Journey of 100 Miles Day 4 & 5

Friday & Saturday October 28th & 29th

Friday 🚫workout & weight 176.2

Saturday 5 miles 1:15 & weight 175.4

This was a big weekend. It was my third year as co-chair for our Saline County Health & Wellness Fair. I spent close to 14 hours on Friday setting up the facility and picking up & delivering items. I also worked by phone and shuttled kids to a birthday party. Needless to say I didn’t work out at all on Friday.

My youngest was trooper. Spent all day at the health fair and got her flu shot.

Saturday began with dropping my daughter off early for her last cross country meet and then health fair time. A long but productive day- the health fair went smoothly. Screenings for glucose (they said mine was perfect😊), blood pressure, cholesterol, hearing, PSA, and HIV. Flu vaccinations, fitness demos, fire safety house, Baptist med flight, and ACH Angel One… We set up, worked, fed the volunteers, broke down, and set up for tomorrow’s fall fest event. Afterwards I came home and took a 15 minute nap then took my son to a birthday party. While he played, I mostly walked 5 miles. Came home and had family tv night and cooked chili for the chili contest at fall fest. 

My husband doing a fitness demo for Insanity Live.

Yesterday while I was driving I decided that for the remainder of 2016 and the rest of 2017 that “no” will be my favorite word. I’ve over committed myself too much and I’m burned out. Since running away and going off grid are not viable options…. I’ll have to learn to say -No I can’t join your organization, NO I can’t host the party, NO I can’t be on ___ committee, NO I’m not signing up for  every single kids’ activity, NO just NO. 

Here’s to my year of NO. 

Journey of 100 Miles Day 3

Thursday, October 27, 2016 4pm

Yoga 45 minutes

Weight 176.0

My Yoga date – Tony Horton

Photos courtesy of my 9 year old😜

Cross training day squeezed in after I picked up kids from school and before a 5:30 meeting with clients interested in a custom build. 

Start over on running & start over on yoga. My strength and flexibility needs improvement. Goal: better overall fitness to improve my running


Gawd!!! I forgot how hard yoga is- worked up a good sweat and stretched out some kinks.


One downfall of trying to do yoga at home- the interruptions. Cocoa girl tried to get in on the action (that’s her back in the foreground), and she knocked me off balance a couple of times. Also, several interruptions from my kids and a work call. 

After the work meeting I dropped in on a local art night. Noteworthy because we only have ONE fairly new little art gallery in our town. I purchased my Dad’s Christmas gift tonight – this desk lamp for his office (which is the bottom level of  their renovated barn).


Journey of 100 Miles Day 2

Wednesday, October 26, 2016 6:15pm

4.74 miles (2 running, 2.74 walking) 1:05

Average pace 14:58

Weight 176.8 (-.8) 


Squirrel! – My girl Cocoa joined me tonight. 🐶😊She loves our runs and the weather is perfect. 

Tip for the busy parent- get your run or your “me” time when you can. On Tuesdays and Wednesday’s my kids have activities and church so I drop them off and run until they’re finished. 

Contemplation – it sure is hard to start over. Try not to beat myself up for regressing to a less fit state. Remind myself that if I’ve done it before then I can do it again and in fact I can do more- run longer, faster, stronger.

What I wake up to every morning…feeling grateful for the beauty of my surroundings and crisp fall mornings.

Journey of 100 Miles Day 1

October 25th, 2016 at 6pm

4.65 mostly walking miles in 1:12

average pace 15:53

Weight 177.6 😩


Wearing my CBT (Crazy Traveling Bitches) shirt from pacing at the Arkansas Traveler in 2015 as inspiration to get this party started. 👣

But wait…let me back-up. 

History: Married for 17 years. 3 kids. 2 dogs. Work- home builder & Realtor. 

I started running consistently in October 2013 -decided to train for a half marathon. After that, decided to train for a 50k (ran it in October 2014) because it’s only 5 miles more than a marathon right?!?! Next was the 100k in February 2015 and 6 day stage race across Arkansas in April 2015. Suffered an injury and felt like I lost my mojo, but still ran regularly. Recently I finished the Pikes Peak Marathon (August 2016) on my 40th birthday. 

August was tough. Family issues and my weight gain spun me into a depression that I thought I wouldn’t see again. I spent September running just enough to adequately pace my friend for 20 miles in her first 100 mile race. That was on October 1st and I haven’t run a step since then…until today.

Today I finished reading Relentless Forward Progress by Bryon Powell and started reading Eat & Run by Scott Jurek. 

