"Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, Who is in you, Whom you have received from God? ... So use every part of your body to give glory back to God..." 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Dropping down: Cloudsplitter T-9 days

As I unwrapped a very generic looking Christmas present, I had no idea that the gift inside would be far from any average Christmas gift. It wasn't the middle age fuzzy robe and matching house slippers. It wasn't the yearly MAC make-up compact that I get every year. And it wasn't shaped like my favorite Versace perfume.
No, It was Hal Koerners Field Guide to Ultrarunning neatly placed in the middle of a VERY expensive pair of waterproof socks. The gift was great but didn't make my heart palpitate or my palms sweat yet....It was when I opened the book that the true intention of the gift was revealed.

        Psalm 121:1 "I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; From where shall my help come?"

Intitailly, I jumped up and down in excitement. My excitement faded, however; I continued to FAKE it as I read the course description.

I was far beyond sweaty palms and anxiety. I was sick, my stomach turned over in overwhelming fear.

For months, I told Andy I was going to drop down to the 50M. Problem was there was NO 50M. I decided I would just make a vacation out of it and do the 50K.
Andy said I could do whatever I wanted ONLY he said he KNEW I could do it.

Everything about this ultra scared me. The elevation, the woods, the animals, the fact that my family couldn't be there to watch me like they had in the past. I would have no cell signal and I would be running up a stinking mountain. I would be ALONE.

But the crazy thing, God opened doors. That spring out of the blue Matt and Ken called and asked if I would like to run with them at Holdridge on Mondays.
Then Kris and Rachel began inviting me to run with them on Thursdays.

I knew I was supposed to RUN this. It didn't take the fear away. I am still scared out of my mind but then I was bound to not let FEAR win. I don't want to live hostage to fear and mediocracy. I want to live life responsibly on the edge. Experience great things, see life in awe and have fun because we don't know our last day.

I never dipped down. And with 9 days to go, I was reminded how close I was to wimping out.

With 9 days to go I am still training. Training on fear. I am reminded almost everyday "Hope you trained HILLS." I have, but you can NOT run to many hills therefore I was back at it today. I wanted to run with Jama on the trails, laughing and chatting.
But that wasn't going to get it done.

The Hard Stuff in HILLS.
One hour of hill repeats.
My house it located at the top of a hill. Either way you go, you're either going down or going up.
So that is exactly what I did.
One side of the hill is steep and fast and the other side is long and steady.
UP up up then down down down I went, over and over again.
It didn't take 1 mile before I was stripping off my long sleeve purple Woodstock shirt, tying it around my waste.

I had no idea how many times I was going be riding this hill. I was hoping not more than 5 times. By the fourth time,climbing the steep side, I could feel the blood leaving my extremities. I was praying the oncoming traffic could see me as the sun blinded them. Out of breath, I continued to smile and wave at all the traffic that moved over to let me ride the road.
5 times came and went. I quit counting.  I looked at my watch 54:18 as I was heading back up. I was going to have to pass my street or hit the hill 1 MORE TIME, going over my time.
I had already tripped 2 times and exhaustion. My legs were tired but I knew this was NOTHING compared to what CLOUDSPLITTER was going to be like.
"Let's GO NITA." I am NOT dropping down.

I would have continued to run till I crawled had I not had some place to be a 9:30am.

COLLISION: As I ran those hills, I was patting myself on the back knowing that I was doing what I had to do regardless of how much I didn't want to.
I thought about those I love who are struggling. Even myself. The easy route would be to keep on trudging in the least possible pain as we can.
But the real work, the hard work always brings pain. Success is not painless. It is grit, determination, sweat and sacrifice. It is doing what doesn't always "feel good."
OHH BUT WAIT..it gets worse..
That is just the tip of the iceberg.
Because when you decide conquer the pain in your life often times we think we can quit half way through.
I wanted to quit. I endured enough.
But enough wasn't enough. I had more hills to conquer. More pain. More sweat and I was MORE determined than ever to NOT quit despite how easy it would have been. Afterall, who is going to say anything, I tried, right?

It has NOTHING to do with ANYONE but YOU. You keep conquering those hills in your life because it is your journey. It is for your benefit. Your story.
I ran alone. No one was there to cheer me on, encourage me or coach me to go on.
We are not always going to have an audience there to encourage us. And quite honestly, when you are gritting it out most people struggle to encourage you because it is convicting. So you need to be your biggest cheerleader in the hills of life.
People are not going to understand your hills, your struggles, your hurts but that doesn't mean you don't continue to climb  through them.

Distance: 7.1
Pace: 8:46

I put some money aside for a little field trip to REI. OH the FUN. I could have spend an afternoon and a retirement fund in there!

But I managed just a small bag of goodies.
Do you still the pretty lil box....I cant wait to play with it!!

Sunday, September 18, 2016

One Groovy 50K: Woodstock 2016

 "In an ultra you should eat like a horse, drink like a fish and run like a turtle."

The night before....
Andy and I pulled into Hell Creek Ranch along with over 1000 other hippie runners Friday afternoon. You would have thought we were camping a week for as much as we had packed.
It looked like a hippie compound. The band was jamming a very unfamiliar tune in the background, peace symbols and tie dye decorated every corner of the ranch. People were coming and going. Due to the heat you saw a lot of skin and with this weekend of runners they were very tone bodies.  The bare skin, big smiles, groovy music, venders, campers and laid back atmosphere really set the mood for a Woodstock running weekend.

