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Why You Should Never Day Drink With Ultra Runners.

Let me start by giving you an update on my husband’s training path. His Ironman in September did not go as planned as his knee (which had been bothering him off and on for awhile) basically stopped him from running the second he hit the concrete (which is much harder than asphalt, a reason you’ll see people running on the road instead of a sidewalk) greenway at mile 8 or so. He took a couple months off and then eased back into running by keeping to the trails. His small blip on the greenway with me at my 110K triggered the pain again, so he’s really been focusing on trails and trail races. So…OF COURSE…he’s wanted to make his next big goal a 100-Miler and give up triathlons all together.

BUT HERE IS THE PROBLEM: His wife is stubborn and won’t let him.

WHY?

Because I want to do one first, OF COURSE.

I always assumed I’d get my buckle (the token 100-mile completion prize) first because if there’s ONE THING I had on Donnie, it was that I’ve run further than he ever has. SEVERAL TIMES. His longest distance to date is a 50K whereas I’ve done 42, 44, 52, and 68 mile events. OF COURSE I assumed I’d be the first one to run 100 miles! As he’s been planning more and more trail races and talking to friends who do 100-Milers, he’s been hinting more and more at this stupid 100-Miler in Alabama in November and this has REALLY put the pressure on me because I WANT TO BE FIRST, DAMMIT. The only problem is, the one I want to do (the same one I did the 100K at) would be AFTER his so he’d have to wait until 2017 which he was NOT happy about. HIS FRIENDS ARE TRAINING THIS YEAR! He doesn’t want to do it NEXT year!

Now you’re ready for what happened on Saturday when we started day drinking with other ultra runners.

It started with a celebration of Grand Slammers past and present (we did the local Grand Slam – 3 50Ks and 1 marathon – last year) at a local brewery which sponsored the event this year. The topic moved to 100-milers as it does in this type of gathering and Donnie and I brought up the current dilemma – he wants to do a race that is later than the one I want to do. One of our friends brought up a race in Tennessee called A Race For The Ages. We have a local friend who did it and I remember reading his race report and thinking I could maybe do 100 miles there but it sounded like a 1-time event so it wasn’t on my radar for doing it again. But it turns out – due to popular demand – they’re doing it again. Here’s how it works: You get 1 hour to run how ever miles you can run FOR EVERY YEAR YOU ARE OLD. I would get 41 hours to run 100+ miles which would actually even allow me to break it up a bit and sleep in the middle somewhere. I’m 99% I could do 100 miles in less than 30 hours (that’s how long the Pistol gives you, which is another reason I was considering it) so I could get sleep in the middle and still do 101 because I still want to say I’ve done MORE than Donnie.

So we’re all talking about that while drinking and I’m hearing more and more about what makes this race awesome. I already knew it was my favorite type of format for an ultra: Small loops. I like the social aspect of that type of race (the 1-mile loops where I do a 12-hour run every year make the event like a big local party) and the fact that you’re never more than 1/2 a mile from anything you could need. INCLUDING AN INDOOR TOILET. Nighttime running is not in the woods where the monsters live. There’s a very forgiving cutoff. But most importantly: REAL ultra runners like this one too because it’s directed by a man who goes by the name Lazarus Lake and RDs the notorious Barkley Marathons. Also, because of the format, it attracts a lot of famous ultra runners of yesteryear, allowing them another chance at getting a 100-mile belt buckle without having to worry about cutoffs. OH! And speaking of the buckle (it’s the standard 100-mile price) it’s way cooler than the one from the Pistol Ultra and that was always something I was a little unenthusiastic about regarding the Pistol. I know it’s silly, but if I’m going to earn a 100-mile buckle…I don’t want it a huge thing with a gun on it.

