Sunday, July 21, 2013

Can Haruki Murakami Follow Me Through Life Please?

“For me, running is both exercise and a metaphor. Running day after day, piling up the races, bit by bit I raise the bar, and by clearing each level I elevate myself. At least that’s why I’ve put in the effort day after day: to raise my own level. I’m no great runner, by any means. I’m at an ordinary – or perhaps more like mediocre – level. But that’s not the point. The point is whether or not I improved over yesterday. In long-distance running the only opponent you have to beat is yourself, the way you used to be.” 
 Haruki Murakami

"The only opponent you have to beat is yourself, the way you used to be." (This man's words are amazing...he is one of my favorites.)

Well, I am at that point. It is only a matter of weeks before I head out to Colorado and start my final training for the Cruxy 1/2 Marathon on Vail Mountain. I am both excited and frustrated at the same time. My "internal opponent" is trying to defeat me and it is getting harder and harder to cross each training run off the schedule. Doubt and boredom are starting to set in. Frustration is taking over as I suffer through the heat and humidity with no real improvement in sight. Mentally, I am starting to beat myself up by constantly thinking "this is no fun....this sucks." Motivation is difficult to find these days...but I figure I can't be alone on this right?!

*Sigh* Why do I always do this? 

I did this before the RBG 1/2 Marathon and while it was tough for a while, the feeling I had when I crossed the finish line could not be put into words. I know I will do awesome. I know even if I have to hike the whole damn thing I could still come in well under the time limit. I know that the environment will provide all I need to enjoy the race. I know that when I cross that finish line I will most likely fall into familiar and supportive arms that are both proud and excited for me (not to mention well rested since they will blow me out of the water on time!) I know this will be an unforgettable experience. I have worked hard for this....and I need to get excited about it.

So why do I find myself looking at the elevation profile and wanting to give up? Why do I always let my mind take the joy out of what I really want to do? Why do I have this fear of failing when it has never really happened to me before? When I set my mind on something I have always been able to accomplish it. Even on the trail race over the winter when I sprained my ankle...I still finished the race. I should not have this fear of failure since I have not experienced it....OR is that why I have it?

There it is. 
(all the credits are in the bottom corner)

This is not surprising. This is me. I do this all the time ( least I can admit it). Whenever a time of change comes up I fall victim to anxiety. I know I will be fine when I get out there. I know once I get the first few miles down I will fall into a rhythm and be on my way. I know it will trash my legs and hips but when it is over I will wish I could do it a million more times. I know that Colorado and this race are calling me. I know that is where I am meant to be. I know all this. Why can't I just be happy and excited about it?

(Now that I think about it. Here.... here is the link. Feel free to come out and run it. I am sure it will be amazing and we can run it together. That way we can look at each other and literally say "what the f*ck were you thinking!?" and feel better about ourselves once we reach the top and have to spend the next 5 miles of so trying not to blow up on the way down! is Colorado and everything is better in Colorado.)  


OK, I have to stop thinking about it. I am a thinker and when thinkers *think* nothing good happens. I have to move on....

Sooooo.....(*que happy dance*)


I got on a Bourbon Chase team!!! How amazing is that?! It is going to be EPIC. If you are sitting anywhere but Kentucky, you probably have no clue what I am talking about. If you are in a foreign country and using google translate...then Bourbon Chase probably has you really here is the short version: 200 miles...12 team mates....2 vans.....the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. Trust me...this is not something to stress over. This is pure fun! Nothing but nature and friends! I am so fortunate to have this opportunity since the two teams that I was going to try to run for did not get picked during the lottery. I have wanted to participate in this ever since I saw friends run it last year! Another thing I can check off my "running bucket" list. One small step closer to WS100 ( if you consider a 200 mile relay with 12 people sharing 2 vans a step closer to a 100 mile individual trail race!)

Yes...this blog was kind of "bi-polar" but if I could record the random hand gestures and facial would understand. It is the "funky mood" I am in ;)

So that is it. Not much to write about....Cruxy is stressing me out and the BC is making me giddy. Oh... and I got a hammock, which is a very nice thing. What is not so nice is I need a mosquito net around it to be able to last more than 5 minutes. Random? Yes....but very important to everyone who knows me since they know the obsession I have with hammocks. It is also important because I look like I have been sleeping in the jungle. I am covered with friggin bites. It is ridiculous. Do not judge if you see me....judging is not nice. These mosquitoes are no joking matter. Repellent does not repel them. They are mutated I tell you!

My view from my is heaven ;)

Well...until next time!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

When Words Fail Me....

That's it people, I give up! 

I have been trying to write for hours and cannot find a way to get the words out! I am beyond frustrated and have no choice but to try something new. I really want to share this lovely day with you, so I am just going to post some pictures and describe a bit about them as we go. Let's hope this works...if not I may just have to make a video and overwhelm you with fast talking, excessive hand gestures and incredible facial expressions....

*Sigh* So anyway, here we go.... (some photos are instagramed....some not so much....)

