Monday, May 10, 2010

With a Little Help...

Oh the things you can accomplish with a little (or a lot) of help! Two Sundays ago while Paul was joining me on my 2nd run of a long weekend I took the moment in the woods to say, "thank you!" I thanked him for his love, support, strength, shared dreams, and just everything I could ever need. He is awesome, and I just like to keep letting him know that I am appreciative for him.

It's in all of this training/running/juggling life that I have come to realize that I am not taking this journey alone. I am constantly and continually lifted and enriched by the power of love, support, and friendship.

Let's back up a bit since I have some catching up to do over the past two weeks....After Leona it was time to knock out the mileage. Managing over 100 (well over 100) miles a week plus work plus cross-training is a beast. But, around every corner I received so much support. My legs felt light from this and seemed to soar.

- Luisa and Jeremy: both are pretty much game for a piece of whatever I have to run. Thank God for their positive attitudes and enduring friendship! Amen for the G's!!
- John P, Carrie, and gang: for a badly needed early Friday run. Thank you for the early early morning laughter. I truly needed that!
- Liza: Amen for meeting me for the Lost Creek Loop. I have loved sharing this journey with you, and can't wait for what's in store. What a treat that morning was.
- Mike: Thank you for coordinating the trail segment of my run so that I didn't have to think. I am very grateful for all of the support you share, and your interest in my boring stories...I appreciate you not totally letting on how boring they really are :)
- Pete: I know I have said it a ton, but there are few words to express what you showing up for my Sunday run meant. I really really wanted to have you back out, but you showed and then I was forced to show up :) Thank you for giving me the confidence that I do have speed in my legs at the end of a very long weekend! I would have NEVER had that quality without you, and know that I can put my head down and do the job when running with you (good knowledge to have for June)

And to think that those are just my support for runs, how blessed I am. Then there is an entire support team that I don't even have to run with to feel their strength:
Clea: I am so grateful that you so generous with your time, even though you have none. I love watching you do such a great job in your journey, and am so appreciative that you have interest in mine, even though it must feel like another galaxy!

Erin: It's almost funny that you are making my running list, hahaha! Dinners, markets, and lots of life. Thank you for sharing. What a gift!!

Jamie: I am adding you in even though you are in France. To have such a wonderful friend to share so many journeys...I am so lucky! Thank you for being such a gift in my life!

But even more are my friends near and far who have reached out whether by phone, dinner, the occasional email. I have noticed, embraced, and am touched by IT ALL!! I am humbled by the power of what you each bring to my life. You keep the smile on my face and you are with me every single step I take!!

It is with this very full heart that I headed to Quicksilver 50-miler this past weekend. This was going to be a tough one, more than anything because it was coming at the end of two very big weeks. By time I even considered backing off, it was Thursday, so this was going to be a test of what I could muster. My legs have been responding really well to the high quality mileage, so I wasn't afraid...well mostly not afraid.

I arrived in San Jose on Friday, just sleepy. I drove to Palo Alto, and decided to check out the Stanford Campus. It was incredible. There was a fantastic trail around campus, so I decided to put on my running clothes and take an easy spin to check it out. It was so beautiful I figured that if I lost a few minutes on Saturday because of this run, it would have been worth it. Clea would have been mad at me for not taking advantage of my surroundings!! (Although, I did a terrible job and didn't take pics). Finally, it was time to head to my room and relax for the race.

I woke up on Saturday morning ready to go. I was plenty early and headed out with directions in tow. Then 15 minutes later I am LOST (Clea sound familiar). I was thinking back to Clea missing her race the week before and I started freaking out a little. I called Paul panicking and driving in circles. Finally I came up on an intersection and a 7-11. I pulled in and sure enough there was another runner, Jason, who was just as lost, and he was from the Bay Area!! After a few minutes we figured it out and were racing on our way. Just in time to pick up packets, set bags out, and breathe. Nothing like a panic before a long day of running. The only thing that I didn't have time for...last pre-race potty. I was in such a scramble there just wasn't time.

