Saturday, December 29, 2012


Just one day after the year in review, an amendment needs to be made. There has been a bit of a disappointment that has come my way, via telephone and though I was just about on Cloud 9 with how things are progressing in my life, (insert screeching tires here), I believe I see a pattern starting to develop.

I digress. As many of you who have read this blog over the years, relationships with my family have not always been the greatest and I'm sure that by posting this blog, I will be stepping on some toes. Solution for that is maybe they shouldn't read my blog.

I was in therapy and when I discussed some issues with my therapist she said , it's your abuse, how you remember it, how things happened to you and nobody else. That being said this is my side of the story, take it or leave it and it is not up for discussion. I'm willing to bet that I have at least one person who can vouch for me too, so the disclaimer has been interjected.

As i expressed before in the previous blog, I have been working on my relationship with my daddy. I also made mention of his animal farm, better described as a hoard. The reason we had stopped communication the last time was every time I went to visit he wanted me to bring a truck load of hay to him which he was supposed to reimburse me for but that never happened. Goff Feed and Seed is located up the street from my house so at first it was not a big deal as I would go visit and drop the load except for the problem of not being reimbursed for the purchase of the hay.

I said all that to say this, today I was running with my friend Jeremy. Anybody who knows me knew where I was so when my phone kept ringing I stopped to check it. It was Daddy. He didn't leave a message so after I finished my run, thawed from the cold and started making my way to do some errands I needed to do, I called him back. First time, no answer so I thought maybe he was just seeing if we were coming for a visit. I keep my phone on vibrate most of the time, so when he called back, I didn't hear it go off. So I returned his call again, phone tag at its finest.

When I finally got him on the phone, he told me that he was looking for the number to Goff Feed and Seed, that he had misplaced it, but that he had found it. Any way the next statement was that hay is $7.50 a bale and that he would have to save up to get enough money to buy what he needed for his animals. Red flag went up. He didn't ask me to pick it up for him yet, but I'm sure it's coming. I refuse this time. I will not be used, it doesn't make me happy.

I have come to the sad conclusion that relationships come with a price. What I don't understand is that I guess I expect too much from people. I didn't think we would be going down this same road again and I can promise you there is a way off this road.

Why can't people just be a part of my life, to be just that, a part of my life, not to want monetary things from me. All I want is a small portion of his time, some interest in what's going on in my life. I was a daddy's girl growing up. I am truly at a loss.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Surrender the ladle and the adventures of Christmas 2012

From Halloween until Christmas, has been a roller coaster of a ride, sometimes hands in the air yahoo sort but other times, stop the world I want to get off type. Any way we have made it to today, December 27 (Yes, we lasted past the end of the world 12/21/12 which just happens to be my oldest daughter Brittany's birthday!)

I will digress to give some back story and go back further than even Halloween to give an adequate bird's eye view of our year, then we will skip ahead to the present.

The year began as any other year. "Happy New Year," cheers, whistles and kisses. Skip ahead, I did two marathons in three weeks, crazy, yes, but was a great experience. Two days after the last one, Nik and I flew to Vegas to train with Kong and of course to eat a belly full of Thai food.

Nik celebrated his birthday in the middle of the above mentioned events and the trip to Vegas was part of his birthday gift. Of course we had a blast, got our butts kicked. We met up with a couple from here, Mark and Bre, got to see Cirque de Soliel and eat at my favorite restaurant there The Top of the World. It was a great time.

Then May came around and my oldest daughter Brittany decided that she was moving to Holland, as in Amsterdam as in 4500 miles away. May was sort of an emotional month for me. She left the week before Mothers Day, it was tough. Even tougher was that I didn't hear from her for a solid week and was terrified. Upon receiving a call from her where I was asked why I was upset, I could tell she was oblivious. After I had calmed, I completely understand why she left, she has wanderlust just like her mom. Truthfully had I not been a mom at 17, I probably would have done the same thing.

My birthday rolled around and a trip to Puerto Rico followed, my favorite place on earth. I celebrated turning 39 there. Anybody who knows me at all, knows my fascination about turning forty so, yahoo!! I'm another year closer.

Pretty even keeled for the next couple months, Nik decided to go full time at the gym, Sor Sumrit and all is going well until October 31.

We had just gotten back from celebrating our first wedding anniversary in Puerto Rico, getting settled back to reality when the gym catches on fire due to a faulty heater exploding. Thank goodness nobody was in the gym at the time, and though the damage was devastating, we still had each other and our house. All I can say about getting the gym back up and running, was only by the help of a few great friends who have made such a huge impact on us, we could never repay them.

At exactly the same time that the fire department was on the way to our house, my mother was being rushed via ambulance to the hospital. She had an aneurism in her heart and at the time there was no clue what was happening. She ended up being in CVICU for close to two weeks.

Reminder: we are still on the same day, October 31, 2012, the longest day of my life.

Thanksgiving came around, it definitely didn't feel much like the holidays as I had been slammed at work, Nik had been getting classes built back up and having to deal with everything going on all around us.

I, up until this point, had not had a meltdown. My stress level was about a thousand percent, my swim coach would only let me swim freestyle laps, by myself. Every time, I would end up swimming around two to two hours and fifteen minutes, just back and forth. during that time I was able to be at peace.

Running was my other saving grace. Thank goodness for my friend, Lori who is crazy enough to say, twenty miles sounds fun.

After Thanksgiving the meltdown occurred, or as Nik likes to call it, full on turtle mode. I don't talk, I usually cry, a lot.
When road miles don't work anymore and swimming laps don't work, Muay Thai has been exhausted, a girl's just gotta cry. I knew when I was sitting watching "How I Met Your Mother" and started tearing up it was happening.