Claudia, Maryann and Jama arrived just as we finished. This worked out good so we could help the girls set up camp. 

The evening was pretty chill. The race is very organized. We checked in, picked up our bibs, walked around and then all separated for dinner.

Airhead moment: I purchased the Lasagna dinner when I registered.
Andy and I said "Goodbye" to the girls and went to look for my dinner.
After searching everywhere for the Lasagna dinner and only finding pizza, I retrieved my voucher out of my pocket to take a closer look, Oops, Lasagna dinner was for Saturday!

We left looking for dinner outside of the compound, somewhere in Pinckney. Locating a dinner place was as equally difficult as it was looking for Lasagna!
And our dinner, it sustained life.  I didn't think you could screw up BBQ chicken. So much for that thought! I ordered BBQ chicken, baked potato, salad and vegetables. I am NOT a picky eater, I grew up on Government cheese and powdered eggs, however, my half baked chicken was being drowned in this thick brown gravy. I don't do gravy.
In a very quiet voice, "Ma'am, I am so sorry but I thought I ordered BBQ chicken...." It went well. My new chicken came and it was actually really good. I didn't think you could screw up BBQ chicken, so much for that thought!

The camp was on and popping when we got back. Even with the rain scheduled, I was shocked to see so many campers.
The 100 milers and 100K runners took off at 4pm, it was still dry out.

Before we turned in for the night, we all sat outside laughing and chilling out. The rain was coming, you could feel the moisture in the air. It wasn't a matter of "if", it was when. The radar showed a lot of rain coming.

I knew I wasn't going to get much sleep. The air mattress was cozy but the temps were hot. I wanted to open the windows in the tent but with the rain coming it was not an option.
I can not sleep in sleeping bags. I have issues. Like feeling like I am in a straight jacket. That might be due to so many people calling me CRAZY. But I am not a peaceful sleeper. I am a leg spreader. I like a pillow between my legs and  I love the feeling of sheets. I bring sheets to sleep on. That is all I slept with until the rain came about midnight. At that point, the temperatures dropped and I grabbed a fluffy throw blanket.
Between the guys sawing logs snoring next to us, the motorcycle at midnight and having to pee in the middle of the night, I never fell into a deep sleep. But I LOVED the sound of the rain on the tent. The crickets and insects outside was like a lullaby. It was so peaceful. I never wanted to come out of the tent.

4am Andy jumped up and hit the top of the tent. It was raining so hard that the water started pooling above his head. Every 20 minutes he had to drain it because it started to drip, or so he said. I never felt a drop!

We were all up and at it. It was still misting out at 5:30am. Everyone gathered under MaryAnns awning tent we set up right next to ours. I made a kettle of cowboy coffee on our little Coleman grill. Jama and I shared a cup. Everyone was chill. Andy stayed back as us girls headed to the start.

THE RACE: FREAKY 50K.The girls had planned to run together.
I was using this as a training run. I was going to race it moderately fast.
My goal was between 6-7 hours but closer to 6hours.
It was part of my training for Cloudsplitter October 1st.

The 6am start was spot on. I was starting with the girls but quickly made my way closer to the front.
One by one the girls started yelling at me as I separated. This then got other people yelling my name.
Suddenly everyone knew me and I knew no one.

You NEED to get closer to the front of the pack before you enter the trail head or your going to be stuck behind twice as many people walking. This makes for a really REALLY slow start. I learned this the hard way last year. It took almost an hour to run 3 miles!

The camp had enough light that you were not completely aware of the darkness that was about to encompass.

After one very energetic loop around the camp, we headed single file into the blackened trail. You could not see your hand in front of your face. You slowly entered the darkness like a horror flick, a 50K horror flick. I had my head lamp on but unfortunately the position it rested on my hat it wasn't much use to me.

The trail was a soggy mess due to the 6 hours of rain we had gotten. The mud was as much as 6 inches deep. It wasn't the mud from a dirt road, it was the swampy black mud that was slick like oil. It was sloppy and thick.

It was about 30 minutes and we were out of the trail onto the road. I was able to pick it up. Everyone picked it up. My socks were squishy between my toes as I enjoyed my legs just being able to move faster than a snail crawl.
The sun was slowly coming up.
It didn't take long to confirm that running in a tank top was a very wise choice. The dampness in the air felt as wet as my toes in my socks.

A conversation brewed about what everyones goals were for this race. I mentioned it was "A training run for a run I was doing in October."
The gal in front of me responds "Oh, what ultra are you doing?"
"Cloudsplitter." I replied thinking she had never heard of it.
Then after her response I wished I had never heard of it.
"Cloudsplitter, OH, I ran that last year. I hope you trained hills, a lot of hills."
She was full of energy as she continued to go on and on about how hard it was and all the HILLS.
Getting frustrated I replied, "Well, it is what it is, You can only run so many hills in Michigan, and at this point there is nothing more I can do with 3 weeks to go."
With only the back of her head to look at she didn't hesitate to continue on about the elevation.
The end of the beginning with this girl was when she said "Yeah, I planned on running a 16 hour 100K, it took me 21 hours...."
All I could think was "I have got to get away from this girl, if I have to run behind her for 6 hours this really will be a horror flick."
HOWEVER, the interesting part was the 2 guys in front of her who questioned what race she was describing. With a even LARGER audience she began her frightening rendition of her Cloudsplitter experience. These two guys were not biting.
"AWESOME! Isn't that why we do ultras, to be challenged? Sounds Like FUN!"
It was too late to respond "Yeah! What he said!"
And it was to late to find those guys to try about meeting up with them. They took off. Probably for the same reason as I wanted to get away. This girl was not real encouraging about Cloudsplitter.

