Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The Dark Princess DNFs

One big cheer for 29.5miles and a DNF (as in Did NOT Finish)
with an IT band timing-out. The race is worth it,
however my IT band is not. 
Flash Back—The Only Way to DNF
In April this year my run buddy and I ran a 50k trail ultra called the Traverse City Trail Running Festival as part of our training. Yes, a training run of 31+ miles a month before a marathon. Just couldn't resist the urge. We have ran this race before (in tutus) inwhich the trail was hit with snow and ice storms prior to the race—and I referred it 33 Levels of Hell. This year, was the first time it was actually on the intended course of 2 out and backs. The course has changed every year. But this year, no snow or ice—yippee!

We were 2 of 7 runners participating in this race. I'm not sure what happened this year with the lack of participation, but the snowfall of years past may have frozen some out. Plus, it isn't easy to train in Michigan thru winter. There did seem to be more participants in the 25k that was also going on than in years past.

Naturally, people assumed we are not in the 50k when we show up in tutus. Yes, we are serious runners. Please take me serious—no, not really. However, people do show some love for the tutus out there on the course. We left feeling obligated to wear them every year, ha! I just hope there is another year. It was wonderful to run on trail, in the sun and they even had a few snacks. Of course we brought our own—grilled cheese please.
Checking in as the Dark Princesses.
I love me some INKnBURN.

The race was going well it seemed until just about every runner in the 25k and 50k got lost on the way back. Later, we were told that bicyclists had moved the signs, and so following the leader and misplaced signs were our undoing for this race with added miles.

We met a couple of runners from downstate that kept getting off course regardless. It was downright comical. I am sure if their Garmins hadn't stopped they would have been at 37+miles. When I found out that the 54 year old woman had done 100 mile races (yes plural "races"), I picked her brain for some golden nuggets and to hear about her experiences. She has got to be the most seasoned ultra runner I have ever met. (Chocolate covered coffee beans—check.) Hope to meet up with her again.

So how and why did I DNF? My IT band was not ready for the last 8 miles at the turn around point which would have put us well over a 50k anyways. It was darn right fiesty in the last 6 miles to finish, so I dropped. The extra miles seemed pointless and it just wasn't worth injury for my greater goals. My inner voice had spoken—don't be dangerous today. Yes, I DNFed with 29.5 miles at our finish, in a tutu, and I have no regrets to this day. With a marathon in the next month and not wanting to rehab an IT band AGAIN it was the right choice. My running buddy said she didn't care about a medal either and we walked back together. One of the race directors even offered to us that we could walk out and back to complete just the full 50k. But, my IT band screamed back, "NO WAY dark princess! This is not your Run or Die day!" I listened. It's got to be worth it.

We really did have a blast. We received some great loot and microbrewery beer just being in the 50k. Heck, we even got special bottled beer and stayed around talking to the Directors and crew waiting for the final two to come in. They still made us feel like rockstars. This has got to be the best ways to DNF eva!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Gutting It Out

I had to Run or Die with that awesome
INKnBURN singlet, and it had to be tutufied!  
Perfect day with temps, no wind, no asthma BUT just didn't go as planned. This storyline is old and tired just reading this line back to myself. But it happens. It happens to the elite and to the plain Jills like myself…

Two days before I started hacking up flem — a gift from my son who coughed all over me earlier in the week. I felt I could deal with the hacking and thought that this would be the only obstacle in the race and might effect my asthma. That would be the worst case scenario, right? But I was wrong.

Murphy's law was at my door and kicking me in the gut, stomach and chest. The morning of the race, I woke with an ache in my GI area. I ignored it thinking it might be nerves and didn't take anything out of the ordinary. Usually I would have taken MAP before a long race but the ache stayed all morning, so I refrained. I didn't want any excuses.

I started off strong and right on course. I kept looking at my pace to make sure I was in there. Keep it under 9, that is all I had to do and considering last year's 9:00 in the beginning of the race, I knew I could at least bring it down to 8:50. After a while I didn't want to look at my watch so I locked on to a guy in a blue shirt as my pacer, and I ran by feel. This was working well and my feet just kept turning. The gut pain however, persisted and I told myself that I would get use to it and could ignore it. Just get to the next mile and maybe it will be gone.

