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Everything you need to know about running and life and any other random crap I find bouncing through my mind like a ping pong ball. And always be sure your shoes are happy.

Archive for the tag “50K”

Karma, or Enter the Spawn.

no life without water

Having birthed the spawn of satan into the world on a napalm flow of snot for the better part of the day yesterday and later coughing out the rest of his minions through my lungs I’m a bit worn out today; copious amounts of coffee are just as spitting in the wind.  On the plus side I got an abs of steel workout without buying a DVD.  Another notch on the plus side:  I can see again.  Thank God it appears Vicks Vaporub is not fatal to eyeballs.  Also it is, indeed, possible to “Cry Me A River”.

“So you took a chance
And made other plans
But I bet you didn’t think that they would come crashing down, no.”

That’s where I went wrong, once again flying high on getting a run Thursday and immediately taking a chance, making more plans (this run is good!  I’m back!  OK, Friday I’ll do this and Saturday I’ll do that and Sunday it will be …) only to crash to earth Friday morning, victim of human frailty and satan-worshiping germs as the Virus From Hell wrapped me in its evil embrace.  BWAAAHAHAHAHA it chortled as I choked, lungs aflame.  GO AHEAD!  MAKE PLANS!  BWAAHAHAHAHAHA!

atomic blast

Yesterday when I woke it appeared I was (mostly) done coughing and, unaware a lava flow was busy heating up inside my head, I failed to realize why I was feeling down, instead blaming it on the fact that my friends were lining up at the Swampstomper start and I wasn’t.  A couple hours later I realized as far as Swampstomper went it’s just as well I broke my foot unless the karma gods, if I hadn’t broken my foot, would have spared me this cold; either way, not running because of the foot or trying to run with a healthy foot but this cold, it’s obvious that race was not meant for me this year.  Never trust the karma gods. 

It’s disheartening to realize, as I do occasionally before I can force myself to forget again, that the first day I ran pain-free since July 2012 was the same day I broke my foot.  Those first two miles – my brain singing the Hallelujah Chorus  (which you need to watch right now because I just watched it again and it’s going to be a few minutes before I can type much since I’m crying coughing choking laughing, so you have a break) – those first two miles, pain-free!  I floated, gloating, certain I’d found the cure, that running Nirvana is now MINE MINE MINE, clutching the joy … and then I took one more step, too greedy – but those two miles – they were heaven.

It’s human nature, I suppose, to continue to think surely this is the day, certainly it will be like it used to be or even better.

If this thought is based upon some provable fact, yay, you’re right.  “Today will be sunny.  See?  There’s the sun, shining.”  Additionally the odds are you do not live in Memphis.

If this is based on cheerful hope, you are an optimist.  “Today will be sunny, ” you think, living in Memphis, you foolish fool.

If this is based on a belief in some type of cosmic lottery which says at some point it will be time to ease up on any given person, it’s idiocy.  “It’s rained for 24 hours, surely the sun will shine in Memphis today.”

karma gods

Although I’m not really sure what the cats did to piss off Karma I think I should check the closet.  I bet they pooped in my shoes.

WHERE have you BEEN??

Ah, wait.  That’s me that’s been missing.

Sorry there, Boy and Girl, deepest heartfelt apologies and all that blather.  Kinda lost focus and direction for a while.

Wait.  Let’s look at this another way.  I refocused and recommitted.  Rather than New Year “Resolutions” I prefer the term New Year “Recommitments”.  Like many, as the year wanes I look back:  what I hoped to achieve, how I went about it, were the goals met?  If so, how?  If not, why?

I started 2013 the same way I am starting 2014 – injured.  My goals for the year were a marathon and a 50K, working up to 58K spring 2014.  Hubs wisely refrained from arguing with a brick wall and said nothing of the loftiness of those goals in view of the fact I’d run about three times in the past three months.

The goal should probably have been to get healthy, but I didn’t know how since I didn’t know what was wrong, I only knew pain.  And I was trying to get better, I just didn’t know how.  BRFF “Becky” found Dr. W who was a huge help on the journey, and I kept moving in the right direction, albeit with a few side jaunts.  As I repeatedly discover, you do learn something new nearly every day.  It may only be that you were wrong again, but, heck – learned, right?  A year later I know that it was not a matter of doing things wrong, it was a matter of time for things to come together.  I’m very hopeful that what I’ve learned and the places and people I’ve been led to are a solid part of the solution.  That, and a bit more time.  Thank God I’m at peace, for today, at taking a bit more time.

Two days ago I ran a total of 25 minutes easy, with walk breaks and adding 5 minute walking w/u c/d for a total of 35 minutes/3 miles – the first time I’d run outside exactly 10 weeks.  I’d done a mile or two on the treadmill a couple times earlier in the week.  I figured that was safest, if anything happened I wouldn’t be half a mile from home.  Well, actually I would, I’d be further – at the Center – but I’d have the car, right?  I can hop to the car.  I’d look like an idiot, of course.

“Oh, look at that lady hoping down the hallway on one foot.”

“Well, Madge, maybe it’s a new fitness routine.  Let’s check the schedule.”

“I don’t think we should, Maude, the ‘girls’ would be flopping mightily.”

“True, Madge, true.  We could get a concussion.”

So, I ran.  It was glorious.  Bright shiny day, cold, breezy, I ran my favorite route looking at the skeletal trees, leaves thick on the ground, the drainage stream crisply frozen on the edges.  Running slowly I looked up at the beautifully twisted bare branches making sculpture against the bright sky, sharp curling grey-ish shapes against the dazzling blue.  This is really why I do it.  All those horrible hot days, the runs that feel like I’m slogging through mud, the days I feel like my head and body are not even connected, there is no communication, legs or lungs go on strike singly or in unison, those days are for this day, completely aware of life surrounding me, enveloping me, fully alive in this living breathing world.

