Friday, November 14, 2008

Good Read


For those who know me well, it is no shock to know that I am a bit of a dork...ok, I am a big dork.

In August, I picked up the best book: 10 Lessons My Dog Taught Me. It is a must read for all of my dog-loving blog readers! I have one copy to share, but encourage the small price to add it to your collection.

It just so happened that I was reading this book in the midst of getting all the bad news about Daisy. The book, a true story, warmed my heart and helped me appreciate what Daisy truly meant to me. And even more so, helped me learn some lessons that I hadn't fully gotten out of the gift of our relationship.

So, here's the part of my dorkiness... As this process went on and on, I reflected on the book, and grew to appreciate it even more. I don't know how popular the book was, but I felt the need to find the author and express to him what his book meant to me. I couldn't find a site about the book, but found an unrelated blog of his. I believe it was about wines...wines/dogs all the same :)

I commented on his blog and shared how much I loved the book. And today I saw, HE COMMENTED ON MY BLOG!! How cool is it that he actually read my comment, and still feels as strongly about his pup and an appreciation for Daisy to write back.

Again, I encourage y'all to at least take a look at the book...it is a quick and great read!

Update on Daisy: It's been a while, so the update is fun :) I realized a bit ago that it all needed to change. I watched my good friend go thru the pain of the last days with her dog. Once they realized that there was nothing they could do to save him, they took him to the water to swim and enjoyed every last minute. I didn't want to wait until the end to treat Daisy like royalty. As the weeks were passing, her desire to be at PT was totally decreased and the improvements weren't really changing. I wanted her to just be. I wanted to give her a chance to run on the trails, and just enjoy the days she has. I figured the amount of time I was spending driving to and from PT could be spent hiking with her. And so that was it. Day #1 of this decision we went on a 2 mile hike. No, it's not perfect. Her run on the trails is no longer my workout, but a bonus to my days. She is so very happy, and that's all I need.

So where are things... In my first year of running, it was just me and Daisy. At that time, I could barely run and Daisy would wait for me. My runs were never quite long enough for her, and she always wanted more but she loved me and was totally content with what I had to give. Now things are reversed. My pace, slow jog or walk, is dictated by what Daisy can do. When I take her, it is for her, and we go as long as she can go. And I love her and am totally content that I am letting her spend her days, whether many more or just a few, in the way she would want to...on the trails, in the woods, and with me :)

Have a great weekend, and thanks for the inspiration!
mer

Monday, November 10, 2008

Steady

Allow me to go back a bit to catch up....
Halloween weekend I had a great plan to taper for my next 50K, which was this past weekend. I was going to run 22 on Friday, a very easy 7 on Saturday, and then go spectate/crew for Melissa at Cactus Rose 100-miler in Bandera. Well, to put it mildly the 22 were not at an easy pace (which I will take complete responsibility for as I was setting the pace), and the 7 weren't much improved. But, in my head I thought, "I will wear flip-flips and totally chill in Bandera."

There is probably very little "totally chill" in my world, so that thought was fairly useless. From the time I arrived in Bandera, Mike (Mel's fiance) and I were at each aid station crewing for her and helping others who came thru. It was a total blast! And then the famous question arrived from Mason's mother, "do you know anyone who could pace him?" Anyone who knows me knows that I am a sucker for pacing. I LOVE to pace and help people feel strong late in a race. It is some of the best memories I have had with friends, talking about everything and nothing just not to focus on the late miles of a race when you already know the answer to the question, "how are you doing?" I know they are hurting, suffering, just trying to get thru and I love to be there to try to push the negativity away. It is also some of the best times I have had with complete strangers. It is a glimpse of someone that you get to see, that no one else may ever see. When people are at their lowest, most exhausted, extreme...it is when you get to see what they are truly made of. The now four experiences I have had in this situation has shown me just how great people are and just how extremely tough people can be.
Anyway, enough of this, by time I started running with Mason at 3:20am for about 10 miles, watch Melissa and others finish, and drive back to Austin I realized I had 8 minutes of sleep over that night...lovely. I was tired, to say the least, on Sunday.
Monday was my birthday, and so of course I had to have an adventure. My friends and I went for a run, and during that run we started talking about the fact that I was supposed to be racing less than a week away... The focus was going to have to change because my legs in no way had "race" in them. It would just be a solid training run, which meant that I would get to run almost as normal for the week.
I headed for Huntsville on Friday afternoon with no major plan for the race. Initially when I was planning to "race" it, I was hoping for about 4:40. I hadn't run a 50K in a while and I think the last flattish one I did was in the 4:50ish range. I had brought what I needed to be out there for about 5 hours, so I guess I was hoping for the best that I wouldn't implode...I didn't have enough electrolytes or fuel to be out there longer; smart, huh??
A few things that made me sooo excited about this trip to Huntsville:
- I would get to see my best friend Catherine and her family
- I love running in Huntsville
- Our friend Brian was running his first 50K
- I was getting to test out the socks from my friend, Jamie
- It was Robots first race trip (pictures coming soon to explain)
On Friday, when I arrived, I went to Catherine's campsite and we spent some time together and then went for packet pick-up. It was nice and low key. I then hurt her husband's feelings when I opted for my usual pre-race meal over his grilling. It's been enough years that I have eaten the same thing, that he knew he could harass me. I took it well :)
I went to my room, ate my food, and put out my clothes for the morning. ooops, I forgot body glide....that would come back later. Otherwise, everything was ready to go.
I actually slept extremely well, which is not the norm pre-race, but since this was just going to be a good training run it was a sign that I was very relaxed.
I got to the park, and there Catherine and our other very good friend, Bryan, had come to hang out with me until the start. Oh my, that was the best EVER!! It is maybe once a year that we are in the same town at the same time. (a picture to come soon!) I don't know how else to put it except, these are my people/they are my strength. Bryan had to leave, but Catherine would wait for me to start and then get ready to run the 25K.
We waited inside and I got to introduce her to some Austin folks. Then with about 5 minutes before the start, I took off my jacket and was in my usual: tank, arm-warmers, gloves, and skirt. I looked around and felt totally naked as everyone else, except for about 5 people, were in long-sleeves, jackets, heavy hats, etc. Granted I was totally shivering at the starting line, but I really didn't feel as under-dressed as I must have looked.

Paul, the RD, said go and off we went...before I could blink I was in the 2nd pack. Pack #1 was the leader and about 4 other guys, and pack #2 was me and about 5 guys. I ran the first 4 miles with a guy named, Mark, who I have run with before. He is faster than me but was easing into the race. I was either feeling good or running stupid...too early to call. After the first aid station, Mark pulled away and then I was passed by this guy doing his first ultra; he had just moved to Houston from Miami. And, then I was on my own. I felt just fine, running along, eating, drinking, singing a little, and before I knew it the first loop was over. 2:15 for 25K...a little too quick. I refilled my water, fuel, and off I went.

On the way back out, I had a chance to see where the 2nd woman was. She was about 1.5 miles behind me. On the 2nd loop I passed one guy who had been in front of me about 2 miles in. I was feeling very good, and was cruising along. Then I hit the jeep road and saw two more guys not to far in front of me. I caught up to them and was still moving along. I reached the first aid station which was 4 miles into the loop, and saw Joe, Henry, and Marcia. Joe said words that were priceless, "mer, keep it steady." I don't know if could tell I was getting a bit excited, or if he was just delivering a kind warning, but what he meant was too fast, too early and you might be walking in... There were still 11 miles to go, which in an ultra can be a very long way. So, I backed off just a little and made sure I had good control over myself: drinking, eating, and enjoying the day. I passed another guy who said it just wasn't his day. Poor thing had gone from 2nd place to walking...that's how it can go somedays.

I kept moving along, now cheering for the 25K people as I would pass by. Some receptive to the cheering, some not so much. I got to the 2nd to last aid station and hit my first low of the day. No big problem, just no real kick in the pants to keep up the pace. At this point, I had seen the 2nd place lady now almost 3 miles behind me, I had passed what I thought was every guy that didn't already have a huge gap, and this was just a training run. Then I thought about it. I told myself, "suck it up. If you are tired it's because you went out to fast, too bad. There are people who can't be out here doing this, and there are people who feel much worse than you do." With that after my 10 minute low, I was going again. It was the only time in the race I walked, except for when I was stopped filling up my water, and it was the only time in the race I feel like I lost time. I lost time to my bad attitude, shame on me.

I topped off my water with 3 miles to go, and headed in. (I never try to "make it" on an empty bottle. I know if I have fluid I will drink it). It was in this final section that I passed the last person I could. I passed the guy running his first ultra. He was bent over stretching his hamstrings...I gave him some encouragement and went on. I finished in 4:43.