2 beers later and I’m leaving the bar with Donnie totally excited about the fact that he might actually get to do his race after all because I’ve found a race that comes FIRST. So we get home, I’m totally buzzing on the last high gravity beer and what do I do? I SIGNED UP FOR THE DAMN RACE. I was tentatively considering doing 100 miles at the Pistol Ultra in 2017. TENTATIVELY. And now I’m signed up to do one in SEVEN MONTHS. Luckily, my friend who was talking up the race the most also signed up a few minutes after I did. He’s done several 100-milers including Western States, so he’s a much higher caliber of racer than I am, BUT STILL. At least I’ll have one familiar face there.

And 30 seconds later? Donnie signed up for his 100-Miler. Which will be in NINE MONTHS. We went from no 100-Milers on the docket to TWO in a TWO MONTH SPAN.

We better get our house sold fast or we’re screwed. All of our spare energy in the next 7-9 months needs to be focused towards our 100-milers, AND NEVER DAY DRINKING WITH ULTRA RUNNERS AGAIN.

(I AM SO EXCITED. EEK. 100 MILES. EEEEEEKKKK!)

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Mountain Mist 2016 Race Report. The One With All Of The Falling.

Don’t Forget To Relax The Day Before The Big Race!

Mountain Mist 50K is a beast that eats up the best of trail runners. I had really hoped to spend the day before the race relaxing and picturing myself meeting my 7:30 goal. I had trained with that time limit in mind and knew it was well within my reach. But then the snow came and my meditating on time goals became stressing about an icy mountain and a canceled race.

And then a miracle happened. Something I don’t know if I’ve ever heard happening before – the race was simply moved to the next day. This may sound like an easy decision, but if you’ve ever been part of a race you know how many people and organizations and permits are involved and in order to build your volunteer crew and get all of those people aligned you would need much more than one day. But Suzanne and Dink Taylor performed miracles and built a NEW crew of volunteers (maybe half were still able to help on Sunday) and got all of the proper permissions in place and the race was on! All we had to do was get there safely and luckily we had friends who stepped up and made sure we all made it to the race in one piece and on time. Sunday.

Ice Ice Baby

This is what the road looked like at the start of the race. Normally the road is where everyone runs FAST and spreads OUT before we hit the single track trails. NORMALLY. I don’t know for sure, but I’m betting I ran that first mile on the road in 12-13 minutes. And then the trails weren’t a whole lot better. We turned into the woods and I thought YES. FINALLY. RUNNABLE! I WON’T DIE! But that particular trail had melted some and refroze and there was ice mixed with snow and let’s just say for the first 3 miles my body was completely clenched in a million different ways simply from the tension of slipping and sliding. I think I felt twice. Both times in snow, but still, I ran the whole course last year without one fall and Sunday I fell twice before I even hit the “hard” part.

Mud is Safe

We headed down off the plateau and I was in a group of runners who just embraced the butt slide down a treacherous part of the trail. None of us even cared to try to stay upright. Once we got running I realized that on this particular stretch of trails my choices were: Mud and Ice in a lot of cases. Obviously, I chose mud. Because ever step in the mud was ONE STEP I didn’t have to stress about losing. I finally was able to relax into a run a little and start to enjoy myself. FINALLY. FOUR MILES IN. I started really trying to take in the beauty of my snow-covered playground and really tried to savor the moment on an adventure that almost didn’t happen. I stopped and took this one picture.
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Throwback To My Cheerleader Days

I got to the first aid station and was gaining some of my confidence back. I wasn’t that far off my goal times if I wanted to it my 7:30. Maybe it’s not out of reach? I foolishly thought. I felt good. I was finally able to run. Maybe? I started flying down Warpath and it was finally one of the moments I had been hoping for – BETTER conditions because of the ice. Last year Warpath was sloppy and I couldn’t have run it but Sunday I flew down it and it felt GREAT because so much of the mud was still frozen. And then I had – maybe my 4th or 5th fall of the day? But this one wasn’t a plop in the snow like the others. This one had my right leg bend and go behind me while my left leg stayed ahead. I landed in the herkie position and felt my knee twinge but I jumped right up (which is usually the safest bet I have learned) and just kept running hoping there was nothing serious to worry about.

