I am a Person Who Runs

ellen-dory-finding-nemo-2__oPtI think know I have used this Vin Diesel clip from Knockaround Guys before…I will use it again. Truth is, if I could figure out how to use it in every single post, I probably would. I think about this movie clip a lot when I run long. I know most people would assume that Rocky, Scott Jurek, Chris McDougall, or Dory, the Blue Tang fish saver, would be more likely. But no…it is, in fact, this

500 fights, that’s the number I figured when I was a kid.

500 street fights and you could consider yourself a legitimate tough guy.

You need them for experience. To develop leather skin.

So I got started.

Of course along the way you stop thinking about being tough and all that. It stops being the point.

You get past the silliness of it all.

But then, after, you realize that’s what you are.

Running is so much like that. You come up with a goal. That thing that will make you a “real runner.”

And so, you get started.

SavRnR

Savannah Rock ‘n Roll 2012

I saw those folks doing the Inaugural Savannah Rock and Roll marathon. That would make me a real runner. So, I put on my shoes the day after and logged 13.1 on a Monday, alone, with no medal.

I ran that same marathon a year later in under 4 hours. Surely, that makes me a real runner.

I DNF’d a race I could have easily finished. I inflated the serious of a hurt so that folks wouldn’t ask questions. Not real sure where that ranks on the “Are you a real runner” checklist. But I know one thing for certain. I am not the only one who has done it. So, I have owned it, confessed it, and forgiven myself.

Cremator

Cremator 50 mile Ultra 2013

But there is the Cremator, my darling race. That event that feels like home in my heart. It was a turning point, a game changer, if I can use the phrase. So I ran it. It was the best run of my life. I can’t wait to do it again. That must make me a real runner.

I won a race. Little bit of luck to that one as I was not the fastest female out there that day.

But that is how all races go. You run your race because you are really only competing against yourself. You can’t control others. You just do your best and see where that gets you. Certainly that must make me a real runner.

BirthdayHell, my BIRTHDAY party revolved around running. (and beer, but mostly running).

I pick up odd jobs just to keep my race fees from coming out of the family budget. Certainly that makes me a real runner.

I have secured childcare for myself and my crew chief 68 days prior to an event so that we can go freeze our asses off for 24 hours while I run around in circles trying to accumulate 100 miles to get THE Delirium buckle. By God if THAT won’t make me a real runner…

………

The truth is that this isn’t what I sat down to write about.

If I don't write about Mad Marsh...this is all you really need to know...

If I don’t write about Mad Marsh…this is all you really need to know…

I sat down on this morning in a quiet house with an awesome cup of coffee to tell you about some new cool head stuff I learned about during Mad Marsh 50k last weekend. And I still will write about them really soon because, well, I still think they are valuable if not for anyone else but me…and I would like to remember them.

But some where along paragraph 1, I realized something else again (as I think I have realized it a few times). I do, very often, refer to myself as a runner

  • When someone hasn’t seen me since the weight loss and asks, “What are you doing?”
  • When someone who is experiencing mental and emotional challenges and they ask how I cope
  • When The Dude remarks on the youthfulness of my…jeans 😉

The answer is “I am a runner.”

I think that kind of thing can get in some folks’ head (some folks’ = me). And when I have a bad run, or I skip a training day, or I sign up for a ridiculously hard race, I remember all the times I said, “I am a runner.”

And sometimes I feel like a fraud.

The truth is, I am a person who runs. While running may be one of my top five favorite things on the planet, it is still one of a thousand things that I am and do.

We are all runners

We are all runners

To the rising number of people who say to me,

Yeah I am runner too. Well, not like you, but I run.

Let me say this…

I am runner just like you, and you, just like me. Melissa has 1 kid, I have 4, Mrs. Darling has 8. We are all mommas. It’s the same thing. I have doubts and fears and insecurities. I know people who can do things I will never do. They are people who run. I am a person who runs. You are a person who runs.

And we are all just trying to get past the silliness of it all…

No Demons, Just Interesting Spirits

DD mousepad

My new mousepad for my new job 🙂

Dear Readers,

Forgive me for I have failed to write. It has been 2 months since my last blog post. I am sure you will understand or maybe not have noticed at all. I certainly noticed.

