Thursday, December 26, 2013

When The Lights Go Out, Get A Light...

Who is Nic Sils and why does no one want to remember him? What did he do and why has no one moved into his room on 711 by the river after he died?

If you walk this way, you will see building 711. We will not go over there, though.


A faded blue sign reads SILS in a faded white writing above a door wide enough to drive a car through. It is a dark wooden door, possibly a forest green with a blue hint. Maybe it's navy. The building is brick and connected to a row of buildings, either businesses, or maybe residences. It is a faded bleached white brick, almost sandblasted, but not quite.

Who lived there?

No one anymore. That was the home of Nic Sils, a man so horrible, no one wants to remember him. He would do bloody rituals in the dark. People would say, "When the lights go out, get a light."

What does that mean?

It means you did not want to be in the dark. That was when he would do his rituals. It was a processional, in dimly lit rooms, they would get a calf and a cow, both black, walk them down to the altar, followed by a processional of people in black robes with candles. Children would watch and their mothers would try to hide them from seeing the horrors associated with Nic Sils.

But what did he do? Did he kill people?

No one knows exactly what happened. Just that you couldn't escape the feeling of terror or forget the screams. The screams of the children, crying, and their mothers clutching on to them for dear life.

He said no more. I stared at the building more, looking at the brown river behind it, cargo boats moving as slowly as the current. I walked around to the other side of the lifeless building to find another door, this time open.

People were inside, faceless strangers, in the Sils building. "What are you doing in here?" I asked. The people were arranging random chairs, in the room, but it was larger, much like a theater. Rows of chairs, golden filigree, red velvet and wood. The people walked out of the Sils building down the brick paved road, surrounded on either side by whitewashed buildings no different than the Sils building. They walked around me as if I did not exist to continue whatever it was they were sworn to do. I walked after them, curiously, to what appeared to be a church.

Across the street from the church was a small cafe where college students were having lunch and laughing. No one cared about what was going on.

This can't be happening. Go inside.

I walk inside the church and see it looks just like the inside of the Sils building not too far away. Masses are gathering, although it is fairly empty. No one comes here much anymore. A woman sits with her children, all between the ages of 2 and 6. I sit by her. Everyone settles down and then the doors open for the processional.

They turn around and someone says, "When the lights go out, get a light" and walks down with a candle. Another man holds a candle down the second aisle. A girl walks down to the altar with a portrait and places it on the altar. Someone looks over and shrieks, "NO! They can't be doing this!"

What's going on? What are they doing?

The people in the processional start chanting as a calf and a cow walk down the aisle, both black. The lights in the church dim.

"DON'T LET THEM DO THIS!" someone shouts. "THEY HAVE TO STOP!"

Everyone is upset, but nothing is being done to stop anything. We are all terrified.

The processional walks down the aisle. The mother next to me grabs on to her children except for one boy. He's too far from her. I hold on to him and try to tell him it will be OK. I look over at her and she just shakes her head and is crying.

What's going on?

"Don't look at him," she says to me. I'm staring at the portrait of an older man with grey hair, cold hazel eyes, a stern brown, scowl, and squared jaw. I look at her again and she acts as if my seeing this portrait has somehow made me evil.

Her son is still hiding in my arms from the processional and wiggling around.

The room sits in horror, filled with screams, crying, and darkness with a few candles as shadows run up and down the aisles, but we can all clearly see the portrait. That has to be Nic Sils. But why?

The lights come back on. The doors open. The processional leaves with the leaders of the aisles in their black robes and the rest in their street clothes. Everyone sighs and exits relieved with the same feeling of joy to be alive after getting off a roller coaster.

I leave, but feel terrified. I don't feel the joy to be alive that the rest of the people feel. I feel as if something horrible happened but I don't know what. I still want to know what Nic Sils did to everyone to make him so feared and why I'm now perplexed by his existence.

When the lights go out, get a light. Do not follow them into the night. You'll see a calf and a cow and procession of robed men in black. The screams, the screams, that's all you'll remember are the screams. Do not remember Nic Sils. Do not remember him. Do not let them remember him. Stay away from 711.

Who is Nic Sils? What did he do? 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Jumping The Gun

It seems like people are so eager to get things done quickly now days, they compromise quality and completely bypass common sense. I feel as though I deal with this situation on a daily basis where information must get out right away, but in attempts to do so, details may be missing. That is not to say that the fault lies on the people who are creating the content or putting it out there, but that they are pressed with such a high demand from outsiders to receive information, that sometimes, it isn't perfect and requires several revisions.

As I said before, I deal with situations that compromise quality due to urgency. Yesterday, however, was the first time I had dealt with a situation that personally affected me because someone was so eager to jump the gun, they completely bypassed common sense. I had been shopping around recently for different insurance quotes to see if we could get a deal on our multiple coverage policy of home/auto insurance. I had contacted two companies. One called constantly and after calling them, I wasn't very impressed with their quote. The other I had said I was interested in their policy but would need to look into it more and that I would get back with them, giving them a date to call me of December 6th, not realizing that was a day I was going out of town. So December 6th rolls around and I had told the agent I completely forgot I was going to Savannah that day and to call me back in a week as I was interested, but needed to discuss this more with my husband. Key word here is interested.

Flash forward to December 16th: we get a letter in the mail from our lender notifying us that they have received our "intent to transfer" notice and that they will need proof of our new coverage along and that if we do not do so, they will provide an insurer for us, etc. etc. That the notice came in on December 10th.

New coverage?

Of course after taking care of some urgent work matters, I contact the company who quoted us and told them that we had decided that we were not going to use them, now in this part because they had taken it upon themselves to create a policy for us which we did not sign off on. Due to the fact they decided that me saying I was interested (not authorizing, interested and needing to discuss with my husband), they assumed that meant a green light. I'm pretty sure when you have a policy that is a joint account, you need both parties to authorize this. I could be wrong, but either way, even if I said, "Sure, let's do this," they would still need my signature to authorize the policy. So now, because of their anticipation, I had to spend the time to call my lender, my insurance agency, and them and say, "DO NOT MAKE ANY CHANGES TO MY ACCOUNT. LEAVE IT AS IS." Additionally, I have to send a letter of cancellation to prevent me getting billed to this "new" policy all because someone jumped the gun.

