Monday, September 19, 2011

At What Point am I a Runner?

I'm an ultramarathoner, but am I a runner?
I'm a marathoner, but am I a runner?
My pace is considered "jogging" by my phone app.  I can't in this lifetime "run" fast enough for my app to consider me a runner.
I wonder if when I can run a marathon at a 10 minute mile pace, will I then consider myself a runner?

A dear wise friend responded thus:
You run me into the ground. You're a runner by my standards. Besides, everyone has their own pace.You don't have to be the best at what you do, you just have to love doing it. That's how you know you're doing your own best. Just because your phone app (or anyone else for that matter) doesn't consider you as a "runner", you've definitely got the drive, the heart, and the stamina of one. There will always be someone who can run faster, but if you love what you're doing and stick to it, there's no one else who can run "better" than you.

Thank you Colby.  I needed your words of encouragement in my down moment.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Bartlett Park Ultras 50K 2011

Bartlett Park Ultras 50K 2011

2009 - 9:36:26  - first ultra ever, temps close to 100 degrees!!
2010 - 9:36:44  -  temps in the low to mid 90’s
2011 - 8:34:41  -  temps in the low 80’s high of 86 degrees

This race, as all of them now days, starts the night before.  I work 2nd shift and get off work at 10:30 PM.  I had to leave for Memphis at 3:30 AM.  That means not much sleep!

Chris, my husband made sure I got my butt in bed and he set his alarm for me to make sure I didn’t sleep through mine in the morning!  Thank you Chris.

We were blessed this year as the temperatures were suppose to be much cooler than in years past.
This race starts with a small trail loop and then 4 loops on a 7 mile trail course.  The trail is single track dirt, no elevation gains but millions of undulations, twists turns and some roots.  On the first big loop a root was my undoing.  I tripped on a root and went down hard.  I twisted my right knee.  I got up dusted off and continued running.  It was difficult not to trip often because with my knee acting up I couldn’t pick up my foot enough to get over the roots.

On loop 2 I stubbed my big toe of my left foot on a stump, hit it DEAD ON!  I was afraid I broke it.
I was getting down on myself and hating this race!  The left leg hurt at the toe and the right at the knee, dang!
I forgot to take some pain killer at the end of lap 2.  I felt it during lap three.  And I fell down again, this one hard too.  My right shoulder hit the ground HARD!  It was difficult to get up that time.  I wanted to lay there and cry.

I had talked to my brother the night before.  He is going through some horribly awful crap right now.  I wonder how he can keep his head above water.  Well in that conversation he told me.  He told me that stinking thinking isn’t his, it doesn’t come from him.  So when that kind of thinking creeps in he prays.  He asks for forgiveness, he tries to forgive and he counts his blessings (repentance, forgiveness and gratitude).  If he can keep his mind in a place of gratitude then even though things still suck, his thinking will be clearer and he will deal with it better.

Well, all of this went through my mind as I got up and started moving.  I thought about Bruce, my twin from another mother, who broke his ankle 2 years ago and will never run again.  The night before I had told him I would run it for him.  We both ran that race together, first ultra for both of us.  I thought of him.  I’m raising supplies to send to Afghanistan for the Marine Corp Marathon Forward held there on Oct 30th of this year.  I thought about them.  They are in the crappiest places in the world.  I can finish this stinking race!  So all of that got me up and got me moving.  I told myself I wasn’t going to even entertain quitting because those thoughts aren’t my thoughts, I can make them leave.  So I got through that stinking lap.

Lap 4, I remembered my pain killer and a 5 Hour Energy.  That made the difference!!!  When the pain killer kicked in I was able to pick my leg up a bit better.  I ran most of this lap, only walking on the uphills.  I was happy to see the aid station that one last time.  The volunteers reminded me that I only had 5K left.  I knew I was going to PR.

With about 2 miles left I caught up to Mark aka Superman.  He is has lost over 100 lbs and has parts of his back fused.  He was running the 40 mile race, me the 50K, so I was almost done, he still had a ways to go.  We ran and talked when we weren’t running.  It was awesome to have some company.
It felt great crossing that finish line this year!!  I had overcome some challenges.  I have a better understanding of pulling ones self back when you approach your breaking point.  I understand the running for someone else.  I used to think that was hogwash, but Bruce can’t run!  that is heartbreaking!  I can run, and I would quit???

Gary Allen of The Great Cranberry Island fame posted this on his facebook page:
Paula and Haile hold the world marathon records but you hold some world records too! I know for certain you hold the world record from your front door to the stop sign on the corner. I also know for certain you have a special training route and that record is all yours too! Great happens all the time and you are a big part of it!
I needed this with all my heart and soul!  This summer has been hard on this runner’s heart!

I can’t give a list of things I have done wrong this year like I did last year.  I didn’t make those mistakes.  I don’t think I made any mistakes.

I had Gu on me - didn’t have enough fuel last year.

I am now using Ensure, which helps allot when I just can’t take another darn Gu!

I’m now gluten-free, so I had a loaf of bread in my car.  I got a slice of my gluten-free bread and took that with me to the aid station, added their PB& J and dang, we were good to go!!!  I did get the fuel I needed.

The cooler weather meant my feet weren’t soaked with my sweat.  So I didn’t get any blisters and I kept all my toe nails!!  I did change my socks half way through the race.

One of the most amazing things about this race:
After I came in, cooled off and cleaned up I joined some other runners in chairs at the finish line.  We were cheering the people coming in.  One lady came in from her very first ultra.  The smile on her face was AMAZING!!!  She is hooked!!!  She was crying with joy, her family had balloons, cookies and flowers to celebrate with her!  so amazing!!!

I’m still a drag, I’m still a no drama bore, but something changed out there.  I found I can dig deeper.  I can totally change my thinking and just get it done.  I’m glad I did it.  I’m glad I had my brother and my twin to help me through it.

Today, a day later, my left big toe is swelled and sore as can be.  My right knee is tender and my right shoulder feels like I have been beat up.  When I breath deep my ribs hurt.  I do have a chiropractic appointment tomorrow early AM.  Thank goodness!!
Finish Line at Bartlett Park Ultras 2011
Finish Line at Bartlett Park Ultras 2011