Easy enough...I would just go to the restroom in the woods once the race thinned out a little. Famous last thought :) The course is great. The first 6 miles are mostly up. I have really enjoyed this way of starting a race because I can settle in a do my own thing. I am not a climber, so it forces me into a smart race immediately. The race has a 50K and the 50-miler. I am in a mix of both and find a good groove with the group. After about an hour I start looking toward the woods. The first time I start to head off the trail, Gary who I end up running quite a bit with says no because of all the poison oak. Sure enough when I start looking off the trail I see poison oak EVERYWHERE! Crap!! No bathroom for me. By time I have a chance to finally go, I can't and my stomach just hurts....not good. In this adventure I get a little behind the group I was running with - no friends, no bathroom - good times! Then, I actually get passed by this guy who starts chatting and I realize it's Jason, the guy I was lost with earlier. I guess I would call this my low point.

About this time I make a decision, dammit I didn't come this far to have a bad day; my legs are feeling really good; and my stomach could very well feel terrible at WS. Suck it up and get moving. That's exactly what I did! My stomach never felt better, but I was running much stronger. I came cruising into the mile 18/19 aid station, and was kindly reminded that I needed to be drinking more. I actually followed the order and sucked down my fluid which also has my fuel. In the next loop section I catch and pass all of the guys who I had been with early. Now I am in a groove.
Gary and I continue to exchange spots and cruise into the start/finish area (50K) in about 4:56. I am content that my stomach is just going to be rotten and I plug ahead. I didn't think I would like heading back out, but actually really enjoyed getting to cheer on all the other runners coming in. It really kept me lifted. I pass Gary for the last time, and know I will see him at the turn-around. After the mile 35 aid station I try one more time in the woods, but to no avail. I am not going to waste any more just is. I hit the mile 37 aid station, and think that it's no biggie to get to 41. HA! First, we cross this road and the course that had only been marked with flour now has ribbons?? I get nervous. I slow down, ask a few people and continue forward slowly. Soon enough Zach comes heading the other way, and I am thankful to see him. I realize as I head to the turnaround that I am in this no-man's land. The lead guys are quite a bit in front of me, and the rest of the race is quite a bit behind me. This definitely doesn't help on this section. We joked after the race that it felt like those 4 miles were 30...forever until the aid station. FINALLY, when I got there I was thrilled to turn around and head home. My watch had died, so I asked what time it was 1PM (7 hours in). I had about 9 miles to go. I cheered all the runners heading out, and just enjoyed the final miles.

There was an amazing moment when I realized that my legs really felt fresh. This training is working. All the gifts from friends and family are feeding my legs and they are getting stronger. All the blessings of health and love are feeding my spirit. I am doing this...I CAN do this.

After all the downhill, that came after the uphill, (my favorite statement made by a volunteer at mile 45, "downhill all the way home. Except, of course, for the uphill." Thank you smartass) I reach the finishline in 8:15!!

And this is probably my favorite part of the day; this is why I love running ultras....the after party. It's a wonderful chance to catch up, chat, and cheer on all the other runners coming in. As always, I was made to feel right at home. I had been cheering on Larissa (2nd place woman) all day, and was excited for her great day! Once she finished we all sat around and chatted. Such a great group of folks: Zach (1st male) and his girlfriend Geri (whose family is from Austin!); Larissa and Bret (who had just had an incredible Miwok run); Rick (incredible support/crew/pacer...he was so awesome to be all over the course and then pace. I was VERY jealous of Larissa having company on the out and back); and others. I feel so fortunate to get to share time and adventures with such great people! I am so excited to see them all again in June. I can't wait for Paul to meet this crew; so fun!!
I know I have written WAY TOO much! I know it gets old that I often say the same thing, but my head and heart swirl with gratitude every single day. What a wonderful life! What an amazing husband I have! What incredible friends and support I have! Truly, truly blessed!!

To this journey, health, and continued happiness, WOW!


Sophie Speidel said...

Great job "sucking it up!" You are in a great place for WS. I can't wait to watch it all unfold. :-)

Slomohusky said...

Thanks for sharing.

clea said...

great faced two of my worst fears...getting lost and no bathroom!

Anonymous said...

Congrats on an awesome run! I'll run with you anytime!

kelly said...

Great run Mer! You are running awesome and you will do great things at WS. Hope to see you soon!