It was barely light enough to see the Gracie aid station and I was no where at all in need of aid to stop. As much as I wanted to see Ken I ran right through.

I spent a lot of time at the Aid stations last year. This year I was going to shave some time by managing my time in the aid stations better.
I reminded myself I trained all summer. I worked hard for this. I didn't want to throw away all my hard training runs for a fun run. I could have fun and still push it. Too many Mondays in 90' weather with Matt and Ken reminding me it was "Good Training."
I felt like I was accountable to my running partners to run strong.

JOHN and STEVE: He was the first guy I met and ran with long enough to remember his name! His goal time when we started running together was 5 1/2 to 6 hours. I met John about mile 13. He was running without a watch. The more distance we ran the more I heard him say "I am going to just run this on feel."
John and I picked up Steve before reaching the Hell Creek aid station. We looked for one another before we headed back into the trail.
I remembered Steve from last year. Him and I ran the 50 mile together. The 3 of us had a lot of fun. We laughed about how girls that run ultras really take femininity to a whole knew level. Between squatting in the woods to smelling like a filthy animal, woman ultra runners take being ladylike to a whole new level!

The 3 of us separated for a little bit when I came to the Gracie aid station all ramped up. I came in hooting and hollering "KENNY! WHERE is KEN!!" I needed that big old smile to juice me up! The crew at the aid stations looked at me like a crack head. "WOOT WOOT! WAKEY WAKE!" I smiled at them all. Ken came out to greet me! I gave him a quick hug and smile. He asked how I was feeling and I said "..so far so good!" He gave me caution to be careful and not run this to the point of injury. I needed to hear that. I needed the reminder from a seasoned runner.
Not wanting to loose Steve and John I quickly headed out.

You entered onto a dirt road with a slight incline. I could see them up ahead as I slowly picked it up.

It wasn't too long after entering back unto the trail that Steve got a phone call. He dropped back.  John and I picked up a girl who was running a ironman just a few weeks later. She picked up the pace, I picked up the pace, John lost the pace and he too fell back never to be seen again.

She was running strong. She ran through the mud without hesitation. I continued to tip toe through it trying not to do a face plant. I would jump up on the top of the trail, tearing my body up with thickets and pickers. I could feel the needled tear into my skin and grab my clothing.
But I was not going to loose this girl. After all, she looked like she was in my age group!

We both were about to pee our pants. We were going to be fighting for the bathroom. We were doing a mini loop back to Gracie. I was in the lead trying to get into the bathroom first.

"WOO HOO!!" I screamed as I heading back to see Ken and his crew. "I'M BACK Like a HEART ATTACK I screamed!" Laughing I ran to the port a john. This time I grabbed Ken for a quick picture.
He looked real stern at me. "NITA, Remember this is NOT your goal race. You can not get injured on this race." He was right and I knew it.

That girl took off. "OH HECK NO!" I was determined to catch up to little miss Ironman. I was able to run a steady pace keeping my eye on the back of her compression socks. I knew she was competitive by the way she bolted out of the aid station after running so many miles with me.

I was just a few yards behind her as she entered the trail. I let her lead. I decided to let her push the pace, allowing her to do all the work. My good friend "Jeff" taught me to do this. I would just stay behind her and let her wonder what I was made of.

She was not as strong on the trails. By the time we came to the Richie Aid station she was done. I never saw her again on the trail.

My body still loved me. I felt great. The mud dried up a bit. Every so often I would see a 100 miler. I never saw the face that read "Do this, it'll be fun!"

I counted down the miles. With just a few miles to go my body was still footloose and fancy.
I couldn't remember if a 50K was 31 or 32 miles. Kris posted a pic on Facebook that showed Woodstock was 32.23 miles on her Garmin. I thought it was 31 miles. But I didn't want to take any chances and decided to treat it like a 32 mile race.

With about 3 miles to go I met this guy full of energy, BOB. He reminded me of my brother. He was laughing with me as I was coming to my home stretch. He was running the marathon. He had farther to go than I did. I belted out some obnoxious cheering noise as we came up to another runner on the trail. Very slowly the guy turned around in the middle of the trail and stared at me like a serial killer. It sent chills up and down my spine. I diverted my eyes to his bib, he was a 100miler and he looked like he was off his rocker. Bob stopped to check on him. A couple minutes later Bob caught up to me. "That is why you should not be running a 100 miles without a pacer."
I replied "Is he going to be ok?"
Bob continued to tell me that he helped him up and told him he was almost to the aid station. The 100 miler wanted to lie down in the grass. Bob coaxed him up and encouraged him to stay upright.

"Come On BOB, Bring me IN!" I giggled.
He laughed, You are doing great, You Bring me IN, you just have a couple more miles."
Getting more excited I sang "I can almost hear the COW BELLS!"

Minutes later I really did hear the cowbells. I could see the light literally at the end of the trail. The hippie music was bellowing in the background and I lost myself. All my senses were stimulated running unto the campground. I picked it up with my hands in the air hooting and hollering. I could hear BOB laughing at me and cheering me on from behind. "Go Get Em!"
I pumped my right hand in the air like Arsenio Hall pumping up the crowd. Andy was right there with a big smile cheering me on and running next to me. "GO NITA GO!"

