Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Time, it sure does fly

I nearly forgot I even had this blog. I don't even know where my head was the last time I attempted to post, but I know it's been ages.

A lot has changed. When I first opened up this site to start a blog, I was in a terrible, dead-end relationship that I was too ashamed to admit I needed to get out of and didn't know how. I was living a miserable lie. It took a move and some counseling to realize that I was staying in the relationship for the wrong reasons and while it felt selfish of me to end it, it really was the best thing I could do for myself and my son. So, that's what I did.

I ended the relationship. It wasn't easy and it certainly wasn't pretty. On many levels. I won't delve into that here, as that is not what I am here to talk about. But, I will say this... running helped me immensely during that time. I am not sure how I would have coped if I hadn't been able to lace up and get out.

That was early 2012. Fast-forward to the now, to today, March 31, 2015. I now live 340 miles away from that place. With the most amazing man, who is also a runner. He is an incredible dad to my son. Knowing now that all of my shitty days led me to him, I'd do it all over again in a heartbeat. I have it pretty good, honestly.

So, he's a runner. I'm a runner. Naturally, we run together. We encourage, challenge, and push each other to go further. He believes in me and I believe in him. We're a pretty rad team, really.

Let's see... last time I posted anything, I believe it was about running a half-marathon. Lordy, how far I've come since then! I still love the half; it is my favorite distance. I like to keep myself at a base where if I feel so inclined, I can run a half this coming weekend.

With that said, I have moved a little bit past half-marathons. It would seem that the next logical step would be to run a full. And I think most people move in that direction. Yet, I got into trail running and found myself surrounded by people I thought were a touch... shall we say... crazy. Ultra-runners. People who run distances further than marathons. For fun! You know, 50Ks, 50-milers, 100Ks, and even 100-milers. These numbers were nuts to me. I was in awe of these people, but never figured that I would even WANT to run that far. EVER.

But, then... the boyfriend. This man who was running 3-5 miles when we first started talking. This man who ran further to impress this girl who was running 13 miles just because. HE decided he wanted to run a 50K. The local 50K in our new town: Badger Mountain Challenge. He did it. He did it well. He was tired and sore afterwards, but not beaten. This made me think... perhaps I could do one. Perhaps I WANTED to do one. I was already signed up for a 25K. I decided to go for it. I found one that was far enough out that I felt I would have time to prepare. I signed up for Trail Factor 50K in Portland, Oregon. I signed up without knowing how I would handle the 25K, not really even caring. Feeling that I wanted a piece of the pie; I wanted to be an ultra-runner!
My hunky man finishing his first 50K!

The day of my 25K, Yakima Skyline Rim, approached and I was sure I was ready. I mean, it's a little more than a half, how bad could it be? Well, bad. Not in a bad way, bad, but hard. Very vertical, very rocky, and very challenging. I hadn't read up on it, so when I saw the mountains as we drove to the start, I was a bit concerned. I didn't expect it to be so hilly.

It was an incredible race! It was beautiful at the top (which was after two miles of straight uphill); the view went forever and off in the distance was a chain of mountains. There were wildflowers everywhere. It was simply... majestic. I took a lot of pictures, ran with a friend I made while out there, and just enjoyed it. Aside from some gastric issues, it went very well. The two miles uphill was, of course, two miles down on the way back and it was... torturous. My quads had never felt that kind of pain. There was much whimpering of "oh my god" and "ow, ow, ow" during the descent.
I had to remind myself to look up from the ground every now and then so I could see the incredible view.

I finished the race in 3:53:25. Not a super awesome time for a 25K by any means, but it was my first experience with a Rainshadow race (THE ultra race company in Washington) and they are typically very tough races. I was just happy to be done, see my man and my boy at the finish line, and sit down to stretch and eat some post-race grab while enjoying the after party. Live music and free beer and pizza... kinda hard to beat, wouldn't you say?
This was taken a little after the turn-around at Yakima. 

I ran the Sage Rat half-marathon and PR'ed the ever-living crap out of it. My previous PR was 1:54:14 and I ran this one in 1:47:20. I was pretty damn pleased. That was fifth in my division... not too bad.
Whew! I didn't know I could run that fast for that long!

My little booger after his 1-mile run.

So, that was in April. In May, on Memorial Day, was my first 50K. I'm not going to go into too much detail, since I'm writing a blog here, not a book. The race was a relatively "easy" 50K (that is kind of an oxymoron, really, as 50K is still 31 miles... never exactly easy); it was gently rolling hills on a nice, well-maintained trail in the middle of Portland. Everything was going great until, for some reason, around mile 8, I fell. I don't even know what happened, the ground was flat with no roots or rocks to trip me up, but, my ankle wobbled, there was a loud pop and I went down. Another runner stopped to make sure I was okay and then quickly went on his way. I stood up, it hurt like hell, but I kept moving. This was my first 50K, possibly my only, and there was simply no way that I was going to stop at less than 10 miles in. I had ibuprofen on me and I started popping it as soon as I hit the first aid station.

I got to see my boyfriend, my son, the boyfriend's sister and her little girl around mile 21. I specifically asked the boyfriend to not tell me how long I had been out (I set my Garmin to read only distance, not pace or time), I cared only that I had about 10 miles to go. "Just" 10 miles is how I thought of it. That's a weird moment when 10 miles becomes a "just". At that point in my run, I was at the longest run I had ever done.

I finished the race in 5:56:10. I was hoping to come in under 6 hours, so I was pretty pleased. At the time I finished, my ankle wasn't even bothering me, but a couple of hours later it was huge and I could barely walk on it. I ended up using crutches for two days after we got home.
This is, by far, one of my favorite photos taken of me at any race.

Since then, I have done a trail marathon that ended up being a little longer than 26.2, and another 50K. Both of those I did with my boyfriend. Our 50K was Oregon Coast, another race put on by Rainshadow. It was brutal and beautiful and I bawled like a baby when I crossed that finish line. I was happy to be finished and I hurt like hell. I have done a fun and challenging 26K (again put on by Rainshadow), I had been signed up to do the 50K, but I just knew I wasn't ready for it, so I dropped down. My boyfriend did the 50K and killed it!
Mile 27 aid station at Oregon Coast. 

Free beer makes everything better!

A few weekends ago, I hung up my ultra-runner hat for a minute and decided to have a go at a local 5k. I hadn't run one as a race since 2013 and I knew that my time had improved. I simply wanted to PR it. Holy shit, did I! In 2013, I came in at 27:51 and took second in my age group. I was pretty proud of that. Well, this race... I finished in 20:58 and came in second OVERALL FEMALE!! I ran faster than I even know was possible for me. I don't expect to ever PR a 5K after that. And that's okay!
The clock says 31:00 because the 10K runners started 10 minutes before the 5K. 

20:58!! Second overall female!

So, I have a 25K coming up in two weeks (Yakima again, I want redemption!), another one in May (Sun Mountain) and a 35K in August (Angel's Staircase... supposed to be a BITCH!). I don't know if/when I'll run another 50K. A part of me wants to, but another part of me wants to just kill half-marathons and 25Ks. I love that distance; I am able to push hard without killing myself and I find it fun... 50Ks are a lot of work and pain!

I have other, loftier goals, but I'm not speaking those aloud, for fear of jinxing. Also, they're mine. No need to share with others at this time :)