WTF is FOMO & Getting Over It

You know that feeling when you’re scrolling on facebook and it seems like very single runner you know is at an event and you’re not.  Happened this weekend for me with Ragnar Trail McDowell Mountain.  It wasn’t that long ago that I learned of the phrase FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) and it’s a new common ‘illness’ for many people. Not sure this was a thing before social media though. Seems like the biggest reason people have it is because they are scrolling on facebook/social media and watching other people “have all the fun”.  Let’s face it, no one is going to post when they are not having fun!

So I figured out how to get over FOMO…but first a few personal experiences that helped me get over it…. 😉

The first time I recall it happening to me (I didn’t know there was a phrase for it) was when several of my running peeps that I had been coaching, decided to schedule their first marathon. I was ready to do my first too but had a particular one in mind for me since it was going to be on my 41st birthday. I love doing races on my birthday! Unfortunately they had picked the Rock N Roll which was a month before mine. What should I do? I really wanted to be with them when they ran their first marathon as that was such a big deal…..but selfishly, I didn’t want them to complete their first marathon before me! I contemplated changing mine but…..

Another time I was struck with FOMO, was last year when several of my running friends got into the Chicago Marathon.  Most of them had put their name in for the lottery and pretty much all of them got in.  Seems like everyone and their mother had got into the race. This is my original group of running friends that mainly met through me and I was feeling really left out…but wait, I didn’t even put my name in for the lottery so why was I so bummed out?  I was going to miss out on the fun with them……

This last time was this weekend with Ragnar Trail.  I have a love/hate relationship with this race honestly.  The first time we did it we had 2 teams that had never done one before. We had a blast!  Did it the 2nd year and wasn’t quite as fun and then the 3rd year I went up and ran a few legs to help a few teams and then came back home.  This year, I couldn’t commit because I was in the middle of my Toastmaster competition and if I won, I would be in Flagstaff competing the Friday of Ragnar. Well, last Saturday, I lost that competition so there was still an opportunity to go.  Heard from a few teams that needed runners (I wouldn’t even have to pay to be on one team!) but as much as the FOMO was setting in, something was telling me not to do it……

I know you are all looking for a good sexy answer that will help you get over FOMO (whether it’s from running or not) but as I tried to analyze how I got over it with all three of these scenarios, I realized it was really pretty simple…well, seemingly simple but not really easy to implement. I just made a conscious choice to be OK with not being there.  This is a skill I’ve learned directly from my daily meditation practice. People ask me what I’ve learned from meditation and sometimes I can’t really quantify it.  I realized as I was still going through this yesterday, how I was learning to get over it.  By becoming self aware (that I was feeling FOMO), focusing on the present moment (being happy in this moment), detaching from the outcome , I was able to get my ego out of the decision making process and go by what my body (or spirit if you will) really wanted to do (our bodies always know best but our ego is the one that gets us in trouble). So here is how I got over the examples above. Mind you, I didn’t realize I was using this for the first two examples but it all made sense yesterday when I was trying to analyze this situation.

So my friends wanted to do another marathon and not the one that I picked?  Once I focused on them and not me (ego), I was so excited for them to complete their first marathon before their coach!  And I was able to be there for every single one of them and watch them cross that finish line!  If I were running the same one, I would’ve missed out on that opportunity. Plus I had to remember what my goal was and I really wanted to run my first on my birthday (the picture in my header of them cheering is my first marathon and one of my favorite pics ever).  I made a conscious choice and was happy with my final decision.

For Chicago, I had my ego take a step back and the first realization was that I don’t even like running road anymore!  Why would I want to train for a road marathon even if many of my friends were doing this race…that’s a lot of energy AND money to put into something that I really don’t enjoy doing anymore.  Even if I had the money, training for a full marathon is a big deal and I’ve learned through ChiRunning that you have to have a goal/vision as to why you want to do a big event like a marathon, ultra, etc because that’s what will keep you going when the going gets tough and you want to quit. Once I took my ego out of the way, I made a conscious choice to be OK with not being there and loved seeing their posts on facebook during race day!

For Ragnar this year it was a bit tougher which really prompted this blog post.  I’ve always wanted to do an Ultra Ragnar and had a few opportunities but was still committed to my Toastmaster contest so I couldn’t agree to help out either team that reached out to me.  Once I found out that I lost, I thought I could go up like I did a few years ago and just cover some legs for teams, etc.  But then I started remembering the atmosphere at Ragnar and that I would have sooo many friends up there and it’s so easy to get caught up in partying, etc. (yes, there is a good Fireball story there but just know it wasn’t pretty).  Mind you, I am not an alcoholic or anything but I am self aware enough (see a trend with being self aware?)  to know that I may not be able to contain myself and could get caught up in some not so good things.  Plus I really needed to get a long run in this weekend and I had no guarantee I would get that if I showed up at Ragnar.  Last but not least, as much as I am an extrovert and love being around so many friends, a quiet weekend mainly to myself sounded really good!

So next time you are feeling left out of something or are feeling “jealous” because all your friends are doing something that you can’t (or on the fence about it and the major thing pushing you is “because everyone else is doing it”), try these steps:

  1.  Be self aware and admit that you have FOMO 😉 sounds basic but self awareness is the key.   I am very aware of FOMO when it’s happening to me.
  2. Get centered and present.  To get your ego out of the way, you have to be in the present moment and be mindful.  If you are not used to this, a good way to do it is to sit quietly and start focusing on your breath. Being present means not thinking about the past or the future but being in the current moment that is happening. Breathing helps with this…start counting your breaths or saying IN and OUT as you are breathing.
  3. Ask yourself why you are feeling it.  More than likely you will find that ego is the one causing you to be jealous of what others are doing.  Do you really want to do it because everyone else is? What will happen by you not doing it?  Go so far as to write the pros and cons down if you need to. Usually by this point, your gut feeling (true self) will kick in and let you know what is right for you.
  4. Make a conscious choice.  At this point you are either deciding to jump off the bridge with everyone else or not.  Do you want to do this for you or are you doing it because everyone else is doing it?  If you go for it, at least you can say that you know exactly why you are making that choice because it wasn’t an overreaction but a conscious decision.  If you decide not to, you also made a conscious decision and can be happy with it.  (Doesn’t mean you still may not feel the FOMO but you will be comfortable knowing that it wasn’t an overreaction and a solid decision on your part.)

