Sunday, July 21, 2013

Merrill's Mile 12 Hour Day---July 6, 2013

Last year, I ran the 24 hour race.  This year, I was smarter, and signed up for the 12 hour race.  HAHA  Really, my target race is H9 in 3 weeks after this race, so 24 hours would not be in line with my goals.  I really just want to run 50 miles first and then if I have some time left I'll run or walk it out until time runs out.  I think that 50 miles is really not a huge goal for me but big enough for what I want to accomplish.

I haven't had a race in about 4 months since GDR.  I have thoroughly just enjoyed training and running wild as my friend Deborah and I often joke about.  It's awesome not having my self induced stress of a race, and it also gives me plenty of time to mentally prepare for my next races and goals.  I figured out many months ago that I do not need to race.  I just need to run. 

So, four days until Merrill's Mile, I am out walking in our neighborhood on the golf paths with Lee, and we have to walk around this gate like we have done many times before.  However, this time I feel something sharp and it goes all the way into my heel until it stops!  When I scream, Lee runs to the other side of the golf path thinking I just got bit by a  I know what he is thinking and so I voluntarily say, "it's not a snake, it's a nail, I just stepped on a nail!".

I remove my shoe and the blood is really pouring out of my heel.  I'm a nurse so I know it's pretty deep and try to look at the wound, but the blood is coming out so fast that I can't really see how bad the puncture is.  I'm telling Lee that I think I might need to go to the ER.  Lee goes looking for the nail and under some hay or dead grass he pulls out two 2x4's with 3 inch nails nailed into them all the way across the boards!  They were deliberately placed there.

Lee leaves me on the golf path to go home to get the golf cart to pick me up.  I'm holding pressure on my heel, and I just get so angry that this has happened to me.  I'm so thankful it wasn't one of my children and also thankful it wasn't in a different part of my foot.  But, also Lee says I don't think you are going to be able to run your race Saturday.  I don't want to think about this because I think he is right, and that makes me very upset.  By the time he returns, the bleeding has stopped and after filing a police report he drives me home.  The next day, I report to employee health for a tetanus shot and a prescription for antibiotics. 

All day Wednesday and Thursday, I cannot walk or bear weight on my left heel.  I am trying to more on Thursday, but it really hurts.  I am feeling discouraged.  I wake up Friday morning and initially my arm from the tetanus shot is more sore than my heel.  I get up and run just over 2 miles before work to "test" my heel.  It really hurts.  In fact, it hurts so much that .39 miles into this I wonder how much more I can take and how long should I test it?  Crap, I've got Merrill's Mile in 24 hours.  How am I going to manage this pain?

I message Jake about this pain, and he informs me that this is my nervous system in shock, and it's just a puncture.  He says all this other stuff to really minimize my trauma telling me "it was only a thumb tack"! And even I start to believe that this is nothing but a thing.  So, I think about it and a few hours later I decide that I am going to follow through and run this race.  I decide that I am just simply going to ignore my foot and try to bear as much weight as possible on my foot the rest of the day to reproduce the pain and just learn to live with it.  Also, I am telling myself that my foot does not need to know that she is running tomorrow.  I am planning on learning to completely ignore my foot. 

The next morning I wake up and get ready for Merrill's and my foot feels better but basically I am in ignoring mode!

I pick up Cecilia and off we go to Merrill's Mile at the Ranger Camp, and it's a rainy kind of day.  Much better than the scorching day in the sun last week!  We set out our stuff and our canopy with help from our friends.

Jake finally arrives within 30 min of the start.  He has yet to check in and quite honestly he looks like shit.  He shows up hung over and barely slept.  At some point, he realizes he forgot his shoes and plans on running this fine gravel track barefoot!  I am laughing hysterically but tell him seriously, you can't run this barefoot.  His goal is to also run 50 miles.  It's always something with Jake but how in the hell do you show up to a race without your running shoes?  What's even funnier is that he has no clue where they are!  Meet my Pinhoti race partner.  He is the yin to my yang.  I train so hard and he barely trains.  I don't mind because I love to run and Jake not so much!  However, David hears Jake's plight and loans him a pair of shoes which are about 1.5 sizes to big!  This makes me laugh even harder. 

The race starts and I run with Margaret a few laps and then just continue onward.  Loop races are great in that you just keep running and run with different people throughout your day.  It really helps to pass the time and break the monotony of repeating loops.  The rain helps in breaking it up and then the course changes as I try to dodge puddles along the way. 

My GA Loop Buddy, Brad

Along about mile 18, I have to stop to use the massage therapist because my left glute and hamstring hurt so bad because I am bearing more weight on that left side guarding my right heel. I'm sure the left hand turns on this oval track aren't helping as I lean to the left.  I can deal with a pain that I am used to, but it's difficult to stand an acute pain like this.  The massage therapist is wonderful and gets me going.  No one has ever dug into my butt so deep, and I tell her that as everyone who hears this has a good laugh.  I have to stop again in miles 28, 37, and 50 just to keep going.  I'm sure without her I would have not been able to run as well as I did.  At Hostility, this same group was there volunteering for the runners, and I never used them once.  Stopping 4 times to use the massage therapist ate up my time.  I am not happy about this but also I would not have gotten as far as I did without them.

I am lucky to run with friends off and on throughout my day.  I had several lows where I didn't feel good which happens on a 50 mile or longer race, but I had more than usual.  Timed events are a good time to practice this, and I get through it.  I remember for a few laps feeling bad, and Jake talked me through it.  And, on a better lap we crack each other up.  I am laughing so hard that I think I'm going to fall down on the track laughing.  Laughing like that always makes me feel better.

Flying in David's

Along around mile 36 or so,  I start running most of my laps with Cecilia and several with David.  Then I am running with Jake and David.  It's funny because we all have 50 mile goals set.  Cecilia and I catch up together and run most of her final lap.  I see her parents and right about that time it's getting ready to really storm.  I figure she might go home with them since they are there already before the storm strikes.  I keep running as she is somewhere behind me, and I'm not sure what she's going to do.  I don't see Jake as I know he is out there running still, so I figure I may as well just run in the rain and finish this out and then get him to help me take the canopy down. 

Look at our form!  My Running Twin!
So, I finish another 2 laps in the pouring rain bringing my total to 53 laps or 52.48 miles.  Yay!  Another goal completed, and a 3rd race in a row that I ran with some kind of injury..ughh  But, I am excited to just have finished this goal in 11:57 hours.  I had 3 minutes to spare.

I see Sarah after the race who told me she ran 59 loops and came in first place!  I am so excited for her because we trained together for GDR and then she got sick right before the race with a sinus infection and had to DNF at mile 29.  She has been running for 30 years and is a very strong runner.  She tells me to go check on what place I came in because she thinks I did really well.  I had no idea what place anyone was in, so I go ask Willy and to find out where my finishing award can be picked up at.  He helps me look on the computer screen, and I am shocked that I came in 2nd female and 4th overall.  However, after the 12 hour night runners, I placed 5th overall out of about 43 runners.  I really didn't care about placing at this race because I just wanted to get my mileage in.  So, I'm really pleasantly surprised because I saw some strong female runners out there, and I just didn't know how many laps anyone had run.

Overall, a good training run, too much rain, and awesome friends to run with.  I'm lucky.

Coosa Loops with My Running Twin--May/June/July 2013

Running Twins-HaHa!

I meet Cecilia and David to run the Coosa Loop just 4 days prior to my own GA Loop run in May.   It's my last week day to run trails while Lee is at work and the kids are at school.  For the rest of the summer, I'll only run trails on weekends so that I can stay home with the kids during the week.