For my next race I decided on a training plan from Relentless Forward Progress. I’ll begin with working towards a 50 mile race in April and then a 100 mile race in October. 

Today marks the first day of my new journey. Eating better (taking baby steps here). First day of training for my next ultra. Carving out time for myself and focusing on the positives. 

Accountability: Blogging about it here. 

Do The Stanky Creek

Sometimes it takes a little stank to get out of a running slump.

A 25k/50k trail race at Stanky Creek (Nesbit Park) in Memphis, TN on September 13, 2015 was just the thing I needed since I had spent the summer wallowing over an injury and eating myself into a 20 pound weight gain. The 3am departure from my house left me with approximately 2 hours of sleep, but of my friends I was doing the lesser of two evils (25k) AND I have a mini-van aka the Badgerwagon; therefore, it was appropriate that I drive. First observation of the early morning commute – the Electric Cowboy was still packed with club goers while we were on our way to run a trail race. Eighteen years ago that was me at the club till the wee hours only going home as the sun made it’s way over the horizon deeming those party going days as “sunrise missions”. Obviously, my priorities have changed since then and “sunrise missions” have taken on a whole new meaning. 

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Stankin’ it up: Andi, me, Laura, Missy

We made great time driving (ahem…lead foot) and arrived at Nesbit Park at 6am which allowed us primo parking in the start/finish area and the perfect place to set up our own personal aid station at the back of the Badgerwagon.

The trail race was on a 7.78 mile loop with 25kers completing two and 50kers four loops. The course is on single track technical trail that local mountain bikers ride and maintain. Temperatures that day were excellent for the time of year and the constant shade from the forest provided just enough relief from the sun.

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Into the woods

The packed dirt and roots were a change of terrain from the rockier trails I was used to in AR, and due to the lack of rain the creeks were dry – making crossing them no problemo. Did I mention roots? They were everywhere and it wasn’t a matter of if I trip, but when I trip. The first few times I caught myself before falling…

 

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Do  da stanky legg, do da stanky legg, do da stanky legg

Sooooo, If a runner falls in the forest does she make a sound? It finally happened about 2.5 miles to the finish, and I may or may not have yelped and cursed. Luckily the handheld helped break my fall and I only had superficial scrapes and a little tweak of the knee.

Lesson learned – next time I’ll come to a complete stop before fiddling with my Garmin.

I finished my 25k, grabbed a chair and cold beverages, and joined some Hot Legs and local Memphis folks chilling and cheering on the remaining athletes. I didn’t have to wait long for my stanky friends to finish. Everyone had a decent race and after being advised by Memphians, we decided to eat at Huey’s in midtown. A jazzy, swingy band was playing and couples were dancing between the tables-perfect atmosphere.

After a great day on the trails, yummy food, and fellowship with friends, laughter carried us all the way home. By the time I pulled into my driveway, darkness had settled in and I’m sure the club goers were getting ready for a night out on the town.

Cheers my younger self, ’til I meet you again on the next sunrise mission.

 

STANKBig-YCREEK 2015

No Sleep Til Big Fork

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ABF part deux previous year (2015) another story for  another time.

Another rock
Another walk
Another mental block
Another summit
Another plummet
Another done it  
Another rain
Another pain
Another blood stain
Another creek  
Another leak
Another mountain peak
Another snow
Another go
Another blister on my toe
Another mile
Another smile
Another lifestyle

January 9, 2016

The Beastie Boys might revoke my license to ill for butchering their lyrics, but random songs pop into my head on these trail adventures. In this case on the way to the race I worried about my lack of sleep, lack of training, and lack of common sense. I did ABF last year – I knew how brutal it was when you ARE trained and well rested – so what was I thinking? Answer: “Stupid is as stupid does.”

**Warning: For technical details such as elevations go to the Athens Big Fork website ‘cause I have a hard enough time figuring out my Garmin. For a great professional article by a real writer, read about it in the January issue of Trail Runner Magazine. For an erratic romp through my experience at ABF, continue reading at your own risk. This write up is not for the well read and literary.

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Saline County Striders from left to right: Yoni (me), Missy, Lorena, Shauna, and Pete

This year as my buddy, Lorena, and I arrived and walked to the Big Fork Community Center (kindest and most accommodating volunteers BTW) a boom and a flash immediately made me sing to myself thunderbolt and lightning, very, very frightening me. Galileo, Galileo, Galileo, Galileo, Galileo, Figaro… (Admit it, you just sang that in your best inner Queen voice.) BUT SERIOUSLY it didn’t rain on the entire 2.5 hour drive out there and now the weather decides to start this s**t! Okay okay, the meteorologists did predict rain, and I did look at my weather app, but still – couldn’t Thor and Zeus hold their chariots for a few hours?