Yesterday started as any day should....with bribery. When it has been raining for four days straight and you want to go running, I find it is best to bribe people with coffee and donuts to get what you want. North Lime Coffee and Donuts provided the much needed incentive (and sugar) to get out in the rain and head to the Gorge. As you can see, I took a running partner with me. I think I made a wise choice, as he is around 6' ft and averages a good minute or so better per mile. This was good motivation to pick up the speed! Plus, we have very different running techniques...mostly because I come in at a staggering 5'6 and his legs may be twice the length of mine. He also drove...which means I got to play "radio DJ" and force a solid stream of Daft Punk, Bond, David Garrett, Lindsey Stirling, Imagine Dragons and Robin Thicke down his throat. All in all...good start to the day...."Blurred Lines" anyone?! I know you want it ;)

So, here is the view from Auxier Ridge. While it still looks pretty dreary from fire damage, it is starting to make a comeback. I was surprised how many wonderful flowers and berries had popped up since the last time I was there. Even with all the rain, the trails were nice and dry. The one good thing about being 5'6 is that I am not 6' ft and in the path of all the branches a long the way. I got a good clean run and didn't have to duck every 10 ft (unlike some people with me!)

First stop: Haystack. From here you can see clear across the Gorge to Double Arch and to the right, Court House Rock. It is a nice little resting spot. As you can see, the Gorge is pretty sandy up top so the run was still dry and fast. Oh, how that was about to change!

This is right past Courthouse Rock. It is a beautiful area. We actually took time to just scramble and climb around. I love the feeling of being on the rocks, trying to figure out how I am going to get from one point to the next. The gritty feeling on my bare hands....just so natural! Once again, my height was a huge advantage. It is humorous to watch a rather tall individual try to climb. I think it is better suited for "smaller" builds. But, I will admit..I probably did twice the amount of climbing as he did since I could not stretch as far to reach higher rocks. Don't get me wrong...I was offered help...but I did not take it. Reaching out for the hand would be the last resort....I really wanted to do it on my own and I did! It may not be much but I was very proud of my ability to connect with my body and navigate up. It was such a fantastic feeling. To move along the rocks requires every muscle in your body but the views and satisfaction you feel at the end are totally worth it!

Next stop...the jungle? Yeah...four days of rain and the only thing between us and Double Arch was a few miles on the bottom. I had never seen it so muddy. We literally sloshed the whole way through. It was like something off a movie. At one point I accidentally sprayed deet into my mouth and all over my water bottle (which will numb your lips by the way) and still had to constantly swat mosquitoes away. As annoying as that was, it was an enjoyable (although different) experience. It felt like I was making my way through the rain forest...sticky...steamy...birds chirping..squirrels jumping from tree to tree. All around you was the constant reminder of how small a person really is in the grand scheme of things. Was I scared? good thing about having someone who is quicker than you along for a run is that they are instant "bear bait", giving you time to head the other direction. They say "all you have to be is faster than the last guy" but I think if you are already behind them, you have an instant advantage when you have to turn and make a quick getaway. (Really...I am joking...or am I? :) ) Anyway, all was going well and we were making great time until......

A M**$%#er F($*%$ing stream!? This picture really does not justify what we ran into. Now, normally this would not be a big deal, but after all the rain it was deep and flowing fast. Not such a good time to be the shorter one. 6' ft was able to casually maneuver from rock to rock with no problem. 5'6 totally drenched. My poor Speedcross...they didn't have a chance in hell of staying dry. The stream came over the whole shoe and I instantly felt cold water seeping into dry socks. For some reason the only thought that came to mind was "trench foot". A few miles to go till Double Arch and already my feet were wet and rubbing blisters. Great...just great....

So there I was....totally exhausted and trying desperately NOT to focus on my soggy feet. It was at that moment I was reminded to "look up when in the Gorge". I did and this was what I saw. The views really are amazing here. To think that the Red River carved all this out is just mind boggling. Nature is such a beautiful beast. She really is the best artist out there. It is so humbling to experience all she is. 

Finally, Double Arch. Such an amazing place to visit. Not only did I get to take my shoes...socks...and insoles off to dry...but I also got to enjoy the views and marvel at how we got from Courthouse Rock to  here! It was such a great training session. 3 hours total with over 2,000 ft of elevation change (stop laughing) but I feel like I experienced so much more. 

Here are a few more pics ;) There are about 30 more on my FB page that can be viewed...I was not going to upload them all here!

The view of Double Arch if you lay on your back ;)

They may never dry out...

Miguels :)

Yes...pulled pork and garlic pizza w/ light sauce ;)

So that is about it. A wonderful training run that I could not put into words for you. I hope you could enjoy this with me. I cannot wait to go back even though I feel like I have been hit by a truck. The grade change throughout the whole thing tore me up but I love the feeling. I also got to do my "good deed of the day" when I was asked to take a lost IPhone back to the trail head. If you know me you know what happened next. Within 2 minutes, I knew her name....her FB status...her last 5 calls.....what her husband looked like and had already tried to reach her at "home". I ended up finding her before I reached the car and she was very happy to say the least ;)  

Finally....while the day was wet and muddy...there are advantages to coming along with me on my little adventures. For get to listen to wonderful music....and in the end I will feed you and give you wine. How can anyone go wrong with that? Fresh cherry tomatoes...dried cranberries...fresh garlic, olive oil and spinach over pasta....YUMS. Oh...and Shiraz anyone?!  Yeah....I see you all lining up ;)

*sigh*....this worked...I feel better!

Till next time!