The nauseation had started in around mile 5. Maybe I could just puke and be done with it  at mile 13, I thought. It might be that day. "Girl in tutu pukes!"

Again, I ignored it. Then, a side stitch feeling pain beneath my chest. Again, ignored it. I GUed every 4-5 miles. When I reached the turn just under 1:58, I was still on course but instead of my usual feeling of, "Great! Lets take it home!" I had more of a, "Oh crap, this is getting worse" alarm in my head. By mile 14 I was cramping in my gut significantly more. It became a SHARP pain and I stopped GUing and tried to drink more. I couldn't get enough water it seemed. I didn't know if the GU was contributing to this more or possibly the Gatorade. I literally came to a halt on the side of the road a few times not even able to move because of the sharp pain. Around 3-4 times I was thinking I might faint today. I looked for the grass and my vision was blurry around the edges.

Looking back at the splits I can see that at Mile 16 I still had a fighting chance to break 4:00 but without any fuel since mile 12 and all the gut pain, I was SCREWED. I wish I could have pulled myself out of this, but my feet would not turn over fast enough by mile 20. I didn't really understand it at the time, since I was more obsessed with sharp pain than my feet and lack of fuel. A full half of a marathon without fuel is a disaster for most people. I felt disappointed and a desire to quit. Wow, never have been here before.

I have never wanted to drop so badly because of just feeling so cruddy. I don't know how I talked myself into moving forward beside not being a quitter. The rest of the race became some walking, running and haulting when the gut serged. I had these lovely thoughts of :
"Why the hell do I even care about time?"
"Why the hell am I doing this?"
"What will happen WHEN you feel just like this in the 100?"
"I hate road races!"

I kept thinking my run buddy was going to come up on me and that she would get annoyed with all my stopping and walking, and I wouldn't want her to throw her race away if she was trying to PR. So I just kept going and thought I could get the last 8, 5 or 3 miles with her. Maybe even finish together if I just kept going.

Finished in 4:36 (10:28 average pace with a maximum of 6:40)

Splits miles 1-15:
8:56 / 8:46 / 8:50 / 8:38 / 8:45 / 8:46 / 8:54 / 8:56 / 8:54 / 9:12 / 8:56 / 9:10 / 9:08 / 9:44 / 9:24 /

Mile 16 with seizing pain and no GU since mile 12:
10:13 / 10:40 / 10:50 /12:44 / 12:50 / 12:34 /14:29 /12:50 / 11:57
12:34 /

Mile 26: I walked with Karen. I just didn't care anymore.

This Girl on the Run was tutufied!
So maybe this 26.2 sucked—a lot! But I got a few things that went right enough. I pulled myself together with a shower and 10 minute nap, and came back to run another 5k with my daughter for Girls on the Run that night. That's right. If I can get it together and take another hit in the gut, anyone can finish a marathon—anyone.

She had a great time and when she wanted to walk a bit, guess what, I let her.

Although, I am sorry to share TMI here, I was dehydrated from the brown color of my urine. Which may have been another issue to this race disappointment as well.

Cute shoe cookies I made the night before Bayshore
for my buddy's wedding
Wedding Day Bliss—
the day after 30 miles 
I also made more than 80 shoe cookies for my run buddy's wedding the day before the race. She had a running themed "Save the Date" card with some family joining in on the races. A large group was there at the end to welcome her across. She deserved the best of days. And those cookies were so much fun. I think I have a new hobby!!

I took most of following week off from running but jumped back in by the weekend with double digit miles back to back—because this is how I ultra. I am still piecing together what might have occurred in my gut and I am disappointed in that timing. I felt a  sadness over it. I am even crazy enough to consider pushing it in two weeks at Charlevoix. But I will NOT. Because what ever path I take, and however that story ends, I know I am being prepared for some mass suffering come September. This is what I have prayed for and trusted in. What ever it takes to finish the 100, let it be in my path. That is the real target for 2015—38 hours of celebration.