With 25 minutes before start, we dig through stuff debating gear, get checked in, stand in line for the necessary potty break, and take the obligatory pictures. Rain begins to come down in earnest, and feeling somewhat unprepared and disorganized, Lorena and I work on putting ourselves together as we trot along at the tail end of the pack at the 8am start.

We opted for the 17(ish) Mile Blaylock Creek Fun Run with “Fun” and “Run” being relative to the terrain and weather. Lorena and I had our moments, but neither one of us would’ve traded being there for anything. People of the trail know that the unexpected can happen and the best scenario is to take to heart the  Boy Scout’s motto “Be Prepared!” Extreme elements always add another layer to a trail race making each one a unique experience – or so we tell ourselves.

Reader’s condensed version is that we went up and over 4 mountains out and those same 4 mountains back in a way that left me wishing for switchbacks. The trail varied from pine needles, scree, mud, slick rocks, and creeks. Creeks, Creeks, Everywhere there’s creeks, freezing my legs and numbing my feet.

We seriously considered turning around because being cold and wet was affecting us, but we forged ahead looking forward to seeing our friends at the Fleet Feet aid station at Blaylock Creek turn around. Noelle and Julie warmed us up with sustenance and hugs as we prepared mentally to tackle the return trip.

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Occasionally a marathon runner passed me, and I caught glimpses of Lorena up ahead until I no longer saw her. A few feet onto dry ground after crossing a creek,  I heard shouting, “LEFT! LEFT!”, and I’m thinking they sure are a ways back to be letting me know that they’re coming up on my left. After more shouting I turned around and saw Paul Turner and his friend (I believe it was Chris Ho) waving and pointing and yelling, “The trail is on your left!!!” They were my trail angels that day because Bonus Miles would have done me in. I was already getting a little loopy and colder. I like to think I wouldn’t have gotten far before realizing my mistake but thankfully I will never know.

With my feet pointed in the right direction and back on track, I hoped to catch up to Lorena soon. Soon turned into 40 minutes before I caught up to her. Found out she (being the prankster she is) had tried to hide behind a boulder to scare me. She said she got some strange looks from people passing by, but she ended up getting too cold from being still (haha serves her right) and had to begin moving again.  

At that point we stayed together and struggled with our knees on the descents. Amidst the aches and pains thick beautiful snowflakes started to come down. Snow in the mountains made us giddy like schoolgirls, and we tried running a couple of times, but it was too painful. I settled for trying to catch a few flakes on my tongue. Reaching the aid station at mile 4/13 meant more peanut m&ms and a sweet little boy named Jacob hopping out of the truck to shake our hands (I’m sure another angel of the same name was smiling). Only one more climb to the finish and then about 3 miles of roads, after the last three mountains, Missouri seemed like a piece of cake even if we were inching along. The longest stretch was on those dadgum roads. They seemed to take FOR-EV-ER. Finally Big Fork Community Center appeared over an asphalt hill and the furnace inside brought us back to our senses.

I said it last year and I’ll say it again – Athens Big Fork is the toughest race I have ever run or walked or crawled or whatever – 17.83 miles in 6:43:00.

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***Beautiful photos in slideshow provided by Lorena Moody. Her fingers warmed up enough to snap some pics!

 

Put Some Foxy in Your Moxie

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“What did you do to your leg?” I’m asked as I hobble around in THE boot. With a sheepish grin, I reply “I ran across Arkansas.”

It all started with those famous last words bravely said by every runner embarking into uncharted territory. “Sure! Why not?” to answer the question posed by Andi Stracner “Hey Yoni, what do you think about running across Arkansas?”

Andi, Lisa Luyet, and I formed a team to participate in the Race Across Arkansas; naming ourselves the Foxy Moxie Running Mavens and opting to run approximately 162 miles each rather than doing the relay version. The race originally broke down into six back-to-back marathons and three miles on the seventh day (more about that later). The course started at the LA/AR border, traversed the southern towns of Magnolia, El Dorado, Strong, Crossett, Montrose, and Lake Village, and ended at the AR/MS border.