So I set out this morning (again) to write something (again) and I found it hard to be really inspired to write about anything (again). However, when The Dude walked in to grab a cup of joe, I must have looked like I could write something.

“You must be writing.”

“No, I would like to be writing.”

“Oh, well you look like you are writing. You have this inspired look on your face.”

“No such luck,” I explain. “I haven’t been inspired in months.”

He considers this thought for a moment and says something very interesting – especially since he has not yet has his first cup of coffee.

“That’s probably not a bad thing. When you write, you are usually exercising some demon of some kind, sorting through something jacked up in your brain. Maybe it’s ok that you have to try a little harder to get it out. Some of my favorite articles have been those you had to power through.”

I thought about that through my next cup of coffee and some Facebook scrolling. The truth is, he is right – but only partly.

Jedi Emily

My Jedi protector…this is most assuredly a post 🙂

I do write for nearly the same reason that I run – it feels good in an amazingly painful way. It is hard. Not everyone can do it. It takes practice and dedication. You have to be somewhat consistent.  All these things wrap up into an activity that feeds my appreciation of my own strength and ability. It keeps my mind right. It makes me feel capable. It helps me to be a better person.

It also tends to be very personal, so I tend to be a bit guarded. I am fairly extroverted (I know, you are shocked). To write about the deepest things requires pulling back the veil. While I may not mind this so much for myself, not everyone in my circle would appreciate that. I am hugely respectful of that.

So, pen does not go to paper, as it were, and I leave those things unpublished.

I am not trying to hide, present a white washed front, or create a superficial image – I am simply trying to be respectful. Besides, if an action meant to exercise demons actually reinforces its power, then what was really the point?

I also am not really good at writing (or running) in pieces. This plays hell with my new schedule. If I can’t lace up shoes and run for an hour, or log in and write for an hour, then I really don’t understand the point. I have a hard time accepting the face that 200 words here, 150 word there will eventually produce the post. I am trying to do better.

The truth is there has been a ton of stuff to write about and sort through.

Delirium confirmation

Yes, I agreed to attempt this…February 2014…83 days

  • I have a new job. And when I say new, I mean NEW. It is unlike anything I have ever done before and it has been a real game changer.
  • I have modified my diet and it is not going as well as I would have hoped – I am still searching for balance.
  • I have signed up for a 24 hour race in an attempt to get the ever coveted ultra marathon runner belt buckle. For a multitude of reasons I am scared shitless. I have 83 days to figure it out.
  • My oldest Little is getting a class ring, and college mailers, and ideas about the future.
  • I have modified my training plan and it most assuredly has its pros and its cons. Again, it is about balance. (I am still using the word “plan” very loosely).

So, I will consider different ways to do different things. And maybe I will write about. No, I will write about it because that is what writers do. But maybe it won’t take 2 months.

100 miles...24 hours

100 miles…24 hours

 

 

500 Street Fights…Or 50 Miles…It’s Legit

Screenshot_2013-08-13-09-02-05-1I think I have used this Vin Diesel clip from Knockaround Guys before…I will use it again. Truth is, if I could figure out how to use it in every single post, I probably would.

So a tiny bit of background explaining yet another (back to back) race recap (sorta) from the chick that rarely does them. Actually, this is going to be the last time I state that disclaimer. I think that I am buying into the idea that “race recap” means “Mile 1 I breathed, then mile 2 I ate some stuff, then mile 3 I hit a wall…” But I digress…

Kelley and I enjoying the post 50 mile run festivities

Kelley and I enjoying the post 50 mile run festivities

I belong to an awesome virtual group called the Women’s Running Community. I have just worked with them to bring a chapter, WRC – Lowcountry, here locally (if you are interested, we would love to have you!) They have another niche group called WCR – Ultra Running to cater to the crazies. The admin for that group, Corina, is an awesome sport of whom I am quickly growing fond. She asked if I would share with the group some of what goes into preparing and completing a 50 mile race (aside from the psychological review).

I am not going to bore you with the “what you already know”s. And let me be clear once again – this is what works for me. I do not live in the land of “everyone needs to.” I love minimalist running, plant based eating, heavy lift cross training. I do not taper, I don’t really know the tactics of a proper recover. I know what a training plan is…even if I don’t know quite how to use one. This works for me – sometimes. It is always a work in progress. I may do it different tomorrow. You might too.

