We ARE Capable.

I gave the coolest speech ever yesterday. It was for a public speaking course I’m taking as required for my degree in Health Management.  It sounds like I’m fluffing my own feathers right? I AM.

I was scared!  I speak in front of people all the time at work. I give lab safety presentations, HIPAA training talks and also orient staff when they begin working in our building. I frequently have to present new policies to faculty and staff at meetings and conferences. Why was I so nervous about a speech for a college course?!

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This was personal. The speech was a motivational narrative format speech and I was giving it to work-mates. At work I’m TOUGH. I’m STRONG.  My speech was going to reveal vulnerabilities. It was personal and it was about me. I don’t do that.

I tried to avoid it. I tried to set it up with family. That was a fail. I ran out of time as the deadline loomed.

I ended up bumping up to the day of the speech and dragging people out of the lab “Come to the conference room and listen to me talk or I’ll fail my class!” “Come to the conference room or you’re fired!” “Gimme 10 minutes!”

Then it was time. I was up in front of a video camera and five people were staring at me. My words? “STOP STARING AT ME”

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Yep, that’s how I started.

Not so good.

Redo.

There were a few re-dos.

I did my intro FIVE TIMES to shaking heads and disappointed faces. “What are we here for?!”

Finally I ditched my outline and started talking. Instead of following a script…I told my story.

I started a bit quietly and then got louder. The room disappeared and so did the people. I told my story because I wanted to. I became proud of it. I recognized it. I recognized myself and my strength and I got louder.

What did I talk about to that group that I was so afraid of?

The beginning, the middle and the now. I told my workmates about my initial diagnosis of epilepsy and my want to give up. My fall into disarray. I talked about my stroke and the weakness on my right side. I talked about thinking I was going to die and how that sparked my want to live. I talked about how wanting to live made me start running.

Running gave me a sense of control while my life was out of control. It gave me freedom and strength and a new name.  My voice got very loud when I said “I became Sarah the Runner instead of Sarah the Epileptic”

The room came back into view as I closed the speech telling the folks in the room to reach for their goals and that they don’t know what they are capable of unless they try. I felt stronger when I heard them clapping, just as I did the first time I ran in a race.

I’m glad I’m taking this class now; it made me step outside my comfort zone, just as running did. It made me feel strong when I was feeling weak.

So go! Do something you feel uncomfortable doing and feel that strength when you finish at just how capable you are.

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Public Service Message!

First off the crew report from YT50 is still coming as promised!  This blog is a public service message. That’s good right?

About 6 months ago I noticed an odd mark on my face. It kinda looked like a zit but it wouldn’t go away. I figured perhaps it was an odd red mole and ignored it. It started to itch a bit so I put zit cream on it and continued to ignore it. It began to bleed pretty much whenever I washed my face. I knew what this meant. I work in medicine.
What does a spot that itches and bleeds and doesn’t heal mean?

Skin cancer.

I was able to find a close-up of my mug I took while running. Nice sweaty photo! The circled spot is the 'weird spot'

I was able to find a close-up of my mug I took while running. Nice sweaty photo! The circled spot is the ‘weird spot’

I made an appointment with a dermatologist. Frankly I was bummed that this was on my face. Vanity. I was also ashamed that I was vain about it being on my face.

The spot was biopsied and I walked around with a little round bandaid on it.  I also had cryotherapy on some actinic keratosis that was on my cheek- a precancerous condition.

 

Biopsy bandaid, the red circle is where I had the cryotherapy for actinic keratosis.

Biopsy bandaid, the red circle is where I had the cryotherapy for actinic keratosis.

 

One week later, while at a poster presentation for a medical student program I was in charge of, I received a phone call- skin cancer, unclear margins…scheduled for Mohs blah blah blah.

What the heck is Mohs? I made the mistake of using the Google Machine and then started tearing up. THEY WERE GOING TO DESTROY MY FACE.  I frantically searched for a way out. I called back. Couldn’t I just let this go? “You’ll go blind” “It could spread into the nerves of your face or your eye or destroy your bone”  Oh. OK. So I should get rid of it.  I knew that, really but that vanity thing. It was my face. Shame on me. Guilt for the vanity. Google pictures.

I spent nights wondering what I was going to look like then berating myself for not being thankful that I wasn’t dying and only caring about my looks.

The day of the MOHS came.

Hubby had taken the day off to accompany me to the surgeon. I was taken back to sit in a reclining chair and my face was marked up with a dotted circle drawn around the biopsy site. Then a bunch of needles full of anesthesia were injected into my face. This was actually the worst part of the whole process. It burned and stung and made my eyes and nose run. OK, it just hurt. The part that made things not hurt just HURT. I mean seriously, they need to make a numbing process for the numbing process because OUCH.  Pretty soon I couldn’t really see out of my left eye and I couldn’t feel the left side of my face. “READY OR NOT CUT MY FACE!”

 

Circle and a bunch of needle pokes around biopsy site- before the cutting

Circle and a bunch of needle pokes around biopsy site- before the cutting

And they did. Chop chop! In Mohs, they cut out the cancer and then examine it to see if the margins are clear. If they aren’t they go back and cut some more…again and again until they have it all. This makes sure they don’t cut more (or less) then they need to.  When they are done cutting, they cauterize. This is gross. I saw smoke coming out of my face and could smell my flesh burning. If you’ve ever had to lay there and smell your human flesh burning…well it’s just gross. It’s unnerving to see smoke rising and smell yourself burning.

