run-on sentence.

I’M SUPER-FLY STOKED!

Here’s the best part:
I didn’t blow up.
I didn’t die.
I didn’t turn into a amorphous blob.
I didn’t gain 20lbs.
I didn’t fall completely out of shape.
I didn’t lose muscle mass.
I didn’t eat all things.
I didn’t forget how to run.

I healed.

For the first time in my adult running history, I was injured and I knew it. Instead of running through it, I admitted there was a problem and listened to my body. Disappointed? Sure. I went from The Thrill of Victory to the Agony of Defeat in two shakes. Total bummer. But I would be far more disappointed if I was sidelined for months. I’m not that patient. But I’m learning to be.

The moral to the story is a very simple one: If you are hurt. Stop. For the love of Kara Goucher, Stop. SIT STILL. I know: Duh. Colby. That’s a tough one for me to swallow. It really is. As distance runners, we compartmentalize pain. Wall it off. Suck it up, Buttercup. Keep going. We stop when we’re done.

I was done alright. So I stopped. And that made all the difference.

To happy, healthy running!

Let Sleeping Giants Lie

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There is nothing like a hike on a perfect fall day with your Best Guy to make you smile. Really smile. Like with all your teeth sparkling.

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Yesterday we took a ride to Sleeping Giant State Park, in Hamden, Connecticut, for a lovely walk in the woods. I hadn’t hiked The Giant in years. Years. I was excited. Many, many, moons ago my friends and I would hike it every chance we got. In high school. On breaks from college. Even thru that ‘After College What The Hell Am I Doing With My Life’ transition period.

We hiked.
And chatted.
And laughed.

And perched our cameras on rocks, hit the self timer button and scrambled back in a panic trying to get the perfect shot in the nick of time. Inevitably the picture would get taken 100 times- until we ran out of film. We’d always get that one great shot. Genuine smiles. Memories captured. Real, life-long friends in the making. It was such a wonderful time. I think we even knew it then. I have lots of fond memories hiking Sleepy G, and I took great delight giving My Lobster years of scoop. 20141013-202013-73213381.jpg

He and I hiked.
And chatted.
And laughed.
And took selfies with our iPhones.

Same. But different. The views haven’t changed. They’re still beautiful. The trails haven’t changed either. We hiked the toughest one, over the Giant’s chin, a route I have climbed too many times to count. I thought the people there hadn’t changed either, but sadly, I was wrong. There were groups of 2 or 3 or 4 friends, all slowly ambling up to The Castle. 20141013-202018-73218262.jpg

We bumped into the Day Walkers on our way down from the Tower, towards the end of our hike. Only instead of chatting and laughing, they were glued to their iPhones. Updating their Facebook status. Instagramming. Tweeting. Commenting. “Liking.” Creeping. Texting. Checking email. Googling. Match.com-ing. Yelping. 20141013-202014-73214713.jpg

You fucking name it.

They did everything. Except hike, chat and laugh with the actual human being beside them. It made the both of us sad. Why bother being outside? So you can post that you were? I felt like saying something to one of The Texting Dead who walked into me because she wasn’t paying attention. But I figured what was the point? What was I going to yell?20141013-202019-73219825.jpg

Hey you! You in the yoga pants, reeking of Thierry Mulger’s, Angel perfume, put down your goddamn phone! Make eye contact with your girlfriends! And use your words! It’s a beautiful day! Look around, Fool! There is so much beauty! AND YOU’RE MISSING IT!

Yeah.
No.

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I let it go. It wouldn’t have made a difference. It saddened the both of us. All ages, all clinging to their smart phones. Like lifelines. It’s rampant. How do you tell your own Sleeping Giant stories years later if you’re tethered to your iPhone? Do you tell it in retweets? Can you text it in emoji? Are you minimally taking pictures? At least then, after you’ve photoshopped them, you can say: Damn. That was sure pretty. Huh. Funny, I don’t even remember this. And maybe then it will occur to you. So many beautiful memories to be had. So much life to live! Only it’s not as thrilling when you’re peering at a screen.

Shut down. Log off. Unplug.

You’re missing so much.

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A Tale of Two Runs

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”

I know Dickens wasn’t talking about marathon training when he penned those famous lines, but, hey, they fit.