The Race Across AR is part of a larger effort of the Race Across the USA series. The goal of RAUSA, “inspiring a healthier generation” is to promote childhood health and fitness. As the runners move across the country, the core team visits schools on behalf of the 100 Mile Club, and all fundraising goes to implementing this program in schools. It’s focus is to encourage and help kids to run or walk 100 miles over the course of the school year and teach them healthy lifestyle habits. This race is organized by Run-Walk Events, and at the conclusion of RAUSA, Run-Walk Events will present the 100 Mile Club with a check containing the proceeds from fundraising.

The Foxy Moxies raised and contributed over $1,300.00 thanks to many of our friends, family members, and sponsors. The love, support, and generosity of those around us made this possibility a reality.  

Wednesday, April 1, 2015 6pm Leaving Little Rock

Lisa picks me up and we’re off to Magnolia trying to stay ahead of the thunderstorms. It gets country dark the further south we drive and it’s indeterminate if the sounds we hear are raindrops or bugs hitting the windshield. Conversation centers around typical race talk; clothing, gear, food, pace, and logistics. A late night dinner buffet starts one of many themes for the week,  as we all know that the words “all you can eat” are music to a marathoner’s ears. Thought of the day at the dusk of our new adventure – is the joke on us that we start our epic journey on April Fool’s Day?

Thursday, April 2, 2015 (Day 1) Start: Springhill, LA     

The circus is in town – five of us pile into Andi’s VW Bug (or clown car) to find the starting line. After a brief moment of panic and a message to the RD we locate the core team and crew at a gas station near the sign “Welcome to Arkansas the Natural State”. A quick group picture, announcement from Sandy (Co-race director), and we promptly start at 8:00am. Spirits are high with the excitement of beginning our journey and meeting our amazing fellow runners. But as the old adage goes- It’s all fun and games until someone (Andi) gags on a bug and pukes at mile 1.5. The first day proved to be the albatross around Andi’s neck, but she persevered and overcame bugs, upset stomach, and suffocating AR heat to finish strong. Thankfully her husband and son were crewing and kept us stocked with cold Ginger Ale. All puking aside, the one odd occurrence involved a man, a truck, a confederate flag, and much discussion about history.  My lesson of the day and advice to you is don’t FB post and run at the same time or you *might* kick roadkill.

Recovery: Hop in hotel pool with running clothes still on, Sonic slushes, Tie Dyed Trail Grub smokey pepper almonds, Asian buffet, and compression socks.       Finish: Magnolia  Distance: 26.47 miles  Time: 6:56

Friday, April 3, 2015 (Day 2) Start: Magnolia     

It’s Good Friday and we walk to the start line from our hotel and sip on coffee until the core team arrives. All three of us are suffering a strange bruise and swelling on our left ankle from the camber of the road, but without typical marathon recovery time we have to push through the soreness. The theme of the day quickly becomes “dirty” with road grit and clouds of pollen kicked up by speeding logging trucks causing the grime to settle on the surface and crevices of our arms and legs. To test our cardiovascular system, we run across bridges without shoulders at top speed  while logging trucks  bear down on us á la the ATARI game Frogger.Things that make the time pass by include looking for appropriate places to potty, singing songs, reviewing plans for the evening, taking pictures, deep thoughts, and trivial conversation.  Logistically, today also involved a move from one hotel to the next. My parents (with two of my children in tow) drove to the hotel in Magnolia where we had left all of our luggage at the front desk, they loaded it up and then met us along the road to help crew. They waited at the finish line to take us to our hotel in El Dorado and then picked up our dinner at the Flying Burger. Tips of the day include to always upgrade your hotel room if you can,  trash cans carry large quantities of ice, be careful of choosing said potty spot or you’ll get poison ivy (Lisa), and marathon brain in which you can’t speak or think clearly is a real diagnosis.

Recovery: Ice bath (made tolerable with adult beverages) and compression sleeves for Andi & Lisa (I already lost mine).                                                      Finish: El Dorado  Distance 26.45 miles Time 6:41

Saturday, April 4, 2015 (Day 3) Start: El Dorado     

We get a ride with the core team to the start line. Our ankles are increasingly worse and we’re trying out KT Tape and duct tape for support. Strangely, the normal aches and pains you’d expect aren’t an issue, but I personally had a rough night with stomach problems and not much sleep. The things that helped me push through were Andi & Lisa singing and dancing (playing music for the last few miles in Lisa’s speaker becomes part of the ritual), the weather was sunny but cool, and cold Ginger Ale provided by our crew (Andi’s family again and Chiclet El Destructor). Other established rituals include shouting “Game on!” and “Game off!” to indicate oncoming traffic (after all, foxy ladies have to channel Wayne’s World), and using a particular expletive and telephone poles to denote the beginning of our next running interval. By day three we’re getting to know the Race Across USA core team, and they are a wonderful group of people. We spend a few moments running with Newton and Barefoot Alex (he runs barefoot as his name implies) at the beginning of the day’s race. Each athlete brings a unique perspective to running and reminds me that we were brought together by this race at this particular time and place to achieve personal goals as well as inspiring future generations- it doesn’t get any better than this for a runner! Lesson of the day – there’s no love like the running community’s love.