The highlight of my finish was Catherine cheering for me!! She was there after running 2:03 for the 25k, with what we later found out was a 102 fever (I DON'T recommend that for anyone!!)

As always, whether good or bad days there are so many things to learn:
- Always make sure you have packed the necessities. Lovely chaffed mark on my leg is a good reminder of that.
- Always pack more than what you need for fuel, electrolytes, drink...you just never know.
- NEVER, NEVER let the attitude slow you down. There is no excuse for it.
- Always enjoy the time you have with friends, and their great successful days. It means the world to them.
- When offered and observed, take a wise man's advice...they are looking at you with fresh eyes. You might not be as clear headed, but the advice is good and ALWAYS well intended!

As has been with my training and race success of recent months, I continue to take advantage of all of the god moments the trail gives me. Yes, often times my music guides me, but my head and heart take me there. I run with my friends in my head and my heart...thinking and praying for their needs and strength. And now I have a new companion with me. I will take my sister with me on the trails. It is not something I ever thought I would do. We historically have not been close, but out there when I think of her and our recent conversations, it brings me strength and hopefully strength I can return to her.
And now, I am on to my sherpa duties. I draw from how incredible my husband is so often. I hope I can give him everything he gives me in my head during his race. It's his turn. He has worked so hard, and he is so ready.

By the way, do I have to recover since this was just a training run???
mer

Monday, October 13, 2008

Great Day!

I am guessing there are a ton of words I could use to title this post, but all in all it was a great day!

I went to California on Friday morning for my last race there of the year. I can never fully express how fortunate I feel to get to go to my favorite places to race. I know not everyone can do this, so I am so thankful each time I can.

Work has been very busy, thankfully, and so I didn't give the race the attention it deserved until Thursday. People would ask, "what's the weather going to be?" "are you packed?" My response was, "I have my food and know what I'll race in, so no need to think about it until Thursday." With that level of detail I packed on auto-pilot, and was on my way.

I arrived in Cali to cooler temps and a wind storm. I really didn't know what my plan for the race would be since I had only done the marathon last year, and it had been incredibly muddy. I had asked Steve a while back and he said that he went 9:33 last year and I could definitely go faster than that. OK.

Saturday morning came very early after an odd night of sleep, maybe 3 hours? I headed to the race start and 44 degrees. It sure felt colder than that with the wind. I saw friends from C2M, Florencia and Leslie. Florencia and I peeled off our layers with 5 minutes pre-start. Some people seemed VERY overdressed. Right before the start we saw Kelly. She is just in incredible shape and it is always great to see her. People ask how I know her and I tell them that I follow her race schedule :) In the dark, Carl, the RD, yelled "go." I REALLY need to get myself to the eye doctor because my night vision is getting worse. I was having all kinds of trouble seeing around me. I know I am night blind and normally I can muttle through, but this was a challenge. Poor Leslie is probably bruised from me running into her. Florencia, Leslie, and I ran together for about the first 2 miles catching up and chatting away. On the first climb I pulled away.

It was a beautiful crisp morning, and there were wonderful people running the race. I chatted with a guy who is training for the same Ironman Paul is doing. I met a guy who does Ultraman races with our friend, Mark. On and on we went. Before I knew it, we were approaching the 7.9 mile aid station Bort Meadows. I only took note of this station because my friend, Stan, was working it! So I came in and saw him and hollered, "#32 Texas is here!" Then I turn my head and see Sara, our friends from Auburn. I was thrilled! Her husband, Lee, came over and gave me a big hug and off I went. What a super treat!

Off I went down the trail and soon enough Florencia caught up to me. We had met at C2M, and I enjoyed catching up with her. It is always incredible to me how people not only manage life, work, and training, but also good balance with their kids. She is one of those people, and I had a nice time running with her. As we were running along, we briefly discussed what finish time was possible. She said that she was hoping just to maintain her pace as she had not been training much and this was her kick-off to HURT training. I didn't have a clue, but said it would be a dream to break 9 hours. And I just let the thought flow...

She got ahead of me on a downhill and I wouldn't see her again until she was heading back from the turnaround. I continued happily on my way...eating, drinking, feeling good. Soon enough I got to the descent to the turnaround (26 miles). I thought about this section from last year. It was the first few miles of the race, a 1400 ft. climb. It was a mud pit, and it put my head in a bad place from the beginning. As I ran down, I thought about how much more I would enjoy the climb on the way back out. The ground was hard, but VERY dry!! On this descent I saw the leaders climbing back up. First came the men, then...1,2,3,4 women. I was sitting in 5th. The lead women all seemed about 2+ miles ahead of me, and the ones I knew (Kelly especially) are strong on the back end. I was more than pleased to hold my 5th place.

I got to the turnaround and headed back up. It was there I saw the 6th place woman coming down, and not too far behind me. I knew I needed to move. This was the first time that I had a close race behind me. Normally the leaders are far in front, but I am comfortably in my little spot with some breathing room...not Saturday. It was a good thing because I hussled. But, as I was leaving the mile 30 aid station she was coming in. I started running scared. I charged the downhill and kept running the uphill. It was awesome because my legs were letting me run scared. By the time I got to the next aid station, I thought I had pulled away but still continued to push on....I couldn't get caught in the last miles.


In those last miles, it was about 35-44, I could only think it was a dream. I was running along as though I had only run 10 miles. I felt good, almost too good. I drew strength from the power of all the blessings I have, and for my health. I thought about people who needed prayers and in the depth of the ferns and the wonderful California forest smells, I prayed. I almost started to feel guilty because the more I thought about all of these people, the better and better I felt...it was so surreal.

I hit the 2nd to last aid station, and knew I had almost 6 miles to go. Of course in dreamland, these 6 miles would have been all downhill...but never the case. The MP3 had died and the wheels were getting tired. The man training for the Ironman had been near and around me all day and was right in front of me. I knew he had done the race before, and so I threw the question out, "do you think I have a chance to go sub-9?" He said, "it will take you almost an hour to cover these two sections, so if you move you can do it." Off we went. I tried to hang on to him, but to no avail. I would just be fighting it out on my own.
And fight I did, 8:58:22!! I am very pleased :) I also truly enjoyed the post-race picnic we had on the grass at the finishline. I got to meet and celebrate with so many folks...although I did save my burger eating for In and Out!!
Of course no race is perfect, so upon reflection things learned and to do differently next time:
- wear road shoes when there has been a drought. My trails shoes are HARD on the hard surfaces. My feet didn't take a beating, but more cushioning would have been appreciated on my legs.
- Florencia had some wonderful feedback for me on consistancy of my pace. I will take her advice to heart! It was a very accurate observation, and much appreciated.

Paul had a conversation with someone over the weekend who was concerned that noone saw how much training she was doing, or something like that. To which I responded with, "the hard work shows up in the results." Noone cares how much or what other people are doing. You have to do what you know works for you. And if you can go in with a happy healthy mind and body, everything else will take care of itself.

I love to run. I love the time I get to spend with my closest friends when I run. I love the time I get to spend with myself when I run (which is not something I would have said a few years ago) on my own. I think this all came together in it's own way in a race I was just heading out to do for fun...
mer

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Back to High School

I have been posting such deep thoughts lately I thought this would be a fun one!

Yesterday I was given the honor to "teach" high school. I use that loosely because basically I got to go in a talk about what I do, and how to eat healthy. So arrive at Bowie High School yesterday realizing that I look younger than many of the students, so much so that the lady when I was trying to check in asked me if I was the student or the presenter...doesn't she have a good pulse of the student body??

There was even a mother waiting for her child who asked, "what are you teaching?"

I enter the classroom, and away I went. Actually let me back up a moment and tell you that I was told before entering the class that a few girls might sleep through my lecture. To which I replied, "noone is sleeping through my class." On that note, I start the class by saying, "in case anyone falls asleep, they will be doing laps around the classroom or a sprint up and down the stairs." That got good laugh #1, although I actually meant it...

Things I realized yesterday:
- I actually think I am cooler now then when I was in high school, or at least I am more interesting :)
- Seniors in high school are actually interested in learning, if the topic is worthwhile to them. Favorite questions and quotes (and no I didn't make these up)
  • "I have a question. My mom and grandma have really big boobs. Is there anything I can do to make mine smaller? My aunt's hang down to her knees."
  • My question: What foods to you eat for snacks? One response, "ants. Don't you know what ants are?" I said, no. response: "celery, peanut butter, with raisins on top." Good snack!
  • Me asking about portions to a girl who eats goldfish for snack. Do you know how many goldfish are in a serving? "No. I eat the 100 calorie pack." To which I reply, What will happen when you go to college and can't afford the 100 calorie packs? The room starts to laugh...
  • One of my favorites: "Is it true that fat people who eat alot of fat start to smell bad? Is that how the fat tries to leave their body?"