In my first two examples above, I didn’t realize I was following this process.  I had just started my meditation practice before my first marathon.  As I struggled over the last week with my Ragnar FOMO (on Friday night I was still contemplating going up to camp to hang out with friends for a few hours), I realized I had a process and put into effect which led to this blog.

Was it easy?  Of course not…but by not doing Ragnar this weekend: I got a 16 mile run in (may not have been able to get this in at Ragnar), I was able to sleep 9 hours and 5 minutes (I would’ve never got this at Ragnar!), get some time in with my family and had a very relaxing weekend (saved myself quite a bit of money and time!)

Would I have had a blast if I went to Ragnar?   No doubt about it!  But the only reason I wanted to be there was because everyone else was doing it….and that is no reason to do anything.  Love this picture I found from The Oatmeal as I was looking for images for this post!

Race Report

Monument Valley 50K: Race Report

….and My Story Runs On….

Wow! Where to even begin?  I know I have to keep this succinct but very hard to do, especially for those of you that want to get a detailed report about the race and what to expect if you plan on doing it. Continue Reading →


Cloudy with a Chance of Mudballs

….and My Story Runs On….

Well, I was planning on writing a blog about my week of tapering before my 100K in 2 days…..but since there has been a major change in the weather forecast, and I hate running in the rain, I decided to share the learning lessons I’ve already had in the last few days about this situation. Continue Reading →


My Next Big Running Goal on my Birthday Weekend!

….and My Story Runs On….

This is one of the many things I love about running.  Of course everyone has their own running story and you should NEVER compare yourself to any other runner.  But for me, I love the idea of continuously pushing myself to the next level.  As they say, life begins at the end of your comfort zone and I can attest to this!  Earlier this year I did my first 50 Miler at Antelope Canyon the day after my birthday.  Even though I finished dead last, I felt strong and really enjoyed it (I know, crazy talk)…so of course the next goal is to push myself to the next distance level…sooooooo

I’m excited to announce that I will be doing the Black Canyon Ultra 100K!
Why did I pick this one? In no particular order…

  • 100K is 62 miles so it’s the next step after a 50 miler.
  • It’s on 2/18/17 which is the day before my birthday and I love doing crazy things on my birthday to remind myself how grateful I am for every year I am on this Earth.
  • It’s an Aravaipa event and they are one of our local ultra/trail racing company. I’ve been doing their events since 2011 and they know how put on a good race!
  • I get a buckle! I’ll admit to feeling a bit weird about this because usually you get a buckle for a 100 miler…the other funny thing is that I really don’t wear belt buckles at all (I spend most of my days in workout gear!) but a buckle is like a rite of passage in some strange way.

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  • It’s a point to point race which means I get to cover 62 miles of our beautiful AZ landscape. One of the reasons I love ultra running is the ability to visit places I’ve never seen before and enjoy Mother Nature.
  • Aravaipa is hosting training runs on the entire course over 3 months which means I’ll get to preview the entire course before running it.  Last Sunday I got to run the first 19 miles and loved it.  It was mostly single track downhill.  The hardest part for me is being afraid of heights. Some parts of the single track were very close to the edge of the canyon but the more I practice, the easier that will get….I hope!
  • There is some cool history about this trail:  “This historic trail is of national significance, following a route used since the times of pre-historic Native American travelers and traders.  The Department of the Interior officially established the route as a livestock driveway in 1919, when it was used by wool growers from the Phoenix area to herd sheep to and from their summer ranges in the Bradshaw and Mingus Mountains. The Black Canyon National Recreation Trail was originally designed as a livestock driveway. Many segments of the trail roughly parallel the old Black Canyon stagecoach road between Phoenix and Prescott.”

I still can’t believe I am doing it but as crazy as it seems, I’m very excited. I’ve already started training and have already changed a few things from my 50 mile training:

  • I’m spending even more time stretching and foam rolling.  I’ve added more strength training to my weekly routine.
  • I’m also varying my running workouts more than I did last year.  This course has a net downhill elevation profile with about the first half being downhill and the 2nd half will include uphill climbing as well as several river crossings (which I used to be afraid of before but having done this several times now, I’m much more comfortable with it).  So I am doing more speedwork and hill training. I’m also planning on doing more night trail running as I know I’ll be out there at night time.
  • I still take 2-3 runs a week and listen to ChiSchool on shuffle so I can continue to improve on my ChiRunning form (my running form had the biggest improvement last year when I did this for the 50 miler). And I will continue to use the same nutrition advice I got for my 50 miler.

One of the other big motivators for me is that I’ll be raising money for Girls On The Run Maricopa County again via their SoleMates program. Last year, I raised $2100 so I want to bump that up to $2300 at least.  I am on the Board of Directors and this organization means so much to me.  If I only had this program when I was in elementary or junior high school! I want to help as many young girls as possible be part of the program so they can learn to dream big and activate their limitless potential!

What is the next challenge you are taking to get out of your comfort zone?

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From My Running Story to Yours….
(if you feel inspired to share your comments, do so below…I want to hear your story too!)

Pass Mountain 25K Race or training run?

….and My Story Runs On….

This morning, I did Aravaipa Running’s Pass Mountain 25K (15.5 miles).
I picked it for a few reasons:

  • I needed mileage as I train for my next big race (another blog on that later)
  • I happened to be available on this Saturday to do it
  • Most importantly, this race was my inaugural debut into trail races back on 11/19/2011 and I haven’t done it since.

I remember back in 2011 how scared I was to do it. I was training for my first marathon (Lost Dutchman, it fell on 41st birthday 5 years ago) but I had also just come back from my first ever ChiRunning Instructor weekend.  It was my first time meeting Danny & Katherine Dreyer and the first time I got to meet a bunch of other ChiRunning instructors from all over the world.  Needless to say, I was geeked out on ChiRunning and was excited/nervous about my first trail race. (I honestly can’t remember if I did any training on trails at this point. I want to say I had but I was not as experienced as a runner or coach at this point so not sure!)  I remember how hard it was…but my favorite part was getting to the last 1/2 mile that was on road and seeing my Dad there with his bike as he rode by my side for that last little bit!