After it was all done, I had a hole in my cheek- SMALLER then I thought it would be. Much less than the Google told me it would be! I was so excited seeing the nasty bloody hole in my cheek! The surgeon I had was amazing. She carefully stitched me closed with tiny little stitches and BAM, I was done.

Look at the amazing stitch job my surgeon did!

Look at the amazing stitch job my surgeon did!

So why did I share all of this with you?

1.) After the procedure I wasn’t allowed to run until my stitches came out. >7 days.
2.) I’m now subject to Skin checks via a Derm every 3 months for 1 year, then every 6 months for 5 years. I have a 40% chance of another skin cancer (of any type) within the next 5 years.
3.) I want you to be aware of your skin. Check it. Use sunblock, wear a hat. Runners are out in the sun- protect yourself please. We can’t undo what’s done but we can protect ourselves now. Skin cancer doesn’t always look like “Google Images” If you have something odd, get it checked out.

I had MOHS 2 weeks ago and already my face is looking “pretty good.” I would put up a picture but I’m still under a bandaid and vain so nope. I promise though that it looks kinda like a weird red splotch with a red streak though it. It’s getting more pink than red and I can tell that within a few months it will be nice and faded. At some point, you won’t be able to tell I ever got chopped up. This is because I caught it early– had I not, I would have one of the Google Image Mohs Faces.

Check your skin. Protect your Skin. Please.

Public Service Message to my Running (and Non-Running) blog readers.

YT 50 – Mission Accomplished

SPOILER: In case you don’t want to read this very long post. I DID IT! My first 50 miler. Mission accomplished.

For the rest of you, settle in…this is about to be a long post. Jump to the end for a gear list
Before my race report: CREWMAN
Hubby drove the limovan as a crew vehicle for 12 hours! He had it stocked with a first aid kit, food, 10 gallons of water, coke, ice,  a camp stove and soup. He tirelessly supported and cheered any runner in his sight. I cannot thank him enough. Crewing is hard work and I’m unsure if I could pull off what he did. He was able to anticipate what I needed before I said anything and was simply amazing. Look for a guest blog from him as to his side of the story and what he saw and learned while crewing for a 50 mile race.

Hubby crewed from the Limovan for 12 hours! STRONG.

Hubby crewed from the Limovan for 12 hours! STRONG.

RACE DAY!!!!!!!!

It was in the upper 40’s at 8:20am when Hubby and I arrived at the start line. I was absolutely GEEKED and FREAKED all in one. A giant bundle of nerves. On arrival I couldn’t get my Garmin to work. Seriously, it would turn on and then…nothing. I swore at it and banged it on the console and still nothing. Hubby tried to calm me down but I growled at him. I had the Garmin set to buzz on my wrist every 40 minutes as a reminder to eat. I finally tossed it on the seat and started to set the stopwatch on my other wrist. Hubby told me gently that he would attempt to fix Ms. Garmin and that I should perhaps go take a pee and get my stuff ready to run.

I headed off to a pine tree and handled my business. I saw many other runners doing the same thing. The mood at the start was anxious, excited, nervous, happy, jittery. The air was crackling. It was chilly. I wasn’t sure what to think or what I was about to do. We hit all the buttons on the Garmin and suddenly it loaded satellites. YES.  I put some lube on my feet, tightened my hydration pack and got out of the car. I WAS READY.

Start line!!! So excited!

Start line!!! So excited!

The start line was located at the Upper Mesa Falls sign in Idaho on the Mesa Falls Scenic Byway.  I lined up. My heart was fluttery. I was going to do this. I was going to run 50 MILES.

GO!

HORN! GO!

HORN! GO!

OMG! RUNNING! I admit it; I got some tears in my eyes at the thought of what I was doing. At the thought of what I was about to do. Out of the gate, I just got emotional. I’m not sure why. I quickly swatted them away and smiled a pretty maniacal grin. I looked around and ran, trying not to go to fast. We were running among towering pines and it smelled wonderful. The beginning of YT50 was downhill, after that it went up…and up…and up.

Meeting Angie
Within the first 15 minutes of running, a voice popped up beside me. “Chat happened” and I found myself a friend. Angie is a triathlete from Florida who was also doing her first 50. Her positive attitude and amazing directional knowledge was the perfect companion for the journey to 50 miles. We talked and ran and the heat began to rise.

Anyways, when the temp rose Angie and I started to get hot. There is no shade when you’re running on the road in the mountains. It got hot quick and the sun was like straight fire. We started stripping gloves, hats, coats and etc. Crewman hubby came to the rescue and grabbed our stuff. Angie was introduced and let hubby know that she was being crewed by her Mom and son and that they would be up at the first aid station.

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In the pine area on the first climb.

Continuing
We ran on. The first 10 miles went by pretty quick. It was down then up and through the pines. I ate a hammer gel, drank water and stripped to just my t-shirt and shorts but other than that didn’t need anything.

