Frazzled…Time to Run!

Ok. This week completely got away from me.
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If you didn’t know, I’m headed out of town tomorrow (wow…tomorrow is Friday, isn’t it?) for the inaugural Nike Women’s Half Marathon in Washington, DC. It’s something I didn’t actually plan on happening, but here I am.

Nike has an existing half and full marathon in San Francisco every fall, and this year expanded that series to include a half in DC. Exciting! Of course that meant there was a huge crowd wanting to do this first-time event. Thousands upon thousands. And that included a few of my local friends.

We entered the race via the lottery last year as a group. This meant we’d either all get in or none of us would. I didn’t hold my breath. I didn’t even put it on my calendar.

Then we got the news. We were in! Yeah! Crap…better get it on the calendar and cross off some other things, including a race at Mohican I was meaning to do. And ALL my spring races, It had nothing to do with the distance. The cost on this one was going to kill me. I get it. The race benefits the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. They have to get some money out of my registration fees too. Oh…and did I mention the medal?
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Likely the only way I’m ever getting one of these blue boxes! I can’t wait to see what’s inside!

The distance fit into my 50k/50mi training schedule perfectly. I planned on dropping back on distance in preparation for peak week next week. And I really detest the taper anyway, so I’ve been running through this one.

I haven’t been to DC in a long time, and I’m excited to run in a new city. The course looks nice with lots of sights to see during the event. I also plan on spending some time running in the area Friday and Saturday.
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I can’t wait to meet some of my fellow ENERGYbits ambassadors who are running the race as well…two meetups planned with them over the weekend! I hope to post some pictures from the race-related events and from my runs both here and on twitter.
Stay tuned…the excitement begins tomorrow!
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It’s hard to explain…

I’m not sure I have the words…
The pain covers me like a wave.
Merciless. Again. And again. Unceasing.
Is there no end to this?
No light at the end of the tunnel.
It has to stop.
I can’t bear it.
It’s too much.

The internal torture is compounded by physical pain. My knee is still swollen from Sunday. My joints are on fire. My head throbs. My hands ache. My feet continuously cramp.
I’ve learned to accept this…my whole body hurts during this kind of weather.
Cold. Rainy. Dark.

It’s so fitting for how I feel inside. Like all life…all happiness is gone. Never to return.

Before you jump to conclusions and start worrying about me, I’m fine. Really. This is a normal cycle. I’m not going to pretend that I feel happy all the time…I’m far from bubbly.

When others hurt, so do I. Even if we barely know each other, and you are hurting, I am there for you. It’s who I am. I won’t change it. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. It makes me unique, and tragically misunderstood.

Six months ago I was suffering in silence. I had no place to share my feelings. That was just fine with me…but an introvert’s life can be a lonely place. I always joked that I could feel alone in a crowded room. Only I wasn’t really joking.

My dark is dark. More than most people can bear.
Or understand.
Or care to know.
But in the darkness I grow.

I’ve turned off all news outlets today. I woke up in the middle of the night to more violence, and I couldn’t handle it. I ran. I’m going to run more this afternoon, hopefully with a few friends that understand. That feel like I do. We don’t need to talk about it. The woods is a healing place. Just being there, together, is enough. If home is where the heart is, then my home is in the woods.

I might just run until the numbness fades.
Until the tears come, and leave again.
Until the pain dissipates.

For now anyway.
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Preview the Playin’ Possum 50k

As I alluded to yesterday, I’d like to talk about the next ultra on my schedule.
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The Playin’ Possum 50k will be held on Saturday, May 18, 2013 at Delaware State Park, located in Delaware, Ohio. This will be the first year for the event…and the first of its kind in the area.

Sure…you can find a couple of “Fat Ass” (FA) runs around Central Ohio, and a local running store offered a 50k option on a trail series they hosted a few months ago. (A FA is a free, no frills event, generally without support, shirts, medals, finish lines or publicity. You hear about the event via word of mouth…or Facebook…show up, and run. It’s fun. Or crazy. Likely both.) I participated in both of these in the last 6 months, and they were fun in their own way. But in order to find a true “ultra,” you’d have to travel to Mohican or Hocking Hills. Although those places are beautiful, they are quite a drive for most of us from Columbus. Out of that need, the Possum race was born.

