ultra running

I’m Going to Lake Placid!

“Opportunities do not come with their values stamped upon them.

Everyone must be challenged.

A day dawns, quite like other days;

in it a single hour comes, quite like other hours;

but in that day and in that hour the chance of a lifetime faces us.”
-Maltbie Davenport Babcock

 10634238_10152261679772397_272607433_n

For a long time I have dreamed of racing at Lake Placid. As it turns out, I’ll be there sooner than I thought! While, it may not be for my original fantasy involving a 2.4 miles swim, 112 mile bike ride, and 26 mile run, it will involve plenty of mileage.

In an unexpected turn of events, I have been invited to run with the Bondi Band Ultra Team at Ragnar Relay Adirondacks. Unluckily for the team (but lucky for me!), they had some runners drop from the event due to injury.  Surprisingly (and also fortunate for me!) there are not tons of ultra runners available to travel to New York on short notice for a multi-day event (Go figure, right?). I guess there is some benefit to planning life at the last minute because I had no conflicting races or plans.

My initial reaction to the invite was that is was WAAYYY to good to be true! Here I had an invitation to run a Ragnar Event with my race entry and hotel paid for and free gear and nutrition from sponsors…. All I had to do was show up and run. I could not, for the life of me, figure out the catch. How was there not a line of people fighting over this AMAZING opportunity? When I saw the race finished in Lake Placid, I knew it was a sign to just go for it.

There are some times in your life when it just feels like the stars and planets perfectly align in your favor, and this was one for me. I was being offered an opportunity to do something I absolutely love, on a long weekend I just happened to have off from work, within hours of my house, at a location I have dreamed of racing. I felt like I won the karma lottery.

Even after registering and sending me measurements for my race gear, I still couldn’t believe it was actually happening. I held off on posting just in case something fell through… Then it did. Another runner dropped from the team, and we were sent scrambling for a replacement. Again, no one was available who could cover that kind of mileage.  Just when it seemed all hope might be lost, the hubs volunteered to cover the toughest legs of the team (He is a keeper that hubby of mine!)

Sooooo now it is official! We have a full roster! Both the hubs and I will be running as Bondi Bandits at the Ragnar Adirondacks in less than two weeks!!! I am so psyched to be doing my very first sponsored event, and even more so that I’ll have my hubby there with me. Beyond that, I was thrilled to learn that our main sponsor Bondi Band is not only founded by a kick a$$ lady from New England, but also donates 10% of all profits to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, Massachusetts. That is the kind of company I am proud to run for and represent.

As great as it is to get a free race entry and new gear, I am almost more excited about being a part of a team of like minded individuals!  I am so looking forward to finally meeting all the other ladies in person! I love ultra running, so the opportunity to connect with other passionate endurance athletes (and bad a$$ ladies) is a huge bonus for me.  After all, there is nothing like spending hours end running and sleeping in a van to bond a group of strangers!

For those of you interested in learning more about some of the other fabulous members of the Bondi Bandits, I provided links to their blogs below. Be sure to leave them some love!

RunAllTheRacesShare Perfect Goofy Gail and Kimberly’s adventures as they run Disney and everything in between

Mother Maker Marathon RunnerA blog about embracing life with a bit of grace, a lot of perseverance, and a positive attitude

Fabulosi-TBecause life is too short not to be fabulous 

While your at it, you can check out our sponsors as well!

Bondi BandIn addition to generously sponsoring the team entries, they are also supplying us with new gear! They have so many cute headbands and socks, it was hard to choose!

Chase This SkirtUm, did I mention we get to race in custom made skirts!?! Coolest team/race/moment of my life ever.

Clif Bar– The hubs and I already use Clif Bloks as our go to nutrition/electrolyte replacement on long runs and rides. I love that they even come in margarita flavor. 

KraveHealthy Gourmet Jerky, who knew there was such a thing?  I am sure the hubs will love it; and as far as I am concerned, if it is good enough for Meb, it’s good enough for me!

 

 

Advertisements

Haters say what?

“That’s my gift. I let that negativity roll off me like water off a duck’s back.

If it’s not positive, I didn’t hear it.

If you can overcome that, fights are easy.”

