Sunday, September 20, 2015

Races, meltdowns, injuries, and freak outs.

I shouldn't wait so long to do my race write-ups. Writing has never been an easy thing for me, and when I let too much time pass from the events to the blogging, it's even worse. Let's just jump in and see if any of this comes across in a coherent fashion.

A month ago, I ran my 68th half marathon, the Top of Utah half. I ran this race last year, and was smitten with its moosey goodness. Everything associated with the race has a moose on it. I can't not run this race. 
Also, they have the most colorful porta-potties, of all time, ever.
One of the perks of living in Utah, is that there's a multitude of races that run down lovely canyons. Top of Utah is one of those. The buses take the runners up the canyon about 7 miles. I had the great fortune of riding up on the bus that was staying to take the drop bags back down. I got to stay on the bus, all warm and cozy until right before the start. I managed to take a nap and everything. WHAT.
Heading to the start line.
It was a perfect morning to be out running. The temperatures stayed down; there was no rain to contend with. I waded through the large group of runners to position myself at the back of the pack, my natural habitat. 

The race started, and the typical dance of leapfrogging began. In every race, there are always those people that pass you, then you pass them, then they pass you, and this continues until one person finally decides that he/she can't take it anymore and they widen the gap. On this day, there was a man, close to my age, who played this game with me. Except this time, there was a difference. He was more concerned with me passing him than anyone I've ever seen. I get it, no one wants to get beat by the chubby girl. But they don't know that this chubby girl does this type of thing nearly every single weekend. Every time he would get in front of me, he would keep nervously looking back over his shoulder. I decided to take advantage of this at around mile 6. I could see the fear in his eyes, so I started hunting him. I began to push the pace, making him have to run faster, all the while, looking over his shoulder. It was so funny to me. Probably because I'm a horrible person. I finally decided to leave him alone around mile 9. Three miles of purposeful torment was enough. It was starting to affect my enjoyment of the course. Finish times aren't why I run races, getting to experience new scenery is. 
A lovely, tree lined section of the race course. 

I'm done hunting, it's selfie time.
I felt good throughout the race, and was able to finish right about the same time as I did last year. I like consistency. 
I love the pictures my mom takes. I guess I should have run faster to get more into the middle of the shot.
Moose! Moose everywhere!
I had a week break after Top of Utah and then it was time for the Little Grand Canyon marathon. I had seen shirts from this race on other runners and it had always intrigued me. I decided that this year was the time to make it happen. The race takes place a mere hour and a half from where I live. I'm sorry that I hadn't been running it sooner. 
Packet pick up alone was worth signing up for this race. 
If you know me at all, you know that I have an affinity for dinosaurs. This race course goes past actual dinosaur tracks, and Native American petroglyphs, How cool is that?! These things are what convinced my mother to participate in their 10K option. She can't say no to dinosaurs and petroglyphs either.  

I know you're all starting to wonder where the meltdown mentioned in the title comes in. Well, here it is. It didn't have anything to do with the race I was about to run. I wasn't worried or nervous. I didn't doubt my abilities. But the night before this race, as I got undressed in the hotel bathroom and stared at my naked body in the mirror, illuminated by the harsh fluorescent lights, I lost it. What I saw when I saw myself wasn't a hard core ultrarunner. I was just an overweight, pasty white girl. Weird tan lines, stretch marks, love handles, a poochy stomach, multiple chafe mark scars from my sports bra lining my rib cage, arms that jiggle, thighs that wiggle. How could this body that I'm staring at have done any of the things that it had? This body ran 50 miles?! Yeah, sure it did. This body looks more like it sat through 50 weekends of pizza-bender-Netflix-marathoning. I broke down. And I have to say, I've been in a funk about it ever since. These past few weeks have been full of self loathing. I'm a smart girl, I know that this attitude isn't going to help anything. That doesn't make it any easier to just snap out of it. My boyfriend has been putting up with my body image issues like a champ though. I just hate that it's something that he even needs to deal with. I should be able to be comfortable in my own skin. I should be proud of my body, no matter what it looks like. I have a feeling that this will be a long road...

