Sunday, February 23, 2014

a great adventure

Holy crap what a week! Training is ramping up quickly and I hit the 50-day landmark in my runstreak. During my travels, I have experienced a great deal of unique runner problems whose existence were previously unbenounced to me. Clearly, this is the less glamorous side of ultra running (as if there were any particularly glamorous side) so I feel responsibility to share my findings.

Exploring the bridges of King County. To the Arb!

1. Chafing...
You're shaking your head thinking, "Duh, every runner chafes..." Wrong. I thought I had experienced chafing too. Some casual thigh friction, a little armpit rubbing, even some smarts on the inside of my knees when they would occasionally collaborate thanks to some unfortunate form deficiency. The area gets a little red, irritated, and will sting in the shower no doubt. But this, this is a whole new monstrosity! Forming in areas I never knew could even chafe! My bloody, mutilated flesh looks like a scene straight out of Texas Chainsaw Massacre! I choose to establish permanent residence in baggy sweats not (only) because I am the physical embodiment of a fashion faux-pas, but rather out of the shear agony associated with less-forgiving fabrics. The most tragic part of this battle wound? No amount of anti-chafe serum can up against it! If you see me on the street with a hitch in my giddy up, don't be alarmed...that's just how I walk now.

2. Hip-Flexors...
Hello, so you do exist. Apparently, these little tendons work for a union because at any given point I am subject to a strike in the form of violent protest. "You want to run how many miles? That's not in our negotiated running contract. We regret to inform you that we are disinclined to acquiesce your request." That's is how I imagine hip-flexors would talk, provided they could. What follows is a series of spasms, some wobbling, followed by a complete stagnation of any forward movement. Cheers!

3. Bedtime...
My body now has me pinned under a strict bedtime that is non-negotiable. I thought my days of hitting the sack at 10:30pm were relatively early for someone in their mid-twenties. Pshhh. Eight year-olds stay up later than I do. Infants stay up later than I do! What began as a slight modification to 10pm, eventually became an exponentially steady decline well into single-digits of the 7pm-9pm variety (erring on the side of 8pm). Don't text me after 9pm, I'll probably be hours deep into my REM cycle. Ah to be young and reckless...

4. Social Life...
See above. Between my fashion (non)sense, the troubling verbal exchange I'm having between me and my hip-flexors, and my affinity for pillow time...my social scene suffers a wee bit.

5. Pain...
And finally, I've gained a new perspective on pain. I am well versed in pain, but this is somewhat uncharted territory for me. My legs feel great, until they don't anymore. Once I breach the threshold into latter part of my run, or like this weekend where I did back-to-back long runs, it seems I have a veritable out-of-leg experience that is simply other worldly. My legs are mine, then all of a sudden I feel like they've been replaced with robot legs sans shock absorption, coordination, or fluidity. It's like I'm trying to run on stilts, jarring me with every step. My joints ache, I feel elderly trying to get up and down out of chairs. In fact just this morning I considered renting the booth at Ihop for fear I would have to stay there permanently. Losing control of my faculties has been a rude awaking.

I hereby dub this run "Purple Rock Hill." Can you find it?

That being said, if these proceed to be my only hiccups I will consider myself lucky. I remain injury free (as you're reading this, you'll be hearing the faint sound of someone knocking on wood) and inspired. I managed to make it through a weekend of consecutive long runs, 14 on Saturday and 19 on Sunday, and remain in good spirits. I'm hopeful that I will be able to pry my ass off this couch for work in the morning. Next weekend will be another doozy. Until then, I bid thee adieu.


Friday, February 14, 2014

#keepingitreal

Ah, Valentine's Day. A day of chocolates, flowers and commercialism! We honor this social convention of giving sweets and treats to loved ones in hopes of creating a gradient of positive 'pr' points to hold us over until the next major holiday gift exchange. Sorry, I know you can taste the bitterness.

Even though I celebrate this day sans significant other, I still consider it a win. Day 45 of #streak365 started with a run and was promptly followed by raspberry-glazed donuts, clearly life isn't too bad.

But this week a particular topic has caught my interest, keeping it real. Oiselle's own Lauren Fleshman has sparked a revolution, challenging preconceptions about body image. Anyone with the bravery to make public their 'thigh cheese' is a champion of truth. This is the equivalent of (insert your favorite Hollywood actress) posting pictures of herself without makeup or Photoshop on her own free will. A professional runner with thigh cheese and a bloated belly? Consider the mystery of perfection shattered, and the illusion of reality fully realized. Finally.

As I've stated in the past, I constantly battle my own demons in this department right alongside all the other women on this planet I'm sure. Lauren's call to bear arms, bloated bellies, thigh cheese, love-handles and the like has finally tipped the scales in favor (pun intended) of the real woman.

So I thought I'd put my little piece of body image out into the universe.

This is me, I believe this was the last time I was in shape about 2 years ago.

And...this is me as a beached whale. Complete with frumpy face.

This is certainly not my worst photograph, but rather one of the few remaining that have not yet been burned to ashes and sent out to sea. Does posting these pictures make me feel empowered or somehow stronger? Nope. Does this help me better embrace all the imperfections? Absolutely not. I believe it is a powerful message, and I'd like to do my part to contribute.

I will get back to racing form, back to a place where I feel comfortable in my own skin. The difference now will be to achieve my own inner peace, not to fit some mold of 'skinny girls wins races' that seems to be the going rate these days.

It's about time to take a stand and embrace what it means to be human, imperfect, and yet beautiful. Join in on the challenge. #keepingitreal

In the meantime, I continue my runstreak and quest for 50-miler completion. I will be ready.

15 miles in fresh snowfall.

Friday, February 7, 2014

surreal

I keep asking myself, "did that just happen?" If I didn't have the pictures to prove it, I don't know that I would believe it...

Fleshman in the flesh!
Holy sh*t.
Seeing these incredible athletes in person has a dream come true. Like movie stars, you grow up watching them in near disbelief that they truly exist beyond the magazines and television coverage. To meet them? Laugh with them? Even run with them? I'm still without words. Being a part of the Oiselle runfamily has opened up a whole new world for me full of opportunities that far exceed any expectation and imagination. Consider my life complete.

Every decision I've made, most importantly in the last 4 months, has led me to these moments that I'll remember forever. Sticking to my convictions, taking a leap of faith, diving into the unknown with nothing but a hope and a prayer has made for some of the most meaningful and life-changing experiences I have ever known.

Now down to business.

So begin my weekend long runs, having completed 10 miles this past Sunday. The tentative plan is to increase my longest run each Sunday by 30-50% (last Sunday was 10 miles so this Sunday will be between 13 and 15 miles).

My working knowledge of how to train for an ultra marathon is very limited, but I've been told time and time again that it's not the mileage but rather "the time on your feet" that matters. Concentrating on the total time spent running, as opposed to total amount of miles run, will help prepare my body for the brutal 10+ hour event I hope to complete in April.

The safest way to gain the time on my feet and limit the risk of injury is to complete back-to-back long days over the weekend. Saturdays, therefore, will be incorporated in to what will be considered a #longassweekend instead of the more jovial #sundayrunday. Saturdays will be roughly 75% of the time I anticipate completing on Sunday (i.e. 4 hours of running planned for Sunday would mean 3 hours of running to be done on Saturday).


Sure it sounds intimidating, but I'm excited. I have run 38 days in a row! I don't know that I've had that many consecutively healthy days in my entire running career... Perhaps a slight exaggeration? Sadly not. Most days I want to run twice or even three times, but I resist. I can't get enough of it!

So here's to breaking the mold, embracing the crazy, and diving in with both feet. #streak365