I haven't run a full Coosa Loop since March and even then I threw in some miles onto the DRT before turning around and finishing out the loop.  So, technically, I haven't run just a true Coosa Loop since last July.  I've been so busy running other trails and re-running certain sections so much that I just never got around to running "just" a Coosa Loop.  Usually, if I am going to make the drive then I want to run as many miles as I can.  But, with GA loop being in just 4 days 12 to 13 miles will be plenty.

It's a hot day with high humidity.  Really, haven't had any days like this up to this point.  But, the air is thick, and I like humid weather. David is a new runner to ultras and this is his first Coosa Loop ever.  So, that is always fun.  This run is pretty uneventful except for the fact that we are running a lot of ups.  I feel really good today.  I am surprised when we finish this loop out, and I have 3:23 hours on my watch.  Later, when I look at my Garmin from last July, I knocked off 1:22 hours off my time.  I am so surprised at how much I have improved.  That's almost a 7 min/mile difference!  Also, it was fun getting to the top of Coosa in my fastest time ever at 1:47 hours.  I wasn't trying for a PR which makes this run even more awesome!

Six days after I complete the GA Loop, June 1st,  I agree to meet Cecilia for her double Coosa loop, and it's National Trail Day!.  I tell her that I will go one loop and if I feel good I'll go a 2nd loop, but to not count me in for the 2nd loop.  I am pretty well recovered from GA Loop except my feet still hurt and my stupid blister hurts worse now than it did after my GA Loop run.  It feels like it's bone deep.  I cover it with antibiotic ointment, moleskin, and tape.  As I get out of my car at Vogel and put on my trail shoes it really hurts, and I wonder how in the hell am I going to run one loop.  LOL  But, I don't dwell on this as I really have a strong desire to run in spite of it.

We make it to the top of Coosa and was headed down to Wild Cat gap, and I asked Cecilia, "why are we going down, we haven't reached the top of Coosa yet?" Well, she must have thought I was crazy because she told me we had already passed Coosa and are headed towards WPG. I just died laughing! Usually, I can't wait to see the top of Coosa and counting the minutes till I reach the top. Today, I pass right over the top, and I didn't even realize it! This must be a great sign that I am getting

As we were running down on the other side of the loop a hiker warned of us a rattle snake next to the Bear Hair Trail. I told Cecilia to go first as she had to be the "brave one" lol. As we approach, Bear Hair I had to talk her past it as she was tip toeing...I say to Cecilia, "let's just keep running and he won't see us" ..LOL  We finished the loop and ran to our cars and shared her avocado and some potato, and I drank a powerade. Went to the potty and off we went for loop 2. I actually felt pretty good. My blister wasn't hurting at all but my feet still hurt, but they hurt may as well go again!  I am reminded of what my friend Tom says, "nothing hurts when you're running!".  So true.

We decided to take the Bear Hair trail up and run past the rattlesnake that wasn't there going clockwise.. Turns out the reverse is really not any easier than going up Coosa lol It's just not quite as steep but looking at my Garmin discernible difference! Running down Coosa and hearing Cecilia laughing at the mountain behind us because we are running downhill and not uphill was my favorite part of the day. She was making fun of the mountain because we were done with the worst of the climbing! It was funny. I was very proud of myself for completing such a hard run after the GA loop 100k just last week.  We finish in 8:04 hours.  Great running time for a double Coosa 28.58 mile run on fatigued legs climbing 9200 feet in elevation gain.

Cecilia and I run Merrill's Mile and then one week after running 50 plus miles, we decide to tackle the Double Coosa Loop once again on July 13.  Now, to most people this might sound like madness, but to my running twin and I, it just sounds like fun!  Weeeee!  LOL

We start running at 5:45am by headlamp and this time we decide to run the first loop clockwise and to eliminate the Bear Hair Trail, so that we can be near finishing our first loop when Wilson's fun run group gets started around 9am.   I feel surprisingly good but that's because my foot feels a lot better from the nail puncture, and I am running more normally on it.  We run into Wilson's group within a mile of the start, and it's always fun seeing friends on the trail!

Wilson runs back to our cars with us and we refuel and head back out for our 2nd loop to run counter clockwise.  We eventually run into Deborah and Theresa who decided to turn around and go back to the park.  It's not long before we run into Mitch and Brandon who breeze past us running up Coosa on their first loop.  I told Cecilia that is just amazing to watch those two guys running that fast up Coosa as we power hike on our poor tired legs! haha 

We make it to the top of Coosa and it's gotten breezy and rainy.  We stop briefly here for a snack and start running down Wild Cat Gap and then towards Wolf Pen Gap.  I love this stretch of trail before heading up Slaughter.  Cecilia and I are not really looking forward to going up Slaughter, but up we go.  Cecilia cracks me up when she says, "you know this sucks but in a good way".  We both burst out laughing, and I tell her this is the funniest thing all day.  I tell her that as hard as this is that Merrill's Mile was harder for 

See how happy we are to be finished with Slaughter Mountain!  Not so bad, huh?
We finish this loop out and while Cecilia runs to the bathroom, I run all the way out to the far parking lot and notice our time is 8:23 hours.  A little slower then our last double Coosa loop, but we did make a few social stops with Wilson's groups and again with other runners we saw that day.  But, also we just ran 50ish miles at Merrill's Mile just a week ago too.  So, I'm not complaining about our time at all.  I think it's actually quite good!
Cecilia and I think so much alike on our running philosophy that I often tell her she's my "running twin".  We often share our ideas and the other one has already thought along those lines or was going to bring this same idea up. It's so funny just how much running sense we have in common.  I've never met someone who thinks so much like me in terms of running and also shares a strong determination factor.  
I'm looking forward to our future endeavors wherever they may lead.  If I'm running with Cecilia, it's bound to be a fun hard day.  It's rare to find someone who wants to run like that consistently.  I am so thankful to have her as my friend.  She inspires and motivates me so.  I've learned so much from her, and I hope I have helped her as much as she has helped me. 
Mostly, I am thankful to have found a great friend.


The Georgia Loop---May 26, 2013

On my very first mountain training run in Sept. 2011, I met Brad on the Duncan Ridge Trail who was running the GA Loop carrying 2 jugs of water.  I had never heard of The GA Loop before.  I later learn he was running approx. 55 miles in the mountains that weekend, and very few people actually complete this run in a day meaning under 24 hours.  It's just over 17,000 feet of elevation gain not to mention the elevation loss.  I was thoroughly impressed and thought that would just be so awesome to be able to do that!  In fact, it would be a dream to be able to do a run like this.

In Dec. 2012, I decided that by late May or early June, that I would run the GA Loop.  I could have run it sooner except I was too busy training for GDR.  My original plan was to cover the loop over 2 days.  But, those plans fell through in April, and I decided to just go ahead and run it in a day.  Corinne who had just finished running and winning "Cruel Jewel 58 mile race" the previous week was going to join me for at least 40 to 50 miles.  My original plan also included running this with self-support and setting out aid in a few places. 

However, a few weeks before I am to run the loop, I'm chatting with Brad, and he mentions that he would crew me if I ever needed him to.  This is a general blank statement, but it gets me thinking.  Hmmm?  So, I think on it, and it would actually solve setting out aid, but also who better to crew us than the person who has run this course twice?  So, after consulting Corinne, I inform Brad of our plans to run the loop and ask if I could take him up on his offer to crew us.  He accepts just like that and even agrees to run with me when Corinne needs to stop since her legs will be tired from Cruel Jewel.  So, I name Corinne and I, "The GA Loop Girls".