I loved my moment leading a class, and although the topics went in directions I never thought they would, it was so much fun. Do I want to be a teacher, heck no! The best part about yesterday was that I got to talk about my topic in the way I wanted to. I got to teach the kids in a way that would actually interest them and make sense to them, instead of the structure that poor teachers have to follow.

And, by the way, noone fell asleep!!

Have a great weekend!

mer

Friday, October 3, 2008

Feb. 1, 2003

This date is probably meaningless to some, but for me and many others it is a day in history that cannot be forgotten. This was the date of my first 50-miler. I did it at the Rocky Raccoon 50-miler in conjunction with the 100-miler. At the time I couldn't even begin to fathom that people could run 100 miles.

While I was looping around Huntsville State Park on what was a beautiful and clear day, I had no contact with the outside world. It was just me and those in the race, the other race, and those helping out. We were in our own bubble.

I finished the race, and proceeded to drive home, I lived in Houston at the time, with Paul following. As I am driving South on 45, I read signs that say "look for shuttle debris on the road." What?? Maybe I was delirious?? I turned on the radio, and called Paul. While I was enjoying the beauty of the day, in my own world, the shuttle Columbia had exploded on entry; all 7 died. I had been so caught up in MY moment, in my day, that I hadn't given another human being a thought.

I only think of this today as the diary of the Israeli Astronaut is displayed. Here is what was written about it: A little over two months after the shuttle explosion, NASA searchers found 37 pages from Ramon's diary, wet and crumpled, in a field just outside the U.S. town of Palestine, Texas. The diary survived extreme heat in the explosion, extreme atmospheric cold, and then "was attacked by microorganisms and insects" in the field where it fell, said museum curator Yigal Zalmona.
"It's almost a miracle that it survived — it's incredible," Zalmona said. There is "no rational explanation" for how it was recovered when most of the shuttle was not, he said.
The U.S. space agency returned the diary to Ramon's wife, Rona, who brought it to forensics experts at the Israel Museum and from the Israeli police. The diary took about a year to restore, Zalmona said, and it took police scientists about four more years to decipher the pages. About 80 percent of the text has been deciphered, and the rest remains unreadable, he said.
Two pages will be displayed. One contains notes written by Ramon, and the other is a copy of the Kiddush prayer, a blessing over wine that Jews recite on the Sabbath. Zalmona said Ramon copied the prayer into his diary so he could recite it on the space shuttle and have the blessing broadcast to Earth.


Do you ever think about what is going on outside of your little bubble? While we are out and about enjoying every moment of our health, there is so much else going on.

I try to make a point, every time I go for a run now, to take a moment (whether it be during a song, during a quiet moment, when I am breathing and working hard, when I am struggling, or when I am thankful to be finished) to think about my family and friends. I would hate forever if there was a time when I was so caught up in my day that I didn't want them with me, didn't need their support, wasn't thankful for them. I feel like when I can give that quick thought, they are always with me.

Some friends and I have been talking about mental strength, and where I go in my head during a long race. My favorite place to go is with the thoughts of my family and friends. At some point, I stop thinking about "the race," maybe things not going perfectly, or whatever and I turn it over to runs I have had with friends, great moments, funny stories, how foturnate I am. I let them "run" with me in my head. I let Paul push me up a hill. I think of all of my Friday "girl" runs, and take them with me. When my best friend was sick, I ran for her, and now that she is well she pulls me along. It's just amazing the power and lift that comes from thinking of them.

Reflecting today, I go there because I so didn't go there on Feb. 1, 2003. Oddly, now, I race better; I have soooo much more fun training and racing; and as Paul likes to say, "anyone running with me with always get a happy Meredith." As much as it is because I am running, it too, is because I am running with thoughts of those I love!!

Feb. 1, 2003 - thank you for the gift of 50 miles and to not get so lost in my bubble!
mer

For my friends running very long or racing this weekend, make sure you take me along...I promise to make those miles good ones :)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Learning To Walk...

Have you ever given much thought to what it must have taken for you to stabilize your legs that first time and then plant your feet one at a time, just hoping not to fall?? Honestly, until Tuesday I took it all for granted...one foot in front of the other, always hitting the ground, never painful.

Well I will never take it for granted again. Late Last week Paul and I started to notice that Daisy wasn't putting her leg with the cast on the ground to use it as much as she had. So, innocently, during her cast change I asked if I could take her for a little walk before they put her cast back on. Words cannot describe how ill-prepared I was for how my sweet girl reappeared in the waiting room. Her leg, with scars up and down, was completely deformed. She was hopping toward me not understanding on 3 legs. I walked her outside, and before I could gather myself I came in a sat on the floor of the vet's office with her in tears. The surgeon came over to me and said that she was a little concerned, but felt like physical therapy was a good option for us. She had no answers, and God I wish I had my wits about me to ask the right questions.

I was handed a card for the PT, Sandra, and we were finished in that office. It felt horrible...here I took this risk of a surgery to save her leg, and look what I had left her with.

I must have sounded a little panicked when I called Sandra because she phoned me back and told me I could come right over to meet with her. I called Paul; I was desperate.

I would like to say that I went over to Sandra's office and magically Daisy is back to her old sweet self. No, but I see the road we will have to travel. Dog's are amazing creatures, Sandra explained: They hold no baggage; they don't hang on to what happened yesterday; they start new everyday. The only challenge with that is that as the time passed Daisy just starting living as though she wasn't going to be able to use her leg. So now she will have to re-learn. We will have to teach her how to place her foot, how to use her leg, how to walk...

Sandra said this more than once, and it keeps sticking...everyday from here on out is a GIFT with Daisy. I am a gift to her and she is a gift to me. She said that she will not over-work Daisy to make her better, but take it slow and let her lead the way.

Watching Daisy learn how to place her foot; slowly massaging the muscles in her paw; watching her fierce determination as she is in water on a treadmill...just trying, trying, trying. (next week I will take pictures of her at PT, but it was all just a little overwhelming yesterday and today) All of this makes me appreciate every step I can take, every run I can go on, and my two feet that land flat on the ground.

It's become so much more than these gifts of strength that my sweet dog gives to me. It reminds me that there are human beings out there with these exact same struggles, and I feel for them in a way I never could. I now can see a glimpse of what their fight must be like, and just how exhausting the will to walk must be.

I have faith...
mer

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Sun, Wind, and a 5K

OK, so 16mph winds aren't that strong...I was hoping to report that we ran this morning in 30mph winds. Nice try.

I was so excited to be part of the Got Guts 5K this morning. If you have ever read my blog, you know that I am not a short distance runner and don't really have any speed. So my expectations were low, but it was a trail 5K and it was for a great cause: Celiac Disease. I work with a number of clients that have Celiac Disease, and my client was the race director so I was thrilled to be out there supporting.

I ran into a bunch of fun people right when I arrived: Julia, John, Brenda, Dan, and Brent. I then saw Charles. I tried to convince him to run a pre-race loop with me, but he has already done so. Off I went for a loop around the course...a great grass/dirt cross-country course: 1 hill in mile one, and a good climb from about mile 2-2.5. The weather was not overly warm, but the wind was stirring. I was happy to not be on the road. Before the start, Paul arrives on his bike to cheer. How fun to have him there! I told him to get by the last climb and yell at me there :)

We lined up for the start, and I met Kristen who runs with Charles. Just from what Charles had mentioned I knew that she would be too fast for me, so when she asked if I was running fast today I said, "not fast enough for you." I suggested she take off with Charles and then pass him later. Whistle blows and off we go...a bunch of people totally sprint by me, and then like 2 minutes later slow down. I quickly go from about the 10th woman to the 3rd. On the only up and down where you can see the front runners, I see that I am about 45ish seconds behind Kristen and Charles. She seems awesome! Not long after we turn a corner, I see Charles not too far ahead. I catch up to him and run behind him for a minute. Then I go around him. Then we head downhill before the last climb; he passes me there... I stay just close enough behind, and stay right behind him on the climb. As I come up to the road for the last 1/2 mile, Paul yells, "go get him." Well, I did but probably because he needed a second to back off so he wouldn't have his usual 5K finale (he told me about this right before the race). All in all it was a fun time! Did I mention that Paul loved the Gluten-free treats and we enjoyed the box of muffins I took home. (Brent and John took a box home too!!)