It was a Friday morning, Nik said are you supposed to run today, because you need to. I said no, I have twenty tomorrow and ten Sunday. He said good, you need all those miles. I told him I was going to see my friend, Laura. She was waiting on me at her house and I swear as soon as I stepped through her door, the waterworks started. I talked and cried, cried on her shoulder and she just listened, no advice given. The turtle was gone, I was exhausted, but I did feel better. I am so thankful to have her in my life.

Hannah's birthday came and went, I still can't believe she is seventeen years old. Brittany's birthday came and went, this was the first year I have celebrated with her. This year was also the first for her not being here over the holidays, which made me sad but she has to live her own life.

The past few months I have been working on two relationships, with my sister and daddy.

On Thanksgiving we dropped by my dad's after having been to my mother in laws with my mother and her husband. He showed us around his farm. Serious animal hoarder there, but it keeps him active.

During the time that my mother was in the hospital, my sister came down and stayed with me. Though the circumstances weren't great for us to spend much time together, we enjoyed each others company immensely. I decided I wanted to go and visit her in Fayetteville over Christmas holidays.

Work was crazy (not complaining at all, I enjoy what I do) which did not permit much running or swimming, funny because I am supposed to be tapering for an upcoming event. Things always workout that way.

The last day at work was 12/21, 12/22 after lunch we headed up to my sister and brother in laws house in Fayetteville. My sister and I were so super excited, see what you don't know is that over the past eight years that she has lived there I had never visited. I reserved a hotel room at the Hilton there for Saturday and Sunday night and we were set.

Saturday morning, Nik taught and I ran with one of my best friends, Lori. We had a great run though it was freezing, 18 miles on the books for us.

Nik and I loaded up and we were off. Surprisingly traffic was not bad, we made great time, checked into our hotel and got dressed to go to my sister's house and to dinner that night at Carrabba's with her and her family. Dinner was fabulous, their treat, and dear lord the sangria there was to die for.

We went back to our hotel, slept. Had breakfast and then...went to the gym on Sunday morning.

In the afternoon we went to my sister's home and roasted hot dogs and s'mores over the fire. We baked cookies and pinwheels, drank some wine and chit chatted like the old days. And guess what was on tv, Ironman Championships 2012. We all watched it together, questions followed and I answered gladly. It was a nice treat to have them interested in something that I love.

We ended up heading out early Monday, Christmas Eve, to get back home before the masses were on the road. We made good time back home, no traffic again.

Devyn and Alex came by for a brief visit. They were talking to us about their upcoming wedding and job and such grown up stuff. They were surprised with their Christmas loot.

Christmas morning we decided we were going to volunteer somewhere, I asked a friend and found a local place so we headed out at 9:30 to go lend a hand. One of the guys from the gym came with us to volunteer.

I was armed with a scoop, Josh with a slotted spoon and Nik with a ladle. In an hour and a half that we were on the line over 500 plates were dipped. It was incredible to be part of something so small that means so much. We were thanked for giving up our Christmas morning, I had nothing else to do, it didn't feel like a sacrifice to me at all. Actually it made me feel more in the Christmas spirit than I had previously.

Other people showed up to volunteer at 11:45 so we were forced to surrender our utensils, stupid I thought but we did and we headed off to our other Christmas festivities.

1:30- Christmas lunch at my Daddy's. the food was fabulous, all veggies were grown in his garden which made them phenomenal. I enjoyed my food very much and the conversation. Except one comment that got under my skin. He asked me about my running after I made the comment to Nik that I was going to have to run 40 miles to burn off this food. Daddy asked me how far I had run? I told him, then I told him about my half ironman. He said you quit didn't you? Pissed me off to be truthful, but I said no sir, that is one thing I am not is a quitter. Conversation moved on. Sad he doesn't really know me at all.

He took us out to show us his chickens again and to feed the donkey. We left soon there after to go to Nik's mom's house for our next Christmas stop. She made finger foods which was a nice change from the big full meals we are accustomed to. We spent sometime with her and then left to go pick up Hannah from her dad.

Hannah was excited to open her presents that Santa had left her, mostly Bob Marley stuff. We just relaxed that night, Nik, Hannah and me, by the fire.

At the end of the day, we were tired, had full bellies, and were happy. What a full few months, a roller coaster of a ride, learning what is important, family and true friends, and the pursuit if happiness.

Whatever happiness means..

My definition follows:

-having a great family whether matching DNA or not
-loving what you do for a career
-raising functional children who can take care of themselves
-having food in the pantry
-being able to help others
-being and having great friends
-being physically active
-trying to mend relationships
-loving myself
-accepting myself
-finding new challenges
-learning something new every day

In a nutshell...loving every aspect of my life, accepting that it is far from perfect but it is serendipitous and I wouldn't want it any other way. The pieces of the puzzle and every person in it make it complete, there are more pieces yet to be added and I'm certain some will be removed, such is life.

I welcome, open armed 2013, a year of simplifying, reevaluation and self discovery with my own happiness project. This year I will have aged forty years, I will acquire more laugh lines, less frown lines while cultivating this thing called life. I hope to inspire more people to make changes, to be a positive example to others which helps my own personal growth.

Bring it on 2013!

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Charlotte Thunder Road 11/17/2012

Saturday, November 17, 2012
7:45 am
Charlotte, NC
Thunder Road Marathon 

The second time I have been here for the marathon distance. Third time total, once for the half marathon distance where I fell in love with this race.  But the romance truly blossomed at mile 20 ½ in December 2010, when I completed my first full marathon.  That is the dreaded wall that any runner talks about hitting or hoping not to hit when it comes to the old 26.2 mile marathon distance.  

In 2010, it was my race, I had done endless miles, crossed trained endless hours, nothing had stopped me from getting close to my goal of 4:00 marathon time.  When I started that morning, I told Nik by at the start, told Lori and Cindy, to wait at the finish line and I was off.  Before I left I told Nik that I would see him between 4:00 and 4:15 and I did just that.  I crossed the finish line at 4:10:13.  It was a glorious day with much pain after, but I was on cloud nine.