So, the plans are set and Corinne and I meet Brad and drop off our aid into his truck.  Corinne has this little bag, and I have an entire cooler.  It's funny.  In my cooler, I have 2 Cuban sandwiches, hummus wraps, a gallon and a half of water, a few cokes, mountain dew, coconut water, powerade, and one red bull.  The red bull is for emergency use if the shit hits the  Turns out as usual, I over packed.

Corinne and I start running at Woody Gap at 5:14am.  I am not running this for time but rather as a completion run.  I just want to have a good day, have fun, and complete it.  I do not underestimate The GA Loop though.  I do realize and know just how hard this is going to be.  But, I also know this is what I love to run.  I feel like I am pretty well prepared as one can be for this type of run. 

Corinne and I are running and talking the whole time.  We make the right onto the DRT and are running just fine.  We even talk about needing to stay on the blue blazes and know we will be at Wolf Pen Gap at mile 10.  However, we quickly come across this tent right in the center of the trail, and we have to walk around it.  Corinne and I are talking about what kind of idiots pitch their tent right on the trail?  We get distracted with this conversation and keep running.  We run all the way down and realize we are near the entrance of Vogel Park.  It's then after running approx. 2 to 2.5 miles downhill that we missed the DRT sign going left and now we have to climb all the way up adding a good 4 to 5 miles to our day!

This is also an extra climb that we don't anticipate or appreciate this early on in our adventure.  Neither one of us are happy about this, and I really want to say a lot of bad words, but I remain positive and decide well, running extra miles is just good training.  But, that climb all the way up was hard!  We make it to the sign and see exactly where we went wrong, and it's so frustrating that we both missed that turn.  Then we realize that the people in the tent camping were on a camp site and we were the only idiots running through their camping area!  So, we do have some good laughs about the two blondes calling them idiots when it's actually us who were the idiots! LOL  I've decided all we can do is move forward and it is what it is, but I know the rest of this course, so I know there will not be any more mistakes.

We make it Wolf Pen Gap (15 miles), and we refill water from the tree stump and take our first break there.  We continue forward and run onto the Duncan Ridge Trail.  On this stretch, we come across an older man hiking with two young adult men.  We stop and chit chat and tell him what we are doing.  He says he has to shake our hands because that is just so great that we are running 60 plus miles in a day!  We meet Brad at Mulky Gap (27 miles).  It's about noon time, and I tear into my Cuban sandwich and refill water and drink some coke.  Boy, do I feel better after this.  I was starving! 

Our next stop to meet Brad is going to be Hwy 60 (mile 35).  However, I warn Corinne at Fish Gap that we are entering "The Abyss" or technically Rhoads Mtn.  I explain to her this section will be the hardest for me all day.  And it is, but also it is easier than the last time I was  Funny, how that seems to work!  It's also this section that is the warmest part all day.  I am so happy when we get off the DRT and are onto the BMT.  I feel like we are home free!  We are soon just maybe 2 miles away from Hwy 60 when we see Brad running towards us and then he runs it into Hwy 60 with us.  He is a site for sore eyes because at mile 35 we are more than half way through.  We take more time at this mobile aid station to eat, refuel, before moving forward.

So, now we are headed towards the swinging bridge.  I love this section of trail and really I'm just enjoying this run.  I have felt good all day with no lows all day.  We make it to the bridge and I ask Corinne to come to the water with me and we splash off and rinse off in the water.  Oh my, does it feel good to rinse the sweaty salt off my face and arms and I even wet my hair some.  Just past the bridge we have another tough climb, but I've been here before.  In fact, many times before!  When we reach mile 40, I do a happy dance on the trail.  We are at mile 40, Corinne!  She says, "I see it!"  Meaning she has seen my happy dance! LOL

We reach Long Creek Falls and make a left at the AT/BMT junction.  We are thinking that we are to meet Brad at Hightower at mile 47, but mile 47 has come and gone.  It's not long before I see Brad's bright yellow shirt and socks, and he is running away from us.  I yell, "BRAAADDDD" almost as loud as I can, and he stops and turns around and runs towards us.  He said, he was getting worried about us and thought he better turn around and get his headlamp in case it got dark.  He runs it into Hightower with us the last few miles of this stretch.  Corinne and I inform Brad that this stretch from Hwy 60 is not 12 miles but rather 15 miles.  It's not a big deal to me, but it was worrisome.

So, we are at mile 50 at Hightower.  Brad says that we have just 12 miles to go.  It's just now getting dark.  Corinne is done.  I am so grateful to her for running with me these 50 miles, but her legs are really done.  I completely understand.  I had hoped she could finish with me..really hoped.  She's really one of the strongest women I have ever had the privilege of running with.  Brad and Corinne talk as Corinne decides to meet us for the remainder of our planned aid stations.  I tell Corinne that she could just drop Brad's truck off at Woody's and go home to rest because we can run 12 miles unsupported.  But, she will not hear of that and is determined to see me through.  How much good can I say about this incredible lady?  I just can't.

It's starting to get dark at this point and Brad and I put on our headlamps and take off onto the trail.  The climb here is hard, and it feels like it's taking forever but also my legs are getting tired.  We get to Horse Gap and Corinne is nowhere to be found!  Brad calls her and advises her to meet us at the next stop Cooper Gap which is mile 54.  Corinne says, "what has taken you so long?"  LOL  I know it's taken awhile but dam those climbs were hard!  I said, "OMG Corinne, be glad you stopped.  It's so rocky and rooty and HARD!!".  So, she is ok with that I hope because it's true.  That shit wasn't easy.

Brad and I press onto Gooch Gap, and it's still not any easier.  It's just hard as nails hard. My feet are just beat to pieces, and I feel a blister that hurts.  I am trying to move as fast as I can, but I feel slow.  Brad is awesome in listening to me ramble but mostly I talk about what a great day this has been and how surprisingly good I have felt all day.  I really couldn't have asked for a better day of running.  I'm so thankful to be able to accomplish such a huge goal, and I'm getting close to the finish.

We reach Gooch Gap mile 58.5 and Corinne is there waiting on us.  Corinne and I ask Brad,  "How much longer?" lol  And, Brad explains it's just 3.5 miles or a 5k.   Corinne informs Brad that 3.5 miles is NOT a 5k.  They are debating the point, and I am just kinda laughing to myself about it because to me it doesn't matter if it's a 5k, 3 miles, 3.5 miles as I still have to get this finished.  But, at the same time I'm tired and my feet really hurt.  For a split second, the thought crosses my mind if Brad and Corinne tell me that I've done my miles and let's call it a day.  In that split second, I might have been tempted to do just that.  But instead, I ask Brad if he thinks I should drink my red bull.  I haven't touched it all day!  LOL  He says, "yes, go ahead and drink it".  But, I can only stomach about half of it. 

When we start at Gooch Gap, I am looking for the sign because I want to see that it's just 3.5 miles to Woody's Gap.  LOL  Brad points it out to me, and I stop and point my headlamp at it to be sure.  Sure enough, it's 3.5 miles.  It's not long when I ask Brad if he can pace these last 3 miles as I can't see as well with my headlamp despite me changing batteries awhile ago, and he has a much better light than I do.  I had been pacing the entire day and now I'm ready for someone else to do it.  It's in these last few miles that I explain to Brad that I am not whining but just want to let him know that I have a blister, and it hurts.  He never acknowledges my blister or my pain!  LOL  It's not a big deal, and it's probably for the better that he doesn't after all, I do not make a big deal out of it either.  It just felt better to say it out loud because it was really hurting. 