AID STATION #1 10.5 miles
We arrived at AS 1 at 2 hours in. Our crews were there and I went to hubby and let him know all was well. I told him I needed my handhelds filled as I was going to ditch the vest in 5 miles. It was too hot and heavy and with support I could ride it out with a handheld.  I lounged around drinking water while Angie got refills on her tailwind and switched to cooler clothing and then we took off still feeling amazing.

This stretch was pretty neat. Every once and awhile we’d hit some irrigation spray from the fields which was ICE cold. It felt amazing, seriously. It was so hot!  There was a long stretch of gravel and we went past a cemetery named “Squirrel Cemetery” and then a cool old elevator. Soon there was a steep hill leading to the 2nd aid station which was located at the Rough Riders Saloon (which was closed) in Drummond, ID.

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Grinning and a thumbs up!

AID STATION #2 20.8 miles
We got to AS 2 a little under 4 ½ hours in. I was hungry and had some potatoes with salt. Then I was still hungry so swallowed a cup of ginger ale because “why not” but oh, the pickles looked good too so I ate one, then two, then three.  Hubby handed me a handheld full of ice water, some hammer gels and an s-cap and we were off.

Continuing on.
BURP. Oh yuck. I was burping ginger ale and pickles. It didn’t hurt and I didn’t feel sick but gross. Just an FYI don’t mix ginger ale and pickles because gross. I burped this nasty concoction for nearly 10 miles.

Angie and I still felt great and smiled and laughed and joked and ran. We were hot and took the ice cloths that hubby had whenever they were available. We were getting crewed every few miles with water, coke, ice, and other needs. Sometimes we’d take it and sometimes we’d wave them on to the next spot and continue on our way.

This stretch had a lot of hills, some were big uphills. We handled them like pros.  We smiled and pointed out the amazing scenery we were running through. We laughed and moo’d at the cows and grinned at the horses. Soon enough we were heading slightly downhill to Aid station 3.

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The ripples of hills

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As we climb towards the limovan!

Aid Station #3 30.9 miles
We hit AS 3 at 7 hours on the nose.  There were some young girls manning the station and they were awesome. I had salted potatoes and coke while hubby refilled my handheld with ice water and added in some gin gins, S-caps and more hammers to the zipper pouch and removed the electro-bites as I wasn’t using them.  Angie and I got iced down and then we left.

Continuing on.
We noted the time at the 50K point as this was ALSO Angie’s 1st 50K! She goes big doesn’t she? Pretty awesome. The Grand Tetons were positively beautiful and we had views on every single side of us. There were different senses being activated constantly.

Around mile 34, we instituted a plan as “just running” didn’t work anymore. We were getting a little tired! We started a strategy, run to a pole…walk to a pole…run to a pole…walk to a pole. The only time we deviated was when it was downhill. Then we ran until we got to the bottom. It worked.  We ended up getting laughed at on one of the bigger uphill’s as we were ‘caught running’ It was blazing hot and we were smiling and running. We felt good. I felt like I could go forever.

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The climate was a “desert climate” I was constantly thirsty. There was no relief from the sun and it was so so hot! Luckily, the scenery was gorgeous and I felt so happy to be running. With no clouds in the sky we could see for miles.

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The shoulder provided a softer surface and protection from the few cars and trucks that rolled by. When I could, I ran in the grass.

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Sometimes it seemed that the road went on forever. Usually it was hilly enough that you couldn’t tell.

At around mile 40, I started to get that twinge in my stomach that says “uh oh…gotta poo” Yeah, that one. It got more and bigger and then some nausea kicked in with it.   I talked to Angie, I smiled, I looked at the pretty views. My tummy hurt. My tummy HURT.

Aid Station #4 41.4
We arrived at AS4 about 9 ¾ hours into the race. I thought we’d never get here as the mile and a half between the start of the tummy ache and the arrival to the aid station took FOREVER AND A DAY. Seriously. I zoomed into the portapooper really fast   and think it’s the first time I wasn’t wearing a smile (though I hope I at least had a half smile as my goal was to smile the whole race). I felt icky!

I pooped. Sorta. It was one of those uuuuuuuuuugh I don’t feeeeeeeeeeel good kinda trips. I got outta there and tried to eat a piece of potato. Oh barf. Coke? Better. OK then. Let’s move on and finish this thing.

Continuing on.
We ran, and walked, and ran, and walked. We made up things to run to as the poles were gone. We cheered each other on. Angie encouraged me and I hope I encouraged her. The dust from the gravel road got in our eyes and our noses, the cows moo’d at us, the sun dropped behind the mountains and it was beautiful. The temperature dropped and we ran and walked and shuffled towards the end.

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Beautiful

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Here you can see the Limovan surrounded by runners– the “Runner on the Road” prominently displayed on back. Next to the bold Runner on the Road it said encouraging stuff like “I KNOW I CAN” awesome.

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we passed canyons, rivers, fields, grasses, and headed towards the Grand Tetons. It was a absolutely stunning.

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How can you not gasp in awe when you see this? We were grinning!

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Sunset, around mile 42. We’re smiling with the sunset.