The highs of a great run! The adrenaline boost of running huge distances! The feeling that you can do ANYTHING you set your mind to! Oh, the highs. So very, very high. And probably so very, very annoying to anyone around you who isn’t a distance runner or some other sort of adrenaline junkie..but so very, very fun for you!

The lows of soreness, achiness, fatigue – or, god forbid, injury. And the soul crushing kick in the face of a bad run. Especially a Very Bad Run. The Very Black Mood after a Very Bad Run.

Let’s start there, shall we?

Friday. Oct 3, 6:30 AM. I am frantically trying to get ready to head out and squeeze in a 17-miler before an early conference call.

NOTE: I WAS TRYING TO “SQUEEZE IN” A 17-MILER. I could probably stop here, as you can surely guess how it all went down.

It is dark. Cannot find headlamp or LED flashers. Settle for pumpkin flashlight, reflective vest and a FRIGGING GLOWSTICK NECKLACE to avoid roadkill status. (also change route on the fly to one with sidewalks and streetlights for the first few miles, until sun comes up, since my set-up is not quite up to par). I can’t tell if I’m going running or trick or treating.

Accidentally hit button on my Garmin that LOCKS THE FRIGGING SCREEN. Garmin is essential for this run, because I will be cutting it close to my conference call and I need to know time and distance to make sure I don’t stay out too long. Google how to unlock Garmin. Crisis averted, but I’m rattled. Oh, so rattled. And running late.

Realize I haven’t eaten. Stomach not feeling so great. Still, gotta eat. Make ½ a peanut butter sandwich and wolf it down. Feel worse. Head out anyway, because I have no choice.

Head out for the 17 mile run that I am “squeezing in.” Listen up, Grasshoppers: DO NOT “SQUEEZE IN” A 17 MILE RUN. Honor the long run. Do it when you can run it properly (i.e., not with your heart in your throat and your stomach churning the entire time).

Not surprisingly, this run SUCKED. I was tense and my stomach was horrible. Could barely get through 20 oz of water throughout the entire run because I was thisclose to throwing up. Ate an energy chew, gagged, and ditched those, too. My first bathroom stop (of many) was less than 2 miles into the run. Did the entire 17 miles on the energy of that stupid peanut butter sandwich and panic. I may also have cannibalized myself. By the time I arrived home (yes, I made my F%$#& call, in case you were worried), I was depleted, both mentally and physically.

It was a Bad, Bad Run.

By Wednesday, I was texting Colby asking whether she even thought I should even bother running Philly. And should I switch to another sport? THESE questions from a fool who will run 16-milers FOR FUN! Needless to say, she verbally smacked me in the kindest way possible and told me to chill.

I don’t know if I’m more ashamed of my crappy run or what I let it do to my head.

Strike that. I’m definitely more ashamed by what I let it do to my head. My body had a tough run, but it finished. There’s no shame in that. But my head should know better. If I could be even half as supportive and accepting of myself as I am with others, I’d be in much better shape.

I repeat: If I could be even half as supportive and accepting of myself as I am with others, I’d be in much better shape. I should probably have that tattooed somewhere.

Fast forward to yesterday’s run, which was a 19-miler that turned into a 20-miler because it felt so good. Rested, stomach great, no wardrobe or gear snafus, and probably most importantly, NO RUSHING.

I felt so good yesterday I half expected to turn around and see those Disney bluebirds on my freaking shoulders.

It was a Great Run and I rode the high of it for the rest of the day.

But of course, I was no better of a runner yesterday than I was last Friday. It was just a different day with a different set of conditions. Each time I pushed myself as much as I could, and that, really what is key. Looking back, I probably am prouder of getting through the Bad Run, because that mental tenacity is what will get me through “the Wall” and any other rough spots in a race. In fact, the only thing I shouldn’t be proud of is letting one bad run screw with my mind so much. For shame!

6 weeks to go until Philly.

It is the best of times, it is the worst of times. Indeed.

Heal, Achilles. Heal.

Ok, Achilles.

CUT THE SHIT.

I have been all, Little Miss Rest for over a week and while you’re DEFINITELY turning a corner, you ain’t exactly Let’s Throw On My Kicks And Hit The Trails for 15!