We make it out of the woods and onto the street, and we are crossing over to Woody's Gap.  Corinne is there waiting to hug and congratulates me.  I ask Brad what time it is because my Garmin died long ago, and he said 1:27am.  He says, I ran a sub 20 hour GA Loop, but it actually was 20:13 hours and came out to 62.10 miles because of the bonus miles I ran.  I am so terribly happy to have ran this.  And, I was thinking could I run another 38 miles now if I had to?  LOL  It's an interesting question that begins to plague me and one that I ponder for weeks to come.

I drive home thinking about what I just accomplished and how great it feels to have set a goal so long ago and to have completed it.  I'm forever grateful to Corinne and Brad for joining me in making my little dream come true.  I couldn't have done it as well without their support for sure.  And, to think they gave up their day for me is just an amazing thing. 

Will I do it again?  Hell yes!  I can't wait!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Life After GDR

I recover physically from GDR fairly quickly than I expected and faster than I ever have from a hard race.  However, what I didn't anticipate was in the days that followed was to have this kind of sadness.  I wouldn't describe it as depression but rather more like baby blues.  I had woken up every morning with a plan on how I can chip away at my GDR goals.  Now, I am waking up without a race and without a sure plan.  It just feels weird not to have the "next race" on an agenda.

What I do have on my agenda is to take the next two weeks and run some slow recovery runs and allow my ankle and ITB to actually heal.  My knees really took a beating on this course.  I still felt my granny knees when I run Anne's Death Re-Run which was the last 13 miles of the GDR on FS roads the weekend after GDR.  This was a great run for me because a small group of us got together to help Anne finish out her run.  Anne had run 50 miles of GDR and got food poisoning and had to DNF.  Anne had recovered from a ruptured brain tumor just last year whereby she had to relearn to tie her shoes as well as some other basic skills and suffered some minor brain damage.  It was awesome to help support her through it.  She is one determined runner.  I admire that about her.

I run primarily with Jake for the 13 miles, and we re-hash our individual GDR races.  It's always fun to hear another runner's great experiences because it is so different from my own.  He also shares that he had the GDR post race blues.  This makes me feel so much better because I had felt down all week and knowing that I am not the only one makes it somehow just OK.  This was new for me, so I wasn't sure what it was but now I can move forward.  I wasn't signed up for a race, I was excited to get healed up and go out exploring new sections of trail and take my time really thinking about which future races I wanted to sign up for.

I had some friends that within days or a week of finishing GDR were out signing up for 100 mile races lol  A different kind of Which maybe great for them but for me, this would have been a mistake for so many reasons.  Mostly, I needed a mental break from racing.  I just want to run for fun and for me again and not for a race.  As much as I enjoyed my GDR race, and really loved this experience, I realize that I actually enjoyed the training so much more.  I am that girl who just loves to run and really do not need a race.  Races just keep me motivated, and I simply enjoy the experience of conquering big goals.  But, do I really need a race to do that?  Hmmm and on these long runs over the last 4 months, and when I can't sleep....I think about this a lot and perhaps more than I should.  But, it keeps me moving forward and that's my happy place.

The very next weekend, I run with Cecilia, just two weeks post GDR and hot damn, I just feel good.  I am very recovered from GDR and my ITB pain is gone and my ankle is sore just if I twist it a certain way on a rock or root, but it's good enough to run.  We start at the bottom of the falls and run to Springer and back.  I feel so much faster and on the way back, I am so happy because I am running downhill again.  It's my first run that I can actually run downhill again in 7 weeks.  I've lost some downhill speed, but damn it feels good to run down over rocks and roots and trail.  It feels like fluid spilling down and it feels mostly like happiness.  I am thrilled.  When I stop my Garmin, I am quite surprised this is my fastest ever run to Springer and back from the VC.  We run it in 4:04:51 hours and it's 17.10 miles with 4500 feet of elevation gain.  I'm so stinking excited because we weren't even trying to break any records and darn it if I hadn't been the nice person taking pics for hikers on top of Springer, we would have run this sub 4 easy peasy!  HAHA  Rested legs are sometimes a wonderful thing for the spirit.  It certainly was today.

It's on this run on the way up to Springer,  that Cecilia asks me to pace her at her first 100 miler, The GA Jewel.  It's so awesome because it was so unexpected, and I was hoping she'd ask, but I didn't want to ask her because it's her race.  I always want my friends to make the best decisions for themselves.  If they are happy, than I am happy for them.  It was so funny because she knew how much I loved my own GA Jewel 50 mile last year and thought I wouldn't want to pace her.  So, when she asks it's in such a way that it sounds like we just got engaged!  We laugh hysterically about this the rest of the day.  I'm thrilled because I already know that Cecilia is going to do so well at this race in 6 months, and I'm more excited about pacing her than if I were running this race for myself.

And, I have so much to look forward to in terms of my own training.  For now, I am happy just running.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Georgia Death Race---March 16, 2013

Georgia Death Race Finisher
Finally, make it to race day!  I just received my ITB strap in the mail a day prior and haven't tested it out yet to see if it actually works.  IT doesn't matter if it works or not because I'll run regardless.  I am making the usual chit chat with running friends and talking to Lee.  Trying to decide if I want to wear my running rain jacket or not and finally decide to take Lee's advice and take it off and he ties it to my pack.  It's about a humid 43 degree's.

The race starts, and I start running with Katie and Michael.  Katie and I agree to try and stick together for as long as we can.  We agreed to not hold each other up and push each other forward if we find that we are slowing the other one down.  I am more worried about my injuries slowing me down, and I don't want to slow down her race. 

The race takes off through the campground at Vogel and the crowd is thick, and it's fun listening to all the chit chat.  I am really just excited to be here and really do not have the usual race nerves that I usually have.  I already know that I will finish as long as I don't re-injure my ankle.  All, I have to do is to not sprain my ankle and take it easy on the down hills for my ITB.

We are not even a mile into the race when we see our first DNF.  He is walking back towards us and Katie asks about him and he says today is not his day.  We are shocked to hear this!  But, as Katie says it's better to find this out now than later!  We run a little further when Michael sprains his ankle and he cannot bear any weight on it!  He had a badly sprained ankle from a few weeks prior!  This is so scary to see so early in the race!  Michael pushes Katie forward, and I know it has to be really tough for her to press on past her brother.  She offers to stop, but he tells her to keep going, and she said that she knew that he meant for her to keep going even though she feels badly.  I feel horrible for him because I momentarily think about my ankle 3 times it's normal size and if I sprain it as badly as I did the week before that I might be out too!  But, I have to quickly remove that thought and keep going.

Pete is running along side us and we chit chat all the way up to Coosa with Katie leading most of the way.  She's doing great.  We get up to the top of Coosa and I notice my watch says 1:57 hours.  I am happy as my goal was to get to the top in 2 hours.  I am a little nervous about going onto the DRT at this point as I remember how painful it was going down this steep descent just 7 days ago with my ITB issue.  I tighten my laces for the extra ankle support, and Katie helps to readjust my ITB strap above my knee.  It's at this point, that I just mentally push the pain onto a shelf way back in the deep part of my brain.  I push it so high that it's out of reach.  I brace myself and start going and Pete and Katie want me to lead from here.  I start down that descent, and I am able to run down.  Not like I want to, but I am able.  I mention to Pete and Katie that if I am too slow they can go past me, but they both say I am doing fine.

