Tuesday, October 1, 2013

FlatRock 25k race report & the journey of a stormtrooper

I'm not certain where to start his post, but think I should probably thank a friend who did more than her fair share of listening to me worry and whine about this race.  Thank you Melissa for being my go to reference person about Flatrock.  I'm certain all my newbie questions and worry while you handled your own race prep (She ran the 50k, because she flipping rocks. You can read about her adventure here) was annoying at best, but you answered all my questions and reassured me at every turn anyway.  Thank you.

Monday I realized that the pre-race dinner was at 6pm Friday night which meant I needed to leave by 3pm.  This posed a problem since the planned babysitter (sweet and awesome mother-in-law) wouldn't be off work in time to pick the boys up from their respective schools.  So, instead of sweet husband coming with me he stayed here to take care of the boys while I went off to have an adventure by myself.

Friday came and I promptly freaked out that I was going to run my longest run ever on the least amount of training ever.  I think repeated something to the effect of, "this is going to flipping hurt.  I know that and I'm okay with it"  over and over again in an effort to make myself okay with it (it didn't work).  Add that to sweet husband not coming with me as planned, and the forecast which called for 80% chance of rain and my head was a mess.  I packed up way too much gear, dropped S off at pre-school (had a hard time leaving), then realized I forgot my shoes (dude...seriously??).    I went back to the house to retrieve the shoes and then headed out for Elk City.

Three hours later I checked in to the hotel and realized how quiet it was without the boys.  Silence is something I never paid attention to until I had kids.  When the boys aren't around it's like the world stops because the noise level is so low (can you tell my boys are loud?).  After finding my room I unpacked, sort of organized stuff and then headed to the dinner to see Melissa, pick up my packet, buy a flatrock hoodie, and eat some tasty spaghetti & salad.

Sunset on Flatrock Friday Night
 After the dinner I finished organizing everything, took a picture for the boys (I had promised that a stormtrooper would run the race with me and that I would send them pictures.  See below for the adventure of the stormtrooper), sent a goodnight message to sweet husband and tried to fall asleep.  The night before race day is never a good nights sleep for me, and sweet husband likes to joke that I can hear a mouse fart miles away, so when the people in the hotel r`oom next to me got up at 3am I was awake too.  I checked the weather one more time in the fruitless hope that it had changed (it hadn't) and got up to take a shower (still not sure why), got dressed, ate some breakfast and left the hotel to find coffee (side note: I rode the elevator with a cute looking chihuahua and his family.  The cute chihuahua then tried to attack me...like trying to bite my face...and I promptly wigged out.  Not a fun way to start race day).
Ready to go on race morning.  
After finding coffee, I pulled into the start/finish area, parked and it started to rain.  Damn it.  Pulled my gear out and headed to the packet pickup tent since the shelter was packed full of 50ker's getting ready for their pre-race briefing  I had wanted to say hi & good luck to all my friends running the 50k, but I was cold, wet, and had an hour to wait before my own prerace briefing.  Sorry guys...I'm a wuss or at least I was before the race started.  I chatted with others that popped into the tent, talked to the nice volunteers, and even got to give the RD Eric some hell about his knack for epic weather (I swear he has a deal with mother nature) and then it was time for my own race briefing and to get going to the start line.

Cheryl and I in the first mile or so
The rain had slowed a bit since the 50kers had taken off  which was nice, but we still got soaked.  In the few minutes while waiting for the start I met Cheryl from Oklahoma who I would spend nearly the entire first half of the race with.  The gun went off, and we were on our way.  Cheryl and I chatted while everyone else took off ahead of us.  I was fine with that (did I mention the lack of training?)  I knew that this was my longest run ever and had no desire to burn out earlier than I likely would anyway.  Once we got into the trees the wind died down and the rain was more like a light shower thanks to tree filters and I enjoyed those first 3 miles just like I had the last time I ran this trail (WinterRock)....except that this time I could see the trail a bit easier due to a lack of leaves on it, all the mud, and the 50k er's leaving a nice track to follow.  The mud was slippy, but not too bad, the rocks were wet, but not coated in mud yet.  Mostly it was cool, drizzly, beautiful morning on a gorgeous trail and I was having fun.  Once the trail dumped out into the grassy sections though the mud really got awful.
Mud....So much mud.
Shoe sucking, drenching, slipping everywhere awful.  I tried to go up on the side of the trail in the taller grass, but one foot would always slip back into the mud which was far worse than just clomping through it.  We made it to the first aide station and since I had everything I needed I just headed on through after thanking the volunteers and making sure they had my number (I actually had to go back and make sure they had it since I headed straight through before I remembered). More mud, lots more mud.  Tons of slipping around and trying like hell not to fall on the downhills.  At this point all the rocks that everybody usually curses were turning into blessings.  At least where there was rocks there was sure footing.  At some point in this section there was a lovely gravelish covered downhill that I ran a quickly as I could.  It felt good to be able to run without so much effort of making sure you had footing.  For every down hill there's an uphill, or two, at Flatrock.  The uphill was a rooty, muddy, slippy mess and honestly the rest of course was that way.  I don't remember much from this section except that a song from Monty Python popped into my head.  This song:

