It’s Race Week!!

Here I am, FINALLY just 4 days away from my first 100 mile attempt and so much is going through my mind.  The strangest thing is what isn’t going through my mind.

Generally speaking, I LOSE MY MIND every time I taper.  It is a common affliction and many in my sport like to call it the “Taper Crazies”.  I am usually consumed with anxiety, restless energy, doubts and fears.  More times than not, I do something really, really stupid.  Like going for my first open water swim, slipping on the boat ramp and breaking my toe.  Or I go crazy on Ultra Sign Up and register for races that are harder than the one I’m about to run.

But this taper…. The taper before the BIGGEST race of my life to date, and I have yet to experience any anxiety, doubt, restless energy, or fear.  I keep trying to assess why I am so calm, because there HAS to be something wrong, right? Or maybe not.

I am confident.  I worked my ass off in training.  No, I didn’t run every mile that was scheduled, but I was consistent.  And during all that training, I never went out and “just” ran.  Knowing I gave it my all has helped me trust my training.

I am mentally tough.  I fought many mental battles during training and spent countless hours outside of training getting my mind right.  I read everything I could get my hands on and listened to countless podcasts to gain insight into tackling this distance.

I am prepared.  I have packed everything (times 3 – no kidding) that I can think of that I might remotely need.  (Well, I’ve decided not to take the kitchen sink.)

I know that nothing is guaranteed.  NOTHING IS GUARANTEED.  I may not finish and I am OK with that.  My goal this year was to push myself and get to that place that I had to fight with every fiber of my being to continue.  If I get to that place and I am unable to finish, I will still have accomplished what I set out to do.

Pain isn’t optional – it’s guaranteed.  Whether or not I suffer is completely and totally up to me.

This distance is ridiculously far.  I understand the challenges that I’ll be facing, but I’ll also be in the same boat as veterans toeing the start line.  No one can predict what hardships will be visited upon them during the course of 100 miles.  Part of the challenge; part of the lure of this distance is that uncertanty.

My race plan is aggressive.  Probably too aggressive for my first 100, but, honestly, how does one really know what “too aggressive” is on their first attempt??  Many have suggested that I should just “race just to finish”, but I’m not a race just to finish kind of gal. In most of my races this year, I had a feeling going in what I would run.  And every race, I was within minutes of my guess.  After this happened a couple times, I began to trust my instincts more and more.  I feel in all my being that this is the right race plan for me.  I know that it won’t go completely according to plan.  Hell, it may not go AT ALL according to plan!  But if/when it all falls apart, I’ll use my strengths, which is assessing my situation and coming up with possible solutions.

This race is going to be epic.  It will be an epic success or an epic failure.  But if I fail to finish, I will be FAR from a failure.  If I fail to finish, I will have hopefully found that place, that line that I’ve not been able to find, let alone cross.  If that line is revealed to me, I suspect I’ll have learned much more about myself than I would have coasting easily and cautiously to the finish line, if I had just raced to finish.  Either way, I believe that I will prove to myself something that I’ve known (but not acknowledged) for a very long time – 100 miles is going to prove to be my favorite distance.

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Dads are softies and double-digit long runs!

Not having a litter box was fun while it lasted. 

If you read my one post last week (I SWEAR that I’m trying to get back on a regular-posting schedule!), you know that we gave away our guinea pig (which we had owned for only one week) and it was murdered by our dachshund, Sophie, before the new family could pick it up.  This put us on the market for a kitten, which is what Alli really wanted in the beginning.  I think Taylor pushed the guinea pig idea because her one guinea pig died suddenly and not too long after she got it and she was trying to relive her childhood vicariously through Alli! LOL!!