Fast forward to October 31, 2012, the day that a wrench got thrown into everything.  Listen, I am in no way making excuses for not getting in my run training but Nik and I both put our lives on hold. At 8:30 or so that morning our gym caught fire due to a faulty heater that exploded.  Lucky for us, our house didn’t go up and neither was no one injured.  But on my gosh, the damage do to smoke and fire was incredible, I did what I could to help and Nik worked tirelessly on rebuilding with help from some great people and now the gym is currently back in operation.  The next thing that was going on at the same exact time, my mother was being rushed to the Heart Hospital at Richland Memorial due to an aneurism in her heart.  She spent the next week and a half in ICU.

Skip ahead to Saturday, November 17, 2012, it is 7:25 in the morning and we are meeting Lori and her husband in the lobby of the hotel.  

My dearest friend, who is crazy enough to sign up for races with me.  Our friendship blossomed after I asked her over three years ago about helping me check off a bucket list goal of running a marathon before I turned forty.  She had been my client for years, had spoken of running often, so I asked if she would be interested in training with me.  Believe it or not she had and still does live about four miles from me, coincidence? I don’t think so.  And that is where it began, we have missed I think three runs the entire three years and three months, only because one of us was out of town.  

It is freezing, 34 degree and the north wind at 15 mph is blowing, of course a head wind…wouldn’t expect anything different.  Embrace the suck.  Charlotte’s Thunder Road Marathon is a hilly course, but I love this course and the scenery is beautiful.  Here is how the day went to the best of my knowledge, some thoughts could be impaired by endorphins or utter loopiness from the runners high.  

We start.  I had told Lori to run her own race. I don’t think it is fair to hold another runner back, even your training partner.  Every race is different. Every runner is different.  Some days are your best race, and at marathon distance anything can change at any given minute.  

Mile 1: creeps up real fast, all I kept hearing in my head is Laura Howell saying you should feel like you are running the first half too slow, so I pull back the reigns. My Garmin (though battery charge complete was flashing when I put it on)  died at mile six, was reading I slowed back to a 10 minute mile. Thanks. Laura. J 

Mile 2 through 6.2 miles, pretty uneventful, just running with Lori and enjoying the race but wishing the crowd would thin out, doesn’t happen though until the half marathon turn off at mile 12.  Maintaining my slower pace, pretty evenly.  Happy with the pace that we are going, just enjoying the day. 

Mile 8:  In the mind of a marathoner, this one any way, I think only 18.2 more to go! Warped I know but just hold on, it gets better. 
Mile 10:  At the actual mile marker, a guy is laying on the ground, unconscious.  Someone is with him, but how terrifying,  we get on down the road and here the cops who are directing traffic for us calling for help.  Then we hear the ambulance,  not what we want to hear or see.

Mile 11: Just another mile

Mile 12: Here’s the split, half marathoners to the right, marathoners straight ahead.  The crowd thins and as we turn off we can hear the crowd cheering for those cheering for the finishers at the half marathon.  

Half marathon split 2:11.

Now the countdown to the 26.2 begins. 

The next few miles tend to speed by kind of like rapid fire. 

Miles 14 thru 18 and then I tend to get a little sad, only 8 miles left.

Mile 19, I start to wonder, am I going to hit the wall, face plant into it, not be able to finish the race?   Is my stomach going to flip?   Am I going to have to walk the finish?  Then I start to count my steps, 1,2,3,4,1,2,3,4.…yes, repetitious but its my step partner that keeps my breathing regulated.  

Mile 20 thru 24.2 and the whole reason I just love this race, the course and the people of Charlotte…at Mile 20 ½ there is “The Wall Party!”  There is a wall constructed for us to run through, with both sides of the road filled with cheering people, on the other side…starts the beer tables, Chocolate milk tables, random people with table of orange slices, strawberries.  Signs that read “ 26.2 because 26.3 would be insane”  and  “Chuck Norris never did a marathon”  and “Run faster so you can get the last Twinkie.”  The streets are colored with chalk all the way to Mile 23 ½.  The crowd is loud and cheering, they come from their houses and the reception is intoxicating, they make the whole race worth running.  There is music ranging from “Rocky Top” to the Rocky Theme Song, “Super Freak,” “Push It,” and those are just the ones I can remember.  

At Mile 24.2, a cop is holding a piece of typing paper with “Only 2 more miles” written on it.  I smiled. I can do this, Lori can do this.  We got this. We got this, it is almost over.  I feel like I can do anything, probably even fly… 

Mile 25 + a lady says up the hill and around the corner and you will see the finish.  I look at Lori and ask her if she can hear them, the cheering we can hear the finish line, everyone is waiting on all us crazy marathoners to finish. All of us crazy people who pay to torture ourselves, to ache after, to give up endless hours of our lives to be on the road in constant training, to sacrifice time with our families due to long runs and dedication to the sport…yes, all those at the finish line are the ones who support us crazy runner people,, they are cheering and waiting to celebrate with each of us whether a first time finisher or an old pro…each finish comes with a sense of accomplishment and a healthy dose of endorphins knows as the runners high.

Oh the sweet taste of adrenaline…

I can see the Finish Line, hear the crowd and then I hear my name…Pam Rodriguez from Elgin, SC, strong finish.  I crossed that finish line at 4:35 and though it was not my best marathon time, it was probably one of my proudest moments because I had had such a rough three weeks, my training had stopped mostly, and my stress level and anxiety were through the roof.  But when I hit the road on Saturday morning at 7:45 am, I had no expectation but just a strong desire to run and to smile which had been missing from my face for the last three weeks.  It was a care free few hours I had with my best friend and “sole sister” Lori. 

 After I crossed the finish line, got my blanket and medal, had my chip removed. I stopped and turned around to wait and watch Lori cross the finish line.  I rushed to her, walked with her to the snacks and water areas and got Nik to get her some ice for her knee.  We both had a great day.  

