#5 – Embrace the Mud

No better way to embrace this resolution than by running the 2012 Willis River Trail Run!

I first heard about this race from a friend in the fall, shortly after finishing the Maymont X-Country Festival’s 8 miler.  That was my first trail run in several years, and while I ran hard and finished well, I was amazed at how much harder it was to run trails.  I went out fast, and for the first 3 miles was in first place.  But, while 7:30/mi would have been a conservative pace for the road, it was way too aggressive for the trail.  My whole body hurt, and I started to bonk big-time around mile 7.  I ended 5th among women, and realized that if I could actually build some core strength and train off-road, I might score a podium spot in 2012.

Since that race in September, I’ve only been on the trails a few times…while I never hesitate to go for a run on the road, a solo trail run is beyond my comfort zone.  Despite my lack of training and string of recent injuries, I decided to go out and run the 35K race on Saturday. I was running with my friend and her husband, both of whom have signed up to run Holiday Lake 50K++ in February.

It was a CHILLY 28 degrees at the start.  I wore long pants and a double layer of long-sleeves on top.  I decided to forgo my new trail shoes (not enough training miles in them yet) and put on an old pair of my tried-and-true Adidas Supernova Glide’s.  I was a bit worried by their lack of traction, but knew my feet would stay happy in them.  As it turned out, they held the ground just fine.

The course was an out-and-back, with aid stations about every five miles.  35K should = about 22 miles, so we were expecting the turn around mile 11.  We started at a conservative pace for the first 10 minutes, and when my hip felt OK, I decided to go on when my friends picked up the pace.  Of course, it was a wilderness trail, so the pace was a blazing 10:30/mile.  It takes a lot for a road girl like me to get used to the “slowness” of trail running, but having my HRM show me how hard I was working, I quickly made peace with it.

We hit the first aid station about an hour after starting, not before hitting what would truly be the most maddeningly difficult obstacle:  MUD.  Early week rain showers and balmy temps had turned much of the trail into a swamp.  The race director had a few detours in place, but none of the runners escaped with clean shoes!

We left the station, and ran to the second section…looking out for the blessed turn-around.  It seemed like forever, but we finally saw the first two guys run by – they were smoking!  The first woman passed us maybe 1/2 mile before the turn-around, and by the time we pulled out of the aid station, we knew we were the 4th and 5th females on the course.  Mercifully, we also knew the top 3 were essentially out of reach, so there was no need to push the pace and try for the podium.

I felt tired leaving the first aid station, but caught a second wind during that second section.  I knew it would be a long road back, but I just needed to keep pace with my group and endure.  I stayed on top of hydration, and ate three gels over the course (along with one chocolate chip cookie!).

We made it back to the aid station, topped off our water and set out on the last section – about 5.5 miles.  I started to get really tired, and we walked a lot of the hills.  Even so, we maintained our placement and crossed the finish line in 3:29.

All told, the race took me as long as my marathon, and the effort felt similar.  Mentally, it was much more enjoyable, as the uneven terrain and obstacles kept me on my toes!  It was a huge confidence boost to get 3 1/2 hours on my feet, and I hope this signals a return to form.  I start PT today.  This, along with my cross-training will strengthen my legs and get them ready for the 32+ miles Holiday Lake will throw at me.

One step at a time…

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#4 – Be Strong

OK,  this is a good resolution to remember tomorrow.  I’ll make it my mantra.

Be Strong, Mommy…Be Strong, Mommy….Be Strong!

I’m running the Willis River Trail Run (35K).  22 miles of trail, which for effort and duration will match up to a marathon.  Problem is, I am a) seriously undertrained and b) injured.  I could fake my way through the training part.  I still have a solid base from November’s marathon and I did manage an 18 mile training run three weeks ago.  But my aching glutes, hammies, and piriformis have kept me off the road since then.  I have no idea how they will react to 4 hours of running tomorrow.

i.am.scared

Be Strong, Mommy…Be Strong, Mommy….Be Strong!