-George Foreman

Image

You know those super perky, obnoxious people who just seem to be happy about everything all the time for no reason?  Does it make you just want to hate them?  Well, I happen to be one of them.  Okay, well not all the time.  Certainly not when I’m at work anyway.  However, I am when it comes to any kind of exercise.  I truly LOVE and enjoy working out.  I am an absolute endorphin junkie.

I remember back when my aunt was diagnosed with breast cancer, they prophylactically put her on prozac to avoid situational depression.  She loved that stuff.  She would always comment about how it was making her “fat” but she didn’t care because she felt so great on it.  She said she would rather gain weight than give it up.  That is how I feel about exercise.  Sure I appreciate that is good for me, but mostly I do it for the endorphins.  It is literally the only thing that helps my anxiety; so even if I gained a hundred pounds doing it and found out it wasn’t good for me… I think I’d still do it.  I’m an addict.

Perhaps that is why I can’t seem to grasp how other people can workout and not enjoy it even a little bit… like not even when it’s over.   Do they have endorphin resistance?  Are they so determined to be grouchy that even a good workout doesn’t help?

What’s more, I can’t fathom why anyone who doesn’t enjoy exercise or racing would sign up for an endurance event.

Last weekend, the hubs and I had a fantastic time at the Waterbury Duathlon.  However, there was a gentleman near me for much of the course who was ABSOLUTELY hating life.  He was moaning and screaming up all the hills on the bike section, and I (being a friendly and supportive runner at heart) would yell encouragement to him each time I passed. (SIDE NOTE: This was primary because I have a compact crank that makes my bike better suited for climbing… and I’m tiny which also works to my advantage on the way up).  While watching him struggle, I thought of suggesting he invest in having his bike properly fitted, but figured the timing would not have been good.  Besides, what do I know?… well, at least a little more than this guy.

Anyway, apparently I annoyed the bejeezus out of him because when we were about halfway though our second 5K, he grumbled something to the effect of “Congratulations, you are the person I HATE this race.”  At the time, I assured him that I was not trying to pass him and simply trying to run at a comfortable pace.  He growled he would prefer if I just passed him already.  Then, after making a rude comment about one of the finishers coming back through the course to cheer the other athletes on, he admitted to being an “angry runner” (two terms I didn’t think could ever be used together).  So, I asked if he preferred cycling instead.

In retrospect, it was probably a really stupid question… just based on the amount he was screaming and carrying on during the bike leg.  Which begs the question, if he hated the running and the cycling then what on God’s Green Earth was he doing there?  It just sort of boggles my mind.  I didn’t think people who ran and biked that far were capable of being so cranky.  Perhaps he didn’t train enough, but still… what a tremendous waste of energy.

Here is was a beautiful day with a well organized event, and this dude was hating everything and everyone- me most of all, smilingapparently.  Well excuse me Mr. Grumpy Pants, but you’ll just have to pardon my enthusiasm.  If you are truly in the habit of picking a person to hate every race; then maybe you, dear sir, need to find a new hobby.

The day that I stop loving and enjoying running and working out is the day I will stop altogether.  What is the point of going out there and doing these things if not to enrich our lives?  Sure, there are times when I hate the training and the discomfort during an especially long run or tough workout, but mostly I am grateful.  I am grateful because there are so many people who give anything to be able to walk let alone run.  I can do amazing things with my body, and that is a privilege.  It’s also something that can change in an instant- a thought I try to remind myself regularly.

Above all things, trail running is pure bliss for me.  Even in the midst of running a full ultra, I still love it.  I smile the whole way through.  I consider myself lucky to be able to take a whole day to myself to do something I love.  I am not torturing my body when I’m out there running a 50K, I am challenging it.  Yes, sometimes it can be painful, but that is what the training is for.  More than anything, though, it’s empowering and rewarding.  The reality is, there will come a day when I can’t run, bike, or swim anymore.  Until that day comes, I am going enthusiasmto appreciate each opportunity I have.  I will be chasing dreams until the day I die.  That is what makes me feel most alive.

I just don’t understand how Mr. Grumpy Pants missed the boat on what a gift it is to be able to bike and run at all, let alone compete. Maybe I offended him because I made it look easy.  Perhaps it was because I smiled and cheered on everyone around me.  More likely it was my sheer joy and enthusiasm which resonated exactly the opposite of how he was feeling.