Directed by Mark Carroll and Chad Heald, two great (and experienced) guys, the course traverses varied terrain: grass-covered levy walls, dirt and gravel roads, single track, and hopefully, a trip across the damn dam.
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The race is open to everyone. It’s just fine if you’ve never done anything like this. In fact, it’s strongly encouraged. There will be some very experienced folks out for the inaugural event. But with more than a third of the field as first-time ultramarathoners, the passel is more than excited to show a few runners what an ultra is all about. They want you to fall in love with ultra…like they did…like I did…and come back for more!

First, and maybe most important, there are cookies…and chips…and candy…and all manner of junk food that most people would not associate with “running.” At the official training run last week…they had these peanut butter chocolate chip cookies that were amazing…I digress.

Not food motivated? Have you seen these views? Sure…it’s a little muddy now. By May, it’s going to be gorgeous…and maybe still a little muddy. You’re not afraid of a little dirt are you?

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Alright. Let’s get serious for a moment.

For me, it’s about the people. Building a great community of trail and ultrarunners in the Columbus area.

Remember those people I talked about yesterday?

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Here’s your chance to meet them. Run with them. And raise a glass…of Coke (No alcohol in the park please.)!

There are still two Official Training Runs before race day. They are open to everyone…even if you haven’t taken the plunge yet. And I mean that quite literally…I was lucky enough to find a few places with knee-deep water last week!

Join us this Sunday, April 21st at 8am. We’ll be running about 10 miles of the course, including the single track portion! You can find out all the details on the community Facebook page. The final training run will be on May 5th, and will cover about 30k of the course, weather and construction permitting. We are in Ohio…and even the Dam isn’t safe from the orange barrel. There will be some aid provided at the training runs (water and snacks), but please bring anything you might need including your own hydration bottle or pack. No paper cups in the woods!

Don’t have Facebook? Send me a message and I’ll make sure you get all the details.

And don’t forget to follow Playin Possum 50k on Twitter as well.

What? You’re still not registered?

The Playin’ Possum 50k is over 75% sold out…if you’re considering joining us, register soon. Registration will close on May 15th, but the race could easily sell out before that date. Remember that all proceeds go to the Special Olympics. You’ll still get a shirt, and they’re promising a unique item in place of a finisher’s medal. I’m curious enough…are you?

Don’t miss out on this one!

Photos in this post are used with permission from Stuart Kirk and the Possum Races website.

Beyond the Marathon

I am horrified by the events which occurred in Boston yesterday. My thoughts and prayers are with those that were killed and injured in the explosions and their families. Please know this was written before the tragic events occurred, and is, in no way, meant to be offensive or insensitive. I share it because, through writing, I grow as a person. And, without sharing my words, they are left meaningless. I haven’t forgotten. But the worst thing we can all do is give up…and let evil win. Yesterday I prayed for Boston, and the rest of our world. That won’t stop because it’s a new day. I’m not moving on, I’m just moving forward.
Relentless forward momentum.

I’ll admit it. I didn’t watch any of the Boston Marathon. I didn’t check the updates. I didn’t look at the elite finish times. I briefly looked at a few pictures posted by friend on Facebook, but even then, it was just to admire the happy faces if friends, and to wish them good luck.

It really doesn’t interest me. Not anymore. I’ve heard a few people say that recently, but I could hear the hesitation in their voice…they think it’s unattainable for them (and maybe it is), so they express disinterest as a defense mechanism. They don’t want to talk about it. They feel like a loser because they can’t or won’t do the work required to BQ.

That’s not me. Not at all. I don’t want to run Boston. It doesn’t hold my interest. I want something bigger.

Bigger? What’s bigger than Boston?

Now before you go jumping down my throat that Boston is the most important event for the running world, let me agree, with one very specific clarification.

The Boston Marathon is the most elite marathon in the world.

Marathon.

And that’s why it doesn’t interest me.

What’s my bigger goal? Western States 100. Yup. I said it.
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That’s a bit far off. I’m nowhere near reaching that goal…especially as I sit here icing my knee from a spill I took Sunday on a trail run. The good news is I have plenty of time.