Not by a long shot.

And it’s making me BENT.

wtfgo

I am happy to report that while I am definitely on the mend, I’m not 100% post VT50. In case you missed it, you can relive the glory and read how I busted my paw here. The swelling is long gone. No weird bumps or nodules exist. And I can do a toe raise with very mild to zero pain. So like a good impatient patient runner, I’ve been showing it some love. I’ve been rolling my whacked out calf, doing simple calf drop stretches, bitching, whining and telling Sir Achilles how strong and handsome he is. Yes, in that order. Guess what? Flattery ain’t gettin’ me no where.

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I am also learning that I don’t ‘Do’ injuries well. It’s making me stressed. And feel like a blown out Blerch. Amazing how you can go from feeling FIT! to Amorphous Slug! in a weeks time. I’m still moving. And planking. And lifting. But I’m not running. Not like I want to. And to be honest, I’ve never looked more forward to it. Running is such a gift. Soon, Colby. Soon.

Oh. What’s that you ask? How’s my toe?

That poor bitch is about to audition for a role as an extra Freak in American Horror Story, Freak Show. It’s down to her and The Lady With 3 Boobs.

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I bet she nails it.

How do you deal with being sidelined? Do you: Binge eat? Binge drink? Binge watch Netflix? Or just rock in the corner and suck your thumb?

Fun Run

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While Colby was running through the woods of Vermont, I was busy visiting our friends at The Happiest Place on Earth! Yup, the Fam and I snuck down to Disney for 5 days to get our fill of junk food and vertigo. A good time was had by all.

Of course, the first stuff I packed was my running gear. Running on vacations is one of my favorite things to do. You can check out new scenery, get your bearings on where you have landed, and they are blissfully unrushed.

I didn’t get a chance to run the day we got there or the next day – too busy and I didn’t want to hold the kids up from getting to the parks, and by the 3rd day I was kinda completely jumping out of my skin. The combination of walking a zillion miles across acres of park followed by waiting in line had left me achy and antsy. My body needed to move – at a clip faster than a walk, and for more than 5 minutes at a time. I assume I am not the only person who actually feels more achy when they don’t run than when they do?

Day 3 I got up early, ready to go. Vacation run: new scenery. Opportunity to check out new radio stations. And best of all, no rush to get back for work/school bus/meetings. Aaaah. And, truth be told, given that I am in the middle of marathon training, I was a little anxious to get some mileage in.

Dressed, laced up my sneaks, and spent 10 unsuccessful minutes searching for my Garmin. That I managed to misplace my Garmin in a small hotel suite is quite amazing. But I did. I’m amazing like that. Gave up looking and decided that this was not going to be a training run after all – just a fun run to shake the legs out. (update: turns out I had put it in a “safe place’ in a small zippered compartment in my carry-on. So safe I couldn’t even find it myself.)

Stepped outside and was greeted with a wall of 100% humidity and temps in the low 80’s. OK Orlando, so this is how we are going to play it? GAME ON! It’s The Happiest Place on Earth! A little heatstroke inducing weather isn’t gonna kill my buzz.

Turned on my mp3 player to watch it die before I left the parking lot. I felt like Shleprock. But I carried on.

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The run ended up being wonderful. I felt so unfettered – I didn’t know where I was going, what I would see or how far I was running. I didn’t have anything in my hands or on my wrist. I just ran. Like a kid. And loved every minute of it.

Florida has many beautiful areas, but International Drive in Orlando, where I spent much of my run, isn’t one of them. Didn’t matter – this run wasn’t about sightseeing, it was about getting in a run that my body seriously craved and needed. I felt all of the weird amusement-park induced aches fade away while I ran – using my body in such a familiar way. Ran for about an hour and felt like a million sweaty bucks afterward. I have no idea how far I ran, only a loose idea of how long I ran and had no idea if anything interesting had happened in the world while I was gone. And I didn’t care. I got my run on and had a blast.

This was no training run – it was a fun run. And even though I’m usually technically “in training” for one thing or another, I need to remember to take these more often. I don’t get too many opportunities to feel like a kid again, so I want to make sure to grab each and every one. Plus, it reminds me of why I started to run in the first place. Because it is fun.

