The Struggle is REAL … And Thank You Everybody at Hawthorn!

I know. I know. I was gone for a bit. At least I totally called that out though! So, here’s a quick summary followed up by the stuff keeping me away from here…
So, it’s all in motion now with classes started. I feel so much better. The IT field is nice and all but I can’t stay there forever. I need more. Needless to say, I’ve been MIA from here a bit but I’m still around and runnin’ up a storm. It’s actually been a pretty good month with running, health, and becoming more comfortable after figuring out a few things. I feel like I really settled in here. The rain probably helped. I love rain and it’s usually super dry here. Being busy gives me sanity too and I can’t claim to be bored anymore. That’s for sure. It was so much at first that I was overwhelmed by the thought of it but it’s easing its way into my daily routine.
But, anyhoo, ONWARD!
“140 Miles at A Time” isn’t just meant to refer to the physical mileage I can lay down. It’s about doing a whole heck of a lot at once. I got full-time work, classes and training fighting for time with the more leisure and social stuff. It’s nuts but it will all be worth it and already is in some ways.
As predicted, classes started and I bailed on this blog. Is anybody really surprised? I didn’t think so. Priorities. The one thing that makes me happier and more confident than running is most definitely my original major of Computer Science with a Software Engineering track. Having this back has just lifted a massive weight off me. I didn’t realize how much baggage I was carrying around until I submitted my first programming assignment the other night. It felt like I never left. I was back to triple checking things, worrying about every little detail – ACTUALLY CARING ABOUT WHAT I’M DOING. I haven’t felt a passion for my work in a very long time. So, here’s the first reason for me bailing on the blog:
Exhibit (a):
That beast is 1680 pages, 5.2lbs. of glory.
The second big change is that I FINALLY pinpointed the reason I was still feeling a bit crappy. I would get through any long or short run and not feel that nice post-run feeling. Instead, I felt tired and like I just didn’t want to run. I questioned over-training since I’m still new at this whole altitude thing but my miles were built up pretty smart this time. I could take a break for a few days and I’d still feel “meh”. So, I had some blood work done and for the first time ever, the doc aimed for Vitamin D. I seriously didn’t even think that was possible with me but it is in my family. We worship the sun and we just suck as absorbing anything worthwhile apparently. My level was at 28. I had been sunblock and clothing crazy here but now I’m free-bellying in direct sun and taking 5000IU D3 with K2 daily along with my multi-vitamin and some other supplements. I brought back dairy (but I still have my Almond milk!) for the sake of getting in some Vitamin D fortified whole milk. My hippie Boulderite diet took a hit there and my stomach is a bit upset about 20 minutes after a glass but ya gotta do what ya gotta do.
I have a follow-up lab to test some thyroid issues besides the ones that were monitored for years after the over-training and such. My TSH, ferritin, blah blah blah came back normal. I could actually have a thyroid problem though. Well, probably not but they just want to make sure I don’t have Hashimoto’s or something. Ya know, to be on the safe side and stuff. Somebody call Salazar and get some Synthroid just in case, amiright?
Exhibit (b):
The nice blood dude decided this was nicer than all the skin-tone and white wraps.
Third, miles are cranking all over the place especially now that I’m feeling a bit better. As mentioned before, my schedule is coo-coo. So, for the first time, I’m practicing time management without doing everything at the same time every day in a way that is brainless. I used to absolutely depend on routine so I could focus on what I was doing, not trying to remember when I was doing something every day. Now, I’ll be running a 6am and 2pm or 8am and 7pm, and so on. Running is the flexible factor, so it works around everything else.
In the past few weeks, I’ve hovered around the hundo mark. It’s not as high as I wanted it to be going into Hawthorn, but knowing what was holding me back is such a relief. Just getting out in the sun more and tweaking the diet and supplements has really helped already. Hawthorn is time based, not assigned mileage; so I just planned on doing it to see what I could do. Other than some research and practicing long, painfully slow miles, I really didn’t know what to expect. I just knew that I couldn’t wait to get back to The Haute and see everybody again!
