Driving the Struggle Bus to my Pity Party

Rangover is REAL

I had serious Rangover this week.  If you’ve never run a Ragnar, then you have no idea how real Rangover is!

I struggled in coming to terms with my performance in this race.  I started having some hip flexor issues and ended up not running my last leg which knocked my ego and pride for a few loops.  I could not shake the terrible feelings that I had.  I HATE making excuses and even though I knew it was the smart thing to do to protect my training going into Houston; I still felt like I was making excuses for my lack of performance.

I have also been holding on to a lot of disappointment in myself at Rochester.  I know that I got a PR.  I know that I got 2nd in my age group.  I know I should be happy with that.  But I went into that race thinking that I needed to run 4:00 or better to be on track for Houston.  And whether or not that is true, my brain is still hanging onto that as truth.  As a result, I still have lingering feelings of that race being a complete and total failure. (OK….it does sound ridiculous when I write it down, but my mind can be a little ridiculous.)

Aaaaaaand I’m still dealing with the emotional scars from my first psoas injury and the battle to get my fitness back that spanned the hot summer months.  I’ve been busy enough in training that there hasn’t been much time for all this to bubble to the surface.

Oh, and now that Ragnar was over, I had nothing to distract me from the fact that Houston is LESS THAN 90 DAYS AWAY.  I may have wondered out loud why in the world I thought I could ever BQ and that I was stupid for even trying.  Yeah, I know.img_2422

Honestly, I wanted a break between Ragnar and the remainder of my Houston training.  I was getting pretty tired and I know how much good just a little rest does for my body and my mental state.  I was relieved when I first saw that Brent had included these few days of rest in my schedule.  But I was SO disappointed with *my* Ragnar performance.  Our team got 3rd and I think that made it worse because I felt like if Kelly and Brent hadn’t been as tired from running my mileage, we could have probably snagged 2nd.  Here I was coming off yet another disappointing race performance and then I had to sit ALL WEEK.  It was the perfect storm.

By mid-week, I was to the point that I was not dealing well at all with all my emotions.  I fell COMPLETELY apart.  I am usually so controlled and so good at holding things together, but I could not redirect my thoughts no matter how hard I tried.  Yesterday, I had a complete and total meltdown at work FOR THE ENTIRE DAY.  My coworkers that knew about it were shocked and scared, I’m sure, because I NEVER cry and I rarely lose it.  Our counselor came strolling by mid-morning during one of my many mini-breakdowns during the day and wanted to discuss, but I wasn’t in ANY mood to discuss ANYTHING at that moment.  In fact, I wasn’t planning on being in a mood to discuss anything at anytime during the rest of the day.  But she has figured me out pretty well so she cornered me at lunch (I literally had NO escape).  And 1,000,000 counselor-y questions later, she had actually calmed me down and helped me come to a point of acceptance (kind-of) about my recent race performances.  (So, thank you, Julia!!  Even though I was super irritated with you at the time and might have thrown daggers toward you had any been in my pocket!)

Basically, she said that maybe my expectations in certain situations are unrealistic.  Ragnar, for example:  I didn’t really have a lot of control over what my hip flexors did yet I was beating myself up for making a decision that protected my long-term plan.  So my expectation that I should be able to “do it all” in that situation was unrealistic.  I’ll admit that she was probably right.  In addition, I think the fear of failure at Houston was a big part of it, too.  The closer it has gotten; the more my anxiety has grown.  I have A LOT of anxiety about not being able to meet my goal.

After our discussion, I felt better but still had a few meltdowns throughout the day.  I got a good night’s sleep and even though I still don’t feel completely over it, I have felt much better today!

The mental game is the hardest

Before this week, I thought I had a pretty good handle on the mental aspect of training and racing.  I am able to keep myself focused and calm and I don’t talk negatively to myself during workouts and races.  So maybe I have that part covered.

