Saturday, May 26, 2012

A Fragile Psyche Repaired in a Single Run

After Jemez, I was slightly depressed but felt okay after a day or two. It's easy to beat yourself up about a DNF, even when I knew in my heart it was not due to any lack of training or preparation on my part. The further actually that I got away from that race day, the clearer it was. Call it just unlucky, call it genetically predisposed, I just don't handle altitude well. Because "10 steps then a 1 minute breathing break, and repeat" did not make any sense - I would have had to be terribly unprepared for this race. I've researched all this week, and there are lots of studies that show that fitness level has little bearing on how you'll handle altitude, and they've found links to genetic ability to handle it and other studies that they don't have a strong correlating factor yet on why some people are mildly affected or not affected, versus those like me who suffered at altitude and needed supplemental oxygen while up that high. I couldn't know until I tried.

The Run That I Needed So Badly - Me, Josh, Cruz, and Reece

Not A Good Week Mentally

Monday, I went in to have a cyst in the palm of my hand checked, and they used some enormous needle to drain it. It felt like they were trying to pull my middle finger off. I spent the next 7 hours with a useless hand, a stupid combo of numb and completely painful. I wasn't allowed to strength train for 48 hours, and I certainly was not in the mood to run with the pain.

Then I tweaked my right knee Tuesday going down the stairs carrying a 26-lb toddler. Grrr. The problems of a runner mommy! My mileage for the week was not looking good. This is not the strong bounceback from Saturday's DNF that I mentally needed.

So here comes Thursday. I find out that a couple people, who I rarely saw in person but for whom I always had a cheer for them virtually when they had a good workout and a sympathetic comment when they had a bad one, weren't supportive of what happened at Jemez. They were downright nasty about it. And all behind my back. They didn't "buy" the altitude issues, the unluckiness, the genetic predisposition, they saw it all as an excuse for me trying to accomplish something I was not ready for. I had reached too far.


I was very truly hurt. I knew there would be a couple people who are just going to be like this. But this really made it clear who were my friends... and who weren't. And while I know what my training looked like, and I know what my trainer and coach believe, and I know what happened on that mountain, we all have a tiny bit of insecurity (hell, some have a TON of it), and those naysayers had taken a crack in my psyche and split it wide open.

I struggled through the rest of the week. I had bad dreams. I was still somewhat exhausted from 8 hours of running with no oxygen. I felt a little broken with my hurt hand, my tweaked knee, and my bruised psyche.

It's All About the Company You Keep

Today, I did what my coach wanted - he wanted me to do trail miles in the midday heat. Chattanooga in 3 weeks will be hot and humid, so let's get acclimated. Josh was preparing for the Western State 100 miler in June by doing a Fat Ass 100K - 3 loops of 21 miles each at Northshore Trail. I would be out there for at least some of one of the loops.

Me, Reece, Jeremy, and Josh
So 2 pm, I'm at Northshore waiting for them to come in. It's 90 degrees. They've now run 31 miles. Jeremy's drained, Reece is still rocking along, Josh looks strong. I run into friend Leana and make a new friend Scott who is friends with the guys. I'm asked how Jemez went and how I was feeling. My answer: "I'm good physically, but I'm not doing so hot mentally." I tear up and tell them what happened. They are NOT happy. They all recount stories of great runners who have had exactly what occurred for me befall them. Jeremy's my coach, and they all know him well so it's like, "Well, we know you were physically prepared. Jeremy wouldn't have it any other way." It's so reassuring.

Josh, Reece, and I head out. 6.25 miles to Rockledge Park, then 5.75 miles back. They have me lead. I do so well with a purpose. And these fellas are FAST by the way. So even with them being 31 miles in, my pace is slow for them. Isn't that funny?!?

I try to be a perfect pacer, try to accommodate whatever they need. Josh calls a walk, we walk. He wants to run, I run and set a consistent pace. Josh gets a little draggy, and I offer him anything in my pack - he ends up loving my Honey Stinger orange chews, and they perk him up. On the way back, his stomach is unsettled, and I'm ready again and give each of them a piece of candied ginger.

And I run my butt off. It's 90 degrees, and I'm running faster than my 25K PR pace in GOOD WEATHER! First 6.25 miles: 12:30 pace - this is almost my road pace! Next 3.25 miles: 13:30 pace. I run out of water at this point and I'm close to going anaerobic so I send them off so I can powerwalk the mile to the next water fountain. I fill up and pick up my run pace again for the next 1.5 miles. Those 3 miles are a 14:30 pace. I get back to the start with 12 miles under my belt, and just a few minutes behind the guys.