A few things I realized: cheering and thanking the volunteers is not the way of 5K running...I should probably run harder; my legs actually don't mind the hard running; and I have probably overdone it just a tad for having strep throat earlier this week.
Wednesday - got antibiotics (felt terrible)
Thursday - rest, work, rest
Friday - 18 a bit quick + work
Saturday - Felt the 18 after being sick (throat, everything hated me a little)
Sunday - 5Kw/up + 5K (21:08, not bad, but might have run better if I could breathe??)

OK, I get it long report for a 5K...but it was actually fun to push like that. And just a side note, I took my friend Catherine with me the entire run as she is in Houston. I am thrilled to say that my family and friends are safe and making due without power!! I am very thankful our prayers were answered for them to be safe!

Have a great week!
mer

Sunday, September 7, 2008

One of the Best

Yesterday Paul and I both took moments to reflect the loss of a very good man. For those who knew him, or have met him, the tragedy stung. He was a skilled athlete, a doctor, and a great person. Every encounter we ever had with him was positive.

Here are some words he had posted:
"My Goal in life is to fill every minute of my available spare time with as many fun things outdoors as possible, during the time I have left on this Earth."

Here are the final words he wrote in the registers at the tops of the peaks he climbed the day of his death, as recounted by a lady up in the mountains:
My husband and I helped look for David Boyd the morning he was found. We were climbing Little Bear. We were asked to look for him after we crested the ridge of Little Bear. They told us we were the first ones up there and what we should do if we saw him. Unfortunately, we saw the Search and Rescue folks lowering him down by rope as we descended the peak. He did summit Little Bear on Sept. 3rd and wrote in the register "3rd peak today!". He summited Ellingwood that same day and wrote in the register "Hammer Time!". And, he summited Blanca too, on Sept. 3rd and wrote in the register "Cool Place!". We climbed all three of the mountains on Sept. 5th with such sadness and regret.

As he was alone in on the mountain, we will never know for sure what happened, but here is what we know:
They think that Dave fell twice, once and maybe broke a leg or ankle and sent the 8 signals, then tried to move and fell the 150-200 feet and what ultimately killed him was his rib punctured his lung.
Dave activated his distress signal o/a 9:18PM on Wednesday.
The search and rescue did not get notified until 9:30PM on Thursday, a full 24 hours later.
The rescue team found him ~ 10 hours after that.

In Memoriam: Dave Boyd These photos are just a small account of how tough he was...

Paul said it perfectly: We're so independent and sometimes under-appreciate the value of the buddy system.

Catherine, yesterday, found a cross and flowers and put it in his yard. The cross said "God Bless This Family."

What a great man, what a sad ending...
mer

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Back to "Normal"

I am not exactly sure what "normal" really is, but in my life we are getting back. Back to routine; back to solid work schedule; back to life. Daisy is really starting to feel great. She is getting around like a champ in her cast; this week it is hot pink with blue hearts. The surgeon has decided to keep some type of cast on her for 7 more weeks because she is sooo mobile. She wants to protect the bone while it heals without risking a break, which would be a disaster. So it is time to let Daisy wander and function with her cast on...which she is doing great at.


Paul was at his MBA intensive this past week. It was an incredible week with the highlight having his team win the Capstone Competition. I don't want to bore you with the "race report" of sorts I wrote, so here is the highlight...the competition was on Wednesday:
There was a moment a few years ago when we looked over the acceptances and debated is a UT MBA the direction we should go? I say we so very loosely because this journey has been all Paul's with just some sacrifices sprinkled in. Last night I clearly got to see that it was all worth it.
Many of you don't know that my husband is SO much more than an athlete. He is dedicated, and when he sets his mind to something he has the focus of a laser beam. It is with this focus he has been pursuing his MBA. And it is with this focus, his team won the Capstone Competition last night.
They stood up on the stage...Greg went first. One of Paul's classmates whispered to me that Greg might be a bit loud. But it was not the case. With incredible calm, he led the charge from behind the podium. (Good choice number 2...the other groups passed around the mic.) He stated the case, and defended the case. Then it was Paul. I can honestly say it was one of the proudest moments I have ever had. He spoke with such passion and was one fire. There was no beating him down. At one point I whispered over, "is he running for president?" It was just this incredible moment of all of his hard work through the program coming together. Everything he had studied for, all of the respect he has for the professors he was presenting to, all of the passion and work his team had put in. It was all coming together at that moment. Don't get me wrong, the hammering was there and it was tough...but they were ready for it, and they answered it. Then it was over...ahhhh; time for a beer.
We went down to the reception to wait for the judges to make their decision. It was fun to chat with his classmate and just be happy for the accomplishment of the program almost coming to an end. Soon enough the panel and Trent came to announce the winners. 3rd place was a tie, and then they announced the winners...in case you didn't know where this was going...Paul's team!!

WOW, what a great finale. I got some great pictures (I will have them soon) of one of his professor's talking to them after the win. All the pride in their faces was incredible. They had worked so hard, and the feedback was so much to take in. I hope Paul was able to absorb it all. For over 30 minutes after, they were the MBA kings and queen. They held center stage in questions about their strategy, and just how they accomplished something so huge.

I didn't get the magnitude of it all until I was part of it last night. Sitting on a plane with Crystal two weeks ago, we talked about it as her team had won it her year, but I didn't quite get it.

This is a big deal. This degree, this program, all of Paul's hard work...it is HUGE and I am very proud!
With me seeing some normalcy returning to our world, I decided to make my fall/winter race plans. The first is to be Firetrails 50 in October. I am excited to have some kind of plan in place, as I work sooo much better with a schedule, races, and a plan. It gives me focus, helps me with my life time management, and as Paul continues to insist...I am much more pleasant to be around when I am running.
In case I haven't said it enough, I am truly grateful for all of the love and support that I have been given over the past few weeks. I cannot express how it has held me together, and helped me move on. I am stronger for it!! We have a moment where we can let life's challenges break us down or build us up. This one has built me up, made me appreciate my family and friends that much more, and enjoy each day I can get out and run with a new appreciation!

Have a wonderful week!
mer

Friday, August 22, 2008

Watching Over...

I made the decision Wednesday; Daisy is having surgery. She did her final track workout, watch a squirrel with her buddies, and was sooo happy.

Thursday morning she headed in for her big day: removal of the tumor, affected soft tissue, and the parts of the ulna that had cancer. Initial thought was the only a small part of her ulna would need to be removed. Reality: a larger part of the bone had cancer than expected. The result: a bionic dog. Actually, they did all the removal and then inserted a screw in to stabilize the ligaments and top part of the ulna to the radius. (I almost feel like an expert in limb-sparing procedures)

Apparently Thursday night was a little rough, Daisy cried in what they thought was pain so they upped her pain meds. I came by this morning to a very sad dog; did I make the wrong choice I thought? She was wimpering a little and just looked sad. I left her hoping to return this afternoon to bring her home.

This Afternoon was a WHOLE new story!! Once they took Daisy off the pain med drip, she sat up and stood up. She even walked to the room when I arrived, with the help of her new harness friend (I have one to walk her with). They said that after the IV pain med wore off, she was a new girl.

I got her home and Paul unloaded her from the car. I had made a bed for her out of a Target comforter and towels so that they could be washed regularly. (and not worry about any damage) We get her in her new bed, and let Flyer out to see his sister. Well in a wonderful scene, he decided his new home should be right next to her...watching over her!

Now it's time for love and recovery. The drainage tube comes out on Monday, and then the healing begins. No chemo, no more surgeries, just whatever time I have left of my wonderful girl!

By the way, if you are out and about and in the neighborhood...she would love visitors tomorrow afternoon or Sunday. Just call or email me and let me know you are coming :)

Thank you so much for your support and prayers; they are working in the the most wonderful ways!
mer

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Overwhelmed


I am completely overwhelmed:
- and thankful for all the thoughts and prayers I have received.
- by all the information that I have received.
- by my wonderful vet and her phone call on a Saturday while I was out of town.
- by my neighbors and their generosity to always care for Daisy and Flyer as though they were their own.

On Saturday I got the news that I didn't really want, but kind of knew was coming. Daisy has bone cancer on her leg. My vet said that she had never seen the cancer on the ulna, so she did some research for me. There is a surgery that they remove the tumor and the bone, and spare the limb. She didn't know the success, so she referred me to an oncologist and an oncologist surgeon.