Now that I've had my meltdown, it was time to get some sleep and run a marathon. My mom and I got up and dressed and headed out to the town of Huntington to catch the buses that would take us to our race starts. The marathon had only one bus load of people in it. Oh great. I'm going to be last. That's the thought that crosses my mind at every small event. Somebody has to be last, so I've made my peace with it. I hung out in the back again, chatting with some other runners. It was really going to be a nice race, so it was tough to be too down about it. I was dressed in a crazy colorful outfit and the older gentleman I was talking to cracked a joke about me needing to wear something a little more visible. I told him I was dressed that way so that they could find my body in the desert. At least this got a chuckle from the people around me. 
Running through the San Rafael Swell is beautiful.
At mile 2, a small jack rabbit ran right in front of me. It scared me, I scared it. It was a fun little adrenaline boost. The sunrise was so lovely as we headed into the San Rafael Swell area. There were a few hills in the first 9 miles that I was content to just hike up. For the most part though, it was a fairly flat course. 
Running off into the desert.
I spent at least 20 minutes taking pictures. I threw my finish time out the window and just focused on enjoying being out there. I felt decent for the first half of the race, but then fatigue started to set in and I walked a lot more of the second half. 
This race tells you how far you have left to go, which was kind of depressing when the sign said 25 more miles.
But as the race went on, the scenery got better and better, so I didn't mind that I was going slower. People continued to pass me and I continued to take pictures. And all was right with the world for that bit of time. 
Such a pretty place to run.

Covered in salt and sweat, but enjoying the journey.

How could you not love this?
They had begun busing down the runners that had finished the half marathon, 10K, and the faster marathoners. The runners on the bus would wave and cheer as they passed the rest of us still on the course. The last bus that passed on by had my mom on it, so I knew she had made it. Her first 10K was a success! 
The petroglyphs were right off of the road. It was incredible. 
My mom chose her distance wisely. The last 10K of this race was the most scenic part of the course. I am considering just doing the half next year to skip the hills and soak up the scenery. When I finished the race, I was certain that I was last but it turns out that there were still 4 other people behind me. We waited there at the finish for the last runners, which was fun. Plus, there was plenty of good food there to eat while we waited. It turns out that there was no bus coming back to take us back to our cars so I got to ride back down to my car in an ambulance. It was a fun way to get back down and they didn't even send me a bill!
Such great swag!
Now you're all wondering where the injury part mentioned in the title comes in. Here it is! As my mom and I were having lunch after the race, something in my right hip started to feel funny. It got to the point that I could barely walk by the end of the night. I have spent the last two weeks trying to recover from whatever it is that happened. I didn't feel anything during the race. The best I can figure is that it was some sort of muscle strain. I was able to run 8 miles yesterday, but it wasn't pretty. Jamie had to prod me through every step of it. But that's what running friends are for, right? I'm just hoping that I'll be recovered enough to get through the Huntsville Marathon next weekend. 

I was starting to have a major freak out about being ready for the Javelina Jundred next month. The anxiety over being ready, plus the body image funk I'm in, makes for more mental anguish than I need. So I tackled my anxiety about Javelina. The time limit for that race is so generous, I can walk most of it if I have to. Reminding myself of that has made things a little better. I can finish the race. I might not be in love with every minute of it. But honestly, what ultra have I loved every minute of? That's not the nature of the ultra marathon. I keep going back because each one teaches me more about myself. And since I'm a stubborn gal, it takes me a lot of time to learn from my mistakes. (Insert winky face here.)

I'll try to be more timely with the next blog, that way Javelina can have its own entry. 100k will give me a lot to recap, so brace yourselves for that. In the meantime, I need to survive running and writing about two more marathons.

Until next time, happy running!


  1. You've got this. You're an inspiration to me.

  2. I just found your blog and am relieved to find another person who thinks the same way as me about being last in a smaller race...but I love how you were able to turn it around and enjoy the experience of that beautiful canyon area! Looking forward to reading more of your blog. :)

  3. Mmm
    What I see is someone who's ran 68 plus 1/2M's and so much more.
    WE all have those mirror moments, I hope the melting moment has moved on and you are in a more positive place, you should be, you've earned it.