Now I promised to talk about a race I have coming up, and I will. Tomorrow’s blog will be all about the Playin’ Possum 50k, and why you should be running with us. The course is diverse…a little something for everyone. At least 1/3 of the field are first-time ultra runners and the others have plenty of experience to spread around. And all the proceeds will be donated to the Special Olympics.

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I do want to take a moment to talk about the wonderful people I’ve met while training for this event. I have run with the race directors and the passel (a group of possum…go figure) on several occasions, both as a large organized training run, and a more casual midweek run. Shoot…the race director showed up to a Saturday morning training run I scheduled with friends, just because he knew we would be there.

I have found this community to be so much more passionate and compassionate than any group of people I have ever met. I wish you could meet them. I have never felt more welcome and appreciated, and that was before I brought them all pie for a post-run treat. They have taken a special piece of my heart, and I look forward to the next time I get to run with any one of them. Every time.

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Check back tomorrow for more information regarding the race, where you can sign up before it sells out, and how you can join us for the next training run open to the public.

Pray, but not just for Boston

I don’t know what to say. I had just finished my post for today, which now seems terribly insensitive. I’ll likely post it tomorrow with a disclaimer, but I can’t, with all this pain, do it now.

I’m hurting. For the people in Boston. Those killed. Those injured. Their families. The other runners who worked so hard for a finish that will never happen. For runners everywhere. For Americans. For everyone.

At the time I’m writing this, there has been no definitive answer on what happened. Or why. Or who.

And for me, it doesn’t really matter. I hurt for them regardless. Because they are people. Just like you and me. And they are hurting. I’m sick just reading the updates and looking at the grotesque pictures that belong only in war movies. I’m not looking at it anymore.

Just remember today how lucky you are. How safe. How healthy. How alive.

Others are not so lucky.

My running community is my family. They take me as I am. Not because they have to…because they want to. They choose to. And tonight, my family is hurting. Pray for Boston. Pray for my family. Pray for all of us.
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I need to clear my head. I need to run. For Boston. For my family. For my life. Won’t you join me?

ORRRC Marathon Part Two: The Longest Half Marathon

Like I said in my earlier post, Xenia was scheduled to be my race to shine.

There’s that word again: scheduled. My plan for the spring was to drop back to the half marathon distance to focus on getting faster, without having to worry about longer mileage. Sounds smart. But it didn’t work. I was miserable. I wanted to run long forever. I’d finish the prescribed mileage and think “That’s it?”

Five weeks ago, I changed my tune. You can read about that here. That meant I had no nerves when I arrived in Xenia. None. Not one. I felt like I had forgotten something. After the race, I figured out what it was. I forgot to get nervous. What a great feeling!

I was happy to accept an invitation to carpool with a friend (Thanks Scott!), and we only had to turn back once…my phone is hard to find at 5:30am. The ride was relaxing, and I started thinking about Kate while drinking my coffee. She was running her first marathon at Xenia that day.

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And though I wasn’t nervous, I did have a plan:

I would run the first seven miles at an even pace with the group (Anne and I were running the half, and Kate would stay with Angie for the full) until the two courses split. Anne and I would finish the half, then we’d head back out to pick up Kate and Angie around mile 22, and run them to the finish. Knowing the last miles of the race would be the hardest for her, I was happy to volunteer for this task. That meant over 20 miles for Anne and I, which worked out fine with our 50k training.

Fast forward to the start. I still had that strange feeling…something is missing. I checked my supplies once more…time to go.

The neighborhood loop was nice. We did get to see Jamie, who was still recovering from injury and couldn’t run with us that day (She’s back to running as of last night!), and a few others who came to spectate. We talked with some local folks running the race, including Tylar, a guy I had met on Twitter the day prior, who was running his first half marathon. Congrats to you friend!
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Off to the bikeway…
Kate was in great spirits, and I stepped away from the group for a mile or so to think…or not think…let my mind wander. It was a great morning. It’s going to be hot. We can do this together. Back in the game.

