Giving blood = giving life! I will always be indebted to those who gave blood so my little girl could live! It felt wonderful to finally be doing something to return, in some small way, the gift that was given to our family when Savannah’s life was saved in 2007!
I have several items on my “bucket list.” Some of them are grand adventures like running Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim at the Grand Canyon, taking a ride in a hot air balloon, running the Boston Marathon or meeting a running hero like Kathrine Switzer. Others are a little less glamorous, but very personally meaningful to me. One of those things on my list was to donate blood – something that I think we all know is a good thing to do, but many of us never get around to actually doing.
There is a special reason why this was so very important to me. My beautiful daughter, Savannah, the youngest of my five children was a very sick little baby when she was about 6 months old. Though we never did get a diagnosis for why Savannah became so seriously ill, one of the turning points for her recovery was when she received a blood transfusion at St Luke’s Children’s Hospital on September 22, 2007.
Savannah in the PICU after her blood transfusion in Sept of 2007.
I remember being terrified as they told me that my little girl might not live through the night, but standing by her bedside, stroking the soft tufts of blood hair on her little cherub head and singing softly to her through my tears as she received that life-giving blood. As the hours went by, color started to return to Savannah’s face. It would be nearly a year before Savannah would be fully well again, but that night will forever be etched into my memory as the night she was given hope again. I told my husband that very day that it was very important to me to one day donate blood as the best way possible I could say, “Thank you” to whoever had given so selflessly to my own baby girl and helped save her life!
Well, a few weeks ago, while on an early morning run with my pal, Ryan, he mentioned feeling a little tired since he’d given blood the day before. That’s when I shared with him my own family’s story and told him I really wanted to give blood too! So, he invited me to join him the next time the American Red Cross came to his office and I happily jumped at the chance!
Thank you, Ryan for being a great example to me and letting me join you today!
So, today was that day. The day I was able to pay it forward. As I was lying back in the chair, I thought about how frightened and hopeless I’d felt the day Savannah needed blood and how utterly grateful I was when there was blood available to give to her. I wondered about where my own blood would go. Would it be another little baby like my own who would need it? A mother? A grandpa? It really doesn’t matter. It just feels amazing to know that there is a very simple way to do some good, to provide some help to those who really need it!
So, if you are like I was – thinking that giving blood is a good thing to do and something you’d always intended to do, I encourage you to take the steps to find a local donation location so that you, too, can share the gift of life! And for those of you, like Ryan who have been giving for years, please know from the bottom of my heart how truly grateful I am for your kindness! Thank you!!
I guess this means I can now cross another item off of my bucket list. But, this one I plan on keeping on the list and repeating over and over as long as I’m able to give!
Savannah (who’s a healthy 6 year old and the light of my life) and I.
I had only ran 11 miles this week – 11 MILES! Argh! Sometimes people ask me how I manage to stay married to the same man for 15 years, homeschool 5 children, raise them, keep the housework and laundry caught up, help direct 10 races AND run enough that I’m trained for my ultras and marathons. The short answer: I DON’T! It really is a juggling act and when one area of my life is going exceptionally well, it’s inevitable that at least one or two other areas of my life are sucking pond scum!
This past week, Wayne and I’ve met with sponsors for our race company. Those meetings went exceptionally well!!! I sat down and caught up all the paperwork and bills for our family and our business. I spent some much-needed time having fun with my kids and took them bowling and out for ice cream. We got a replacement to our broken washing machine and got the laundry caught up (yay for clean undies!) Wayne and I even made time for some cuddling and talking and daydreaming about our future. It honestly was a good week! I just didn’t run as much.
I think that’s the lesson. I value my family above all — none of the running stuff would mean ANYTHING if I didn’t have them there at home to greet me after a run, there at the finish line cheering me in or along the course of a 100 handing me water and telling me that I can totally do it. They are my priority.
I see marriages falling apart in my social circle. It frightens me. I see other couples face something really difficult like cancer and cling to one another and fight it together and grow closer. I want to be more like the second kind of couple. I couldn’t do the things I do without the love and support of my husband!! He is my number 1 fan, my greatest encourager, my best friend (and the one who actually shells out the sweet moula for my race entry fees — thank you, honey!) I don’t want him to ever feel he’s taken a back seat to my training, my running, my friends.
Anyways… serious thoughts today as I remind myself of what’s important in my life. Thankfully, running is something that my husband will continue to encourage me on and that’s good, because I truly love it with all my heart! I had a talk with a competitive local runner gal this week. She said, “Running isn’t “me” time. It’s just part of who I am and what I do.” I feel like that too.
Oodles of snow out there today made it pretty hard to keep a regular pace, so I just eased up, walked and hiked through the 4 inches of snow and took a few lovely photos of the winter wonderland. I tried listening to music. My player died after 3 songs. Luckily, Bon Jovi’s Living on a Prayer, which pretty much rocked my socks!!
Elevation Gain: 315 feet. Mix of trail and road today (all covered in snow and/or ice.) Ave HR: 132. Max HR: 162. Felt: Reflective.
My son, Wayne Jr has a budding passion for running! I’ve seen it in him for several years now and I’m always looking for ways to fan the flame of this new love in the hopes that he will grow up to be as crazy in love with the sport as I am! When I woke up on 12/12/12 I didn’t have any concrete running plans, but felt I should do something to commemorate the day. As I was making my morning cappuccino, I mentioned to Jr, who’s 12, that I was thinking of going for a run and I wanted to know if he’d like to join me. A huge smile spread across his face and he excitedly asked, “How far, Mom?” That’s when it hit me: He’s 12!!! It’s 12/12/12 and I was planning on running 12 miles – a distance he’d never done in his life. I said, “I’m going 12. Want to do the whole thing with me?!” He leaped up from the chair, did a fist pump in the air and yelled out, “WOO HOO!” :D Talk about enthusiastic running partner!