The next day, I got up and had another great run with my Garmin and my fully-charged mp3. And it was a great run. But this one – this was one worth writing about.

Does anyone else get oddly excited to go for a run on vacation? Do you ever ditch the Garmin and just head out for a “fun run?”

The Vermont 50. An Ultra Adventure.

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I’m sitting here with my tired paws up, staring at a soon to be black toe nail with an ice pack on a very swollen and bruised Achilles’ tendon. And, I am smiling.

Yes.

Goddamn SMILING!

I DID IT!!!

I ran my first Ultra Marathon at the Vermont 50 at Ascutney Mountain Resort in Brownsville, Vermont. I ran the 50K or, as in Vermont Speak 32.5 miles. I heard this new bonus mile and a half distance at the very calm and relaxed pre-race meeting. If this were Another Period In My Life, I would have thrown myself into a running tailspin, then dry heaved. But when a nice, friendly, soft spoken man tells you you’ll be running 32.5 miles in 20 minutes time, you really have no choice but to nod, gulp and embrace the “Meh. What’s another 1.5 miles? It’s all good, People” vibe.

Milling around at the start. Calm, cool, collected.
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Relaxed. That is one word I would have never thought synonymous with an Ultra Marathon. Such a relaxed, chill atmosphere. Far more chill than any marathon I’ve ever run. By a long shot. From packet pick-up to the start. And it was contagious. I loved it. And embraced it fully. Garmin? What Garmin? I didn’t even wear it. For me, this was a race I wanted to finish. I had zero expectations with regard to time. I wanted to run. Farther than I ever had. Farther than I have ever though I could.

And I did.

I am ready! Obligatory pre-50K Selfie.
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The Start. Honestly I think someone just yelled, “Go!” I didn’t really hear it because My Fierce Ultra Runner Friend Carly and I were talking and laughing about something non-running related. That’s how chill I was. Every marathon I have ever run I’m usually in a panic. Adjusting earbuds. Resetting my Garmin. Thinking I should have peed again. Fidgeting. This time? No earbuds. They aren’t allowed. And rightfully so. You wind up sharing the trail with Mountain Bikers and YOU NEED YOUR EARS. Three if you have ‘em. I didn’t miss them. No fidgeting either. Just calm. Next thing I knew we were running. I forgot to be nervous. I just ran. Within minutes we we climbing. And I’m going to just cut directly to the chase here: I climbed for hours. It was like 7 hours of hill repeats. And no, I’m not trying to be funny. This shit is REAL. And HARD. And BEAUTIFUL. 20140929-210355-75835648.jpg

That’s about all the photos you’re going to get out of me. I had everything to do to keep moving forward. Selfie snapping and Instagramming was completely out of the question. I was unplugged. And it was glorious. You’ll have to trust me when I tell you that I ran thru some of the most beautiful trails I have ever seen. And across the most beautiful private properties. Those Vermonters are awfully nice letting 100s upon 100s of mountain bikers and runners traipse through their land. #ILOVERMONT
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The first half of the race is really a mix of dirt packed roads and trail. Other than several hairy climbs and a false flat that went on for miles, it wasn’t all that awful. Mostly because it was still cool out. In fact, if it had stayed 60ish it would have been perfect. Instead, it was a perfect, cloudless, 82 goddamn degrees. On September 28th. In Vermont. Yeah. I know. Insane. I have done 4 races in Vermont: a Half-Marathon, a Snowshoe 10K, a Marathon and an Ultra Marathon. Every damn one was in extreme conditions. From -6 degrees to mid-90s. No. Joke. My point is this: If you sign up for an event expecting ideal conditions you are all but assured to have Mother Nature lift her leg and piss directly on your dreams. Then laugh throatily in your frost bitten and/or hypothermic face. Just sayin’.

Now where was I? Oh. The VT50… 20140929-210404-75844506.jpg

Thankfully, aid stations were abundant and staffed with the most kind, compassionate volunteers with S-Caps and bowls of salted potatoes. Best. Snack. Ever. There were 7 aid stations on the 50K route which saw you merge with both the 50 mile runners and Mountain Bikers. I wondered how we would all “get along” and other than having to jump off of the trail several times on tired legs to let bikers pass, everyone couldn’t have been more polite and considerate. I was impressed. Considering the amount of Suffering going on, they were awfully chatty. And encouraging. I never found myself alone. Or lost. And lets be honest, I had no goddamn idea what I was doing. I just ran. Like I would thru the woods when I was little. With a big ole’ toothy grin. I loved it.