In a hopeless place

Well, Boy and Girl, my two faithful followers whom I’m sure have been completely bereft in the dearth of recent posts on my world-famous blog, I thought I would update you on the two Brains thing.

Apparently in addition to one Brain being able to completely hijack all reasonable or unreasonable plans, intentions, or actions on the part of the other Brain and myself without any advance notice, the Brains can also, apparently, completely disengage and watch from a distance as someone does something ridiculous and in which either Brain may refuse at the last moment to participate, leaving me standing forlorn at a start line or 7-8 miles into a trail.

My proof comes in the form of a happy email announcing gaily the confirmation of my registration for the Sylamore 50K.  That would be the registration I completed this afternoon while sitting here on my Biofreezed falling off butt.

Brain 1 is tee-heeing like a kindergartener, she said BUTT.  Fine, laugh away jerk, where were you when I noted on the application that I am a male who desires a large shirt?  Thanks for noticing when I got the confirmation. 

Thanks also for noticing the shirt error first, so I could email the RD with the size change and then noticing 13 seconds later that I’m now a male so I could email the RD again to request a sex change without having to travel to Sweden.

You can see that I’m trapped in a hopeless place – which, thank you so not once again, dear Brains, now I’ve got Rhiana’s We Found Love stuck in my damn head, is it not bothering the two of you, since you’re the ones IN my HEAD?  Apparently not, as you aren’t shutting the godforsaken earworm off.

Interestingly registration filled up in less than 30 minutes leaving many runners sad.  They are sad they are not going to go run 25K or 50K in rocky hills in Arkansas in February where it might well snow on you while you cross the freezing creek not once, but twice.

You know friends, it’s no wonder your non-running buddies look at you and back away just a bit.  Here I sit, on the DL, having just scrapped plans for two distance races, Biofreezing half my body – and I just paid good money for another race.

Are we crazy?  Stubborn?  Stupid?  Delusional?  No wonder friends and family shake their heads and sigh.  And those are friends and families that are runners!  Sir Hubs hates marathons.  Every time I register for a distance race he just gets The Look and sighs slightly.  Hubs is currently plotting to get into Ironman FLA 2014.

FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY, THERE’S A FREEKING MARATHON AT THE END OF THE IRONMAN.  (I’m yelling now, aren’t I?) AFTER he swims over 2 miles in a flipping ocean and bikes 112 miles and is probably getting just a tad tired and still facing a 26.2 mile run.  How the hell does he get to the conclusion that I’M crazy??

Brain 2 just chimed in that I might want to note that Hubs is not talking about his brains in 3rd person.

I’d like to point out that Hubs has brains that actually work, but I won’t because then I’ll be arguing with my own self and it’s all getting rather confusing.

I’m perfectly sane. Proof.

Munker is in a hell of a mood today, hauling her babies all over, mewling.  When she tires of that she smacks poor Mo in the head or jumps on the desk smacking my hands as I type.   When I leave the desk so she has no target she turns to chasing Mo throughout the house, up over the chair, through the dining room, under the table, until finally he hides.  Then I hear her thudding throughout the house upstairs and down, skidding around corners, chasing what?  invisible Mo?  Her brakes don’t always work well and once she went sliding to a stop on her butt, face planting the wall.  She sat there, looking at the wall in her face, her tail twitching semaphores spelling I-meant-to-do-that-and-you-can’t-see-me.  There is a reason her name is Chunk.

I wish I had some of her energy.  Last Sunday I did twelve easy miles.  Granted, I had trouble getting to sleep Saturday evening and had to get up at 4:30 to have everything at the race site by 5:45, leaving me with a net sleep of about 4-1/2 hours.  I got home, soaked in some Epsom salts, ate.  I struggled to hold out but by noon I was asleep on the couch.  I woke two hours later.

Hubs, out running errands, called the house.  “What are you doing?”

“Nothing much,” I yawned.  “I just woke up a few minutes ago.”

“You were asleep two hours ago when I left the house,” he commented, “why are you so tired?”

I thought for a minute.  “Well, I’m consistently doing more weekly mileage than I ever have, and I’m doing it while I’m currently older than I have ever been.”

“Yeah.  I guess so.”

Dude has done two full Ironmans (Ironmen?) and is now scheming to get into Panama City 2014.  140.6 miles in a day, all under his own power.

If I say to hubs, “I got in on that 50K” his eyeballs roll and he shakes his head.  Every.  Damn.  Time.

Sometimes I want to walk into the den and randomly shout FIFTY K!  just to see his Pavlovian response.  Sigh.  Eye roll.  Head shake.

Someday his eyeballs are going to get stuck that way, if my Grandma knew anything.

But 140.6 miles seems perfectly sane?  And – he won’t even buy the bumper sticker.  I did 26.2 and tattooed it on my body.  I’m telling you two, he is a machine, but he thinks I’m crazy.

The last time I felt this sleepy/tired on a regular basis was when the twins were little and the other two were active in grade school.  I’d get them to bed and go downstairs, physically ill with tiredness, my head aching, nauseous, falling into bed, asleep instantly.  A moment later hubs would ask me a question or say good night.

AH!!  WHA??  Wha??” I’d shout, throwing out my arms, heart racing.

“How the hell do you fall asleep that fast?” he’d question.

“I’m TIRED.”

Oh my god I got so tired of saying I was tired.

Tuesday I had 4×1200 (nailed it, happy face) and then worked out with Killer.  Killer, petite little thing, so sweet she wouldn’t say poop if she were standing in a pile of it, said, “Oh, you did track this morning?  Sometimes on days I run hard I do leg work afterward.”