I loaded up the Nathan with lots of snacks: peanut butter sandwiches, salty chips, Shot Bloks, mint chocolate GUs and we each carried a hand bottle with Gatorade. The sun was shining, the sky was blue and full of fluffy clouds and we enjoyed one another’s company as we took off. I let him set the pace, but encouraged him to walk as much as he needed since his longest run in the last 11 months was only 3 miles!
Jr learned one little lesson: If your running partner is also your homeschool Mom, she may spring spelling pop quizzes on you to distract you from the miles. She will also cheer enthusiastically when you get the words correct! I’d brought along a little notepad and a pen and we made a game of writing down every single street name that we passed in our neighborhood. There were 27 that we passed, most of them named after uncommon plants, shrubs and flowers like Quamash, Nasturtium and Firethorn (Jr’s favorite!) I promised him that he could google them all when we got back home so he could know what each one meant.
As we were running downhill together, he said to me, “Mom, in Mine Sweeper you run faster if you LEAP run!” So, of course, we both started leap running down the hill, laughing and having a wonderful time. When we’d pass street signs next to the sidewalk, he would grab them and twirl around them. When we’d run under crab apple trees, he’d say, “Duck, Mom! Those are enemy bombs and they’re about to fall!” It made me laugh. He made me smile – happy to enjoy those 12 miles with my son who one day soon may not think it’s cool to be seen in public with his Mom. For now, he’s still a playful boy, full of life and energy and determination! I will enjoy every moment!
He finished up the 12.12 miles with his fists pumped in the air and a big grin on his face! It was the perfect way to celebrate such a unique date!
On November 2nd, I turned the big four -O!! 40 years YOUNG! I can’t believe it! 40 is a pretty special number for me since it was the age my Mom was the year she ran her marathon. Four and a half years ago, when I took those first steps to becoming a healthier Mommy, my ultimate goal was to run a marathon the year I turned 40 years old just like my Mom had done. So, here I am!! Finally 40!
Since I’d ran that first marathon a few years back (and gone on to do other ultra marathons including my 100 miler this past March) I needed a special way to commemorate the day. So, I invited a bunch of my crazy running buddies to join me as I ran 40 miles to celebrate 40 years of a good life!
It couldn’t have been more perfect to begin my special day, in the dark, at 5:30 am with a headlamp meeting up with Ryan at the base of Lucky Peak. That alone was kind of sentimental for me. A year ago I moved to Boise. The night before my birthday, I was feeling a little down since I was still unpacking and didn’t have any official plans to run with anyone the next day for my birthday. It was late when the phone rang. It was my friend, Ryan, inviting me on my first-ever midweek trail run by headlamp!!! Just one of the “cool, new things” that changed for me when I moved to Boise! The next morning, I awoke at 4:30 am (a time that seemed ungodly, but would over time become my new normal on running days.) It was freezing cold, windy, my hands were numb and I could hardly hear Ryan when he spoke because the wind was blowing so fiercely! But, we ran the Homestead Trail up towards Lucky Peak, stopping once we’d reached a great spot to view the city lights below. It took my breath away and almost made me cry! I felt like the luckiest person in the world — standing on the top of a mountain as a new year of my life began in a new city!
So, beginning this run in the same way was pretty special. To make it even better, my friend Andrea was joining us and my amazing friends Bobby and Calvin, who had driven all the way from Baker City, Oregon to join in were along the for celebration too! I was dressed in my new purple birthday tutu and I was feeling rather festive and full of appreciation for my good friends, my loving husband and five children, the gorgeous trails I run on and my good health! We ran under the bright moon and the twinkling stars and chatted as we made our way up.
At the top, we paused, taking in the views below of the city lights – twinkling like diamonds beneath us against a black sky. Though I’ve seen this view many times since last November, it still causes me to catch my breath and my heart wells up with awe at the sight and wonder of it all. Me, way up on a mountain on the morn of my birthday.
We headed down the hill, running hard and fast, dodging rocks, uneven washout on the road, letting gravity pull our bodies like speeding bullets down the hill, trying not to fall the way I did on my birthday the year before. This time, I can feel the familiarity in my footfalls. I run this trail in the dark all the time now and I don’t hesitate on the downhills anymore – I push myself instead – loving the riskiness of daring the rocks to trip me up, the drive welling up inside my chest as I try to chase down my faster friend! I run well, my cheeks are flushed and I am smiling. In fact, I find that I am running effortlessly — floating down the mountain, gracefully, quickly gaining on Ryan and I am not out of breath. I feel wonderful! I push a little bit harder, see the gap between us closing bit by bit. My mind is buzzing.. “Could THIS be my day? The day I finally catch my faster pal?!” My stride stretches and I get closer and closer, my breathing heavy, when I am right at his heels – JUST as we reach the gate and finish the run! I am elated! He teases, “If you hadn’t had on your headlamp you might have caught me this time!” Maybe next birthday….
We get about 8 miles in before the day starts to dawn. We say goodbye to Ryan as he heads off to work for the day and the others and I head back to my house as the sun starts to rise to meet up with a few pals who will join me for the next leg of our journey. I find my sweet friend, Martha there with her bicycle and a delicious homemade key lime pie — baked special for me! Yum!!! I hug her, and my friends Mark and Dennis also show up, giving me hugs and saying, “Happy Birthday!” My five kids wake and are enjoying all the commotion at our home at such an early hour. They love my friends and I think my friends love them too.