How blessed am I, that I get to gut-out and rock-out really cool goals like Superior 100. Give me strength, knowledge, ability and focused drive.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Burn of Taper Madness

Two weeks until the Bayshore Marathon and I am in taper madness which include thoughts like :

OMG why am I running so sloooow? Shouldn't I be running faster right now? I was going faster last week, wasn't I? 

Why didn't I do any speed work? 

Pace? What pace?

How the hell am I going to PR?

Where's the mental toughness I need? I lost it. Where did it go? Will it show up for the race? Maybe I don't really care anymore.

Go down in miles? I feel fine. What's a couple more miles or one less rest day?

Crap, I might gain weight before the race. That's two seconds slower per mile. I need to pick up some miles.

Damn. Should have done more Yasso 800s. Next time.

What is wrong with my breathing?

And you want to run 100 miles??? What the hell are you thinking?

What if it's windy and rainy?

Embrace the suck, fool. Embrace the suck.

Why did I make another peanut butter pie. That is two in a week …  just stop it!

And the only thing that is true for sure, is that I am out of time. I need to let my muscles rebuild to see the magic that is the taper. Think about 1-0-0 after this marathon.

With 5 months of training, changing my diet and losing 15 lbs (that's right and 10 more to go before Superior 100), I NEED to see results. I NEED that perfect day:
no GI track issues
 mid-50s to 70 degree temps
 no rain
 no asthma
 pure mental toughness
 no aches
 keep the pace, keep the pace

Feeling sluggish, anxious, and getting freaked out almost daily … what's a girl to do except throw on the most awesome pair of capris that just arrived, and then take some pictures because they rock that much!! They make me rock! They'll make you rock!

I'm just going to go on the record as the woman with genetically gifted calves LOL … at 16 inches around there will be no false hopes of getting smaller. That's right, be jealous of my calf size boys. In fact, I HATED the stirrup pants and fitted pants look of the 80s. Someone—a stupid boy—once told me I shouldn't wear them because they didn't look good. All the other girls looked like pixies and that was never going to be me. And another boy told me I was built like a guy because of my calves. Yep, see the burn coming on here?

Finally, a capri that really does fit all sizes. This is what a woman really needs. A capri from INKnBURN called RYU with a dragon head that says to me, "Girl, you're huge! Well ALRIGHT! How far can you fly?"

When I saw these a month ago on pre-order, I was hoping for the capri of my dreams. They are, and more. The RYU Capri is athletic wear that looks like dark blue denim and fits more like an elastic tight material, but goes on easily. They are sized 0-12. But bare in mind since they do limited runs, they are GONE when they sell out. I can even wear underwear with no lines showing. They truly nailed this badass design. (No, I don't think I can write a post without saying badass.)

I don't want to call out the other brands I have tried with false promises of no lines, but there are plenty with a suck-tion I refuse to embrace.

As my taper madness continues for the next two weeks and the crazies keep flying, I am going to throw the dragon on now and then just to feel like the rock star I should.

And with relentless faith, I'll find my focused drive.

Incase you NEED to make that Peanut Butter Pie, I compared two of them and liked this one the best from the The Pioneer Woman.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

To Run With the Wolves at Superior 100

My 1979 teapot.
Growing up my mother would tell me to save new things, nice things or items worth something for good. Everything seemed to be worth something since we didn't have much, so the same theme just got played over and over again. "Save them for your kids one day," she would say. What she meant was to put precious things on a shelf or in a drawer and not use them—ever. To protect them from damage or looking shabby—don't touch and certainly don't play with them.

On my 6th birthday, I received a hand-made tea set from my father, who I would see about once a year. It was one of the nicest things I had ever gotten at the time. I put it on my dresser and "saved it for good" like my mother said. The cups and teapot held pins and buttons from time to time, and it would become dusty. I cleaned it,  but I never played with it because I might break it. One day my shelf fell and a cup and the handle of the teapot broke. I glued it back together, and still it sat on a shelf or in a drawer being saved for good—saved for somebody else since I out grew it. It became "stuff" to collect more dust for someone else.

This "save it" theme that went on through the years has bothered me more the older I get because items,  things, and stuff are worthless if there is no connection to a life. It can even be a symbol of regret with the would of, should of, could of attached to it.