Well then.  If it is good enough for Killer then it is definitely good enough for me.  Someday I want to be Killer and I emulate her whenever possible other than that part where she falls off her bike breaking bones and that kind of shit.  I nodded vigorously like one of those bobbing bird toys I wanted when I was a kid playing with dinosaurs, before I was currently older than I have ever been, but we were too poor to afford the toy so I just had to play with the baby triceratops.

drinking bird

“Okay!” I slavered, head bobbing, “Let’s do LEG WORK!”

Apparently – I’m just warning you, keep this in mind in case it ever happens to you – “leg workout” is French for “beat the holy shit out of yourself while paying someone money to tell you the most effective manner in which to do so.”

Killer seems to have a natural talent, efficiently helping you cause your own self to experience lasting pain and suffering even though she doesn’t speak French, other than a few French cuss words like “lunge”, “squats” and “step ups”.  Google it.  I bet you will find they mean “torture”, “pain” and “endless suffering” in French, although I’m not positive since I took Spanish in high school not French.  Plus all the Spanish I really cared about were the Spanish cuss words, which the teacher would never tell us.  Now days I could just Google them but I no longer give a f*ck.  That would be because obviously I’m good at using the English ones just fine now.

Wednesday I tried to stand and walk to the kitchen.  My legs seemed to think we’d just run Tupelo again yesterday.  I shuffled into the kitchen, leaning my head against the cupboard as I waited the excruciating minute the Keurig was taking, dry swallowing a handful of ibuprofen.  Banging my head softly against the cupboard I whimpered.  “Why?  whywhywhy?”

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

At least I can truthfully say:  I never accidentally ran a marathon.  THAT would be f*cking insane.

WOMAN ACCIDENTALLY RUNS HER FIRST MARATHON, FINISHES IN 3:11, BQ’S

#crazybutjobrunner

(With thanks to my running friend, Jody*, for her unintentional contribution to today’s blog title)
* all names may or may not be changed to protect the innocent.  You’ll both just have to guess which are real and which are fake.

I’ve always been clumsy.  In second grade I fell and skinned the same knee three times in one day.  It took years for that scar to mostly fade.  Running on the playground at school I jumped off the irrigation berm, flying, but failed to nail the landing.  I woke to see the principal hovering over me.  Broken arm.  One time I stepped on my own finger.  (I was trying to fix my shoe).  I flew through the air off the seat of my brother’s dirt bike landing on my chin and broke my jaw, had to walk a mile back to camp in shock.  Broke the same toe twice in five weeks on door jams in the house I’d lived in for twelve years.  One Sunday morning after a church carnival while cleaning up I fell climbing out the back of a semi-truck trailer and broke my finger; looking down I saw it forlornly hanging sideways.

I’m not scared to jump
I’m not scared to fall
If there was nowhere to land
I wouldn’t be scared
At all … all
Because falling’s not the problem
When I’m falling I’m in peace
It’s only when I hit the ground
It causes all the grief
(Florence + The Machine, “Falling”)

I think I’m clumsy because I most often fail to be present to the moment.  I rush and hurry and think ahead or behind, but fail to notice the moment I hold.  And, sadly, I so seldom realize that I constantly do this.  First-born, type-A Yankee (not really a Yankee, born to parents with South Dakota heritage I grew up in Arizona but when you move to Memphis, Tennessee that pretty much counts as Yankee, not that I mind.  It’s mostly true).  Hurry hurry hurry.  At one point in my life I thought I might need to quit running.  I decided to walk for exercise.  It lasted about two days.  I kept thinking, “If I were running, I’d be done by now” – I guess so I could rush to the next thing.

This is also most likely why I lose everything.  Keys, purse, wallet, glasses, shoes, clothing, cups of coffee.  Two days later I find the congealed dregs of coffee in a cup I set on a shelf in the laundry.  Keys can be pretty much anywhere in the house.  Finally found my sunglasses after a month and a half:  on my BRFF, DJ’s*, head.  I thought, “Those are nice looking sunglasses.”   She said, “Hey, like my sunglasses?  Want them?  I found them.”  I said, “Hey, are those my sunglasses?”

“Here – try them on, they’re prescription, I found them in a box of Women Run shirts.”

Nice.  Thanks.  Now I have two pair since I finally gave up and bought new.   Now I can lose two pair.

Maybe after last fall when I spent those steroid-hazed days waking at 2 and 3 a.m. exhausted, my butt falling off or trying to, frustrated and frightened that I might never get to run again, maybe that still sticks in the back of my mind now.

One:  at any given point running, just as anything in life, your brother, your job, your security, your own sense of self, whatever, can be taken away from you.  Now you see it, now you don’t.

Two:  you’d better rush to embrace it, scoop it up and hold it tight, hoard it or try to find more, just in case.  Maybe you can hold onto part of it if you just have enough.  If you have 110%, and you lose something, do you at least get to keep the extra 10%?

Eleven.  Exactly.  It’s one louder.

Of course you don’t.  And, yet … maybe next time…

After Tupelo I started to doubt myself.  I’d had the best training I’ve ever had, I had the best plan I’d ever had thanks to one of my besties, Heather*, and I felt great until mile 21.  Then I felt like road kill the rest of the day.  Barfed in the trash can.  Could hardly eat.  Exhausted, trashed, hurting.  The next morning I woke, lying perfectly still I wondered how much pain I would experience in a moment when I tried to get out of bed.

None.

NONE.  A twinge in the quads on the stairs, that’s it.  I did a three-mile walk/jog shake out that morning and felt great.  I looked down at my legs.  Right, where were you at four hours in yesterday, eh?  Innocence.  No reply.  Legs are not taking the blame.

