2018 Recap – Finding the Positives

2017 was a stellar year for me.  I qualified for Boston in January; ran my first ultra in February; ran my first trail ultra in May and then I worked my way up the ultra distances, culminating with my first 100 mile finish in December.  I was pretty much on a high the entire year and didn’t give myself time to recover between races or process all the emotions that accompany such epic accomplishments.

So, when I found myself feeling a little funk-ish in mid-January, I didn’t think much of it.  I realized that I had asked a lot of my body and my mind in 2017, and it seemed quite normal that I was experiencing a bit of a low.

But the low continued.

I believe in the “fake it ’til you make it” mentality.  I still had Boston on the horizon.  I had to stay in the game.  I continued to train, but couldn’t maintain my usual intense focus.  I felt like I was drifting, without a goal.  Qualifying for Boston was the biggie.  Running Boston was like dessert.  I didn’t expect to run at my BQ pace because I had wanted to check off my first 100 miler more than I wanted to maintain my absolute speed for the road.

I continued to limp through training.  I was still consistent, but not as consistent as usual and I couldn’t manage to find enjoyment in the process like I usually did.

Spring Break came and I needed some trail therapy, BADLY.  I hadn’t been on a real trail since my 50 miler in October, 2017.  I talked my friend, Radkey, into coming with me to explore Cross Timbers on Lake Texoma.  It was amazing and difficult and more than I could have hoped. I was on Cloud 9.  And on our way back, I tripped, fell and broke my arm.

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Radkey & I enjoying the view before “the break”

The break obviously set me back, but my ortho gave me a soft cast and clearance to continue training.  I suddenly felt a renewed focus.  It was almost like I needed the added difficulty to give me a purpose.

Boston came.  The weather was horrible (by other’s standards – it didn’t bother me at all) and I was under trained but I crossed the start line with the intention of enjoying every step of that race.  I did just that.

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Enjoying Boston with my besties!
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Running on Boylston Street was an honor!

After Boston, I made the decision to change coaches.  I loved my coach, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that it was time for a change. The decision was a difficult one that I agonized over.  In the end, I trusted my gut instinct and made a leap of faith.  I knew that in order to conquer the mountains, I needed someone who knew how to build a mountain runner.

With Boston behind me, it was time to turn my focus back to trails!!  I had Possum’s Revenge 50 miler just 3-4 weeks after Boston and went in undertrainined…again (broken record – story of 2018 so far!).  I ended up struggling toward the end, but there is always some beauty to be found in the misery.  I shared those last miles with someone who was also struggling and we ended up becoming the best trail buds!!

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We had no idea what great buddies we would soon become

With Possum’s behind me, I could now focus on my <foolish> goal of running Ouray 50 miler.  I had an entire 2 months to train for this beast and literally had NO CLUE what I was up against.  But I had a bit of a renewed sense of excitement for training, which was a nice feeling.

I showed up for Ouray knowing that I had slim to none chance for a finish, but I was just there for the challenge whatever the result. I got halfway before missing the cut, but I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything…and I was now IN LOVE with the mountains!

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I can’t wait to go back and finish what I started.

Coming back after Ouray, I had to go right into training for Cactus Rose 100 at the end of October.  However, workouts weren’t going well.  I was fatigued ALL THE TIME and all I wanted to do was sleep.  When I ran I felt wheezy and out of breath.  I couldn’t see any improvement in my fitness despite all the heat training I was doing.  I was becoming seriously concerned that I was suffering from depression.  I had also contemplated whether I was actually cut out for endurance.  It was a dark time filled with a lot of doubt and apprehension.

I had considered Inside Tracker blood testing several times, but had never pulled the trigger.  I decided that the time had come and finally ordered my blood test.  I received the results just days before my next race: Alamo City 50k.  The test revealed that I was severely deficient in Ferritin.  I was overwhelmed with this knowledge, but it was also very freeing.  I FINALLY had a reason for the way I had been feeling!

Alamo City 50k ended up being my worst 50k to date, but I fought through the fatigue, finished and had hope for what was to come. I just had to hang in there and give my body a chance to recover from this setback.

I started supplements very soon after learning about my Ferritin deficiency and the results were almost immediate.  My mood improved, I no longer felt the need to sleep all the time and the BEST thing: I could feel the fitness improving each and every workout!

Cactus Rose was quickly approaching and the dread I had initially felt was replaced with an excitement about getting out there to race.  Plus, my best trail bud had volunteered to come crew and pace!  Tommy knew of my struggle to get back to being myself and deemed that Cactus Rose would be my reset race.

He was so right!!  Cactus Rose 100 ended up being my best race ever!  Thanks to Tommy, the great training provided by my coach and my body getting back to normal, I felt like I finally “raced” a race.  I came out of that event with a renewed confidence in myself.

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Tommy pushed me farther than I have ever been able to push myself.  The experience was a highlight of 2018.

I closed out 2018 by pacing my friend, Brent, to his first 100 mile finish at Brazos Bend 100.  The next weekend, I was able to return the favor to Tommy and crew and pace him at his first 100 mile finish at Loup Garou 100.  Being there, helping him get to that finish line is one of my most rewarding experiences to date!