Moral of the story: Yes, sometimes life gets hectic and information needs to get out ASAP. Yes, sometimes mistakes are made. We are all human. However, there will never be a situation where something is so urgent, taking one second to apply a little common sense and ask yourself, "Is this right?" unless it pertains to life or death. When in doubt, check the facts. Nothing is worth compromising the satisfaction of clients, users, public, and so forth by bypassing common sense and jumping the gun just for the sake of getting something done. Sometimes, it's perfectly acceptable to delay.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Another Coast, Another Marathon: Running the Savannah Marathon

After I ran LA, I was convinced I wouldn't want to do another marathon for a while. I was supposed to do Soldier last year but the group I was running with kind of disbanded and I dropped to half because I didn't want to run alone. Crystal then talked me into doing Savannah. So we signed up and booked a road trip situation out there.

I'm going to fast forward to the Friday before the race. Everything was good to go. Only thing I needed to take care of was getting air put in my tires. Jesse was supposed to do that but my schedule was so crazy with school I just figured I'd take it to Tires First since it was on the way. I took it down there and they added air and checked for leaks to make sure "my tires won't explode or go flat on me on my way to Savannah" as I frantically told them. I was a nervous wreck while there. I didn't think it would take as long as it did and by the time they finished, I was set back by a half hour.

I wasn't sure if I would make it to the expo center in time to pick up my stuff or not, so I asked Crystal if she'd be able to pick up for me. I wasn't sure if they'd let her or not because they had this whole no pick ups for other people under any condition policy. Well, it turns out, they didn't really care. She had a copy of my ID and my filled out form and got it. She said they grabbed it and bailed.

Meanwhile, I had drove from Columbus to Savannah non-stop, booking it as Sarah at Big Dog was like, "What are you doing here still!? You're never gonna make it! If you go over 80 you'll get ticket after ticket after ticket in the small towns." I did drive through small towns. Last time we went to Savannah, we went through Macon, this time I was routed through Buttler. Good lord, I was stuck in a one lane traffic area bumper to bumper for I don't know how long. I was so worried I would be lucky to get to Savannah by 7 and maybe I can run in to the expo, get my bag and leave. Even after driving like my native California of weaving and unmentionable speeds, I did manage to get in earlier than I hoped. GPS told me I had an ETA of getting to Savannah in 4 hours, 8 minutes. I got there in 3 hours, 38 minutes. I'm not sure how much faster that would have been if I didn't have to deal with traffic!

Crystal called me and told me she got my stuff, though, and was going to get something to eat. I told her I'd reroute when she got an address of a restaurant. I didn't hear from her and I got to the Civic Center. At that point, she texted me a menu, letting me know a sit down restaurant wasn't gonna happen as the city was crazy packed with the usual lot of residents, tourists, and now 18,000 runner and their families. I rerouted back to the bed and breakfast, driving over the ridiculously huge bridge Jesse and I are going to run over next month during a 5K. While I know I am set to run 26.2 miles the next morning, I am mores stressed out over the massive size of the bridge and not looking forward to that, but definitely looking forward to another trip to Savannah in a month.

When I get to the bed and breakfast, I park around the block and meet up with Crystal. We go in and she informs me that they don't have a cot, but our room has access to a storage closet with all sorts of random goods and I throw together a make-shift bed from the furniture in the sitting room, luggage racks, towels, and memory foam bath mats. I was so proud of my make shift bed.

We ate dinner and spent a little time walking around the city in the evening taking photos of some of some sights. It was brief. We didn't want to do too much walking or too much since we had to be in bed early and wake early.

The next morning we got a somewhat late start to the race and wound up walking into a different corral (we were supposed to be in 21 but walked into 17.)

The first part of the race went by extremely fast. I don't think I have ever ran a race that the miles passed so quickly. It was like we ran a few blocks and the next thing we know we're at mile 4, then 6, then 9. The community support was fantastic. It reminded me very much of Los Angeles with all the spectators out on the streets and on their porches. There were tons of awesome signs and so many great things. There were some guys at mile 9 handing out beer and chocolate. Naturally, I had to stop by and partake in their festivities. I pounded my beer and continued on my quest.

Around mile 10, we saw Bacon. Yes, a man dressed in a giant bacon suit. Everyone loved bacon. It was pretty awesome. You could hear everyone shouting about him. He was with his mom on her 60th birthday doing her first marathon and saw the suit in his trunk. He left in in there after Halloween and thought, "What the heck, it'll be fun." He sure made a lot of people's day.

At that point, Crystal's knee was hurting her and she decided to drop off at the half marathon split. We parted ways at the split and she headed to her finish and I headed to another 15 miles. I was merged onto a highway where I would spend a few miles out, running around a college, a park, and then coming back.

The stretches along the highway felt like they were extremely long. Partially because there was no crowds to cheer us on other than the occasional medic or water stations. I felt like I had got very slow and could feel my pace going down significantly. Much to my surprise, however, I wasn't that much slower and was still very much on target. I whipped out the music to do my running sing along to keep me from being bored. Honestly, I can say that two things really mess with my psyche when I run: boredom and no sense of measure (time/distance).

As mentioned earlier, this was a run where the miles just passed very quickly. Time felt short. I was eager to get to the 13 mile mark as that meant half way point, but hitting mile 16 was exciting because it was the 10 miles left and then mile 17 where it was single digits. Mile 20 was just as thrilling. I was left with a 10K. Everything was amazing. Then at mile 22, the GPS died. The battery life had gone and I was on my own.

Once that happened, I continued but let my mind get the better of me. I kept pushing through the streets, but once I got back to the highway, that was a whole other story. My brain said, "This is it. Once we get to Mile 23, it's a 5K. You can do a nice slow 5K and finish in another 36 - 40 minutes. Just take it easy."

I wish it were that easy. I know you're suppose to run through the suck and own up to your pain. Running is not easy. It can hurt and often. But there's a difference between a pain of fatigue and a pain of injury and the difference is pretty sharp. I stopped at the medic just before mile 23. I asked for some ibuprofen but they only had Tylenol. I wasn't really willing to take my Meloxicam while running (a quick back story: the week after North Face, I twisted my knee in the kitchen while putting dishes up and strained a ligament. I had to rest for 3 weeks and was prescribed an anti-inflamatory. I stopped taking it after the pain was gone for 72 hours and I had some left over and knew I'd want it after my marathon and took some with me just in case.) The only reason I skipped on the Melo is because I had taken ibuprofen at mile 12 and again around mile 18. My hips were very stiff and dull achy (normal), my core was stiff and achy (normal), my left knee, the knee I had just recovered from injuring a month ago was a dull ache that was starting to work up to a sharp ache (not normal). I feared the ibuprofen was masking a return injury but only had three more miles left and was going to say, "screw it, mask the pain, finish the race, deal with injury later." Clearly that's not a good mindset to have, but in my defense, I dealt with 13 miles of a much more serious issue when I ran Los Angeles, so I agreed with myself that I would give a mile to walk it off. One mile passed and I sad, "OK, one more mile, but you're gonna finish strong."

