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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Running fast and breathing deep

is not something I am known for....running looong yep but not faaasst : )  I am not a person who likes speed.  I remember going for long rides with Dan on his Buell and absolutely fearing for my life, but my friend Andrew's old school Triumph was glorious...slow and steady is more my mantra than fast and furious.  So training with Doc is interesting.  Since his expertise is human physiology I can't get away with being silly about my training and nutrition any more.  When I ask a question he will say "you really want to hear this?" and I will say "yep" and he will launch into an in depth usually when people try to teach me something I can be "in one ear and out the other" Michelle, but it is not the case with Doc….he was a  professor before working for the government and he is not only smart but he is more importantly a man who knows how to capture an audience...for the first time in years I am really understanding how my body works as a well oiled machine and how important it is to really think through my training, to incorporate rest and recovery and to eat a well balanced diet (Doc is constantly reminding me that carbs are not the enemy).  

When I kind of freaked out about eating a bagel on our hike he actually broke down what my body was doing with this bagel...and instead of zoning out I was fascinated...and more importantly I am starting to transfer this increased understanding of how my body works and uses food to have a better body image. 
So the past 3 runs I have done with Doc have been interesting…I have still been recovering from Peak (I did not really understand how that race would affect me long term) so I have been tired and a bit broken down.  Doc is different in his running and training then me as he is all about planning for specific races and he is all about speed.  He runs half and full marathons (road mostly up to this point) and he has a background in triathlons and had worked at the Olympic swimming facility.  He is all about training smart while I am all about ummm not training at all and flying by the seat of my pants.  I hit the gym hard and I go out for runs but I never train with specificity in mind (I did a bit in regards to DR last year)

So now I am out running trails with Doc and he is WAY faster than me.  I am not used to pushing myself on runs…I can always carry on a conversational pace and I do not run the hills but instead power hike up them.  So now we go out for a 1.5 to 2 hour run and he is pushing the pace and he runs all the hills…so I need to keep up and I need to run those hills…I don’t need to but I want to because what he is teaching me about training makes sense…So yesterdays run in Upton was the best of the three.  It is a fun place to run with some good hill work and single track as well as wide open rocky carriage roads.  I felt good during this run and asked Doc to help me train smarter….I would like to actually see what I can accomplish if I put my mind to it…I have been able to get some top ten finishes in my running with no training and I was able t hold my own at Peak with honestly little training so I can only imagine what I could do if I stopped mucking about and took it seriously.

I hold my breath…I have done it FOREVER…I am uncomfortable taking a deep belly breath in yoga…I am a shallow breather…I am fearful of it….I told Doc how I think meditation may be something I could use in my life…although Doc laughed and shared that he thinks it may be a bit hard for a squirrely mind like mine to let thoughts come and go with ease ; ) he said he would love to help me on this path.  He has spent a long period of his time working on both a yoga and meditation practice. So after our run he first made me lay down and stretched my hamstrings(something I NEVER do) and then he set me in a position and he took his own and he said we would meditate for twenty minutes…I lasted five : )

I started with good intentions and for at least 3 full minutes when thoughts came into my head I acknowledged them and sent them on their way, but then my coffee table floated into my head and I pictured how nice it would look in the living room and I was so done….I became Martha Stewart instead of Gandhi and then an ant crawled on me and my ear itched so I opened one eye and peeked over at Doc to see him watching me and smiling…I can only imagine what I looked like sitting there cross legged with my brow furrowed in thought and my body twitching around like an itchy baboo…but based on how wide Doc’s smile was I think he got a kick out of it…still it is called a PRACTICE and for those first 3 minutes it felt good to focus on my breathing…I am pretty serious about yoga and meditation and want to explore how they will affect my physical and emotional well being but I know it is not my natural inclination to be still in thoughts…

Speaking of breathing Doc showed me how to properly chop wood this weekend 

(he grew up in VT and has chopped A LOT of wood) the funny thing is I don’t breathe when I chop wood…so he had to teach me to use my breath...and he used the analogy of the breathing from the movie Dune yep we both love that movie (one reason Doc and I get along so well is because we are both pretty much dorks at heart…I mean we both love Planet of the Apes for gods sake…while I was learning Sindarin (the language of the Elves of Beleriand from the Silmarillion) he was learning Klingon hahaha…he says that I am a dork princess : ) 

I did not go to Pineland obviously and I am glad although it would have been nice to see friends..I had a weekend with Doc that was just so easy and perfect.  It is so nice to be with someone that I have so much in common with and whom I feel so is never work it just flows like I imagine my breathing one day will...I can say it is all Doc but I know that when Kev and Julie read this they will say..."no sweets it is that you are in a good place with you"...they will remind me how hard I have worked to get here and Kev will say "you are so poised luv to do great things" and they will be right....