My children were recently playing tea party and saying how tiny their pot was. So I pulled out my 35 year old teapot and gave it to them. Not to look at and not touch, but to engage and fill with what ever memories they want to flow. My son asked me if he could have it when I die. I laughed out loud. I felt like it was a sign that the moment was worthy to keep. I said it could be broken by then—so not to upset his sister. He said he only wanted it if it wasn't broken. While my daughter chimed in that she wanted it either way. At last, this vessel had reached its deserving destination and wasn't just stuff.

It made me think. Just like the teapot, my body is a vessel. It's cracked in places with a permanent bruise on my right knee that sags, but still, what am I saving if for? I use this vessel to LIVE in this life. I fill it with hope, dreams and virtuous moments. Sure I want to live a long life and not have a body in need of surgeries from over-use, but what if a shelf crashes down on me, metaphorically speaking, and I can't be glued together—ever. I will be wishing I used the "stuff" God gave me.

So when people ask me why I want to run 100 miles and have in their mind that it's just destruction of the body, this is the reason I won't put myself on a shelf or in a drawer. I am not saving this vessel for someone else to show me what living looks like.
I desire to run with the two legged wolves. The human pack that migrates 100+ miles each year on the Superior Hiking Trail in northern Minnesota in September, The trail parallels the north shore of Lake Superior. It's a point-to-point race that has been on my radar for several months and quite possibly a year since I first read about it. I was too much of a scaredy cat to seriously consider it about a year ago. It's a process.

In 2013 my first 50 miler at North Country Run in Michigan ignited my love for the trail journey and qualified me for the Superior 100 (because there is a qualification time). My 2014 hematoma knee bang-up, which I just kept running on for 25 miles, answered the question I was seeking that day in an unexpected way. Do I have the heart, strength, ability and courage to take on 100 miles? 

Laughing as I write this—three out of four is good enough. Ability is my weakness. So that is where I will train the most—in the dark, going over roots and rugged terrain, and some mud running.

Fears set in: I am a genetically average runner with an average ability. I hurt—my ass hurts just sitting in this chair too long—training is hard, and there are days that it feels like an endless struggle. It does not come easy for me. I may come in completely last place or even DNF! I am a pup to ultra running compared to the majority of this pack and the times they have set on other courses. I already checked out some stats on that. But the call is howling at me.

My adventure includes 100+ miles which is deemed as one of the toughest courses in the world and considered to be one of the "most challenging, scenic and prestigious in the country"…let's stop right there. I'm SOLD! It's all about the experience. Running loops are not for me. I know I have said this before.

It's a race so difficult that the time to complete it is 38hours and I could possibly be yanked off the course early if I fall behind.
Rugged, Relentless and Remote. Have I scared the hell out of any reader yet?

Q: Am I scared?
A: Of Course!

Q: Is this a goal which quickens my pulse and makes me a little sick thinking about the reality of being in the dark with wild animals, alone and with lots of tripping hazards?
A: Gulp! Yes.

Q: Do I fear I may DNF for the first time?
A: Yes.

Q: What scares me more?
A: Not dreaming. Not doing it. Not believing. One empty pot.

Over the next 5 months my vessel will be filling with what I believe my edge is to complete this:

I am Faithful. 

I am Fierce.

I am Relentless. 

I am Grit. 

I am an Ultra Runner.

I've got the right STUFF.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

BadAss Eye-Candy

I crave the struggle, the play by play experience, and mental challenge of distance running. It's the calm and control, spiritual resilience, while holding on to the blazing desire deep within the miles to "finish this God forsaken course" tucked into great beauty and scenery that makes me come back for more. It's a complete package deal.

If you have flipped through my pages, it becomes obvious that all of the details matter to me from the gear and nutrition I carry and the course I run, right down to the colors, graphics and details I wear. I like to change things up depending on the spirit of the event. It has become mental as well as functional.