As I explained to a friend, running a marathon parallels childbirth. So many people make these birth plans of how things are going to go when their child is born, but you have to learn to expect the unexpected and prepare for the worst case scenarios and curve balls. I went in knowing what potential risks I was facing on Saturday. I knew I would have a possible chaffing issue. Sure enough, at mile 13, I had the medics get me some vasoline and much to my excitement, I didn't have any chaffing problems that day! I also knew I would have some inflammation issues and I brought my ibuprofen. I also knew the knee could possibly act up and my plan was if it did, depending on how bad it was, we'd play it by ear.

The tylenol didn't work. I wound up walking through the next few miles knowing I had lost out on my sub 6 hour finish. It was moderately heartbreaking for a few seconds before the relentless side of my brain shut that party pooper side up. If I dwelled on that, I would be even worse off and sulk the rest of the way in. Instead, my relentless half reminded me, "You are now less than 2 miles away. You are preventing an injury from coming back. YOU ARE STILL A WHOLE HOUR AHEAD of your last marathon finish time. You finished that marathon with an injury and you're gonna finish this one too. BE RELENTLESS."

Just then, a magical group of people outside of their house were sitting with cups of beer. I was like, "BEEEEEEEEEEEER!!!" and they were like, "C'mon, you look like you need a beer!" I don't think I have ever drank a liquid faster in my entire life. I just needed something, ANYTHING, that wasn't water or gatorade and they had it. And it had calories. Lots of glorious calories! There wasn't any food on the course other than Gu. I was thinking there would be, but there wasn't. At that moment, I felt like Popeye after eating spinach. I told them they were as awesome as the people at mile 9 and one guy was like, "That was my house!" The gal was like, "Here, have some more!" and I drank the next cup just as fast. They cheered me on and the lady was like, "You're our kinda gal! Rock on!" I let out a "WOO, THANK YOU FOR BEING AWESOME!" to them and ran in with new life.

Seeing the finish guide rails was just as wonderful as seeing the pool back at North Face. I could see it, feel it, a personal victory. Beating a previous time. Beating an old injury and preventing it from returning. Beating my predicted finish time. I got my medal and finished feeling strong. I wanted Savannah to be my redemption run and it was. It was everything I was hoping it would be.

When I finish Los Angeles, I was happy I finished, but I felt bad because I was so far from my predicted finish that I felt like a failure. It took me a while to get past that. But I didn't feel like that with Savannah. I felt proud. I spent a great deal of time posting on Facebook about a lot of post race feelings and musings.

After crossing the finish, however, there was still the issue of the knee. I saw Crystal and her mom and headed towards them. I also noticed a giant pile of ice. I shouted, "I'm gonna love up on that ice like a dog on a fertilized lawn!" They laughed. I was serious. I dropped to my knees and drank water. It was so wonderful to sit in the cold ice. It was like I could feel my inflamed knees and calves joyfully shrinking down. I buried my left knee in the ice and sat there for a while. It was the most wonderful feeling in the world. I finished my race. I got my medal. I got to rest and in ice!

After the run, we went back to the room and I showered and dressed so we could go get a late lunch. Crystal's mom found a real cute place that had sandwiches and that's one of my magic foods. Unfortunately it was a few blocks away. I wasn't really feeling up to walking any more, but I put on my knee brace, took my Meloxicam and went out. I felt exhausted there. Part of it was from running, part from walking, part from being in the sun all day, and then, the other part from digestive issues due to me drinking chocolate milk post race and forgetting how much straight milk/chocolate milk upsets my stomach. These issues were also made worse by the sudden introduction of food to my body.

We walked back after we finished eating and I laid on the chair for a bit taking a mini power nap/rest session that was more of a lay down and post on Facebook and congratulate everyone who did Soldier Marathon back in Columbus. I finally packed up my stuff and headed back home around 5:00pm. It was a long day, but I was ready to be back with my boys and in my bed.

My gps died on the way home and I got lost, but quickly found my way back after a little back tracking and finding a sign to Buttler. I figured if I could find my way there, I could figure out how to get back. Much to my luck, my phone had charged up a bit in that time and I was able to get the gps up again after I got a signal. I had been craving Taco Bell all night and stopped to get some before I got home. There were a few bathroom break stops here and there as well as stretch breaks so my 9:00pm ETA turned closer to 10:00pm.

When I got home, Jesse filled me in on all the details of him and Charlie's fun day. All the things they did. How Charlie ran the Kid's Soldier Marathon all by himself and finished in 10:32. I was so proud of him for that.

 He was very excited to get another medal to add to the rack in my room.

The next morning, he showed me his medal and coin and I showed him my medal. He asked me if I won and I did not say yes or no, simply that I got a medal. He was so excited and said, "YOU WON!" Yeah, I guess I kinda did win. I accomplished everything I hoped to, and that makes me feel like a winner.

So no long runs for a while till my knee heals completely. But I will be doing the full Soldier for sure next year. That is already on my mind. With the splits I was doing at Savannah, I'm pretty sure I could definitely hit a 5:30:00 - 5:45:00 finish. I'm sure I'll probably find another race to do soon...

Monday, September 30, 2013

RAG Training Month 2: September

What’s a Labor Day without laboring? Well, this Labor Day, I was invited to another 8 hour run, this time at Lake Heath Park. I didn’t get the memo that everyone was doing the smaller loop, so I wound up doing less laps, but more mileage per lap. The day started at 6 am and was humid and hot for most of the day. My goal was to do my weekend mileage of 19 total miles (9 for Saturday, plus 10 for Sunday) in one sitting. 