I found that next gear and turned it over laughing and riling up the crowd with each step.

I finished all smiles. I was filled with gratitude. God was so good to me. He kept me strong and safe.

TIME: 6:18.
My distance was actually over 32 miles. I forgot to change my watch off autopause, confirming this race is longer than 31 miles!
This time was good enough to get me 1st place in my age group. I held my little VW bug trophy in the palm of my hand shocked that I felt as good as I did and still placed.

It didn't take long for the adrenaline to fade away and the soreness to replace it. This was a polite  reminder I wasn't superhuman like I thought I was!

I cheered BOB on as he ran through the aid station. And about 15 minutes later the 100 miler guy came through. He didn't go through the aid station though, he went to the station you can drop down or DNF. I am not sure which he did.

I loved the section Andy was in. He was sitting with Andy J. and Justin in their tailgating chairs, taking in the whole Woodstock experience.

I just wanted COFFEE. Andy got up and went back to our camp site for another chair and my coffee, as we all waited to the girls to come in.

About 2 hours later, in the midst of the temperatures dropping, rain, then the sun coming back out they came out of the woods.

We had all finished. And we all had FUN.

The fun wasn't over. Packing up to go home was a whole other work out. It felt like twice as much work breaking everything down. Andy was a gem. He packed most of it up while I was chasing after some Mediterranean trailer for food.



Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Long Haul. 8 Hours of running.

5 days ago I finished Woodstock 50k. I did pretty good. Pretty good as in I stayed upright, I never tripped, dipped or flipped and I had a great time.
But the fun didn't end at 31.8 miles.

Running Woodstock was just a training run. It was a much more fun training run compared to what I would have to run today.

I had an 8 hour training run. Not focusing on the gruesome miles I would accumulate, just enduring the time on my puny little legs.
When you have NOTHING Left. Not a Smile, Not a cheer, and hardly a breath.

Last Friday, I got a message from Bill that my Jenny Ultra Vest had arrived for pick up at Baumans.
I was driving 80 miles an hour trying to get from Clarkston to Flint before they closed. Like a kid with a new toy I couldn't wait to get it, touch it, play with it and of course RUN with IT!
Psalm 138:7 " Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life. You stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes; with your right hand you save me."

I loaded my Ultimate Direction vest with my nutrition, my iPod, my phone, extra chargers and my phone.

I headed out of the house at 7:20am. The temps were in my favor at 58 degrees. I dressed in my favorite light weight tank top and some super airy shorts. As I ran down Falk rd., I caught a glimpse of myself.
I was BLUE, shoes, shorts, and vest. I looked like Violet Beauregard from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

Barely a mile into my run I saw something moving Very FAST, much faster than I was running across the road. It was a coyote. Seriously, it was! I need to see a lot more of them to desensitize me for Cloudsplitter.
I wondered what 8 hours of running would be like with a brand new vest on. I knew I was going to have some damage, I just didn't know the extent.

I remained very hopeful as I headed to Holly Recreation to meet Rachel. My legs felt fresh. I felt optimistic and positive about my all day run.
My vest felt fabulous. It hugged my like a chubby grandma. The front of the vest held 2 soft water containers. I kept touching them as they felt like breasts. "Hmm, so this is what it would be like to have boobies."
As I ran, my new boobies lightly bounced with me. I couldn't help laughing. Especially when I reached my head down and drank out of the bright red nipples.

It was a little over 5 miles when I saw Rachel in her matching ORANGE shirt and visor. She looked like she could be a model for a running magazine.

Still feeling good we headed down McGinnis Rd towards the trail.
All smiles, we headed into the trail. The humidity was not as friendly as Rachel was. The rain left the lower foliage wet. It wasn't long before our socks were squishy. "Anita, I have an extra shirt and socks for you if you need."
It was more than enough that she came out to help me with this 8 hour run but Rachel even brought me gear. Her thoughtfulness meant so much to me.

We were able to get to the trail head just as Kris arrived to play with us!
I had a CREW! Love all around.
These girls changed their Thursday run day to Wednesday to help me. Neither one of them had a race to train for, nope, they came out to help me with my goal.

Together we would run between 17-20 miles together. Kris would get spider webs wrapped around her face as she lead us through the trail. The girls would be sweating, peeing in the woods, slipping on the muddy trail and breathing heavy up the inclines for me. They would sacrifice time with their kids, give up that second cup of coffee and essentially put their life on hold for 5 hours just to help me.
I knew I would be running 8 hours, I didn't know I would be running over 20 miles in the trails. Panic set in as the girls said they gave their day up to run with me. This meant I would be running a tough route. I needed tough, but I was scared the trails would tear me up and I wouldn't be able to finish. Or that my recovering body would become angry and inflict unimaginable pain.
One loop, two loop, three loops and I was beginning to get loopy. Rachel split off not without foundling my backpack and squeezing my jugs. We laughed a lot and really had fun.

Kris stayed with me trying to get 20 miles in herself. My vest was not as cuddly as it was 3 hours earlier. Now it felt more like Freddie Krueger wrapping his claws around my rib cage. I moved the straps up and down, I loosened the grip and I drank plenty of water to lighten the load. Before Rachel left she helped remove my food I had in my front pockets and place it in the back.