My next goal is to get to Mulky Gap by daylight.  It's just starting to get daylight when we reach it, and it's our 2nd aid station.  I do not like staying at aid stations long, and we are quickly in and out and headed towards Fish Gap.  My next goal is to be at Fish Gap in 4:30 hours.  Along, about mile 13 or so Katie is having a hard time keeping up so I stop a few times, and she quickly catches up.  She is mentioning how hard these climbs are, and I try to encourage her and wait on her and remind her we have all day to do!  I know these first 21 miles are tough as I've run them multiple times now.  But, by mile 14 she is urging me to go forward.  I tell her let's not worry about it yet and give it a few more miles that she may just be hitting a low spot.  This happens in longer races whereby everyone has energy lows and highs at different times.  But, she is insisting that I go forward and says, "I'm going to hold you back all day."  I'm kind of at a loss as to what to do.  I don't want to belabor the point on this climb, but also I'm really just surprised because I didn't expect this to happen this early in the race.  I remember her talking about how Michael pushed her forward and how he meant for her to go and with that in mind I press forward.  But, boy do I feel bad about it!

I reach the top of the climb and by mile 15 I run into Brandi who is walking and she says her knee is busted up.  I ask her if she needs anything, and she says not but tells me to "go get it".  I tell her that Katie is not far behind me and will catch up to her soon.  I make it to Fish Gap in 4:29!  I am right on schedule and then enter what I lovingly call "The Abyss", but it's actually Rhoads Mountain.  This is 3.75 miles of climbing hell and for me the toughest part of this entire race.  How can 3.75 miles be so hard?  It's just almost straight up and then straight down and repeat 3 times.  I am so glad that in training I've gone over and back in the same run because today I only have to do it once! LOL 

I enter the abyss with an Alabama runner named Zach whom I met a few miles prior.  We talked instantly because he was sporting an ITB on each leg whereby I just had one.  Zach and I leapfrog each other for the next 20 plus miles and every time we meet back up we just resume our previous conversation or start up a new one!  I also leapfrog with another runner David who I learn lives probably 15 minutes from me, and I probably ran more miles with David than I did Zach!  We leapfrog for about 20 miles or so as well. 

I make it through the Abyss and surprisingly pass people on those climbs, but then I get passed on some of the down hills as I am having to run them conservatively.  Once I reach the BMT sign, it feels like relief because I know this run doesn't get hard again for me until just past the swinging bridge.  The next 12 miles are going to feel like cake.  I've got the worst part of this race over with!  I make a right at the sign and running down Skeenah is just so much fun because I see friends running up and others who are ahead of me.  It's like a hug fest running through Skeenah.  I see Jake, and we hug briefly and he is running with another runner that I do not know.  I see Corinne and Kelly and a few other people that I recognize from other races.

I get down to Skeenah and this aid station is crowded, but I have to actually stop and do a few things here at this aid station and is one of two aid stations that I take more time with all day.  It's warming up and I have to remove my base layer and hat, and I have to refill with water and eat.  Deano is sitting in a chair and is not feeling good.  I give him some Tylenol and/or Motrin and encourage him to start back up Skeenah with me to get him walking because now he has gotten cold.  We are not walking long when one of his friends stop to give him a hug.  She is cute, blond, and bouncy, and I just crack up to myself and keep pressing forward.  I see Brad, Sarah, and other friends who are looking strong as well on my way out of Skeenah.

Once I start down the BMT, it's about mile 22ish or so and for the duration of the race the next 43ish miles not one single person passes me, but boy do I pass a lot of folks.  I catch up to David and we run all the way to the next aid station at Point Bravo which is mile 25 in the course description but it's actually more like mile 28 or  I forgot to look at my watch but it's not even noon yet.  I just know that because when I later ask David if he remembered what time we got there he said he asked someone who told him it's not noon yet.  This is fantastic because my goal to get here was 7.5 to 8 hours, and I am here before the 8 hour mark. 

I quickly breeze by this aid station and head down the FS road towards the swinging bridge.  And, my stomach hurts.  I have to find a tree cause darn, I have to go poo!  I find a tree and go and guess what?  I see David passing and then I see Zach passing as I am squatting in the woods!  I hope they didn't see me but nothing I can do about it if they did! LOL  So, I start back running and catch up to Zach and then he stops to stretch and then I catch up to David, and he says "I wonder where you were!".  I simply tell him I had to stop to use the bathroom and spare him the  We continue past the bridge and up the climb that I knew was waiting for me, but I also know that running this section 6 days prior that today I feel much better.  This was a shit hole last week when I ran this section...that run was, not so much! LOL  But, I do get nauseated, and I am sucking down a gel.  I am power hiking pretty fast and tell David to feel free to move on if he wants, and he says he's just fine as he's just trying to keep up with me.  I have to walk a little further and eat a bit or take another gel but basically I am having to catch up on calories. 

I get a 2nd wind and press on and shortly before I reach the BMT field, I realize that David isn't behind me, and I don't see him or Zach for the remainder of the race.  I was happy to later learn that David and Zach ended up finishing the race together.  Two great guys that I had the honor to meet and talk with for so many miles!

Reaching the BMT field felt like a 2nd wind.  It felt like it was all a mental downhill from here because I knew I would not have anymore steep descents until the final mile of this race.  I only had one slip with my ankle in the dark on the way to Mulky Gap, and I was able to manage the pain.  I still had my ITB pain and ankle pain pushed up on that proverbial shelf.  I was feeling good.  I head to the next aid station at the start of the FS road and when I head out I look at my watch and it's 10:44 hours.  I am just so very proud of myself because my goal was to be here just under 11 hours.  It feels like I gained momentum. 

Leaving the Winding Stair Aid Station, I run a few miles with a runner from Indiana whom I learn has 5 daughters ranging in ages 15 years old to 9 months!  We had a great conversation, but alas I have to slow down because my stomach pain returns, and he speeds ahead thank goodness because I have to make a running dive into the ditch, but I misjudged my speed and slid down into mud and land in a creek just in time to pull my pants down and leave a deposit.  Right there in the creek that I didn't expect to see!  I was laughing so hard that this happened!  ONLY ME!  But, boy do I feel better after this.

This section of FS road is hot as it's later in the day.  I ran out of water as I forgot to refill water at the last aid station!  Duh...but it's ok as I can go a few miles without water.  I get to the next aid station at mile 44 (which is supposed to be mile 40 according to the guide book).  And, this station is rocking some awesome music.  I see my friend Theresa who asks, "Angela, do you want a beer?" very enthusiastically.  And, I reply, "NO, YES, NO, YES, NO".  I can't make up my mind!  LOL  Susan is also there and they are asking me about the race and she asked if I saw her husband Bill.  I inform her I saw him coming out of Skeenah gap which was 22 miles ago so he probably isn't too very far behind me?  This aid station was awesome.  I am double fisting cups of water and Gatorade because I am so hot and thirsty from being out of water.  I am also so hungry!  Ravenous to be exact!  I eat as fast as I can and one of the volunteers is filling my back pack with water for me. 

Susan tells me that I look much skinnier than I did starting out this morning!  I tell her that after 44 miles I should look skinny and if she saw what I left in the creek a few miles back she'd know why I look so skinny!  So, I tell them how I slid into the creek!  The volunteers are cracking up laughing so hard and said that I had my own private boudet, and it was the best story they heard all day!

Theresa tells me to look over at these 3 guys right over there.  One of them is grilling and the others are chilling and drinking beers.  She says they all came in right before me and just DNF'd just like that.  I told her, "well, no wonder when you're offering beers when we hit 44 miles!" LOL  But, seriously, I tell her that she should go over there and tell them that there is only 20 more miles left, and they can do it!  She says, "you go tell them!".  And, I say, "I am not telling them shit, they are my competition!".  WE all burst out laughing at that!  Seriously, though these guys were from Ohio and were super nice!  I tell them that I am from Ohio too, and I know that Theresa is too!