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My Daddy and I!

Fast forward to this year.  Not sure why I haven’t done this more often since 2011 but this year was my first time back.  The course was slightly different (it was a 26K in 2011) but most of it was the same.

So my first dilemma was:  do I go and preview the course in advance or not?  I decided to do it and here is a quick 2 min video about that experience:

I am so glad that I did it now!

I didn’t preview the first half of the course because I knew it would be easier but grateful that I did the 2nd half as it proved to help me a lot today.  Not so much physically but mentally.  

  • I knew when the hard parts would be so I conserved my energy on those by ChiWalking more. (yes, I have no problem walking in races either!)
  • I knew one of my bigger challenges would be part of the end of the course because the single track trail was very close to the edge and I am afraid of heights.
  • I also knew that the last 2-3 miles were runnable downhill miles and I was ready to crank on those as soon as I could.  Ironically, my fastest mile was my last one!

As a running coach, I hear people get nervous about races all the time.  I remember I used to do this a lot more…I’m sure some of it comes with experience.  For me it was my frame of mind….I never felt I was actually racing when I did this run today.

I was hanging out with my friend Heather, got to chit chat with a few other people along the way, took some pics (see below) and we just took our time knowing we had plenty of it before the cutoff.

The great thing about treating a race like a training run is that there is no pressure. I also love races as training runs because there are other people out on the course (instead of running alone), they are supported so I know I will have aid stations with water and food (best aid stations ever!) and I get a shirt and pint glass! (50 Miles of Gratitude: (9) Training & Aravaipa Running) I didn’t have to pay for this race because I volunteer with Aravaipa quite a bit so I get race credits…so for me, it was a win-win for sure today.

I didn’t go back to see how I performed in 2011 because it was a different course and really didn’t care.

So my lesson for this race was that I was glad that I choose to do it as a training run rather than race it.  This may not always be my choice but I’m really glad that I did because I had a blast …AND I felt amazing at the end which is always one of my goals: to finish strong and feeling good!

Do you race or use them as training runs? Would love to read your comments below!

Gorgeous views on this course!

Gorgeous views on this course!

Heather and I before we started. Running with friends is always a good way to go!

Heather and I before we started. Running with friends is always a good way to go!

Cholla forest!

Cholla forest!

This was one of the steep uphill parts (I took the pic looking down after I got up it)

This was one of the steep uphill parts (I took the pic looking down after I got up it)

 

 

From My Running Story to Yours….
(if you feel inspired to share your comments, do so below…I want to hear your story too!)

Running Marathons at 70?!

….and My Story Runs On….

Why are you limiting yourself?  These are the words that struck Ila Brandli one day and turned her into a marathon maniacShe heard these words at 62 years old and hasn’t looked back since.  Today, at the amazing age of 70, she has completed 150 marathons/ultras (8 of them are Ultras)! This number keeps changing as I write this blog…I can’t even keep up with her! She’s completed a marathon in each state twice! In February of 2015 she completed 8 marathons on 7 continents in 11 days in a row! (was supposed to be 7 but Antartica was fogged in)

When we started the interview, I asked her about the number of marathons she completed.   She said “Hold on, let me look at my spreadsheets. “ She pulls out her iPhone and has 3 different spreadsheets:

  1. to track her half marathons in different states
  2. to track her full marathons in different states
  3. to track her upcoming events.

I love this lady!

I met Ila at a free ChiRunning clinic I had at REI in Tempe several years ago. Then she reappeared at Running For Brews Tempe (I’m the Organizer).  I summarized the answers from the interview I had with her about a month ago.

Why did you start running?
First time she started running, she was challenged by her boss around the age of 42.  She couldn’t walk a mile without a side ache.  She never did any exercise through most of my adult life.  Second time around, she did it to look and feel better.

When did you start running?
First time: she was challenged by her boss to do her first half marathon (13.1 miles) in November of 1998. She did two 5ks, a 10K and a 12K before that half so she knew what to expect.  Her boss did the half marathon too but she beat him. Her knees starting hurting her and she quit running for awhile.  In 2000, she completed multiple 5Ks, 10K and a 1 half marathon.  By this time, she had found out about orthotics which helped her knee issue…so no more knee pain.
In 2007 she signed up for Team in Training and did first marathon  in Anchorage, AK.  She dedicated it to her dad and swore she would never do one again (because it hurt, she was sore, and had injuries including IT band issues).
A friend from Seattle called and wanted to do a marathon with her daughter before she got pregnant. She called Ila because she wanted an “experienced” marathoner. She survived that one at the age of 62.
2013 was turning the point to “craziness”.  A lady had a jacket that said Titanium 100 miles and asked Ila: “Why are you limiting yourself?”  She looked at her schedule and did 35 marathons that year!  She completed several series including 5 in 5 days.
Her problem is that if there is a challenge out there, she’ll take it. 

How did ChiRunning help you?
She took the ChiRunning workshop in 2013 with Mark Wallis (he was my mentor when I became an instructor!) and told her she was doing everything wrong.  She’s been practicing ever since.  ChiRunning keeps her from getting injured and allows her the additional stamina to do what she does.

What are some of your major accomplishments?
She’s completed 100 half marathons (4 more states and she will have completed 2 in every state. This may have changed since the interview..as I said, I can’t keep up!).
She’s completed 152 marathons (I have to keep checking her record on the Marathon Maniac page because this number is literally changing daily!).  She completed a marathon in each state twice and 11 out of the country.   Her 100th was in Antartica (was supposed to be the Phoenix Marathon).  The one in Chili was 98 and Antartica was supposed to be 99.  She did a 2nd one in Chili to make it 99 so Antartica was 100 and Phoenix was 101.
In February of 2015, she tackled 8 marathons, on 7 continents in 11 days. (knew she could do this already because she had in the US). But the stress is very different, you are flying overnight, then running, then flying overnight again fly at night, etc.
She completed 8 ultra marathons (an ultra is more than a 26.2 marathon). 212 miles in 4.5 days at Across The Years.  ATY was training for the 7 marathons on 7 continents in 7 days.  She had injured her toe in mid December 2 weeks before ATY. She didn’t go to the doctor because she knew they would put her in a boot (I don’t recommend this!) Her goal was 300 miles but she knew she couldn’t do 50 miles a day with the foot injury and didn’t want to jeopardize the 7 continents marathon tour! She “settled”  for 212 miles which is her longest to date back to back.  She was very proud of this because in 4.5 days she had accomplished 7 marathons within that time with less than desired sleep.  She purposely went over 7 hours to prove you can do it and don’t have to be elite athlete to complete marathons and ultras.