Counting Blessings

Cactus Rose was more than a restart for me in my racing world – it was a reset for me mentally as well.  Since then, I have started to feel like I am myself again.  Mentally, I am focused and more confident and I am excited about tackling some big challenges in 2019.

For the biggest part of the year, I had negative feelings when I thought about 2018.  But as my health and mental state have improved, I am seeing the year in a positive light.

  • I started and ended the year pacing and crewing.  Focusing on others and helping them achieve their goals is a good way to stay grounded and provides a different and meaningful way to stay connected to the ultra running community.  I wasn’t able to volunteer as much as I wanted in 2018, but the time that I was able to volunteer was extremely rewarding as well.
  • I ran the BOSTON MARATHON.  It was a truly amazing experience that I’ll treasure for years to come.
  • Changing coaches ended up being one of the biggest blessings of the year!  Greg’s training has made me stronger than I ever imagined that I could be and we have just started.  A special bonus is the Team Ninja family that I inherited as a result.  I have grown to love these people as if they were a part of my family.  The camaraderie has enriched my life more than words can describe!
  • My oldest daughter got married and we had a fabulous time celebrating with friends and family.
  • I met my best trail buddy.  We are so much alike it is a little freakish and have wondered if we are twins that were separated at birth.  His friendship has definitely enriched my life!
  • Continuing on through the adversities of the year definitely built some mental callouses that will come in handy in tough times to come.
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    Just some of my Team Ninja family ❤

Here’s to 2019: testing limits and having adventures!

Long-time friends and Christmas shopping with the ADHD

This weekend was AWESOME!!  Since I work at an elementary school, we were out at noon on Friday for Christmas break.  Christmas break could not have come at a better time.  Marathon training and the race are finally behind me and I did NOTHING last week…I was SO EXHAUSTED (mentally and physically)!

I placed myself on 4-weeks of no running post-marathon to rehab this ITB.  I hope it is enough.  If it isn’t, I’m prepared to go longer.  As I said before, I did NOTHING last week…not even foam rolling!  This week, I am adding in walking and hip exercises, then some indoor cycling (after Bobby opens his Christmas present!). 😉  Next week, I hope to add in some additional strength exercises and will continue that until the 4 weeks is up.  I am COMMITTED to beating this injury and staying injury-free in 2015.

Friday night, we hosted the youth from our church as the appetizer stop on their progressive dinner tour.  In case you are wondering what teenagers like to snack on, homemade ranch dip was a big hit!  I had intended to take pics, but my brain is mush, and I completely forgot until they were gone. One of these days….

This is it.  The ONLY pic I managed to take, and I snapped this before they arrived! #fail
This is it. The ONLY pic I managed to take, and I snapped this before they arrived! #fail

Saturday was a rare, unscheduled day.  Not having any commitments made me realize (AGAIN) how important it is that I free up some time in my schedule in 2015.  I have some ideas, but am still debating how best to work it out…stay tuned.  I drank coffee and messed around the house Saturday morning until Bobby and I ended up going into the Dallas area to finish up Christmas shopping.  I had NO idea what we had left to buy – and yes, I had lists.  Shopping for clothes is overwhelming to me, but Christmas shopping puts me over the edge!  We made a couple of stops and were able to get the bulk out-of-the-way (as far as I could tell).  I literally feel my head start spinning when I try to process what I need to buy….even with lists!

Sunday morning I took time to inventory the Christmas gifts.  While I haven’t a clue what Taylor has wrapped and placed under the tree, I did find a few gifts that I forgot I had purchased!  Now the only things that remain are a couple of small, last-minute gifts that I can get in town.

The great thing about having girls is that they LOVE to wrap gifts (especially Taylor, because she LOVES Christmas!)  They finished wrapping this morning.

Alli has evolved into a great present wrapper!
Alli has evolved into a great present wrapper!

I needed to run to the grocery yesterday, but Taylor had borrowed my debit card to grab the ingredients for dinner on Saturday.  When I realized I would need to get my debit card back, I sent her a text.

This would strike fear in the hearts of the bravest of men, but not me.  I've lived with Taylor for 21 years, after all.
This would strike fear in the hearts of the bravest of men, but not me. I’ve lived with Taylor for 21 years, after all.

No, the debit card was NOT in the orange Under Armour jacket.  No, I didn’t panic.  Taylor “mis-places” something EVERY DAY OF HER LIFE.  I found the debit card in the front seat of my car.  I don’t know why I didn’t think to look in that obvious place first. (Side note: The “It’s over” comment was in reference to the complete and total breakdown of BYU in the 3rd set of the NCAA volleyball finals versus Penn State – now 7-time champions!)

We spent last evening with Logan’s group of friends and their parents.  We have gotten together for years and, honestly, I love the fact that these boys are still together!  Logan doesn’t have the same interests (football and baseball) as the others, but that hasn’t come between their friendships.  Just an awesome group of young men!

These boys have turned into great young men!
These boys have turned into great young men!
This is a pic from one of our first Christmas gatherings.  Santa came!!
This is a pic from one of our first Christmas gatherings. Santa came!! 
New Year's celebrations several years ago.  Hard to believe they are all driving now!
New Year’s celebrations several years ago. Hard to believe they are all driving now!

By the way, Logan has moved out again.  His friend is in town for Christmas and this group of boys have set up their PC’s at a friend’s house.  It’s one big online gaming party!

Happy Monday everyone!