Frozen Mud is GREAT

I made it to powerline feeling GREAT (with some slight knee pain) and that was another trail that was MUCH more runnable with the frozen terrain and I was thinking, Maybe…JUST MAYBE…if everything is perfect and if other muddy parts of the trails are frozen I could make up time and still make my goal. I just did NOT want to give up on it when truthfully – I knew it probably wasn’t going to happen. But I continued to run strong even with the knee pain. My friend Colleen would sometimes be a little ahead and sometimes I would be a little ahead but we were there together to check in all day which was nice. We were both very focused on not dying, so it’s always good to have a partner in those moments.

The next stretch up to the Red Gate aid station was not worse or better than it normally has been. Muddy…but typical. Ice in patches out of the sun, but nothing for long stretches like early on. I made it to red gate 14 minutes behind my goal time. I knew the next aid stop was 4 miles away and I typically can do it in 50 minutes, sometimes faster. I finally accepted that my 7:30 was out of range but that maybe I could still PR. I headed out and while the next 4 miles were runnable, they weren’t as fast as they normally are. We still had spots of ice to contend with. And the parts that were melting were getting sloppy muddy. I typically fly down this one section of Bluffline and while I was able to take it fast, not as fast as I’m used to because of the ice and mud. Everything was just a LITTLE bit slower. And I was starting to get those quad pains I get when my quads are on the verge of cramping from too much downhill. I started eating salt like it was my salvation.

Goodbye Goals

I made it to the mile 21 aid station 7+ minutes slower than I’ve ever done it. So now I was 21 minutes behind my goal time and losing my chances to even have a PR. I was starting to stress because if that segment was that much slower, what if the others are that bad? I might actually need to worry about cutoff times. My friend Marty could see that I was frazzled and just asked me if I needed water. I remembered that YES! I NEED WATER! and he took my pack off, filled it up, and put it back on me. THAT is a great aid station worker. Someone who recognizes ULTRA BRAIN and just takes over for you. He reminded me I still had PLENTY of time to beat the cutoff and we headed off on the chunk of trails I know the best on the whole mountain.

This chunk was quite runnable, and I know it so well that it felt comfortable. I still wasn’t moving as fast as I wanted, but I was running and that’s all that mattered. It wasn’t terribly muddy, but muddy enough to slow things down. Some ice, but not tons. I knew where I needed to get at what time in order to relax about cutoffs and I was pretty sure I’d make it. My only problem was my quads twinging like the wanted to cramp. I was taking more walk breaks than usual because I knew if they full on cramped before the next big climb up Waterline I’d be screwed. I just wanted to try to get past the last cutoff before they cramped, if they were going to.

And then I fell for the millionth time (Seriously, I lost count) and landed like I was praying. On my knees, but with my butt on the backs of my feet. Quads in a FULL and unplanned stretch which made them both SCREAM in agony. I had to hobble a bit to try to get them out of that constricted state and then the cramp threat got much worse. Last year I topped Waterline and collapsed in a creek from a calf cramp, I DID NOT WANT A REPEAT OF THAT because my last 6 miles last year were terrible and I cried across the finish line. I didn’t want that type of finish this year. I wasn’t going to make my goal, I wasn’t going to PR, but I was going to finish and I wanted to do it happy. SO! I took my time from there on out. I ran a bit and then when the quads twinged, I walked. NO BIG DEAL. I started settling into the fact that I was almost to the last cutoff and almost home free.

(I say this 50K is more like a REALLY REALLY HARD trail marathon followed by a 10K cool down.)