Somewhere around 10 check marks in I met my quota and decided I would just go for any extracurricular miles I could get in. So I continued to proceed with my plan as though I were doing RAG of run a set period, take a short break, repeat so many times to a longer break. I think it worked out to two rounds of doing this and then starting a third round. I wound up doing something like 24.7 miles. It was a really great day. I stopped when it hit 2:00pm even though our original cut off time was scheduled for closer to 2:15 because I knew at that point I wouldn’t be able to make it another lap before the cutoff.  At the end of the run, I felt completely unphased other than my usual chaffing. I went home, took a shower, and did some housework.
The best part of that run was that it was very much my run. I owned it! I ran by myself (seeing the faster folks loop past me on a few occasions.) I ran for the whole 8 hours with ABSOLUTELY NO MUSIC. Now, if you know me, you know I love to run with music. Mostly because it makes me happy and blocks out the sound of me breathing, and of course, because I get bored and it keeps me amused. I often use music as a judge of time like how many songs pass and distance and what not. Well, not on this run. It was 8 hours of random thoughts, cicadas, occasional car sounds, kids playing at the park, music from someone having a BBQ in their backyard, Charlie laughing while playing with Kena’s son, George, but not my typical running mix of carefully selected songs to run to. I was completely OK with this, too. 

I decided to swap my weekday runs to one night and consolidate all miles. Instead of two 3 mile runs, I did 6 miles in one night. I ran with the Couch to 5K group for a bit. I also tried out some Newton’s at Big Dog. They were horrible. I’m not sure why I tried them on other than everyone loves them and I wanted so much to love them too, but they were beyond wrong for my flat feet. I only did maybe 1.75 miles in them with the C25K group and constantly focused on all the horrible things about me as a runner like my flat feet, how I’m slow, I need to lose weight, and it made that run even more miserable. I totally lost focus of things and in turn made my run miserable. After I got back to Big Dog, I ditched the Newtons for my Sauconys and went back out for a few more miles. I only added an extra 3.25 bringing me up to 5 miles. I ran into Brooke, who was out training for the Soldier half marathon, and trailed Jennifer back in on her way to pick up Cupcake so she could do a little running. I followed my run up with a Planet Pop and went home to do one more mile with my boys.

I’ve been enjoying running with Charlie as he is excellent at setting my pace. He lacks endurance to do anything over 1.5 mile now, but for the little distance he can put in, he is great! We did a family loop around my 1.2 mile loop and that squared away my night.

The rest of the week was pretty bad for me. I was supposed to do 35 miles over the weekend and wound up doing nothing. Friday I found myself leaving work early due to ovarian cysts popping. That was miserable. The pain didn’t stop then. It lasted well into Saturday and then on Sunday, my only day to play catch up, I got hit hard out of the blue with a sinus cold. Instead, I spent the day sleeping, or rather knocked out, from whatever was attacking my body. At that point, I decided maybe it’s best to re-assess my training plan (yet again!) to consider an “off” week where there is no running at all for the case of simply allowing my body some time to rest and recover. This would most likely be the week after my longest long run. 

The next run of the week was a week night run with Jesse. It was brief and not even really equitable to a run rather a “break in new shoes” jaunt. Jesse was tired, I forgot how annoying it is to break in new shoes, and we just ran by a house my mom and dad are thinking about buying so I could show Jesse the neighborhood and the house. He liked it and thought it would be cool if they could move out here. We’re keeping our fingers crossed.

Two days later, we went out for another run. We only did a short distance, maybe 3 miles. He didn’t like the run and thought it was not a safe area and insisted he did not want me to run that area again due to the high volume traffic and lack of shoulder. I assured him it was fine and that I had taken safety measures necessary to be highly visible and safe by running on the grass on the side that was somewhat shoulder like if necessary. He still did not approve of this. I told him he needed to get used to that idea because during Run Across Georgia, I would be running on highways. 

Later that night, he told me he did not want me to do the race at all. He said he had been thinking about it for the past two weeks and decided that he wanted to put the nix on it officially. He didn’t want to crush my dreams, but he said he couldn’t do things at home on his own. It was too hard. I told him it wasn’t any easier when he was working and I had to take care of the whole house by myself but without a washer/dryer in the house or a car and had to commute via pushing a stroller hauling laundry to the Laundromat, or groceries home attached to the stroller. He said my argument was not a fair one in the sense that it was not right of me to say because I endured a certain amount of responsibilities at home it was now his turn. That it doesn’t work that way. The argument was left as is and it was determined I could not participate in RAG next year at the end of the discussion.

A few days later, I wanted to go for a run. While I was not allowed to do RAG, I was allowed to still do short runs, occasional long runs, and finish any races I had previously committed to. (As a measure of peace keeping, I downgraded my registration for the Miles for Maria race in Kennesaw the week after the Savannah Marathon from the 12 hour race to the 6 hour race, greatly in part to the fact it is on Jesse’s birthday and I know he was not happy about that one at all.) 

I talked Jesse into going out with me on either a longer run or a more substantial run. I suggested we do a sunset trail run and he was open to that. It was his first time doing trails and I think he was kind of excited about it. We went to Flatrock and only did 3 miles, but he had a fun time and said he would be down for doing trails again. 

Naturally, since our post-no-RAG talk, I had been re-analyzing the training plan. I realized most of my training would be taking me through the fall for the races I’m doing now, so RAG would just be an extra 5 months. As much as I dislike the idea, I came up with a condensed training plan that fit into a 5 month period and still follows the Galloway method but also incorporates some other concepts from further readings including off days and active recovery. It also found my B2B runs not going from a full day of running two days in a row but rather a full day on one day and half the distance the second day, which was more an issue of recovery. I figure it’ll work or it won’t. It seems like at this point it is largely mental and you either have the physical ability and the mental power to do it or you don’t. So, my mind is in the right place, but we’ll see where my strengths lie. 

I pitched the idea to Jesse that I’m already running so much for my current races. Maybe in a few months we could talk RAG training again. After all, if two months in he says it’s too much and he can’t hang, the rebuttal would be that we’re halfway done. He agreed that isn’t that big of a deal and said that while he is not going to agree to anything now, he will be open to discuss this again come January. In the mean time, I am not prohibited from running anymore (as I thought originally), just limited on my frequency and durations. Occasional long runs are OK, but not all the time or back to back. Although I think we need to redefine “long run” for argumentative sake. Long run to me is anything over 20 miles…

In other news, Charlie has been joining me on neighborhood runs as he is signed up to do the Kid’s Soldier Marathon again this year. He did it last year and really enjoyed getting his medal so we thought we’d let him do it again. I ordered him some kiddie Saucony Kinvaras because his old running shoes from last year are getting too small. Anyway, my two favorite training buddies run with me on Wednesday nights. We just do short distances for recovery mostly. All three of us did the 1.25 mile loop. Then, while Jesse got Charlie set up in the shower, I did another loop and came back and Jesse went out and did his. We’ve been doing this family loop thing a few times so it’s kind of becoming a thing in our house. Everyone seems to like it a lot and we’re thinking of making it a regular thing.

