Sunday, January 12, 2014

Tybee Island, The Hunger Games, another 50k and a peace only a fellow runner would understand...

What a weekend, it began with my youngest daughter, Hannah finishing up her last day of high school which I might add she graduated half year early.  

Friday morning we packed everything to be ready to go on a weekender that would consist of a race for me and then some time, just the two of us, getting some relaxation.

When I got off work, I picked her up, and we were Tybee Island bound. Neither of us had been to Tybee so our trip was going to be nothing short of fun, and an adventure.    

The drive down to Savannah first, I had to pick up my packet at Fleet Feet, was rainy, sometimes downpours. But it was beautiful, Savannah that is, Hannah loves the Spanish moss and the old trees as do I. Her face lit up as we drove. 

Such a pretty place, Savannah and then Tybee, Hannah and I also liked Beaufort when we were there a few weeks ago for Mad Marsh.  We decided we could surely live in the area.

We got onto Tybee, had spotted the Fort Pulaski National monument, where the race began and ended and checked into our hotel. Such nice people there as well, we had been upgraded to an oceanfront room, even though rainy and foggy, can't really go wrong with an ocean front room. 

Hannah picked the place for dinner, a little dive around the corner from the hotel. We ate and went back to the room, curled up in bed and watched TV until we fell asleep.

Alarms set, race gear ready...checking the weather...not looking good. It's only rain though, builds character. 

Race Day:

It started later than when I'm used to, so sleeping til almost six was kind of a small luxury.  The first alarm went off "purple rain" was blaring on the radio, the second one, "lost yourself" yep, yep, going to be a great day regardless the weather. Opened the shutters and threw back the sash...kidding, opened the sliding glass door and what appeared? Rain and fog...and wind...oh joy. 

Hannah opted out after I gave her the option, so she relaxed while I ran my race. I knew I'd be fine to drive back after any way. Couldn't much blame her!

I drove to the race venue,  parked walked to the start line. Saw a bunch of people from other ultras (other special kinda of idiots) and just chit chatted for a bit.

Pre-race meeting, National Anthem and we were off. 50k distance on a foggy day, temperatures hovering around 65 and humidity out the wazoo with a strong wind that only got worse but that wind is the very thing that kept the rain away. 

I have six laps to complete. My best 50k time at the start of Rails to Trails was 5:53:13. I wanted in under six hours for this one, I figured out what I had to do each lap under in order to reach that goal. Game plan set. And remember a slow jog is faster than a walk and you don't need to walk the last lap, that's psychological, actually it's the last mile according to Ray but, I meant business today. 

I love the course, especially the bridge part because I love a hill and running on the road. After three laps, I was at 2:43. And I felt good, really good. No falling apart, no bonking. I am growing my super power of thinking. Sugar is my friend. Gummy bears, coke and full strength Gatorade, my race fuel. 

The next three laps were pretty much the same, didn't walk any of it either on the course, just while passing through the aid stations.  Support was fantastic. Support on the roads was fantastic.

Somewhere between miles the cannon on the fort fired as I passed by it, first after I was scared enough to jump all over, I began laughing. No what my first thought was? Another one has died! (The Hunger Games) don't get all upset, it's in a book! Later when I mentioned it to Hannah, she asked me did my first thought go to someone dying, I said yes it was! She said though it would have been. She laughed!

I had a great race, and imagine that I had decided that if at the third loop, if the rain started I may not complete the race. Once I got past the third loop, there was no way I was going to stop. The wind kept picking up. Over the bridge, was becoming more challenging every time and I love a walking. None. Don't even think about it. Slow jog, no walking. Push, go, over halfway. And I did. I felt good.

I felt strong the whole way. Not something I'd experienced at the 50k distance, caught my rhythm at mile 22, I've learned that after about 18 miles I double my sugar intake, no water, just Gatorade or some electrolyte drink, nothing void of calories. 