Hello Joy

I started climbing Waterline and while I was still in a lot of pain from my quads and my knee, I had entered that joyful part of running where I could let go of the stress of goals or cutoffs and just push it to the finish line. The fire department had put a rope at a tricky part we’re used to climbing. It was fun to use, although I’m not sure it made it any easier. I happily thanked all of the volunteers out there and proceeded to the final aid station where I happily greeted more friends and volunteers. This was the last cutoff and the family’s of two of my friends (Chelsea and Chuck) were both there and optimistic my friends were going to clear the cutoff. This was SUCH GREAT NEWS. I had seen their families along the way at every stop and by the time it was over they were like my family.

I Take Back Everything Good I Said About Mud

The next 4 miles was just solid mud. The only time we got a break was if there was puddles instead and I actually much prefer the cold snow-melt puddles to the mud because the water doesn’t fight you like the mud does. The mud holds your foot and makes you WORK for it. The puddles are cold and refreshing but the mud at the bottom is not thick enough to suck your shoe off…MOST OF THE TIME. So I’d run through puddles when I could. If you have good socks and trail shoes the water wicks out and drains out of your shoe so having wet feet all day wasn’t as terrible as it sounds. The mud on the other hand was TERRIBLE. I lost traction so many time sliding down Natural Well I started worrying maybe I’d end up falling off the mountain.

I can taste the finish line.

Then we finally made it to the Rest Shelter climb…1000 feet up before our last 1.6 miles to the finish line. I ran into more friends on Rest Shelter and I was so happy to be out of the mud that I greeted them with joy and smiles. I loved seeing their beautiful faces as they passed me. I was still having to take random walk breaks to keep the cramps at bay, but I made it up Rest Shelter and carried a permanent smile for the last 1.6 miles. Every hiker or volunteer out there was greeted by a smiley dorky delirious runner saying, “GOOD AFTERNOON!” because I had made it. I had an easy trek to the finish line. I was basically done. I started being able to hear the cheering and my smile just got bigger. I WAS ON MY WAY.

Thanks to my friend Colleen who kept me company all day and took this picture at the end!

Thanks to my friend Colleen who kept me company all day and took this picture at the end!

Final Thoughts

This was an amazing experience. I can’t believe all of the efforts it took to make sure the race happened and I’ll be forever grateful for everyone who played a part in giving me that experience. From my friend Colleen who let me crash at her house to Alvin and Libby who made sure I got on and off the mountain safely. To Cam for helping me with my jacket and to Marty for filling my pack. To all of my friends at the aid stations and all of their families spectating along the way. I constantly feel blessed to be part of such an amazing community and this event really highlighted those blessings 10-fold. I’m proud of my friends who toed the line, even if they didn’t finish. I’m hoping they all still carry a special place in their heart because we all were part of something INSANE on Sunday and we should cherish that forever.

Kim Is A Badass

There were moments Sunday where I started to feel down and gray. Mostly because of all of the falling or slowing down or just general misery and I honestly – every single time – started repeating to myself: KIM IS A BADASS. Because you know what? Who cares if I finished 5 minutes slower instead of 30 minutes faster than last year, I did something amazing on Sunday. Every step was a step of a badass and I didn’t know want to forget that. I just said that to myself over and over until the funk faded. I AM A BADASS. I’ll not let mother nature take that away from me.

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If you get 10 finishes at Mountain Mist you get a 10-year jacket. I’m now 2 finishes in, 8 more to go. I figure as long as I cross the finish line looking forward to the next one then it’s a good day. And I definitely am looking forward to Mountain Mist 2017.

Thanks to my friend Colleen who kept me company all day and took this picture at the end!

I survived. BARELY.

Be proud and thankful of your Mountain Mist Trail Run finish today. That was the worst course conditions I have seen in all 22 years of the Mist. I know, I have been at every one

Posted by Mountain Mist 50km on Sunday, January 24, 2016

I have no time to expound on my race because my schedule has changed today and now I don’t have as much time this morning as I had hoped. Just read that status above and know I survived and that the 2016 Mountain Mist 50K will go down in the record books. I missed my goal by 36 minutes but I know if I hadn’t been in as good of shape as I’m in, I wouldn’t have even made the cutoffs. It beat me up but I also smiled a lot more than last year because the whole time I was experiencing that maniac-euphoria where you’re just laughing like, “This is some crazy shit, y’all.” Ice, mud, rope climbs, and nine million falls. Tune in tomorrow for the gory details.