This marathon made my marathon total three for the year.  What a year is all I can say.

While we were standing at the finish I asked her if she was coming back to Charlotte next year, she said yes. I said that I was too.

The aftermath of this race has not been as bad as before.  Usually I need a lot of assistance post marathon, not this time.  I can walk up and downstairs, dress myself and put my own shoes on, sit Indian style and sit on the toilet without wincing!  All big pluses. I had no swelling post race, no stomach flip, no nausea, no joint pain and a lot of smiles and overload of endorphins.  

I love to run, as if it weren’t already apparent and I sincerely cannot wait to cross the next finish line, even if it is the imaginary one that is in front of my mailbox.  

Many thanks to my sweet supportive husband, who is a worry wart J but I wouldn’t have him be any other way.  He is always so proud of me, sometimes I think more than I am about my accomplishments.  He’s the love of my life and my biggest fan and cheerleader. I am one lucky girl. Thanks, Nik.

Post race, we go to our room, Lori and Greg in tow… I have a surprise. I had a cake made for us to celebrate.  It had a banner that had the name of the marathon and silhouettes of two runner girls with ponytails.  The front said “Sole Sisters 26.2” and along the bottom a quote that Lori had said to me when she was getting me through my first half marathon when I wanted to quit…”Pain is temporary, quitting is forever.”

After a brief rest, we all went to dinner at Vida, a great little restaurant in the Epicenter.  Then we ate cake…

I wouldn’t trade yesterday for the world, I needed that run and I needed my Sole Sister and our supportive husbands. What a great day and as I sit here and blog a twinkle in my eye and a grin on my lips, I am happy, anxiety has subsided and soreness is minimal.     

Everything happens for a reason, people come into our lives for a purpose, not by accident and I know for a fact…running can change your life. It has mine. 

Monday, October 8, 2012

Back to basics eating...

With racing season being in full gear, life in full swing and honestly going way too fast, I am a firm believer in questioning everything as of late which led to a discovery that in apart had changed the way  I treat my body.  Do not misconstrue what was just typed as that I will be backing down from training which couldn't be further from the truth, quite the opposite.  What I meant was the fuel that I will be putting in to my body has changed drastically.

I have not always had the healthiest relationship with food, so I am not one who has to have great taste and for years my meals consisted of protein shakes and bars throughout the day and one "whole food" meal at night for dinner. In doing this to myself, I started to encounter stomach issues, skin issues and energy issues.  So I started reading ingredients and evaluating what I was doing with the "nutrients" that I was ingesting.  Upon evaluating, I started to look at energy levels in my workouts and figuring out what would be conducive to  my lifestyle, cost, availability and convenience.  

Upon such discovery I decided to dive, head first into Paleo.  It is a concept of eating whole foods, non-processed food. Meats, vegetables and fruits, and seeds and nuts.   Basically a high fat, low carb diet, devoid of grains, sugar, dairy, gluten where foods are in their purest form.  

In this quest for a balance in my life, I have been trying a different vegetable weekly to not get bored but to also broaden my choices.  So far I have tried and might I add liked the following new foods:
Spaghetti squash
Butternut squash
Beet Chips
Almond butter

The internet is a huge help with finding recipes as not to get easily tired and new seasonings for meats and salads and veggies.

Some perks I have already noticed following:

  • Once I detoxed off caffeine and sugar, I haven't had a craving for it.
  • I gave up dairy, but the other day decided I was going to have a bit on a pizza and was doubled over with stomach craps, and bloated immediately.  Not worth eating cheese!
  • I had my cycle, which before my nutrition evaluation was completely ridiculous and painful. When I had it this past month, no pain, no cramps, only knew it was on the way because I track it.  
  • My race times have improved.
  • Recovery time has diminished.
  • and biggest perk...Abdominal muscles are showing.

Let me reiterate that following the Paleo plan is not easy nor is it cheap but it is definitely worth it. It takes a lot of planning, prep work and cooking.  Organization is a must.  

Most Mondays I spend cooking my food for the week.  It is well worth the time as I am never tempted to just raid the fridge because I have healthy options available. Planning is a must.  

Anybody who is reading this blog already knows my personality, I have no gray area, so I am extreme in every aspect of my life. So if you are interested in trying this way of eating don't beat yourself up if you slip, but you will definitely feel the difference if you do. 

Nik teases me and calls me granola but whatever, I feel better than I have in a long time.  I have started making my own chicken stock, growing herbs, planning our vegetable garden for next summer and our compost pile.  

I'm pretty excited to just be able to go outside and grab fresh vegetables.  It is definitely going to be an adventure. I am excited and looking forward to starting new thing, trying even more new foods.  We now shop the perimeter of the grocery store. 

Here are some of my favorite websites and blogs for doable Paleo recipes..

Monday, September 3, 2012

First the trail, then the road and the power of positive people...i heart running....

Another two races in one weekend, not the same day but equally as taxing having raced 16.2 miles total, one 10 mile Xterra trail and a 10k road race.    I know it doesn’t sound like much, however, when done close together but having downtime between, two days to be exact, soreness has time to creep in.  I prefer double racing the same day.  

Davidson, North Carolina had me salivating as we were driving to the race venue, the streets had people being active, runner, cyclists, bike lanes, side walks.  Oh if only we were so lucky here, there were other road races going on during the time that I was doing the trail. It is a beautiful place. I cannot wait to go back next year.  It reminded me of Cary, NC.

The trail course was beautiful as always it is, well what I can see usually looking down or else I will end up flat on my face, trippage, is inevitable.  This trail was different in that it was dryer than the previous trails that I have been on.  The other thing that stood out was that it was like being on a rollercoaster and jumping over thing in the path, made for an interesting event.  The venue was so quaint, it started in what looked like someone’s yard.  Set up crew was great.  