I am not the kind of person who uses my past to blame my future have control over EVERYTHING you do and excuses are signs of emotional laziness....everyone has baggage and everyone has suffering and is what it is but as an adult you have control over how you interact with yourself and the world around I know that my happiness is not from Doc it is from within me....but as life is filled with unknowns and uncertainties..people come in and out of your life when you least expect it...I was at the perfect place in my life to meet I just need to take a deep breath and enjoy the ride........

Friday, May 25, 2012

DR 21 days and counting.....

DR is fast approaching and I am not at the same place I was last year in terms of this race.  In fact I am slightly on the fence about competing.  T.K.  and I were thinking about doing it together but he has decided to focus on his passion which is grappling and he may head back into bodybuilding…T.K.has a good sense about what he wants to do in terms of his training and I have to agree on many levels that me just focusing on multi-day racing would be best as that is my true passion….and yet….DR has this place inside me that is hard to explain away….

It is not quite a “score” I have to settle but I do have this niggling feeling inside me from DR last year…that fact that I did not quit but instead did not finish due to an injury is problematic for me…If I quit I may have been able to walk away from DR this year to focus on training for my next ultra but because that was not the case I have this feeling….it is not strong and it is still undefined but it is there nonetheless….

My training this year is nowhere near where it was last year in terms of DR and I am still in recovery mode from Peak. I lost muscle at Peak and weight having gone in close to 112 and my weight the other day after  two big meals was 106…last year at this time I was bigger and stronger and regularly strength trained and was doing far harder workouts than I am doing now…and yet…much of DR last year was about the mental and emotional strength required of a person to compete in such a race and that kind of “tough” well it is ingrained in me through my health battles these past few years…I have already won my “death race” and so this one is not really the epic battle it may be for others… is gonna be a tough race…and anyone who belittles what is ahead or talks smack will have a rude awakening when Joe grabs that speaker in less than a month.

Doc has said he will go with me to DR and be my support and stay with me for the entire race.  He is smart and he knows his stuff being a physiologist whose work is focused on making our soldiers be able to thrive in inhospitable climates (cold- heat-dehydration)..if only I had him last year I think I would have suffered far less ..KZ, Julie, Mark and I had no idea what to expect going into it last year…Kev and Julie and I were used to ultra running and well stocked aid tables and drop bags and Mark was focused at the time into strength training and body building …..having Doc there and Julie said she will return to support me..well I could not ask for anything more (except Kev to be there to cheer me on) so I am well poised (hahah Kev) to compete this year even though I have less bulk and am still in recovery mode.
One major issue is this year I have to work the day of is the last day of school so I won’t even be able to leave for VT until after 2:30…I will get to Pittsfield possibly after the official start….and that week will be crazy with graduation and grades and field trips and supply orders and classroom clean up and break down for summer…I will go into DR off a very hectic week…still I am mentally in a far better place this year…having a relationship with Doc and T.K. and I’s friendship being solidified well I could not have imagined this scenario to have come about in a better way…I am really blessed with where my life is at at this moment…someone is looking out for me (Dan is that you my friend ?)

I guess at this point I am gonna leave it as a last minute decision…I am not bringing much this year in terms of my pack…food, clothing and an axe and that is pretty much it…with no gear list I will just make due and I can’t afford to buy a single piece of gear having lost ten days of pay from doing Peak…I can’t waste money right now.  I will pack my yellow bag (I got it from WS100 in 2010 and it is perfect being small and light and strong).

I think It is best for right now to focus on doing things I love for the right reason and enjoying my time with Doc...I have nothing to prove in terms of DR my name is on that wall as a finisher so I can walk away having said I achieved that goal and yet...regret is something I can't abide...I do not want to wake up Saturday the 16th in bed and say to myself....I should be at Amee farm.....not quite a conundrum and yet it is still something I have to think through...

