NEXT EVENTS: IRONMAN BOULDER 2014, Run Rabbit Run 50-miler

It's never too late to be what you might have been. --George Eliot

This blog is about my journey as an asthmatic, hypothyroid, formerly plus-sized endurance athlete. It's occasionally interrupted with things that have nothing to do with that or whining about my weight and horrible eating habits. "You're never too old to be what you might have been" --George Eliot

Friday, July 27, 2012

An annotated course description: the Vermont 100k

Dear Diary,

32 mile drop bag.  Contents: headlamp
jacket, extra pair of shoes, sunscreen,
extra shirt and shorts,
and of course, Ensure Clear + Larabars
(my super foods)
What follows is a description of the course from the website, and my comments.

Vermont 100 Mile Course Description - 2012

There is 9000 feet in elevation gain…the course is going up or down most of the time with only a few stretches that are flat. The last 30 miles are rather challenging....

Yeah. Thanks for that, by the way.

...The first six miles are rollers on a paved road, mainly, leading up to the point where they connect with the 100-milers at mile 6.7. Then there is a mile of paved moderate uphill, then back onto some climbing single track/horse trails until you get to Jenne Rd. Up some, then a sweeping down and up and soon a nice downhill stretch into Camp Ten Bear (the first time)
I didn’t take gels on this course. Instead, I loaded my pack with Gatorade and ate PBJ on white bread throughout the course. It seemed to do the trick.
…a half mile hump that connects you to a 22 mile-long loop. Some road, then meandering trail and Agony Hill – a lumpy steady uphill grind to the halfway point, then on gravel again to Pinky's. Cross Tyson Rd. and it's class 4 dirt road for 2 miles of easy upgrade to Birminghams… Cross a big field into the woods and snowmobile trails, up and down and out onto gravel for a nice 2 mile downhill breather to Tracer Brook.

51 mile drop bag.  Contents: socks, Ensure clear + Larabars.
This bag was deliberately left largely empty in casee I wanted
to drop off gear here.,
The downhill breathers are, pretty nice. But I had a sense of entitlement by the time I reached them, because after all, the course owes you this. Here, at mile 19, I took out my Ensure Clear and 2 larabars (nearly 700 compact calories), and changed my socks. Then, according to the course description:

now facing mostly uphill for 9 miles. First 3 are the steepest and only a few level sections…then that hump again and Ten Bear again (mile32) where pacers can join you.

My take: After mile 19, you start a a soul-sucking long uphill. It rises nearly 1000 feet, all the way. Here you will hate everyone and everything. You ask,who am I kidding? I’m no distance runner. I have no business being here.

"Somebody, somewhere, owes me a flat, cool trail run," I grumbled darkly, "and that someone is wearing a ring that looks just like mine."

Occasionally, a horse would go clopping by, with unnervingly cheerful riders on their backs. "I'd be cheerful too, if a large animal was doing all the work," i grumbled darkly. But it was pretty cool seeing the horses. We had gotten a lecture on how to approach, or be approached, by the horses, and they us. They were far, far more courteous than being passed by, say, roadies. And they smelled better too.

Oh, shut up. You know it's true.

At Camp Ten Bear (mile 32), I was weighed. My weigh-in was at 160.6, and at Camp Ten Bear I weighed in at 160.7. Story of my fucking life – I run 32 miles and gain an ounce. A nurse told me it was white around my mouth, and that I needed to sit down. She tested my Oxygen and said it was a little low, but coming back up. I put on my ice bandana, drank/ate some more Ensure clear and Larabars, and headed out, and started up “heart break hill” but take it from me, after the climb after mile 19, nothing will bother or surprise you again. Okay, that’s a lie – it will bother you, but you won’t have the energy to be truly angry. Instead, you just try not to cry.

In your planning keep in mind that the last 30 miles are challenging, with a number of trail sections and short, steep uphills. Just out of Ten Bear, there's a half mile level trail then ¾ mi. fairly steep up Heartbreak Hill on bumpy, usually wet jeep road. A mile of easy grade gravel and first up and down on 2 miles of trail, then back on road at Seabrook at 75.1.

My note: Don’t get off track here. I was busy unwrapping a Larabar and went down the wrong path; it cost me about 20 minutes. At about mile 45, Sweet Baboo came strolling up, I say strolling though he was moving at a sub-10 minute pace. He was maddenly cheerful and gosh, I have to admit I was too, because I was on track to finish. baboo had made me a pace chart, and if you Plan to do this 100k ask me and I'll send it to you.