What is your favorite race?
The most emotional was the Baton Memorial Death March because of WW Vets and the units running together.
Antartica has to have a special spot because of the trouble getting there and camping overnight….and it’s Antartica!

What are your obstacles?
She’s currently dealing with some shoulder issues due to a fall in May. She has issues with heat and doesn’t perspire.  She has to be careful with her feet but doesn’t need the orthotics as much due to ChiRunning and her favorite shoes, Altras. (mine too!)

What’s your advice for anyone wanting to start running?
Find enjoyment in it!  It’s about the accomplishment.  You do it because you enjoy it.  You don’t need to love it because there is a love/hate relationship with running.  There are things you can control and things you can’t and you work on what you can—

How do you plan out your races?
It depends on what her goal is—looks at different websites, will contact race directors to check cutoff times, looks at race results and to make sure there are slower people.  She gets excited when she can do two back to back, she tries to double up when she can to save on travel expenses.

What do you think about when you’re running?
Majority of the time she is working on her form and relaxing. She finds a target: could be a time or a person that she wants to shoot for.  She is constantly looking at the scenery. When she is doing loops like ATY she uses them as speed intervals. Sometimes she is with people.  She loves meeting unique people who have different stories (met youngest gal who did all 7 continents in Antartica. )

What is your nutrition like?
She uses Tailwind but can’t take it full strength. A cold beer at the end is always a good thing! She uses Arnica when flying/driving for swelling.

What do you do in your spare time?
She volunteers for Aravaipa and different races, at the Mesa Art Center, and does taxes for AARP during the tax season. She has raised money for some of her events: she was a Solemate for Girls On The Run when she did ATY and 7 continents.  She is heading to St. George and raising money for GOTR again.

What is your next big goal?
By January 2017, she is planning to have completed 40 marathons and 40 half marathons  in 2016.

So are you really to old to run and achieve goals? Not according to Ila…or me!  I mean I can’t even keep up with her, I just checked her Marathon Maniacs page and as of today (9/22/16) she is at #152!

Here are a few great quotes from AZcentral.com (2014):
She took up running marathons at 62 and recently ran seven full marathons in seven days. Why? “Because I can,” she said with a sly smile, adding, “Sometimes I win the age group because I’m the only one out there.” AZcentral.com

Ironically, this was her original plan when she was interviewed by AZCentral.com on 3/2/2015:
“I plan to run marathons in my 60s, and I won’t be 70 until December,” she said. “I’ll run half marathons in my 70s, 10Ks in my 80s, 5Ks in my 90s and after that, I’ll run in anything they’ll let me into with a walker.”

For some strange reason, I don’t think she’s giving up marathons at 70!

If you’d like to support her: you can make a donation to her fundraising page or come to Running for Brews on Tuesday, 9/27/16 as we host a 50/50 raffle for her.

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Found this on her facebook page…”only” 50?? LOL

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You will also find Ila dressed in various themes when running. I think Wonder Woman is very appropriate for her!

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8 marathons on 7 continents in 11 days (Antartica got fogged in)

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We got to hang out while volunteering at Javelina Jundred last year on the night shift!

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When she is not out of state running a half or full marathon on Tuesday nights, she is at Running for Brews!

 

From My Running Story to Yours….
(if you feel inspired to share your comments, do so below…I want to hear your story too!)

50 Miles of Gratitude: (11) My Celebratory Tattoo

….and My Story Runs On….

After several years (at least 4) of thinking about my next tattoo, I finally did it today!

I’ve been wanting another one for a long time now but I couldn’t figure out what I wanted and where to put it.  A tattoo is a big commitment and I wanted it to mean something special to me.  I started itching even more after my first 50 miler. I wanted something that would commemorate my longest and hardest race to date…but nothing was doing it for me.

I have one on my tailbone of a yin yang surrounded by 2 dolphins (I love the beach, dolphins and used to teach scuba diving in a previous life!)

The yin yang is an important symbol for me. It represents balance which is something I’m always striving for.  I had some ideas with a yin yang but nothing was feeling quite right yet. In my googling, I found an infinity symbol with the word RUN in the middle but that still wasn’t doing it for me…..

I figured I would trust in the process and it would come to me when the time was right…..and it did. On my last trip to Capitol Reef for my 4th 50K (my hardest race ever!), we stopped in Monument Valley. There is something about that location that drew me in.  We didn’t stay for long but I am looking forward to going back to explore it more. Something about the sacredness of this place and the Native American culture was inspiring me….the gift shop was full of magnets, kachina dolls, and items with Native American Symbols.  I started googling “Native American symbols” and found the symbol for happiness. I also found out this is the symbol for the sun. (Today I found out it’s on the New Mexico Flag!).  I LOVE the sun and I LOVE being HAPPY, helping people be HAPPY, HAPPINESS in general (and I know I get on some people’s nerves because of my love for HAPPINESS and I’m OK with that 😉 ).

Then, I realized that this symbol was embedded in the logo for Ultra Adventures (the racing company that put on my 1st 50 miler and my last 50K)
I wanted to represent my run somehow and the middle of their logo there is a “boulder”-man running. Very earthy and a great reminder of the trails I love so much. So far these 2 races (and more importantly, my journey to complete them) had the biggest impact on my mind, body and soul.  Not to be cheesy but I did things I never thought possible, bonded with so many different people, and learned things about myself I never knew.

So my new tattoo is Ultra Adventure’s logo:

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My new tattoo. It’s right below my wrist on my right arm. I love it!