Thanks to my friend Colleen who kept me company all day and took this picture at the end!

Thanks to my friend Colleen who kept me company all day and took this picture at the end!

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Pistol Ultra 110K Race Report

UPDATE: I changed to title of this race report to reflect the race director’s official change due to the mismeasurement on the course. You can see on this page where all of the “K” distances were changed by 10% because those courses couldn’t be modified on the fly like the “Mile” distances could. I RAN A 110K, Y’all!

Why The Pistol?

I had been looking at the Pistol Ultra for my first 100K since 2014 but didn’t think it was a good idea to try that AND Grand Slamming in the same season. The reason I liked it was:

A) It was kind of a “local” race since my Mom lived nearby and my high school friends are in the area
B) It was a greenway which eliminated my fear of running through the woods at night
C) It was reasonably-sized loops…not too short to make me crazy, not so long that I’d ever be too far away from my self-support station.
D) It was close enough there would be Huntsvillians running it too.

Once the Grand Slam season was over, I settled into know that the Pistol 100K would be my first 100K. I had no desire to try a 100-miler until I had done one race that allowed me to experience a little bit of that running-past-bedtime sensation.

Training

This is the first time I’ve come close to sticking to a training plan. Of course, by some people’s standards I didn’t stick to one at all, but my past year “plans” were just back-to-back long runs on the weekend totaling a 50K as often as possible, and weekday runs when/if I could squeeze them in. This year I used this 50-mile training plan as a guide. Basically, I looked at the weekly totals and try to stick near those in whatever combination I could. I also made the weekend of my Dizzy Monkey the “goal race” weekend since that was essentially like doing a 100K in one day. You can see a photo of my almost-complete run log here. I did try to do at least one of my long runs each weekend on pavement to keep my concrete legs trained, dirt is so much kinder that I would have been in a lot more pain if I had only done long runs on the trails.

The Race

It was about 27 degrees at Race Start in Alcoa. We noticed people already set up tents in the “self support” area the night before the race so I was REALLY worried about not getting a decent spot on the actual route of the race. I didn’t want to have to detour at all, I wanted my chair to be something I passed every loop easily. SO! Of course we got there early. Race started at 8am and we got there around 6:30am to set up my spot.

A photo posted by Kim Holmes (@misszoot) on

I packed food, clothes, winter gear, medical gear and my Ewok as my spiritual totem. Then we went back to the car where I stayed in the warmth and greased up every inch of my body to prevent chaffing. (Spoiler Alert: NO CHAFFING!) About 30 minutes until race start we went to the common waiting area inside the school until RIGHT BEFORE the start and BOOM! It was time to go.

I kept my runkeeper app on the first loop so I could get an idea of what the exact measurements were between certain points. Donnie, my pacer Colleen, and two local friends Ashley and Dana were all going to try to see me at some point during the day so I wanted to be able to maybe give them some approximations about timing which would be easier to do knowing the distances. My app was reporting in my ear that I was staying between 10:15 and 10:30 minute miles and that was – honestly – much too fast. BUT, I was cold and the pace felt good so I stuck to it.

The “loops” (certain points of the course were actually an out-and-back but for explanation purposes I’m using the term “loop”) were divided into a Large South portion and a very small North portion. The South portion had a few small hills. They were short, but steep which is not the “flat” I was expecting. The kind of thing you don’t fret about for a short race but for a 100K you get a little stressed when you’re expecting it to be flat. (Although most people probably still call it “flat” because relative to most 100Ks it was.) When I passed the school to start the shorter North portion I text my nearby friend who ended up meeting me and running with for the small North portion. It was an unexpected treat and something I really needed considering my runkeeper app had me logging 11.3 miles on that loop and that was stressing me out since the loops were only supposed to be 10.3 miles. The runkeeper app is sometimes off in the woods, but not 10% off on a greenway.