I started to taper for a bit in preparation for The North Face Endurance Challenge. Crystal talked me into doing a trail 50K with her. I love to run trails, but I also don’t really enjoy being on them for that long. But I know it was on her bucket list to do it and I felt like I had to be supportive. I didn’t doubt my abilities as I had done several runs where I was on my feet for a long period of time. Anyway, long story short, I did not make the cut off time of 10 hours and it actually took me 11.5 to finish it. But, I did finish. And that was my goal. The details of that race are in a blog of itsown because it was pretty extensive in itself! 

The day after, I went with Jesse when he did the 5K. He did great and came in 6th for his age group and had a blast. He was a little achy after and didn’t want to do much because he was booking it on the trails. Charlie wanted to go run a mile around the neighborhood, so I hobbled out with him to help him train for the Kid’s Soldier Marathon. I wish he would have just ran his mile at the Kids K at North Face because then I wouldn’t have to run with him and he would have got a medal! Oh well. 

Anyway, this month wrapped up with 76 miles even though I didn’t really even try. It just happened. October will be a month of continuing marathon training and hoping Jesse considers letting me do RAG again in the spring. In the meantime, I’ll keep doing my thing and keep on running.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

31 Miles in a Nutshell

A long time ago, Crystal said after we ran our first marathon that she wanted to run a 50K trail race next. I told her she was crazy and that would never happen. Fast forward later, we are on our way to The North Face Endurance Challenge 50K trail run in Pine Mountain, GA. How did I get suckered into this? After all, I have done trail races before, the longest being a half marathon, and even then, I have sworn that it was pretty hard and I couldn't foresee myself doing another long distance trail race after that. Of course, when your training buddy has a bucket list goal to run a 50K, you can't just let them down.

So we signed up a little less than two months before the event. Prior to that we were just doing regular marathon training for the Savannah full marathon. TNFEC was simply an after thought. Plus we were able to take advantage of the early registration registration fee. I continued my RAG training at that time and incorporated a trail run as my second day run on my back to back run day. I had been racking up a lot of mileage in weekend runs with 100 mile run months and 8 hour run days and so on. By the time TNFEC came, I felt confident I could finish the mileage, just not so confident I could do it in the allotted time frame. I was correct. I did not finish in the 10 hour cut off. It actually took me about 11:30:00 to finish. Crystal had the misfortune of having to drop out at the second check point 11 miles in. She was having problems with her back and was worried about getting a serious injury. While she made it 1/3 of the way, it was probably smarter for her to listen to her body rather than shut up her ego and risk injury.

But, with what could have been fixed out of the way, I'd like to focus on what I believe did go right. First off, I think my training went right. As mentioned before, my timing sucked, but I finished, uninjured, and not as sore as I could have been. I had several close calls of running and falling into things, including one instance where my foot landed on some dirt along a hill with a very steep drop that was not very sturdy dirt but rather loose gravel. As my foot started to slip down the side, I was fortunate enough to have my left foot land and I sort of hopped to force myself back into a natural gait, picking up where I left off and not falling off the side of a mountain. (Let me also state that last night when I went to bed, I was extremely exhausted but did not get good sleep due to trail running falling off mountain side related nightmares.) 
I'm not going to lie. With this being my first Ultra, if I did it again, I would train different. I would definitely incorporate a longer training period and add at least two or more long trail runs. I think the longest one we did on the trail was 8 miles and only because we got lost. I did do almost 25 miles on an 8 hour run, but that was not nearly hilly enough to represent the run we would be doing, but more something to train for being on my feet for a long period of time. However, I believe that was a very good training concept to put in as I believe that was a huge factor in me finishing and feeling good.

Another important thing I was very happy with was my hydration and nutrition. I know the balance necessary for me when it comes to electrolytes, water, food, and so forth. I was very happy whenever I had to pee to see that my urine was of an average amount and anywhere from clear to pale yellow. (Yes, it sounds like TMI, but when you have soda colored urine, that's dangerous territory, so it is important to know what your pee looks like when partaking in strenuous activities!) And about the food, let me just say the food at this race was fantastic! Every aid station had pb&j sandwiches, chips, pretzels, Skittles, M&Ms, soda, potatoes, and of course the standard race foods and drinks like shot blocks, gu/gel, energy bars, bananas, oranges, water, and electrolyte beverages. So, being who I am, I would have my 50/50 water/electrolyte mix and a soda with some chips, chocolate, and fruit. (I'm such a healthy runner, I know!) If you consider all the crap I ate/drank, I probably very easily consumed about 3000 calories, which is great because I'm pretty sure I burned about that same amount or more. I'm a data nerd and love to weigh myself to see how much water weight I lose in runs and on this one, I wound up losing about 5 lbs in running after replenishing food/liquid.

Another thing that was good was that all the chaffing I received in training really helped prepare me for being able to run through chaffing. I know it sounds gross and wrong, but I have learned that unless it is fall or winter and cool enough for me to wear capris or leggings, I will chaff. Period. No matter what I wear, shorts, skirts, compression shorts, I chaff. End of story. I chaffed yesterday. To be honest, I knew it was happening and was aware of its existence, but my mind was in a good place that deterred me from the feeling of burned friction and stayed focused on the task at hand. Also, knowing that I could refuel my camelback at all the stops, next time, I will take my tube of vasoline with me.

Anyway, long story short, I felt like I did a lot of things right that resulted in me having a very pleasant run. Now for the fun stuff: play by play account of the day!

I slept in through my alarm and two snooze cycles. I was supposed to be up at 4 and on my way to Crystal’s at 4:30. Despite being late, I still woke up on time. I picked her up and we went to Dunkin Donuts so I could get a coffee and I also got a ham and cheese croissant because why not, right? The drive was dark, I almost hit a cat at some point, there were police vehicles blocking the road to FDR and all you could see were bright blue lights between pine tree silhouettes. It was super creepy. We got a parking pass that was super handy dandy and didn’t have to worry about bag check because the Big Dog tent was nearby with our favorite people who were more than happy to let us keep our stuff there. For some reason, the coffee was upsetting my stomach and I felt like I was going to throw up but never did. My husband told me to take my headlamp and I was like, “Nah, it’ll be light by the time we run.” I took it anyway and couldn’t thank him enough when I got home. It was dark when we started.

