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Monthly Archives: May 2015

The body transcends.

There’s a saying I made up called “Running While Girl” or RWG. We ladies understand this without question. The hormones jerk our feelings in every direction sometimes within a mere 24 hours. For me, it’s mostly irritability. Everything and anything gets on my nerves. Lately, though, it’s been melancholy mixed with the irritable and anyone with depression knows the melancholy amplifies emotional situations and wraps them in a tarp of sadness. It is a very frustrating time for us as well as those we love. Depression whispers those sweet nothings in your ear, telling you the 20 mile run can wait till next week or maybe you can do it tomorrow since you have the extra day off anyway.

So admitted, I didn’t want to be out running, I wanted to stay home in my bed and ignore the world. What got me out of bed was the promise of tomorrow’s chance to sleep in and not be anywhere within the hour of waking up. So I got up and got dressed and went outside and got in the car and drove to the lot and got out and started running. I was running the whole 20 miles on my own, no one was going to meet me at any point along the way. The plan, formulated on my way to the parking lot, was to run Texas Beach to North Bank to the Slave Trail to the new-to-me Poop Loop to the Flood Wall to Buttermilk to Forest Hill back to Buttermilk and back across the bridge to the car. I was hoping that would get me real close to 20 miles and it got me to 19, thank fucking god, because doing loops can be a soul crusher on the best of days.

I didn’t recruit any partners because I wanted to be outside alone enjoying the process. It is difficult to get trail runners to join together in their efforts because we all run in nature for the same reason: to enjoy the solitude and find peace. Running outside in the woods is our church. I didn’t want the distraction of people chatting. I needed to be alone with my thoughts and surrender myself to all the feelings. Trail running allows us to just be, to focus on only the next 3-5 minutes in front of us and I craved the solitude of that driven purpose.

For that reason this long run was cathartic. The first 5 miles was just okay; I was fighting for every step beginning with the first. I ran across the pipeline and the sound of rushing water began to work its magic on my bruised insides. When I got to the Slave Trail I took a picture of the new plaque and one of the older sign, noted the mileage because I might want to get a group together to run this part of the route, and took off again. It was at this point that I began to feel my awareness shift. I began to recognize the strength in my legs, how they were no longer sore and achy from all the miles dug into the dirt. It was still a comfortable temperature with clear skies and a bright sun.

RST

That section of the Slave Trail is only a mile long and it was littered with trash that I picked up as best I could (so much fishing line). Then I took my first official break to swallow a gel and drink more Skratch water. Then off to the Poop Loop I went. Thankfully some mountain bikers came up behind me and led the way to the trail so I knew where to go. It’s only 2 miles but it’s so pretty and wind-y, I loved it yet it felt like I was in there forever.

Poop Loop

Only single track and set up for mountain bikes, it was mostly flat and shaded. It’s called the Poop Loop because it swings alongside our Water Treatment Facility. There is also a petroleum pipeline that runs through the area, that was interesting. Upon exiting the Poop Loop, funnily enough I needed to visit the porta-potty. The coincidence was not lost on me and it gave me a chance to check on the blisters on my left foot that had been irritated by Saturday’s run. They were holding on, not causing much discomfort.

I headed toward the flood wall after this, picking up more fishing line to throw into the myriad trashcans along the way. The flood wall is on the southern side of the city and meant to keep the river from getting into the city if it ever floods bad enough. The gates have come in handy in the past, once they even kept the water in so well the lower levels of the city flooded anyway. There is bridge maintenance happening and they have blocked off the parts of the wall that go under this bridge. It’s very frustrating. The crews have figured out we’re getting in and around their signs and have constructed ways to keep us out no matter what. They even put of heavy wire fencing on the sides of the railing to keep us from climbing over that way. Damn. So I went back the way I came, but it worked out perfectly because there is a train yard on the non-river side and as I crossed the bridge that went over the tracks, a train was getting ready to leave. I got to get video for my iRun4 buddy of the train emerging from under the pedestrian bridge and heading onto the trestle that went across the river into the city. It was beautiful.

Flood Wall

I saw friends in Forest Hill, a couple of groundhogs, a squirrel who was too busy burying whatever s/he had to care I was running by, no deer this time and lots of birds to include cardinals. I figured out the dizzy lightheaded feeling I get during marathons is due to nutrition not hydration yet every time I eat a whole gel I have to find a bathroom within 10 minutes. So I have 8 more long runs to find something to eat that won’t upset my stomach that will also satisfy that accumulation theory and the Former EC.

The best part of the run: somewhere around the 16th mile I realized the brooding moodiness I felt at the beginning of the run had been replaced by a confidence in myself that had sprung from the strength and faith I had in my body. When I started I couldn’t wait to finish and had resigned myself to ending the run whenever I got back to my car even if that wasn’t a full 20 miles. By mile 18 I was telling myself I hadn’t come this far to quit just shy of the goal. It was during that 16th mile that I came up with the name for this post, finding it exhilarating that I had allowed the muscles in my body to determine my mood instead of the usual shift of perspective which involves using our brain and some serious thinking. I don’t remember ever going into a long run feeling overwhelmed and thinking, “OMG, this is going to take forever.” I allow myself to take it moment by moment, break to break, to feel all the feelings and get them done. This run reminded me how that approach has worked so well for me and how confidence of self isn’t a simple changing of perspective. Who said the body doesn’t have a part in it as well? I love feeling the power move with me, don’t you? It’s totally badass.

So yeah, the body sure does transcend.