Pictured with the Run or Die theme
of the skeleton holding the water bottles.
I was sad to see them discontinued, but not for long…
It's important to me to feel the energy and have security (of not chaffing!) on race day. So much is already unpredictable. INKnBURN quickly became my favorite event wear a couple years ago. The singlet, which ten years ago I never thought I would go sleeveless, is my pick for perfect fit in a warmer event and training run. I am referencing warmer here, because I also participate in Michigan winter running with is full-on snow and ice. The singlet is loose and long enough at the waist for comfort throughout an entire sweaty day. And it fits my curves like I am a woman—because I AM A WOMAN and I don't want to wear a box or tent! I have never experienced any chaffing issues, nor have I had one fall apart. I like the light weight for summer, but I am still protected when wearing my Camelbak from any extra rubbing around the neck and chest.

I am in Color L-O-V-E!

There is no doubt that INKnBURN creates BADASS eye-candy. In my search for a new great race shirt, I was happy when it was announced that they were going to release all new designs on a limited run so that once a design was sold out, they would create new releases. You snooze you loose.

When I saw the new black Run or Die long sleeve tech shirt, I knew great things were coming and wanted it so badly in a singlet—and a long sleeve. Just look at it!

And then they went and did it…in raging fast red. Last year, a friend said that people run faster in red shoes. I am  hoping that it true in red shirts as well. Check out the the Run or Die Singlet and shorts. (You will have to set up an account to view these items online. Don't worry, it won't cost you a thing to look.) The attention to detail between the imprint and construction always impresses me. Notice how the shorts have the peek-a-boo skeleton in the back.  

Never a disappointment. Keep it coming!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Time vs Moment

As I focus on the new year I have to also reflect on the past, and that some moments are more about the people I shared them with and being in the now, than the time on my Garmin. Unquestionably, tutufying some races in the Tough Girl Tutu or Princess Doodle Beans tutu at North Country and a turkey trot became a highlight.

To the non-runner, pace, splits and time are just words that make their eyes glass over or make them look for the nearest exit to the conversation. I love to talk about running, but I honestly try to talk about anything else to not bore people. If it was just about a clock ticking I think most people would quit since that carrot just isn't a worthwhile draw time after time. Where is the long term joy in that? My body just can't take the intensity of "racing" each race when I may have 2 races in one month during the summer months. I am truly average and normal.

Charlevoix Half Marathon

One such race was the Charlevoix half-marathon in Michigan, which my run buddy and I celebrated her 35th year and a new age group. We ran with my friend Lisa that I have known since high school. We were cheerleaders back in the day, and Lisa even ran some x-country—she had some mammothly strong, amazing, cut legs back then that I desired to have. Heck, I'm still working on it!

This was her first half-marathon and something she had been working up to. Yes I pushed a little for her to sign-up. I pushed a little for her training. When it comes to running and people going for an accomplishment, I want them to have it. So yes, I am pushy. I am glad she did it, and was pleased (over the moon) I could be there in her moment. Her running friend had bowed out and we figured it would be much more enjoyable to run together and do what Evie and I do on every training run…talk about anything that pops into our heads. It's a great strategy for someone running their first race with no time goal. There is a PR set no matter how you look at it. The miles will tick by with ease for the most part. I did cost her a couple minutes taking pictures on the rock shore in Charlevoix. But a race along the bay deserves a pause.

National Cherry Festival Inaugural Half-Marathon

When the National Cherry Festival in Traverse City, Michigan announce an inaugural half-marathon this last summer, I knew I had to be a part of it! I may have been one of the first to register—I was that excited. It was my goal to hit a PR and everything aligned for me, until I approached the starting line. My iPod Nano that I had just purchased a couple weeks prior was having issues and on this day would not sync with my JayBird Bluebuds. I was in for a ride of complete misery. 

I am so driven by music when I actually race for time, that I depend on it to make me forget the pain, extreme suffering and the all around SUCK I am putting myself through. I have even read where one athlete called listening to music a bit of a cheat. It's a huge motivator for me. I had to depend on the voice in my head and silently sing to myself. I came in one minute from my personal record and placed 8th out of 35 in my age bracket (in the top 23%). I am looking forward to meeting that course again next year with a working sound system.

And for the record, my new Nano stinks! I have never had 30 hours of play on it. It has to be charged after 6 or less. After Apple checked it out, they claimed nothing was wrong with it. I am looking for a better music device. 

Lesson Learned: Bring a second set of head phones and don't trust an Apple tech that this device really works as promised.