I turned off the app for the second (of six) loop and settled into walking all of the uphills since I had successfully run the entire first loop no problem. It was starting to warm up and I decided I’d take off my windbreaker the next time I passed my chair. My two local friends Ashley and Dana surprised me at a point along the South Portion and ran a couple of miles with me. Again – it was unexpected but LOVELY. I loved just chatting with them as we ran a few miles because it made it just feel like one of my regular runs instead of a race. It especially helped get me to the start of the next loop which I’d be doing with Donnie.

If you’ll recall one of the reasons I chose this one is because other Huntsvillians would be there and that proved awesome even starting with the first loop. I knew people doing the relay, the 50K, and people there just to pace so I saw people I know several times throughout the day and it was a lovely and quick boost of energy to receive/deliver a greeting from/to a friend!

By the time I finished the second loop I had given up on my A Goal of doing it in 13 hours. If I had known the course was actually long, I might have at least tried a little bit harder the next loop but it felt impossible when I was still thinking the loops were 10.3 miles. Donnie joined me for the tiny bit of the North portion of Loop 2 and then all of Loop 3 and it was wonderful. He was wearing the “pacer” bib they allowed me so it made me feel all official and stuff with a pacer. He didn’t seem to hate running slow and just used the time to focus on form and he didn’t whine when I walked all of the hills.

The only problem was the asphalt was hurting his knees. Ever since his Ironman his knees have been really sensitive to concrete and asphalt so about 1 miles from the end of the South portion of Loop 3 he started walking and I ran ahead to tell my friend who was taking him back to his car. At this point I got to see my friends AND Nikki again and all of that was a great way to round me to the halfway point of my day. All I had to do was make it through Loop 4 on my own and then I’d have company the entire time. However, I was starting to feel my typical back pain that I feel after about 4 hours of running, so I ended up telling my friend to meet me before the small North portion of my 4th loop.

As I hit the South portion of Loop 4 Ashley texted me that she was going to try to catch me one more time which she did and then she ended up running with me all the way back to the school where I was going to catch my last pacer: Colleen. I would have never asked Ashley to do that but it was FANTASTIC. She basically pulled me through that last stretch to get me to Colleen and it was exactly what I needed.

I had taken some Excederin for my back and it had helped a little but I decided to brave some Ibuprofen (not recommended EVER during long endurance events) because it was wearing off and I didn’t want to overdo it with one type of medicine. I just decided to really focus on staying hydrated to balance the potential damage an NSAID can do on an endurance event. So, starting off Loop 5 with Colleen I was already in pain but hoping to manage it with Ibuprofen.

Poor Colleen. Little did she know she’d spend the next 2 hours listening to me whine about my back. The Ibuprofen basically did nothing and I was REALLY struggling. I was also getting cramp twinges in my quads which had me a little freaked out. I’m sensitive to cramp twinges ever since my Mountain Mist last year when I full-on cramped and collapsed in a creek and then never recovered enough to run again. I did NOT want a full-on cramp so I was taking salt like a mad woman. Between my back and my quads I was walking a LOT. But never for too long and I was still trying to walk fast. I was also starting to get REALLY cold and decided I’d pile on some layers for my last loop as well as go back to Excederin. Colleen was very patient with me and never complained about the excessive walking OR complaining.

We stopped for a bit before starting the last loop to pile on layers and take meds. This caused us to REALLY get cold so we detoured by the “warming tent” before heading out. THIS was when we really got the confirmation what we’d been hearing earlier, that the course was long and they were cutting one loop off of the 100-milers because it would still give them 100 miles. There was no easy solution like that for the 100Kers so we were just stuck with the extra miles. I did the math based on my 11+ mile first loop and realized I was actually at 56+ miles at that point in time which was really only 5+ miles away from a 100K. So, even though my loop would bee 11+ miles, knowing I was only 5 miles from the 100K mark gave me a boost.