We head off as a group, this time running some roads and the Boise Greenbelt on our travels. We keep the pace easy, conversational. Today is about pleasure, celebration – FUN! We talk about the fall leaves – the golds, the eye-popping reds, the browns. It’s a lovely day – sunny, blue skies, comfortable. A perfect fall day for a 40 mile run! We spot a deer standing statue-still in the Boise River! I jump up and down and clap like a 5 year old! It really feels like nature just sent me the best gift of all – this moment to gaze at this powerful and graceful beast — as she walks serenely through the water, pausing, staring at us, then walking on. It’s a perfect day!
By the time we are back at my house, I and three of my companions have ran over 22 miles! The mission is half complete! My husband is adorable – wearing a pink flamingo hat, working hard to whip up grilled cheese sandwiches for all my friends and I, spreading the table with other goodies for us to munch on – yogurt covered pretzels, potato chips, M and Ms, bananas, oranges and all sorts of tasty drinks! We are nourished, we’re in good spirits and then my friend, Uli comes over! Ulrich Kamm is something of a legend in our group. He’s from Germany and he brings me a delightful little champagne fruit and nut cake covered in chocolate. Uli is over 60 years old and has completed more than 250 ultra marathons, including multiple 100 mile finishes including Leadville, Wasatch, The Bear, Big Horn and 10 at Hardrock – and he’s never ran a step of any of them! He’s a power walker unlike any I’ve ever known! His walking pace causes others to run just to keep up! He’s energetic, funny and inspirational and I am thrilled to have him at my party!
This loop on the Oregon Trails with Uli is one of my favorite! Bobby, Calvin, Mark and I laugh and enjoy the chatter of our faithful leader — as Uli keeps us all putting in a solid effort just to keep him in sight! It’s wonderful! We enjoy the rocky terrain, the views of the Lucky Peak Dam reservoir and I feel very, very alive and incredibly happy as we run (and Uli walks!)
We get back to the house, say goodbye to Uli and Bobby tells me his foot is bothering him. I feel so badly for him. He’s gone 30 miles – a huge effort and I am so proud of him! My buddy, Jon has shown up and joins in with Calvin, Mark and I for the final round. We are in good spirits and the boys are being silly – harassing me like school children, playfully kicking at me or running off with my cell phone to take funny pictures that I’ll find later!
We get a call a few miles later that two of my gal pals have shown up to run with me. Wayne drives them down to meet up with us and it’s a pleasant change of pace to run with the girls, with their fresh legs. I am struggling with needing a bathroom so we do more walking than running, but they don’t seem to mind and we laugh and talk and enjoy the rest of the day.
My friend Christena needs to head off to a family dinner, so Wayne comes to give her a ride and I hug her and thank her for joining me! Denise stays and we slowly meander up the trail back towards the house. Calvin has reached a new milestone — he’d never gone more than 33 miles before — and Jon and Mark help him run strong to the end! They are done several minutes before I come trotting up the road with Denise. I am smiling. Only Denise is there when I hit the big 40 miles goal and the low key finish seems just perfect. She tells me “congratulations”, hugs me and I head into the house for a shower before my birthday dinner.
It was a wonderful day. About 40 people come to my dinner. My oldest daughter says, “Isn’t that perfect, Mom?!” And, yes, it really is!
I am so lucky! I feel surrounded by people I adore, people I respect and enjoy the company of! My kids and husband are there, smiling, enjoying the fellowship of our friends and I am happy. It has been a life well lived thus far!!! Here’s to many, many more miles and years ahead…..
When I was in my late teens and during my college years, my “marathon mama” used to drag me along to her races on the weekends sometimes. One of those races was the Harvest Classic put on by the Nampa Recreation Center. It really is a great little event and quite well organized. I love the small-town feel, the sweet schwag; they give gift cards to TCBY, gift certificates to Domino’s Pizza and a few other really good restaurant freebies in the goody bags, plus chapstick and a free pass to the Nampa Recreation Center (a value alone of about $8.) They also give race shirts and a chance at 20 really great gift baskets (half go to the 1 mile race and the other half are shared by the 8k and 2 mile race.) There’s a live band, bounce houses, an outdoor climbing wall and delicious baked potatoes, chocolate milk, TCBY frozen yogurt (with the vendor actually juggling small cups of the sweet treat today, which was funny!), Domino’s Pizza and a Franz bread truck handing out a free loaf of bread to every entrant. Not bad for my $20 entry fee or my kid’s $10 per child one! A real bargain if you ask me!
So, Wayne and I brought the five kids out today to enjoy the race, just like my Mom had done with me all those years ago. And my Mom didn’t want to miss the fun, either! She rode her bike onto the course and waited to cheer me on about about 1.25 miles in which was a highlight!
My kids had a great time at the 1 mile race and I got to cheer and take photographs at the finish line. I had ran off to the porta potty for a quick pee after they took off and as I was running back to the finish line I saw my son, Wayne Jr, standing, hands-on-knees and grinning already DONE! I looked at my watch and realized he’d done less than an 8 min mile! I was so proud!!! Next my son Josh finished in about 11 minutes. Then, hot on his heels, my husband came running across with my baby – my 5 year old daughter, Savannah, who had the most determined look on her face as she crossed! Finally, my oldest daughter, Rebecca (who is incredibly thoughtful of her younger siblings and agreed to run with her 7 year old sister, Anneliese) came across the line holding hands as Anneliese cried and clutched her side. Running a race is TOUGH business sometimes!