It was a good day. Though foggy, humid, gloomy, the sun was shining on me. I was running, I was filled with peace while in motion. Stillness in motion, my mind was calm, still, and for close to six hours I was able to escape, to go to my special place in the quiet of my mind while exerting energy, propelling forward.

The melodious sound of my feet pounding the pavement while my breathing is in rhythm, the sound of birds, the water, fellow runners smiling, and the overwhelming feeling of accomplishment. It doesn't get much better than this...or maybe it does. 

I finished this race with a 9 minute pr, 5:44:38. Felt strong and smiling. 

I finished up the weekend with a two mile jog Saturday, 3 mile beach run Sunday before breakfast. 

Hannah and I spent so quality time together. Eating, getting tattooed and just talking. 

We finished off our Sunday spending part of the day with my mom and then ice skating with my cousins. What a fun weekend!


Sunday, January 5, 2014

Another 50k, Spiderwoman, Fraggle Rock, Sugar galore and a 10 year old little girl...,

Well another one is in the books, no tears as of yet. No mourning the run finish. A conversation was had on trail yesterday, I don't even remember with whom, however, a guy who I'd been running with a while said something to the effect that he couldn't wait to finish. I quickly said, I hate the finish. He looked at me like I was in some state of delirium. I explained that I enjoy all the hard miles so much during the training process, I get sad when the finish comes. 

Thankfully this time as I finished yesterday's race, I have other goals, near by and in clear view. Certainly helps my emotional state, well the day is still young so we shall see if I continue without the full on sob of mourning the run.

Yesterday's race was much different. So much has been going on in my life, I started the race alone, finished alone, nothing negative but just a thought. As I was running I was having such a great time, felt free, like a ten year old little girl running through the woods. I braided my hair that morning, so I really did feel like a kid.

 I giggled many times during the day as once I was running by some pine trees with droopy needles, immediately thought of the characters off Fraggle Rock. 

I laughed too as I was getting food from the aid stations. I remembered Ray telling me do not waste space in your stomach with liquid void of calories. So the food and beverage of choice, coke, gummy bears, and Gatorade (with sugar.) I kept my wits about me, brain needs sugar to think and the muscles need glycogen to function. One word: sugar. I may have "ability to think" as a super power. :)

At about mile 22 I caught my second wind. Started going around a few people. A guy way walking, moved over on the trail and said "girl, I guess you caught your second wind." I had. 

I ran, kicked Spiderwoman and Spiderwoman II in the butt, fell twice as it had rained so the trail was slick, laughed a lot, met some really cool people and had several hours of stress relief. 

My phone died somewhere around mile 10, which made me angry at first but then I was relieved because I couldn't be bothered. 

How in the world could putting my body through 31 miles be relaxing? Running is the only time that I am able to focus on the present, live in the moment, that's why. 

Life is so full of what ifs, planning ahead (I'm a schedule junky) and so much grown up issues (thumbs down) that when I can escape to the trail or road for a chunk of time, I can be free, concentrate on nothing but the run and have some natural Xanax. 

Running is my drug of choice, adrenaline, sweet adrenaline, the thrill of the challenge, and showing others that with work anything can be done.

No, running is not for everyone, though would be a shame not to give it a go, but find your own calm. Your natural Xanax.

I find so much peace in the physical, the motion, the taxing of the body, the release. There is great comfort and stillness in motion. 

There are days when I know that if I don't get to run, I will lose my mind, so I find a way to run, whether at night or super early in the morning. Running is my passion, distance, I love, pushing the distance, my goal and chasing the distance...a lifestyle. 

Harbison 50k was the beginning of my quest for ultra glory (joke btw) it was an attempt that I completed. It's the 5k in the ultra world, so of course my quest is to go further (but I'm sure that is evident) how far, I don't know yet. But one thing I can promise myself, I will make sure to have fun, that's the most important thing. 

Life is good. What a way to kick off the New Year, doing what I love best, running.