The girls confirmed what I knew to be true. I had to run, walk and crawl with this vest every time I went out to get used to it for Cloudsplitter in 3 weeks.

I was getting very confused on the trail. I asked Kris to run me to the road where I would separate from her. I thought we would be running just a couple miles, but it seemed longer and I was getting more lost. Every tree looked like a mirage. As many times as I had run this trail nothing seemed familiar. And every incline looked like a mountain. Not to mention my sore ribs felt like I was a gun shot victim.
Kris was concerned for my mental health. She could tell I was tuckering out. I told her I would call her when I finished and headed back towards Dixie Hwy.

I didn't get very far before I needed a walk break. My belly felt like it could tolerate some food. My peanut butter and jelly roll up didn't agree with me earlier so I was hoping my grapes would be more refreshing.
And they were. They were like Mana from Heaven.

With my music in my ears, food in my belly, I suddenly was overcome with emotion. My hands began to shake, my thoat tightened, and my lips quivered. I had the overwhelming urge to cry. I had NO idea why. I could feel the tears coming.

I barely choked back the tears when I saw a familiar car quickly pull over. It was LACEY!
She came to bring me in the last 2 1/2 hours.

We drove to the park and ride, dropped her car off and headed down Grange Hall rd. She had a very special treat for me in her cooler. A cup full of ICE! Lacey knows I love to chew on ice.

Poor Lacey. She got the last leg. My leftovers.
The sun came out to add torture to me. Lacey became more of a babysitter than a pacer. She kept making sure I was fueled, drinking and moving forward. She was determined to not let me quit.
"Just make it to the garbage can Nita."
"Ok,ok I will try."
I had 30 miles in and had Lacey leading me.
I would run until I couldn't run anymore. Lacey would pick out mailboxes or garbage cans to give me something to run to.

I had to run too 3:20pm to run 8 hours. Laceys loop we discovered was going to put us over.
With about 3 miles back home and about 20 minutes over our time Lacey says "You want to quit?"
I heard QUIT.
"NO, Lacey, I am not going to quit.."
HECK YA I wanted to QUIT. I wanted to walk. I wanted to lie down in the grass. I wanted to cry all over again.
But it was NOT an option. I didn't start this to quit. I was capable. Nobody said it was going to be easy. And I wouldn't be running 8 hours if it was going to be easy. You pick goals that are just slightly out of reach. It makes the prize better. You don't willy nilly it. You press on.

Lacey gave me the option. "Why don't you walk the hill back home?" I liked that idea.
And even though I had run FARTHER than I had run any training run I knew I still had a little something left in the tank.
I didn't barrel up that hill towards home, but I didn't walk it in either.
We pulled into my driveway and I was empty. Nothing left. I bent over in exhaustion thrilled with my accomplishment of NOT QUITTING.
Lacey looked fresh and ready to start actually running. She got 12 miles in in just over 2 hours. It may have been the most painful run but it meant the world to me.

Distance: 39.5
Pace: 12:24
Time: 8h10

I feel blessed and highly favored by my crew today. I would have loved to come home and nap my day away. Even eat Bon Bons on the couch. But I had a kitchen to clean, dinner to fold and laundry that is still waiting!
My Recovery Smoothie.

These ladies sacrificed their day as well. I am one blessed girl!


Thursday, September 8, 2016

A Weekend of Hippies.

Run Woodstock, is a fun weekend with all race distances available.
I will be running Woodstock Freaky 50K! (that's 32 miles)
BIB #710 TRACK me at Live Tracker If it is storming, just know that the tracker may not be accurate.
This is race that has gone under the radar. I am not sure why, after all it is a 50K not a 5K.
I still carry fears. I try to prepare my mind, my body and my material.
One thing you can't prepare for is THE WEATHER..70% storms!

Even with this being my 3 ultra, I am still a baby. Monday when I ran with Matt I enjoyed listening to his last race out west. I have questions and curiosity.
Part of my preparing has really been with my Monday crew. They have so much experience. I saturate myself in their stories, info and tips. Even today I was getting text messages from Ken reminding what I need to do for Saturdays race.

I started my morning at 7am with my last run. It was an easy 5 miles. Only it wasn't that easy. The humidity was so bad I felt like I peed my pants.

I had to keep an eye on the time because I was meeting my girlfriend for breakfast. 1 cup of coffee, a breakfast burrito and 2 hours of great conversation. I am so blessed with good friendships.

I had to cut our breakfast early because I had a 11am appt....

A Massage appointment! I got my prerace massage. Ahh, it was so delightful. The gal that gives me my massage never talks to me. I just lay there and let her do her magic. When she finished my massage this afternoon I just about slid off the table. I was like a slippery wet noodle. I shaved my legs literally 30 minutes before I went.  My leg hair was like a shaggy dog with cancer. I have patches where no hair grows, it is the weirdest thing. But now my body was all lubed up with oil and my skin was slicker than snot. I laughed at myself trying to slide into my clothes.

I headed to Flint for my teeth cleaning appointment. I chuckled at myself wondering if this would make me any more efficient running.
Great news, No cavities.

3 very important things.

I will NOT sleep the night before the race for multiple reasons, like over 1000.
Over 1000 runners are CAMPING around us at Hell Creek Ranch in Pinckney.
Camping, yep, we are tenting it! It is going to be chaos. I love it, the more the merrier! Poor Andy, my introvert hubby, it should be interesting!
Andy jumped on this race a few weeks ago. He is running the Hippie Half!
These are TRAILS. This is his first Trail race. Andy actually runs the trails really good. He is a natural.