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Post Peak

I am still recovering I guess as last night I went straight to Doc’s house to wait for him so we could head to gym and I fell asleep on his couch…then I ended up in his bed resting till it was time to make something to eat and then straight back to bed. 

The plan is to show up at Pineland Sunday and decide that morning what to register for the 25k or 50k, but I am not sure if I want to do that or go hiking with Doc…it will be based on whether or not I am getting sick.
The truth is I am kind of done with the racing thing and will spend far more time this year just fast packing or hiking the whites…from 2007 to 2010 I pretty much raced nonstop every weekend all the New England races and was Stone Head champ a few years in a row and broke records for most races run by a woman and most points accumulated by a woman…I won the New England Trail racing series for my age group as well and blah blah blah… I run just to run.  I pick and choose to run a race but sometimes the plan changes and the morning of I decide hot yoga and a hike would make me happier. 
Peak was perfect for me because I am not competitive against others just myself…10 days pretty much alone (albeit Mark, Willy and Joel) just to run and hike and think …I was in my element…

This morning I read an email from a girl who posted to the Barkley list that she wanted to be the first women to finish…a person ( a dear friend of mine and a super sweetheart of a guy)  responded that women would be Michelle Roy and then the girl responded in the form of a haiku that she would prove everyone wrong…first off I don’t know who “everyone” is and secondly I want to run Barkley for me not for anyone else….and I am a bit too old for cyber haiku battles(this little thing looks like she could be my daughter ; )
I  have learned that each of us have our time in the sun but it is fleeting… the true sign of strength and accomplishment is to do something and then hold it close to your heart and live in it for a bit…the more you throw it out to the universe the more it dissipates and becomes hard to hold on to.  I will try to get into Barkley next year…I have waited since 2009 to be ready to try...I don’t want to do it for anyone but me…If I do it I will do it to finish that is my nature…if I can follow through on that goal well that depends on a bit of ability, a lot on heart and a whole lot of luck…there are many women far more capable than is the nature of the universe there is always someone bigger and badder then you…I have the honor to be friends with many strong women through DR and through running…I have many heroes both male and female whom I have looked up to and am amazed at their strength and ability….I just want to be able to be left alone to find my bliss on the trails and my "haikuing" as of late is solely in the form of haikus Doc writes me since we started dating…but because I am a little bit of a prankster I may write my own haiku back hehe

I have never been in a better point in my life….I had my time when racing and training was all I did and through it I met my glorious Tuggers and Trail Animals…but I am getting older and wiser …I am excited to spend time with Doc in Whistler after DR and then either heading to CO for his research study on Pikes Peak or to Vol State or Hardrock to see Steve, Deb, Garry and I think Bogie will be there as well.  I love Doc’s new house with the glorious gardens I can’t wait to sink my hands into…I want to learn to home brew and create herbal tinctures…I have a book I am writing and I want to get my PT certification…I want to run some races and continue with my strength training….travel and lie in Doc's arms on the big hammock on the porch....yep older and wiser and far more happy than I have ever been....

Friday, May 18, 2012

Peak 500 (or 370)


bars bars bars
burgers with peanut butter
rain rain rain
mud mud mud
blood blisters
diarrhea and poop jokes
Joel hurt : (
surrounded by gentlemen: lucky me
a special shy smile
long days of thinking and not thinking anything
Margaret in flip flops
fly in my smoothie
eating yogurt from a fridge not turned on for 3 days
more diarrhea
bridge under water
speed demon on roads
course marking....I love pink tape
Swiss Farm breakfast sandwich
m&m's peanut
more diarrhea
wet wipes..lots of them
unexpected guest
expected turnip... my 4-eva pacer
long talks about love lost and found
hair a tangled bloody mess
more tears
more tears
new friends and old
barbecue chicken all over my face
Willy before he heads out for last two loops
(fall a bit in love with him at that moment : )
Lynn's smile
mini breakdown
Margaret's hug
Philip's talk (fall in love with Philip a bit too)
"suffering is optional"
toughen up chica
Mark's finish
just me left 
pain like a knife from foot to groin
1 last loop
Two pair of Salomon's see me through
best shower ever
Andy's hug and trophy
best DNF I will EVER experience

I am a Phoenix