This race differed for me as well because, I was determined to run the whole thing.  It is really hard to start back once I stop on any kind of race, but trails especially, I haven’t figured out why yet, maybe just the break in concentration and focus.  Two weeks ago on a previous double race day, the first one of its kind for me, I had done a 10K where I had determined that I was running the whole thing, the end. I was able to and finished faster than I thought. So, 10 miles, I can do this.  I did.  

My trail experience is so limited, being very new to trail but loving the challenge all the same, improvements are being seen each time. If I am smiling after, it was a good race.  I was beaming.  

My first trail, which I am completely nuts insert disclaimer here, was a half marathon. Yes, what was I thinking, in July, the 8th to be exact and when temperatures are well over 100 degrees. I just counted, that was 8 weeks ago, holy crap. Well, Saturday’s was my fourth one, good gosh. 

Now I just really got excited, literally…adrenaline junky, who me? Haha! 
Following is the reason for my excitement: 

Date     Race                               Finish Time
July 8 -     Harbison Xterra SC 13.1       3:02
July 15     Xterra NC Whitewater  12K   1:45
August 18 6.2 mile Trail Challenge Whitewater 1:02
September 1 Xterra NC 10 miler Fisher Farm 2:05

I get obsessed by certain things and have to see the progress, poor Nik.
I just squealed, silly I know but, I love competition, against who, myself.  I want to improve me and I am.    My times aren’t anywhere near good and I have a really high expectation of myself, there is always room for improvement. 

Which brings me to my next race but a realization all the same. I went with my friend Lori and her daughter.  Katy was running her first 10k this morning.  I know how I felt when my daughter and niece ran with me, it is a special moment. I had agreed to sign up, the race was for the fallen soldiers charity, so a great cause for a holiday run.  

It was hot today, but it is September in South Carolina, could be 70 degrees, could be 110.  It was a hot run, no shade, and I admit I was sore, more sore than I had thought.  But whatever, this run was just for fun and to support Katy running her first race and a great way to spend a holiday morning. I also had had way to much fun at the Latin Festival yesterday so I was hungover running it as well, yes I admit it. I indulged way too much on Sunday.  Woke up at 3am to take ibuprofen for my pounding skull and electrolyte tablets to help me over the hump.  I know better but, needed to let my hair down a little bit, having not had a drink since May. Any way. I didn't die, lesson learned maybe. Moving on...

What made today even more special was that I got to see so many people I haven’t seen in so long. Everybody is so busy for whatever reason, I am, just with life and living it.  I ran into so many people, but oddly enough we just picked up where we left off.  Everyone seemed to be fairing well, as was evident by the smiles on their faces.  It truly was a good day.  Being surrounded by some of the most positive people I know, and have the privilege to know, makes life a lot more enjoyable.  Let me explain.  Athletes of all levels were there today.  Honestly, they cheer just as loudly for the last place as the first place. Why?  Because it took the last person as much if not more work to get to the start line as it did the first place person.  I am always encouraged by this group of people.  The power of positive people, changes lives… 

And I just found out I got 3rd in my Age Group (35-39) this morning. Katy, Lori’s daughter finished first in her age group.  

Living life to it's fullest everyday...having more smile lines than frown lines, and sparkling eyes...what a great life I have. 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

A First Double Dip: Playing Duck Hunt, ditching the Garmin 305, relaxing for the end is in clear view, and pushing forward…

A Double Dip:

August 18, 2012

Racing two races in two different states in one day, insane, yes probably.   Just what the adrenaline junkie needed, oh yeah.  (Still on the endorphin high from yesterday.)

Well my first adventure was at the Charlotte Whitewater Center, the event:  10K Trail Challenge.  Race start time was 8:30, we drove up that morning leaving the house at 6:15.  The usual breakfast of eggs, sunbutter and a rice cake accompanied by a large glass of water.  

All things packed for race the night before including my camelbak.  Ever since the Xterra Half Marathon in July, where the water stop ran out of water, I do not do a trail race without my trusty pack, no matter the distance.  

The race starts, temperature is 66 degrees, pretty much perfect.  The sun is hidden behind the fog and clouds that are starting to burn off and the shade from the trees makes the temperature upon entering the trail even cooler.  As with any run, the body heats up quickly so no extra clothes needed.  Music blaring at the start was hair metal….oh yeah…going to be a great race.  

Having still only done a couple trail races, literally two, I always allow for extra time just because I have to have a goal, which was 1 hour 20 minutes.  (I didn’t realize how much my Garmin was limiting me, I just wear a watch now, it helps me relax and just enjoy what I am doing, at the moment.)  

The race was pretty uneventful, the scenery was beautiful as always, however, trail racing requires focus to be on the ground and not really looking around as fall are inevitable.  I could hear crickets all around me, frogs, and just the sounds that are so relaxing, they bring a smile to my face.  This race was different for me, I had decided I was not going to walk, I was going to push further than I had before. Convince the mind that the body is willing, and I did.  I ran the whole thing. My mantra was: relax and enjoy the moment, you are doing what you love, breathe, relax, repeat. 

 I also fell in love with my Brooks PureGrits.  Charlotte trails are slick red clay, even slicker due to the rain we have had lately.  Rooty, rocky, steep climbs, mostly single track with several jumps involved, my shoes made a huge difference, my footing was certain, and no foot pain today.  

Even more proud was I that I had finished the race in 1:02, 18 minutes faster than I had allowed myself. 

It was a great morning.  

Part Two

I had seen an add for the Springdale 5k advertised and I had always wanted to try it, so Friday afternoon I signed up. What the world was I thinking?  I was thinking that I am in marathon training and what better way to get my mileage in with other people so that I would push myself harder. Yes that is my thought process, and yes it worked.   