Between that knowledge and the Excederin helping AND the finish-line euphoria, the last loop went MUCH better. I still walked a bit but according to the results, I did it almost 8 minutes faster than my second-to-last loop. I was texting Donnie updates. Unofficially? I hit that 100K mark in under 14 hours which was my B goal, but the official race would be at least 5 miles longer so I was wondering if I’d be able to officially make it under 15 hours which had been my C goal. I was feeling better so we were running more.

Donnie was at the school when we crossed before doing our last 1.5 mile North portion. I was feeling GOOD. I had 30 minutes to do that 1.5 miles in order to come in under 15 hours and I was determined which I think helped Colleen because she was cold and I’m sure preferred running over walking to stay warm! We made it on that 1.5 miles in PLENTY of time and I crossed the Finish Line (after saying “HOLY SHIT, COLLEEN. I DID IT!” at least 100 times) at around 14:48 with an unofficial distance of 67 miles.

Wrap-Up

The whole thing was great. I never had any of the really severe problems you can have on a long race like chaffing or blisters. My back was terrible but it didn’t keep me from running altogether. My slowest loop still kept me at a 14.4 min/mile pace which is STILL mostly running. I never did cramp, I think because I did a really good job keeping my salt levels up. I never got dehydrated. I never got too cold. It was cold for sure, but not unbearable. I had several surprises with friends meeting me up on the course which was lovely and then I had Donnie and Colleen officially pace me for half of the race. It was all perfect and lovely and I know I couldn’t have done it without my support team. I’ll be forever grateful for each of them.

What’s Next?

NOT a 100-miler next year. Nope. This level of training was almost more than I could handle. It was like having a part-time job. I spent 8 hours running on a light week and 14 hours running on a heavy week. That’s not counting the time for getting to-from runs and soaking and prep etc. To do 100-miler I’d probably have to increase that by up to 10% and there’s just no way right now. Not while the kids still have extra-curriculars they need me to attend or at least chauffeur. Maybe after we sell our house I’ll feel like I’ll have more free time, but I doubt it. I will do a 100-Miler someday. And probably the Pistol 100-Miler because it was just what I’d like in a 100-Miler, but not any time soon.

What I’d love to do is convince my Knoxville friends to train up to the 10-mile distance and the 3 of us do a relay together some (next?) year. But they’re both busy with their own kids and I’m not sure when that would be in the pipeline. I might do the 50K just as a fun long run next year though, it really was a well-run race, even with the distance snafu. There’s one huge aid station on the South end of the loop named “Woody’s” and they even had a MENU. They had WONDERFUL stuff. It was amazing.

All in all it was exactly the race I wanted and needed. The location allowed for blessings of friends and the kids could hang out with my Mom instead of spending 15 hours chasing me around. Donnie was a great support crew chief even if he did complain I woke up him race morning. (“So you woke up at 5am! We had to be AT BODY MARKING at 4:30am of your Ironman and I had both kids. YOU CAN DEAL WITH IT.”) He found local beer to put in the fridge of our hotel and he carried all of my stuff to the car so I could just sit in the warmth. He was wonderful.

I’ll be back again. Someday for the 100-Miler, but maybe next year for the 50K. I highly recommend this event, especially if any part of you is nervous about any of the distances. It’s SO beginner friendly that you can’t help but feel confident. Now, onto my second Mountain Mist 50K which is in 3 weeks!

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77 Miles Of Perspective

SO. Here’s my run log.

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As you can see, my weeks start on Monday. If my weeks started on Saturday or Sunday, the week total for this week would say 77 because it would include LAST weekend’s Sunday and/or Saturday. But, because my week starts on Monday I only got 70 miles this week. I’m trying not to be bothered by this. I know my goal/plan was for 77, and I did do 77 in 7 days which counts, but it’s not marked like that on my run log AND THIS BOTHERS ME TERRIBLY.