I actually can't place this section of trail, but
trust me most of it looked like this.  
I have no idea where that song came from.  I'm not really a monty python fan, but I was thankful for that song.  It got me all the way to the turn around aide station.  At this point I realized that I had maybe taken two drinks of water in 7.whatever miles.  Hmmm...not good.  I was feeling pretty tired and my fingers were starting to not have knuckles anymore due to swelling.  If it had been hot that would have been normal-ish for me, but on this cool (almost cold in places) day it was not a good sign.  I paused for a minute, chatted with the volunteers about how this day didn't even compare to their being stranded in the blizzard at Prairie Spirit, thanked them profusely and then headed back out.  Cheryl headed out of this station before me and she was moving faster at this point so I let her go on and headed out on my own.
The stone arch is one of my favorite features
of the flatrock trail. 
More mud, some rocks and, you guessed it, more mud.  It was still raining at this point and in the sections without trees it was actually a bit chilly (yeah, I was moving slooooow) due to the wind so I tried to hurry through them as much as the mud would allow me.  Several times people from the 50k passed me and I just marveled at their ability to remain upright in the muck.  I also realized on a few of the downhills in this section that my left ITband was tightening up.  I've dealt with this before and hoped I could just stretch it out on some of the rocks along the way back to get me back to the finish line.  So at every downhill I paused and stretched it out before heading down (if there was a rock or tree handy).  If not, I gritted and hobbled my way down.  Thankfully the ups didn't hurt at all so I powered up them....well...powered might not be the right word, but I wasn't crawling so I called it good.  At some point I passed Rick, Melissa's husband, who was also doing the 25k.  Chatted for a minute, he said he was doing okay, and parted ways.  One of the things I like about this trail is that you can see people coming and going (depending on their race) and it's always nice to see a friendly face out there even if they are passing you.  Finally I made it back to the last aide station which meant I only had 4ish miles left.  A hard and absolutely beautiful 4 miles that includes the iconic stone arch.  I ate some chips, thanked the volunteers and headed out.

Totally mentally done and almost out of the trail.
I kind of lost myself in my own head in the next section.  I wasn't feeling good in anyway, but I thought about the boys and thought a lot about J.  About how he fights everyday and about how well he's doing with all of the challenges he's blessed with (more on that here).  About how he's my other "marathon" and about I would never give up on him, so why would I give up on this (besides, the only way out is through the trail anyway).  At this point everything hurt and I was a bit...fuzzy, but I remember stopping at the bench to take a picture for my boys and at some point I realized I hadn't climbed the crack yet.  Splish, splosh, slip, slide...always look on the sunny side. Then the crack was there, all slippery and knee breaking. I remember seeing the photographer and thinking that picture would be the worst picture ever (it is horrible), and I remember Candi passing me not too far after that and telling me I was almost there (thank you Candi I needed that).

I did take a small wrong turn in the last 2ish miles...still not sure how I did it...probably the fuzzy headed bit. I backtracked found the blue and very, very slowly made my way down the last extremely slippy hill. When I popped out of the trees and into the grass I nearly cried.  I have never been so happy to see a road.  I walked the grassy bit through the ditch and up onto the road.  There was a lady up there waiting for somebody who said, "You did it.  You're almost there".  I said something about being uber-happy to see the road, kept walking and starting crying.  Me...crying.  I am rarely a crier, but I was on this day. I was crying because I was almost done & crying because the people I loved the most weren't there.  I don't think I realized how much I wanted sweet husband and the boys to be at the finish line until I was almost there and they weren't.  