Driggs twinkled in the distance and we reached for it with every step and then- we arrived at the edge and Angie glanced at me and told me we were running. She said it so firmly that I had to agree and go. We had run together for 50 miles and we were going to finish this. We were finishing strong.  We ran the last ¾ mile to the finish and held hands as we crossed the line.  How lucky am I to have a stranger find me and spend 12 hours running by my side only to become no longer a stranger but instead a friend? Thanks Angie.

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Tough to see, but here are Angie and I holding hands as we crossed the finish!

Done!

Done!

I had hubby take a picture of my Garmin, I was proud...and tired.

I had hubby take a picture of my Garmin, I was proud…and tired.

Finishing
Everything I thought about finishing was wrong. I thought I’d be emotional. I wasn’t. I was just tired and ready to go to bed.  The emotion and joy was in the journey- not the finish. I really didn’t feel anything as I crossed the line other than so glad I was finally going to get to go poop and lay in a bed.

The next day
I thought I wouldn’t be able to walk after 50 miles, especially with limited training. I only had a mild stiffness in my quads and my feet were tired. I was ready to run again (and went climbing hiking) two days after the race. I think that means I ‘took the race easy’ for which I’m glad of.  I had no blisters and lost no toenails. Was it the use of trail toes? My shoes? My socks? I don’t know. My feet are just as good as when they started and that’s awesome. I did get a sunburn except for where my hat shaded (my chin burned and the back of my neck burned, the two places I forgot to re-apply sunblock.
I won 2nd in my age group.  This was a small race and that’s the benefit of doing small races—you can sometimes win stuff. I got a ceramic piece painted by a local artist. LOVE.

Getting my age group award at the awards celebration at a Pizza place in Driggs Idaho.

Getting my age group award at the awards celebration at a Pizza place in Driggs Idaho.

2nd in AG award, my YT50 shirt, and the Buckle I got for finishing. Love!!

2nd in AG award, my YT50 shirt, and the Buckle I got for finishing. Love!!

I’d recommend this race to anyone. Lisa puts on an incredible race. The aid stations were so well stocked with things like macaroni and cheese, boiled potatoes with salt, soup, multiple types of soda, m&m’s, cookies, and friendly faces.  Bring a crew- AS are 10 miles apart and the weather changes rapidly in the mountains, flash rain, blazing heat, freezing cold. Those without a crew were struggling and leaned on the crews out there. Bring your camera and your soul. It’s beautiful- don’t just run to race. See it, smell it, embrace it. Take it in.

This will be the first of many long, long runs.  I wish I could put everything I learned in this blog, everything I felt, everything I saw- It’s just not possible and it would take a book. I just feel thankful and HAPPY!

GEAR
Nike Icon Shorts
Fusion PRF Pro T-Shirt
Experia Socks with Thorlo pads
Asics Arm Warmers
Brooks wind jacket
$1 gloves
Ear warmers
Thrift store stocking cap
Altra Running Cap
U of MN sunglasses
Champion Sports Bra
Zensah Calf Sleeves (for warmth not compression)
Altra Intuition 1.5
Nathan Vaporshape
Amphipod handheld
Trail toes  (lube)
Black Diamond Storm
Amphipod Xinglet
Garmin 310xt
Hammer gel (banana)
S-caps
Gin Gins
Ibuprofen (took 300mg at mile 38 for left knee pain)

50 Miles – Preparation

I haven’t posted in a while. No excuse really. I’ve run a few races…I’ve tried some new stuff and carried on with some old stuff.  I’ve learned things that I could share. I’ve just been lazy on the blog! I apologize.

Tomorrow I pack for my first 50 mile race and on Thursday my hubby and I will hop into the limovan and drive 16 hours to West Yellowstone where the pre-race stuff takes place.

AM I READY?
Let’s take a look at the physical part of “ready.”
I’m heading into YT50 in a similar physical state as I headed into Icebox 480. The distance is new and the preparation is, well, shoddy.
My weekly mileage has been about 15-30 miles with long runs ranging from 10-14 miles. I DID manage to do a trail marathon and a 20 mile long run in the past month as well as three runs of 10/15/10 in a row.  For me this is GOOD.   Recovery post marathon and 20 miles? I rebounded to normal the next day.
Before the Icebox (and even Chippewa) experiences, I would say that I had no chance at YT50.  While the outcome is guarded due to the new distance, I know that I am stubborn.  Unless something busts, I WILL FINISH THIS RACE.

Preparation for YT50 has been pretty mental. I’ve been picking up motivational quotes, funny quips, reasons NOT to quit, things to cycle through my head.  I picked a good race to run as the scenery will be beautiful and I plan smack the negativity out of myself and reach for the sheer thankfulness for the opportunity to run 50 miles with such a gorgeous view.

10 miles from the finish!

10 miles from the finish!

What gear/food/aid am I using?
YT50 has aid stations approximately every 10 miles, some of which only have water/heed.  I use the “just get to the next aid station” strategy and 10 miles is pretty long, especially when there isn’t anything there to get to! Luckily my hubby has agreed to be a portable aid station (he’s amazing isn’t he?!)  I’ll have an aid station approximately every 5 miles on the course versus every 10.

GEAR
Nathan Vaporshape – to carry water and supplies
SPOT Gen3 tracker – so mom, daughter and friends can track me back home
Camera- to take pictures of the pretty stuff
Blister kit (sterilized needle, blister Band-Aids, duct tape)
Trail Toes (lube!)
Headlamp, tail lamp, reflective vest (required)
Bear spray (required)
Ibuprofen

Bear spray?!