Last Sunday I did the Road Race Series 10K and nailed that sucker.  This is the race that put the nail in my falling off butt’s coffin last year and this year I nailed it.  Finished just under 58 minutes, not bad for a grandma coming off a POS marathon seven days earlier.  Of course the next four felt like shit but I got 10 done and headed back into taper for the Stank, still planning on the 50K because, dammit, I’d better, what if I never get to do one again?  Better rush to hoard that extra 10%.

By the way, speaking of a 50K trail run, I’ve found the perfect tone-and-lift-your-butt solution:  run a couple dozen miles on tough trails.  This morning my legs feel fine: hamstrings, quads, but my butt is not trying to fall off, it’s trying to leap off and run away, finding another, calmer quieter home.

Some other BRFF’s were also planning to do it, crazy nutjob Heather, crazy nutjob Stacy, crazy nutjob Jessica, crazy nutjob Kelly (insert asterisk to all names here as above, I’m tired of typing them).  Heather, a cougar, had never done longer than a marathon, but she does her marathons so fast I think it counts at least partially.  Stacy has done bunches, plus marathons and a couple 50 milers (I bow) and Jessica is an animal, a cheetah, running, biking, roller blading.  I just met Kelly last week at the 10K and it is obvious she is awesomely strong.  Stacy was just out for a stroll, apparently, and said she would run with me.  Man, it was great.  She set such a great pace for me, and I will be damned if I am not going to hang onto Stacy if she is going to hold back for me.  The first loop felt awesome other than falling – twice – both times hitting the same hip and rolling.  I couldn’t see what I was tripping over because I couldn’t wear my glasses.  It was so beautifully cool that they kept fogging up, useless, so I stuck them on top of my head where the nose pieces immediately got hopelessly tangled.  Useless, tangled in my hair, at least they didn’t fall off my head and break, but I couldn’t see details on the sandy beige ground flying by under my feet.

After the race Heather and Stacy both said that on the final loop they kept looking at familiar parts of the 8-mile loop thinking, thank GOD I don’t have to see that tree again, I don’t have to see that creek again, I don’t have to see that aid station again – I never had that thought because I saw nothing but sandy beige, just look at the trail and Stacy’s feet, don’t fall on your butt again … don’t fall on your butt again …

The second loop was a bit tougher but I was getting into a groove and feeling decent.  Third loop I knew I would be glad when this was over but I knew I could do it, I knew my legs were really tired and my BFOS butt was pinging like an out-of-tune guitar put up to eleven, but even if I had to slow down on the last loop I was pretty sure I could still have a very nice PR.

A few hundred yards from the end of the third loop I fell again.  I was completely astounded, I’m running I’m running I’m.  Not running.  Dammit.  Stacy was looking at me.  “That hurt.  This one hurt.”  I sat there for a minute and tried to stand up.  It took a couple tries.  I lifted my arm to brush my hair back and it wasn’t quite right.  This morning I think I’ve strained the bicep tendon although I landed on my hip (again, same spot, it’s nice and purple now) I also nailed my elbow just right, I guess, to strain my upper arm.  I walked for a minute and I knew.   Now I was limping, favoring my right side which was only going to end up torquing my left side, possibly causing more issues, not to mention probably falling again with tired legs and a lopsided stride.  I told Stacy, “I’m done.  I don’t want to quit, but I think I should.  I just don’t want to take the risk on the last loop of falling again and causing serious damage.”  Stacy agreed and we walked to the finish line.  “I’m DNF,” I told them, and I felt fine about it.  I let go of my 10% and went back to my car where I had some ibuprofen and a beer at noon on a Sunday.  Sitting in my camp chair I cheered the runners passing by while I waited on Stacy, Jessica and Heather.  It was a good day.

A little leg-jiggle.

It’s 4:42 am and I’m sitting here doing some crazy mad leg jiggling.

Wound up.

Excited.  Nervous, doubting, hopeful.  Weather.com is reporting in a delightful 57 degrees, I’m sipping some coffee so I’ll have even more nervous energy to leg jiggle with.

When I was younger, less cynical and questioned less I was a daily Mass goer.  That is when I learned about my leg jiggling, sitting there in the back of the chapel with a couple besties, quiet, eyes closed, centering.  SLAM Kay’s hand would come down on my knee, clenching my leg.

It is not – not – polite to snort in church, but dammit, every time I’d snort a laugh.  I was doing it again.  She would cut her eyes over at me.  It was extremely dangerous to make eye contact or we’d get the giggles like a couple of idiot teenagers instead of the idiot parents of teenagers that we were.

I have no clue what to expect today, after delusions of grandeur two weeks ago and getting my butt handed to me I have two goals:  1.  Finish.  2.  Finish strong(ish).

Amend, three goals:  3.  No barfing.

“My brains, his steel, and your strength against sixty men, and you think a little head-jiggle is supposed to make me happy?”

Legs are jiggling.  Drinking coffee, eating my bagel.

I feel like barfing.

Running Hot and Cold…and Stupid

So after the positive (albeit cold and slow) success of my first 50K I re-upped for the next year’s event as soon as it was open.

This time Hubs came along and did the 25K.  We stayed at the very swank Best Western in Mountain View along with the rest of my running buds.   That night after grilling burgers in the hotel parking lot in the back of a friend’s pickup truck we all crowded into one of the rooms to watch the Tigers play.  There could have been a bit of cheering, it was a good game and we had beer.  The phone rang and I was closest.

“um, Hello?” (who do we know in Mountain View??)

“Hi, this is the front desk?  We had a call from another room?  You’re being kinda loud?”