Now, we were hanging out and heard something about 15 minutes till start and were taken aback. Already? We just got here! So we went to the start and usually I get some sort of excitement or whatever before races and I didn’t then. It was almost like I knew I didn’t have time to be peppy because I had to conserve. Either that or it was just that we had done so many runs in training it felt like any other day and I wasn’t worried at all. Regardless of what the situation was, I felt like I was in the right place mentally.

The game plan for the day was run to aid stations, take a break. So we did just that. I’m not sure where we started but the first leg was 5 miles and pretty easy. The first check point/aid station was a nice area with a port a potty, food, drinks, and all the goodies. Joni was working there as a volunteer and apparently all the volunteers had been out there since a crazy stupid time like 3 am or something and had to be there till the end of the day! Bless their hearts! We got back on the trail and ran another 6 miles to aid station 2. This leg was the one that leads from the Country Store. I have done this one many times so I was really confident on that part feeling great and blazing away. The end had some ugly hills but we got to the top in one piece and 1/3 of the way completing the course. I’m guessing it was that bastard of a hill we dealt with, but this was the point Crystal had to drop out because her back was killing her. That meant I would be alone for the next 20 miles. I know she was really disappointed because this was what she wanted to do and her adventure, but her body wasn’t going to let her do it. So I decided I had to finish for Crystal. I gave her my car key at the rest stop and went back out.

After Crystal was gone, the next leg was another good one. 5 miles to the next aid station and they were pleasant and passed quickly on another beautiful trail. It was almost noon and I decided at that point to take my middle of the day break. I laid down for a bit to let my feet get a break and elevated them to let some of the blood flow. After 15 minutes there, I got back out on the trail and headed to what I knew would be the most difficult part of the trail: the 7 mile leg. Not only was it long, but it was hilly, on loose gravel or rocky terrain, and there was some fire damage and no shade coverage like the rest of the trail. I’m not gonna lie, that part sucked pretty bad. However, it wasn’t too horrible. It was on this part that I saw a doe dart in front of me and pause to look me in the face. I went to take her picture and discovered my phone was dead. I must have been about 18 or 20 miles in at this point and all of my devices died. I had no idea of mileage other than once I got to an aid station and mentally calculating my pace and assuming where I’d be next. It was around this time I also knew I would not be making the 10 hour cut off time, but as long as they let me finish, I was OK with that. I kept going and I saw Jonathon running back to finish up his marathon. He asked about Crystal and I briefly filled him in the details and told him I’d see him at the finish line and left him with some words of encouragement.

As I continued the 7 miles of misery, I saw a girl alone on a rock with her head in her arms looking like death punched her in the face. I asked if she was OK and she told me she was barfing and was told to eat some shot blocks but she wasn’t eating them because she was throwing everything up. I had seen this before at the Alien Half and gave her an electrolyte tablet. I told her just eat it. Even if she didn’t have water to mix with it, just eat it because it would help her out. She did have water and I also gave her some ibuprofen to help with her pain. She took them and said she’d probably just barf them out. I told her I’d let the aid station know to get her when I get to the next one and she said she appreciated it and to have me tell them she wouldn’t be able to finish the race. So, I did one more check up to make sure she was OK and wasn’t going to pass out or anything and continued on. This time I was on a rescue mission. I was the last person on the course and didn’t see anyone behind me or in front for that matter. When I got to the next check point, I told the people about her and they were like, “We just picked her up” and I assured them I was the last person and there was no way anyone got her. Plus, their gal was a red head in celery green and mine was a blonde in blue. So they called her in to their people and I kept going as the next stop was rumored to be 1.7 miles from them. As I trekked through technical terrain of rocks and steep descents and climbs, I started to see more people coming back my way and realized that maybe I wasn’t that far behind. Really, it turns out I wasn’t. I kept thinking I was so far back but looking at the finishing results, I wasn’t.

When I got to the last aid station, I asked how far I had left and they told me it was like mile 22.7 or something and I tried to look at it as less than 9 miles, knowing I couldn’t beat the clock, but that at this point it wasn’t about the clock but about just finishing. At this point, it was the turn around and time to head back. On my return, I ran into my neighbor, Stephanie, who was sweeping for the marathoners. She provided some encouragement to me and snapped a picture of me hating life for the moment. After that, I got back on the trail and continued home.

Here’s where it gets interesting. A man comes opposite me and asks, “Are you doing the 50K!?” and I tell him I am and keep going and he follows me and said he was the 50K sweeper and was told that all the 50K runners had come in! Someone forgot to report me! If it weren’t for this random chance run-in, I would have been labeled lost and possibly got stuck with a hefty search and rescue fee! Fortunately, he found me and we headed back in together. It was nice to have someone to talk to the last few miles. When we got to the next aid station they told me I only had a 10K left and I was in complete disbelief. I hate 10Ks, but I can do a 10K. I knew at this point I was home. This was no longer an issue of what if I can’t, but I can and I am almost there! It was the most wonderful news all day!

Me and the sweeper, Joe, continued on through more climbs. I felt bad for him because he did not have trail shoes. He volunteered to do this but was not properly equipped. He said by the time I come in he would have done 15 miles. I don’t know what his history of training has him at but 15 miles in road shoes on a trail just sounds like a bad time to me. But not only did he have to deal with that, he had to deal with me in a fatigued, dillusional state, talking about anything and everything to keep me from giving up. He had to hear about how I was convinced I was going to get my period that day because I had that back pain and I kept hoping it was a kidney infection instead. Then I was talking about the pains I was dealing with when I was pregnant and he told me about his wife and their son and how he was there during the birth and can’t imagine the stuff women deal with in terms of their bodies and abilities to handle pain. So because he had a woman he had to deal with, I’m sure I wasn’t a big issue at that point.

When we were almost in, they asked our whereabouts and we said we didn’t know. He was like, “Honestly, I don’t know the trails, we see markers and we’re going the right way, but I don’t know the names of places” and I was like “we passed a creek and I peed!” Because that’s where my brain was by then. Every time I turned around a corner, I had a hill and I was like, “let me guess, another hill is behind this hill…” I was right. By the time I got a down hill, I didn’t want it. The best part, however, was as it was starting to grow darker and the faint thumping of music could be heard. I saw the tents, crossed the stream by the pool, headed up the grass and said to Joe, “Thanks for sweeping me, now I gotta pretend to look fast again.”