This morning I saw the oncologist. Tomorrow is the surgeon. After that it is time for a decision. Again, I am overwhelmed. I wish Daisy could tell me what she wanted. I wish I could take some of her pain away. I wish we could go for a run...
mer

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Hard News



A Race report with all of the joy and memories of the weekend will come, but first a hit of reality stopped the post-race fun...

Daisy is hurting. She has been limping and I just wanted to say that a 13-yr-old dog is supposed to have some aches and pains. I thought a trip to the vet would be the prudent thing to do. The vet said that she needed an x-ray. So, this morning Flyer and I dropped her off for her x-ray.

Then the call came...there is a tumor and we need a biopsy.

She has been wanting to run and play, but she has been trying to tell me that something is wrong. Now it is just wait and see. I get it. This is part of life. This is reality. But that doesn't mean it feels any better.

So, for at least a little while, until she comes home and I show her a brave face, I hurt probably more than she does.

I know, "she is a dog," but in my world she is my family. Please pray that whatever outcome I get is one that will allow her some time, some comfort, and a chance for a few more runs!
mer

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

What do you WANT??

First of all I feel like I am blogging so much lately...maybe it's taper madness (yes, Jamie, I am going CRAZY)!

I have a fairly standard conversation with my clients in regards to making good choices when eating out. The first thing I tell them to think about is, "What do you want?" If you want the burger, get a side salad, if you want the fries, don't get the burger...etc. It's all about starting with one choice and then making good choices around that. If you start with what you are really wanting and craving, and then satisfy that, even in a small way, the good choices come easier. It is also easier to stay on track when you don't feel totally deprived or restricted. That is no way to create a healthy lifestyle. It is not practical and it is not long term!

As I was with a client today, and we were really taking this further into her journey of a struggle with workout burnout, I continued to push the question, "what do you want?"

During this discussion, we kind of moved on into the thought that finding what you want or even searching for what you want might lead to incredible balance.

I have friends who want BIG things right now: whether to run more miles than the ever have, to finish a race in a certain goal, or to just finish a race. I have a husband who is striving toward a successful completion of his MBA, an Ironman, travelling for work, and being a good husband. Even I fit in here: to be a good wife; to be a good friend; to be healthy; to race well; to have a great business; and to find balance.

Maybe it's selfish to take a look at what you want? But, if you want for something/anything and get it or continue to strive for it...doesn't it just push you to become a little more complete, whole, or well balanced?

I don't know the answers to these questions, but can guarantee that running over the weekend will hopefully bring me closer...

In the meantime, think about what you want...don't add or complicate it (again, if you want the burger skip the fries), don't lessen it's value, and when you get there savor and appreciate the journey and the result.

mer

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Volunteering Funness

Jack and Adam's and the guys do so much for Paul and I that I really like to give back to them! This go around was at Jack's Generic Tri this morning. I have a few random skills up my sleeves and one is that I am a fairly decent bike tire changer. That votes me in for the job of SAG/course bike tire changer. OK, I vote myself for the job...it's really fun to be out on the bike course.

Paul wasn't racing, so I was on my own...until last night. Melissa agreed to come with me!!! I was so excited. JT - that's right, she has traded mountain climbing for tire changing at a triathlon!

We arrived at the race, said hello to many folks, and got our stuff ready to go: a bucket of tubes, levers, and a bump! The idea is to wait for a pile of people to get on the course and then head out so that if they get a flat or need help, we can be there.

Melissa and I have so much fun creating games of the funny things people do/things we see, particularly during triathlons. Here are some of the highlights:
- 1 VERY Hairy guy in old school short khaki shorts to RACE in (did I mention that they were SHORT)
- 1 VERY old speedo (hint: when they are old you can see through them...yikes)
- 1 Helmet on Backwards...no joke
- 1 Guy who didn't really want to buckle his helmet (no, REALLY, buckle it BEFORE you get on your bike!)
- Many first-timers with bottles that needed to be unscrewed as they were riding. A mid-ride realization that forced a stop on the bike course...poor things.
- 2 Guys that had flats and were awaiting our arrival. They approached the car acting like they were done for the day. Unfortunately for them, they had NO idea who they were approaching. My response, "no you're not. I am going to change your flats and you are going to finish." At that, both tires got changed and they BOTH finished. Joshua got his first flat at his first tri and finished with a smile on his face!! We got to the finish line to see him finish!
- 1 VERY GRUMPY REDNECK who yelled at Melissa and I for about 10 minutes on the road, telling us that "what we are doing out here is dangerous and illegal and that he is going to the Commissioner on this." I was very courteous and polite, but all we could think was that maybe if he got himself doing some exercise he might not think this "weekend business" was so dangerous.

Needless to say, spending the morning with Melissa volunteering was the best!

The guys put on a first class event with plenty of fluids AND ice (40lb ice bags are freaking heavy), great fun, and good hard tapering work!

Have a great Sunday!
mer

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Tour de Bore...

This morning after my trail run with the dogs, I decided to hop on my bike. Very few know that I log more time on a bike than the average triathlete. I use it as my: cross-training, strength training, hill climbing, and mental training. There is nothing more enjoyable than sitting in an 85 + degree room spinning away while watching the view of my backyard.

Depending on the day, while I ride I watch: Ryan Hall praise God as he heads toward the finish of the Olympic Trials; the Western States 100 DVD; or our pirzed collection of The Tour de France. I have been a follower of the Tour for many years. Before I had the cable channels, a man I worked with would bring me the tapes from the previous day's stage. I still have the tapes from Lance's famous "look" back at Jan before he took off; Lance's crazy ride through a field to avoid crashing; and many many more. This morning it was the 2003 climb up Luz Ardiden. For those who are interested, here is a breakdown of the climb from that day:


On the 2003 Tour de France, Lance Armstrong was riding with Iban Mayo at the start of the climb to Luz Ardiden when Armstrong crashed, bringing Mayo down with him. The fall was caused when Armstrong caught the handlebar of his bike on the strap of a spectator's bag. Jan Ulrich, who was riding just behind Armstrong and Mayo, avoided the crash, and in an act of chivalry he slowed to wait for the fallen riders. Armstrong quickly re-mounted his bike and caught Ulrich. Immediately, Armstrong attacked the group of riders, none of whom could follow him and he powered his way to win the stage by 40 seconds, on his way to a victory on the Champs Elysees by 1 minute 1 second.


Paul and Phil went CRAZY during this stage watching Lance fall and then slip again, "almonst losing his manhood." Then they screamed as, "he danced on the peddles." To watch, Lance's momentum, Jan's ability to "grind" his way up the mountain, and all the others just fight to chase Lance was incredible. You can only imagine what this does for a bike workout...just pretending to try to hold their cadence is exhausting.


When Paul called and I told him that watching this made me realize the difference from the Tour of then and this year's tour, he said "yeah, The Tour de Bore." Honestly, he is right. I can't forsee myself spinning for an hour to Sastre during his time trial anytime in the near future.


Anyway, happy Sunday dreaming of dancing up the mountains :)
mer

Wiley told me to put this on my blog so that people can witness the full excitement of the stage:

Monday, July 21, 2008

TRT

Sorry, Wiley, this entry is long and boring...
The weekend was just wonderful. I got to spend some great time with friends, and as always Julie's family took me into their home as though I was one of their own. We had a wonderful dinner, and I had a long visit with her dad, went over to the neighbor's vegetable garden (and ate some fresh peaches from the trees), spent time with her mom, and watched Julie open her presents from her birthday party. Even though I wasn't at the party, it was fun to see her open her presents. I was thrilled she took some down time to hang out when I arrived.

Friday morning I went for a short run around Julie's parents neighborhood. I felt great, the weather was cool, and I was ready to race. Dana and I then headed to Tahoe...what a treat to follow him to Tahoe and then get to spend the day with him. Dana was going to pace Angie for the last 25 of the 100.
Saturday morning came quickly, and it was time to head to Spooner to race. I was so excited when I arrived and saw Jennifer. We had run Coyote Two Moon, and had fun catching up. She is funny and likes to call me her "trail angel" because at Way Too Cool a few years ago I gave her electrolytes during the race and saved her. She grew up with Nikki Kimball, an incredible ultra-runner, and said that she had driven her down for the 100. She told me that Nikki was really wanting a pacer and worked very hard to sell me on the idea of doing it. I must admit that the thought was incredibly tempting as I have met Nikki before and we had a blast visiting about our dogs and she is just very sweet...of course not to mention just the honor to be with her on the trail in the same vicinity. Anyway, my head came back to reality in that: 1) could I really keep up with Nikki at the end of her race, probably not 2) even though Jennifer said she wouldn't care and just wanted the company I know my level and needed to be realistic and 3) as cool and fun as it would have been to help her I needed to do the race I paid to run. After reality set in, Jennifer told me that if she wasn't feeling it that she would head to mile 75 to run her in. Of course it was a fun pre-race distraction.