I gave them all hugs and then they sat on the side as I lined up for the 2 mile race to start. One of my favorite parts of this race is that they warm up the crowd with three Zumba instructors from the Rec Center on a stage off the course. It was so much fun! Last year I got so into the shimmying and shaking that I accidentally danced my way right into an elderly lady! I was much more mindful of my flailing body parts this year and no further injuries were suffered by those lined up near me.
I had written my time from last year on my hand: 15:43. I knew I could beat it and that was the goal today. Last year, I came in 5th female overall and 1st in the 30-39 age group. This year, I was hoping to do better. When they counted down and I took off, I was mindful to hold back on the pace and not get carried away with the crowd. I was pretty amazed when I realized there was an older gentleman speed-walking next to me, hips swinging lightening fast. I glanced at my Garmin and saw we were doing a 7:08 pace! Wow!!!
I eased up and let the crowd surge as I carefully played out my strategy – start conservative, stay steady, then accelerate little-by-little until the final kick. Goal was a negative split. My first mile went well – a 7:32. My average pace last year was 7:51 (something I’d made note of on my hand and focused on beating.) I knew I was doing good and I felt comfortable. I was passing people one by one from the first quarter mile as their too-fast starts caught up with several of them.
As we left the busy street and turned onto a small running path just as my Garmin beeped for 1 mile, the exhaustion started to come. I was halfway done, but still had a mile to go. I remembered this spot from a year ago and how much I’d wanted to walk here. This time I did not feel any desire to walk. It was difficult, but I felt I could manage it and keep it up for another mile. My Mom cheered for me right about here and that was a nice mental boost! Inside I was smiling, but outside I was total focus and heavy, even breathing. I gave her a thumbs up and raced on.
I saw my friend, Julie up ahead, maybe a tenth of a mile or so. I was elated! Julie’s a much faster runner than I am and I had expected her to take the win, so I knew there was a good shot I was in second place. That bolstered my resolve to stay steady and strong and fight the pain and weariness to the end.
We left the path with 3/4 of a mile to go. It was getting hotter and I was tempted to slow down, but I didn’t allow myself to. I just kept plugging along – steady, smooth, forward. As we rounded the corner and got within 1/2 a mile of the finish, I realized it was time to see if I had any “turbo boost” left in my legs. I eased on the gas just a hair. There wasn’t much extra there but I gave it everything I had.
I was still chasing Julie and knew I could not catch her but used her as a rabbit, chasing her down to the final turn. Once I saw the finish line and the crowds, I forced myself to give every last ounce of push I had left and, with my face wrenched up in agony, I crossed the finish line in 14:57 — an improvement over last year’s time by about 43 seconds! I was 12th overall and 2nd place female, to boot! Yeah!!!!! That last mile was, in fact, a negative split. A 7:25 pace.
Wayne and the kids were there taking photos and cheering and they all hugged me and told me I’d done a good job! It was a wonderful race!
Julie came in first female and beat me by about 20 seconds! She is amazing and I was happy to congratulate her on a well-executed race!
The family headed to the baked potato bar, loaded up some spuds and then grabbed some frozen yogurt and water bottles and sat down in the shade and enjoyed the day! It was awesome!
Whilst struggling with taper madness today, my adoring husband witnessed my pacing and disgruntled mood and offered to take us on a family outing! He said I could choose the activities, so I chose paddle boating at Julia Davis Park with the five kids, a visit to the nearby playground, a stop at a local fruit stand (where everyone got to choose something yummy and healthy to take home and eat) and Wayne (being the doting Daddy he is) also added in a stop to Fred Meyer’s bakery so the children could choose a special treat (three chose cake pops, one chose a cookie, Wayne and I split a slice of Napolean cream cake and Rebecca chose a chocolate coffee cup!)
It was a lovely family day and it was a wonderful distraction to my taper madness!!!
P.S. Operating a paddle boat is a pretty good workout on the legs!! Mine felt all warmed up and stretched out after half an hour! Niicee!!!
It all started as a silly conversation on Facebook. My friend Ryan was tiptoeing in a photo and I teased that he needed to get a pair of heels so he’d always be that tall. Then I said, in fact, you could wear them when we ran together so I’d finally be faster. My friend Lynette (a former Hasher) said “Actually men can run pretty fast in heels! I’ve seen them!” I asked if one of those “men” she’d seen was her buddy Dennis (the fastest 100 miler in our gang.) She said no. I commented that “I’d pay good money to see Ryan and Dennis race in heels!” From there it just snowballed! Ryan said he’d do it if the money was raised for charity – for a good cause like the Ridge to Rivers Trail System in Boise. Dennis said he’d do it. Lynette said it could be part of our 4th of July picnic event and my husband put together a web site and sign up sheet and before you could say “Transvestite”, several men had signed up and the picnic attendance list went way up in anticipation of the “show!”
And what a show it was!!!! The “boys” er.. “girls” did not disappoint! Six brave souls showed up in various drag costumes (the most noteworthy were Lady Liberty – complete with crown and torch and my pal Ryan in piggytails and a tutu – with a sparkly purse dangling off his forearm) to race the half mile in their sky-high heels! My pal Dennis was in the skyscraper model at about 5 inches, so he’d also brought along his trekking poles, which looked even more hilarious!
The fellas lined up at the start line and the regular bikers and runners out for their daily exercise raised quite a few eyebrows when they saw these men decked out in their girlie ensambles. Those looks might have been the funniest part of all! I think people thought our group was really “out there!”
My husband counted down, someone sounded the air horn and the men took off like lightening in those heels – tap tapping along the Boise Greenbelt, skirts flying back, blouses pushed back against hairy chests. They may have looked like ladies, but they ran like dudes, pushing hard for position as they click clicked along. Very quickly, Lady Liberty led the race and “she” held her own until the final stretch, with the two youngest “women” coming up quickly behind “her.”