It’s 7pm.  Saturday.  In Mountain View.  Oops, the sidewalks got rolled up, we forgot.

“Well…it’s the TIGERS…”

“*sigh* yes, I know (Tiger fan!  YAY!) but could you maybe hold it down a bit?”

“Ma’am, we all just ran either 16 or 32 miles and about three minutes after this game is over we will all be quieter than the dead.”

“Well, OK then, but maybe you could hold it down a bit anyway?”

“Yes ma’am, we sure will.” and I hung up.

The room erupted.  SCORE!!!!

oh well.

It wasn’t quite as cold that year; if I remember correctly about 38 at the start and it warmed up a few degrees by the end.  Ralphie was back in his parka checking everyone off the list.  Rest stops featured pretty much the same of everything altho I do not remember hot Gatorade that year.  My time wasn’t any faster and I was still just as sore after the race.  In fact a couple of days later I drove around with my daughter looking at wedding reception venues.  Do you know that there’s apparently a law about those places?  Every single damn one of them had stairs.  Stairs into the building, stairs in the building, stairs to get to the stairs, all of which I had to take excruciatingly slowly, sideways, one-foot-at-a-time, desperately grasping the railing while the event director and my daughter waited patiently and a bit wonderingly.  How could you possibly pay money and do something that makes you hurt that bad?  For the first time in my life I was sorry I wasn’t a man — every time I had to visit the ladies’ room.

Still, like childbirth, you move on and forget.  You get a sweet baby you take everywhere or a sweet hoodie you wear everywhere.  After a while someone else has a new baby and you think, hmmm, I might could do that again.  I bet I could do that just one more time.  (This theory is limited by time, age, and bank account of course, or if you accidentally got twins which would be like doing a 100 miler or something similarly incredibly stupid, but the first time or two it’s a bit like that.  Only cheaper.  Also, rather than the baby you are the one crying at night, trying to turn over or get out of bed.)

That spring word was out there was a new event in town and all the cool kids were trying to get a date, so when they handed me a beer and said, HEY! watch this! and registered for the race I slammed back that beer and registered, too.

What could possibly go wrong?

This is what I said then and this is what I say now:  how in the hell (operative word) was I supposed to know in May that August would have four of the hottest days on record (105-106), and that the day of the race it would be 102?

The Bartlett Ultra at Stanky Creek is a 50k/40mile/50mile 8-mile loop course.  You want mental?  The 50 milers, after doing six loops, have to pass the finish line at 48 and go out another mile and back (and while some of them were doing that, I had just finished 32 … #crazynutjobs).  Me not being a #crazynutjob and only doing the 32, you can both see that four times around an 8 mile loop was doable.  You just think, hey, I’m almost there and then when you get out of the trail at your car you don’t get in and go home, you just get some more food and drink and dry socks or whatever you want out of the trunk or back end and then go back in to just do 8 miles.  Two or three more times.  (Don’t think about that part.  These aren’t the droids you are looking for.)

The first three rounds went fine, the aid station was great, the awesome volunteers sitting there in that oven covered in trees, “How ya doing?”  “What do you want?”  “How are you feeling?”  They’d given us all hats with a pocket on top for ice and would fill our hats for us, handing us whatever food and drink we wanted.  One guy started recognizing me and would have the cold Coke poured and the Fritos out when I got there.  I wore my camelback which held about 72 ounces and they refilled it whenever I wanted, or threw more ice in it.  I also carried e-caps, taking them on a regular basis.  Heading into the final loop, with being so slow and all that, I was pretty much in the heat of the day.  The first mile or two went in and out of the sun until you got solidly into the trees.  I felt hot, the sun was uncomfortable, I didn’t like it touching me and I wanted to dodge it, heat soaking into my skin like an oven cooking a chicken.  I couldn’t throw that heat off because even though I sweat a lot it was too humid to evaporate and cool me.

About four miles in on the last loop I was struggling to keep my heart rate down.  I’d walk until it settled, then run again until it was too high.  Walk/run/walk/run with the walks gradually getting longer and the runs shorter.  I fueled at the stop and headed back around.  The last time I hit the aid station I sat for a few minutes, ice in my hat.  “You doing OK?” they asked.

“I’m good, just ready to be done.”

I walked all or nearly all of the last couple miles.  You need to do a 32 mile trail run to truly understand how incredibly sweet dry shoes and socks are, how sitting in a chair can be one of the best experiences you have ever had.  Just to sit.  To sit, and to know that you don’t have to get back up again for any specific purpose.  I’m sitting.  My legs are not moving.  Heaven might feel a bit like that.  I’m done.  I ran the race.  I get to sit here in peace.  You feel like you’re floating, your muscles buzzing.

Hubs and one of the Traitors had been out getting tuxes lined up for the aforementioned wedding.  Shortly after I finished they stopped by to see how I was doing.  Hubs told Traitor to drive me home.

“No, I’m fine, I can drive.”

“Just let him drive you home.” (exasperated)

“OK, ok”

Stars were aligned because I got in the car and about two miles down the road my legs started cramping up like pretzels and there is no way I could have driven home.  I got out of the car and couldn’t stand up, crab-walking into the house.  While the tub filled with cold water I laid down on the floor.

Bad idea.

I knew where I was, I was cognizant and talking, but my body had enough and my legs were jerking, my head rhythmically banging the door as I tried to control my muscles.

Hubs, oddly, was not happy, eh?

Why does he keep looking at his watch?  Who cares what time it is?

“I’m fine,” I kept repeating, my head hitting the door at regular intervals, “I just can’t seem to quit jerking.”

(If you’d just move the damn door it wouldn’t be a problem now, would it?)