BONUS! We found our favorite
 photo angle for taking selfies!

Another fun visual, I discovered that Evie and I are about .30 in on the video link below. I can't believe I even found this!

Festival of Races Video link

Traverse City Turkey Trot

Why a tutu?

1. Ultra distance running is a masculine sport, and the tutu brings out my fierce femininity (I am not saying that I am going to run in it every time).

2. 26.2 is no joke.

3. 13.1 still … no joke.

4. People respond to the tutu in a positive encouraging way (so far at least).

5. When there is more than one on the course, we are united.

6. I feel like I have to be a badass to pull this off.

7. The thought of a puffy tutu running through a trail makes me laugh…falling in one is even more laughable.

8. It's a reminder that life is too short not to embrace living.

9. Without it I don't think I could have gotten my daughter excited to run in a 20 degree Turkey Trot.

10. Because girls just want to have fun… and some boys too.

The view leaving our driveway to head to the Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving Day—20 degrees. 

My baby and I after the Turkey Trot. She just may be a sprinter. She loved mile one and not so much of mile two and three. But that last .45 of the race, she sprinted  to the finish with a joyous smile and flexing. When she turned to find me right before the last 0.1,  I was right next her and just said "Go. Go, Go, GO!"  And she did. That's my girl.

Friday, September 26, 2014

A Race Worth the Trip … If You Can Get Back Up

North Country Run 2014 … How I met Sally

I recently read that if you go out 30 seconds too fast in pace during an ultra, that it can cost you a half hour of finish time later. I can vouch that if you fall at mile 25 on "just the right spot of your knee"—according to the medic—after hitting your goal at 5:11, it can cost you 1.5 to 2 extra hours over the next 25 miles.

This year North Country Run was full of light hearted jabs, from the humor or two shirts, a sweat shirt (which at first glance looked like it read "Idiot runner in the woods"), the medal (I don't recall posing for that, but I could have!), and Evie and my own fun to "tutufy" this Ultra and bring a little femininity flare to a male  dominated sport with a 2 to 1 ratio this year.

Yet the humor was lost on my knee that swelled on that second loop to the size of a full head after tripping on a root on mile 25—I kid you not! Dena, our new run buddy, named it Sally after I said we should draw a face on it. And I have awarded Sally the title of Worst All Time Pacer. Infact, Sally is a nag and stayed with me for two weeks after.

I am sure there are many people who would ask why I didn't stop. And I have even heard some unsolicited negative comments about quitting this sport all together, along with "what are you going to do when you are 70?" All from non-runners, so I am not surprised. I have quickly responded that it isn't the running that will get you, its the falling. Let's get that right on today's quiz. And what will I do when I am 70? Hopefully,  I live to be 70 and am running, hiking and still active in my existance.

I asked myself the same question about taking a DNF during the race, and with each fall—which I am going to admit that there were 6 total—I heard the same inner voice say, "Get Up!" Stopping after training for months for this event seemed out of the question. I can't imagine quitting. Quitting at what felt like an "ouch" fall at 25 miles would have been just ridiculous, lazy and not any kind of example I want to set for my kids. I am not saying that I wouldn't take a DNF if I felt a muscle tear or broken bone. That just isn't what it felt like. My quads felt great with little stress for the miles, and my lungs were strong deep into the last 5 miles. But this This was what I worked hard to achieve—for this feeling of strength and to test if I wanted to seriously consider a 100 mile ultra. My goal was to come in at 10 -11 hours and feel good at the end. Sure there was some serging pain time to time, but more when I wasn't running. And I had some special breathing going on to deal with that. shhh shhh whoooo shhh shh whoooo…

As the bulge grew from softball to human head size with 14 miles left … my footing got tougher and speed became a big issue. My doctor later informed me that with so much fluid (blood) in the area of the knee, it shuts down the outer leg muscles above the knee. Really?! I can't guess to when this really started. Too bad that excuse won't fly for this performance. I did Superman it to begin with. He also ended up draining it after the swelling didn't go down enough for a couple weeks and I just needed to get back to training. The condition is called prepatellar bursitis. Basically, a hematoma.