 
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Posted by on May 26, 2015 in 50 miles

 

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Wanted: Trail Sister

Since reading this post, An Introduction to the ‘Trail Sisters’, the idea of finding a Trail Sister has intrigued me. I primarily run with men and while that is not a bad thing, it would be wonderful to have a running partner (or partners) who is a woman because we see and experience life differently from birthing babies to menstrual cycles to bouncing boobs. Plus, women have a natural connection if we allow it; a sisterhood if you will.

I’ve been running on only trails for a while now, very close to a full year. I had been running on them 2-3 times a week before that while running with some friends on the road each Tuesday morning. With this new training plan for the 50 miler, I chose to pack the running into 4 days to reduce the risk of over training therefore making Tuesday an active rest day.

So now I’m strictly a #trailrunnergirl training with her #traildog.

For a while I thought I didn’t care whether my running partner is male or female. I really don’t mind running with guys and find it refreshing at times because they don’t talk about makeup, their hair, babysitters for their young children or various other uber girly subjects. Not that these moments aren’t important topics, it’s just they are not all Life is and I suck at small talk. I want to get to the serious stuff right away, to really know something about the people I’m with, to make that connection. I really love being in nature, I enjoy getting dirty and feeling the earth all around me, the muddier the run the better. The Former EC once said I am at my happiest when I am the dirtiest and he is absolutely right. I have always felt a strong kinship with nature and wish I could be in it all day every day. I look forward to the point in my life where I am able to buy a VW bus and live in it for months on end, traveling from trailhead to trailhead. In many ways, guys are so much easier to be around because of the lack of bullshit, for lack of a better word. You know what you’re getting. The downside is they always seems to be a 12 year old lurking just below the surface.

But really, let’s be honest, they don’t get it.

Nothing against men, they’re simply a different gender therefore experience life through that lens. Testosterone comes in handy on occasion and I am a huge believer of this theory, too. As more men begin to realize they can be true partners to their significant other, the nature vs nurture debate continues to be a subject of contention. This also means there are a lot of guys beginning to understand and know how to be friends with a woman, a true friend, and not see that woman as a potential conquest.

Still, they don’t get it. Yet, do we really want them to?

Sisterhood is powerful. And fierce. And breathtaking. And soul reaching. And bombtastic. It is suggested that because women have the ability to give life, we are also able to feel things on a deeper level. You know, down into the bottom of our very being. It is no coincidence Mother Nature was given the female pronoun. How powerful is it that we are aligned with the greatest Mother, the breath that has created and destroyed so much? And then consider how men have gone to great lengths since the beginning of humanity to staunch that power and control our existence through laws and rules and sometimes brute force. The word hysteria specifically exists because of our uteri and wandering womb. Think of Lilith, Medusa and the second Mary, powerful women whose story was changed because men could not handle their raw courage and power.

I’ve been reading Daughters of Distance by Vanessa Runs. This is the book I have been searching for, the book I have been contemplating for the last two years and thinking about writing myself. It’s a book about women in endurance for women, period. It gets serious and each chapter is broken up into subjects that are specific to women to include breastfeeding mommies.

Ladies, we are fucking awesome. We rock. We are the shiznit. We are not to be tamed, extinguished or quieted. I don’t want to be better friends with men than with women, I want to fully embrace my sisters for everything they are and are not. And I’d love to have a soul sister join me on the trails and in life.

 
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Posted by on May 25, 2015 in feminist, Women Rock

 

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On the road to 50.

Sunday was my first 20+ miler of the season. It was hot and muggy, but not as bad as it was the previous week when it was 76 degrees with 100% humidity and the dew point was hovering around 64. I brought a second shirt to change into before heading out for my second loop and I had plenty of electrolyte tinged water in my pack and waiting for me in the car.

My watch was not fully charged and I forgot a towel or a change of clothes for the finish. I also figure I have 9 more chances to remember that stuff. The Garmin died somewhere around mile 16ish and since I was using it to track my miles as I made up my route while I ran, it was kinda comical. In my head I was like, “This means I can start walking, right?” One of the ladies I ran with for my first loop saw me around mile 17ish and said, “You’re still running?!” We had parted ways at her mile 6, my mile 8. She was back with her husband and dog, playing in the river.

sunday trail run

She is now a PhD which is a HUGE accomplishment and totally worth celebrating.

I did well for the first 5-6 miles (miles 15-16) after I left the group behind. And then the hot and aloneness caught up to me which is right around when my watch died. However, at no point did I ever consider not completing the whole 20 miles. I have a goal, damn it. I am a woman with a mission: to train well and complete my first 50 miler. Right now, these long runs are more about time on my feet and less about how fast I complete them. I am grateful for Sunday’s run because it’s only the beginning and some of these long runs will suck so much I’ll want to quit. I may even cry. I may even be an absolute brat at times. I know this will happen and I need to be ready for it. Having some of the long runs be successful will help me weather the crappy ones.

What I also discovered is how much I do not want to eat anything on these hot long runs. I drank almost all my 80oz of infused water and ate only one gel split between two stops and the eating happened only because I could hear the former EC screaming in my head that I need to eat. I remember looking down at my watch and seeing 1:30 and was like, “Oh shit! I gotta eat something!” Previously I have trained to eat 1/2 a gel every hour and most times I could feel I didn’t need it but sucked it down anyway because of that whole deficit accumulation theory. I ate again around 2:40 and sadly I think that was the last time yet I really don’t think I needed it either.

Nutrition is what worries me the most about my 50 miler because I am told I should eat real food and that I cannot subsist on gels alone. Though, after a lot of reading, I’m asking why not? As long as I begin using either my own concoction of sweet potatoes and avocado or Huma gels which use real food first, sugar second, why can’t I subsist on “gels” alone?

And I figure I’ve got 9 more chances to figure that out.

 
 

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