Last night 6:45pm, 90 degrees, no trees to block the brutal sun, grass on a horse track, no spring in my step and three water stops for a 5k, it was hot.  

I was surprised at the start, my friend Cindy was there and her husband, Kevin.  We walked over to the start and in true Pam fashion, I had not even bothered to look at any course map.  Oh well it is just for fun, it was flat, not my favorite, but it was on anything but asphalt so yahoo!

I saw a ton of folks I hadn’t seen in a while, got to chat a bit. We lined up and the race started, garminless I have no clue where I am, time wise, I was just running.  The first loop was done, water stop, sip water, pour over head. Next mile, done, sip water, pour overhead.  

Approaching the last mile, I am going to play Duck Hunt.  Coach G would say there’s your rabbit, chase it, catch it, pass it.  I played Duck Hunt instead.  The finish is in sight, plain view, push and pass.  Target in sight, aim, explode, pass, repeat…next.  I continued until I was crossing the line.  

As we were leaving the last race Nik asked me how I had liked double dipping, I said I loved it! It definitely will not be the last. We headed by Food Lion because I wanted peanut butter ice cream, and then we were couch bound! 

About an hour later I get a text from Cindy, saying that I had won first place age group for the Springdale 5k.  She had my trophy! I was elated.  She had won third place herself! 

Today as I looked at the standings from yesterday, I had finished 6th in my age group in the Charlotte 10k Trail Race and 1st place AG at the Springdale 5K cross country race.  Not too shabby, but was all for fun.

I am thankful everyday to have a supportive husband who always is with me at the races, waiting for me to finish, who carts me around from race to race.  Sometimes I think he is more proud than I am, in fact I know he is. 

The one thing I am certain about, I love running, I love the challenge,  I love the feeling of crossing finish lines, I love the discipline it takes to get to the start lines.  When training for runs, nothing can be substituted for running.  

Through running I have learned more about myself.  Running allows me freedom - mentally, spiritually and physically.  Finding my love for running, is one of the best things that has ever happened to me. Having support system at home is priceless.  

Two races, two states in one day…what a great way to spend a Saturday.  

Monday, July 16, 2012

Xterra NC - 6 days after the first, No watch=no limitations!

July 14, 2012

Start of Xterra NC 
The days of road running may be closer to an end than I thought.  I quite possibly may have replaced it with trails. Much more serene, laid back and more mentally challenging than ever, I never thought in my old age that I would be drawn back to the days of my childhood of playing in the woods. I thought I had outgrown such things that I would refer to as simple.  It is so nice to feel like I am playing and due to the fact that everything I do is for such a long amount of time, playing is a wonderful thing. 

Well this trail race is number two in my whole four times on a true trail, why not make the fourth another race, another longish race.  Like my thought process? To me if I am not challenged, uncomfortable and out of my zone of comfort, I feel like I am wasting time. 

I digress for just a paragraph or two.  When I was young, I had my first child, I was seventeen.  Until a few years ago my life revolved around my children. The older they get, the more freedom I have to explore.  I get to go back and do the thing that I didn't get to do years ago. Now I am more daring, fearless, and throw caution to the wind. 

Trail running (and I am just a novice with a lot of grit) has taught me already that I am smarter than I thought. Who knew I would be able to run, while trail marker spotting, watching all around me and managing to not fall this time in completely foreign areas. Trail is one time that I am not worried about speed, just enjoying myself.  I set out and have in my mind what I would like to do but if it doesn't happen not the end of the world.  The first Xterra, I only missed my goal by 2 minutes, the second one (because I had no watch) I beat by 15 minutes. Let me just say that the trail at Harbison is technically more challenging than the Whitewater Center in Charlotte, however the red clay and the fact that it had rained all week in Charlotte made caution flags come up regularly during the race. 

I had the privilege to see a gray fox run across the trail and a wasp nest that stopped me dead in my tracks because I couldn't figure out if the tree had a fungus or if it was a nest, nest it was. Any run I do is a privilege, I do not take it for granted. 

We began the trek up to Charlotte's Whitewater Center. Having no clue that the destination was closer than we thought, near the airport, we left early to give us plenty of time. It was foggy and I was thinking great, rain and Nik and Irma would be outside waiting on me. We arrived. Small group as I had expected, all different ages, all extremely fit. I get my packet, pin on my number and wait. The set up group, Dirty Spokes, did a fantastic job. Start and finish ended at this covered area where bathrooms and changing rooms were attached. Eased my mind a bit, at least they would be sheltered if there was rain. The clouds start to burn off and the sun appears, start time is near.  My goal was two hours for this race but guess what I had forgotten, my watch, so I was just going to go.

Ready, set, GO! 

All of us loop into the woods, and then come to a screeching halt. Single track, no passing, should have staggered the race for those who are faster and want to place. Walking continued for a bit and then we were off.  Miles one and two, I am thinking that I have lost my mind completely, my muscles are tired.  I blow it off.  There are two distances in the race, the shorter distance is running with us and turns off at mile three. I can hear the crowd cheering and have to go the opposite direction, gah! We had been told at the start that if we chose to take the shorter route and were signed up for the longer distance that we would get a DNF (did not finish) and nope, not happening, unless I had to be hauled out and listen I would put up a good fight. 

I shook off mile three turn off and trudge along, where the trail is all red clay and boulders, roots too numerous to count and dips and ruts and drop offs that required jumping and did I mention that it had rained all week. Rain all week and red clay with steep descents equals slippery terrain. We had been also warned to "Embrace the Suck" of certain parts of the race which ended up not being less difficult than Harbison, maybe because I was prepared for the worst. The funniest part was the mile stretch called "The Toilet Bowl" which spiraled down and at the bottom was an old toilet. "Goat Hill" was supposed to be the most challenging part however, compared to "Spider woman" in Harbison, not so much.  