Eventually I was able to stand up.  I cleaned up, ate, took a nap on the couch and other than complete exhaustion and the imminent onset of pain I was doing fine.

Hubs, on the other hand, was not doing so great.  He hid it well for a while but eventually he blew.

The following year a bunch of us were sitting around eating breakfast after a run.  One of my BRFF’s, DJ, which is not her real name, said, you know, I’d really like to do that Stanky 50K this year.

Hubs, Mr. Even-tempered, Mr. Always Polite, looked at her.  He shook his finger and said, “If you do that race you are STUPID.  That race is STUPID.  Anyone who does that race is STUPID.  It’s STUPID.”

Deej and I looked at each other.  Things that make you go hmm hmm hmm.

I’m registered for the race this Saturday.

Running Hot and Cold

A few weeks ago I said something about “my” 50k’s to a fellow runner who was surprised to learn I’d done any, not that I couldn’t but they just didn’t know I had.  This in turn surprised me, only because my mouth is an open spigot and it is safe to assume that anything I have to say has already been said at least once.

The topic returned to mind Sunday after the sauna hell of Tupelo.

The 3rd 50k experience about sent poor Sir Hubs over the edge, later causing him to repeatedly use the “S” word in public conversation and I put a voluntary moratorium on the distance until now.  The first two were Sylamore Trail, Arkansas in February, 2006 and 2007 and the last was the Stanky Creek Bartlett Ultra in 2007.  That first year I got a room at a sweet B&B, comfy and cozy with no kids running in and out of the house and swarming the kitchen in the middle of 2am.  I settled down in the soft bed piled thick with quilts and read my book in peace and quiet.  I slept like a baby (not the waking, pooping crying kind of baby, the other kind that some other family got) and woke the next morning to four inches of gleaming, glistening, sparkling fresh snow.  SNOW!

My friend came crunching across the drive on the crisp snow, air so clear and sharp it seemed to crackle slightly as I walked, the porch lights sending long angled shadows darkening a strip of white where I passed.  I could taste the air, clean and slightly damp.  We drove to the race start at Angler’s Lodge featuring: Dining – Lodging – Gift, Tackle, & Food Shop – Rental Boats – Guided Trout & Bass Fishing; absolutely awesome.  Someone carrying a notebook/clipboard while bundled up like Ralphie Parker shuffled out of the Gift, Tackle & Food Shop and stood in the country road, calling names. ‘NAME!” “HERE!”  “NAME” “HERE!” “Terri Clarke” “HERE!” and I was checked off on the list.  Everyone accounted for and off we set, small flakes of snow beginning to fall again shining and swirling in the gleam of headlamps and flashlights.

A mile into the race is the Sylamore Creek crossing.  We’d had a lot of discussion in the previous weeks, take our shoes off and cross, then put the shoes back on?  Carry a dry pair in a plastic bag and stash the wet on the other side behind a rock?  Just brave it?  The best advice I’d gotten was to get a pair of Injinji and wear them under a pair of smart wool.  This would reduce friction and the wool would keep my feet warm – so I plunged in squealing like a girl, feeling my way across the stream bed in a thigh-high swirl of ice cold water.

It hurt!  Holy cow, that cold was painful and for several minutes I wondered if it was OK I couldn’t feel my feet.  It’s an odd sensation running when you don’t feel your feet connecting with the ground and you get pretty clumsy.  We scrambled up the other bank and headed out, warming up by dodging rocks, jumping rocks, tripping over rocks and cursing rocks.  The course is an out-and-back, 15-ish (I’ve learned trail runs tend to the -ish side of accuracy on distance) with the aid points at 5, 10 and 15 and then back again.  It was perfect mentally because it broke the course up.  I only have 5 miles to the aid station.  It’s just a five miler, then another five miler, then another.  I can do that.

The aid stations were awesome – the usual bananas and cookies, etc., plus roasted new potatoes with crunchy salt, Coke, Mountain Dew, M&M’s, Lipton Chicken Noodle Soup mix that comes in an envelope with the short flat noodles, the broth nearly fluorescent yellow, that soup which your mom used to give you when you were sick, reclined on the couch watching cartoons in the middle of the day, so much sodium that it would pucker a normal person’s tongue.  I lapped it up.

Another thing I discovered was about the time we hit every aid stop the terrain changed.  The first 5 miles, rocky, twisty, curvy, melded into a smoother trail which headed down and then up the side of a hill.  Or maybe it was up and then down; either way on the return trip it was the opposite and either way that hill sucked.   The second aid station was next to the creek on a gravel road and featured hot Gatorade.  Hot yellow Gatorade steaming in a huge pot on a camp stove.  I tried but no go, it’s nasty enough iced.  The third set of five featured switchbacks twisting and winding up and down the side of the hills.  At one point we climbed through a beautiful natural rock formation covered with moss, coming out on the other side overlooking the trail and evergreens.  I looked for Gandolf but he wasn’t there.

We made it to the turnaround before the cut-off (we were near to the last but not quite, I’m not fast I’m just stubborn), got checked off the list for showing up and were told to tell anyone behind us who was still heading that way to turn back.

That last five miles was tough.  My quads were screaming like a teenage girl at a Bieber concert.  I kept speeding up (as in, a faster turtle than I’d been before) trying to get it over with and when we hit the creek it was heaven to stand in that cold water, my burning legs tingling.  The problem was, once I got out of the water they stiffened up and turned into concrete.  I stumbled up the scraggy rocky dirt road to the finish line:  one of the gas pumps at the Lodge, where the poor shivering Ralphie stood, bundled, holding a stop watch and a clipboard.  “NAME?”  “Terri Clarke!”