Anyway...I knew what was coming...as soon as I hit the clearing the airhorn blasted and the cowbells starting dinging.  I knew I should run if only so that Eric and crew didn't have to ring the cow bells for so long, but I couldn't do it (sorry guys).  I walked up the dirt road smiled as everybody screamed for me to high five "the hand".  I was so very happy to be done.  Eric ran over and handed me my plaque and a photographer told me take a picture behind a sign.  I think I was too out of it to argue.  

I saw Rick come in and cheered him on  then I rinsed off as much mud as I could, changed into dry clothes and shoes, got some food and pulled up a chair to wait for Melissa, Joell, and Justin to come in from the 50k.  

I figured they'd be a couple of hours behind me, but I didn't want to miss them so I stayed.  It was a bit of a wait.  My legs started to hurt from sitting so I went up and asked Eric if I could help ring the cow bells.  He, of course, said yes and then chatted with me for awhile.  I got to hear about his experience with the prairie spirit blizzard, his love/hate relationship with mother nature, and how he hates it when other races take down the finish line before the cut off (I could not agree more on this one).  We cheered everyone in and the time got closer and closer to the cut off.  I asked how many people were still out on the course and learned that the cutoffs had been extended an hour because of all the rain.  At the time there were 38 people still out on the course with an hour or so to go to the cut off.

I cheered Justin in and asked him about Melissa.  He said she wasn't too far behind.  Then I cheered Joell (Justin's wife...yeah they are both badass) in and asked her where Melissa was since I thought they were running together.  She thought Melissa was only a quarter mile behind her or so.  Not long now.  I see Rick standing by the road watching and I'm really starting to worry about time and where Mel is.  It's down to 10 minutes to cut off.  I ask Eric what happens if she finishes after the cut off.  Will it still count for her "hall of pain" finishes?  Nope, but she'd still get a buckle.  Rick hustles over and tells me that there are 4 people on the road, but he can't tell if she's one of them.  I look at Eric and say, "I hope one of them is her".  He says, "she'll make it.  She has to."  One, two, three people make the turn....not her. Cheer them in.  The fourth person is MEL!!  Eric looks at me and says, "go GET her and tell her to RUN!" There was only a minute left.  I ran out, still ringing the cow bell, and started yelling.  "Run Mel!  You have one minute, RUN!"  She made it and got her second FlatRock 50k buckle and her second notch into the "hall of pain".  I hugged her and told her how proud I was and watched dozens of people do the same.  It was quite impressive to watch.

All in all a satisfying if sad finish for me (5.34 something if you want the time) and an inspiring finish for Mel.  A day I doubt I will ever forget.  Thank you Eric, the Epic Ultra Brigade, all the volunteers, and the flatrock trail for the amazing memories.

Epic Indeed.

The Stormtroopers Journey:

For my boys, who asked me to take the stormtrooper along and take pictures.  For you I would 
do nearly anything. 

Saturday, September 7, 2013

"Foxhole Friends"

I read once that times of trial tend to bring out your "foxhole friends".  Friends that maybe you didn't even realize had your back all of a sudden step up when you need them the most.  I've been blessed enough to find several recently and I couldn't be more grateful.  One in particular, who I talk to a lot...like a lot, a lot...recently sent me a gift that made my day.  It wasn't the gift itself that really lifted my spirits so much as the message.  It was a "I am stronger than I thought" shirt from Another Mother Runner.  Along with that was a note, transcribed from sweet friend's email by SBS of Another Mother Runner, that I will keep forever.  It said, "You will come out stronger for this, if that's even possible.  Thank you for your friendship.  I'm here if you need me."

Thank you sweet friend for being there to lift me up when I needed it, and thank you to all my foxhole friends who listen, hug, ask what they can do, and ask me how it's going.  You are all lights in my times of darkness.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Being told your kid has special needs...

... regardless of the level of their special needs, is the hardest thing I've ever experienced.  Prior to that all the oddities were just quirks, he was his version of normal and would be okay or grow out of it.   Now though...it's like mourning the loss of something intangible.  Mourning the loss of normal.  No, we never really had normal and technically nothing has changed, but it has changed.  These things are not just quirks of his personality.  They are a neurological disorders.  Neurological disorders that will last his entire life.  

Could it be worse?  YES, it could be so much worse, but that doesn't take away the feelings of hurt and sadness over the loss of the life you thought this child would have.  The loss of the things you'd get to do with them.  This fact also doesn't make it okay that you now have to do therapy with them every.single.day just so they can have a decent day (which for the record effing sucks and it's okay to think it effing sucks).  