Which is crazy, I know.

I’ve talked a lot recently with running friends about perspective. And the more I think about it, I think what we talk about probably plays out in all circles with a common connector. Let’s say you start socializing in an new circle. Maybe you started scrapbooking. (Does anyone do that anymore?) Or knitting. Or photography. Or maybe you just started socializing with a group of Moms with kids the same age of yours. For whatever reason, you ended up in a new social group for one common denominator that you didn’t previously have a group for…are you with me?

Before you enter that group you think:
I’m a good photographer.
I’m a good Mom.
I’m a good knitter.

That’s why you found that group, right? To find other people who connect on whatever that level is. But then you are surrounded by a lot of people who do that thing you do and suddenly you realize you’re not the best. And it’s not like you thought you were the best Mom or the best Photographer, but when you’re the only one you know doing that thing, you are the best in your experience. Then you see the quilt that girl in your sewing circle made out of 5,000 pieces of different fabric and you see your quilt and start to feel inadequate.

Perspective.

Before you started hanging out with other Moms you thought you were GREAT. But then you met that Mom who makes her own baby food. Or that Mom who keeps her kids off sugar. Or that Mom who doesn’t let her kids use screens. And suddenly you feel like you’re the worst Mom in the world.

With running it’s like this: You start running and think about braving some group runs because you hear people like me rave about it. Before you do that you’re the only runner you know and you’re awesome because you are training for your first 10K and no one in your family has ever done that and you feel BAD ASS.

But then you meet these great people you run with and you learn about people training for half-marathons or marathons or 100Ks or 100-Milers and suddenly you’re not as proud of you 10K challenge.

Perspective.

I don’t know how to stop us all from doing that. But I know we all do it. When I talk to other runners I always downplay my 100K coming up.

It’s not a trail one. It’s just on a greenway. It’s an easy one.

To which someone said a couple of weeks ago – someone I consider a rockstar of trail running – “It’s still 100K. There are no “easy” 100Ks.”

I just get my perspective out of whack because I run with people who have done the Western States 100-Miler. Or people who are training for their 5th 100-Miler. Hell, I know people who have done all of the crazy ultra marathons you can think of, including attempting Barkley several times. It’s hard to brag about your 100K on the greenway when those people are in your social circle.

But that’s twisted. Not everyone can (or even wants to) make their own baby food. That doesn’t make the Mom feeding her kid Gerber any worse of a Mom. Not everyone can (or even wants to) knit 20 sweaters for family members for Christmas. That doesn’t make the woman knitting her best friend a pair of socks any less impressive. If you’re knitting even a scarf? I’m going to think you are WAAAAAYYYY cooler than me and my 100K. Running a 100K is EASY compared to knitting a scarf. YOU PEOPLE WHO KNIT ARE AMAZING.

When you start to feel like that thing you do and sometimes makes you proud, is no longer impressive because you’re socializing with others who do that thing “better”? Then you need to shift your perspective. You need to remind yourself that your skill (parenting/running/cycling/crafting) is impressive to those who DON’T do it at all. I have friends who have done half-Ironmans and they downplay it because it’s not a FULL and I’m all, “DUDE. I don’t ever want to do an Olympic Distance triathlon again it was so hard. HALF IRONMANS ARE AMAZING.”

You have to remember that while your social circle may do amazing things, those outside of it think YOU’RE amazing. I promise you. Because you ARE amazing.

Hell, I still hold to the fact that my first 5k (the one that started my FIRST attempt at running but ended with a 7+ hour run/walk marathon) was the hardest thing I ever did. I trained entirely on the treadmill because I was scared of running out in public. I could barely sleep the night before. I thought I was going to throw up that morning. I was TERRIFIED. I am still as proud of that 5K as anything else I’ve ever done. Even though that attempt at becoming a runner didn’t stick, it planted a seed so I could try again in 2011.

Be proud, is what I’m saying. And I’m saying it to you AND to me.