So….HAWTHORN! OK, I’ve been doing this for 5 years now. As mentioned in a previous post, I did it with one of my best running buddies as a 2-person team alternating 5Ks for 12 hours. Dude really helped me get through some tough years. :) We got the record last year and decided to take it on solo this year. I went in knowing I had a ton to learn. I learn first-hand doing things, so getting through it the first time was the only way to go. Heck I learned how to do marathons on the job back in 2000 – half-arse trained and plowed through the pain. I learned to respect that 26.2 at that point. Hawthorn was no different yesterday.
The level of happiness heading back to town helped a ton. I did the routine burrito stop and errands and then headed over to the Pike house to meet up with my running buddy. He’s an alum of the engineering school and frat there so we get a free place to crash. I’m so thankful for it. It’s all so comfortable and familiar now after 5 years. The house is super quiet to stay at over the summer and we picked one of the empty buildings this time. I grab a loft bed and pass out like a baby there. So, I’m never stressed about not sleeping or not knowing what to expect for the weekend. I like familiarity and need it. It’s a million times better than a hotel and this is coming from somebody who swore she’d never sleep at a frat house. This one’s just different and age doesn’t matter. It seems as though people keep ties with the school for years. It’s always been oddly welcoming, nothing like what I grew up with. I would have made fun of me for staying there years ago. Now, it’s like, who cares!? This is awesome! That whole town changed how I think.
After getting settled in and checked in for the race, I just took the usual loop on the course alone to settle in. I’ve said it a million times, but those trails are my favorite – tons of trees, water, groomed dirt and gravel. It’s perfect (as long as the geese don’t try to kill you!). I get in my zone there and am just plain happy. Plus, so many great people I miss are there at the check-in tent during my shake-out loop. The mental boost is even more important than the physical aspects of a post-flight easy run.
I wasn’t even worried or stressed going into the race. I never really am. It’s a low-key event that’s off the radar in a lot of ways and I prefer that over the big stuff. I hope it always stays that way. It’s the perfect balance of a relaxed atmosphere with some really great talents. Plus it’s run really well with some great directors. I haven’t done big-name races in years and I don’t miss them at all.
We all go into it knowing the heat is going to be killer. Heck, living in Boulder, I’ve become a wimp anyway because the weather is not even a factor here outside of T-storms and maybe a quick hailstorm. I got off the plane in Indiana and swamp air hit me. I don’t remember it being that bad! So, next year, I’m going to find some way to prepare better for that or just get there earlier.
First 30K wasn’t bad at all. I held the pace I wanted and when I passed 26.2, I was OK with whatever happened next since I’d already run more miles with no break than I had ever run. I started to take longer pit-stops at our tent set up right on the course sideline. Hydration became key and I could take down a water bottle of Nuun and still need a refill at that 1.5 mile mark of the 5K loop. I started talking to others and they were dealing with the same stuff. This is where the learning started. It was a fine balance of taking in enough water without it being so much that it started swishing around. After a few loops, I had that figured out.
Next, the sun hit. First the small levee got heated. That was tolerable because it is pretty short. It wasn’t until the second levee turned into a sauna that things got real. I learned from the experienced ultra people that walking hills and sunny parts is totally OK. It’s actually more beneficial to walk the tough parts and jog the easier parts. You know how hard it is for me to tell myself “It’s OK to walk!”? …super hard. So, this was more learning.
The biggest thing I like about ultras is the support. It’s not something I ever saw in marathons, especially the bigger ones. People were sizing up each other and getting all tense at those. Well, that’s not a thing at low-key ultras, or much in the ultra world at all. I’ve seen nothing but friendships and team work at Hawthorn. I’ve also crewed at one of my running partner’s ultras that went for over over 24 hours and the people were nothing but amazing. People are there for each other and actually care. I got to experience this first-hand yesterday and I’m hooked. I teamed up with some women for a few laps and we talked and did some smart, easy pacing and I didn’t panic. I didn’t go in thinking I’d be the best there and wasn’t worried that I was just figuring things out and doing what I could do. I was there to learn and be a part of something special and I got what I wanted out of it.