Recovery: Flying Burger for dinner again, another ice bath,and falling asleep at 8:30.  

Finish: Strong (in more ways than one)   Distance 26.44 miles Time 6:56

Sunday, April 5, 2015 (Day 4) Start: Strong    

Easter Sunday greets us with making the cover of the sports section of the El Dorado newspaper, a sunburn on my left side of my neck and ear, and a bunny bearing gifts at the start line. The bunny turns out to be Arkansas’ own Jesse Riley a former Trans-America Foot Race director. I decide to try a new tactic for my ankle since it hurts each time I flex it (meaning every step is painful), and I wrap it snuggly with an ace bandage. The majority of the course passes by the Felsenthal National Wildlife Refuge and we cross multiple bridges over troubled waters with names like Lapile Creek, Deep Slough, and Ouachita River Relief. The day turns out rainy and cold, and I’m grateful when my husband and kids show up on the side of the road with our luggage from the last hotel so that I can dig out my raincoat and get kisses and hugs from my family. Mike finds the crew at the finish line, and they ask him to be there for us to finish and self-report our time in order to rush their core runners back to camp to get warm and dry. It was a monumental day in that we hit mile 100 and are guaranteed a buckle at this point. I seriously considered going home with my husband and kids, but I kept my thoughts to myself and decided to finish the race even if I had to crawl. I officially met Harry and Sally residing on Lisa’s big toes. I had heard rumors of the star crossed lovers, but didn’t realize the extent of their drama until I witnessed it in person. They almost met, but alas it wasn’t meant to be…the blisters remained on separate footing for the rest of their lifetime. We upgraded our room at the Ashley Inn and ended up next to the most happening Easter party I’ve ever heard. The merrymaking went on until 1am when a second call to the front desk put an end to the fun. Lesson of the day is that a room upgrade might not be worth it unless you can upgrade your neighbors too.

Recovery: Band-Aid tough strips for Harry and Sally, ice bath, and Chinese Buffet.

Finish: Crossett  Distance 26.44 miles Time 7:21

Monday, April 6, 2015 (Day 5) Start: Crossett  

With little sleep and slightly delirious, we load Lisa’s car for the next hotel move and eat breakfast at the Huddle House in which the amount of food consumed should’ve been embarrassing. Having to leave the car ½ a mile away, Andi and Lisa drop me off at the start line on the side of the highway because of the severity of my ankle injury. At this point more of the core runners add to the great debate on how to doctor it. Some suggestions were strong European drugs, an ankle brace, and no brace. I decide to leave it unwrapped and alternate taking Tylenol and Alleve. The day’s course takes us through agricultural communities with fields of newly planted crops and silos. The bugs swarm us as we take a potty break, and I walk into a batch of poison ivy to join Lisa in the itchy and scratchy show. Today’s crew is Lisa’s parents who greet us with every type of beverage a runner could want. Michele Lucas unexpectedly shows up on the side of the road with water and hugs to lift our spirits. Seeing as we are trustworthy and capable of staying the course, we are allowed to self-report our times again. Logistics involve a ride to Lisa’s car and transporting our stuff to the Quality Inn at Lake Village which elicits my favorite quote of the day “What do you mean there’s no elevator?” asked by a bewildered and confused Lisa Lu. Then a ten minute tense conversation about the lack of an elevator, no availability of rooms on the first floor, and the hotel being wheelchair accessible and compliant with the ADA. Thank goodness for the employee of the year. Tina’s patience, problem solving skills, and youth worked in her favor as she carried all of our luggage to the second floor and later hauled buckets of ice to our room (because you guessed it, the ice machine was on the first floor too). Later that evening, we finally met the Delta Moxie and Lake Village Ambassador,  Kellee, who took us to dinner at the casino buffet. Little did we know what she had in store for us the next day. Advice for the day is to watch diligently for poison ivy, and always check that your hotel has an elevator because climbing flights of stairs after five back to back marathons is brutal.  

Recovery: Ice bath, elevate legs, and multiple trips to the buffet.