Regardless, it wasn’t my issue.  I’m not going to dial down my enthusiasm and friendliness to avoid offending some cranky dude I’ve never met.  Frankly, there is no pleasing people like that.  The struggle they’re facing has nothing to do with you or me.  It’s entirely with themselves.  No one should ever feel obligated to apologize for simply being happy, genuine, and loving life.

Go out there and love life to your heart’s content.  The world needs more passionate people.  Be like George Foreman and let all the negativity around you just roll off your back.  You know I’ll be in your corner. 😉

How to Be Epic

“I want to have an epic life.

I want to tell my life with big adjectives.

I want to forget all the grays in between, and remember the highlights and the dark moments.”
-Isabel Allende

Image

You may have noticed from all the links in my posts recently that I have been doing a lot of reading via various social media outlets (including some of my favorite bloggers <3).  Recently I came across this gem titled How to Be Epic.  My first thought when I saw the title was “Um, I already am“, but then I realized that the article was about a woman who took on an Ironman during a midlife crisis.  Given that have a keen interest in one day completing an Ironman, and am not that many years off from a mid life crisis myself, I took notice.

Once you get past the typos (this was difficult for my inner grammar nazi me, but I’m not perfect either (gasp)… and I love Runner’s World) it is a pretty good read… maybe not Triathlon For Every Woman good, but still worth the glance.  For those of you too lazy busy to read it for yourselves, let me give you the gist of it:

“More busy runners are pushing themselves in endurance races. Maybe you should too!”

Basically, the article recaps how one busy, former rowing champ, endurance junkie, Kona dreaming, middle-aged mom becomes an Ironman (through endless hours of training that made her question her sanity).  Sounds totally relatable to me… aside from maybe the rowing champ part.  Excuse me, but where are all the articles about unathletic, uncoordinated folks taking on an Ironman?  None?  Okay well thank you Swim Bike Mom for filling that void.  Hopefully, someday I can help you out with that.

Anyway, the point of the article is how training for an EPIC RACE (ie. one that is WAY out of your comfort zone and seems impossible) changes you as a person.  Back when I ran my first (and only: “first and last!”) marathon I posted on how the training had changed me long before I ever ran (hobbled through) that race.  Truly, training must change you or completing the race would never become possible.  Once the race is over, you cann’t go back to the person you were before training, and isn’t that the point? To get out of your comfort zone?  To build a better, stronger, and more confident you?

When people hear that I am signed up for yet another “crazy” obstacle course race or 30+ mile run, they invariably wonder (out loud) why I would want to.  Isn’t it obvious? Because I can!  Wouldn’t you if there was a chance you thought you could?  Wouldn’t it be worth knowing just how far you can push yourself?  Wouldn’t it be worth the sense of accomplishment?

There are so many people in this world who go through life without ever testing or knowing the true depth of their strength or ability to persevere.  In doing so they grossly underestimate themselves.  That seems far more crazy to me than continually pushing my limits.  What’s the worst thing that could happen? I fail?  Well that just makes the eventual victory that much sweeter!  I would rather be a failure than someone who never tried.  Living life on the sidelines isn’t living, it’s watching.

What would you do if you weren’t afraid of failing?

Are you ready to give up the sidelines and BE EPIC?

It just so happens that I now have that code for a FREE SPARTAN RACE ENTRY.  How’s that for a chance to get out of your comfort zone?  Here’s an idea: You can enter the giveaway, and if you win take as a sign from fate.  With the money you save on the race entry you can even pick up the new Reebok All-terrain shoes.  Since a race entry can run up to almost $200 and the shoes run about $120 (when ordered directly from Reebok), it’s almost like getting a discounted race entry and the shoes for free… at least that’s how I’d justify to the hubs if it were me… 😉

The giveaway is slated to start just as soon as we hit 200 likes on the Running Thriver Facebook Page.  Why you ask?  Well, because WordPress does not allow Rafflecopter giveaways on the blog, which means I will be hosting the giveaway through Facebook.  So my lovelies, I am really doing this for all of you.  I want to make sure you all find the page, so you don’t miss out!

ImageOnce the giveaway starts, look for the tab (pictured above for your convenience) to enter.

We are only 10 likes away, so it should be soon!

 

In the meantime, I hope you all have an EPIC WEEKEND!  I’d love to hear about your adventures!