Down hill became more of an obstacle adventure with the last 7 miles where I could no longer rely on my leg to catch me if I stumbled, which I did. Falling on it two more times during that last 14 miles gave me a surge of pain—that I relived 24/7 in the two weeks that followed.

It's Mental 

Unlike last year, this North Country was hotter and 97% humidity. Another obstacle since this has been a mild summer with cool temps and low humidity. I hardly listened to any music and was not in the same mindset as last year. Thinking about my swelling knee sucked some joy away. Every race is different, but this was a leap into unexpected territory.

I am grateful to have picked up a run buddy, actually two for the first 4 miles of the second loop of 25, until one dropped back to run with Evie. Karen and Theresa showed up to pace and partner us thru this. It was truly a mental race where my mind needed to be distracted from my knee. I couldn't of had a better run partner then Karen—the most BADASS runner I know, and who ran Boston with a fractured leg a few years ago. There is no doubt in my mind that her being there wasn't meant to be.

I believe people are motivated in different ways, and I really didn't need a pity running partner. We talked about many things, but not once about stopping. Even though I feel I do very well as a solo runner plugged into a headset, I was relieved in the last 10 miles when she said she was sticking with me to the end. Why not depend a little more on a support system if it is there? I wasn't looking forward to turning on tunes and going it alone in the dark woods and thinking about Sally. I was frustrated that my knee was not cooperating and I was going to blow past last year's time. But this rag doll, was in it to finish it by this point.

A few volunteers in the last couple aid stations wore shock faces with the horror that drew more attention with the tutu. Karen told them I wasn't aloud to look at it. We laughed and kept moving. Laughter—the key to get through most situations when you are framing your imperfections in a tutu.

While on the course Karen asked me what my husband was going to say when he saw me cross. I thought he may ask me why I didn't stop. A question I have no simple answer to. What is the meaning? He actually did not say a thing! Maybe he just knows me well enough. Why ask why?

When Finishing Turns into Winning

As I finished the race and crossed the line at a disappointing 12:02, and the race director asked how I felt from his microphone, all I could say was "Medic!" Not "terrific," or "amazing" … just "MEDIC!" Yeah, it hurt. I won't admit to most people on the spot how much, but pulling that sock off and getting wrapped with ice made me feel like a cry baby even though I wasn't crying.

One of the biggest surprises was that my body felt under used and challenged. I felt recovered sitting in the sideline chair and ate a burger with my kids around me. No GI issues at all which I usually have if I have pushed. Huh. And that 12:02 finish just blew it by 2 minutes to qualify for some 100 milers. That is one crap-wich. I will save getting too overly upset about for another time. Somewhere along the course finishing became the goal—which is all part of learning to be more flexible in expectations as a runner. I have to be prepared to change the plan.

While on the trail in the first 25 miles I had several conversations with other runners. It was one of the most enjoyable 25 race miles I have ever had. I told one that two years ago I fell in love with this race. I just didn't know how literal this day would take it to extreme. It's still my #1 race for a quality, aided course, with amazing volunteers, and nearly flawlessly put on—those roots could use some painting—gasp! HA!

North Country lost a little magic for me this day because I can't undo that fall. In reflection, I won't quit—can't quit— don't know how. 100 miles … you better believe I am looking right at you with my gimpy leg on the mend, and with Sally just a crazy knee stalking memory. Believe it!

The Right Medical Attention and Support

Ironically, through this crazy event I found a great doctor that gets my focused run commitment without looking at me like I NEED to be committed. And you just might have guessed that he is a runner too. I was dreading to retell the one line tale I have had to repeat every time someone has asked. But when I said it to my new doctor: "I ran a 50 mile trail race and tripped at mile 25, and proceeded to finish," something totally unexpected happened…he first congratulated me on finishing! He laughed when I explained the flight of the fall and landing. I can not stress enough how wonderful it is to find a doctor that I feel actually gets it, and supports my lifestyle because he has experience. He assured me that I would be ready to run a marathon in October, and that he had seen the same injury in football players and hockey players.

Two weeks later he drained my knee and said to "amp it up." I am now back to around 40 miles a week. Still tired from the 50, but I am hopeful that the speed will come again and I can continue to break my own records. Whew!