Finish: Montrose  Distance 26.40 miles Time 7:20

Tuesday, April 7, 2015 (Day 6) Start: Montrose  Finish: Lake Village  Distance 26.35 miles Time 6:43

Second Start: Lake Village Second Finish: Banks of the Mississippi River  Distance 2.77 miles Time 1:00  

We choose to finish the race across AR today rather than getting up the next morning for the last three miles. Lisa’s wonderful parents take us to the start line for our final leg of the race. Rob from the core team hops out of the support vehicle prepared for Arkansas insects by wearing mosquito netting draped around his head and arms. We find out he’s in the process of breaking the world record for the number of marathons run in a year. For his astounding and touching story go to  www.marathonmanuk.com. Early on we are running stronger than we have all week and end up getting lost for the first time and unnecessarily crossing a scary bridge in the process. On our detour, we happened to be running with core runner and friend Newton whose laws include “relentless forward progress” and to “go lightly.” He was spotted across the fields by the crew at our first aid station, and they called his cell phone to tell him we were off track. We made our way across the fields and added about a mile to the day’s already long race. This was a temporary setback mentally and might have been a damper, but not for long – thanks to Kellee, all of Lake Village was on high alert for Foxy Moxie sightings. People came out of their homes and businesses to offer us water, take pictures, and cheer us on. They honked, shouted, and encouraged from their cars as they drove by. Kellee and her coworkers stood outside the hospital with food and drinks. Of course, the Foxy Moxies can’t be spotted walking through town, and it’s our last day so we give it our all, and we finish our marathon distance in record time for the week. Lisa’s parents and Kellee meet us at the Mississippi River bridge to finish the final stage of the race. But first, we wander around trying to find the levee which is the official finish line.  Being a local, Kellee was able to show us the way. We finished on the banks of the mighty Mississippi River with cold beverages in hand to celebrate. No crowds, no bells and whistles, no music, just the feeling of accomplishment under beautiful cyan skies. The moment feels surreal and I’m not sure how to react after completing 162 miles in six days. That night Kellee treats us and the core team and crew to dinner at the country club. We get to know the crew and core runners even better and friendships are made for life. Sandy & Darren, the Race Directors, present us with our 100 Mile Club medals and tell us that we are the top team fundraisers. Lesson of the day – “You can accomplish anything you set your mind to.”

Recovery: laughter, cold beverages, good food, and friends.

Total Distance 30+ miles

Wednesday, April 8, 2015 Leaving Lake Village

Aren’t we suppose to run another marathon today?  Nope, we head home stiff and sore with a bittersweet tone lingering in our conversation and on our hearts. The race has left an indelible impression on our lives. The three of us made a great team with Lisa showing her brains and organization skills as the grandmaster logistics maven, Andi’s fearless, badass honey badger soul kept us focused, and I found that heart and stubbornness will keep you going even when your body says to quit.  When we formed our team it was with this in mind – “The mission of the Foxy Moxie Running Mavens is to run across AR, to promote childhood fitness, to conquer our fears, and to push the limits of what we thought was impossible. We will strive to spread the word that running is fun!”              Mission. Accomplished.

To find out more about the 100 Mile Club, Race Across the USA, and to follow our shenanigans, “like” our Facebook page at Foxy Moxie Running Mavens for Race Across Arkansas.

Labour of LOViT: Giving Birth to my First 100k

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.” ~Nelson Mandela

Conception
The trail ultra seed had been planted early on by my training partner-in-crime, Bill Dobbins, but I didn’t know which ultra would be my first. I flirted with LOViT, coyly clicking on the website www.runlovit.com, and learning all I could about the course. Periodically I would drop words like “LOViT”, “ultramarathon”, “100 miles”, and “Born to Run” amongst my runner friends while closely watching the expressions on their faces. On September 18th while studying for my real estate license and humming along to Riptide,  Bill sent me a text that registration was open for the Run LOViT 100k. I pulled the trigger and signed up before I could change my mind. This was my FB post immediately after – “I just signed up and experienced a series of emotions in less than a minute – excitement, panic, joy, nervousness, anticipation, thrills, anxiety, and a very brief moment of questioning my sanity. But most of all I feel like I’ve found my place as a runner…” My 100k was conceived.