Saturday, I will start running first. 6am in the dark.
Andy will follow at 7:30am.
Hopefully, he will be able to get a shower (in a shower trailer with cold water) before he finds me.

Jama, MaryAnn and Claudia are all running and camping together. It is all of their first time at the 50K distance. They are going to love it.

Last year, I ran the 50M. It took over 10 hours. I am hoping to finish this year between 6 and 7 hours. This is my first go at a 50K. All I know is it is 18 miles short of 50 miles and yet 32 miles SHORT of my 100K in October.
This race with give me a good gauge to what I will be up against for Cloudsplitter.
Last years 50M

Please pray that I stay healthy. I am less than 4 weeks out from Cloudplitter. I CAN NOT AFFORD TO GET INJURED.
Trail runners fall, trip, stumble and twist ankles, if this should happen I pray I can recover.

Who I am competing with!
I am racing this as a training run. My ONLY competition is myself. I have been told I am competitive.
I am.
With myself. I am always striving to get a new experience. To test my body. To dance with fear.
And to see what I am capable of.
But to see what I am capable of WITH GOD.  I Love the feeling of being Afraid, feeling Depleted,
Vacant of Self..Crying out to Jesus.
Reminding Myself...

When I am WEAK HE is STRONG.

CONTEST!! WHO can get closest to the hole. Whoever comes CLOSEST to guessing my Woodstock 50K time will get a fun gift of Woodstock goodies!

Sunday, September 4, 2016

In a Nutshell: Grief

I suck at writing the last few months.
It is not from a lack of material, it is from a lack of time.

"Woe is me for my hurt! my wound is grievous: but I said, Truly this is a grief, and I must bear it"
God knows that there is only 3 ways that I decompress, Running, writing and praying.
Even with 50-70 mile running weeks, I am on my knees more than ever battling the demons between my ears.
The clatter in my ears sounds like a summit meeting with different countries all screaming in their own language.
Its loud, its confusing, its tiring and the really hard thing is at the end of the day all everyone wants to see is a big Anita smile, they want a goofy joke, light conversation or an ear and a hug.

I feel vacant, empty, a shell. A stained glass window.

My body is failing me, sleep escapes me and my moods are a roller coaster of chaos.

My Family..My oldest son leaves for college next year, I have already started grieving. In tears, with my first born leaving, I barely have my cheeks dry when my youngest opens his mouth. I am then grieving all over again at the loss of my baby boy.  Who now haunts me. He looks like my kid, I swear I gave birth to him, but he is a terror. Its like his body has been invaded by some punk alien. He is almost 6 feet tall, mouthy, sassy, he no longer cuddles or touches me. My heart breaks.


My 11th CRIM.
I ran with Andy. I ran into more people I knew than ever. I didn't race due to a 32 mile run the following day.
Distance: 10 miles
Time: 1:32
Pace: 9:12/mi
I remember running this race before training for ultras at a sub 8 pace. More Grief.

The Taper:
With Wednesday and Thursday as my off work days, these become my run days. Only this pass week we tried CAMPING..in a tent!
  1. My diet.
  2. My running schedule
My miles were going to be really scaled back. And honestly, I am a bit crazy about what I eat. I can't live on s'mores and hobo pies. Especially if I am not running. Gaining weight doesn't concern me, after all, have you seen me lately? I could use about 10 lbs. I was in the 90's 2 weeks ago. I was trying so hard to put weight on...THE HEALTHY WAY. Just because you CAN eat whatever you want DOESN'T mean you should.
You wouldn't say to an overweight person, "WOW, you are so fat." And it is equally as offensive to a skinny person when you say "WOW, Anita you are so skinny, you need to gain some weight."
I want to punch people when they hug me and say SH@!! like "OH wow, I almost broke you."
Its a passive aggressive comment that is offensive. 

I premade our meals. I did endulge on a 2 smores, one with a Reeses peanut butter patty in it and the other with regular chocolate.
I destroyed this pan, It is now a Camping pan! Breakfast: Seasoned potatoes with onions & ground bison with Scrambled farm eggs.
French press coffee..It was wonderful

Wednesday after setting up, Austin stayed back, Andy and I ran the Manastee Trail, 6 miles.
We hiked 3 miles with Austin Wednesday.
Thursday, we hiked 6 miles. We discovered a waterfall.
We also discovered Wednesday a rope swing on the other end of the river.
Thursday Andy and Austin pressured me into swimming the river and challenged me to do the rope swing. Andy couldn't do it, so he didn't think I could. It wasn't the rope swing I was concerned about, It was not drowning across the river I was scared of.
I swam every way I could think of to get across the river, about 60 yards. Back stroke, doggy paddle, breast stroke and just about when I thought I was going to be doing the dead mans float my feet hit the sand. "Thank You Jesus!" I cried out of breath. It was only about 68' degrees out and I was sweating!
After catching my breath I climbed up and grabbed the rope. My heart was beating all over again. "JUST DO IT, No Fear."

