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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Barkley...aka 5 years too late..

It is 2008 and I am milling about after the finish of  Bogie's Wapack trail race and there is Steve Pero and we start to gab and he tells me about this race in TN called Barkley and how he thought I would just love the race.... I put it in the back of my mind still so in love with New England trail races like my beloved WMAC series that I had no desire to leave and travel..why would I when I had bliss in my own back yard?

2010 I make it into Western States and I travel outside of the familiar to run... it does not bode well for me and it marks the moment when I lost my running bliss...

It is followed by two years of pain and anger and loss...and when I think back on those years I am amazed I came out relatively unscathed....well the scars are there but they are fading...

fast forward to 2012 and I found my bliss at the Peak 500 and my way back into the light and I am here now with a letter in my hands.....

I would not change my past even if I could... because it has brought me to this exact moment in time when I knew it was time to write my Barkley letter...

There is much mystery and bravado surrounding Barkley...but not as much as there was when I first heard about it 5 years ago....what used to be an under the radar race is now on many endurance racers bucket list..there are many non ultra running athletes (OCR and the like) with little experience with 100 mile races doing ultras...jumping into the frey of Barkley...

Now it is their right to do so... but I often wonder...it took me two years to transition to ultras with 50ks as my start another year to do my first 50 and another year to train for and do my first 100...I spent 3 years as the female WMAC Stone head breaking records for races run and points earned...I ran all these race because I loved to run trails and I loved the New England trail running community....in a way I think I have earned my chance at Barkley...

and yet...who says you have had to  run an ultra to run Barkley? What makes an OCR less apt at finishing this race then me or a mountain biker or a distance swimmer?  who am I to covet something that is not mine...to put parameters on it...to deem who is "worthy" of being there...what an ugly way of thinking about the world....

I guess I just can't help it...the thing I loved about PEAK 500 was that it was just four of us and after 2 days just three of us on that 10 mile mountain loop course for 7 straight days.  I was racing against no one but myself..there were no spectators, and the RD had to work all day and spend time with his family so we were basically on our own doing what we loved...running trails...

Barkley of the past, from what I have ascertained,  was much like the Peak 500 but now it has a name for itself and now it has a huge audience...sadly I know that what I love about races like Peak 500...few people little fanfare...will also be lost there are already more people signed up this year than last..it is the nature of the beast I guess.

I talked with Steve P about this once and he made a point that he may go back to doing more hiking...MMD is still like this and I had my first taste of it this summer and I pray it does not change and it stays the same because it made me VERY HAPPY...maybe I will just go back to fast packing...but first I will try to follow all the gooblygook that is "How to get into  the Barkley" and see if I am one of the Lucky(un some say) ones who will find their way to these trails of tears...

Monday, December 17, 2012

30 day yoga challenge aka find my own breath



Sometimes you need to strip away the things that have come to define you...set yourself adrift...in order to find your way back to yourself...

The phoenix burns and rises from the ashes...form and function the same and yet its nature changed.

The gym has come to define me in as much that  I am ready to try something different hoping that it will end up making me stronger...well that's not exactly right...not necessary strongER...but instead I want to experience a different kind of strength.

I have called myself out on the carpet...made a stand...  instead of Golds for the next month I will go to Spirit Bear and practice yoga.  I have a very obsessive connection to the gym and my strength training and I can only imagine that forcing myself to break from that will be good for me in so many ways.

I bought a month unlimited and last week I made it there Wednesday night, Friday night, and yesterday as well.  This coming week I have already signed up for tonight 90 minutes, Wednesday 90 minutes, Friday 60 minutes, Saturday early early class 90 minutes and Sunday evening class 90 minutes.

In terms of my ultra training I will continue to do 10 -15 miles incline with vest on the treadmill Tuesday and Thursday afternoons and run long/hike/or race Saturday and Sunday.

I am hoping I can learn to breathe....you would think I would just know how to do this, but people who know me can attest I often walk around holding my breath....
as if waiting for something...
vigilant...
hypersensitive...
coiled,
fists clenched... teeth clenched
waiting for something to blind side me...