The crowd went wild as they came towards the home stretch and the pace shot up to a dead sprint (which I must admit you had to see to believe!) My friend Sean and the youngest runner Jack (who I believe is 14) pushed past Lady Liberty and started charging towards the finish line like a couple of ladies at a KMart Blue Light Special with only one coveted sale item left on the table. They both wanted that win and they weren’t going to be ladylike and let the other have it!
Their faces grimaced as they raced and then Jack shot ahead in a craze like a tween with Bieber fever and broke the red, white and blue ribbon, then landed in a heap on the other side, clutching his ankle (running in heels is dangerous. Don’t try this at home!) Sean was a close second and tried to conceal his tears, through his smeared mascara (I may have made up that part). Lady Liberty was 3rd, Ryan the tutu boy came prancing along, smiling and waving like Miss Congeniality in 4th place, Brian, with his burly red beard came galloping along in 5th and finally, finally……after everyone thought the race was over, way in the distance we could see Dennis in his 5 inch heels tap tapping along the Greenbelt, preening for the cameras and slowly coming into the finish with his hiking poles keeping him precariously upright at this late hour in the race. He resembled best a 90 year old librarian in his tasteful baby blue skirt and cardigan (which he’d unbuttoned at the top, brazenly flashing his man-chest!)
The crowd went wild as Dennis crossed and then (in true Dennis form), he dropped down to the ground for clap pushups. Dennis is well known in our group for always finishing up his races with clap pushups (even 100 milers!) So, this was a show-stopper! Since he was dressed as a lady, he did girlie pushups, which made everyone laugh even more! Pictures were taken. I got to “crown” the winner with a pink, feathered tiarra and hand him his single rose — giving him the image of a male Miss Teen America — and my friend Rachael passed out lovely Drag Race medals she’d made to each of the participants. It was a really fun time!
After the drag race, we also had a more family friendly children’s race, where about 30 kids raced to glory on the same stretch of Greenbelt! Each got a medal from Rachael, a licorice rope from my friend April and a lollipop from me. It was a really fun time and I enjoyed watching all five of my kids run into the finish as I cheered wildly!
It’s Mother’s Day week. This will be the 4th anniversary of me choosing to be a healthier me!! 4 years ago, I was overweight, had not exercised in over a decade and decided that I really wanted to run a marathon the year I was 40 (I’m 39 now.) It seemed like a crazy idea. I could not even run a block back then. I printed out the Couch to 5k walk/run program to get me started, bought myself a pair of running shoes as my Mother’s Day gift to myself and got started – slowly, but surely.
I kept at it! I ran that first marathon in October of 2009 and will be running my 4th next Saturday. I never imagined I’d also start running distances longer than a marathon – all the way up to the 100 mile distance! Once you realize you are capable of what you once thought was impossible you realize that there are no limits! Dream BIG and be the YOU that you always wanted to be!!! To all the other moms out there – It’s ok to make time for yourself! It’s ok to have dreams that you’re pursuing! My kids think I’m a little nutty, but I know they are proud of me and I feel like a better example today to them than I was 4 years ago! Happy Mother’s Day!!!
Here’s a photo of the five kids and I four years ago before I was a runner
I bought myself a little early Mother’s Day gift today – a sun dress! I haven’t owned one since I was a little girl and thought it would be fun! The five kids and the husband all said they liked it on me. That made my day!
I spent the last five months specifically training for one goal — to run my first 100 miles! In late June of last year, I ran 50 miles for the first time – and it wasn’t even a race! I ran that distance just to prove to myself that I could go that far since I was pulled on a time-cut off at the Big Horn 50 one week before at mile 32. After finishing that uber long distance for the first time, my husband took a video of my buddy, Ryan and I and asked us this question: “You just ran 50 miles, how do you feel?” I responded: “Crappy!” Ryan (who had just finished his 3rd time of doing 50) “Like a million bucks!” My husband then asked, “Are you ever going to do it again?” I looked away and said, “No!” Ryan said, “Next week!!” and stuck his tongue out!!!!
Well, I lied! I did run 50 again in August at the Wild Idaho race! And, then I did it AGAIN for no good reason in December on a training run – just to prove I could do it without a pacer or crew – and I accomplished it and felt confident – and did it faster than I’d done the previous two. I’d set my sights on running a 100 miles and was determined to train as hard as I could to accomplish the goal!
On Friday, March 23rd, I sang “Happy birthday” to my baby girl, Savannah -the youngest of my five kids, hugged my family and then I headed to the starting line with about 50 other crazy ultra runners out to conquer the 100 miles at the Buffalo Run on Antelope Island – right smack dab in the middle of the Great Salt Lake. The location was spectacular! It was so beautiful!
I got to the back of the pack and started chatting with some of the other ladies nearby. I told them it was my first 100 and that my only goal was to finish and that if I came in at 6:29:59 pm the next day (after running for 30 hours and 29 min and 59 seconds) and made the cut off, I’d be happy! I had no idea how close to that I’d come in the end!!
After race director Jim Skaggs dragged his foot in the dirt for a start line, he yelled, “GO!” and we were off! Tears came to my eyes as I thought about how much I had admired every single one of my ultra marathon friends who’d ran a hundred. I had always called them my heroes -and here I was — trying to become one too! I blew kisses at my five kids and husband as I ran by and settled into an easy, gentle pace. I had a long road ahead and the best advice everyone had given me was to not go too fast in the first 50 miles. I found a great spot behind a man dressed in a court jester outfit! It made me happy to look at his silly costume and it put me in a great mental place to start this mighty journey. Within half a mile, the trail starts climbing upwards and most of the pack slowed to a walk. I did too. I tried to do what those just ahead of me who seemed more experienced did, so I stayed in control and easy but consistent. I relaxed and looked around at the island! The weather was windy (20-30 mph winds), sunny and beautiful out! The temperature was around 50. It was a perfect day to run a 100 miles!