SWOOSH! I flew into the air and fell dead in the water as my hands burned from loosing my grip.
I climbed back up in pain and determination.
Andy threw me the rope. I laughed at the 3 of us. We found this hidden treasure hiking.  We stripped  our clothes off like kids and were swimming in our underwear and undergarments.
I grabbed the rope. I tightened my grip. Shivering I tightened every muscle and jumped to the next higher knot as I soared into the air. I took the rope as high as I could before I let go in a perfect dismount.
It was so fun I had to do it again. 3 times and I was shaking so bad I looked like a was detoxing with convulsions. I was so nervous I was going to cramp up and end of at the bottom of the Manistee River. My last try I swung out as far as I could to lesson my distance across the lake. It was Awful! I started to panic half way across when I turned over from my back stroke and discovered I had swam in a Diagonal! I looked for Andy and he was still with Austin by the rope. I tried to calm down as I flipped back over. I didn't want to swim looking at my destination, I thought it was more nerve racking.
I somehow made it. I just laid in the sand. "Thank you Jesus, Thank YOU!"

The forgotten race. This weekend Saturday the 10th. I am doing a 50K as a training run for Cloudsplitter. Should be fun. We are CAMPING again! Praying for good weather and a better air mattress. I ended up with a 17 year old spooning me on the ground camping last week.

In Closing: Another reason I haven't written is honestly because I am not filtered right now. My mothers birthday is September 27th, I miss her so much. She was one crazy girl.
The anniversary of Ariel is right around the corner in October and I am in a silent pit. There are things I am not aloud to write about anymore. Ariel is one of them. I am not allowed to talk about her, write about her, discuss her. I am supposed to forget the relationship I had with her. It is crushing. Andy found some videos this week with her in them. I hid in the closet crying. Life never recovers. I still have this massive black hole. My secret grief.



Sunday, August 28, 2016

No longer a Slave to Fear.

"I am not longer a slave to FEAR, I am a child of GOD."

The lyrics to this song is one of my favorites. With my eyes closed and my arms in the air I saturated myself in the lyrics. Tears streamed down my eyes during our worship music at church.
"I am NO longer a Slave to FEAR."
The song ended but the words still rang in my head. I grabbed my pen and notebook and wrote out "I am no longer a slave to ME FEAR.
Subconsciously, I wrote the word ME...I meant to write FEAR.

I was taken back by the mind of my pen. Why did I write "ME"?
Am I a slave to myself?
What am I afraid of with in myself?

This resonated with me, leaving me confused. Yet, at the same time...Fearless. Because I don't have to be afraid of myself. I am not a slave to FEAR.

My biggest fear prior to this song was running 30 miles today. And now I felt FEARLESS.

Total Sacrifice
I had a last minute change of plans. Wednesday night I got a reminder that I needed a 30 mile run. I had no one to run that with me. Saturday was the Crim and I was planning on running it at a fairly fast pace. The 30 mile run was way more important that running a fast Crim. I went to Andy and told him I would run it with him. He was pretty happy to hear that. I knew Lacey was racing and she had told me she didn't know how she would feel about our Sunday Runday. I was hoping someone would be able to run either Sunday or Monday long with me. At the last minute, Friday night Lacey shared she was going to run 22 miles with me....

The Goal:
  • 30 miles:  Lacey offered to run 22 miles of it with me. 8 miles solo was doable.
  • We both ran the CRIM 10 miler on Saturday. Only I ran it, She RACED it.
  • It was 85 degrees and 70% humidity when I started, MOSTLY Sunny.

RUNDOWN: I left my house at 11. By the time I came out of my garage I had to turn around and take my shirt off. It was a stinking inferno out. I carried my water bottle full of ice cubes, hoping it would last me 8 miles. Once I got to Laceys I knew I could refill it.
I was out of water and roasting when I arrived on Laceys back deck.
"Lacey we need a route that we can refill out water every 8 miles."
That was another plan that we had to add.

You cant fight genetics. I have gotten used to running in 80' & 90' weather. And I have also been running back to back long runs for weeks now.

"I just didn't want you to have to run alone on your long run." Lacey whimpered as the heat took the life out of her.
And had she not been so sacrificial, I would have.
You see, Lacey isn't training for anything. She didn't  need to run 22 miles with me. She definitely  didn't need to run 22 miles after RACING 10 miles of hills at the Crim.
Who does that?
I looked back at Lacey and she was done. Her pink compression socks were rolled down and she was sweating through her clothes. She NEVER sweats. She had ran 18 miles with me. Simply because she didn't want me to run alone.
As I looked at her, I had to look away. She Gave me EVERYTHING she had and then some just so I wouldn't be alone. She sacrificed her recovery for my long run.
"Lacey, Call it in. Let me run you back home, you do not need to run 22 with me."
She knew that was what had to be done but it was killing her.
"I'm running you back home, I need water anyway."

I was at 28 miles at her house. I felt great. "Lacey what's the longest route back to my house?"
30 miles was the goal. Now I wanted 32 miles.

Pure sun for over a mile. I smelled like road kill. My skin was sticky and clammy with sweat and salt.
Then came the hills. I was determined to finish my last couple miles out strong. I took advantage of the down hill and did my best with the up hills until walking was all I could do. A large gardener snake slithered across the road. I found myself 5 feet vertically in the air. I knew I had enough energy to get home by my response.
It was a perfect 32 mile run. Perfect distance. Tough run. Grateful for Lacey.

Distance: 32 miles
Pace: 10:12min/mi
Time: 5h 27min
Calories: 2461

No Longer a Slave to Fear. Letting things go. I find that most of the things that I am afraid of is created by ME. I create my own Fears. I was reminded "I am a Child Of God."
My confidence and security must lie in HIM, or I will always struggle with Fear.