So, this was my 2nd long aid station of the day which was probably only maybe 10 minutes, and I take off with a hot dog in hand.  I've already eaten a good bit and double fisted drinks for awhile, so I am almost full.  But, honestly, this aid station saved my race in terms of hydration and food.  I have joked so many times how a hot dog saved my GDR race! 

So, I am continuing down the FS road running and my is it beautiful as the tree's haven't bloomed yet and the mountain views are gorgeous!  I do see a runner on the side of the road, and like many runners before him that I saw on the side of the trail earlier that day, I ask if he needs anything or anything I can do for him.  He is shaking his head in what looks something like misery meaning no.  I feel so bad for him I ask him if he wants my hot dog, and I look down and realize that 3/4th's of this hot dog is gone, and I've just been carrying it "just in case" I get hungry  But, again he shakes his head no.  I realize how absurd this is that a complete stranger is asking him if he wants a partially eaten hot dog and tell him, "I'm sorry that's pretty gross."  And, I continue onwards.

As I'm running down the road, vehicles are passing by and one guy sticks his head and arm out and yells "GOOO OHHHIIIOOOO" as he's passing by.  I'm like, "Thanks!".  It just feels good to hear a cheer from a fellow home state runner!

I make it to aid station 51 and do not remember what the guide book says this is supposed to be in terms of mileage, but I do know that I have 13 miles left!  It's Aaron's bacon aid station and there is John B., John C. and his wife and daughter, and I meet Anna.  I am so happy to be here because it's daylight and because I know I've got about 3 hours left.  I know I can run this in my fucking sleep!  I don't care about Nimblewell road and the climb ahead, I just know that I am home free!  Three hours and change isn't even what I consider a long run.  I leave this aid station and text Lee, Cecilia, and Jessi that I have about 13 miles and about 3 hours left.  The time is 6:10pm.

I hit the pavement and then the FS road.  I've got about 10 miles left.  I am so happy.  Ten miles isn't anything.  I can do 10 miles, and I am still running.  I am running up Nimblewell Road as much as I possibly can, and I am passing people.  I pass 10 more runners in my last 10 miles.  Freaking amazing.  I pass my Indiana friend who is with 2 other runners as I'm passing by he says, "didn't I see you like 20 miles ago?" and I say yes, you sure did!  I pass a younger couple while I am running uphill, and I remember seeing them coming out of Skeenah gap 30 plus miles ago.  The male runner says, "that is absolutely impressive that you are running up this hill"!  I said, "it's not easy, it's hard".  But, I am so motivated because I am so close.

I reach the Nimblewell AS which is the last aid station.  The volunteer takes my pack off, and it's here in my last 6 miles at mile 59 that I am a little whiny.  Not bad, but I'm asking him for something to drink besides water.  He tells me that a really cute guy drank off this 16oz bottle of coke, and I am welcome to it.  I told him it didn't matter if he was cute or  I took a few swigs of coke.  He tells me that he has run 100 milers and he knows exactly what I am feeling.  Somehow that is reassuring.  He helps me get my pack on and about that time another runner that I caught up to at this aid station says, "Are you running fast or are you running slow?".  I am confused as I do not know what he means.  I just know it's starting to get dark, I already changed my batteries, and I am going to need my headlamp soon.  But, he asks a few more times if I am running fast or slow.  I said, "I am running, but I do not know if it's fast or slow, but I do know I am not walking".  LOL  He asks if he can run with me because it's getting dark, and he doesn't want to run in the dark by himself.

And, somehow this seems so ironic and funny to me.  One of my fears about GDR was finishing in the dark because I thought so many months ago that I would be running hours into the dark.  I did not want to run in the dark alone which is why I wanted to team up with another runner.  And, the moment of my biggest fear is here, and my fear never occurred to me.  Huh?  What about that!?  I am completely prepared and unaware of me fear of finishing this out in the dark.  LOL  All of my early morning runs and hours of running in the dark have paid off, I suppose, but in an unexpected way.

So, I tell Marc, sure he can run with me, but I don't know how fast I am going, so he is welcome to stick with me or run ahead.  He said, "I don't care if you walk the last 6 miles, I do not want to run this in the dark".  I said, "OK, but I am NOT walking!"  I am thinking this isn't even a 10k.  I wouldn't walk a 10k to save my life! LOL 

Well, it turns out he's from Virginia and is unfamiliar to this park and area.  I told him he's in luck as I've run this before, and I know where I am at.  Funny, as most people would not rely on me for road directions!  LOL  But, also about a 1.5 mile into this run a man out of nowhere comes up to us in the pitch dark at this point and says, "I am just an old man wandering in the woods looking for water.".  I'm confused and it's really just a WHAT THE FUCK is this moment?!  He proceeds to tell us he's been camping and spilled his water and then while cooking spilled his dinner, and he's looking for water.  He wants us to tell him where he can get water.  I am trying to direct him to Amicalola Park while Marc tries to direct him to the aid station.  The Aid Station barely has fluids as I think back to the used coke I drank from, and I know there are a ton of runners behind us.  We listen to this poor man's plight, but seriously...I've got less than 5 miles, and I don't have time for this.  Finally, the man is making his way towards the aid station and Mark and I resume running and kind of laughing at this situation we are in.  Marc says, "I didn't want to stop and have that conversation as we are in a race!".  I agreed wholeheartedly, we just want to be done already.  This was so absurd that even I can't make this shit up.

Awhile further, I tell Marc that I can't wait to see my husband.  He says, "I can't wait to see your husband too!".  We both are laughing so hard at this.  This was the funniest thing I heard all day long.  A little ways longer I tell him that my husband and kids better be at the finish or nearly 22 years is going to be down the drain!  Again, we both laugh at this. 

Then lo and behold there is a marker to the left, and I realize we are being diverted off the planned downhill road.  I knew immediately why because I had wondered about that way back in my pea brain.  I was wondering why they'd have us finish on that steep grade with traffic barreling down that hill.  And, sure enough we are running through grass, and we actually pass another runner here.  Marc asks the guy if he wants to run with us, and he says no way and for us to go on.  We cross the road, and I realize we are in the top of the falls parking lot.

I am totally pissed off because I know it's over a mile as we are running down the road to get into the parking lot.  I know this last mile is very rocky, rooty, and the worst part it's a steep descent which isn't going to bode well for my knees, ITB, or ankle.   I am pissed because when I hit the top of the East Ridge Trail my proverbial shelf that I pushed all that pain to in mile 7 just fell and hit the trail in mile 64.  I am cussing so much that it's a wonder Amicalola didn't blow up with the number of "F" bombs that I hurled at it.  I apologize to Marc and the other runner that caught up to us that we just passed, for my potty mouth, and Marc tells me I have every right to cuss.  LOL  I am going so slow down this trail as my granny knees just can't handle it, and I feel for the first time all day that I am making slow progress.  I ask Marc and the other guy if they want to pass me, and they say no because I know where I am going.  Funny, because there is no where else to go. 

Ahead I see a headlamp, and I am calling out for "Lee".  I feel quite sure it's him and then out of nowhere Mitchell jumps out of a tree and Megan is there giggling and Lee is there.  I am so happy to see them!  They are moving ahead of us and leading us in.  I am talking, but I do not even remember what I said to them.  We are getting closer and Marc says, "Angela, get up here with me to finish!".  I run up to him and finish with Marc across the finish line.  I was so happy to see my family that I forgot about finishing this race!  I will never forget how Marc reminded me to finish.  I just met him 6 miles ago, and felt so honored really that he wanted to finish this with me. 