Anyway, he showed up and asked his pacer if he would stay with me, as it was getting dark. I was, to be honest, pretty grateful for this; although I was to be running until 4 or 5 am, it never occurred to me to get one. I think the pacer was somewhat annoyed at first, as he engrossed himself in conversation with another runner and appeared not to hear the same question when asked it, loudly, about three times, but he redeemed himself by become the most awesome pacer ever. If it weren't for him, I don't think I would have finished.

Bob the Pacer is a physician from Massachusettes. He's getting ready to run The Bear. He was friendly and kept me talking by asking me about myself, which of course is my favorite subject at times. He didn't seem to mind that I wass mostly walking by now, and even got me to run at times when I though I didn't have it in me.

...Then single track up and down and up a steep gravel driveway to Spirit-of-'76 handler station (which is actually at 39 miles). Head out onto 1.5 mi. of up and down trail, then 10 miles of uninterrupted road, most of it downhill, and then a couple of steep roller coaster ups in the last mile to Bill's at 51.5 mi..

At Bill's they weighed me again. 161.5. DAMMIT. See what I mean? But by then I knew that my nutrition and hydration were spot on. i sat down for a bit, but not too long because I didn't want to get chilled. After this, you don’t really know what’s going on because it’s pitch black and you’re trying to watch for glowsticks and not wander off the course. If you have a pacer extraordinaire, as I did, then you can simply focus on the growing pain in your feet—thank goodness for that. i took a no doze, and two advil, and two Tylenol, and I was ready to rock and roll. Or trudge 11 miles. They told me thirteen more. I wept. But at the same time, I have to mention, I was enjoying myself. I loved seeing the horses, and there wasn't NEARLY as mich horse manure on the course as I'd envisioned.

All in all, though, I didn't suffer as much as I had at Javalina 100, despite this being a much more challenging course. Toward the end the hills were simply inevitable. They just kept coming, and were shorter, but since I was moving slower they seemed about the same. At mile 59, my Garmin finally died, taking to heaven all of its data. Yes, that's right. Fucking 310x didn't retain a sing bit of of the 59 miles , like it never happened. It hate it for that. I hurt, but it wasn't the kind of pain that made me cry out. It was a loud ache like, well, like I'd been on my feet for nineteen hours, or something.
And then ahead of me I saw lights of a different color. " There's the finish line," said Bob the Pacer.
You're lying. There is no finish line.

"No really. It is. "

I'll believe it when someone hands me a medal, I grumbled.

i found out the next day that I was the last official finisher. Anyone not finishing the 100k was listed as DNF. They gave me these for finishing...and for finishing under 20 hoirs.
When I crossed the finish line I burst into tears. Then I sat down for a while, until someone asked me if I needed anything, and then I wept again. "I want my husband."

"go check over there," motioning to a sea of bodies, prostrate on cots. Many of them had their heads covered. I thought I saw Sweet Baboo's feet, and his pack. But I hesitated. Didn't want to whip a blanket off some total stranger. Just then, he uncovered mis head and looked toward me and grinned.

"You finished!"
I burst into tears again. "that was hard," I sobbed. 

He, who had just run 100 mies to my 63, nodded sympathetically.

"Lets go back to the hotel and get some sleep," he said.

And then we did.
The end.

...



Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Yes, I finished.

Dear Diary,


Yes, I finished. I only cried at the finish line. I want to write a race report, coming soon.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Dateline:Vermont

Dear Diary

It's race day.

Well, it's not race day, not yet. Today I picked up my "packet": my shirt, bib (#431), two meal tickets and some safety pins. Then I listened to a fairly entertaining speech "welcome to the Vermont 100!" about how to approach a horse from behind in the dead of night. My 100k, as it turns out, goes all night. And it goes on as the same time as an endurance horse race. Sweet Baboo thinks that's cool. I'm trying to put the vision of steaming piles of horse manure out of my head.

Now it's 10:30 and I can't sleep.

Sweet Baboo's hundred mile race will be starting at 4 am, so we'll be up at 1 am and leaving the hotel by 3. After he leaves I have five hours to nap in the car until my race starts at 9 am.

For some reason I didn't pay much attention to this race. My mind has been full of other things this year. Two weeks ago I realized it started at--"wait, 9 am? That means I'll be running into the night!" Panicked. Afraid.

"Yup!' said Mr. Cheerful. "in fact, all night!"

Shit. Horse shit, to be precise.

"I'm terrified of this race, I confessed to Baboo as we were packing for our trip to Vermont. It's a 20 hour time limit, and some really crazy hills, all the way through.

"Try to be positive," he warned. "Don't take that onto the course with you."

Whatever.