It’s the after workouts (and especially after races!) where I need to improve.  I must stop second guessing and over-analyzing my misses in every race and every workout, because I do a lot of that.  I need to find a balance between self-reflection and honest criticism versus the unrealistic expectations that Julia mentioned.  And Brent was right, too.  I do put too much pressure on myself.

I think I have some ways in which I can improve.

Instead of not being able to move on from a disappointing performance, I am going to find something that I can work on to get better.  I already had one from Rochester that I was planning to try during my next half marathon in two weeks: getting out of the aid stations more quickly and not keeping my head down as much – I need to look farther ahead instead of getting lost in my thoughts.

As far as putting pressure on myself – I think a lot of this is coming from this BQ attempt.  I mean, that’s A LOT of pressure to perform.  I have ONE shot.  It isn’t like I can pick another marathon a couple weeks later and try again.  That, in itself, is a lot of pressure.  Plus, I just don’t know how I will react if I miss at Houston.  The fear of failing is real and completely overtakes me sometimes.  So how can I deal with it?  I’m not sure.  I think I am going to 1) get rid of the hashtag #roadtoHouston (…does talking about it increase the amount of pressure I feel?)  2) just focus on one workout at a time and 3) try not to think about it.  I’ll be spending quite a bit of time trying to master #3.img_2191

Finally, I just need to believe in myself.  I have a hard time doing that.

My friends are better than yours

I am SO BLESSED with so many good friends.  I can’t close without giving them a shout-out.  Kelly, who ALWAYS has my back and Carmen, who is honest enough with me not to put up with my whiny-ass bullshit.  And of course, Brent!  He doesn’t put up with my whiny-ass bullshit either.  I know I’ve missed people.  But this if for ALL you guys that believe in me when I don’t really believe in myself (which is sadly, too often) – THANK YOU!!img_2205

Ragnar Hill Country Ultra

This weekend, I had the honor of running Ragnar Hill Country Ultra on the trails of Flat Rock Ranch with some of the best teammates one could ask for!

I went into this race having NEVER run trails before.  EVER.  As clumsy and prone to injury I am, I just couldn’t risk injuring myself for a race of this nature when I have my Boston qualifying attempt at Houston coming up next.  I’m literally down to the wire and have ZERO time for injury rehab!  OK….no, I am not that responsible.  Brent banned me from trails! LOL

I picked up teammate Renegade Kelly at the airport on the way to San Antonio and we were off on our adventure!!  We met up with Renegades Brent and Tim (and girlfriend, Madison) to eat dinner at a local restaurant that had an ahhhhhhmazing on-tap beer selection!  I had difficulty deciding what to pick!  After we stuffed ourselves with fabulous food and tasty beer, we went to turn in early for a good night’s sleep.

OF COURSE I took Kelly to Buc-ee's!! It's a mecca!

OF COURSE I took Kelly to Buc-ee’s!! It’s a mecca!

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After breakfast at IHOP on Friday (NO, that is NOT on the metabolic efficiency diet plan!), we were on our way to Flat Rock Ranch in Comfort – basically the middle of nowhere!  We unloaded all our gear, picked a campsite and went to work setting everything up.  We had plenty of time to get things set up and eat lunch in Ragnar village before our check-in and safety briefing.  Kelly and I even had time to go shopping in the Ragnar store and score some sweet gear!  Afterwards, we all went back to chill at camp until our 3:30 PM team start.img_2206

Tim had this awesome flag made for our campsite and for future RE events!!

Tim had this awesome flag made for our campsite and for future RE events!!

Ragnar Trail runs have 3 loops.  The loops must be run in order: Green, Yellow, Red for a team total of 24 loops.  Since our team was an ultra team, we decided to run 2 laps back-to-back so that we would only have to go out three times versus six.  This would give extra recovery time between laps.  Tim was first up for the Green and Yellow loops; I was our second leg and my first outing would be Red and Green loops; Kelly was to be third and Brent was our anchor leg.