After that, we took off our jackets and headed down to the lake for the start. I was freezing at the start, even though it wasn't that cold, but knew since the first 6 miles were a climb I would warm up quickly...no over-dressing. As we were standing around before the start, I said hi to Kelly, a former Montrail teammate. We are often at the same races but have never met, so I went over to say hi. I guess I must have looked happy because the photographer from the local paper took some fun pre-race shots of me. After more hugs and hellos, we were off.

We climbed the first 6 miles to the haunted Hobart aid station. The dust and the sand on the trail was crazy. I must admit that the thought went through my mind that things were not on my side: smoke from the fires, tons of dust being kicked up, and altitude...hopefully the plan from my new doctor was as good as he thought it would be. But, all was good and the crowd was fun so I was just enjoying the crisp morning.

From there we had a mile climb then 4 miles down to the Tunnel Aid Station. The gift of the mile climb, which honestly I remember being steeper, was the first views of the lake. This is the one race where a camera is quite priceless. Breath-taking!! Around the corner and then down we went. I was in a line behind two other ladies. They were running much slower than I would have liked to go, but there was really no big option to pass without being overly aggressive...not worth it. I just chatted away with the guy trapped with me as we went down. I went through Tunnel Aid station fairly quickly knowing that I would be back around after 6ish more miles.

Then it's off to the Red House loop, which is 2 miles down steep, 2 miles rolling, 1 mile gradual up, and then 1ish mile steep up. I actually felt pretty good here and was running with a 50K guy from Waco. It was fun to come all this way and end up running with a guy from Texas. We then caught up to Kelly, and she and I chatted for most of the rest of the loop until the steep climb. Then noone was talking...just climbing. I love steep climbs because you just put your head down and go for it. I had a couple of people to climb with, so that was fun. It was here I saw the first of the Texas Rogue crowd: Jeanette and Jeff. They were having a good time heading out on the loop as I was going back up. Went back to Tunnel to re-load for the next almost 18 miles...an out-and-back to Mt. Rose aid station almost 9 miles each way, with a water only station 1/2 way.

I felt pretty good heading out, but it was really the first time that I started taking note that it felt like I was running underwater with bricks attached to my legs. I couldn't get my legs in a good stride, and I definitely couldn't run any decent kind of pace. I was eating well, plenty hydrated, and right on with my electrolytes...so I just kept moving along. The best part of the out-and-back was that you got see people coming back and I knew I would have a chance to see my friends and other Texas people on this section. On the way out I saw all the front-runners coming back, and as I approached the turn-around I saw Mike and Angie who were running the 100. Then I saw TJ, an Austin guy. I grabbed drink and food and headed back the way I came. The only challenge on the way out is that the water stop that was supposed to be 1/2 way wasn't there, so mentally I had no idea how long the section was taking me until I was there...oh well.

On the way back, I caught up to Allen and John, HCTR guys, and chatted with them for a moment. They seemed to be doing great. Heading back I saw Leslie and Melissa, from C2M. Leslie was having asthma troubles and Melissa was keeping her company. Melissa said that Jennifer dropped and was going to pace Nikki. Then, I saw Diana and she stopped and we took a photo together, which was fun! Then I approached Robert digging in his bag to give TJ some papaya. I told TJ that I had ginger in my drop bag and would put it in his when I got back to the aid station. I hope he didn't need it though. About a mile and a half from getting back to the aid station, which I was fairly desperate to do, there was a guy laying on the trail TOTALLY cramped up. I gave him my electrolytes and made sure he was ok. I then ran quickly to the aid station and told them to go up and help him. Paul said that I should be called, "the salt fairy" because this is the 5th time I have given someone electrolytes during a race.

After Tunnel, I knew I was left with two climbs and the highest climb to 9000 ft. before heading to the finish. It just kept seeming that my legs, athough never really tired, never felt good. I just wasn't moving very fast and couldn't get myself to move any faster. It was just annoying. So I continued on. It was definitely hard to get overly frustrated because I otherwise felt great: energy was good, stomach was good, breathing was good. I also couldn't complain because most people I was passing at this point had an entire other loop to do.

The rest of the race was uneventful as I didn't have great speed, and took plenty of time to look at the wildflowers and enjoy the scenery. I just seemed to trot along and make my way to the finish. Not exactly the form I would have loved to be running, but ended up with a beautiful training run nonetheless. I finally got to the finish line, going this slow made the finish line seem forever to get to, and Dana was awaiting my arrival. He asked if I needed to sit and relax, but I said I was fine and ready to go. Steve had grabbed the car and we were off to pace and crew for the night...


I washed off quickly and we drove to Incline for dinner. Dana was driving and I wasn't really paying much attention. Then I lifted my head and noticed the ridiculous houses around us. He pointed out Bruce Willis's house and then the $47 million dollar compound on the lake...crazy. We went to an Italian restaurant to grab dinner. It was here that the dust caught up with my lungs. I started hacking a little. So much for wanting my pasta. I kind of lost the desire to eat. After dinner we headed to Mt. Rose which was mile 75, and where Dana would be pacing Angie from. When we got there Jennifer was there. She had found a guy who was supposed to pace one of the front-runners who had dropped to pace Nikki. All was working out well. The longer we stood out in the cold the more I was coughing. I decided to sit in the car to stay warm.

It was then Jennifer, my angel this time, found us a ride to the start/finish area so that I could get some sleep rather than sit in the cold and cough all night. We got to the start finish and I went to get my drop bags. I saw Diana there, and she said that Robert was about to come in, hopefully. I was so excited to hear that and headed down to the trail with her to see. We were just hoping he made the cut-off. After waiting a bit, and seeing someone else come in she asked the lady if she saw him on the trail. She said, "I saw him and he said his back was hurting so he is walking." At that we knew he would finish, so I went off to bed and planned to see them back in the morning to see people finish the 100.

I arrived back to the start/finish at the 26hour mark of the race. At this point, Steve and Trudy, who paced Angie earlier, said that Angie was doing great and should be in soon and that Mike has been very ill and that Julie was a saint and was pacing him in to the finish. As you can see from the pics, Angie had a great finish (4th woman overall) and Mike rallied with the help of Julie to get to the finish! We all celebrated with champagne and cake...Trudy was fully prepped for the celebration part of the morning.

We headed back to the car, went to Julie's cabin, rested, and then drove back to Sac so that I could fly home.

Overall the weekend was fantastic: good running, good friends, beautiful views, and thankful for great health!
Now I just have to keep myself from doing too much between now and Headlands...the downfall of my legs feeling not being sore at all.
mer














Wednesday, July 9, 2008

My World




So often I think that there is so much to my world. But really at the end of the day it is pretty darn basic: Paul, God, family, friends, and dogs. Paul, God, my family, the dogs, and my closest friends are my core. They make me whole, give me purpose, keep me focused, and deliver unconditional love. I don't have to be perfect, which I never will be, and I feel completely loved without expectations.
I guess at the end of the day I just need to remind myself to be content with my world and my core and not try too hard to want for more.
mer

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

WOW!

I feel very honored by many whom I work with, but last week was a special one. I received a great email from one of the people I have had the honor work with, and thought I would take a second to share his accomplishment:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aBMHHKTqfRQ

Here's the short version of his kind note:
Meredith,
Thanks for all of your support. This past week was awesome. I have really been super careful on my diet and it has made a huge difference. Thanks for your help. Garrett


I love my job!
mer

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Legacy

I am so lucky that I get to have the "insider" view to the US Diving Team, or at least Laura Wilkinson. My best friend is the dietitian for the team, so she sends me her updates. I thought I would share the latest:

For those of you who have not yet seen or heard, I am now a 3 timeOlympian! In the finals of Olympic Trials I started off with a great firstround, but then my trouble dive gave me some trouble in the second round. But I was focusing on God and staying in the moment and was able to letthat miss go and hit my next dive for straight 10's! One of the judgesinformed me that may be only the third time in the history of our OlympicTrials for a diver to receive 10's from all seven judges. This wasdefinitely a first for me! My fourth and fifth rounds were solid and Iwon my third Olympic Trials earning myself an automatic spot on the 2008Olympic Team. If you want to check out NBC's coverage of my Olympic Trials finals, goto: http://www.nbcolympics.com/video/player.html?assetid=dd11df9d-9e2c-4cd7-b11f-009c9edbed12&channelcode=sportdv

I find it so interesting to see where someone so amazing can get their inspiration to move forward when things don't seem to be going well. I find her focus to be an awesome example!