The split came, and we said goodbye to Kate and Angie…See you at mile 22!
Anne and I took the turn, and my thoughts went to Andrea and Stuart. They couldn’t be that far behind us. I suggested that, since we didn’t care about time, when we saw them on this out-and-back section, that we turn again with them, and stay together. We did…and had a blast taking them back to downtown. No worries. No watch-glancing. Running, laughing, smiling. My kind of run.

The finish line brought tons of cheering from our group! And cookies!

A quick glance as the race clock meant Anne and I had about 40 minutes to kill before heading back out to 22. The club updated us on their finishes, and the status of those still running. Before we knew it. it was time to run…again.

With a promise to keep the crew updated, we headed for the bikeway. There was a steady stream of runners headed towards us, most of which told US we were doing a great job! Um…we’re headed the wrong way, but I’ll take it. We joked with a few, saying we couldn’t get enough, and, since the course was still open, we’d do another lap. I thought it was funny. They probably thought we were crazy.

By the time we reached mile 22, we had seen most of our friends…and it was hot! Over 70* now, which normally wouldn’t be a problem, but it was the first day with those kind of temps, and we weren’t ready for summer quite yet. What happened to spring?

The volunteer working the aid station at 22 was fantastic. He chatted us up, and was very encouraging. It helped to pass the waiting time. Anne and I had logged 18.5 miles at this point, and my stomach was starting to protest all this waiting around.

And then we saw them.

Still happy. Still running. After a quick refuel, we started the last four miles. This is the toughest point for a first-timer, and Kate was a trooper. Despite her apologies that we refused to accept, we pushed on, and she kept giving her best. With just over a mile to go, we picked up Goat and Mel, and then we neared the finish.

Four blocks…uphill. You’ve got this.
We dropped back and let Kate take the lead…and she kicked! Nice!

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Tears. Hugs. Mushy stuff.
It was a fantastic day topped off with soup and cookies, and a celebratory beer.

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Congrats to all…You did it!

And I had the best race experience to date.

And none of it was about me.

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ORRRC Marathon Part One: The Facts

I realize I owe you a few race reports. I’m going to start with the most recent (and the biggest), because it’s still fresh in my mind. And it was an amazing experience. But first…the race..

Facts:
The Ohio River Road Runners Club (ORRRC) Marathon (46th year) & Half Marathon (24th year) took place on Sunday April 7, 2013 in Xenia, Ohio.

images-2 The course, for the half anyway, is pleasant enough: start at the YMCA, a quick loop through the quaint town, and off to the bikeway for an out-and-back race. The marathon follows the same course, but spends a much longer time on the bike path, with a road loop to double you back. There are a few easy hills in the town, and there are a few rollers as the bike path approaches cross streets. It was a nice change to not think about cars and traffic. Even at the road crossings, friendly volunteers and police are there to keep you safe.

I ran the half, so I can’t speak to the second part of the course. I’ve heard it’s fairly non-descript, but, if the weather is right, it lends itself to a PR.

Too bad for us, it wasn’t. Although the morning started with great temps in the 50s, it quickly reached 70 by the second hour. Normally that would be tolerable, but I think we still had snow last week…no acclimation period for that kind of heat. Not to mention a strong headwind….tree-lined bike paths make excellent wind tunnels. Sounds great if the wind is at your back I guess. Rough when it’s in your face…for miles. That’s where the full marathoners had the toughest time. The wind can rob you of energy quickly.

The volunteers were great…even the police officers cheered runners along with positive words. There’s real food at the finish…fruit, two kinds of soup, chili, and cookies. Good cookies. Yum.

The price is right too. If you register early, it’s only $25 for either distance, and that gets you a shirt and a medal. Can’t be beat there. It’s a short drive from Columbus, just over an hour, and most of our club made the trip that morning, save a few dedicated souls who stayed overnight in a local hotel.

Our club, RunDMC (dailymile Columbus) brought at least 35 members to the race this year…even more to cheer…and it was nice to see so many familiar faces.

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This was the race where I planned, up until 5 weeks ago, to PR my half marathon.

Xenia.
It was to be my finest (two) hour(s).

As it turns out, it became the most meaningful race I’ve done in a long time…and it had nothing to do with me. But we’ll have to save that for Part 2.