Tim is an incredibly fast runner and before we knew it, he was back at transition and it was my turn to go out!  The Red loop was supposedly the most difficult, although I think that distinction was mostly due to the fact that the Red loop was the longest at 7.6 miles.  I tried to keep my heart rate in check at the beginning, but it was basically impossible.  This trail had an overall elevation increase of 958 feet and the biggest part of that was rocky terrain.  I was so relieved when I finally passed the 5 mile mark and the trail started going mostly downhill AND I was able to run some flat, even-ish trails – which really helped my pace.  I came through transition to my teammates cheering me on and went out immediately to run the Green loop.  OH MY-LANTA!   The Green loop was easier in ways, but harder in others.  I’m not going to lie – I walked up part of the first hill, which was on a stinking gravel road!  This trail had more grassy, flat trail in it, but there were also some technical parts that were steeper and more rocky than the Red loop!  The temps on the Red loop were fairly warm, but by the time I got on the Green loop the sun was starting to set and I could feel the cooler air in the low-lying areas.  It was fun and fast, though, and before I knew it, I was in transition again, handing off to Kelly so she could start our third leg.  The only thing that I disliked about this run was having to keep my head down so much to avoid tripping.  When I was able to look up, the views were breathtaking.  I LOVE the Hill Country!!  I was pleased, overall, with my run.  I ran the 10.45 miles in 1:52 at a 10:44 pace.  I was hoping to run closer to 10:00 pace, but I knew going in that was a lofty goal!  Now it was time to try to get some rest and wait on my next leg.img_2210

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As soon as the sun went down, so did the temps!  I had checked the forecast and knew that temps were supposed to get down into the mid 40s, but it seems so much colder when you are actually out in it!  I crawled into my sleeping bag and was finally able to get somewhat warm.  It seemed as if I had just drifted off to sleep when it was time to get up and get ready for my next leg.  My go-to pre-run nutrition since starting on this Metabolic Efficiency journey is UCAN, however, I ate a banana with peanut butter for this outing.  By this time, I was FREEZING, because temps were really starting to dip, so I went down to the village to hang out by the camp fire until Tim came in.  And before I knew it, I was off on my second leg at 12:04 AM!  This leg would be my longest run at around 12.5 miles.  I would be running the Yellow loop (which was home to the highest point in the race) and the Red loop (AGAIN).  The temps were right in my perfect run zone!  I do much better when temps are in the low 40s, plus there was no sun!  The Yellow loop was pretty much a continuous climb for the first half of the loop.  It was a technical trail but, of course, the cover of darkness made it more difficult.  I had to slow down more often than I did on my first leg because I wasn’t willing to risk a bad fall.  Every time I came across a rocky ascent or descent, my mantra was: Boston.  I made it through the Yellow loop, only tripping on a tree root once but I caught myself with my hands so I felt like I was #winning !!  I celebrated too quickly.  The Red loop BEAT ME UP!  My legs were getting tired from trying to stabilize my feet and body on the uneven terrain and this loop had more (or seemed to have more) tree roots on it.  I fell three more times and EVERY TIME was due to tree roots!!  I was only passed by the super-ultra-guy-runners and I passed A LOT of people – so many were walking.  I came back into transition a little battered and bloody, but I was actually proud of that dirt and blood!  This leg was a little slower, but faster than I had anticipated while I was out on the trail.  I ran 12.53 miles in 2:25 with an 11:36 average.  I wasn’t *as* happy with it, but I was glad that my pace was under 12:00.

This was at the highest point in the race on the yellow loop. I stole this pic because I went by it in the dark! The wooden nickel could be redeemed for a shot of whiskey but I never had my nickel when I was in the village, so it is now a souvenir.

This was at the highest point in the race on the yellow loop. I stole this pic because I went by it in the dark! The wooden nickel could be redeemed for a shot of whiskey but I never had my nickel when I was in the village, so it is now a souvenir.