 

 

Bimbler’s Bluff Recap

“A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.”
-Colin Powell 

1378475_10151653823987397_1134264064_n

I am a firm believer that with persistence, anything is possible.  That might have been what lead me to sign up for the Bimbler’s Bluff 50K in the first place.  It seemed to be one of those things where the planets are in alignment and everything just falls into place… although I never could have anticipated upon signing up just how true that would be.

I needed a race to run as a fundraiser for CT-ALIVE this year, and having done attempted the Ultra Beast last year, it had to be something that would test my limits.  Ever since the Ultra Beast, I had considered doing an ultra.  I had already done a marathon, so it seemed like the next logical step.  Plus, the Bimbler’s Bluff was a bargain at $50!

BLQ-tommy-lasordaDetermination-Quotes-for-Blog-300x300Since I was not super successful with my fundraising last year, this year I redoubled my efforts.  I made an event page, sent emails, and continuously begged for money on Facebook.  The fact that I had selected a race roughly 33 miles in length worked to my favor as I had people who offered to make donations in my memory just in case I didn’t survive.  (Thanks for the vote of confidence guys)  My goal was for this year $500, but I well exceeded it making for my most lucrative fundraising year yet!  That only made me more pumped for the race.

The other exciting thing about my big run this year was that a friend of mine (Vanessa from The Purple Song Project) put me in touch with Lana Ives from Ives International Film.  It turned out that Lana is working on a documentary involving stories of inspiring people.  She had read my blog and thought I fit the bill.  She asked if she could meet me at the race and interview me before the start.  She also said I could have copies of the film and images for my own personal use (i.e. for my blog- so stay tuned!).  Beyond the shock that someone would be inspired enough by my blog to want to involve me in a documentary, I realized that this was an AMAZING opportunity.  If my mission with this blog is to inspire people to go out and live their dreams, especially after abuse, then there was no way I could not accept.

Upon arriving at the race, I found Lana and her assistant at the check in.  I was beyond stoked to find not only that the race shirts were fluorescent orange, but that the race bibs were orange as well! I took this as a good sign because, as we all know, orange is my favorite color. Even better, the bib had my name on it- which meant the runners and volunteers would be cheering for me by name!  Anyone who has run a race with your name on the bib knows exactly what I am talking about here.  Plus, it made for better conversation on the course given we all had name tags.

As far as the actual race, I don’t even know where to start.  Trail runners are such a special breed.   When you sign up and arrive at a trail run, you sign up for more than a race.  Rather, you have signed up to be a part of a community, and it’s clear from the moment you arrive.  Bimbler’s Bluff was no exception.  There was a palpable sense of good will.  When the national anthem wouldn’t play, two runners stepped forward and sang it beautifully.  However, they didn’t sing it alone because almost immediately the whole field joined in.  It was a perfect way to start, and then we were off.

The early part of the course consisted of rolling hills, which are my favorite to run.  I picked a comfortable pace and stuck with it the whole way.  I only stopped to walk if a hill was particularly steep.  I plugged along while everyone else passed me, and before long I was convinced there was no one left to go by.  I didn’t particularly mind.  After all, it was nice to see another person occasionally, and I figured most of them had far more experience with ultras than me anyhow.

The first real challenge of the race was that markers were not that easy to spot.  The red and white tape blended with the foliage in some places and required a lot of attention not to miss them… which many people (myself included!) did… repeatedly.   (Might I offer a humble suggestion of lime green or fluorescent pink next year?)  This was good in the sense that it gave me something to concentrate on; however it made it difficult to watch my footing resulting in several good tumbles.  I caught my toe on and tripped over more rocks than I could count!  I was thrilled when I arrived at the first aid station and plowed through it on to the next one.

The second section of the course had areas that were so steep and treacherous that they were really more conducive to 1394469_10151653824057397_1418743311_nhiking climbing than running… unless you’re part mountain goat.  I did my best to run whatever I could safely and was still feeling good when I hit aid station #2.  I called out my number to the volunteers and headed up a near vertical ascent.  I found Lana on the way up, and she asked how I was feeling.  I told her I was still doing ok and scaled upwards.  My reward was a magnificent view from the top!  The rest of that section seemed to span on forever, and I was sincerely doubting my ability to finish before the cutoff… or finish at all… when I arrived at station #3.  Lana, again, was there waiting for me and she even jogged down the street with me asking me questions as I crossed back onto the course.  I asked the staff at the station how much longer to the next one (which I mistakingly thought was the last one) and they said another 6 miles.  Elated by this news, I blasted past them and they called after me that they had cookies and didn’t I want something to eat.