Fallon’s Aid Station. Mile 18. Here’s where everything took a turn. For a while there I was, running wildly. It was great. I envisioned myself running swiftly, like one of those leggy chicks in the magnificent trail running pictures in magazines. Effortless. Graceful. Until…

I fell. (Hard.)
And yelped. (Loud.)

I tripped over one of the few rocks protruding directly into the middle of the trail. How I didn’t see it is beyond me. It was massive. This sucker had been there since the Ice Age. I am quite certain it was anchored directly to the core of the earth. That rock didn’t budge. And I kicked it like David Beckham. Hard and just perfect. I honestly thought I broke my toe. In the process I wrenched my ankle. Seized my calf. My Achilles twinged. And I promptly fell flat on my face.

I was momentarily stunned. And helped to my feet foot by a very kind runner. She was met by Colby the Sailor Pirate.

Me: FUUUUUUUUCCCCCKKKAAARRRGH.
Kind Runner: Oh my god! Are you ok? The aid station is right behind us. Want me to take you?
Me: Fucking no. Fucking toe. {Yelps.} I’m finishing this fucking race. I DONT CARE IF IT FALLS OFF. I. WILL. FINISH.
Kind Runner: {Giggles nervously. Darts off.}

The string of profanities continued each and every time I wailed that same busted up foot on every rock, stone, root and patch of grass for the next 14.5 technical, off-camber, brutally steep miles. Which translates to roughly 14.5 more times. I started to think I had a neurological issue. Or minimally, Tourette’s. Come to find out, I was just exhausted. And clumsy. I was in pain and I was limping. Yet it never occurred to me that I wouldn’t finish. Ever. I started this race knowing I would finish. Even after the tough terrain, crazy heat, horrible stomach issues (I won’t even go there. Because I was there. And it was horrible.) and now busted paw and wonky Achilles- I never considered stopping. Not once.

Where does that come from? I still don’t know exactly. Somewhere from deep within, I found it. I found The Drive. It was so strong. So clear. So confident. I have never felt more certain of anything my entire life. I was hurting. Yet, The Drive trumped The Pain. There it was. That’s what I’ve read Ultra Runners experience. I had it. And I couldn’t believe it myself.

1.5 Miles to go.
20140929-210400-75840629.jpgThis was one of two signs I saw during the VT50. It wasn’t being held by a sea of screaming spectators, it was tacked to a small tree in a gorgeous, quiet section of trails. Yet it couldn’t have screamed louder. I managed to snap a picture of it. I also teared up. And started running. Really running. As fast as my busted paw could carry me. Then I heard the cheers. 20140929-210356-75836866.jpg

And emerged from the trails into a series of switch backs that wove across and down the mountain. If you ask me 40 years from now, what the hardest thing I had ever done was, I will tell you with the utmost certainty the 2014 Vermont 50. No question.

It is only when you push yourself farther than you ever thought possible that you really see just how far you can go. I pushed. I saw. And it was amazing.

Oh what a run I had.

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One Sleep

freakout

This time tomorrow I’ll be running my face off. I’ll admit. I’ve been freaking out. Big time. But now, with one sleep until the Vermont 50?

It’s on like Donkey Kong!

Tapered. Rested. Dried out. Massaged. I am goddamn ready.

I just got back from an easy 3 mile shake out run and I’m feeling good. Really good. I love running in the morning. Even though I rarely drag my ass out of bed during the week to do so. Today was beautiful. Quiet. Crisp. Calm.

zen

Just Me and My Legs. We had a zen moment. I visualized the race. The climbs. The finish. And the feeling of accomplishment that will come with pushing myself well beyond my comfort zone. I will finish. We had a nice chat, My Legs and I. I told them how proud I was of them. How strong they’ve become. How sorry I am for beating the snot out of them. I promised them it would be worth it. And that I’d pamper them afterwards. We just need to finish. They’ve come a long way, these Little Legs.

And they’d better get ready…

‘Cuz they’re gonna go longer. :-)