After stopping at the medic tent to get my wounds cleaned and antibiotic ointment applied, I grabbed clean clothes and went to find a half-way clean port-o-potty in which to change.  Of course, I was dripping with sweat and my body was cooling down and I was shivering.  It was SO COLD.  So cold, that while I was scrubbing the dried blood off my leg in the port-o-potty, there was STEAM coming off my skin.  After I cleaned myself up, I crawled into my sleeping bag and NEVER GOT WARM.  I shivered and froze the rest of the night.  I was SO MISERABLE.  I HATE being cold.img_2219

Finally, the sun started to rise and I knew it would soon be time for me to go out for my third and final leg.  Kelly and I got up and went on the hunt for coffee.  But something was wrong.  During my second leg, I could tell my right psoas was overworked and I could feel it when I was on the trail.  It was a little cranky when I finished, but I had hoped that some rest would help it.  Nope.  The more I walked around; the worse it got.  Tim was out running, and could come in at any moment.  Brent had gone to his car to charge phones and I confided in Kelly that I was really, really scared.  She tried to put a positive spin on it, but I knew how my left side felt back in the Spring, how bad it got because I continued to run Ragnar road on it, and how LOOOOONG it took to recover.  I DO NOT have any recovery time.  We walked back to camp with our coffee and I sat down in a chair and started crying.  I was so scared.  I felt SO BAD.  I didn’t know what to do.  I knew that if I ran any of my last 8 miles, that I would be kissing any chance at a BQ goodbye.  And I felt that by *not* running my 8 miles, I would be letting my team down.  Major bummer.  As soon as Kelly realized how concerned that I was, she told me she would run my 8 miles….BOTH loops.  I knew I couldn’t let her do that (she still had 10 miles of her own), but she insisted on running my 3.  She went to tag off with Tim and I went to find Brent to tell him what was going on.  When I filled him in, he asked if I would feel better if he ran my 5 miles…..at this point I was just trying to hold back the tears.  I felt so relieved not to be running that last leg because I knew it was the right decision but at the same time I felt so guilty that my teammates had to pick up my slack and yet again, at the same time, my heart was so full because they were willing to do what they could to help me protect my chance at qualifying for Boston.

Kelly was pretty worn out when she got back from last leg (Brent was out running the last 2 loops) so Tim and I packed up camp while she sat and recovered with food, food and more food.  We loaded everything up and all we had to do at that point was wait for Brent so we could run the finish in with him!  When we ran the finish, I knew that the decision to sit out my last leg was the right call because my psoas was cranky and irritable after running less than .10 mile.  Knowing that still didn’t help my ego and my pride deal with the situation – I felt really, really badly about it.

We *may* have consumed beer while Brent was running the last leg.

We *may* have consumed beer while Brent was running the last leg.

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We went to have our picture made with our medals, then got Brent to his car so he could make the trek home.  Kelly and I headed to Austin, where we were staying for the night and Tim….Tim had to find his keys before he was able to leave.  Thankfully, they had been found and turned in!  Before Kelly and I left out, I had to use my medal to do a bit of surgery on my knee…..I had a piece of skin that was hanging and I could not get it off.  It is true that Ragnar medals are multi-purpose tools! img_2251

We found out on Sunday that we took 7th overall out of all the Ultra teams and 3rd in our division of Mixed -Sub Masters, which was VERY exciting!!  Words can’t express the amount of love and admiration I feel for my teammates for stepping up and taking my slack.  It STILL causes me to tear up!  And the GREAT news is that my psoas isn’t giving me any problems at the moment.  I am still struggling with that decision, but I know it was the right one.  I’m so thankful that I didn’t suffer a set-back on this journey.  img_2295

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I have been feeling called to the trails for quite some time and this weekend, they stole my heart.  I WILL be back on the trails, but they will have to wait until after I run Houston Marathon.  Now my only focus is getting ready for that race – with all my rest days aka free time this week, I have had several mini freak-outs!  When I start working out again (TOMORROW!!!), I am going to simply focus on each workout and execute it the best that I can.