Get a snack, grab some coffee, get comfortable — because I have a lot to say.
A little catch up on some of my recent races:
Delano 12 Hour Race
I RAN 40 MILES!!! I’m still a little amazed when I think about it. Delano continues to be one of my favorite events of all time, if you are a long distance runner you have to add this one to your bucket list. This was my first time going in to a timed event with a serious goal and not just running for fun. I started off strong, but began to struggle earlier in the day than I had hoped I would. Overall, I had fun (as always) and in retrospect I think I have identified where I went wrong and my errors. First: If you plan to run all day, don’t wait until you get tired to implement the walk breaks. Faster, better runners than me can probably run for 12 hours without walking. I can’t, ha. At Delano I did not have someone to run consistently in the early part of the day, so I put in my head phones and rocked out to the dulcet tones of Fuck the Police, DMX, the Moana soundtrack, and Ariana Grande. With poetic masterpieces like, “people tell me slow my roll, I’m screaming out FUCK THAT– imma do just what I want, looking ahead no turning back” I ran (probably a bit too fast) steadily for the first few hours. I think I would have be able to run consistently for longer if I would have taken short walk breaks earlier in the race. Thankfully near the middle of the day my pals LC and Kim were able to run with me (MY ANGELS) and they kept me company and kept me happy. My other big mistake was shoe choice. I have done all of my longest races on trails, thus, I was wearing my trail shoes (Montrail Fluidflex II), which I have never had any major foot problems in. For SOME REASON (I still don’t really know why, other than I just wasn’t using my brain) I decided to wear my Nike Pegasus at Delano. I never have had problems in these shoes, but I also haven’t run super long distances in them in quite a while. Needless to say I ended up with blisters. Bad ones. Around mile 32 the blisters were getting incredibly painful and I as I was shuffling I felt one under the ball of my foot burst — how can something so small cause such WHITE HOT SEARING PAIN??!!! That really slowed me down and kept me from being able to get as far as I would have liked (my feet were actually so messed up and swollen that I wore Scott’s more roomy vans to do my final lap). The best part of this race was probably during my final few laps where I had a big posse of friends coaching me through the last miles of my race. I was so mentally done at that point. Kim pulled out her phone and played a power song to get me through — with I AM NOT THROWING AWAY MY SHOT (of Hamilton) blasting (on repeat, five times), my mood shifted immediately and I happily shuffled my way to the finish while singing along, badly. Not as far as I wanted to go, but still a distance PR and a great learning experience for my future goals.
McKay Hollow Madness 25k
OH, THE MADNESS. There really isn’t a better word for it. Even though I finished, I would still call this race a stone cold failure for me, ha. On the bright side, I got to run with my dear friend Colleen, on the dark side, the race felt like an endless trail of suffering. I guess you could say I was a little complacent going in — I have done this race many times, and it utilizes trails that I run on every weekend. That mountain is my happy place, my home, I know that trail system better than I know some of the roads in my neighborhood. I showed up with my hydration pack full of Skratch water but that was pretty much it, no snacks, no gels, no salt tabs, nothing I usually have while racing. It was unseasonably warm and while the first few miles went fine, my energy levels dropped quickly and I had nothing to replenish myself with. ROOKIE MISTAKE, CHELS!! I know better– this race packs a PUNCH, it takes no prisoners, and it ate my idiotic ass for breakfast. As we were climbing the first large ascent toward the first of only two aid stations, I briefly entertained the idea of dropping to the 12k… “eh, it’ll be ok,” I thought to myself. IT WAS NOT OK. As the race went on, I continued to feel worse and worse. I was woozy, crampy, and generally just out of it. Thankfully, Colleen and Laura (another racer I met that day — can you say bad first impression?) saw that I was doing poorly and refused to leave me. Colleen told me days later when I lamented that I basically ruined her race that I looked extremely pale and she was too worried about me to leave me behind — true friendship y’all. By some miracle I made it to the end of the race, but I still had to drag myself up the final ascent, and it isn’t an easy one. As I trudged up Death Trail the sweepers came up behind me, at this point probably ghost like in complexion and teetering over the edge of the sheer drop, and one told me I really should sit down and eat something, he handed me a Gu. I made some sort of joke about what a terrible runner I am, and continued to self deprecate on the way up. Eventually one of the guys said, “Well Chelsea, it sounds like you might be a *little bit* hard on yourself…” I couldn’t help but laugh– YES, I AM, AND HUMOR IS HOW I MASK MY DEEPLY SEEDED INSECURITY, HOW COULD YOU TELL?? Their friendly faces brightened my spirits and helped me get to the finish line, barely. My first DFL, ha! *shrug* I won a new Ultimate Direction hydration vest for being a volunteer.