If you needed some inspiration this week, I encourage you to take almost 4 minutes of your day and watch this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CU9sefHYFrc (It happens to be to one of my favorite songs!)

Hopefully so much more to come in the next few weeks; woohoo The Olympics are coming!
mer

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Psycho Bambi...out of control



Last night topped the Psycho Bambi saga...

Let's begin three weeks ago. I was on the deck with the dogs, and there was a deer right by the stairs to the deck. Fairly standard is for the dogs to run off the deck barking, scare the deer, and come back. I don't mind them doing this because it mostly keeps the deer away from our yard. Until that Friday... The deer was standing at the base of the stairs stomping its leg and breathing with a warning. Of course, the dogs thought it was an invitation to do their thing. Off they went down the stairs, and then madness ensued. The deer stood on its back legs and kicked Flyer at his stomach and he went crashing to the ground. He got up and flew back onto the deck, shaken up and shocked. Then the deer went after Daisy and did the same thing. The only problem was that Daisy didn't get up as quickly and the deer went back for more. Daisy finally got up and ran back to the deck. IT WAS CRAZY! All of a sudden we were trapped on the deck with a deer in charge...seriously?!?!

Fast forward to the next few days when my dogs would no longer get off the deck without adult/human supervision, and get this the deer was still there and in charge. What we figured was that the deer had a fawn in the woods behind our house that she was protecting.

Fast forward another week: the deer is STILL in our yard, and Flyer is still scared. One day Flyer was out in the front yard, and I asked Paul to open the front door and let him in. Paul came in laughing because Flyer came charging in the house with the deer chasing him from across the street. This was really starting to get ridiculous.

All of this time, the deer would actually run off when we would yell, shoot (with a pellet gun), or throw water on it...but would never run away from the dogs. We couldn't decide if the deer was angry, protective, or wanted to move in.
As these weeks have passed, we have kind of worked out a system. I walk out with the dogs, run them elsewhere, or just hope for the best. But last night really was outragous!

A few days ago I had put Flyer's food out, he and Daisy eat on the deck, and shortly after when I knew he hadn't eaten I asked Paul what happened to his food. Paul didn't have an answer...so strange, maybe Daisy ate it when we weren't looking? Well I got my answer last night...

I put dinner out for Flyer and Daisy. Daisy ate hers immediately. Flyer, as usual, didn't eat right away. As I was on the phone, I saw them both standing at the sliding door just watching. I saw psycho bambi at the bottom of the stairs. Before I could scream, psycho bambi is CLIMBING THE STAIRS TO OUR DECK! Then, psycho bambi started eating Flyer's food. In disbelief, all I could do was take pictures and stare. Is this really happening?? Oh yes it was...

After the bowl of food was empty she went down the stairs as though nothing had happened. I couldn't figure out for the life of me how this ended up like this, until later. I have a freaking Pavlov experiment playing out in my backyard:

- when Paul got home, I decided to feed Flyer the dinner he missed. I poured his dry food into the metal bowl on the deck. Guess who appeared... The deer has conditioned itself to appear when the food is poured; really just crazy.
- when the deer appears the dogs are now conditioned to run to the door; apparently my new invisible fence
- question is: what happens next in the crazy experiment??

Ahhh, the entertainment of wildlife...
mer

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Happy Puppies!!

The story of psycho bambi will come tomorrow when I download pics, but I had to share the pictures of Flyer's last play time with Emma and Cooper. I wish I could run through the water with half of the speed of Flyer! Oh that's right, I don't spend my ENTIRE day recovering from my workout, eating, and sleeping...ahhh to have the life of my dogs.

(enlarge the photos for full effect!)
By the way, Daisy was at the park with them but prefers to do her own thing. I think she was swimming with the minnows.

mer

Friday, May 23, 2008

I'll Let the Pictures Speak

It has been way too long since I have updated my blog. There is just too much for me to say to tell the stories of where I have been and what I have been up to, so I have decided to let pictures tell the story...




Since February, I have: run a relay from Gonzales, Texas to San Jacinto, Texas with an awesome team of women; spent 4 days hiking in the Smokey's with a mix from cool to snow and wonderful times with Paul; had a fantastic 17hours at the C2M 100K; spent the month of April re-couping my body (thanks Paul and my friends for the support when I was sick!!); had a great day at Miwok 100k; and was back in the Smokey's to recover. I have gotten to spend great time with friends on the trail and road, make new friends on the trail and road, great time on both with Paul and the puppies; and finally an amazing trip for Mother's Day with both of my parents.
I am so grateful for all of my travels, successful work (which has been keeping me VERY busy), and loving family and friends. Thanks for your patience when I have been too busy to keep up daily, and for your on-going love and support!!
This is me, this is what I have been up to, and now I am set to be up-to-date!
mer



























































Friday, February 22, 2008

Why?

People often ask, "why do you coach?" or "why do you pace?" I am very fortunate to have a wonderful group of women that I have been coaching for the past two years, and have made the decision to work on my own with two other coaches to train this group in the way I think can be best done; more on that to come. I have also had the great fortune over the past two years to be on the 3:50 Pace Team at the marathon...there is NO better way to run a hometown marathon!! It is a sacrifice of time and effort, BUT to get these emails...the question should be, "why don't you?" Here is a sampling of the joy I got over the past week:







I wanted to thank you for all your help and guidance through the whole training process. This really turned out to be one of the best things I've ever done and I have really found something that I love doing.

I am so glad that I had both of you that believed in me even when I may have doubted myself. I appreciate all the gut checks you gave me when I was training more than I should have limiting my cross training to make sure I would get in all the miles and the extra calories. The things that I will not forget are: The track and hill workouts that I was consistently be told that I can do better and faster, as well as long run days hoping not to get lost or seeing Meredith at the top of a hill telling us we are almost there. I achieved two huge goals this year and I could not have done it without either one of you. The most surprising goal was the life style change for myself and my family, which had a great impact to my overall success. I am now even considering myself an athlete again and now trying to determine my next goals. I cannot thank both of you enough for pushing me to be better and finding that thing inside of me that wants to be better.
I wanted to drop a quick note to say howAWESOME Bob and Merideth (3:50 pacers) were at the AT&Tmarathon this past weekend. It was my first marathon, and Iwent in with 4:00 as my goal and 3:50 as my stretch. Iended up hitting 3:49, and I'm sure that I wouldn't havedone it without the encouragement, advice, and motivationalspeaking :-) of the pacers during the race. You reallyadded to my first marathon experience, and I wanted to givea quick note to say THANK YOU!!!

The ATT Astin was my first marathon and I joined the 3:50 pace group lead by a very cheerful and bubbly woman and a tall man by the name of Bob (i think).Her name was Meredith and through web searches I think her last name was Terranova. She is an Ultra runner - I never knew there was such a thing.Anyway she was absolutely terrific and kept the (eventual) small group going hard all the way. In the last few tenths of a mile she said "go!" and I never saw her again to thank her for her help.Does anyone know her and if so please pass my heart felt thanks to her for her support, encouragement, jokes, spirit - all without which I could have never completed. The course was harder than I was lead to beleive.

I emailed Sophie Saturday morning, or maybe even Friday night, in a moment of panic...my group dynamic was not ending on the positive note I was hoping for and the thought of being a positive beacon for runners for 26.2 miles felt daunting. I didn't know if I could put it all together. Then, Sunday morning we were blessed with the most beautiful of days and I was given the gift of the greatest group of runners. The crowd support was lifting, and I felt it all come into place. It turned into the incredible day I always hope for!

Best personal moment, well there were two 1) mile 22.5 friends had set up an ultra aid station and I ran ahead of my group to stop for hugs and a coke (Paul grabbed a beer when he came by leading the 3-hour group), and 2) toward the end of the race I had a small group who had stuck with me ALL morning. I told them that we would ease off just a bit in the last mile because there was one last climb. I told them that when we got to the climb their only job was to stick to me like glue and I would pull them up. When we got to the top, I slowed for a second and told them to GO, and sent them downhill to the finish...I then wrangled in the stragglers who were willing to let me wrangle them in to the sub-3:50 finish!





Sunday afternoon I was given an incredible reminder. One of my friends told me to be transparent, and all would work out on my other situation. I was and had a wonderful conversation and closure with no bad thoughts or feelings!

mer










What a week of great gifts, reminders, and unbelievable memories!!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

The "Fun" Run

Saturday was Rocky Raccoon 50 and 100 miler. I am training for C2M 100K, and didn't want to do my longest run on my own, so I thought the 50 would be a good way to log my miles, spend time with friends, and cheer on the "big" race. It was a great weekend!