Jason G. is writing down my finishing time at 17:30 hours.  Holy Shit!  I did it.  I ran sub 18 hours with 2 injuries.  Later in the week, I learned that I placed 8th female and 43rd overall out of about 127 finishers.  I believe that nearly 190 started.  I never expected to place in the top 10 of females.  I just wanted a decent finishing time if I could manage the pain from my injuries.

At the finish line is Jake, as he finished in 15:55 hours, and he told me he would wait to see me finish.  That just meant so much that he did that as somehow I just really didn't expect him to.  Jake surprised me with such a fast finish.  I am so thrilled for him!  I see Michael, and he congratulates me with a hug and says, "Angela, this was your course".  I guess in a way it's true.  I had run all but 6 miles of this course in training.  His words meant so much, and I tell him how sorry I was about his race ending so soon.  I'm not sure if I said that in person or in a message to him later.  But, I really was sorry that happened because it could have easily been me.

Finishing this race meant so much to me because it was a goal I set 11 months ago at a time when I knew I wasn't physically able to complete this race.  I trained so hard for this race and ran in conditions that I would have never considered 8 years prior when I started running again.  I was lucky to meet so many people to train with in the months leading to this race and during the race along the way.  I learned so much about myself and a lot about other people that will make my future races even better.

And, mostly, I am just so grateful to my family and to myself for allowing me to do what I love so much.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Why I run? Hmmmm....

So, my friend Lacy emails me and says this: "I would totally love a guest post by you for UMR (  on why you run and mention what you accomplished as a runner in a year. I think you're such a powerful runner that other moms can pull inspiration from."

I don't know about all that as I can't imagine me being an inspiration to anyone.  I'm the one who draws my inspiration from other people!  But, I decided to go ahead and help my friend out with her website and here is what I came up with:

I have tried to answer the question, "Why do I run?" I do not have an answer. I have no idea why I run except to say that it's just a part of me to do so.  However, what I can explain is is how my running has evolved over the years.

I remember running as a small child and really just enjoyed the feeling of running. At age 7, I remember beating the boys in 2nd grade in our 100 yard dash. I was always physically active and growing up in Ohio we had to walk or run to and from school. We didn't have a car so walking or running was how we got to the store and back. So, pretty much everywhere I went I walked or ran.
It wasn't until my teen years after moving from Ohio to Georgia that I started to run for exercise. I joined the track team in my junior and senior years in high school and then joined the first cross-country team in my senior year. I ran the 1 mile and 2 mile event and was the 2nd best girl on my team. I was also the second best girl on my cross-country team. I fell in love with cross-country and enjoyed trail running more than I ever did on the roads.

I continued to run through college on and off but really became burnt out on it mostly from over training and the stress of competition from my track coach. He meant well, but it was too much pressure because I had always ran for enjoyment and now I was being pushed to run. Running for time became a new concept and one that has stuck with me for life. I just can't seem to shake it or the self-inflicted pressure I feel when I race. However, it's a good stress because it drives me to do my best and to stay motivated.

I took a break from running for several years in my mid 20's mostly because I incurred an Achilles tendon injury that hurt for 3 years. So,  I became a gym rat and participated in group exercise classes for 13 years.  I've tried everything except Cross-Fit and Zumba.

After the birth of my second child, and after nearly a year of exercise and trying to lose the weight, I just couldn't shake the last 10 pounds. I decided to take up running on a treadmill before my exercise class. I quickly lost the weight, signed up for a local 5k, and after 6 weeks of training, I ran the 5k in 25:32 minutes and won my age group. I've been running ever since and that was nearly 8 years ago.

I was lucky enough to break my elbow nearly 2 years ago when I fell of my bike. I couldn't continue to strength train so I began running more. I ran my first 10 mile training road run in July 2011, and it was so hard in mile 8, but I pushed through to get to mile 10. I always thought I'd like to try a 10k and so I did and won my age group there that same summer, but I still really liked the fast 5k's best.

Surprisingly my goals continued to change as I started to find local long distance runners to run with on occasion. I couldn't find anyone to run with me for 3-5 miles, but boy could I find some long distance runners!

I decided to sign up for a tough trail race in the local North Georgia mountains. It was the hardest run and race I ever ran because it was a 30k but ended up being one mile longer than advertised. I had never run 19.6 miles before. I thought that race in Nov. 2011 would kill me, but it didn't. I started seriously training on mountain trails in Jan 2012 and have been running trail marathon's and ultras ever since.

In 2012, I decided to take a race journey whereby I wanted to run and get a taste of different kinds of races.  I really just wanted to find my "niche" in the ultra world.  I ran a 12 hour trail race (38.65 miles winning first female), 24 hour race (1 mile flat loop for 70 miles placing 5th female), two 50k races, 2 trail marathon races, and a 50 mile trail race. 

So far, in 2013 I won first place overall in a 12 hour race and broke the course record running 50.7 miles over 7800 feet of elevation gain.  Then in March, I ran my first road marathon although 2/3 of this race was on back graveled roads, and 13 days later ran a 65 mile point to point race covering 31,000 feet of elevation change placing 8th female.

It's amazing to me,  that as a 42 year old wife, mother, and full-time working nurse,  that I have recently become stronger and faster. I never expected it. I am just thrilled to have had the opportunity to push myself farther and harder, running the trails I love, and that I once thought I could never do.  Somehow,  I just appreciate it more in a way that I never thought would happen for me. But, I'm so happy that I didn't give up and that I continue to try.  I know that if I can do this than anyone can.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

An Unexpected but Grateful Realization

I come to the realization that I have only gotten as far as I have with my training through the people I have met and had the privilege of running with.  I am well aware that without each of these amazing runners that I would not have come as far as I have in such a short period of time in preparation for this race.  I made a general post on Facebook the morning before the race expressing my gratitude for the people who took so much time out of their lives to run with me.  It was a general post as I'm sure they knew who they are, but really feel the need to take the time to thank each one of them for making me a better runner.

My generic Facebook post as written:  I'm truly grateful for my running friends who have met with me over the last 5 months to prepare for the GDR. These folks often woke up in the middle of the night and drove sometimes for hours. Ran hours with me in the dark, rain, snow, ice, wind gusts, and well below freezing temps. These folks ran tired, hungry and sometimes up to 10 hours in a day with me and then sometimes ran again with me the next day. They put up with me on my great days and my not so great days. You all have encouraged me in so many ways, and I hope I gave something back in return. Good luck to y'all tomorrow!

Jessica:  I just cannot say enough good things about this lady!  We started running together last summer and have even run a few of the same races.  She ran at least 70 trail miles with me between Dec and Feb. and another 20 miles since GDR.   I have tremendous admiration for her not only as a runner, but as a mother and friend!  She is tough as nails.   We have run together in the dark on an unknown trail together on our first run from Woody's Gapt to Neel's Gap and back.  One of the most adventurous fun runs ever for me.  I was truly inspired after this run to venture out and learn new trails. I have always wanted to do this, but it was Jessica's outlook on trail running that inspired me to go forth and actually do it.   I love Jessica's sense of adventureness and her fearlessness.  I'm so excited about our future running plans together.  I think the two of us together with our joint fearlessness might just be a dangerous combo! 