I’d tapered well and my legs felt awesome for the first 45 miles! Every time I’d come across one of the race photographers, I’d leap or throw my hands out wide and grin and smile or stick my tongue out! I was having a ball!!! I had no pain, no exhaustion, no problems for the first ten hours or so. I ate often, took my S caps every hour, kept my pace reeled way in, and listened to my Ipod and felt relaxed and focused. I chit-chatted with the other runners and the wonderful aid station workers, who really went above and beyond at every stop to meet my needs, helping me fill my two hand bottles, offering me broth or orange slices or candy. I made it a point to get in and out of aid stations quickly and I did a great job of that.
My running buddy, Ryan had written me a note before I left. It started with a quote that had really spoken to me, so I’d written that part down and brought it along for the journey, thinking it would be inspirational when the going got tough. It said: “Believe in yourself and all that you are. Know that there is something inside you that is greater than any obstacle.” – Christian D Larson. Every time I took a gel or an S cap, I’d see that note and read it to myself and it kept me positive and made me smile. Up until mile 45, though, I really had to admit that I’d encountered no “obstacle” but I knew that there was still a long ways to go and I’d certainly find some down the road to contend with. And, I was right!
My Garmin battery died somewhere around mile 46 or so. It was around 11 pm. My feet were starting to hurt with every step as I could feel blisters forming on the balls of both of my feet. The island was beautiful at night. I could see the city lights reflecting on the water. The sky was full of stars and so clear. I was starting to get fatigued and knew there would be no sleep for me that night — instead I’d run right through it and on into the next morning until about dinner time before I’d be able to stop again. The section of trail I was on is very technical and rocky with some climbing. I had to slow way down since my feet were feeling sensitive and I didn’t want to do something stupid with so many miles left to go, so I took my time going gingerly around the rocks. Normally, stuff like that is really fun to kind of run fast through, sort of tip toeing and high-kneeing your way, zig-zag style through like a kid out playing! My feet didn’t want to play that game, though, so I let them take it slow.
I made my way through and then passed a campground where most of the people were sound asleep around midnight. I was running well through this part, since it was a wide road and a bit easier on the feet. I saw a guy, about twenty years old, sitting in front of his tent, watching me. He yelled out, “You’re sexy and you know it! Do you WORK OUT????” and I laughed and kept running, thinking how bizarre it was for a woman to be out alone running in the night like this on an island!
I finally came into the start/finish area at mile 50 and was so excited to see my husband there and my pacer, Conner ready to go. They asked what I needed and I told them I needed to eat and to go to the bathroom. I mentioned my sore feet and the aid station workers asked if I wanted them to look at them or if I wanted to change shoes or socks. I said no. I was thinking about my friend, Dennis. He has told me that he prefers not to change shoes or socks in ultras since they’ll just get dirty again quickly anyways. I thought I was being smart by not taking time to at least check on those feet, but I was wrong. Since I haven’t had much experience with blisters or super long distance races, I really didn’t understand the consequences of not attending to a problem early on before it became a bigger problem. So, I didn’t even look at my feet, I got my warmer clothes on, ate some food and took off with my pacer into the night to run the entire loop that I’d just completed again. I’m not sure what time I left, but I think it was around 1 am. I’d taken about half an hour in that aid station, which was also too long and I was in a hurry to get back into my groove and head towards the mountain I’d need to climb for the second time.
Conner and I found a comfortable pace and he did a good job of making sure I stayed hydrated and fed as we made progress down the trail. We saw eyes in the night and realized a buffalo was just off the trail and I reminded him not to make eye contact or freak it out with our headlamps. We just kept moving forward and tried not to make a lot of noise to upset it. Conner looked for the smoother sections of the trail, which were a bit hard to come by. It was rugged and rocky, and my feet were really hurting with the uneven terrain, since the blisters were swelling and had not popped. At this point, when I’d read the quote, it meant something. I’d found my “obstacle” and I kept saying, “You can overcome this! You can do this!” I was wearing calf compression sleeves that my friend, Les had given to me. I was holding Ryan’s hand bottle and had his note in it. I was also wearing Michelle’s Garmin on my wrist. All of those things reminded me that I was not out there on this journey alone. That I had many friends who cared about me and who were with me in spirit cheering me on! I imagined my five kids saying, “GO Mom! You can do it!”, my husband, Wayne looking me in the eye and saying, “Everything’s going to be ok! You can do this!”, I thought of my parents back home wishing me well, all of my trail running friends, my Daily Mile friends, my Facebook pals – just all of them and I felt comforted, even as the night grew long, the fatigue set in and my feet started to hurt so much with every step that I wanted to cry. And, cry I did at times. The pain on the bottoms of both feet was excruciating — like knives being jabbed over and over along the balls and heels – and by that point – the toes and toenails too, as they started lifting, one by one up from their beds as blisters formed underneath them. Every time I’d bump a rock or step on uneven surface, I’d wince. I’d tell myself, “Pretend you’re on a training run. Pretend you feel fine. That you’re fresh!” and it would help. I’d force myself to put my foot down fully and let the foot roll through as normal since I knew altering my gait would probably cause other issues. I played mental games with myself over and over out there those last 50 miles. It helped. Then, the pain would be unbearable and some tears would fall, but I’d whisper, “There’s something inside you that is GREATER than ANY obstacle” and I’d keep moving forward, step by painful step.