Pregnancy (2nd and 3rd trimesters)
“Honey, I need to run two back-to-back long training runs this weekend.”
“Honey, I need you to massage my legs & feet.”
“Honey, I need a Garmin.”
“Honey, I need a hydration vest.”
“Honey, I need a second pair of running shoes.”
“Honey, I need one more pair of socks.”
“Honey, I need a headlamp.”
“Honey, I need that new flavor of Huuma, Honey Stinger Waffles, & Tailwind.”
“Honey, I need a lightweight wind resistant rain coat.”
“Honey, I need a visor.”
“Honey, I need recovery compression socks.”
“I love you, Honey!”
My family and friends tolerated and encouraged me as the Run LOViT 100k grew in utero.

Pre-Labor
The night before my due date nerves had set in. I took a hot shower, taped my right knee and ankle, fussed over my drop bags, checked the birth plan twice, and perused social media until friends told me to get off of Facebook and go to sleep, but I couldn’t. Inducement time came quickly at 6a.m. on a dark and rainy morning. The labor pains slowly began with a short jaunt over asphalt that led to the Forest Service Road still covered in mud colored ice- my first indication that this was going to be a long and hard labor and delivery. I kept my eyes down looking for my predecessors’ foot steps and skid marks to determine the best path.
The contractions picked up as the grey and misty daybreak peeked through the north side of Hickory Nut Mountain. The climb raised my heart rate and my breathing started to follow the pattern of a “pant-pant-blow” and a “hee-hee-who” in an attempt to power hike over the ankle breakers covered in mud.

Morning Fog
Morning Fog

I made it to the Hickory Nut Overlook aid station or what was left of it. The volunteers had battled the wind all night and their tent was a crumpled pile of canvas and poles. However, they put some Tailwind in my IV and I was good to go. At this point my legs were warmed up, my body was loose, and my mind was alert, so I picked up the pace on the descent. Typically I run like an elephant – stomping my feet and landing heavily on the path, but this time I felt graceful – light and quick – dancing along the pine needles, and flitting across the roots and stones. Until I heard THE POP as it reverberated throughout my body. With an involuntary yelp and a mumbled curse, the pain and warmth spread throughout my ankle as it swelled until my shoe was tight. I knew this was inevitable for a klutzy trail runner like me… but at mile 6? Labor had just intensified. I swallowed two tylenol and kept moving.

The next 11 miles from Crystal Springs Pavilion through Bear Creek to Brady would prove to be the toughest stretch for me, both out and back. The terrain and weather conditions tried to mentally and physically break me, but ain’t nobody got time for that! I had a 100k baby to birth. Luckily I had donned my raincoat at the behest of a pacer waiting at Crystal Springs Pavilion. The thunder, lightning, and rain started up again as the temperature steadily dropped. Running along the ridge at Bear Mountain left me exposed to the cold wind and dense fog blowing up the mountainside, but it turned the lake, forest, and mountain into a mystical landscape. At any moment I expected to see nubile water and wood nymphs, magical wizards, sleeping giants, or a fiery dragon. Wait, did someone slip me an epidural?

Mystical Magical Beauty
Mystical Magical Beauty

Active Labor
Emerging from the land of enchantment into the Brady Aid Station there appeared the Holy Grail of Grilled Cheeses. I still don’t know how processed imitation cheese on white bread can be the best thing I ever tasted, but somehow it was. My confidence rose due to the fact that I was about to embark on the only stretch of trail I was familiar with, and I officially had my second wind. The endorphins and excitement kicked in to make the active phase of labor my most enjoyable. My dear friends Lisa Stuart and Lorena Moody hooting and hollering on the side of the road and waving signs caused me to choke up. My crew had arrived to coach me through the last half of my delivery. I made it to the Avery aid station 15 minutes earlier than what I had estimated in my birth plan, and took advantage of the real bathroom. My amazing midwife and doula refilled the bladder in my vest, helped me with my jacket, called my family, and took lots of pictures.

Halfway point
Halfway point

Approaching Spillway, I hit 32 miles, a new distance PR. Feeling elated as I spotted the aid station through the trees, I also spotted something else. ALL of them were there, my hubby and our three kids and Lisa and Lorena. I stopped in my tracks, heart in my throat,  tears running down my face, until I realized I was holding my breath. At that moment I was overwhelmed by the enormity of this race and the sacrifices made in order for me to train and run a 100k. This baby was special.

Overcome with emotion

Family!

From Spillway to Brady I was floating on cloud nine. The sun came out to play and rays of light filtered through the leaves and branches hitting moss covered boulders and causing them to glow green. Bright blue sky and fluffy white clouds framed the idyllic setting and reminded me how nature is a balm that soothes my restless soul.