Bear spray?!

NOURISHMENT
Electro-bites (salty-vanilla) – these are amazing, if you haven’t tried them then get on it.
Hammer gel (Banana)
S-caps (hopefully won’t need with the electro-bites)
PB/J on white (in the portable aid station!)
Vanilla wafers (in the portable aid station!)
Chicken broth (portable aid station!)
Bananas (portable aid station!)

CLOTHES—tough, lots of temperature changes…
Tights
Shorts
Long sleeve
Short sleeve
Singlet
Wind/rain coat
Hat/gloves
Visor
Sunglasses
Socks
Altra Intuition and Lone Peak Shoes

PLAN
I don’t really have one other than to run slow, eat/drink every 40 minutes, enjoy the scenery and not quit.  I’ll let you know how that works.

How can I NOT love running with this view?

How can I NOT love running with this view?

 

GOAL
Finish smiling. Experience and learn.

I’ll add a link to my spot once I get it live. Live tracking will also be available on the Yellowstone-Teton Facebook page:  Yellowstone Teton Races

I leave you with this final thought (from the interwebs):

ultrarunning-sexy

Embrace the Heat

Yesterday was hot. A warning flashed on my weather app exclaiming excessive heat. I didn’t really need the warning. I could feel it. Just walking out the door caused my clothes to cling to me and beads of sweat to form on my head. Temp? 93 ͦ with a heat index of 105.  It felt kind of like walking through warm soup.

thermometer

 

I did what any sane person would do and threw on a tank, some shorts and running shoes. It was time to embrace the heat and go for a run.

There are a lot of ways to run in the heat. I’m sure you’ve read a thousand articles on how to run safely in the heat. I’m not going to give a bullet list; I’ll just let you know how my run went and how amazing it can be to get out there on a hot day. If you’re one of those who does yoga in a hot studio, thinks a steam room is relaxing, or does any other hot activities…I’m sure you can handle a hot run. You just have to smile and do it.

I filled my handheld amphipod full of cold water and also stuck a couple salt tabs (S-caps) into the zipper pouch and then let my hubby know I was taking off.

shopping

Then I ran out into the hot box. I smiled, feeling the sun shining and waved at a bird because…BIRD! I chose a route that had two drinking fountains. One was at 1.66 miles and one was at 3.12 miles. I knew that I would then be able to refill my handheld on the way, at the turn around and again on the way back.

Part of the route also had trees that offered a bit of shade…not much but a bit. These trees also offered lots of gnats and other bugs that gave a source of protein for the run as I inhaled them while sucking air. Yum! Many also died as they drowned on my sweat laden face and body.

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Every half mile I chugged a bit of water as I was dripping more sweat than considered lady like and by the time I hit the water fountain I was pretty soggy. The fountain happened to be located at the top of a nice hill and I was grinning when I hit it feeling pretty powerful. I filled my handheld and poured it over my head to cool myself a bit, had an s-cap with some water and continued on my way to the downhill towards the brewery and dog park where another fountain would be located.

This is where there was no shade and I distracted myself by thinking about what a really strong friend had said to another. “Remember that we’re the lucky ones that even get to attempt these things. There are people that would kill to be able to take 3 steps on their own, let alone run 100 miles. If you can take one more step, take one more step. To not take that step is an insult to everyone who physically can’t. Do it for them.”—Edward Sandor

Obviously I altered that to suit me. It’s a powerful quote though and carried me through the hottest, most boring part of the run (Thanks Ed, many runners can use this!)

Soon enough I hit the downhill near the brewery leading towards the dog park. Sweet downhill! Cruisin on the cruise control. I love downhill’s so I grinned the whole way down.

Suddenly I hear the beep of a horn and there is my hubby. Like a knight in shining armor he hops out of the limo van with cold water. A rolling water stop in the middle of the hot box. OH IT WAS LIKE AN OASIS IN THE DESERT. Delish. I drank and put some on my neck and continued on, with a bit more spring to my step.

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He was there again at the parking lot of the dog park, water in hand. I drank and had one more s-cap and turned around to head back glancing at my watch. 3 miles in the hot box. I still felt good. Hot but good. I was kind of like a wilting flower that kept getting watered. Hubby said he’d meet me at the top of that big hill I ran down so I took off towards it, knowing it was nearly a mile away.

I reached the top of the hill and there was no hubby so I ran back down and up again because “why not?”

Wait! THAT FELT GOOD! What? Hill repeats in a sauna?

I did it again and Hubby showed up. I had some water and told him to park so I could do repeats and then get a ride home.

I ran up and down the hill. I felt so amazing. I felt so exhausted. I felt so strong. I couldn’t breathe. My stomach hurt. I was sweating so much my eyes burned. I wanted to quit. I didn’t.  Finally I dry heaved at the top to the point that I was done and so I jogged down and ran to the van smiling and proclaimed with a puffed chest of pride “I’M DONE AND I FEEL FANTASTIC”

Seriously. I did. I did a bit over 6 miles with the last 2 being hill repeats.

I got a ride home with no regrets.