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On a funny side note, when Jayare with Idle Hands Tattoo (the awesome tattoo artist that was recommended by my sister… who was with me when I did it) asked about the orange G and the yellow C in the logo. Ironically I had noticed those lines but didn’t realize they were initials.  I thought Grand Canyon? (this is one of their race locations)…but no…duh, my sister googled it and it stands for Grand Circle Trail series (I’ve completed 2 of the 7 runs in the series and now my bucket list includes completing at least the 50K of the other 5. These races are set in the most beautiful locations in the southwest area of our country and are breathtaking). The yellow and orange colors remind me of happiness and the sun so it was perfect either way.  The funny part was before we realized what it stood for, Jayere said Get Crackin’….so on the next tough moment I have in a race, and I’m crying for my mommy, I can look at my tattoo and tell myself: “Get Crackin’ Pozzoni”!

I would love to see any of your tattoos (running related or not!). Not sure if you can post them in the comments. If not, post them here on my facebook page! (click this link) I’d love to see them and tell me your story behind it!

Click here50 Miles of Gratitude: 50 Posts about my first 50 Miler

From My Running Story to Yours….
(if you feel inspired to share your comments, do so below…I want to hear your story too!)

Race Report: Capitol Reef 50K with Ultra Adventures

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….and My Story Runs On….

On Saturday, I completed my hardest race to date…The choice words for the day were FUCKING BRUTAL (there are a few more swear words in this blog)…..it was also the most humbling race experience I had and one of the most gorgeous courses I’ve been on.  It was Ultra Adventures’ Capitol Reef 50K. Now I get why they are called “Adventures”. You may remember that I did my first 50 miler with them at Antelope Canyon. This was the highest elevation I’ve ever ran in with the steepest uphills and downhills I’ve ever done in my life.  Based on my standards, mostly an unrunnable course as you’ll read and see my pics below.  Before I break this down, I found this photo online yesterday as I was googling “mental toughness” and dang it, it pretty much summarizes my event!

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I was invited by a friend to do this race awhile back and I read some blogs and some info about it so I knew it was not going to be an easy one. Click here to see the map and elevation profile. Looked like a great opportunity to visit a new place I’ve never been to (one of the main reasons I love ultra/trail running is that it brings me to places I would not visit otherwise).  I was ready for the day to finally be here as you may remember my last blog post on Burning Out.

Our road trip up to Capitol Reef included a quick stop at Monument Valley which I had never seen before.  It was absolutely stunning and I am sure I’ll be doing that race at some point as well.

We went and grabbed our packets on Friday and had the honor of meeting Arnulfo Quimare, the famous Tarahumara Indian from the Born To Run book. I already had Caballo Blanco’s autograph in my book so I added his as well.

On race day, we arrived at the finish line where we would be bused up to the start line for this point to point race.  This is the 2nd time that my friend/trail wife, Elaine and I ended up wearing the same shirt…which fit well with this race #RunSteepGetHigh.  Matt Gunn, the race director, gave a briefing at the beginning and I tried not to worry about some of the words he was using like “bushwacking” and “boulder mountain”.

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Run Steep Get High 😉

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Obligatory selfie with Elaine and Lori (this was her idea in the first place)

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Matt Gunn, race director giving the briefing.

The three of us agreed ahead of time that it was each woman for herself and if we ended up together that would be fine but we were “running” our own race.  My goal was to finish and not got lost (this is their 2nd annual and blog reports from last year mentioned people getting lost.  Matt does a great job in taking feedback from his post race surveys as the course was marked very well in my opinion.  Actually looking for those pink flags helped keep me focus and made it “funner” by seeming like a bit of a scavenger hunt.)  The 50K course had an 11 hour cutoff (my average has been a little over 8 hours) and Ultrasignup forecasted that I would end at 11:45 (not sure what their algorithms are based on) and I was determined to prove them wrong.

I knew the first 8 miles were going to be an uphill climb so my plan was to hike this entire part to save energy so I could “run” later. These pictures don’t do it justice. I will say that I could feel the elevation change but it didn’t effect as much as I thought (giving some credit to some exercises I’ve been working on from The Oxygen Advantage book).

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The scenery was breathtaking and such a different experience from running in the desert which is my usual trail running play ground. The first half of the course was a combination of beautiful meadows (mainly single track but fairly runnable although you couldn’t see the terrain under the grass sometimes so you had to be careful for rocks); rocky trails; and boulders:  IMG_9149

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Cow bones?? Dead trail runners??

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more nonrunnable terrain…for me anyways!

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Caught Arnulfo with some amazing running form in his sandals!

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Seriously??

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Channeling my Spiderman skills again..

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Boulder Mountain…this seemed like at least a mile of this type of terrain.

Lori and I “ran” together up to about Mile 14.  We were bumming a bit as we had done some good training and really just wanted to run.  We would find a good runnable trail but then 50 feet later it became unrunnable again (although clearly runnable for the many other experienced runners that are used to this type of terrain). She got ahead of me and at this point I was comfortable being alone as I knew the course was marked well and I was not worried about getting lost.

More beautiful water scenery on this course with lakes and creeks…I used to be “afraid” of crossing creeks and we had several of those. When it worked out, I would use rocks or logs to cross but I got over that fear after some of our Black Canyon trail runs so when it didn’t work out, I would just walk right through them. The cold water felt good on my feet and I knew I wouldn’t get blisters as I’ve done this several times in my shoes before.