This was such a hard run, doing speedwork on rocky, rooty trails in 90 degree heat. But between that and trying to help Josh hit his goal, I was so proud of how I had run. I didn't need 15 or 20 miles this day. I needed to regain the confidence that I've become a strong runner. And I needed to run with some good people who I respect as ultrarunners. Interestingly enough, the three of us combined have 7 kids ages 5 and under. That's a balancing act of time on the roads and trails and family that some would not understand. And they were just so friendly, caring, and supportive, that the conversations were great, and I felt like I belonged. When you are slow, that can be hard. When you are an ultrarunner, but only a 50Ker, not a 50miler or 100 miler or bazillion miler, that can be hard too.

So my confidence is back. My only goal for the next 3 weeks is to stay smart, rest, get some miles, keep my mental game strong, and prepare for Chattanooga. What could I do with the 3 weeks? Get myself injured! It's all about being careful now - my friend Cathy would say "the hay is in the barn" - and she's right. Time to trust the training, start the taper, and glide into race day ready to tackle a race that'll have some hard time limits for this slow runner! Bring it on!!

A Final Request

Sometimes this blog produces weird reactions in my life. Website traffic statistics show me a lot of people "tune in" to read this. And I run into people I haven't seen in a while and when I try to catch up with them, "Oh, I read all about it on your blog" comes up a lot. My recent training, my recent racing, can feel very isolated. So do me a favor today, leave me a comment. I had such a good run today - how about you just chime in and tell me your best workout of the last couple weeks? Or post anything you want. Just let me know you're out there more than the heartfelt although can be mindless one-word comment that can happen on Facebook. 

And my lesson of those couple people that weren't friends this week, if we're connected by Facebook or Twitter, it's because I want to interact with you. It may be small, but we share and learn from each other's experiences. Even if we disagree on a lot of things, or you can be rude sometimes, or kinda annoying at times, I still have you in my world because I want to be connected to you. Love you all!

34 comments:

  1. I dunno, I kind of enjoyed my Monday long run where a special friend had time to vent about her DNF, and I got to share my crew/volunteer adventures. Love ya girl! #teamLibby

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    1. I was thinking about that run too. That was so much fun. Wish we'd had that run after Thursday's no-good-very-bad-day! :-) We need more of those runs, Lesley!

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  2. Great stuff Libby! Nothing like spending time with good people to sort your head out :-)

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    1. Thanks, Donnie, for always being there to support me and help make me a stronger runner. P.S. I was hating on you during the run today - my left obliques were spasming like there's no tomorrow so I cursed you repeatedly for the core work we did yesterday. You're welcome! ;-)

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  3. Love love love this report! Put the crap aside, embrace the training you know was in ya and rock on with the people who get it. Kudos on doing this in the heat!

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    1. Thanks, Robby, love your comment! Great summation of how I need to live day to day moving forward! :-)

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  4. Glad you had a good run today. You'll do great at Chattanooga! I am sorry you had to deal with unsupportive meanies. :( Sad for other runners to tear down other runners..
    You are doing great..keep it up!!

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  5. Great job, Libby! You are such an inspiration - I'm so proud of you and applaud your tenacity!!

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    1. Thanks, Sami! I know it's hot out but come out to a North Texas Runners hill repeats session soon, we miss you! And the hills mean you get to keep passing people over and over again, and people can chat at the top of the hill once they finish while others keep going. Hope you've been well, girl!

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  6. Nice. Very needed for me. All I DNFd was a training run but feel like crap about it and this was uplifting.

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    1. Great timing then! I read your post and you are still all rockstar in my book. You went 24 miles, man!!

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  7. Great post, Libby! I have gotten altitude sickness from just riding a gondola. It stinks when you feel so bad and everyone else has no idea how you feel. You are a rcokstar in my book for just going out there and giving it your all!

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  8. Just checking in to let you know that I love reading your posts and following your progress. I'm glad you had that amazing run and I hope your confidence continues to grow. You are inspiring!

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  9. You rock!!! My heart is truly happy for you Libby! It's hard enough to handle the disappointment of having to DNF because of altitude sickness but to have to contend with nasty comments is NOT cool!!! Heat is my weakness. I train in it but it's taken me down more than a few times but I won't quit trying! Someone said something extremely nasty to me today about the Boston Marathon and it actually made me cry privately. I couldn't believe a so called friend could be so mean. I guess we runners are just used to being surrounded by positive encouraging folks so when this happens it bowls us over. A run with great people fixes all. No one can take your joy away, always remember that!

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  10. This was a great post. The runner dudes are my kind of people - shirtless runners!

    I had a tempo run on Friday that about killed me off. But, I got through it... Barely.

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  11. I DNF'd my first half ironman last year, came back and tackled the exact same course this year. Revenge was sweet! Since altitude was the main factor, that might not be an option, but just use the anger, hurt, disappointment, etc as fuel and you'll do great! I had some people who weren't so kind either and I pictured their faces when I was training and wanted to quit ;)

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  12. Libby, good seeing you yesterday. Thank you. For all that you do for the running community. Your a great ambassador to the sport and we're blessed to have you. Keep up the good work.