However, one of the constants in my “training” (gosh, I really hate calling it that), is the fact that I have a very real, very full life. One husband, four kids, three pets, a career, awesome friends, a running column, this little bloggy thing…yeah, I am extracting the marrow fully out of the bone of life. So I have to watch my schedule. And, most importantly, I have to be real with myself.

Therefore…

How do I train with four kids (and all that other stuff)?

My runs are largely unsexy and unholy early. They are on a super boring, short distance repeater route in my neighborhood. This is out of necessity since most mornings I have to be finished with my run by 0630. So, even a 6 or 7 miler has to be started around 0500 or 0530. There is NO WAY I am adding travel time to that just to get to a route that is more fun to run. So, I have discovered a few apps that make the miles a bit more interesting. I have a rosary player, a zombie game, and an audiobook subscription – lifesavers all.

Even on the weekends I start super early. Typically these are my long run days. So to run 20-30 miles, I have to still start at 0500 or 0600 to get it in while the rest of the family is sleeping in and to be finished by lunch. Training for ultra distances nixes the off day after a training run. So I run long on Saturday and still need a 6-12 mile run on Sunday.

But look at that mess up there? Seriously, there is not always time for that. So I don’t make all my runs. I don’t log all the miles I am “supposed to.” I don’t always get in those back to backs. Sometimes there is a super tired husband, and a cat that has peed outside of the litter box, and a kid who is having a melt down, and a house that seriously needs a wipe down, and a yard that needs to be mowed, and grandparents I haven’t seen, and friends I haven’t lunched with, and parents who need some time, and a book that needs to be read…and I just. don’t. run.

600672_539915602739929_1109972797_nSay it with me… Just. Don’t. Run.

Then there are times where all the above is true and if I don’t get some miles in, the other crazies in my head are going to forget how bad I look in prison jumpsuit orange and cut you. In those cases, screw the rest and just. go. run.

Say it with me…Just. Go. Run.

So, how many mile DO you run a week?

Not enough I am sure. My goal as a runner is to be able to run a 50 miler whenever I want. I want to be the kind of runner who, at the drop of hat, a running buddy can call and need a training partner, a pacer, a race buddy, and I can go – regardless of some point on a training plan.

So the goal during the week is usually 50 miles. I. Never. Make. It. But that is okay. I usually come in around 30. But I know that as loose as I like to be with my “training schedule,” the cold, hard fact is that chance of injury increase when regular mileage does not support the long run. So, while I cut myself tons of slack, I do not make excuses and justify the punk out.

What do you eat on the run?

988674_561407983924024_781717531_nBeer and salted potatoes are my favorite. Ginger Snaps and PB&Js rank up there pretty high too. I LOVE coconut water, be careful though. Too much could, ummm, ruin your time. The upside is you will know where all the bathrooms are the next time. I try really hard to not do a bunch of artificial stuff – they wreck my tummy and I think there is something seriously weird about spending money with a “Health and Nutrition” company who thinks putting trash in their products is a good idea. But that’s just me. I stick with Hammer products mostly and drink a pretty good bit of HEED.

As a side note, I just started with a pretty regular regime of sweet potatoes. So far, the results have been just short of astonishing.

Walking vs. Running

This one is easy…whatever I feel like with only a few caveats

  • “Hell, a 15:48 pace to finish? You can walk that!” is WAY  harder than it sounds – I prefer to run and get it over with.
  • Once I start walking, it is super hard to get started again. I try not to do it too often. I envy people who can transition easily.

And, when all else fails, remember the brilliant advice of Ray Krolewicz…

“There are no low points in ultra marathons. I get sleepy sometimes and I take a nap.”

April’s First Ultra Marathon Brought to You by the Letter “P”

Porta potties, while not preferable, don’t really bother me. Especially when you need one.

Hovering is WAY  harder after you have run 31+ miles.

That little gem is one of the many things I learned Saturday. The Ledesma Sports Medicine Savannah Rails to Trails Ultra 2013 will forever be logged as my first Ultra Marathon.

If we are friends on Facebook, or if you have seen the recent WTOC news story by the beautifully talented Dawn Baker, you already know that I injured myself about a month ago. In fact, writing this post, I have just realized that Saturday was a day shy of a month since it happened. There was a lot of back and forth on whether I was going to do the 50k, 25k, or even be able to run at all.