What was safe about this run?

Access to water. Electrolytes in the form of S-Caps. Mental attitude. Support. Willingness to walk/slow down and take a drink if needed.

What if hubby hadn’t shown up? Easy. I wouldn’t have done the repeats. I had a full handheld at all times. At the turnaround was a refill and another available at the fountain on the way back. I was willing to slow down or even walk at any time and was near a populated area except for a short stretch on the way to the dog park.  I do stupid things a lot as a runner. I think running in the heat can be safe and rewarding—it can feel downright amazing. Similar to running in the rain, or freezing cold, or a blizzard.

Have fun out there!

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Success! Devils Lake Dances with Dirt

On Friday the hubby and I loaded the limo van for the trek out to Devils Head Resort located in Merrimac, WI. This was the start line of the Dances with Dirt-Devil’s Lake race and also where we were to rest our weary heads for the next couple of nights.

I texted a friend who was already out there for a weather update so I would pack properly and received a friendly “it’s hot and humid, hope it rains.” I decided on trying out my Fusion singlet which was made out of some crazy amazing tech fabric and had vents throughout. I also grabbed my Altra hat in case it did rain to keep the rain out of my eyeballs. I searched and searched but for some reason couldn’t locate my Dirty Girl Gaiters which made me want to cry so those didn’t make the trip. Also along for the trip came the trusty Altra Lone Peak 1.5, some Tailwind, amphipod handheld and waist pack, s-caps, Fitsoks, Ms. Garmin and some cinnamon raison bagels for the morning.  I dug around and only found one clean pair of running shorts and those were tossed in last minute. They kinda matched which was good enough.

We made it to Devils Head Resort at about 8:15pm and stopped at packet pick-up to grab my shirt and bib. There were a lot of people camping at the start/finish area and the hubby ribbed me about not camping to which I just scowled and noted that we had a hotel room with a bed, flushable toilet, shower and A/C.  We hadn’t eaten dinner yet so we checked in and inquired about food. That’s when we were told about the pasta buffet that was priced at $18.50/ea. and ‘just down the hall’ and ending at 9pm (it was 8:30 at this point).

I wasn’t very interested in paying $37 for some potentially cold (or bad) pasta so we found the bar and ordered a pizza instead ($22). We then headed outside to eat it on their patio area near the fire.

It wasn’t good. The pizza wasn’t good. Well, maybe you would love this pizza…if you like pizza that tastes like sugar then you would like this pizza. We didn’t. We tried to give it away to the couple sitting near us and couldn’t offload our sweet pizza and so guiltily dumped it in the trash and trudged our hungry tummies up to the room to nosh on the few snacks we had brought along before falling asleep.

The room was decent. I don’t have a picture but it kinda reminded me a of a dorm room. It was at least clean. I fell asleep and soon enough it was time to get up and eat my bagels before the race.

YAY RACE MORNING! I was finally…after being in injury pit…going to run in a trail race! YES.

I wish I could explain how excited I was to be at the starting line of DWD! The anticipation of taking off onto the trail with a hoard of other people excited to take off onto a trail…ah, sweetness.

 

 

just before the start!

just before the start!

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Here’s GO TIME!

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Start line-!

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Ready set GO!!

The race? This course was hard. I felt really out of shape but couldn’t help but think throughout—WOW! I’m RUNNING! Once and awhile I would look around and think “PRETTY!” and then crash…onto my butt or my knees. Oops. I fell a lot due to being distracted by all the cool stuff to look at.

The hills felt brutal to me, but I didn’t walk much. Maybe that’s why they felt brutal. If I was doing the 50K perhaps I would have walked on the uphill’s a bit more, but even on the 2mile stretch that went up, I only merely slowed a bit rather than walked. I couldn’t justify actually walking if I was only going a half marathon in my own head. I know that sounds dumb. In reality though, I felt really proud that I was able to run those hills even if the ‘run’ was incredibly slow and labored.

For some reason I convinced myself going into the race that after the 2 mile up, there were no more hills so imagine my surprise when the WORST uphill came well after that 2 mile uphill. As in a steep never-ending up. I was running happily along on a gravel two way trail and then there was a turn to the right onto single track that went steeply uphill…and felt like it would never, ever end. It just went on forever. I knew that this was the end of me and I was only a touch over 6 miles in. My chest was going to explode—I knew it. All over the trail. Boom!

Suddenly, I reached the top and it curved around and I was in awe. The view was AMAZING. As in I had to slow to a turtle trot and just LOOK. I then slowed to a walk so I wouldn’t fall off the edge of the cliff looking and just stared. It was beautiful and I wished I had my camera. I knew I had to come back and bring the hubby. I jogged on and there was an aid station on a rock overhanging the bluff. SO GORGEOUS! I stayed for about 5 minutes just staring out and drinking water and then I knew I had to move on. I made a note to hike back up with hubby so I could enjoy this.

Mile 9 something aid station. On the way back. Hubby was there cheering!

Mile 9 something aid station. On the way back. Hubby was there cheering!

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Mile 9 something, about to cross the road and head back into the single track- Hubby asked “How are you doing?” I answered “Hot, but AWESOME!”