I mustered up a shuffle run if you want to call it that and crossed the finish. My body hurt and I was tired, but I did it. I got my medal, I got a water bottle, and met my friends at the finish. Crystal was there with her boyfriend, who I finally got to meet, Jonathon was there, Stephanie was back and all over the place between her volunteer duties and working the Big Dog tent. Blake still was out and we were waiting to cheer him on when he got in. It wasn’t too soon after I got in that Blake came in from the 50 miler. We were standing around there to cheer him on. In fact, I recall running with Jonathon to the finish line as if I were OK again and had to be there for another friend who was finishing up. After he got in, we went to pick up our shirts and our BBQ dinner and then we gathered to take pictures at the photo backdrop.

We didn’t spend that much time at the post-race party. I went back to the car and changed and gave Stephanie a ride back to the North Columbus Big Dog store to get her car.

We hung out at the store for a bit because Rosana was working and she said everyone with Galloway was asking about me and hadn’t heard from me or anything and was wondering what happened. So I filled her in on all the nitty gritty details, and she updated facebook land with my info and I headed home to repeat the same stories to Jesse and Charlie in between unpacking my gear and cleaning up.

What would I do different next time? Well, other than a few previously stated comments like longer trail runs, a longer training period, and bringing vasoline, I definitely would add a core workout to my training. My arms and abs were sore! But other than that, I don’t think there’s too much I would do to change a thing. I thought it went great and look forward to doing it again someday. And for the record, two days before the race, I made this little doodle. I can easily say I have gone through every one of those phases along the training, event, and post race.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

RAG Training Month 1: August

This month marked the beginning of my training for Run Across Georgia. Prior to starting my training, I had plotted out this wonderful training plan. I had spent about a month working on it and revising it, but after reading Relentless Forward Progress by Bryon Powell, I had to edit my training plan yet again! I would say it took me about 2 months to come up with what I believe is the perfect training plan for an ultra, which incorporates the concepts and principals of the Galloway method of run/walk with frequent and regular walk breaks but also building up to my target mileage gradually and then tapering. 

The week before my actual training started, I began plotting out routes I could run to train on that would mimic my course. These included highways, hilly roads, high traffic areas, and things of the sort. I did a nice run out on Pierce Chapel road where I enjoyed some nice scenery.

The first week of August, I started with small runs here and there on my weekday runs of no more than 2 – 5 miles and longer back to back (B2B) runs on the weekends. My first weekend long run was with Kena, Stephanie, Brandy, Blake, and some other folks doing a 1.4 mile loop over and over again around Kena’s place. I did 11 miles there and was going to finish with another 11 miles the next day. Unfortunately, I found myself sick as a dog on Sunday and had to finish my 11 on Monday. 

Well, that was an adventure and a half! I did 3 miles with the Couch to 5K group and then met Crystal for trails up at Pine Mountain. We got lost and wound up behind a juvenile rehab facility. A lady, Connie, found us and she helped us get back to the main road where we parked. We were so lost it wasn’t even funny. Moral of the story here is it is always good to be overly prepared in terms of water, food, a head lamp, and a gun when you run in the woods. Also, I caught a crawdad, so if we did get stuck over night, we would not die. Before our getting lost experience, we did see some beautiful sights along the Wolf Den Loop trail loop.

Two days later, I ran with Jesse at the Rotary Park 5K, which was the 4th race in the summer 5K series. Jesse wanted to try to do well on it and I wanted to try to just run a comfortable pace, so I actually wound up running with Nancy at a very comfortable 1:1. (I forgot to mention earlier, I have been training at a 1:1 targeting a 15 minute mile pace.) I think we wound up going faster than what I was aiming for, but at 3 miles, I’m not going to complain.

Friday I was going to do my long run because I had my orientation on Saturday for the honors program at CSU. I plotted one route but then did another due to weather. I did 4 miles of loops around my house before coming in for the night and finishing the remaining 7 in the morning. The morning run was probably the most wonderful run I have ever had by myself. I nailed my pace, experienced my neighborhood and a beautiful morning. I got to run over JR Allen twice and basically see the north side of town waking up. It was spectacular.

Sunday morning was an exciting day of trails at Flat Rock with Crystal and the usual group of characters. Karen came out and after doing 6 miles assured us we’re a special breed of crazy and that she would come cheer us on for The North Face Endurance Challenge next month. I forgot my sock, fortunately Stephanie had an extra pair. Crystal wasn’t having a good day and went back to the truck after 4.5 miles and I finished my 6.5 and met her back at the truck. I ran the rest of my miles later in the evening around the house doing loops. Charlie joined me on one of my loops and I am very thankful to have such a supportive and sweet little child who has just as much enthusiasm and determination when it comes to running as I do. We may not be the best runners, but our hearts are in the right place and we give it our all. He was slower than what I needed to be at because he insisted on wearing my reflective vest and sunglasses and then wanted to take the glasses off half way. So we lost some time to futzing with that. I’m sure he’ll join me again at some point, so I’ll have to get a picture of him decked out to run with the vest because it is hilarious. 

The next week wasn’t really what I was hoping for. Weather was horrible as were my spirits. I did manage to get my long run miles in that week, but I didn’t get my B2B  run in or any trail miles. Fortunately, I’m still early enough in that it isn’t a big deal. I did two light miles during the week and a half marathon on my Saturday run. That was bad to say the least. The course itself was fantastic and I was kicking butt the first 8 miles. It was raining and a little warm, but the rain stopped before the race started and even though it was a little warm, I managed to keep up a consistent pace and just rocking it! Then, around 8 miles in and somewhere around the 1:30:00 mark, it got cold. I stopped sweating so much. Chaffing began and it got ugly fast. 

My immediate reaction was “speed up, sweat more, chaff less”. So I proceeded with split second plan A. Unfortunately, this plan produced neither sweat nor prevented any chaffing. In fact, all it did was make me chaff more and increase my fatigue. So it was off to plan B: lube on the fly. Yes, I dug down into my ghetto bag of tricks, spit on my hands and rubbed my thighs. (The things we’ll do!) That worked for all of about 5 minutes, and I’ll give myself an A for effort as it was a great idea, but one with a short lifespan. Finally, it was time for plan C: dry out. At this point my thighs are bloody, rubbed raw, and nasty like you wouldn’t believe. I do the “I just got off a horse” walk for a bit trying to let the blood and my skin dry out a bit. I’m not sure what I was hoping to accomplish at this point other than I just don’t want to feel raw ground beef skin rubbing up on itself over and over again. 