Along the way I met a lady, Nancy was her name, aged 57 years. (I am learning every time I do something that age is merely a number.) Along the route she and I discussed many things, her two full Ironman finishes within the last 3 years, her many half ironman finishes, two completions of marathons, her taking up stand up paddle boarding last year, about her husband who is an incredible athlete (seriously 3 time Kona qualifying under his belt) and their 34 year old son and grand children. She told me about vacationing in Guatemala and roasting marshmallows over the volcano coals. We both talked about how we wished we had done the shorter distance so we would feel like playing at the center after (we both said playing simultaneously).  She said turn around I need to see your hair, and then squealed, we both had braided ponytails, she said our meeting was meant to be. Throughout the course she told me I could pass, I told her nope, I'm just gonna ride in your back pocket and ride in her back pocket is what I did. Over and under and through the trail until we see the parking lot, the covered area and the finish! Yahoo! Yahoo except the finish ends up a gravel road, embrace the suck! 

Well, I finished, yet another one, and a third is already in sight. Mentally taxing, cruelly demanding on the body, more sweat than can be fathomed and memories that will last a lifetime. 

When I am on trail, I feel like a kid, so free and though there is a determination in my eye there is also a twinkle there, a spark and a swell of pride that is immeasurable.

My friend, Nancy and  me at the finishing

Oh the lure of the trail...

Monday, July 9, 2012

Xterra, Hunger Games, Grit Prevails, again...

Embarked on another new adventure yesterday, Xterra Trail Series Harbison Race, a challenging trail half-marathon, that is HILLY!!

Always searching for a new challenge, new territory to explore and as a fellow adrenaline junky said " you live the life of - Do something that makes you uncomfortable everyday - I think she summed me up pretty well.

When we sit still, we become stagnant and you know what stagnant does? Smells bad, grows algae and mold and attracts mosquitoes, hmmm? Chew on that for a bit, I choose not to just be, thanks.

Here is the elevation chart:
And I love hills. Well, got up, had breakfast, filled my camelbak (which would be a lifesaver), removed my first aid kit (dumb idea), added in my sports beans w/o caffeine, packed my post race beer, knee socks, braided hair and bandanna.  Ready to roll to Harbison Park!

Excitement is looming but to digress for just a sec to Saturday afternoon.  Nik and I went to HalfMoon Outfitters to pick up my packet because I was borderline losing my mind from having to rest, then decided to eat at Mellow Mushroom (yummo) and then head home.

As we are eating lunch I get a text from Lori that read, "picked up my packet, going to church tonight in case I die tomorrow, I'm good." May have been the best text I ever received.  My friend Lori is a devout Catholic, sometimes I call her to ask her to cut church on Sunday to run with me.  She does but usually will attend on Saturday instead of cutting church all together.  My two best friends are polar opposites and let me tell you there is never a dull moment. Here's Melinda, we are in Puerto Rico of course already drinking and she looks down the beach and sees something that looks like a baptism going on.  What does my friend do? In a bikini, beer in hand, has to go see what's going on. Those two girls mean the world to me. 

We are definitely a motley crew. So we are off at the start after having to walk 2 miles to the start, I mean seriously that is a long walk, (go ahead and laugh) and then once we get there, yeah only a two stall bathroom for all us women who are well hydrated meaning we all have to pee.  Well we started off by peeing in the woods before the race started because they were calling us all to line up for the official start and National Anthem. Follow red flags through the trail in the forest and we are off!!!

It was all our first trail race, I had signed up a while ago, then Melinda signed and then Lori and what an adventure we were about to have.  First thing I notice at the start of the race, trail races are small scale, I would assume because of safety issues and traffic on course, and everyone seemed nice. Trails are marked with red flags, like landscaping flags, miles are not marked every mile, thank god, and aid stations are fewer than road races.

The first few miles were just getting a feel for what was going on around me, meaning, narrow trail, rocks, roots, pinestraw, sand, red clay, trying to find footing while making sure I was paying attention to what was overhead, beside me and below me. Trail is much more than mindless running where I can just zone out and go through the motion of running. On trail, focus is key, so being aware of everything even remembering to drink was taxing on me.  (I forgot to mention that at 6 am yesterday the temperature was 80 degrees.)  I am running along and here comes Lori, she had fallen skinned up both knees. Poor thing was bleeding. Kept running, we met a guy who was talking Lori's ears off, I didn't talk much, I don't usually unless I need distraction. The landscape out there was so beautiful, untouched somewhat, downed trees that I must confess I wanted to walk across of dance like "Dirty Dancing" but I had to stay on task.  

Running on through narrow winding trails, getting to watch the sun come up during the beginning, not too much can be better, well damn that root jumped up and grabbed my foot and wham, I am falling not regaining footing, falling...slide, ouch. I regroup, look around, nobody was insight, scraped thigh, knee and elbow. I get up and start again.  Here comes Lori, I said I fell too! We both laughed. So we are running on and come upon these ruts where we have to kind of bounce from one leg to the other to get through this part.   Lori said that she was glad she had been playing Dance Dance Revolution because those dance moves were helping  her out. I said well I'm being a ninja on Ninja Warrior. We both laugh and trudge on. 

Curiosity was killing Lori about where we were and in my experience with trail, usually I don't want to know as on trail, distance is hard to judge. Well we get to a mile marker 3ish is what it said, I swear it was more like 6 but 3ish it is. Moving on, miles passed, water stops passed, people passed, we passed people, water stops without water were passed, direct sunshine was encountered. Dear lord it was hot and Lori and I start having delirious conversations.  I said I feel like I'm on a reality show, she said, the Hunger Games, and we are waiting on the storms and wild animals, because at the moment we are in baking sun. We laugh and keep  going.  I look at her and tell her if she never speaks to me again after this race I completely understand.

Then we are at mile 9, I think. The sweetest children in the world helped us, no I wasn't hallucinating, we were at a waterstop and these kids filled up my camelbak and were so attentive. We met a couple from Ireland there. I told Lori we just met a leprechaun, she said yep, our good luck. 