The rest of the race was just in happy mode, seriously, that climb to that view just put me at ease with the world. The downhill crept on me suddenly and I was still in that whoa euphoria so I decided to go ahead and blast down it because YAY RUNNING! About ¾ mile in I slid on a moss covered rock that I thus far had done great at dodging and slid for a bit on my bum. I’m pretty sure I left a piece of my butt on the trail.

I slowed a bit after the butt slide but kept going. A bit later I took a forward dive and rolled sideways banging my hip. I laughed and continued on. Soon enough there was a guy jumping up and down yelling that I was only 260 yards from the finish. I grinned and ran. Turning the corner I could see the finish line.

Soon my hubby came into view yelling! YAY! And then I was done. I had done it. I felt like I was back. Finally, I really feel like I’m running again. There is something truly special about a hard trail race.

 

Nearing the finish!

Nearing the finish!

getting so close!

getting so close!

about to cross the finish line!!

about to cross the finish line!!

Done! I did it!

Done! I did it!

From sliding down the hill on my bum!

From sliding down the hill on my bum!

obligatory Garmin data

obligatory Garmin data

After DWD, I had a burger, fruit and a bit of Bells (both thanks to the bib tags- thanks DWD! Awesome!) went to the hotel and took a shower and then returned to try to catch friend, Mark Martinsen at the finish of the 50K. He suddenly crept up behind me and said “WHO YOU LOOKIN FOR?” Ha! He had finished already and won 2nd in his age bracket! Congrats Mark!

With Mark! 2nd place AG 50K! Congrats Mark, you're amazing!

With Mark! 2nd place AG 50K! Congrats Mark, you’re amazing!

I did end up taking the hubby to the gorgeous view. We had a fantastic time hiking the day after DWD in the Devils Head State Park. If you ever get a chance, I recommend you go! The rock that the aid station was on is by Balanced Rock and it is so amazing to see. There are so many trails to hike and run. Beautiful park!

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starting out the hike to the bluff on Sunday morning!

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Hubby and Me at the overlook by Balanced Rock!

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Look at this VIEW!

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!!!

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Tell me this isn’t beautiful!

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We ran on these rocks!

trail hiking

This is beyond beautiful.

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the trail by balanced rock

All in all, this weekend was incredible and I’m so happy I didn’t drop out after my foot fail.

 

 

 

DWD Conquered.

DWD
Conquered.

 

Trigger Finger

Last night I batted my eyes at my husband and said “there’re only a few spots left in Tunnel Hill!”

The response, of course, was “huh?”

“Tunnel Hill! The race! You know, for my BIRTHDAY!”

“Where is it?”

“VIENNA!”

Italy?!”

“No! ILLINOIS!”

“How far?”

“50 MILES!!”

“Isn’t that really close to Icebox?”

“Icebox is only a 50k.”

“Listen to yourself”

“I’m signing up”

“I know.”

And I did. And I’m excited.

Chalk it up to a trigger finger and hopefully it will be my second 50 mile in 2014 and also make for an amazing birthday memory.

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Problem = Solved

I stared hard at Ms. Garmin’s data last night. It was amusing. It was frustrating. I squinted attempting to change the results but it didn’t quite work. The truth was in front of me and I couldn’t really change it.

Devils Lake Dances with Dirt 50K is scheduled for July 12. This race isn’t really a chump race. It involves a start of skittering up a black diamond ski hill, then shuffling into a poison ivy, bug laden course with the beginning being an uphill trek (after the ski hill no less). It sounds like once you get to the top it’s gorgeous so well worth the climb. The nice hot, muggy weather ensures this will be a glorious challenge. I love it! It’s why I signed up.

What’s the problem?

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That blasted Garmin Data. OK, I didn’t really need to look. I already knew. I mean…it’s MY data right? I’m the one who made the data.  Since my ‘out of boot’ experience…I’ve run 19 miles. My longest run has been…7 miles.  After that 7 miler, I took 7 days off.  YIKES.  I would say I had 7 seizures but really, I had 4 or 5 + 1 fainting spell.  Yeah, it’s been a rough month.  Ms. Garmin says “HEY! SARAH! Perhaps, you should rethink this 50k huh?”

I’ve been going back and forth with myself about Dances for some time.

“You can do this, you wuss! You did IceBox on 15 miles! SUCK IT UP”

“IceBox was in cool weather, had milder hills, and I was doing half’s EVERY WEEKEND”

“SO?! What are you saying? That you’re a chump? Stop making excuses loser”

“Poison ivy sucks”

“When have you been afraid of ANYTHING?”

“OMG INJURY! I’VE HAD ENOUGH of being sidelined”

“excuses!”

See?! I’m driving myself insane. Seriously.

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Yesterday, after my 7 day hiatus from running (that was due to a rather wicked infection in my leg that then led to a lovely slew of seizures) I took to the trail for a run.

I RAN. How lovely it was to run. I ran the first two miles slow. I ran the third mile hard and then I ran home. Getting home is all uphill. I was exhausted after four miles. Seriously.

I bet you want to know where all this is going? Am I just writing all this to tell you I’m chumping out of Dances with Dirt?

Not really. I found a medium ground. Luckily this race has an option to “downgrade”

Dances with Dirt has a 50 mile, 50K, Marathon, Half Marathon and Extreme 10k.