 But let’s think on the positive side.  12 hours from now, I’ll be running this:

Second of all, I get to run it with 150 other crazies like me who are willing to wake up at the crack of dawn and run in the freezing cold.  Souls like that are my kind of folks!

Finally, and most importantly, it’s something new!  I’ve never run this distance on the trail, and it get’s me closer to my 2012 goals (50K Ultra in Feb., 50 Miler in Nov.).  I’ll run alongside two friends, and meet up with Jimmy and the girls afterwards to enjoy the long weekend.

Assuming I stay on course and don’t wander off into oblivion….

Be Strong, Mommy, and Carry On!

#3 – Be Joyful

Because that’s what its all about, isn’t it?

–I take joy in every day, because it is such an awesome world.

–I take joy in my children, because every day they are growing bigger and more independent.  And, despite how much I sometime SUCK at motherhood, they still love me and think I know everything.   All too soon, they are going to be teenagers and figure out that I don’t know anything.

–I take joy in my husband, because after 11 years of marriage  (and three years of dating), he is still my best friend.

–I take joy in my family, because they are my foundation.

–I take joy in my friendships, because my gals have been through it all with me.

–I take joy in the run, because it is a celebration of nature and humanity.  It is my way of praising God’s creation.

Last Saturday, we got a babysitter and had a “date night” Saturday morning. Seven-ish mile trail run on the Buttermilk with the RRRC.  What a fantastic way to start of the weekend full of joy.

It’s one of the things I love most about Richmond — that you can have a trail like this, running through the woods and by the river, in the middle of the city.

Another reason to be joyful, my friends.

#2: Recover, Recharge, and Rest

I am chronically sleep-deprived.  I have not consistently had a decent night’s sleep in over six years.

There are three really good reasons for this, and I wouldn’t trade them for the world.

But….this mom needs a solid 8, and that’s just not happening anytime soon.  So, until I can be this:

I need to shift my strategy.  Enter resolution #2:  I will pay down my sleep deficit in 2012.  It’s not a choice, really.  Three weeks ago, I was laid low by a round of such profound fatigue, I called my doctor (I NEVER call my doctor…last time I saw her Emma was an only child).  She tested me for everything from lupus to anemia before concluding that the holidays done done me in….Duh.

I’m tired (pun intended) of feeling this way.  Because again, it takes away from the people I care about.  Its one of the reasons I’m not allowed to run right now.  So today, I parked my kids in front of the TV and I took a nap.  Awesome!!

#1 – Dispense with the Unessential

I really, really, REALLY want to start my “resolution” posts with #2 (Rest, Recharge, yada, yada, yada), because it is particularly appropriate today.  But, since I am a left-brained, everything-in-its-place, type of gal…Let’s begin at the very beginning, shall we??

I.am.not.efficient.

I would like to be, mind you.  I’m an accountant by training, so I despise (in theory) redundancy and wasted effort.  But personally, I spin my wheels.  A LOT.  Again, it comes back to laziness.  Sometimes, its just easier (in the short term) not to think, but just do.  SO I clean rooms that will be messy again in an hour.  I drive to the store to purchase XYZ instead of calling to make sure its in stock.  I pick up an extra thermometer, bottle of shampoo, hairbrush, etc. instead of taking 5 minutes to locate what I know I already have.

But what really gets me…what is my true achilles heel…is my tendency to overcommit.  Try it – ask me anything.  Want me to watch your kids?  No problem.  Host a party last minute?  Be glad to.  Need a spare kidney?  I’m free a week from Thursday – want to squeeze in the surgery then?

I suffer for this, a bit.  But my girls and Jimmy really take the brunt.  I’m so focused on completing all the things I “HAVE TO” do, that I lose sight of their little needs.  Sure, we play and snuggle, I feed and bathe them.  But too often, I’m brushing them aside for something that’s not really that important.

Not this year.  This year, I’m taking a page from my friends’ playbook.  I say “no” when I need to.  I ask for time to think before giving an answer.  Somedays the dishes & laundry won’t get done.