Oak Barrel Half Marathon
I was *really* looking forward to this race because I was doing it with my friend and coworker, Libby. It was her first half and she did GREAT!! I am so proud of how she persevered in the face of a lot of adversity. I won’t go in to everything she had to deal with in the months leading to the race (because while I don’t mind blabbing all my deepest secrets to the internet, I’m not sure how she would feel about it), but suffice it to say that she did not have an easy time getting to the starting line, but she stuck it, she refused to give up on her goal, and ultimately she succeeded. Way to go Libby, you ROCK! Oak Barrel was a nearly flawless event as per usual. I really enjoy this race because the scenic route through the hills (and there are MANY) of Tennessee makes it feel a little more like a trail run 🙂 We had such a fun time racing together, and I can’t wait to get her back out there for another crazy adventure.
Bridge Street Half
Not a lot to say about this one– I paced, I had fun, we rocked it. Any time I get spend 3 hours gabbing with a friend is always good 🙂 After the race my coach had me scheduled to do 5 extra miles. I was happy because instead of a slog (which is what I feared) the miles actually felt pretty good and I felt strong all things considered. Then I mowed the lawn and bagged the grass and completely and utterly exhausted myself. Nearly 24 hours later, I’M STILL TIRED. I am not a nap person but I feel like I could take a nap at my desk right now. Instead I’m drinking all the coffee and switching my rest day from Wednesday to today. I’m going to bed at 7 tonight.
So, that’s what I’ve been up to lately. The best news of all (despite the horror show that was McKay) is that through this I have felt quite strong during my workouts. I have been sticking with the plan my coach has given me nearly perfectly for the past several weeks and I can definitely see the results. My biggest challenge right now is that I would really like to drop a few pounds this summer so I can be in peak condition for my big goal race– ARFTA in September. I would like to be a bit leaner so when I’m running for 48 hours I don’t have to carry around so much weight, ha! So a focus for me over the summer (along with training for the race) will be eating well, losing some weight, and getting heat acclimated. I have reached out to some more experienced running friends of mine and they have all given me some good advice. In previous years I did almost everything I could to stay out of the heat; this year I will be consciously seeking it out. So that’ll be hard to get used to, but it’s something I need if I want to be successful in September.
Of course, nothing can ever be simple and easy. I joked with some friends that it’s been about 6 months since my last major medical misadventure so it’s about time for another one. Sigh. About a year ago I transitioned out of taking hormonal birth control pills because, well, shortly said, they accentuate my crazy and make it worse. I deal with anxiety, depression, and obsessive compulsive tendencies. Birth control pills make it worse. So while I’m feeling a lot better mentally these days… I’ve been dealing with other issues physically instead. To keep from going too far into the realm of TMI (although, since when do I worry about TMI here?), my cycle has been very off since quitting the pill. I’ve been to the doctor a couple times about it. Last week I had an internal ultrasound and appointment with my gynecologist. She believes that I have endometriosis and my ultrasound and blood work showed probable PCOS– double whammy. I am scheduled for surgery to treat the endometriosis next month and I have another appointment with my GYN to discuss PCOS and future options next week. It’s been hard to wrap my head around because these aren’t really the kinds of health problems that you treat and then you’re better, they’re long term issues and treatment isn’t clear cut. I’m trying my best not to freak out (I do have my moments), and staying focused on training has helped with that. If you have any good juju to spare, I’d appreciate it if you sent it my way 🙂