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  13. I read your blog from the trail run. I love reading about your adventures. Life is full of ups and downs. Always listen to your body and don't pay attention to people's nasty comments. Your health is the most important. You don't always have to cross the finish line to be a winner.

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  14. libby - i am guilty of being a facebook/blog stalker, but did want to post this morning and tell you how great i think you are, as a race director and a runner and a person. i suffer from the same thin skin, i think, that you might, and so know exactly how you feel about the naysayers you described in your blog. just wanted to let you know that i feel honored to have made your acquaintance. i'm in austin today, prepping for the cap tex olympic tri tomorrow morning, my first olympic distance. I am hoping to keep the same perspectives that you are so good at conveying on your blog. keep up the great work and thanks for sharing.

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  15. I passed out while riding in a car through Rocky Mountain National Park so I know I could never run in altitude! No moving to Colorado any time soon for this guy.

    Glad you a great run, Libby. And all runs are good runs, just some are even better. :-)

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  16. Love you Libby! You are such a huge inspiration to me! You are one of the best peeps in this running community!

    I was waiting for all of the questions after a not successful marathon on Sunday, but down deep I know who I am and what I'm capable of.

    I had 2 awesome joys of running this week... 1) Running trails with my sister and my 73 year old dad. PURE FUN! 2) Running with my son yesterday morning. He makes running look so darn easy.

    Keep your head up!

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  17. "Oh, I read all about it on your blog"!
    I stumbled on your blog and am letting you know. I am very happy for you that you had such a redemption run! I know the DNF feeling and it leaves nastier scars than a lot of other "injuries" we could get.

    Take care! Great post!

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  18. Wow you are so right - it IS all about the company you keep! Sometimes it's hard to not let other people's negativity affect us. I'm glad your week picked back up and you rocked it with a great run in challenging conditions!

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  19. On vacation and hate long comments from my phone but #goteamlibby :-) Tis the season for heat acclimation!

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  20. So glad you had a good run this week! To those people who thing altitude issues aren't real - boo. They really, really are and running at altitude is no joke. I definitely felt it training in Tahoe during ski season, and that's much lower than you were dealing with. Keep being great and don't listen to them!

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  21. Great job getting your Mojo back, but you are an awesome runner and always remember that and don't worry about what others think or say. I've run over 50 miles 6 times but I'm still defined by many runners by my DNF's that I've had, but it doesn't bother me, I run because I enjoy it. So keep the passion and do what makes you happy! Run girl, run!

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  22. I read every post you write. I ran with my three kids, 8,7 and 5 on Tuesday before school and it was blissful...Wednesday it was far from idyllic.....life is full of ups and downs. I admire your dedication!

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  23. Always remember how proud of you we are and will always be, no matter what! As we tell Marissa: "We love you all the time!"

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  24. Way to go, Libby! Bouncing back after that DNF was probably daunting, but you're doing it like a champ. I love reading about your running. Keep it up, girl!*

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  25. Libby,

    I'm sorry that you got some hateful comments after your DNF. I can only hope that those comments came from non-trail runners, because I expect more out of the enormously awesome community than that. One of the main reasons I love trail running is because the atmosphere is very much "Let's finish this together," rather than "I'm going to beat you."

    You know you did all the training you needed and that if not for the altitude you could have finished the race. You're doing exactly what you need to do to bounce back from the DNF, and I'm extremely proud of you. I'm glad we were able to help you get your head back on straight. I had originally planned for my first hundred mile race to be Rocky Raccoon in 2011. I was not able to even make it to the race on account of Dallas freezing solid for a week. After that I was completely depressed and didn't really feel like doing anything. Then I got out of my funk, remembered why I love trail running, and ran a 50k, three 60ks, and four 50 milers and I prepared for the Cactus Rose 100 in October 2011. When life beats you up all you can do is get back up, dust yourself off, and keep going.

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  26. Your drive, passion, and love of this sport is why I love you. You are encouragement and friendship over the past few years mean a lot to me. I'm proud of all that you have achieved. Never lose sight of that. You're come a long way and I can't wait to hear about the places you will go!

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  27. Libby, I don't think I follow anyone with as much passion and desire for running as you. What you have accomplished in such a short time is truly remarkable. I have never been more proud of you.

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  28. I love reading about your adventures! After doing a 7 mile hike last week in CO I can't imagine how tough Jimenez was! 99% of people wouldn't have the guts to train or try! Your a stud!

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  29. hi Libby, I loved this post! Way to keep up with the hot trail dads! Thanks for asking about my run. I had a great run as the sun was setting on Strawberry Canyon trail earlier today. I took a "recovery week" after my 50K on 5/20 to reset mentally and physically, so this was my first run in 4 days. My step felt lighter and I was filled with joy. I'm sorry you got your feelings hurt by some immature people. I hope you know how inspiring you are. I have been using your story to inspire a girlfriend who is about your pace who wants to get faster. Keep it up! I wish I could be there for the Chattanooga race-- can't wait to hear all about it from you. Sarah

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