All of this started to make me really upset because I was really hoping to do well at this run. It was labeled as a “flat, fast course” and I was hoping to get a PR, but alas, that was just a giant no-go. While I thought the chaffing issue was a deterring factor on my time, it was actually not that big of a deal. I lost maybe 5 minutes from the chaff walk. I was able to get through my chaffing with some mental work asserting myself constantly that “I am stronger than the chaff” and that there’d be “no slacking the last 4 miles”.  I put on my big girl panties and came home strong (of course, not without stopping to take a few photos here and there.)

But that was not the end of the race. The girl I went with was still running. While she was finishing, I was enjoying a snow cone and changing out of my gross clothes. She didn’t feel too great when she finished in part to the fact they only had Gatorade at mile 10 and her electrolytes were really low. I wound up driving us home as her body expelled excess water the same way which it came in. She was fine, but it was a very hard night for me. I didn’t get back home till 1:30 and by that time, I had been up for almost 20 hours. (I really need to learn how to handle this whole lack of sleep thing!) 

After that debacle, I took some time off. My body needed to rest. I took off on my B2B run and cut out one of my weekday runs. My next run was 4 miles on a Wednesday night. I did a loop in parts of my neighborhood and on a few high traffic streets. The best part of my run came along Weems road near Morningside Baptist Church. I was headed in the direction of the church when a truck on the opposite side of the road of me (also headed in the same direction) slowed down and shouted on their window, “GOOD WORK! KEEP IT UP!” Certainly, that driver could appreciate the difficulties involved in running at that time of the day in the heat.  That was great. Even the cars on Warmsprings were really courteous in terms of trying not to hit me. I always appreciate when I don’t have to find myself scrambling to try and find a safe shoulder. At some point, however, I came in contact with poison ivy or I was affected by Virginia Creeper (which I have a bunch outside my house that has never bothered me, but when you run, anything is possible!) I came home with a rash on  my ankles that was blistering and itching to high hell.  I dealt with that and all was good and fine after my shower.

The next run wasn’t until Saturday and I had another B2B weekend in store. I spread out my runs on Saturday by joining the Galloway group in the morning for 6 miles followed by 6 miles in my neighborhood in the afternoon. That was a very hot run. For the first time ever, I found my feet actually feeling too hot. I did, however, plan that run just right so that when noon hit, I was within earshot of the weather siren on Schomburg and Warmsprings. I raised my hands in victory and continued onward. 

In the middle of that hot and potentially miserable run, I was thinking about Relentless Forward Progress by Bryon Powell. I kept thinking to myself that as long as I am moving, I am making progress, even though it is slow. I don’t have to be fast to be good. Sometimes good means you just keep going and don’t give up. Even if you’re slow, walking, whatever you name it, as long as you GO. At that moment I discovered a new power word for me: RELENTLESS! Instead of CHARGE, I would rally to myself RELENTLESS as my walk break ended and I found myself running again in the heat, often up a hill. I became a victor in a battle against weakness and it was awesome. So yes, new motivational word: RELENTLESS. I AM RELENTLESS.

After that run, I got sunburned and took a nap, although I was not aware of the sunburn until later in the day. Usually, I can’t sleep during the day, so this made me wonder if something was wrong with me or if I was genuinely tired. When I woke up, however, I noticed said sunburn and a heavy, burning feeling in my sinuses. I’m certain all the people enjoying the beautiful, non-rainy Saturday who were out doing yard work managed to kick enough junk into the air to make my allergies act up. One teaspoon of local honey later, I was noticing instant relief. (Possibly just a coincidence, or not.) I then spent the rest of the evening preparing for the Country’s Midnight Express. That was my last run for Saturday. It was hot, crowded and just difficult to maneuver. I was pacing Jesse, who really wanted to do something around 32 minutes or better, but with the crowd, it was damned near impossible! Prior to that race, I had done 6 miles in the morning, 6 in the afternoon, and one warm up. At 2 miles in, some random frat guys gave me a beer which was pounded in place of a missing water stop. Cheap beer never tasted so good! In the end, Jesse did not get his time he wanted. After sprinting down hills, leaping over lawns and trash bags, and dodging walking people, we did it in 38 minutes. That was painful for me as its my slowest 5K time EVER! And the worst part was my hips were aching like crazy from all the odd maneuvering we were doing just to break free of the crowds. 

By the time we got home, it was only a matter of a few hours until my next run. After making breakfast and then grocery shopping, I headed out to do my first of three legs that were three miles long. The first leg was a simple out and back from our place to the other side of Warmsprings on some residential streets behind the rails to trails. That was just to get some more hills in. After that run, I joined Jesse and Charlie for a quick dip in the pool to cool off and suspending on noodles in the cool water was probably the best feeling ever! The next run was right after we got back from the pool on another out and back in the neighborhood. As soon as that ran ended, I had to hop in the shower to just get the sweat off me and change and jump into the car to go to Pine Mountain for a trail run.

Normally on Sunday mornings, I go with the trail group but they canceled the run because of Country’s the night before, so I got a few Galloway folks to come out and try trails. It was a lot of fun. We were only going to do three miles but they felt adventurous and were up for four. No one got injured although I did come extremely close to face planting into a pile of rocks while I was ironically talking to them about safety.

Later in the week, I eliminated one of my weekday runs to add an extra recovery day and instead did a 2 mile loop on Thursday and a 4 mile loop on Friday. The 2 mile loop was horrible. It was 0.1 mile long, so in order to get my full 2 miles in, I had to circle it 20 times. Add to the equation the fact it was over 90 degrees out and full sun and I was miserable. I was only out there for all of a half hour but it was the worst half hour in my life! Who knew 2 miles could be so horrible? Friday night was just my typical looping around the neighborhood. About a half mile in, I was hit with this horrible urge to poop. I made it back to the house in time to run in, do my thing, and run back out. After that, it was a nice run on a humid evening with lightning off in the distance lighting up the sky. Very cool stuff. The completion of that run ended the month for me with 100 miles calculated and I finished my first RAG training month on a great note. 

I finished feeling very positive and excited for months to come, however, I know Jesse has been frustrated at times and I keep telling him to hang in there. I know it is a lot of work on me physically, but it is also extremely difficult on Jesse to have me out of the house a lot. As months progress, he will need to become involved in the process by tracking me and practicing his role in the event. But for now, baby steps. Oh, and after four months, I had to invest in a new pair of running shoes. Got another pair of Saucony Mirage 3’s. Same color.