Today I had to make the most painful dispensation.  Two races, which I have looked forward to for months, must be scratched.  I am NOT ok with this. The first was to be my longest trail run to date (35K).  The second was to be my first ultra-marathon.  I could cry right now thinking of it.

But the numbers just don’t add up.  Since December 4, each run has become more painful.  My pace has slowed by almost 1 min/mile. My heartrate has increased.  I knew I was injured.  The doctor just confirmed it today.  No impact activities until the pain subsides.  No estimate on when that might be.

It is essential for me to be a good mother & wife.  It is essential for me to be a runner.  The rest can be put aside.

Please say a prayer for my sanity, will you??

Resolved.

I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions.  If you want to get something done, start now.  But, since it is the beginning of January, I spent some time yesterday thinking about what lies ahead in the New Year.  ‘Case I’m slacking off a bit, and feeling L…A…Z…Y!

You’d have a hard time telling.  From afar, I’m (literally) running in all directions.  I’m on the exec board of our pre-school Parents’ Association.  Kindergarten room mother.  I volunteer in the community.  At home, my life is an endless repeat of bathing, dressing, cleaning, cooking, comforting, playing, cooking, disciplining, reading, cleaning, cooking, bathing, reading, bedtime.

And I run.  When I’m not on the injured reserve list (as I am now), I adore juggling speedwork, tempo runs, and the weekly long run.  I try to fit in enough swimming and cyling to pull off a triathlon or two each season.  I’m currently obsessed with trail and ultra running.

But I need to remind myself that spinning wheels do not equal forward progress.  That a facade of busyness can mask a core of laziness. And with that in mind, here follow my personal 2012 resolutions.

  1. Dispense with the unessential
  2. Recover, recharge, and rest
  3. Be joyful
  4. Be strong
  5. Embrace the mud
  6. Wander
  7. Get outside
  8. Go long
  9. Stretch it out
  10. Document the journey

I’ll touch on each of these in posts over the next few days.  It goes without saying that they all wrap around running & motherhood.  And the occasional glass of wine – because honestly – it pairs so well with life, don’t ya think?

2011 Recap and What I have Learned

So, 2011 is in the books.  In many mays the year was just another in the uninterrupted stretch of adulthood.  Family, responsibilities, mortgage payments, birthday parties.  The predictable minutiae that make up our lives.

In someways we were lucky.  We lost an acquaintance, but no family members – no loved ones.  Jimmy’s dad, while weakening from 14 years of Parkinsons, is still with us.  My grandmother, at 94, provides a link to the past.  Jimmy’s job has kept him busy at a time when many others are struggling.

The girls are awesome.  They are growing up so quickly.  While we have the ubiquitous bickering, the clouds part occasionally and we hear how nicely they can talk to each other.  Seeing the individual relationships form between them warms our hearts in ways we could not have expected.

When we started the year, our house was gutted – in the middle of a massive renovation.  We were living in a river cottage an hour away, commuting daily and shivering at night when the furnace stopped working.  By March, our home was finished, we were back in Richmond and enjoying the extra space and neighbors.  And in November, we came full circle, when we agreed to buy a new home and start the process again.

Emma’s preschool days gave way to Kindergarten.  SweetBabyJane’s crib turned into a big-girl bed.  MagPie’s imagination came alive and provided countless hours of entertainment.

What did I learn from 2011?  I tapped into reserves of strength I did not know I had.  The endless days of commuting ended.  The running began again.  I got faster, and leaner, than I’d ever been.  I’m working on being a better mother, of leaving all my angst and impatience on the road, and saving the hugs for my girls that need them most.

But 2011 did not end, for me, on a high note.  I am tired.  More than I want to admit.  I’m injured, and I fear this time a few rest days won’t help me heal.  I have so many plans for the next 12 months, but all require me to be on my game, training smart, living well.   The old uncertainty returns…can I do it?

The support of my husband and girls, along with the rest of my family, lifts me up.  I feel God’s presence as I haven’t in a very long time.  I am not a religious person, but the spirituality around me takes my breath away and opens my eyes to the possibilities of tomorrow.

Cheers to the old year, and Cheers to the new.  Make 2012 count!