Ledesma Sports Medicine Rails to Trail Ultra MarathonI ran completed the whole thing. It took an exhaustive 6 hours, 22 minutes, 34 seconds.

“Hell, a 15:48 pace to finish? You can walk that!” is WAY  harder than it sounds.

Six and a half hours on your feet, in the heat (temps hit a record high of 75), averaging a 11:45 pace will take your brain (and your heart) to a bunch of places.

That time sucked. I should have been able to do it a full hour faster. More if I had not been injured. I missed out in a couple of key areas. Please notice I did not say “failed.” Nothing about Saturday was a failure.

But if we don’t learn to make better, we are wasting life’s experiences  So, in addition to learning a bit more about peeing in porta potties and pace, I also came to some conclusions concerning procrastination, preparation, perspective, and perseverance.

Procrastination

Making a firm decision about Saturday before Saturday was something I absolutely did not want to do. So, I didn’t. I was at the starting line answering the “whatcha going to do” question with “I dunno yet.” I was even heralded by another runner during the first 25k that my method of freeing my mind to whatever possibility happened was enlightened and so smart.

And maybe it was. Maybe there was some hidden genius to relaxing and simply committing to showing up. Maybe the method of deciding on all or some at the half way point was part of my success. But even if that is so, the decision was made poorly.

You see, there is a big difference between deciding not to decide and putting off making a decision. I employed the latter. Procrastination is never the answer. My focus was on my injury. It was on whether I would punk out, hurt myself again, garner yet more creatively worded “I told you so”s. All of those things cause doubt and anxiety. What you focus on expands. Doubt and anxiety expanded. I froze.

While it appeared that I had decided not to decide, I had actually refused to make any decision at all. When you don’t decide, you can’t have a goal. When you don’t have a goal, you cannot prepare. When you aren’t prepared, things take a whole lot longer to finish, if you finish at all.

Please read that last paragraph again. It is the most important thing outside of the porta potty gem in this whole piece.

541759_327005787407954_1729755546_nPreparation

Before my first marathon, I was prepared. Seriously prepared. The day before was spent eating, drinking, breathing, living the runner lifestyle. I had my clothes ready, my fuel strategy planned, the cooler pack, the departure time scheduled – everything. I was in bed at a decent hour and woke alive and excited when my alarm went off the first time.

My first Ultra, not so much. I tried not to think about it most of the day. I worked late. I went to bed late. When the alarm went off, I hit the snooze – a lot. I wasn’t sure what clothes to wear. *Note – shorter runs, this doesn’t matter so much. When you are running long distances, it is a game changer. I didn’t know where all my gear was. I didn’t check the weather. I hadn’t packed a cooler nor had I planned the fuel for the day. I ended up grabbing a thing of peanuts and a half eaten box of cereal and leaving the house an hour late. Yeah, that works.

Because I procrastinated about the decision, I never moved into the place in my brain where that voice says, “Okay, we have a goal. Let’s get after it!”

Ledesma Sports Medicine Rails to Trail Ultra MarathonPerspective

What I should have questioned was my perspective. What is the focus? In truth, regardless of the situation, focus always seems to narrow itself down to “make it better.”

Being a wife, mother, professional, citizen, friend, family member, runner – whatever – the decision is a win if it makes whatever situation we are dealing with better.

Because I came at Saturday from the perspective of fear, defeat, doubt, and negative commitment, I refused to make a decision, I could not get prepared.

Had I remembered that fear, defeat, doubt, and negative commitment are all a product of perspective, I would have been able to come at it differently.

Saturday was an amazing reminder that the goal every day is to appreciate and learn from who I was yesterday, be the best I can possibly be today, and set myself on the path to be awesome again tomorrow. There is the perspective. That should be the focus.

The process should have been

  1. I am deciding today to focus on learning, excelling, and preparing
  2. I am prepared to either run 31 miles or encourage those who do. If it is a stellar day, I will be able to do both.

Perseverance

But, it wasn’t. I was mentally wonked out, physically under trained, and totally unprepared. I started anyway. I finished anyway. Because that’s what we do.

I wish it had been easier. I could have made it easier. I take responsibility for the wrong decisions and appreciate the lessons I have learned from them.

But, at the end of the day, I, you, we, still have heart. And that trumps it all.