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I finally got to the Donkey Reservoir Mile 19 Aid Station.  A lady said that my friend Lori was about 2 minutes ahead of me but I was ready to take a little break here.  There was a 4pm time cutoff at this aid station and I got there around 2:30pm so all was good at this point. I had been following my nutrition plan and was feeling great (outside of being bummed that I wasn’t running as much as I wanted to).  The volunteers were great. I ate some quesadillas and had a little Coke (I only drink Coke on trail aid stations and it always hits the spot!). Got my water pack filled up and off I went. The next aid station was going to be 10 miles away so I was prepared for that…or so I thought…
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I noticed the battery in my Tom Tom was close to dying. I wasn’t too worried about it at this point as I was comfortable finding the course markers.  It died at about mile 21 and I was fine for a bit. This is when my mind started playing tricks on me. It was really hard to gauge how long it would take me to get to the next aid station. I wasn’t doing my normal pace for sure and it’s so hard to do math at this point on the trail.  I started doing one of my favorite ChiRunning meditations on the 5 senses to keep me present and distracted. I focused on all my senses:
Eyes: I had to keep my eyes on the trail a lot since it was pretty technical but I loved to see the pretty flowers, the views, the pink markers that were guiding my way…
Ears: I could hear the birds chirping, the wind in the trees, the water flowing through creeks..my heart rate going up on the uphills (at points it sounded like it would jump out of my chest!)..at one point I played music on my Iphone via the speaker so I could still be part of nature..I kept it low but needed some more distraction to get through it…I could hear footsteps behind me once in awhile as runners were passing me (this messed with my head a bit too as 50 mile people who started an hour before me and had completed more mileage were actually running this course…I knew they had more experience running in this terrain but still!!…)…I could hear my breath as I was focusing on my cadence and breathing together..
Smell: I could smell cow patties but never saw any cows which was weird (I heard some too) and my favorite was going through a few patches of pink flowers (which could be easily mistaken as the pink course markers) and the smell of them was overwhelming yet soothing.
Touch:  sometimes the wind would pick up and I could feel it on my skin…the sun on my skin…being brushed by the bushes on the side (wait for the bushwhacking part in a few)
Not much to do with Taste outside of the ginger candy I picked up at the last aid station.
Even though this worked for periods of time, the non runnable parts seemed to never end…and the steep uphills and downhills continued…THEN we got into the bushwhacking part Matt had mentioned in the briefing…

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Can you see the pink marker in the top left hand side of the photo? You can barely see the trail but we were literally going through shrubs..so hard to see the ground and run this part too..

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Do you see the pink marker in the top left hand side of the photo again? Yes, I crawled over logs and this was not the only place..

I kept wandering when the heck I would get to the aid station at Mile 29. There were several times that I could feel a lump in my throat and I just wanted to cry.  Mentally I can usually get through races by working on the meditation above or just enjoying nature and knowing that I am doing what I love to do most: run around in nature….but by this point, I was so freaking ready for it to be over…a few times I just wanted to sit down and have a helicopter come and get me..I’m not a religious person but I prayed to God, Jesus, and Mother Mary several times..and then there was Rikki (bottom line, my friend Lori M bought these for our adventure..there is more to that story but I’ll save that for another blog post)
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A few times (and yes, I realized I was talking out loud) I said “I just want my Mommy”..or I would think about my boyfriend and how bad I just wanted to be in his arms…I’ve never felt like I wanted something to be over so bad before…Every time I turned a corner, I kept hoping for that dang aid station…I had to be close….
Finally I reached it….it was 6pm and I had been on my feet for 10 hours.  The volunteer said that there was only 3.8 more miles to go…yeah! but were they runnable miles?  He said yes but again, I couldn’t rely on his idea of runnable as clearly my definition is a bit different.  I had Coke and M+Ms and took off.  If it were truly runnable, no matter how tired I was, I could do this!  I know I can run 4 miles in an hour! And thankfully it was mostly runnable!  Heck, all of the sudden there was sand and I was so happy to run in it!
These were some of the views from the last part of the race:

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Since my Tom Tom died, I was using my phone for time…I kept pulling it out to check and see how I was doing..I am sure if I had the info, my last 4 miles were the fastest in this race…I still had to walk a few times and at this point, my goal was to finish within the 11 hour cutoff…that’s all I kept thinking about…I finally saw the road that we would be crossing before the finish line..my phone time was 7pm so I’m thinking it’s too late…I wasn’t going to have the same epic finish as my 50 miler…but I kept running as fast as my legs could take me as I was SOOOOOO ready for this to be done! I couldn’t wait to see my friends at the end…I finally see the finish line and the clock…the clock is at 10:59:55 and I’m running as fast as I could…the seconds were counting down…I crossed the finish line at 11:00:01 (unofficial time)…and then there I was standing there, finally done with this darn race and no one was there to greet me! Where the heck were my friends?  Lori M came up right after and was so bummed she missed my finish..apparently Lori C had told them I was about an hour behind her so they figured they had time (it was a long day for all of us so I think we were all confused by this point!)…..it didn’t matter…I WAS FINALLY DONE WITH IT!

I realize this is a long blog post but here are my Thorns, Roses and Learning Lessons (in addition to what was already mentioned)
Thorns:

  • I would train more on technical trails (not that I plan on doing this one over again), read more blog posts about the race and be better prepared in general
  • I didn’t get much sleep before the race..I had a total of 14 hours the 3 nights before the race and I know that effected me.

Roses:

  • ChiRunning:  I worked on my form as much as I could and I know that helped me mentally and physically! Used lots of the hill technique, arm swing and lots of work with my breathing/cadence especially when I could get into a running groove.  Lots of form work with my walking as well.
  • Nutrition: I followed the same plan I did for my 50 miler and never bonked. Felt good all the way!
  • Scenery: even though it was tough terrain, it was amazing scenery!

Learning lessons:

  • Running is always a metaphor for life. I learned that when I put my mind to something, no matter how hard I can do it. This race.pushed my mental limits like no other race has before.  This will certainly prepare me for any hard life experiences!
  • Being alone was hard but knowing what to do helped me. Make sure you have a plan on what to do if you get close to a break down. I’d love to hear what other ultra runners (or anyone doing long events) does when they know they are so close to that point.
  • I overcame a lot of fears and mental breakdowns…during this race I became my own inspiration! I don’t mean to brag but every time I made it through another mental mind fuck, I was cheering myself on. When it’s just you out there, you need to dig deep (like the photo above) so you can call yourself a bad ass!  I am so proud of myself for getting through that….even though my official time was an 11:03:03 and I was 2nd to last..I FUCKING FINISHED!!