The other night I woke around 2 am  in some serious pain...
I am used to pain...the physical aspect...yep I can deal
but emotionally....
the idea of experiencing this pain for the rest of my life well it can overwhelm even the strongest person....

I woke Doc with my whimpering...he rolled over and moved close whispering in my ear over and over..."breathe baby...just breathe" and he started to breathe and I followed his voice and then his breath like waves crashing on the beach and calmed myself and the pain eventually subsided....

Doc told me after the fact he was using his Ujjayi breath...a technique employed by a variety of yoga practices...it is sometimes called "the ocean breath".

I loved him for doing that... for helping me to breathe my way out of the pain and yet....

I want to learn to breathe on my own....that is the strength I am searching for....and I am hoping I can find that through yoga...

Friday, December 7, 2012

I have this strange feeling I have been here before...aka "Why the hell can't I ever pick the paved road"

Every late fall/early winter it is the same thing...I slow down..tucker out...suddenly dislike the gym (even feel anxiety about going). I gain weight, lose muscle and feel major depression.  I slog through my December and January races generally doing poorly and or skipping them altogether from the need to cover my head with my comforter and sleep in and yet I feel such guilt and remorse and generally beat myself up over it that come late February early March I have a burst of manic energy and I start to get up early...do doubles at the gym...plan out my race schedule fervently...yep....same thing has happened for about 5 years now.

This year has been a bit different...

Duality.  A word that succinctly describes (me) my life. Why do I think this? Well through the use of analogical language (specifically the analogy of  a road = my life) I have come to understand that the road I have followed has had quite a few forks. My road is rarely a nice smooth newly tarred two lane highway...nope... I am always coming on these splits (forks) hence my use of the word duality. Of the two directions I could take, I always manage to take the one that isn't paved.  The road I follow has been the one with ruts, briars and brambles.. the road of dirt and loose rocks....the road of a single lane decrepit bridges....facing two possible roads  for some reason I always choose the one less traveled and therefore never quite cut myself a gosh darn break.  I am coming to realize that many of the challenges in my life I could have made far easier if I just chose the paved road ...and this realization is both disconcerting  and comforting

I am uneasy because the internal demons, the ones that often cajoled me to take that less traveled path well they are losing their hold on me.  These demons served a purpose. By  putting an obstacle in my path, always facing something I need to overcome...this need to vanquish has roused in me a steadfast determination that has resulted in me being a pretty successful endurance athlete.   And yet,  these obstacles placed before me take their toll and often have left me battered and bleeding.  It is like running an ultra with a log...running a 50k is hard enough...why add weight to an already daunting task....hmmmm...and yet I do that to remember Dan...I think Dan would think me running with a log was a silly thing to do : ) but I need to some how deal with the guilt that I feel about me being here and him being gone....

The demons have names....guilt, depression, fear....I think anyone reading this has probably met one or two of these demons...they seem to get around....these demons can serve a purpose but at what price?  If you stop and look at what drives some of us to do amazing things like run 100 miles or swim across the ocean or run across the desert it is the demons that drive us...we think the demons are there to push us forward but deep down inside us we know the truth...

we.... are .....running .....from ...them .....and ....they ...are .....always ...right ....at ...our ....heels.....

Substance abuse, rage, jealousy, anxiety, self hatred...some of the demons you may know..

For me BDD is my demon...one I will fight for the rest of my life...I run because I love to run, but deep down inside me the need to run it there because it keeps the beast at bay....running equals burned calories...running equals skinny...running allows me to look at myself in the mirror and not hate what I see....

And yet...
Lately I am not running as much...I am not strength training as much...
I am gaining weight...I am moving toward mid forties and I am feeling and seeing the changes taking place in my body
The demon is still there, but now I am going to have to stop and face him.
I fear I am not strong enough to face him yet...still I HAVE to stop and fight...
I have no choice
I am tired
far too tired to keep running away
and there is something comforting in that..