The next section, again, seemed to stretch on forever.  This was at least in part due to the fact that I hadn’t realized I was out of water until after I started it.  My legs were no longer cooperating and the down hills were worse than up.  At some point I ran a whole extra hill because I had missed a marker.  I thought about taking the ibuprofen I brought with me, but I didn’t want to risk injuring myself by blocking out the pain.  Then I rolled my ankle and landed on it. I was relieved to find at least that it wasn’t badly sprained, and I could still walk on it.  I figured I should enjoy what was left of the race because it could be a good amount of time before I’d be running on it again.  When I did finally arrive at the 4th aid station I found Adam.  He had ridden his bike from home to greet me.  I asked if would make it back in time to see me finish, and he said it would be no problem because I still had 11 miles to go.  The volunteer confirmed this information by telling me I did a great job and was 22 miles in.  I was crushed because I had thought that there were only 4 aid stations with 8 miles left after the last one.  I truly thought that extra 3 miles was going to kill me.  Then Adam filled my hydration pack more than I needed despite my protests.

In spite of the fact that the volunteers were wonderful and supportive, I left that aid station feeling totally defeated.  My pack was the heavier now than it ha been when I started, and I had 3 extra miles to go on top of the eight mile section ahead of me.  Judging by the amount of time it had taken me to complete the last section, I thought for sure that I would never make it past the next cutoff.  It was definitely my lowest point in the race.  The one thing that worked in my favor was that there were not a lot of uphills on that segment. In fact, it was primarily downhill; and I was able to push through 8 miles in 2 hours.  I saw Lana shortly before the last aid station and called out to her “I’m smiling because if you’re here then I’m almost done!”  I stopped briefly at that last aid station- just long enough to say thank you and grab some gummy bears.  They were the most delicious I have ever tasted in my life!  I headed into my last 3 miles on a high.  It was only 4:30 PM, and I knew I could walk the rest of the way and still make it.

However, having run everything but the worst hills up to this point, I was determined to keep going.  Besides, if I was running to inspire and raise money for victims of domestic violence, I was certainly not going to give them anything less than my best.  Plus, I wanted nothing more than to be finished as soon as possible!  So I kept running, despite the fact that my running resembled stumbling more than actual running.  I was emotional on the last section because it was the first time I knew that I could do it: the finish was within my grasp.  I thought of all the hard work and 6 long months of training I had put in to get to this point; and I thought of all the women I was doing this for.  This was not a victory just for me, this was a victory for us.  All those women who were told over and over that they couldn’t accomplish or handle anything, who 564089_10151653823952397_1516264909_nhad their self worth stripped from them the way I did- it was a victory for them.

When I did finally see the finish, I sprinted to it as fast as my legs would carry me.  The people who were there erupted in cheers (not just for me, but for every runner).  Lana was there at the finish, and I told her I couldn’t believe it was over.  She asked if she could give me a hug and I was more than happy to accept it, though I did warn her that I was pretty sweaty.  She asked asked me some additional questions, and then we waited or Adam to arrive (because he underestimated how quickly I would get through my last 11 miles!).  When the race director offered me my glass (and it’s a pretty nifty glass too!) for finishing, I had actually forgotten we were supposed to get anything.  To me, the reward was just in the experience.  I spent the whole day doing something I absolutely love, in good company, with great volunteers, and raised money and awareness for domestic violence in the process.  What more could a girl ask for?

Now that it’s all over, I’m still in disbelief that I did it.  Even more than that, I can’t even begin to process how much love and support I have had for this race.  I don’t think I could have pushed through the pain for as long as I did had I not had so many people rooting for me.  Being someone as independent as I am, I am not used to asking for help… or for anything for that matter.  However, when it came to my fundraising race this year, the response was more than I could have ever imagined.  I am so blessed to have the people I do in my life, from my amazing husband who sacrificed his sleep yesterday to drive me to and from the race and cheer me on, to my awesome family and mom who left me cupcakes for when I got home, to my trainer who kicked my butt for 6 months and helped me become the strongest physically that I have ever been, to all my friends, coworkers, and fellow CT-ALIVE board members, and Arch Angels who offered words of encouragement and made donations.  I dont’ know what I did to deserve to have so many wonderful people in my life, but I am truly grateful for each and every one of them!