Monday, August 22, 2016

Chasing 9's.

61 one miles is a lot less than the 77 miles I did the week before. My body manages to stay upright through all I have put it through.
One of the reasons my body has not fallen apart is because I have not been doing speed drills.
Training for Cloudsplitter does not really require me to run repeats around the track, Thank GOD!
But it does require me to run a lot of miles.

I remember months ago reading how many miles my training would have me running and thinking "How am I going to do that?"
I have to take care of my kids, my husband, my ministries at church, work...
I just couldn't put it all together.

But I did. The puzzle all came together.
My kids are older and are very busy with sports.
Andy is very supportive. He is also running a lot more making me get in those double runs.
I have had 2 groups I run trails with and then I have Lacey for Sunday Runday. Sunday Runday now includes Andy, due to the murder in our small town he does not want us running the backroads alone.

So I am training for the 100k in October. That means ANY Races in between is a TRAINING RACE. Due to me NOT running much faster than a 8min/mi one of the races I run every years is going to be a total BOMB.
This years CRIM is going to be UGLY.
My Goal: sub 8min/mi. OH I am living on a prayer!

I ran my LONG RUN today very SHORT.
SUNDAY: Andy mapped out a run for Lacey and I. A perfect 16 miler.
MONDAY: Initially I was going to run 20 miles.

The LOW down on the Low Miles.
Almost directly after putting my NB shoes on I changed my plan.
Rather than running a moderate 20 miler, I decided to try and run less miles with more exertion.

CHASING 9's. That's what I wanted to do. I wanted to try and keep my pace at a 9min/mi/. No walking hills, no intervals, running it all the way through.

The FIRST 3 MILES were rather smooth.
9:01, 8:52, 8:35.
Mile 4 made we nervous, 8:38. I didn't think I could maintain that pace another 12 miles. I had some hills I had to cover and was scared I would bottom out. I was bent on running hard up the hills.
I had already crossed 2 nasty inclines. I knew my route and I knew I had several more to go.
I was barreling up the hills with everything in me.They were the same hills the day before I was walking. It is a mind game to say the least.
Miles 5-7 were rather flat. I ran through the back roads and corn fields. These miles tricked my legs. I came off the main road unto the dirt roads and my legs felt fatique. I was struggling to turn them over on the gravel.
You have to take a deep breath, a sip of water and start turning your legs over faster. Eventually your body will catch up and then go on autopilot.
9:06, 8:57, 8:48. Slowly I was getting faster. I was dreading a mile of hills coming up on Belford. I felt great. The temperatures were in the 60's, the trees protected me from the cloudless sky and God romanced me with a soft breeze.

I had to dig it in as I turned right onto Belford. That first hill was just a tease for its big brother at the end of the road. I had to nail 3 hills at a 9 min/mi.
I straightened my back, took a big sip of water, prayed and started heading up.
"I can do this, I can do this." I thought to myself
"I'm UP!" I caught my breath as I saw my next hill just a couple hundred feet away.
It was as though my body was just getting stronger. I looked at my pace coming up the second hill, 8:48. I was holding on.
The Big brother was looming at me.
"I can do this, I can do this." I figured if I said it enough maybe my body would believe it.
Mile 8- 8:56, Mile 9-8:44.
If I wasn't out of breath I would have been doing the happy dance. But instead of the happy dance, I peed my pants. Yup, I did. At the top of the hill I grabbed my dropped waters to refill and SWOOSH, there went my bladder. I had enough energy to just laugh at myself.

I was looking forward to the next mile of flat running. Mile 10-8:41. I was feeling strong.

I began entertaining the idea of chasing 8's. It was going to hurt. But I began believing I could run sub 9's. It didn't hurt to try..Actually it was going to hurt.

Then came the hills.
"PUMP Your ARMS."  "Breath Anita." "Pick up your legs and turn them over." I continued to bark orders at myself.
Hill after hill I could feel myself tackling and gaining more confidence.
MILES 11- 8:40, MILE 12-8:39, Mile 13-8:35.
I was actually getting faster with the rolling hills.

With 3 miles to go I had 2 flat miles and 1 mile with 4 rollers. Instead of focusing on the toughest last mile I chose to focus on the MILE I WAS IN.
Stay in the present.
I was getting tired. I was Determined to NOT give up. It had been a long time that I had this kind of a run. I was winded, my legs were numb, my stomach wanted to upchuck. I new I needed to push through.
I looked at my pace and decided rather than maintain my pace I was going to pick it up. Finish strong.
Mile 14-8:31
Mile 15-8:23
Mile 16-7:53

From mile 8, I knocked off seconds with each mile. Slowly chiseling down. Determined to follow through.

Distance: 16
Pace: 8:41/mi
Time: 2:19

My thoughts: I had no one to run with today. Andy did NOT want me to run. I ran for YEARS alone. I was nervous leaving my house but took a second to pray again. "And God if it is in your plan that something happens to me, just let it come from behind and make it QUICK!" 
It felt so good to push myself today. I love the idea of setting goals. Setting them high, with a little bit of fear in there. The fear that is scared of the results and determined to achieve them.
The older I get the more conservative I find my goals. Maybe it is all those injures I have had. Maybe it is being afraid of failure.
Who knows.
I just know that God has protected me, strengthened me, opened doors for me and guided me. I am so grateful for every victory and every failure.