As the sun was coming up, as I was finally coming off the 20 mile loop, I sent my pacer ahead to tell my family I was coming into the start/finish area again. This was Saturday morning and about 700 other racers were now on the course too — the 50 milers, the 50kers and the 25kers. It was surreal to see their headlamps bobbing along when we’d been alone for so long out there, quite spaced out from the other 100 milers. It was so painful when some of them went by if I tried to move off the trail to make room for the fast ones. They were coming at me fresh and full of energy. I was hurting, tired and I still had another 30 miles to go, but many of them saw my bib and realized I was a 100 mile runner and they said things like, “Way to go!” “Looking strong” “Awesome” and smiled at me. That really lifted my mood and pushed me onward.
As I came into the 70 mile checkpoint, just hobbling on my raw feet, I saw my family. I wanted to hold them so bad. I was so tired. I started to cry. My husband held me and said, “It’s going to be ok! You can do this!” Just then, my Daily Mile friend, Jeremy, who I’d never even met in person, walked up to me and said, “Are you Christie?” I nodded and only just then remembered that he was going to join me for a few miles. I had looked so forward to that and somehow in my pain had forgotten I had a friend waiting for me! I apologized for the tears, gave him a hug and then we took off down the trail. It was wonderful to have a new face to see and someone with fresh energy to talk to. It was a happy distraction and very quickly I went from being sad to being hopeful again. But, I was really scared about the time cut offs at this point! I’d lost a lot of time on the 20 mile loop. The day before, taking it easy, I’d done that section in 4 hours. Through the night on blistered feet it had taken 7!!!!!! I was slowing way down and it took so much strength to just keep moving forward. My husband had said something about needing to stay at a 16 min pace to make the cut off and the more I thought about — ok – OBSESSED about that — the more frightened I became that I wouldn’t make the cut off. Tears came again the more I thought about it, since the pain was overwhelming by this point in my blistered feet. My hips were sore, my shoulders felt saggy and I felt the weight of the world on them. I no longer grinned at the racers who went past. I stared at the ground, tears sometimes just falling into the dirt as I shuffled along at the best walk pace I could muster in that state.
Jeremy and Conner tried to cheer me up. It worked at times. Other times, I just zoned out in the pain zone and just stared at the trail in front of me and kept shuffling. The sun was up. It was getting really hot and I was still wearing my long sleeved shirt and tights but I was too scared of the time cut off to take even a few minutes to remove them. At every aid station, I would check in and grab a couple things to eat, then head back out. They’d say, “Want to sit down? Would you like more to eat?” and I’d say “I can’t fail at this!!! I have to keep moving!!!” and head off again. I was so afraid I wouldn’t make the cut off. My pace was more like an 18 – 20 min pace as I moved. Finally, my husband could see that I was in a bad state mentally and he said to me at one of the aid stations, “You’re ok! I thought it would motivate you to tell you that you needed to go that fast. You really can go closer to a 20 min pace and make the cut off!” My eyes grew wide and I said, “Are you serious?!!! THAT I can do!! Why didn’t you tell me that hours ago?! I’m on pace for that and I have HOPE again!” That also relieved me just enough that I took an extra minute and removed the tights. I had on shorts and the long sleeved tech shirt and it was scorching hot!!! They asked if I wanted sunscreen. I said “NO! I have to finish!” and kept going. The sunburn on my face and neck, arms and legs later would remind me I should have taken that extra minute too.
Along the way, I’d be able to see my family from time to time. I’d hear my five kids yelling out the window of the Suburban, “GO MOM!!” and it would take my suffering away for a minute and remind me of what mattered most in my life!!! I’d wave and smile at them until they were out of sight and think, “Keep moving until that finish line and then you’ll get to hug them all again!”
I got crankier and tireder and slower, but I kept going. I remember at mile 94 finally agreeing to sit down for a minute at Jeremy’s aid station. He’d been so nice to run out and ask if I needed anything even before I got there. That was great service! The views of the Salt Lake were incredible right there and I just took in the view for a few minutes while I sipped broth and ate an orange slice and some soda. I just wanted it to be over. I heard the man there radio in that I was through and still in good spirits. That made me smile. I was still kidding around a bit with them, even though I was so tired and so sore. I no longer had working Garmin, so I could not judge distance and I was moving so slow that every mile felt like an eternity. It was really late, so there were very few other runners still on the course. Jeremy made me feel good, though when he said I was over an hour ahead of the cut off for his aid station. That made me smile and renewed my focus, so I got up and headed out, determined to go, go, go until I got that buckle and finished this thing!
There’s an uphill, rugged section right after this that hurt so very much on my blistered feet. Conner kept telling me I was doing great! He was trying hard to keep me positive. I’d grit my teeth and start swinging my arms faster and it would move my pace up and he’d say, “Wow!! Look at you GO!” and I’d almost want to laugh thinking how slow I really must be going compared to normal – but I knew every bit of energy forward would help the suffering end sooner!
When we got to the rocky, technical section that I’d ran in the dark the night before so gingerly something overcame me — some animal inside of me was unleashed!!!!! I set my jaw and swung my elbows hard and shocked myself when I started RUNNING hard and fast and lifting my knees and hopping over those crazy, irregular rocks! I was insane! I was glaring at the course, thinking, “You got me last night! I can NOT be broken that easy!!! Don’t you KNOW I’m a badass???!!!!!!” It sounds nuts, but I was able to keep that up and ran at least a mile and a half like that – at what I will only have to guess was about a 10 min pace. My pacer was gasping, “What the heck?? Where did THAT come from?” behind me!!!!! I saw the looks on the faces of a few bikers who pulled off the path and saw me coming like a maniac when Conner said, “She’s a hundred miler! I think she’s ready to be DONE!” One of the guys bowed at me. That made me feel awesome and more determined!!