Long story short, Bobby, Alli and I were out running errands on Saturday (I KNOW Bobby planned this), when we somehow ended up at the adoption center and ended up bringing this little tiger home. IMG_5380

This is the strangest cat I’ve ever seen.  First, he gets his claws stuck in everything – even his own fur! LOL  Then he slept with Taylor Saturday night UNDER the covers.  I’ve never seen a cat that would sleep under the covers.  He is a very sweet kitty, though, and loves to be held and petted.  He doesn’t even mind asking when you aren’t taking his hints!  Asking, as in climbing up your leg to get into your arms.  Ouch!  He is still unnamed, but hopefully that will be resolved soon. IMG_5404

The Never-Ending Ankle Recovery Story

Running is still going very well.  I ran another “high mileage” week (high mileage, relative to the proximity to my injury) without many issues.  I did experience some ankle pain after my tempo workout on Thursday.  The workout was at a decent pace, but the time I spent on each tempo was quite a bit longer than in the last couple weeks.  I did my usual recovery routine, focusing on my calves to get them loosened up, but Friday’s easy run didn’t feel that great.  My legs were happy, my lungs were happy, but my ankle was NOT happy…at least for the first half of my hour-long run.  Since I’m hyper-sensitive to any and every ache and pain, I spend Friday evening and most of Saturday fretting over this.  I did no exercise on Saturday, which killed me because I was banking on a nice 20-mile bike ride.

My concern about the tempo aftermath caused me to be nervous about my 11-mile long run on Sunday – so much so that I didn’t sleep well and woke up with my stomach hurting.  Mental Martha strikes again.  I was even nervous about the weather because I dreaded being cold.  It ended up being perfect – sunny and temps in the 60s! (Go ahead and laugh.)  My nerves about all those issues melted away once my feet finally started pounding the pavement.  I ran in my Newton Gravity, to which my calves are finally adjusted, and didn’t experience any issues.  No issues, except when I was on Old Friend (my favorite hill).  My calves got tired and cranky, but after the hill the calf issues worked out soon enough.  The only other problem that I encountered was that I just got tired.  This is my fault, since I didn’t fuel on this workout.  I need to change my mindset….I don’t really consider myself to be in the midst of marathon training because of my up coming half marathons.  But, people, I’m in marathon training!

My gorgeous view on the way on Sunday morning.

My gorgeous view on the way on Sunday morning.

I love running in the country in Texas. Even the fields are breathtaking.

I love running in the country in Texas. Even the fields are breathtaking.

My legs were very tired and a little achy yesterday afternoon, which sounded the alarms in my brain.  I stuck with the recovery plan and wore compressions, stretched, rested with my legs up, Epsom salt bath and lots of foam rolling.  Today the legs are feeling amazing!  My biggest mental challenge this week will be to make it through the taper to my race on Sunday!  🙂

I’m not a camel

Anyone that knows me knows how I LOVE the long runs!  I love the battle; I love the challenge; I love the time out there on the road; I love the feeling after the run is finished.  One thing that I don’t love is carting around my water.  I have typically worn a 4-bottle belt on my waist, but was so heavy at the start that it had become a mental drain (not to mention a physical one).  I have been researching different products to find the best replacement.  I considered CamelBak, but sometimes I like to bring chia water or Accelerade in addition to my water.  I can’t even think about cleaning a CamelBak after carrying chia water in it.  Plus, I wanted the option to carry water plus another type of drink.  My bad-ass ultra runner Twitter friend, Chad, is an ambassador for Orange Mud and I’ve been eyeing his hydration vest for months.  So, I asked him about the pros & cons of the Orange Mud vest versus CamelBak and I was sold!  I received my new vest just in time for my long run and I loved it!  The water sits high enough on my back that I really couldn’t tell I was carrying around 50 oz. of water.  In the beginning, I was concerned that the vest would cause chafing around my armpits, but after the run I could find no signs of chafing from the vest whatsoever!  There is also so much storage that I will have plenty of room to carry my fuel on the long runs, plus my mace…and my phone…and whatever else I decide I can’t live without for 2-3 hours! I am very pleased with this purchase and am so glad that I finally bit the bullet and bought it! IMG_5387

Turns out I’m not the only endurance runner in Fannin County

I got a message this weekend asking me to check out a new running club in the area, Renegade Endurance.  Apparently there are quite a few endurance junkies in the good ‘ole FC that I didn’t even know about!  I was excited to have been referred to this group and joined almost immediately!  However, I’m a little concerned because I’m pretty sure that everyone else are speedsters compared to me! LOL  In any case, I’m ALWAYS happy to connect with runners, especially when they are practically in my own back yard!! So, when you see me posting with the hashtag #areyourenegade you’ll know why!

Happy Monday!!

Jen