What’s sad is that in the back of my head I can still hear old words from the past saying that’s just making excuses. I used to think that way about people who had fun at races even if they didn’t win. Now I’m on a pretty good side of running and it’s no excuse to say you learned, you ran happy, and you were satisfied with your performance even if it wasn’t some record-breaker or win. It’s real happy running. It’s not hurting yourself just to prove a point or go out for blood at the start line. It’s running smart, paying attention to your body, the conditions, and taking away something good from the experience. It’s not about being hard on yourself. It’s about accomplishing something you’ve never done before and aiming to base improvements off that accomplishment.
When it comes to stats, my Garmin battery died at 37 miles. So, I stopped keeping track, took a long break when the heat index allegedly got over 100 on the levees, and just continued to fuel, stretch, and enjoy the day. I took a really easy lap right before the last half hour when the 800 meter loops start. I timed it so I’d have some space to refuel again and limber up.
Something happened with the 800s. I thought in my head I just needed a loop or 2 to hit 40 something miles for the day. So, I was just going to walk them and maybe jog a bit. A few feet past the start of the loop, I just started running harder than I had all day. I’m not 100% sure how it happened but it had to have been the support of the crowd and the shade that just kicked me into gear. And that right there showed me that I can do ultras. I didn’t die. There was more juice left and I know what I can do now. So, next year, I’m going to give it a go again powered by the knowledge I have now and the confidence that I have something good going there. Ultras are pretty freekin cool.
And the biggest surprise of the day? Cracking 50 miles. Heck, I had no clue. After the Garmin died and with that long break in the heat, I was set on being somewhere in the 40s. I was a bit out of it but physically still felt good and totally lost count on the 800 loops. I stopped checking the board after my watch died too. I just wanted to have fun. That’s why I was so surprised when I was handed a medal with the 50 miler sticker on it!
And if anybody is interested, here’s some results for the day. It was a hot one folks! Awesome job!
But seriously, people of Terre Haute, Wabash Valley Road Runners, Pliggs, you all changed running for me and I continue to see progress in me as a runner and a person every year. I would have never touched a relay or ultra before you and I just ran 50 miles yesterday. Good people can change anything. When I showed up at Blues back in 2010, I wasn’t healthy. I was pushing too hard, treating myself like a machine, and could never live up to some stupid standard I put in my head. It was all about spinning my wheels and lacking confidence in myself which lead to trusting anybody but me, no matter how bad they were for me – including one who is still hitting up benders and detox again as recently as a few weeks back from what I’ve heard through the Boulder grapevine.  Yeah, I was running alright times but they weren’t making me happy and a big reason is because the people around me weren’t happy. I lazily chose what I now see was poor guidance for years just because it was there. You all kept me from spiraling down to their level and possibly losing running forever. Winning Blues that morning felt different and I cut off my old world less than a month later. The way you welcomed me that race morning planted a seed that keeps growing. You were the first people to ever show me a relentlessly happy, positive side of running and I’ll never forget that. It’s why I keep coming back to you all. I’ve had my happiest moments running in Terre Haute. There’s some reason I can just show up there and run without a care in the world. You all have something special going for you there. Every year, I keep seeing more progress in myself and understand that it takes time, patience and treating myself right to do this. I learned it from watching all of you. Never change, Terre Haute! See you again soon! Monumental? I’m thinking, yup! And I’m working on fitting in Blues again.


Popular posts from this blog

Administrative Note. Building an Empire!

Recap: Week of 1.23.17 – 1.29.17

Recap: 1.30.17 – 2.5.17 (G.O.A.T edition)