Would I ever do this one again?  HELL NO! As a matter of fact, if someone told me I had to redo the Antelope Canyon 50 miler in sand or Capitol Reef 50K, hands down I would be doing Antelope!  But this race had a huge impact on my character..sounds cheesy but I’ve been feeling like my soul was shaken up a bit …I know that during those 11 hours, my mind/body/spirit grew a little bit more…isn’t that why we do these things? To reach out of our comfort zone and stretch ourselves?  To see how far we can push our body, mind and spirit and conquer things we never thought possible?

I absolutely love the Grand Circle Trail series. Matt and his crew do an amazing job. My goal is to do all of them at some point since they are all strategically placed in amazing locations…who knows which one will be next?

I tweaked this quote: “A mind, body and spirit that are stretched by new experiences, can never go back to their old dimensions.”

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Finishers! 3 of us did the 50K and the other 2 did the half marathon (which was brutal too!)

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seriously gorgeous views!

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Yes! Not only did I inspire myself but love to hear that I can inspire other people to do epic shit too!

 

From My Running Story to Yours….
(if you feel inspired to share your comments, do so below…I want to hear your story too!)

50 Miles of Gratitude: (10) Burning Out

….and My Story Runs On….

Confessions of a Running Coach….
Well, as I expected, it finally happened…it took awhile and I didn’t want it to happen but I knew it would rear it’s ugly head sooner or later..I can’t believe I’m saying it but part of the reason for this blog is sharing my running story so I can help you with yours…

Which one of these will help me?? ;)

Which one of these will help me?? 😉

I’ve felt it coming in the last few weeks but ignored it…finally on my training run yesterday, it happened…I just started walking because I was done with running…I couldn’t muster up any physical or mental strength to run..I was trying to cram in a bunch of miles before I take a weekend vacation and miss those training miles that are scheduled on my calendar for the next 50K.  This morning was the same, I taught track and was supposed to run 8 miles but I walked 3 instead.

YES, I think it’s official, I AM BURNED OUT.

I was afraid this would happen during my 50 Mile training and I’m glad that it did not.  However, here I am, 4 months after the 50 miler and I’m training for another 50K….come to think of it, I’ve been training for ultra races since September of 2015 (today is 6/16/16).

I wonder how I could allow this to happen but as I reflect, I know exactly how it happened:

  1. I was afraid to lose all that conditioning
  2. A few friends were running Crown King a few months later, so why not?
  3. Then that race was over and another friend said, let’s do Capitol Reef 50K on 7/9/16….so why not?

Well, now I know why not…because here I am, 3 weeks before the race, trying to follow a training plan to get in my miles done as outlined in my training plan…and I am no longer having fun. Am I still doing the 50K? Of course, I am! But here is what I am learning in the process.

Signs of Running Burnout

  • Running has become a chore.  I am just putting my runs on my calendar trying to get my mileage in because I “have” to.  Running is nowhere near as fun as it has been for me.
  • Tired physically and mentally which tells me I am overdoing it. I just got back from an awesome working vacation in MA that involved running and I was re-energized…until I came back home and “had” to start running again to get back on my training plan.
  • Moody and irritated.  This is not like me as I am usually a happy person. Everything seems to annoy me lately.

I am not backing out of my race at this point as I paid for it and I am looking forward to running an ultra in another state with my friends. But here is how I will handle my next 3 weeks…

Dealing with this Running Burnout

  • Mini vacation that involves no running. I am going to the beach for 2 days and taking a break from all things running.
  • Listen to my body. I am grateful that I have learned this throughout my running story.  I was kind to myself yesterday when I decided to cut my run short by 4 miles and walk several miles instead of running.  I will be short 15 miles this week in my training plan and I am totally OK with that. I know I am trained well, I have my ChiRunning form behind me, and I am going to enjoy the rest of this journey.  If my body is tired, I am going to rest and try to get more sleep as well. I will not be a slave to my training plan anymore.
  • Changing it up. I have already been doing this but will continue to do it over the next few weeks. I am going to run in different areas and do more fun/social runs.
  • Focus on different aspects of the race. I will read more blog reports, look at more pictures/videos from past years and get excited about the new scenery I will be enjoying in a few weeks.
  • Focus on other things about running that don’t involve actually running.  I love learning new things about running. So much to learn!  I will finish reading The Oxygen Advantage book on the beach. This book has a lot of great insight about breathing and I’ve really been enjoying it.

What will I do after the 50K?  Taking a break from training for ultras for a bit. This is easier said than done as I’ve defined myself as an ultra runner now and it’s been part of my being (personally and professionally) since last September. A friend of mine laughed when I said this as she said, “you said that after your 50 miler”.  Yes, I admit that I did…but I wasn’t clearly in the same place as I am right now.  I am ready for a break. I don’t know how long of a break I am taking but I know I don’t like this feeling.  I want to completely refresh my view on running. I am going to focus on shorter distances and run for fun, not because I have any races coming up. I love to focus on my ChiRunning form and will work on other aspects of this, maybe speed and performance.

What I do know is that I am grateful for the things I am learning in my running story as most everything applies to life as well (and I can share with you in hopes that you don’t get to this point!).  I also know that next time a friend asks me to do an ultra race, I need to really think about the WHY rather than just agreeing to do something for F.O.M.O. (Fear of Missing Out)…this is an entire other blog post but very easy to get wrapped up in when most of your friends are runners and you want to do what they are all doing! 😉

Now, off to pack my beach bag…no running attire…no running equipment…no running shoes…but a bathing suit, some flip flops and a big smile on my face 😉

Yes!

Yes!

Click here50 Miles of Gratitude: 50 Posts about my first 50 Miler

From My Running Story to Yours….
(if you feel inspired to share your comments, do so below…I want to hear your story too!)

Race report: MASS Gathering Memorial Day Marathon

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….and My Story Runs On….