Sarah:  Is also a life long runner who has run numerous marathons and races over a 30 year period.  She won "The Jewel" 100k last April 2012!  I was lucky enough to meet her through a Mom's running group on Facebook when we both realized we had signed up for GDR.  We set a date last Nov and met in Dec to run.  She's a dedicated runner who routinely runs 70 to 80 miles per week but because she lives South of Atlanta doesn't have the opportunity to run mountain trails very much.  We met up to run at least 72 trail miles between Dec thru Feb.  This is one determined lady!  She always made me laugh because every time I met to run with her which was always in the dark still, she would always arrive up to an hour early to sleep in her car before our run!  So, then I'd have to knock on her window to wake her up to run!  One day she met with both Jake and I for a 30 mile run on the DRT.  She had a very rough start falling behind.  This was NOT like her at all!  This is a lady who does NOT stop.  If you run with Sarah and you stop, she keeps going..LOL  I love that about her!  Anyways,  after about 3 miles into this 30 miler she confides in Jake and I that she had fallen on a road run the day before hitting her neck and head!  She was really hurting and was not feeling this run.  I almost fell out realizing she showed up to run nearly 10,000 feet of elevation gain over 30 miles with neck and head pain!  What was even more surprising and impressive is that she says, "I am going to run 3 hours out and 3 hours back".  Ok, I just had to laugh.  I say, "Sarah, most people would not even show up after a fall like that let alone agree to run at least 6 hours on a tough route!".  Well, about 3 hours into this run Sarah catches her 2nd wind getting ahead of Jake and I whereby she saw 2 wild boars out on the DRT and Jake and I missed them.  Sarah not only gets her 6 hours but she finished this tough training run!  Talk about perseverance and determination.  I am in awe and have so much respect and admiration for this lady!  We still plan to run trails whenever she can get away, and I am so happy that even after GDR we still talk.

Jake:  An unexpected surprise and a gift.  I met him in December after finishing a 22 mile run on the DRT in the Vogel Parking lot.  I went into the store to get a coke.  I saw him in running gear and figured he was probably training for GDR.  So, I start a conversation with him and learn that he's a NC runner up here training and taking pictures.  I recognize his name from the FB GDR page.  He had gotten kind of lost running the Coosa loop alone and had just finished his run too.  I tell him the next time he comes up to run to let me know, and I'll give him a tour of the DRT!  LOL  Poor Jake, doesn't know that I am directionally challenged on roads (he later finds this out!), but I do know this course and these trails.  So, as it turns out he plans to run the next month and joins both Sarah and I for the notorious 30 mile run mentioned above.  Jake is highly intelligent and funny!  I have been lucky enough to have run 60 miles with Jake before GDR and 43 miles since.  We also figured out that we both ran Merrill's Mile last summer, but I don't think we talked with each other then!  I am grateful to Jake who spent so much time talking GDR strategy wiith me.  We both think in numbers and figured out mileages and time frames.  I am fascinated with his knowledge of bio- mechanics and the dynamics of running that I am so interested in. I can talk hours non-stop running with Jake and never be bored...wait I have talked non-stop running with Jake! LOL  I am just so grateful for all of his help and encouragement of me prior to this race and since.  I am equally grateful for his constant harassment of me, and I think he's truly the re-incarnated older brother that I secretly always wanted!  LOL  He keeps me laughing and apparently he has a good time laughing with me or at me.  On our last 30 mile run 10 days ago with Corinne he called our run "The Great Laugh-Athon"!  I couldn't have said it better myself.  I hope there will be plenty more Jake and Angela trail adventures for a very long time as I thrive on pure harassment! lol 

Cecilia:  This is a girl that I have wanted to meet ever since I first saw her July 4th, 2011 at the Dahlonega Firecracker 10k.  It was my first 10k race but also the first race I had ever seen that a woman won first place OVERALL.  In late July 2011,  I ran Suwanee Mtn. 3.5 mile trail race and Cecilia was there.  I spoke to her briefly there congratulating her on her win in Dahlonega.  We got hooked up finally on FB through Sean the RD for GDR this past Dec. because he knew both of us lived close to each other.  AS it turns out, Cecilia was running 24 hours Hostelity too and like me was running the 12 hour day race.  We chat on facebook some, but she was trying to recover from a knee injury and wasn't ready to meet up for runs just yet.  I was so focused in my race at Hostelity that I didn't get a chance to talk to her as much as I would have liked.  Mostly speaking to her before the race even started.  We finally meet my birthday weekend to run Lake Z after the 30 mile DRT run mentioned above.  I tell her I want to run 10 miles, but then that morning decide I want to run 12 miles to get my 42 miles in (my age) since it was my birthday run but ended up with over 13.  This typically happens when running with me!  She tries to tell me that we are at 10 miles, and I say let's run a few more!  I'm sure I ran at a snail's pace after having run 30 hard trail miles the day before and then having a late date night out with my husband and friends...LOL  But, Cecilia genuinely doesn't seem to mind.  We meet again for a Valentine's day run and she brings me Vegan Ginger chocolate!  Not only is she gorgeous, funny, highly creative and very smart, but she is also one of those rare people that I find that has a passion for running that probably matches my own.  I like her for so many reasons and there is just some kind of instant connection for me.  I am so lucky to have finally meet her!  She is a joy to run with and honestly, inspires me to do my very best every chance that I get to run with her.  I'm so excited about our future running plans and so happy to have found a local friend to run with when we can get our work schedules to cooperate! lol

Brad:  One of the first local ultra-trail runners I had the great pleasure in meeting on the DRT in Sept. 2011, carrying 2 jugs of water on his 50 mile weekend!  Brad is just an all-around bad ass who has no fear to attempt anything!  Brad has always been so gracious in providing me with answers to all of my stupid questions, so I don't go out and kill myself or do something stupid.  I remember emailing Brad a month prior to my first run at Amicalola asking him about water and directions and the safety of the trail.  It all seems so silly now, but all info that I needed at the time.  He is still a great resource when I need it and is always willing to help.  I will forever be grateful for him allowing me to tag along on a 30 mile run with him this past Jan. from Amicalola to the BMT and then the last 20 miles of the FS roads used on the GDR course.  Running this 20 mile section of FS roads was HUGE in my pre-race strategy.  I am so glad I did this.  I'm sure people thought it was crazy to "waste" a training day on FS roads but not me.  I saw the value in it and apparently Brad did too.  Not only that, but if I ever want to run a sub 7 hour 5500 feet of elevation gain, 30 mile training run, I know exactly where to go!  LOL 

John:  One of the most decent,  kind,  human beings , I have ever met and was so lucky to have run 26.25 miles with him on a 19 degree day in Feb. that I previously blogged about.  An incredible athlete and friend.  I am so hoping we can meet up for future runs in the near future!

Stephan:  The most memorable introduction I have ever encountered with a new trail runner when he rear ended me on the way to Amicalola for a 23 mile run in mid-Jan.!  It was also a very memorable run because I had just completed 50.7 miles just 5 days prior and ran my fastest 23 miler at Amicalola ever and then 3 days later ran another 25 miles with Jessi on the BMT.  I ran 98 trail miles over 8 days and 3 road miles during this time.  This is when I first new that something had changed in my running ability.  This was by far a record for the number of trail miles I had run in an 8 day period.

I cannot express how uniquely awesome my training experience was with each of these people in the months leading up to GDR.  I had thought all along that GDR would be my biggest achievement yet.  But, I realized that it wasn't the race that had become so important but rather the people with whom I trained with for so long.  I had such a great time, learned so much, improved so much that words really cannot truly convey the gratitude that I feel.  I realize through this experience that it's really not about racing so much for me anymore but really more about running.  Running is really what I love and having met so many great people to run with has really changed my focus and my goals.  I just want to run, and I really don't need a race to do that.  I am always in training mode and will continue to do what I love best...running difficult trails.  It's just that my focus has changed and will race just the races that I really want to do and helping my friends as much as they have helped me along the way.