Paul was planning to pace our friend, Pete, so he was there for the long haul. He hadn't been out to Huntsville for a race for a few years. I think he has been best enjoying my ultra career from the house in Austin...he gets the weekend on his own, and I go play in the woods. That and the last time he crewed for me in Huntsville, I might have left my pleasant manners at home?? I was excited for him to see how much I enjoy the 50 mile distance, during a race, and just having him out there was fun!!

I told Paul that my plan for the race was to go 2:40-2:45 a loop and just take it easy....always the famous last words. Then once I finished I would be helping out at the Lodge Aid Station and wait for friends to come through, and then wait for Paul and Pete to finish. I had spoken, via email, with a friend, Larry, who had asked to me to pace him. I told him that I didn't know what I would feel like post-race, but if I felt good I would definitely try to go with him.

On Saturday morning, Paul was sweet enough to drive Pete to the start and then come back to the room and pick me up. This way Pete and I weren't competing to get ready, and I could rest until they left. It worked out perfectly, AND Paul came back for me with McDonalds meal #1...he had hot cakes and a hashbrown.

We got to the start and I set up my transition area near the turnaround. It just makes my life easier to have my things set and ready for each loop. I headed toward the start line and chatted with my original trail running partners from Houston. I used to run with them and two other guys every Thursday afternoon on the mountain bike trails. I fondly remember our 4:30 starts in the middle of August, 7-10 miles, and NEVER a water bottle...I guess we were tough then?? Anyway, it was good to see Carol and Jeff!

7AM, and off we went. The weather was perfect...40s and warming with the sun coming up! I headed out behind the first pack of guys. Noone was particularly chatty so I put my headphone, I only wear one on the trails, on and off I went. Because of the light rain, the trails were so soft, and everything felt sooo good! Before I knew it, and quicker then planned, I came to the Dam Aid Station. The gang from the North Texas Trailrunners were manning the aid station, and were in great spirits. I said my hellos and off I went. As I hit the out to Far Side, I saw Jorge the 100-mile leader coming back...he was flying as usual. Before I got to the Far Side Aid Station, I got to see all my friends running the 100 heading back; they had an hour head start. Granted it was the beginning of their race, they all looked great and happy! At Far Side, it was a quick hello to Diana, Robert, and Mike...I love having friends at the aid station!! Back I headed, so that I could cheer on all behind me. I will mention this more than once, but heck the way back from Far Side sure seems shorter than the way out??? Back to the Dam Road, and a quick refill and good morning to Letha and Mark. I headed toward AS 174, and got to catch up to and chat with George and Barbara and others. I was LOVING this! The 100-milers were much more excited to chat with me, so I took it in as I could get it. A quick swing around 174, I only stopped there on the 3rd loop, and back to start/finish.

I guess I haven't mentioned that my pace was out of control, and even with a few walk breaks, I could reel it back in...something I knew I would pay for later. Oh well, I was enjoying it for now. I headed into the start/finish and didn't see Paul anywhere. I went over to my little area refilled my bottle and was getting my food together when he comes running up. I told him that I was too fast on the 1st loop, but I felt good. He headed out with me and my Mountain Dew...not quite the Mountain Lightening of Virginia but it would have to do. As I was heading out, the girl behind me, Jackie, was coming in. She and I always finish close, and I know she is strong so I told Paul that she would probably catch me.

On to the 2nd loop. I still felt good, and had my favorite lemon-poppy fuel with me....YUM! I would have to say that the highlight of the race for me was during the 2nd loop. Matt, a friend from North Texas, caught up to me and we ran together from Far Side in. We had fantastic conversations! Once we got to the Dam AS, he got in front of me and I had a bit of a low patch. I could see him in the woods right in front of me but couldn't quite catch him. I figured I would just follow his ease and hope for the best. He stopped for water at 174 and finally I had caught up...I think I got a little in front of him because when he caught me he hadn't realized that I had been behind him and was startled to see me. Back to start/finish area we went.

At start/finish I was thrilled to see Paul and his friend, Rob, from his Army days and his family. They had driven over to spend the day with Paul, and see me for like a minute...it was awesome to have the cheering section!! The kids looked at me like I was CRAZY! To my sadness, Pete was also with them. His day had ended early due to injury....such is the beast of these races, not everyday can be great. I re-loaded my fuel and off I went.

I was feeling good, but definitely feeling all of my training and lack of taper in my legs. And, let's be honest, I was feeling the effects of the pace of my first loop...no excuse can erase the fatigue I created there. After the Interpretive Center, about 1 mile into the loop, We hook up with a trail that takes us to the jeep road. This is the same EXACT trail I have run on for many years now. It is the exact same direction in EVERY race, and somehow at an intersection I took a wrong turn. I veered to the right at some point, and the only way I know I went wrong is because eventually I ended up in a parking lot. Are you kidding me??? I turned around to re-trace my steps and saw Matt far off in the distance...now back in front of me. I had to wait for someone to approach to find my way back to the trail, and noticed somewhere between 7-10 minutes gone...arghhh. Now I had to get back in my rhythmn and pull it back together mentally, so annoying. Off I headed to finish up this race... I saw Matt on the out and back, and he was totally confused on how I was behind him. I explained quickly as we passed. He was moving toward his goal for the day, a sub-8 hour race. I am so thrilled for him!

I made the turn around at Far Side, and on the way back I saw Jeff catching up to me. He looked great and so I knew it was just a matter of time. He caught me right as we were heading back to the Dam. He told me that he was having a dream day, and felt great, but he said that we could hang out and catch up. I told him that I was just going to keep running at my not so fast pace as this point, and that he needed to go for the strong finish. He didn't want to leave me, but I wouldn't let him stay...this is a race and I would see him at the finish!

I went through the Dam AS with my stomach a little yucky. Nothing specific, but drinking water was making feel sick, and every time I would pick up the pace I feel my stomach turn... so I needed a plan for these last 7 miles. I made a deal with myself that if I walked the incline to keep my heart rate down, I had to run everything else. Funny thing about that is that there is VERY little incline. So off I went, not feeling great but getting closer and closer to the finish. Fortunately, right before I got to the 2nd long bridge on the way to 174 I kicked a stumped so hard with my toe that my stomach settled. Literally, contact, unbelievable pain, settled stomach. My toe hurt like hell. I probably was about 45 min from the finish at that point. I thought, "screw it...I'm getting to the finish sooner rather than later." and I picked up the pace. I got to 174 AS and gave my waist pack to this couple from Austin who were cheering for their friend doing his first 50. I was kind of hoping Paul would be there and would run me in, but I probably should have mentioned that to him??

I was thrilled to be heading into the finish, but tried to reserve my excitement as I knew everyone around me was going to be out there much longer. I finished well, and felt ok. I had a good laugh at the finish telling the story of my toe jam fixing my stomach, and was happy that my purple toe matched the painful description.


As I was sitting around recovering, I asked Paul what he wanted to do. I knew he had come to pace, so I didn't want him to leave disappointed....he has a history of me not getting to the spot where he needs to pace me. I encouraged him to see if Jorge needed a pacer for his final loop. Although it would be slow to Paul, it would the fastest possible match for him. He found Maria, Jorge's wife, and he prepared to go out for a 20 mile jog in the woods. She encouraged him to get infront of Jorge and push him. He was off of record pace, but she thought at least he could have a strong finish. It was a great experience for Paul. They had nice conversation, and Paul noticed, "What I took from running with Jorge is how quiet his feet are out there, even on the last loop. Very smooth, very even, nothing unnecessary." I am glad he got to have such a great experience. After some pics and good-byes, we headed back to Austin...


On the drive back, I MUST mention McDonalds stop #2, as Pete was kind enough to GIVE me his #10 chicken nugget. I still feel very honored!!

As always, things happen for a reason...and the decision to head back to Austin was a good one as my parents had left a message that my Great Aunt had passed away on Saturday, after a very long struggle with painful illnesses.

There is an unbelievable irony to it all, Matt and I were talking about this on the trail, while we are utilizing the most of what our bodies can do others are struggling to move. Here we were running all day, and someone I know was dying. Matt and I spoke about reflection, and how these precious moments on the trail give us this amazing gift. He said that without reflection he couldn't do his job. I am thrilled to sit back and have a chance to reflect on a wonderful day, time with friends, support from Paul, and a chance to do what I love.

Time for quick recovery, so that I can pace at the marathon in less than two weeks!!
mer