I can’t bring myself to only do a 10k- even if it’s running up a ski hill (Extreme 10K).

I’m going to move my registration into the Half Marathon which sounds like a challenge with my current condition.

The half gains 1,870 feet of elevation. Considering in the past couple months I’ve run up maybe 250 feet, this will be hard.  The beginning of the half runs uphill for about 2 miles and has the beautiful view I wanted from the 50K (YAY!). After that it apparently rolls up and down through the rest of the course with an amazingly steep downhill drop to the finish.  Same poison ivy, same bugs—just a much shorter run, and misses a lot of the course (obviously).  I’m just not fit right now for the full shabang so this will have to do and will likely feel similar according to my current fitness.  Either way—I’m excited and it feels GOOD to be excited again as I’ve been a little down and out.

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THERE YOU HAVE IT. Another brain dump by me. Carry on!

 

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Why I run.

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I run

To feel the wind in my face

To feel free

To see how much pain I can endure

To stay healthy

To ease stress

To punish my body

To heal my body

To punish my mind

To heal my mind

To gain independence when it feels lost

To feel powerful

To get attention

To hide

To burn calories

To gain strength

To gain friends

To win

 

 

Good Bad Good Oh Heck, I Don’t KNOW!

I’ve always admitted to being odd. My follow up to the ortho to check on the status of my foot proved to be no different than most visits I make to professionals in the medical industry. It included wrinkled foreheads and question marks along with a referral to a specialist. I didn’t bat an eye. I’ve been here before.

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Now you’re puzzled to aren’t you? It’s OK. That’s my job!

Let me back up a bit and iron things out a bit. I promise to leave you as baffled as I began. I was born on a snowy day in mid-November…JUST KIDDING.  Really, I went to TRIA to determine the fate of my foot-in-the-boot bright and early on Tuesday morning. The doctor did the smashing around on the foot and deemed that an MRI was in order this time around as he was concerned at the status and his earlier diagnosis due to some reaction he was getting out of my foot.

I, of course, shrugged and said “OK” strapped the boot back on and set up the MRI for 1pm as requested.

The MRI was super exciting as I’ve never had an MRI with my head OUT of the machine. Remember, I have epilepsy so have had plenty of MRIs…of my noggin. This of course means my mug is always in the tube. This time however, I got to just stick my legs in. COOL! I didn’t know there was a clock that counted down the minutes. That was fun. Ok, really, it was a bit boring. But at least I had a different view. The MRI took about a half hour. I then was sent back to the doc to wait for the radiologist to read the results.

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I don’t know if you can see it, but there is a timer in the gray bar at the top! I COULD SEE IT because my head was out of the tube. HA.

This meant it was time to eat. I indulged on a delicious honey mustard chicken wrap from the café that TRIA had in their waiting area. I know you’re interested in my feeding habits, right? Then I waited…and waited. Hubby waited patiently with me. A little over an hour later I was called back to meet with my doctor. The moment of truth had arrived.

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YUM. I was hungry.

My ortho doctor walked in and plunked into his spinney stool. He looked at me for a bit. The first words out his mouth:

“Well, I’ve never seen this before.”

SUPER! “What?”

He then put on his computer screen with a photo of my foot.

OMG ALL MY TOES WERE BUSTED. Well, that’s what I was thinking based on my limited knowledge of imaging.

“WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?!”

“Do you want the good news or the bad?”

“TELL ME WHAT THAT MEANS?!”

“Your foot isn’t broken” He moved the image down to where it hurts and pointed to the very non-broken bones.

“Wait, so I can take the boot off and run? Like now? AWESOME!!!! Perfect. OK, so we’re done here, thanks doc!”

“No.” He moved the image back to the glowing top and pointed. “We’ve never seen this. It’s not usual. Something is wrong. Do you have vascular disease? Your bone marrow is abnormal.”

“Huh? So can I run?”

“Blab la blab la blab la bla”

“Do I have to wear the boot or not?”

“I would for now, at least until you see the specialist. I’ll set you up at the front desk at the first opening. Bla blab la blab la blab la”

The rest of the appointment I heard the Charlie Brown teacher talk. All I could think was…if it’s not broken…why not run? HOLD YOUR HORSES SARAH…but why not? HOLD ON A MINUTE…but why not?

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See how you can’t see the pinky toe? That’s how ALL the toes should look. Apparently this is a problem. It does look kinda cool though right?

 

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Here’s the “impression” from the radiologist (who by MY impression also seemed baffled so don’t take it to much to heart…I’ll report back after seeing someone who knows what they’re talking about)

OK, so I’ll see this specialist person on June 3 and see what’s up with my glowing toes. I took my boot off today because I don’t see the point of wearing a boot on a non-broken foot. I’m listening and not running, though I’m waffling back and forth on that (oh it’s HARD). I have a devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other. Please understand.

I know something is “wrong” however, please understand I get news like this at every doctor appointment. I have odd stuff all over that can mean nothing at all. I can deal with some foot pain as long as I can run. Running is my anti-depressant, my escape, my stress relief and my hope. I feel kind of lost without it.

There you have it! Here’s to hoping I’ll be back in the game in the blink of an eye…and much more quickly than I thought I would.

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