I’d put dry shoes and socks in the car that morning, shivering uncontrollably I tried to untie my shoes and get them off my freezing feet.  The shoelaces were frozen stiff and I had to pry them apart with a knitting needle back at the B&B.    I stood under the hot shower until it ran cold, put on jeans, socks and the race sweatshirt and crawled in bed, too exhausted to celebrate the accomplishment, my muscles humming.  It was several days before I could sit and stand without holding onto a table, chair or wall and I decided immediately to register for the following year.

OCD much?

Hubs and I were out of town last week.  You might think I would feel completely free to leave town now the kids are grown and gone, no worries, enjoy the trip, relax, eat drink and be merry.

But, no.  First, I no longer have that burning desire to desert Rome as it burns, my mother and four children waving forlornly as we back down the drive, desperately repressing the jiggling as my legs begin the Happy Dance under the dashboard.  NO VOMIT!  NO DIAPERS!  NO CRYING AND FIGHTING AND STEPPING ON DEADLY LEGOS!  I’m FREE!

I can lazily drink coffee and read the paper daily now.  I don’t have to put on adult clothes to take the kids to school and work the phones in the office from 8am to noon or help in the clinic wiping snot and blood.  I don’t have to camp out in a hotel to have a bathroom all to myself.  I don’t have to hide the chocolates in a tampon box.  I don’t have to worry about organizing soccer/cheer/homework/scouts/cupcakes for the birthday party before leaving everyone.  No worries, now.  Free Free Free.

Instead I spent three days prior to leaving town waking at 3 and 4am worrying about — The Damn Cats.  What if they refuse to eat?  What if they pee on the bed?  What if they … I don’t know … jeeze, they’re CATS – how much could go wrong??  But, no…wake, roll over, worry.

Obsess much?

Meanwhile – no pressure here – every damn day hubs insists that I need to try on his wetsuit and be sure it fits.  Fine, I tried it on.  OK, right, it was on backward but what the hell.  It’s not like it’s gender specific.  If it fits backwards it should fit frontwards.  No, apparently it didn’t count, backwards negates the experience so now I have to try it on … again.

Then, after I try it on again, he thinks I need to take it to the Center and swim in the damn thing.  Remember the pool running incident (here)?  Where all the senior water exercise class people glared at Becky and me in shock and awe?  What do you think it will do to them if I show up at the pool in a f*cking wetsuit?  How long will it take management to get all the exploded brain matter out of that water?  And can they sue me for the damages?

Still hubs remains – daily – sincere in his insistent insistence that I must absolutely without doubt swim in water with the wetsuit.  I pointed out that if I fail to do so prior to the race, and it is a wetsuit legal race, I will swim in the water to warm up and I will be wearing the wetsuit.  I think that counts as swimming before the race.  I mean, what if I swim in the wetsuit at the Center and I find out it doesn’t work so well?  Is that going to change the temperature of the water Saturday?

Last week I ordered a tri-suit.  It was in the mail when we got home.  I pulled it out of the packaging.  This sucker will not fit a skinny pre-pubescent 13-year-old.  I don’t know why they wasted a 9×13 envelope to send it to me, it would have fit fine in a letter sized and saved some postage, which they handily charged me.  Now I’ve spent $79 + tax, shipping and handling on something that weighs about four ounces and I may wear only once in my life – if I can even get it on.  And hubs is happy I spent the money.  If I buy a new lipstick and he sees it he asks me how much it cost.  Tri-suit?  Wet-suit?  Bike?  Helmet?  Bike shoes?  He’s throwing money at it like it was beads in New Orleans and he might see some boobs.

I spent one morning at the hotel swimming, then got on the spin bike and did 13 miles, then ran three.  There, I’ve done the distance, so mentally I got that out of the way.  What I realized is that I do not care at all about this triathlon like I have all the races I’ve trained for.  I’m just as obsessive about getting everything organized, not forgetting anything, hoping I don’t bonk, but I don’t really care about doing the event.  All I really care about is getting it over with.

Training for halves, fulls, 50K’s, I check weather for weeks, mentally preparing for wind/rain/floods/solar flares and meteors.  I’m scared, nervous – but it’s an excited nervous fright.  It can still get ugly – marathoniritationitis (with a graphic, here) is nothing to laugh at, but there’s still an excitement about the whole thing.  This one:  if it rains, oh well.  If it’s hot, well damn.  If it’s cold, well sh*t.  Oh, well.  If I get there, and I don’t like the weather, I might just decide not to do the event, and right now I cannot dredge up any impending regret, other than I’d be forced to register for another one and go through all this again.

Last night I dreamed I had a curse that if I talked to someone it would take away one of their powers.   Unfortunately Becky asked me a question in my dream.  I replied without thinking and it stripped her power to do triathlons.

Obsess much?? This is going to be a bitch of a week…

You can’t fall off a marathon, and you can’t sink in a 50K, and all you need is some shorts, a shirt and some shoes.

The truth is:  I’m cranky and pissed and obsessed about the cats because I’m scared of this one and it’s not an excited nervousness.  It’s just fear.

Wild and Crazy. Nothing stopping us now.

I saw Dr. K this morning and my back is definitely better, so I headed out for a slow easy 4 miler in the neighborhood to practice my stride.  Beautiful morning – sunny and breezy, it was great to be outside.  Yesterday afternoon, just to have a reason to be outside in the pretty afternoon sun, I swept leaves.  Carefully, slowly, with my back straight, abs tight.   Just a few leaves.  Someday I’m going to count how many trees we have, I don’t actually know.  I can see 14 just looking out the window over my desk.  We have a lot of trees.  It will take four adult men two days to get rid of these leaves, so my little sweeping of the front porch and sidewalk was just a hobby. Sort of like me doing a slow four miler when some friends did the Mississippi 50K and 50 Miler Saturday…I’ve done 50K a few times – but 50 miles?  Wow.  That is some mental strength for sure.  Plus the 50K friends beat my best time by well over a half hour.