Then it was over. The big moment. The push. I had no Garmin, so I had no idea how much further I had to run. Someone who passed by said, “Oh, just two more miles.” Ten minutes later another runner passed and said, “Oh, just three more miles.” My shoulders slumped. I was so tired. I hurt so much. I flopped onto a rock. Conner did the same and we let a few 50k and 50 mile runners pass us as they picked up their speed in the final climb to the finish. I just didn’t have it in me anymore. My little burst was gone. I remember staring at the dirt and thinking, “Dang, I’m tired. I’d really like to just lay down right there and take a good nap! I don’t want to play this game anymore. It’s too hard!” But, I didn’t do that. I took a breath, focused on my kids being at the finish line waiting for me and I got back up — slowly, painfully and hobbled forward.
Inch by inch I got closer. I could see the finish line tent. It seemed so very, very far away. It’s funny how a couple of miles normally seems so easy — so short! At that point, it sounded nearly impossible to cover that far of a distance on my feet. One runner who passed by joked that he’d offer me a piggyback but that he was too tired. I answered back, “I didn’t go THIS far just to get disqualified for a piggyback this close, but thanks!” hehe.
About a mile from the finish, I saw my friend Tiffany!!!! She’d come from Idaho and was there to cheer me on!!!! Man, that was an amazing feeling, seeing someone I care about right then! I needed it bad!!! She told me I was her hero and that I inspired her. I hugged her and we fell into step running – yes RUNNING, as my brain realized it was almost over for real! Her company made that last stretch a joy – a painful one still – but so much better than when I was alone. My pacer had headed on ahead to let my family know I was coming in.
As I got within a quarter of a mile of the finish line, my family came towards me with open arms, the kids cheering and saying, “You DID it, MOM!!! We’re so proud of you!!” and happy tears came to my eyes as I reached for their embraces!!! I grabbed the hands of my 5 and 7 year old daughters and the whole family held hands as we headed towards the finish together — as a team! Conner and Tiffany took pictures and we stopped and smiled, a few runners passing us by as they finished up their journeys too.
When I saw the finish line, my instincts kicked in. Savannah and Anneliese and I picked up the pace, those who had stayed to see the final runners cheered and I got the biggest smile on my face as I crossed the finish line! I DID IT!! I ran a hundred miles!!!!!!!!!!
I had ached for that belt buckle – that symbol that proves I’d done this for months and now it was my chance to hold it! I limped over to the man handing out the finisher prizes and he handed me a ceramic soup bowl. I stared at it and at him and said, “I’m a hundred miler! I earned a buckle!” He looked at my bib, took back the 50k, 50 miler prize and then reached into the box to grab MY prize — the BUCKLE – and handed it over to me!!!! I pumped it up into the air and yelped out, “YEAH BABY I DID IT!!!!!! and my husband started taking pictures!
I finished in 30:11 — about 18 minutes and some change before the cut off! I was the 34th (and last) person to finish the hundred that day. There were a lot of casualties out there. It was a tough course. The weather had been hot. I’d seen one friend vomiting on the side who had to quit. I heard about another woman who had a fracture. I was the 4th female to cross the line. I think 4 more had started. I was first – and ONLY in my age group! Wow, I did it!!! I dreamed a big dream and it came true!!
My feet are a mess! I couldn’t even walk into the house when we drove the 4 1/2 hours home after the race. My sweet husband had to carry me in. I’m sunburned, I’m sore and I’m insanely HAPPY and proud of myself! Will I do another? Oh yeah, baby!!! I can do this!!!!! But, first I need a nice long NAP!!
This Saturday, my husband and I are directing an inaugural St Patrick’s Day 5k/10k race at a local winery called Ste Chapelle. www.runstechapelle.com We’re on track to have about 200 runners, which is very exciting! On my last run with Ryan, he mentioned that he was going to run the race with his son and wanted to know if my boy would like to join them! It was a great plan, since Jr loves to race and this would give him grownup supervision while we were occupied with race directing duties! Yay!!!
So, today, I decided it would be a good idea to take Jr on a three mile run on the Oregon Trails near our home. It was windy and overcast and really peaceful out. We stopped and read all of the Oregon Trail information plaques along the way, talked about volcanic rock, sagebrush, animal scat (unfortunately we only spotted DOG POO today, but since deer frequent our neighborhood all the time, I’m sure we’ll run into more interesting poo in the future!) and took our time at the overlooks to enjoy the view. I pointed out Table Rock (which Jr has ran up to before!), the taller buildings of Boise, which looked quite tiny from our vantage point, Lucky Peak, the Boise River and the cars weaving along the road way below us. Jr took an extra interest in locating school buses moving like yellow dots along the road furthest from us. It was a lot of fun!
When we reached the steep downhill section, that I was intending to avoid since my IT band is really acting up, he begged to run down it. I let him while I walked it. He started whooping and leaping and saying, “Woo hooo!” and I just grinned and thought, “Man, this kid is SO MUCH like ME!” He (also like his mother) huffed and puffed when he reached the bottom and had to climb back UP that sweet downhill! That’s my BOY!
I think he’s all warmed up for his race now! And, I think I need to take a few more days of rest and recovery on this cranky IT band.
Elevation Gain: 146 feet. Ave HR: 106. Felt: Super Happy to share the trails with my SON!!! He put his arm around my waist and I put mine across his shoulders and we strolled side-by-side at the end. What could be better?!