They weighed me. I've never been weighed for a run before. And took my blood pressure. And warned me that I cannot lose more than 10 lbs during the race. I laughed, the laugh of a frightend, insane woman, and drank some more gatorade. Then the speech about the trails, no headphones allowed, because of the horses. We need to be able to hear them coming. I'm pretty sure that well into the race, at night, nobody on a horse will be behind me, but whatever. It's a rule, I'll follow it. Alone at night, in the dark New England woods, I'll talk to myself. And hope that no voices talk back.

I dropped off my 3 drop bags, each with a new Ensure clear (peach-flavored), two Larabars, fresh socks, and other assorted items. The 50-mile bag has head lamp and batteries in it. It didn't occur to me I might need a pacer, so I didn't arrange one.

There's no athlete tracking.

So, well, *Deep breath* hopefully, I'll see you on the other side of the finish line.

...

Thursday, July 12, 2012

I won't go changin'.

Dear Diary,

I finally figured out that I can load the "old" blogger interface! Yay! Then I was bummed out when I reealized my work computer still won't let me post. Boo. However, it won't let me save a post as a draft, so there's no way of knowing if this is even going to post.

It occurs to me that there are some things that running hasn't changed about me.

13. It hasn't improved my decision-making skills. This past weekend for reasons I cannot fathom I am now signed up for the Bandera 100k. It's in January. Mmm. There's a fairly generous cutoff, I think, and I've been told that there's some nasty step climbs and then lots of runnable stuff. What the hell; I won't know if I try, right?

12. On the other hand, I'm certain I have made one decision: I was asked the other day if I was working my way up to doing 100 miler. i am not.. At least, I don't think so. What I've been able to figure out is that running 100 miles is a lot like getting a PhD. You have to really, really, want it. I don't. Then again, I once said that I didn't really feel the need to ever do a marathon. Still later, I said I didn't feel the need to ever do an Ironman. So much for resolve.

Thing is, if I don't have a crazy-assed long race looming on the horizon then I have trouble getting up and running. And if I don't train, I'll gain weight.

I'm not even sure if I can pull off the Vermont 100k on the 21st. But I've already been assigned a bib number 431.

11. Also, I've agreed to do the swim leg at the Cochiti oly triathlon. This is a week after Vermont. Our team is the Honeybadgers, because we don't give a $hit. Since then, I've been trying to get up early enough to get into a pool. Friday, I will do it. I mean it. Will.

10. Running hasn't made me neater. Poor Baboo. His mother warned me when we decided to get married that he's picky, and I took that to mean that I might be xtra special, since he's so picky. But I worry that he suffers so. Honestly, I don't like being messy. I'm not one for glorifying it or making dumb excuses I need for everything to be out where I can see it. So, I am working on some mindfulness stuff to try to concentrate on doing just one thing at a time. Take out what I need, do what I need, put it away. I'm working on it.

9. On the other hand, I've made good progress on simplifying. Doors slide shut easily on my dresser. I can find things. I open cabinets and I can see what's inside. It's awesome. You know how when you first walk into an empty house you love how spacious it is? Then you fill it up with stuff. That's what I did...but now, the house is starting to look spacious again. I feel i have more time to run, because I can find things, and i love coming home to my cozy, but spacious, home.

8. Running also hasn't changed my attraction to batter-dipped, fried foods. Or anything with coconut in it. The trifecta, of course, would be coconut chocolate anything, batter-dipped and fried. Ooohhhhhh. But I digress.

7. Running hasn't changed peri-menopause. Lately, hot flashes and night sweats have been driving me crazy. I wake up in wet sheets five or six times per night. I finally got some standardized Black Cohosh tablets, which has worked for me before. If they don't start working soon I'm taking the plunge -- HRT. No, I don't want to hear any horror stories about it, thanks.

6. Running hasn't changed my love of baths. I wish I had a deep, garden tub. Right now my bathtub is attached to the shower that the resident 21-year-old is using. It's far less relaxing when I have to lock the door and who knows what kind of boy germs are floating around?

5. Running hasn't changed my general annoyance toward parents, particularly the ones who can't seem to separate themselves from their children. But I suppose I am a bit more patient.

4. Running hasn't made me more confident about my looks. I still wear makeup to trail runs.

3. Running hasn't caused me to stop eating in my car. It's pretty gross. It's next on my hit list of bad habits.

2. Running hasn't made me less of a geek. I like that my bib number for Vermont is a prime number. And I'm currently working on my pace chart for Vermont in Excel.