Dave and Me
Mile 11. Only two more to go and them .1ish.  There was a lot if "ish" out on trail, ish. :) Then there was 12 and 13. The course was wrapped around and looped and curved that when you were on one trail you would see the next, very deceiving as it appeared the end was nearer than it was in actuality. ("Is this real life?")  The cars, the finish and the gazebo were in plain view however the red flags did not lead me to it, they lead me parallel and cross ways beside. I had met up with a guy named Dave out there. I said to him that if I could I would cut straight across this and just go to the finish but I wouldn't be able to live with myself for cheating. 

Then the field we had started in, the finish clock is somewhere ahead of me, I scream, "Where the hell do we go?" And I am told to run straight for the clock, I proceed. I hear Nik, calling my name. I finished.  I finished my first (it will not be my last) Xterra Half-marathon.

Lori, Melinda and I finish within minutes of each other. We all hugged, got our shirts, laughed about experiences on the trail.

The Coldplay song "Fix You" was playing at the end. What a great Sunday, to spend with my best girls, three supportive husbands and children in tow.  Beer in the truck and Hudson's BBQ for lunch and  yes we went to lunch dirty, smelly and still drenched in sweat, and we wore our Xterra shirts to boot.

Lori, Me and Melinda
The greatest friendships are built on the road and even better ones on the trail. Another one down, everyone survived, grit prevailed, again.

By the way...they are both still speaking to me. :)

 Until next time...happy trails to you until we meet again!

"Fix You"

When you try your best but you don't succeed
When you get what you want but not what you need
When you feel so tired but you can't sleep
Stuck in reverse

And the tears come streaming down your face
When you lose something you can't replace
When you love someone but it goes to waste
Could it be worse?

Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you

And high up above or down below
When you're too in love to let it go
But if you never try you'll never know
Just what you're worth

Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you

Tears stream down your face
When you lose something you cannot replace
Tears stream down your face
And I will try to fix you

Tears stream down your face
I promise you I will learn from my mistakes
Tears stream down your face
And I will try to fix you

Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you...

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Knee socks, a trail, and a camelpak…Oh MY! On-On!

Well, who would have thought I could find something else to entertain all my spare time, because I have so much. I did, and it is called trail running.  The lure of trail is something so new to me and so intriguing, almost difficult to put into words. 

Imagine this, no matter the temperature, time of day, due to shade and the ever so faithful camelpak, running is doable. Imagine having to be so focused in the moment, that thoughts can not veer, your mind cannot wander, the focus is straight ahead, the next marking, the tree root underfoot, snake or rock or downed tree, limb overhead, or drop off. Imagine it, being constantly in the moment, no cars sounds, no music, only nature.

Poetry in motion. I never thought I would be observant enough to run trail.  Here is a phrase that came out of my mouth during a recent trail run with my friend, "Stay behind me, I will keep us on trail." Weirdest thing because I, in the past, would have never dared take the lead. Pretty proud moment actually.

Embarking on a new adventure, always makes me giddy and if it be difficult, all the better.  It makes my poor husband nervous, but we bartered this time.  I will keep my phone in  my camelpak, which is so nifty it has pockets to keep stuff, and that I will check in throughout the race Sunday. I also keep it with me when I'm on trail, poor guy. I have been told by a dear friend that I am a lot to handle. Whatevs!

Oh this always happens, I blog about it and start daydreaming about being on the hill in Sesqui that I call the stairs. (Insert pout here.) I wish I was there right now instead of taking the afternoon off so I can go to the gm in the morning.

Then there is this group of the most delightful drinkers with a running problem that I have been so fortunate to encounter. They are the Hashers. Every other Saturday and on opposing Sundays and on Full Moons, a group of knee sock wearing, beer drinking folks, show up at the designated spot, at the determined time and trail run from one stop to the next. The Hounds chase a Hare through the trail that the hare has marked, watching for symbols, signs, toilet paper, and the most wonderful one, BN or Bcheck. It is all in good fun, which is what I want to do, have fun and wear knee socks.

Happy Trails!


NFHN Pam :)

Monday, April 30, 2012

The Crusher Run, My Momma and a First Place AG Finish!

My Momma and Me - Pre Race

Titled the most challenging foot race of it's type in South Carolina, The Olympia Crusher Run, through the granite mine, down in and up and out, 3.8 miles, 375 feet below sea level. Yeah buddy!

To have been such a small event, the precursor to the Olympia festival, a few people, 190 participants, headed to the start line. I had no clue what I was in for except that I knew the ending was touted to be steep and the entire race on gravel and sand. Sounded pretty fantastic to me, why not?

At the start, fantastic hair metal was playing, the master of ceremonies was wearing a fake mustache and looked like a circus ringmaster, I was looking for his whip and lion. The group was eclectic, some familiar faces and being there without someone running with me, I actually socialized. Close your mouth, I know, shocker, but I did.

The start was flat, about .3 miles of it and the epic downhill battle began,  controlling not flying the hill but also watching knees and ankles on gravel, and fear of falling. Quad burnout could be detrimental, because the climb out, people there is no other way out. Down, down, down to the bottom and then back up, focus in front or I would be defeated at the mountainous terrain ahead. Just do the damn thing, is all I could do.

Well I finished, had no clue where I was time wise, I did hear Kick Start my Heart playing when I finished.  When Jeremy said stay for the awards. I stayed and guess what, I took first place in age group. I had fun, My Momma was there to cheer me on, my husband was ecstatic at home.

The Crusher Run was important to me and kind of a landmark race per say:
1) Nik didn't take me.
2) My Momma went with me to watch me race for the first time.
3) I had no goal except to have fun.
4) Hold on to your seat...I didn't wear my Garmin 305.
5) the distance was shorter than I usually run.