I guess I’m more likely to blog while I’m on “vacation” since this is my 2nd blog in a week!
About a month ago, I realized I needed to get in 20 miles on Sat and 10 on Sun during Memorial weekend for my next 50K race (Capitol Reef, UT on 7/9/16).  I knew it would be hard to get this is in MA by myself.  My trip consisted of: being in my friend’s wedding in Boston last weekend, 5 days at Kripalu assisting Danny Dreyer, the founder of ChiRunning for 5 days and then a weekend in Pittsfield MA to visit family (my home town). I knew I wouldn’t get any long runs in the weekend of the wedding so I started googling races…lo and behold I found this marathon: MASS Gathering Memorial Day Marathon.
I started looking into it and figured: it’s 30 min from Pittsfield, 26 miles in one day is close enough to 30 in 2 days, it would be my first marathon out of state (7th one), first marathon in my home state and the icing on the cake was that it was benefiting Team RWB (I’m a member of the Phoenix Chapter) and Soldier On. I thought about it for a few days and then decided to go for it.
This past week I tried to follow my training plan but also was on my feet a lot due to teaching and coaching.  Even though I took Thu and Sat “off” of running, I went into the race with some mileage on my legs (61.2 according to my Jawbone but that’s including all my steps so a bit exaggerated…still a lot though).

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I was on tired legs already!

The eve of the marathon, my head starting messing with me a bit.  It was my first marathon where I didn’t have any friends or people that I knew.  I couldn’t find any information about the course and elevation (I used to not care about this but as my running story evolves, I realize knowing this information really helps me prepare for the race and strategize).  I knew it would be a hilly course so that made me feel better since I love hills due to the unique way we go up and down them with ChiRunning technique.  I was also worried about the weather as it was supposed to rain (I’m too used to perfect weather conditions in AZ) and it was going to be humid (I’m used to a dry heat.) I even started googling ‘running in dry heat vs humidity’! Then I started thinking, do I want to “race” this? Could I possibly PR (have a personal record) on this course with the hills (my best time for a full is in Sedona with a 4:58 and it was because of my hill strategy). Then I realized, I was wasting too much valuable energy  so I decided to go run it as the training run it was meant to be. I knew the cutoff was 7 hours (race director said they wouldn’t leave anyone on the course anyways) so I had plenty of time.

My aunt drove me the morning of the race and I was there in plenty of time which is rare for me.  I had 50 minutes to kill so I did my ChiRunning body looseners and found a seat to relax in.  IMG_8642

I noticed a guy from afar doing the body looseners and I knew he was a ChiRunner as we are the only ones who do this sequence (later I talked to him and he had been in the Kripalu class I assisted with last year!)  He was doing the half though. The race started 10 minutes late and I felt good right away going down the gentle downhill.  The race started with 80% humidity which I was not used to.

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My biggest goal in a long race is pacing myself. I had to slow myself down as I knew I was going faster than I should, especially knowing there would be some uphills and I had several miles to go. The course was beautiful!  I was bummed that I couldn’t find a trail race as I prefer that over the road but this race was hilly and nice enough scenery where I felt I could’ve been on a trail.

Roses:

  • Mentioned already in paragraph 3 above 😉
  • Loved the hilly course!  I know this is not normal but I was fresh from teaching ChiRunning.  I worked on my form quite so I could be as efficient as possible and maintain my energy throughout the miles.  I practiced active and passive pelvic rotation on the uphills and downhills; had some great aha moments when my legs felt heavy by allowing my ankles to lift behind me and could feel my legs be more relaxed;  I used my arm swing to help me on the hills and headwind we had on the last 3 miles of the race; focused on nose breathing as much as I could.
  • The scenery was beautiful!  I love all the green and it’s one of the things I miss from MA that we don’t have in Phoenix.  Here are some photos:
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Added to the humidity I’m sure!

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Lots of pretty flowers along the course!

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Honoring Memorial Day

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Love New England scenery!

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Hills….

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More hills…

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Settled in 1750!

  • They said there would be aid stations at every 2-3 miles and there were! This was necessary for me as the day got hotter and hotter and more humid. I poured more water over my head than down my throat! I also kept imagining the scenery with lots of snow on the ground just to keep cool thoughts.
  • RAIN at mile 21 was AMAZING!  I will say I was ready for the race to be over due to the heat and humidity and that rain definitely helped out.
Thank God for the rain!

Thank God for the rain!

  • The Mom/boyfriend team cheering squad!  These guys kept moving along and cheering us on. Past the half way point, she had a cooler with wet cloths and ice that really helped. I even stuck some ice down my bra to stay cool for a while. I found out later that she was cheering on her 2 daughters (we were leap frogging) who were doing their first marathon together! I love this!  I was able to get a photo of them at the end of the race.
Great running stalkers!

Great running stalkers!

  • There were several home owners along the course that came out with water, oranges, etc which was great (although I think there could’ve been more)
  • My aunts at the end of the race cheering me in!
  • My dog tag medal and local craft beer which is a must at the end of any race for me 😉
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Finisher showing off the dog tag and my Team RWB shirt!

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Great craft beer from Big Elm Brewing. Had the stout…yummy!

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Souvenirs from my training run 😉

Thorns:

  • I could deal with the heat but the humidity sucked!  I wish the race would’ve started earlier but I chatted with a guy before the race who said he did it a few years ago and it was snowing.  The frequent aid stations really helped though!
  • Not too crazy about the cant in the road. I had to move from left to the right side of the road frequently as I could tell my legs were not even with the pavement.  I could feel this in my hips the next day.
  • I was disappointed in the lack of representation from Team RWB folks.  Although I think in Phoenix we have an abnormally active chapter so I am used to seeing at least 20 other RWB shirts and running through the finish line with an American flag.  I think I saw one other person with a shirt. (Although still happy to know that proceeds benefited this awesome charity!)

At the beginning of the race, my pace was good and I started thinking I could PR until the humidity got to me.  I am still happy with my results. It’s my 4th best time out of 7 marathons and considering the amount of running I had done the week before, the humidity, etc. I was happy.

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Placed 56th out of 98 total and 18th out of 38 women.

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Dark blue is the elevation change

I normally judge my “success” on how I feel when I am done and how I feel the next day or two after a big race. I finished strong, I was a bit sore the day after and felt great 2 days after.  My abs and obliques were sorer than my legs which is always a good sign that my ChiRunning form is good 😉

Overall, I would recommend this race! Not sure I would take a special trip for it as I like to experience new scenery and prefer trails… but if I happen to be up there and I’m trained, I would do it again.

What is your favorite race that you’ve done out of state?

From My Running Story to Yours….
(if you feel inspired to share your comments, do so below…I want to hear your story too!)