1. What running has done is make life in general less frightening. All the managed care reviewers, oblivious parents, and general unpleasantries that life has are less daunting. At least it's not an ironman, I think. At least it's not a 30 mile run in Colorado. no, it's just an asshole with an attitude.

...

Sunday, July 08, 2012

On crewing (2)

Dear Diary,

A lot has been written about the logistics of crewing. But having been crewed once, and having observed other crews, and been crewing Sweet Baboo for the past few years, I felt like I wanted to weigh in on some other aspects of crewing. I had a pretty good crew to work with this weekend, and I am grateful for it. I forgot for a few minutes that I was supposed to be in charge but overall, our crew was pretty great.

What follows is long, but I feel it's important.

First, If you are expecting a grateful runner, and running in with them to the finish, and you're hurt because someone snapped at you or you didn't get to be in charge, or your feelings are hurt because someone else got to help your runner or you didn't, get over it. You are there to work. Put your self-entitlement aside. Crewing is about getting the runner to the finish line safely, and as comfortably as one can finish 50, 100k, or 100 miles. It's about the runners. Being there is a privilege, and it's hard work. It you can't accept that, you shouldn't be crewing.

The crew should have a crew chief. The crew chief alone communicates with the runner and the pacer and then gives directions to the crew. The chief should be take-charge, and familiar with crewing and ultra-running. If you have an idea, make a suggestion during a calm moment. Do not argue while caring for the runner. If only one person is allowed into an aid station, that is the crew chief. Do not get caught up having your feelings hurt. It isn't about you. It's about the runners.

Be prepared to perform grooming in a car. Be ready for all your meals to be "to go". Pack as though you were camping. Wear comfortable clothes and dress in layers. Be prepared to not get enough sleep. If the crew chief says we are leaving now, be ready to be left behind if you aren't ready to move. Maybe they'll be back for you. Maybe you'll need to catch another ride with another crew. Put aside pride, the need to be recognized, to be pretty, to smell good, and to party. This is work. Don't get all pissed off because you didn't get your favorite food, or couldn't follow your special diet for 24 hours. If the runner gets a little bitchy and snaps at you, get over it. If you want a fun weekend, then be a spectator and stay out of the way. You have no "rights." Ask if you can have something from the aid station. Move back and out of the way. It is not about you. It is about the runners.

Notice that I said "runners". We want everyone to finish. If you see another runner in distress, help them. Don't tell another crew that you're "saving this space" for "our runner". We are all working together for the runners. If you couldn't make it on time to an aid station to help your runner, you'd want someone to help them out, right? Help out others. And always thank the volunteers. Even the cranky ones. It isn't about you. It's about the runners.

Finally, anyone that requires special care, and/or does not provide direct care to the runner, should not be there. Children and pets are spectators, not crew. They lack the capacity for the selflessness that is needed for crewing. This is not the time to have family time, or teach them valuable lessons. It wastes time that is needed to care for the runner. Take them to one or two spectating areas and let them work in signs and cheer, bur don't drag them to every aid station. They get in the way. They need sleep and don't understand why it is cold, or hot, or raining, and they get tired and hungry.

Remember, It's about the runners. Work or get out of the way. Your satisfaction should be from knowing that you helped another person accomplish something amazing. You may be recognized for this. You might not. Be honored that you are witness to the pain, and joy, and suffering. That is what crewing is. It is nothing else.

...

Thursday, July 05, 2012

I can't seem to blog.



Dear Diary,

2012 has been a difficult year for keeping up with blogging.

13. My computer at work is older and the version of IE on it won't load the blogger interface. Blogsy, on my ipad, erases any blog I write and don't immediately upload. Or, as it appears to have done today, it replaces an old post with a new one, wiping out the old post completely.

Now, soon they are going to "refresh" my computer and put all new software on it; in the meantime I can hardly march into the director's office and demand,  I have a BLOG. I need a newer computer. Now.


12. Himself introduced me to Angry Birds. Now I am frequently Very Busy.

11. Work - is good. Very good. Right now it is slow, just slow enough to get me adjusted to the new stuff I do. I am getting very positive feedback. In fact, just this morning the director said I was doing 'great job'.

10. Internship - has gotten weird. After being a good mentor, confidante, and guru my instructor suddenly does not greet me or smile and ignores me most of the time. This new behavior started after two weeks in Europe, leading me to believe it's her issue, not mine. But geez, if you can't smile after being in Europe for two weeks, what the feck is your problem?

But I will pass, and be done, and I don't have to deal with this nightmare MSW any more. This is what endurance running has taught me: you do what you have to, no matter how crappy it gets, and you put your head down and finish. Ultrarunning is pretty much an analogy for finishing despite suffering.