So...my suggestions to people who have a friend going through this.  Don't dismiss their feelings whatever they are.  Don't tell them their kid will be fine.  Don't say things like "Oh, my kid(s) do that too.  It's normal", "But he's just a kid.  I don't see XYZ disorder so he must be fine" or "Boy there's a diagnosis for everything these days". DON'T tell them it could be worse.  WE KNOW.  Just give them an open place to talk, scream, cry, whatever and above all else don't make them feel guilty or wrong for however they are feeling.  They have enough guilt as it is. 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Friendly Challenge

A friend of mine posted in a mommy group posted a challenge for August saying simply, "whatever movement, whatever goal, do it and let's help keep each other accountable", then another friend in the same group said, "BURPEES!  I'll do burpees."  Now this friend happens to be Kris from In the Kitchen with Audrey whom I ran my half marathon with last year and we happen to have a friendly competitiveness about these kinds of things.  So...while cursing under my breath I said, "Fine...I'll do burpees too".  So everyday in August we agreed to do 20 burpees....or at least 20 for the first week and  25 for the second week.  I'm not sure of the plan after that.

Now might be a good time to say that I hate burpees.  Loath burpees might be a better description, but I am competitive and I honestly probably need to do some burpees.  As I've said before I have the Flat Rock 25k coming up and while it's a trail run there is a fair bit of hands and feet crawling up giant rocks to do on that trail so burpees are probably a good choice for some crosstraining.  Also, since I started running in the mornings again I haven't been doing my strength training after my runs (since the getting the kids moving day starts pretty much as soon as I get back home).  Based on my track record of injuries I'm certain that any amount of strength training is a good idea, so....burpees (Damn you Kris ;)).

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Gravel Grinding

I snoozed through my alarm this morning after being up half the night so I missed my run...well sort of...I had planned to ride my short runs this week since "the ankle" is a bit colorful after running last Saturday and Sunday.  After spending all morning at summer school with J & S and then school supply shopping with them in tow I was ready for some out of the house without kiddo time when sweet husband got home.

S & J tire swinging it at Lawrence Community Nursery School, AKA The Little Red Schoolhouse

 I wanted to drop some paperwork off to a friend that lives about a mile away so I headed over to her house first, then out of town on a road that quickly turns to gravel.  I stopped to send gravel grinder husband, he blogs at Pedal Constantly, the picture below.  He was jealous.

Two-ish miles out of town the gravel got really loose. Which was sort of fun on the uphills and a bit scary on the downhills.  Made it two more miles before starting to head back to town since I hadn't brought my light and since I only needed to make up for a 4 mile run.  The sunset was beautiful on the way back into town, so stopped to get a quick picture.   

It wasn't actually as dark as this picture would lead you to believe.
Back to town and up and down my mile long street of rolling hills back to our house.  I have a new appreciation for the 200 miles sweet husband did at the DK200, and maybe a re-invigorated love of gravel roads (I grew up on one and learned to ride my bike on one).

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Running the rest of my life. AKA...the kid post

So far this blog has only been about my running...which as an often injured mother runner there hasn't always been much of...or at least not blog worthy.  However, even when I'm not running for runnings sake I'm still running.  Running kids to school, running to get them from school, and lately running to figure out "what's up" with our oldest kiddo J (aka Buddy, sweetheart, or "the big one").  Now let me start by saying that I've suspected something was different about him for years...I'd say from about 1.5 -2 years old.  We knew he was different from some other babies & toddlers but thought he'd grow out of it or that it wasn't a big deal.  I mean everybody has nursing problems, a kid that wakes up SCREAMING (every.single.time) for years, and an infant that would prefer to be alone in his pack and play at daycare than playing with the other kids right (J was in daycare for about a year before I started staying home)??  Oh hindsight...20/20 as always.

Nearly two years later we had kiddo number two and we started to realize just how different two kids could be.  S (aka second Kiddo, pumpkin pie, or "the monitor lizard"), in comparison, was the perfect infant.  He cried when you'd expect him to cry instead of ALL.THE.TIME (seriously if J was awake for 6 hours he cried for at least 4).  He nursed like a champ from day one.  He still didn't sleep all night for two years, but when he did get up it was easy to get him back to sleep instead of being up for hours at a time like I had been with J.  At that time we were getting J services for speech delay which we thought was due to constant fluid in his ears and ear infections.  Once we got him tubes his speech delay cleared up, some of his behaviors cleared up, and he magically slept through the night for the first time ever.  We thought that maybe we had him figured out.  We were wrong.