I’ve discovered a really great thing about being on the DL off and on for a few months.  When you get back moving again you’re not in as great shape as you used to be.  You’ve lost efficiency, your aerobic capacity is reduced, and of course you aren’t as strong physically.  So everything takes longer and more energy.  This is a good thing, because, personally, I’ve also got about five extra pounds to get rid of.  The five pounds isn’t so awesome, but the extra energy required right now is; when I got home my Garmin and HR monitor announced proudly that I had burned 538 calories.  When I’m in shape it would be about 400.  So I have a net 138 extra calories burned.

Sweet!

Now I only have 9,862 to go!  YAY!

When I had three boys living at home food pretty much disappeared with little need to remove it from the grocery sack.  If there was anything I wanted to have around more than three hours it had to be hid.  I put my chocolates in an empty feminine products box.  Never once did the boys find those…

Every once in a while I would start getting a craving for one of my favorites  – one of my favorites other than the hidden chocolate, which I had every day. One year Fr. Ernie said it was ‘no fair’ ‘giving up chocolate’ for Lent, you needed to come up with something that would be a reminder of the reason for the Lenten sacrifice, something that would have a daily impact.  I said, I eat chocolate 2 or 3 times a day.  He looked stunned.  What the heck?  Doesn’t everyone eat chocolate 2 or 3 times a day??

My weaknesses back then were Panchos cheese dip with Fritos or a DQ Peanut Buster Parfait.  There was never a specific reason;  I’d be vacuuming or looking for the missing sock in each load of laundry when suddenly my brain would announce “PANCHOS” or “PEANUT BUSTER PARFAIT!”

I’d wait for the perfect day – kids all at school, maybe I was extra hungry or I’d been busy shopping and was tired and I would get the DQ, or buy the Panchos and have it for lunch, that’s all, just the cheese dip and Fritos.  Then I was done and I’d leave the rest for the kids.

More recently my favorite blowout has been Taco Bell.  (hahahaha playground snickering, “blowout” “Taco Bell”)  An enchirito and a mexican pizza.  I eat the enchirito first, then the pizza.  I eat the enchirito first because then I cut the pizza carefully into quarters with the handle of the Spork; apparently people who frequent Taco Bell cannot be trusted with plastic knives.  Or spoons.  Or forks.  Just Sporks.  So you can see that otherwise I’d have Taco Bell all over the handle of the Spork if I ate the pizza first and that would be messy.  I use one package of mild sauce per quarter.  All washed down with a diet Dr. Pepper with just a bit of real Dr. Pepper on top because, of course.  What else is there?

The biggest issue I have with losing weight (really, what is not to like about losing a few extra pounds, right?) is the eating less part.  I don’t know about you two, but I think someone missed the ball when He was up there in Heaven creating calories.  I plan to discuss this with Him but not right away.  I’m willing to wait a bit for the talk.

Also I’m going to ask him what the hell – wait, can I say “what the hell” to Him?

I’m thinking.

I think, yes.  Yes, I can.  If anyone ever proves there’s a scoreboard I’ll quit cussing, but until then it’s open season on the swear words.  As evidenced by miles 10-13 of the Oxford Half.

So I’m going to also ask Him what the hell was He thinking when He made mosquitoes or arranged for their evolution or however it happened that things worked out.  Seriously?  Mosquitoes??  Probably it will turn out, at the end of time as we know it, that mosquitoes were actually the Super Glue of the cosmos and held everything together, and here I am, bashing them.  Then I’m going to be all like, OK then.  Sorry.  Please don’t bite me.  And I will be forced to fight them all off with a Spork.

To encourage myself to eat less and lose five pounds I announced publicly to Becky that when I lost five pounds we would have Taco Bell.  Being a good sport Becky acted like Taco Bell would be awesome.  The day arrived!  I texted: “BECKY!  TACO BELL!”

I was SOOOOO excited.  I’m wild and crazy.  There is NO stopping me!  We swam first and I was so hungry!  I’d burned even more calories since I’d weighed!  This was going to be incredible!  TACO BELL!  ENCHIRITO! MEXICAN PIZZA!!!  SPORKS!!!!

I was giddy with excitement.  I clasped my hands excitedly.  The lady at the register looked at me oddly.  “I know what I want!” I announced.  Becky perused the menu, but I couldn’t wait and maybe I did a little skip up to the counter.  The lady behind the register looked at me oddly.  I placed my order and described my Diet Dr. Pepper with the little bit of real Dr. Pepper on top.  The lady behind the register … looked at me … oddly.  I was starting to wonder if not everyone is as pleased to be at Taco Bell as I was.

Isn’t that sad to think?  Not everyone is happy to go to Taco Bell?

nah.  It’s gotta be something else.

I tell you what:  that enchirito and mexican pizza were awesome.  I felt so happily guilty, my diet blow-out, my wild and crazy diet reward, it was doubly sweet.

The next day Becky and I were working out with Killer.  I described to Killer in minute detail the awesome Taco Bell reward we’d celebrated the day before.  Calories be DAMNED!  We were unstoppable!  We threw caution not just to the winds but to the hurricanes!  Swept away!  Washed ashore in a distant land!

“Yeah.  So, about that big celebration?” Becky asked.  “I looked it up.  Your enchirito and mexican pizza?  470 calories, crazy woman.  Way to blow it out.”

SONUVABITCH.

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