Let the Sunshine in

Delivery
My first pacer, Lorena, joined me around mile 37 at Brady Mountain Road and the path to Bear Creek loomed ahead. I warned my adventurous doula that she had her work cut out for her.
We took off at 4:30 with the intention of being at Crystal Springs Pavilion by the official 8pm cutoff time. The trek across the ridge part deux sucked me into the winter doldrums again. My mood shifted, the sun was setting, my pace slowed, and I was stressing about making the cut-off time. Lorena distracted me by taking pics of Lake Ouachita, joking about the signs “Danger Rifle Range”, singing songs, and making plans for future endeavors. My new friend and fellow 100k runner Dat, whom I leapfrogged with throughout the race, passed us and said that we would be able to continue if we didn’t make the official cut-off time. I was somewhat relieved, but worried about my friends and family waiting at Crystal Springs.

Sunset Lake Ouachita
Sunset Lake Ouachita

We used a rope to cross Bear Creek and rolled into Crystal Springs at 8:30. It was a hub of activity, and volunteers were performing triage on the runners. Like simultaneous combustion everything happened at once. Andi Stracner, my next pacer, is handing me warm food, my son bursts into tears of exhaustion wailing “Mom I want you”, my girls are vying for my attention, and Mike was pulling my dry shoes and socks out of my drop bag, but then the announcement is made that runners had two minutes to leave the aid station. Say what? I have to forget about changing my shoes and socks and tell my family goodbye. Andi with her ninja skills, grabbed another quesadilla for me and we rushed out into the starry starry night.

Like the trained professional doula that she is, Andi talked me through the final stages of delivery. We chit chatted about the indomitable spirits of our grandmothers who had similar stories. Mine had just been in a car wreck with serious injuries and was currently at Memphis Regional Trauma. At that time she couldn’t move her left side due to a broken neck and collarbone and collapsed lung. Message heard loud and clear- never take for granted the ability to walk, run, and dance.

At a pit stop Andi encouraged me to turn off my headlamp and take a moment to admire the night sky. Van Gogh’s famous painting unfolded as we turned off our lights and our eyes adjusted to the dark. I reached my arm into the sky and pointed at my favorite constellation. Are you still there Orion? It’s me again. I can’t wait until I deliver this race at the finish line.

Hallucinations? Close encounters of the third kind? Pink Floyd laser light show? Nope, it was a party on top of Hickory Nut Mountain Overlook complete with a disco ball and rock ‘n’ roll blasting. The perfect send off to begin our final descent, but the party mood quickly dissipated as I fought an infuriating battle in the dark against the mud and rock slide on a steep decline. We were moving at a snail’s pace because I didn’t trust my exhausted and weak legs as they were slipping, sliding, and sinking down the mountain. Andi periodically called out to me to watch my footing and used her knuckle lights to illuminate dangerous spots. LOViT was a stubborn baby, but it was time to evacuate the premises.

So close yet so far away. Why do the final miles seem to stretch for an eternity? As we came out to where the FSR met paved road, there was my tireless crew. Lisa and Lorena blasted music loud enough to wake the dead, but it was just what I needed. I picked up my pace to a shuffle knowing that I was a mile from the finish. Time to “Ah, push it, push it real good. Ooh baby, baby, baby baby.” The final push sent me into the Mountain Harbor East Cove Pavilion where the tireless Dr. Dustin, I mean RD Dustin was waiting to catch the baby and put a medal on it, meanwhile Nicholas with ArkRuns caught it on video. My Run LOViT 100k finish was born at 12:45am on February 22nd after 18 hours and 45 minutes of labor.

Recovery
Two bowls of veggie quinoa soup.
Hot shower to wash away the grime.
Skin Sake for chafing.
Pajamas.
Compression recovery socks (Lisa wrestling those things onto my legs- the struggle is real).
Fire in the fireplace.
Blanket.
Cold beer.
Almonds.
Girl talk.
Does it get any better than this?
Life was darn near perfect.

Postpartum Blues
The next day my feet felt like they had been pounded with a meat tenderizer, my ankles were beat to hell, and I only had four hours of restless sleep. Mentally and emotionally I was still buzzing from finishing the race, but the feeling didn’t last. Three days later I slowly started to come off of the race high. I wanted to devour everything in sight and felt moody and emotional. I was having a hard time getting motivated to run – all I wanted to do was veg out in my bed. When I finally ventured out for an easy short run I realized that the only cure for post race blues is to sign up for another race.

Rumor has it that the Run LOViT 100 miler cut-off time will be extended to 34 hours next year…does my baby need a sibling? Maybe I should consider a strong contraception instead.

Aftermath
Aftermath