Pre-school started and he learned a lot.  He loved it, but had a constant problem focusing and keeping his hands to himself.  He also refused to do any fine motor work or to get his hands messy, but since we was making big strides in other areas we never suspected anything additional was up.  I remember saying, "he'll get there one of these years".

When he started Kindergarten I knew he was behind in a few areas (socialization & fine motor skills), but figured he'd even out and be okay.  As the year went on I realized I was very, very wrong.  At some point the school OT (occupational therapist) was brought in and mentioned "motor planning delays".  I did some googling.  I found out that there was a reason my kid didn't like getting his hands messy (to the point of he MUST wash his hands or he will meltdown).  A reason he ran, and ran, and ran all day without seeming to be able to stop.  A reason he needed to be coached on how to talk nicely and appropriately to other people.  A reason he couldn't get to sleep.  A reason he screamed all the time as a baby.  A reason he couldn't write his name, tie his shoes, ride a bike, or fasten a button at 5 years old. After an evaluation with a private OT we confirmed it. He has sensory processing disorder (his brain and nervous system do not communicate well with each other) and developmental dyspraxia (his limbs don't always do what he wants them to do when he wants them to do it and due to low muscle tone he gets tired quickly). As I understand it dyspraxia is technically a subdivision of SPD under SBMD (sensory based motor disorders).

If it was so bad why didn't we figure it out before??  From the outside looking in I imagine it was easier to see, since we found out we've had people coming out of the woodwork telling us they just *knew* something was wrong with him or maybe we didn't want to see.  Mostly I think we just had no clue what SPD and Dyspraxia were.  I'd read every symptom list I knew to look at (ADD, ADHD, Autism Spectrum, etc.)  if it was plausible and I'd heard of it I read the symptom list.  The problem was that they didn't fit enough for to warrant further investigation.  I dearly wish I'd heard of SPD &/or Dyspraxia earlier in his life, but as I can't fix that now I feel strongly that my job is to help spread the word about it.  If I can save one parent one day of worry about their kid then I will have done my job.

Further information about SPD & Dyspraxia can be found at the links below.

Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)


Why did this happen?  We don't know.  As far as we can tell we had none of the typical precursors for this.  Healthy pregnancy, normal delivery, full term baby. He was pretty jaundiced, but didn't require the billi-lights.

Will he ever "grow out of it" or be "normal"?  I'm not even sure what normal means anymore.  Is anybody actually normal??  If you mean will he ever be nuero-typical, as in will his brain re-grow those missing or malformed neurons, then no.  SPD and Dyspraxia are life long conditions.  There are things we can do to help him and there are "work arounds" we can teach him so that the world will be easier for him, but no he will never be neuro-typical and you know what?  That's okay, because he is AMAZING just the way he is and, if you ask me, the world do with a little more amazing.

What do we do now?  He'll start OT & first grade in August.  He'll also go to see a sensory motor eye doctor since his eyes don't track correctly which is leading to trouble reading (he can sound out words with the best of them, but putting together sentences is difficult when your eyes can't follow the whole sentence).  I can only hope that with more knowledge, some intervention, and some prodding on my part that 1st grade will be better for him than Kindergarten was. If not....I'm not sure what we'll do, but we'll figure it out when we get there.

As the proud Mama that I am I have to show them off....here's my determined, amazing kiddos.  J in blue, S in "monitor lizard" green.

Photo by Meryl Carver at My Bit of Earth. 

Friday, July 26, 2013

Summer = Getting up Early

Summer arrived in Kansas...and while I've been in the basement on the treadmill happily for a month or so a dear friend reminded that Flat Rock isn't run on a treadmill so I'd better get my behind outside if I didn't want to kill myself on that trail.  Thanks to her gentle prodding and her agreeing to check in and see if I actually got up early I started doing 5AM runs this week.  Thanks dear friend!!

Monday was an uneventful 3 miler with a beautiful sunrise over my sleepy little town.

Wednesday was slightly more eventful 3.5 miler with another beautiful sunrise as a reward for getting up and for not giving up...even when I fell and scraped up my leg (watch your step when climbing rock stairs people).  Thankfully it seems that I managed to NOT fully injure myself (Knock on wood), and as Story Hawk likes to tell me at least I had some practice falling and not giving up.

My homepage ticker is taunting me with it's countdown to Flat Rock so I hope to keep the 5AM run routine until September. Now to add in the 5AM strength routine and I might actually survive 15-16 miles on the Flat Rock trail.