9. Running - is picking up. I did the Angel Fire 50K this past weekend. Now, I was looking forward to this. Here is the "last minute course change", May 18, which is an out-and-back. You do the out and back, and then run out again for 3 miles and return. There's your 31 miles.
Doesn't this look like a pleasant run?


But this was not the run that I did. THIS was the course that they gave us.




It was a brutal course. Most of the trail was covered in small loose boulders, sticks, and pinecones. I felt pretty beat up at the end. I cried after the first 25 miles because I didn't want to go back out and finish the 10K that was left. There were a LOT of DNFs. Boy, I was pissed. But the pissiness went away when they gave me this:



8. A long time ago the New Mexico Outlaws were formed by a guy named MG. After a couple years, he decided he no longer wanted to be in charge, so he turned it over to Sweet Baboo, who recruited more members, and eventually MG stopped being a member. A couple years after that, MG decided he missed being in charge, so he started his own team with a different name. He had a shiny new team with a shiny new logo and began recruiting new members, including some away from the old team. We were all, whatever. Now all of the sudden, years later, he is claiming that the Outlaws is "his" name and selling merchandise with the name on it. He has the domain name, so he thinks he "owns" the outlaws name.

Which reminds me of an old joke:

Question: How many narcissists does it take to change a lightbulb?

Answer: None. Why should they change anything? They are perfect just the way they are. It's YOU who should change.

Even after 99 miles he's kicking my ass.
7. Western States - I crewed himself at Western States. It was a difficult race to crew. Two of the major crew points required that you catch a shuttle (school bus) to the actual aid station, and progress was hampered by "crews" consisting of, for example, and pregnant woman with five small children (who wasn't carrying any supplies for crewing). I am writing a post soon about what crewing is and isn't. Meanwhile, just so you know: Western States is a difficult race to crew. Also interesting to mention is that apparently Sweet Baboo had to slow down so that I could run in with him. Geez.


6. Facebook - I sat down with Facebook for the first time in a long time and realized I have too many "friends". The problem was, there are people I communicate with regularly, but sometimes I miss their updates when someone who is the friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend posts "Roxie just made the cutest face!" I started searching most of my "friends" individually, and I was extremely distressed to realize that one had died nearly a year ago and I didn't know it, mainly because I didn't exchange information much with this person. Two others had died, and I knew about it, but people continued to post on their walls, which would show up in my feed. I found people I had

"friended" in 2008 and never had any exchange with of any kind after that - no comments, no posts, on each other's walls. Other people had over 1000 friends and I figured they wouldn't miss me. Some of my "friends" where celebrities of a type who I've never had any kind of interchange with.

So, I dropped a bunch of people. I hope nobody is hurt by that.

Meanwhile, I've started an AthenaDiaries facebook page.

http://www.facebook.com/AthenaDiaries

Dedicated to the born-again athete and back-of-the-packer. I figure it can be a good place to put information that might be useful, like new products, stuff on sale, new races with generous cutoff, stuff like that.

5. I gained more weight. Back up near 160. Eep. Some of my clothes are uncomfortable. THis may, or may not, have anything to do with my general slothfulness this spring. I'm back working on it. I don't want to buy new clothes.

[PLACEHOLDER: I WAS GOING TO GOOGLE FAT AND CHOOSE AND IMAGE TO PUT HERE, BUT THEY ARE JUST TOO DISTURBING. ]

4. Two weeks until the Vermonth 100K. I have 20 hours to finish this. If I can pull off 100K at this point I'll be pretty happy, and will have a new state in my collection. Vermont is my last "big race" of the year and so I'll start over with a new training plan after it's over, to prepare for the Mt. Taylor 50K.

3. You have to have 14% bodyfat, if you're a chick, to have a six-pack. Crazy. According to a recent research study I was in, I'm nearly 1/3 fat, so my plan to wear just a colorful running bra one of these days in a race is looking pretty dim.

2. I recently found out that our local medicaid administrator for behavioral health, a private corporation who I refer to as The Evil, gives their employees gift cards for denying lots of claims.  UNETHICAL much?  Even better, the particular employees are called patient care advocates.

1. Hoping to take off the 9-ish or so pounds I put on this year being a puss and feeling sorry for myself. I'm hoping to accomplish this by September, when we have the Mt. Taylor 50K. That would mean running at 150 lbs. I hope, I hope. Problem is, I've gotten into such bad food habits the past few months.

 So this week's good food habit is: dividing my lunch into two containers, and eating one at 11:00 and one at 2:00.

OH, what the hell.  Here's a demotivator for you: