Binge Eating Disorder

I still make myself laugh sometimes.  I really thought when I started this healthy lifestyle journey that I would reach an ‘end.’  That some of the ‘bad’ things would disappear and no longer be an issue.

Joke’s on me.

A weight on the scale? Permanently changed/banished behaviors? Some sort of finish line?

I really had no idea what I thought would be the ‘end’, but I was so sure there was one. I thought that once I got healthy, got to a normal weight that some of these problems would simply just disappear.

They don’t.

Who knew?


An old friend came to visit two weeks ago.

And that’s totally a euphemism for ‘something shitty that I was really, fervently hoping I had killed/abolished/changed/was going to stay the HELL GONE FOREVER just knocked me on my ass… ‘

My old friend showed up again.

I was am a binge eater.

I always dressed that up, when I had to say anything at all, and said I was a compulsive overeater. Which is true — that’s a component of the problem I battle.

Overeating can be sporadic, no guilt/shame, just a bad habit.  An overly full belly from time to time

Binge eating is a whole different animal.

Binge eating disorder (BED). “BED is a medical condition, and it’s the most common eating disorder in the United States. People with BED regularly eat large amounts of food while experiencing a sense of loss of control over the eating episode. They often feel guilt or shame after eating. Characterized by eating when not physically hungry.’

Hunger has NOTHING to do with it. Nothing.

Binge eating sucks.  Big time.

There I said it.

For me a binge gets started when I’m sad, not being active and things feel increasingly out of control.  The more of that toxic combination there is in my life, the more I lean toward food for gaining that control, that ‘love’, that comfort…

I know binge eating is an issue for people — one we do NOT talk about.  Yet BED is the most common eating disorder in the US. ( Healthline). I know from conversations, texts, emails, FB messages that this is not something I’m suffering with alone. There’s a bunch of you out there suffering quietly. Miserably.


Last big binge for me was before my mom died.  Over 8 years ago.  2009.  I’ve done some overeating in that time since, for sure.  But not a planned, purposeful binge.

I thought I’d ‘cured’ binge eating.  Or had it buried deep and totally under control.

Until 2 weeks ago.

This binge caught me totally by surprise and none of my new, healthy, hard-fought habits were worthy of stopping it.

It scared the shit out of me. And I couldn’t stop it.

The binge lasted 4 days.

No one knew I was doing it.  When I finally reached out for help the friend I told said ‘I didn’t know you were binging’…  To which my reply was ‘Because I didn’t want you to know.  I’m damn good at this shit.  Damn good.  If I didn’t want you to know, you would never know. But I need you to know now and I need help.’

I can tell you that as far as binging goes — I had not lost any of my skills…  This episode was methodical, anticipated, carefully planned, enjoyed, deeply hidden, devastatingly successful.  I was thrilled to be doing it.  Mortified when I was in the midst of it. Sad and broken and totally beaten down after the first bite.

I reached out for help at day 4.

I quickly got appropriate help. I got support.  I was reminded that I am loved.

I was also harshly reminded that this is a cunning foe that I have to keep working to learn and understand.

So what was the binge?

Trail mix.  Freaking Costco trail mix.  I bought 4 bags. They each weigh 4 pounds.   I paid cash.  I ate a bag a day for 4 days. I ate it all day long.  Quietly, a serving at a time. Hidden away and portioned out so no one would suspect or question or figure out what was going on.

Your mind is trying to do the math. I’ll save you the effort…  Each bag was 36 servings with 9,600 calories per bag.  38,400 calories, 3,360 grams of carbs over 4 days. (In my healthy eating ‘norm’ I eat about 1,500 cals, and limit carbs to 90 grams per day…)

Yeah.  The scope of this binge is even more horrifying when you put all the numbers on paper.

And I was also eating ‘regular’ meals so that no one would catch on to my binge eating.

And entire bag a day, for four days. 

I was somehow able to stop the binge, even though I still felt totally out of control and sad and frantic.  I reached out, which goes totally against ALL instincts in a binge eating haze. And then I began to battle the shame and guilt and failure that comes on the heels of losing total control over food.  The shame and guilt of hiding my binge. Feeling isolated and alone and terrified I would be found out. Or that it wouldn’t stop.  Or that all of my hard work to learn to run and reverse T2 diabetes and lose weight would be GONE because I could not/WOULD NOT stop eating.

This is an old friend I would be happy to never, ever see again.

I simply have to understand that s/he may show up again at any time for the rest of my life.

 

Just START!

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Spencer and I started this business, Novo Veritas, over 2 years ago.

I love it.  All of the work and hours and challenges and success.  More and more every day. It’s a hell of a ride, an intense privilege to work with our clients and we’re currently taking this business in directions neither of us ever dreamed possible…

My personal favorite part of the whole business adventure?  The privilege and honor of being invited into someone’s life at a time where their hearts and minds are more than likely vulnerable, ashamed, determined, brave, scared, fierce, focused and much more.  They invite us in.  Trust us with their stories, their history, their fears and deepest hopes.

And then sometimes, if it all works out just right, they even allow us to join their team.

Most of the people we get to work with approach us for one of two basic reasons…

  1. Tell me how to get started.
  2. Be on my team.
  3. (A close 3rd place would be….)  Hold me accountable.

In the past few weeks a handful of people have reached out to me asking how to get started – and how to build their own teams.  The following is a list I created about a year ago and pulled from one of my previous blogs.  And it’s still the advice I give, still what I believe in my heart.

AND it also happens to be the advice I wish I could have listened to when I got started on this journey to change my life.

 

Here’s what I wish I had been told.  And in the cases where I was told; I wish I could have embraced and BELIEVED it…

1. Your weight fluctuates.  Daily. It will go up or down during training.  If you have your period.  If you eat too much salt.  You smelled a cake being baked. The rotation of the earth. 🙂 Sometimes it’s really legit gain because you simply ate too many calories over a period of time. But you have to understand that your weight isn’t stable in the day to day. Not gonna happen. Quit even thinking it’s possible. And you know what?  It isn’t meant to be. You thought you got to a number and stayed there with just a little effort?  That this whole bodyweight thing was simple math and cut and dried?  Uh…  HELL NO.

2. Take measurements.  I really WISH I had known how big my hips or belly or thighs were at my largest.  I didn’t take measurements because — hell — who really wants to know that they have a 90” waist?  You will wish you had those body measurements for reference and reassurance in the process. At any point when you’re feeling ‘fat’, stalled, discouraged or just wondering how far your journey has taken you — you can pull out a tape measure and be assured, well beyond the confines of a stupid scale, that you were NOT gaining anything but muscle or fitness.

3.  Worry is wasted energy.  Spend time looking for solutions and opportunities.

4. And for the love of ALL THAT IS HOLY quit beating yourself up. YOU, who you are at the very CORE of your being, has nothing to do with the number on a scale or the packaging of your body. NOTHING.  Please, oh please, just believe me on this one.  I’m in tears writing this.  I am crying for you and for myself too. Because I know you won’t believe me, you can’t fathom what I’m trying to tell you… This is the last thing you can possibly wrap your mind around when you’ve battled your weight your entire life and a number is staring you in the face — a number you hate.  A number so large you didn’t know the scale went that high. I know that feeling of panicked desperation and hopelessness as well as I know the sound of my own heart beating. Text me, call me, reach out to me and I will spend the rest of my life relentlessly reminding you of your value to our world. And if you can’t believe yourself, then trust that I’m a way better judge of YOUR value than a stupid mechanical piece of crap you bought at Costco.

5. Don’t pick a number for a goal.  (See 1.) Don’t pick a clothing size either. That’s really just another number. Pick a feeling, activity, ability, destination.  You want to climb stairs and not be gulping for air?  You want to feel solidly OK with how you feel in your birthday or bathing suit? 🙂  You want to be able to hike, run, walk, move better….  PICK something that isn’t a transient, essentially meaningless, number.

6. Know that the BIG picture is worth all the little steps, mis-steps, concerns, questions, sacrifices. It’s hard work. It’s worth it.  They’re points of feedback and learning.  And this whole ‘get healthy’ thing is in NO WAY linear.  No way.  There is nothing direct, logical or straight about this path you are on.  And you’re going to be making shit up as you go.

7. Do NOT let that scale dictate your mood to the world.  So you can’t not weigh…  I get that, but we should keep working on that. 🙂   So you step on the scale and it’s up a bit?  DO SOMETHING about it.  Don’t be a bitch. Or walk around like someone ran over your dog. Or have a short fuse with loved ones.  Or start restricting food because you don’t ‘deserve’ to eat. Or start secluding yourself from the people you love because you feel you don’t ‘deserve’ their love or you’re deeply embarrassed. Stop allowing that stupid, effing, scale to affect your mood.  Reach out. You may not have great control over how you feel, but you can ALWAYS choose how you act and react.

8. Please, please, please love on yourself.  And believe in yourself.  Hang tightly to HOPE. Hope is powerful stuff. YOU will do this.  And you can’t see the day, but it’s coming; you will be healthy and happy. Your weight should not be allowed to dictate ANY of that.  You have so much to offer the world.  You’re an aunt.  A sister.  A friend.  A daughter.  A momma. A lot of really, really remarkable things that no one else in the whole entire world can possibly be! We were only given ONE of you. One. Do what you can each day to help yourself get healthy so you can be around and enjoy the life in front of you.

9.  This isn’t a short-term investment.  Trust the process. Life-time commitment. You will look at something daily and judge it as not moving, plateaued, failing.  HANG ON and look at this from the 3,000 foot view, look at this from a 365-day investment. You will see growth.  YOU WILL.  Really!  Keep at it.  You didn’t gain the weight over night.  You will not lose it overnight. Trite and irritating – but TRUE.

10. One of my favorite songs is ‘Live Like You Were Dying’ by Tim McGraw.  If you are like me you’re living this weight loss journey with a lot of fear.  Fear of going backwards.  Fear of judgement.  Fear of FAILURE…  The ‘what if’s’ can paralyze you…  Holy smokes.  The fear you have embraced and live with could choke an elephant. What if you could just enjoy the journey for what it was and live each day like you are trying to be your very best? Living like you’re dying doesn’t mean you live with no consequences for your choices.  It means you accept each day, each moment for what it is and keep moving toward the goal you want to reach…  (And for back-up… See this video by Brene Brown.)

Trust the process.

Keep moving forward.

Love on yourself.

Happy trails. 🙂

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Wearing my underwear backwards.

08_13_16_trrT_0506-ZF-7509-90007-1-001-014When I was 250+ pounds I used to wear my underwear backwards.

I had a pretty funny flash back to this forgotten and semi-embarrassing fact this morning running with my friend Carlea.


Last year I bought some running tights on super-sale from some obscure running site.  I do this periodically.  I get wonky, weird, off-season, running clothes bargains.  Once in a great while I find something amazing!  It’s all super cheap and a fun, daring, fashion-themed shopping-game of adventure.

This time around it was colorful running tights super cheap.

I show up to meet my friend Carlea at the Saddle for a run.  I wore the screaming-hot-pink tights today for the first time.  They… uh… were built weird. But they were really cute!  I told Carlea I figured I would get used to how they fit as we ran. (Always a bad idea.  Running clothes/shoes really shouldn’t need a break-in period… But in the face of cute/fun clothes; I always forget this ‘trail rule’.)

How weird was the fit? There was a ton of extra fabric in the front/crotch area and they were what we will politely call ‘plunging low rise’ in the back.  So I kept fidgeting with the stupid tights trying to keep them up over my butt.

We finally stopped about 3 miles in while I tried to figure out how to remedy the situation and keep running without flashing everyone in the forest. Carlea and I got to laughing — fairly sure I had to have the tights on backwards.  We checked.  Nope.  But, they sure seemed to be built backwards.

‘I think I figured out why they were on sale’.– Me.  Every time.

We got things sorted out and PG-rated for the rest of the run.  I got to chuckling.  I finally told Carlea that these tights were reminding me of a habit I had when I was obese.  I had kind of forgotten about it.

I have always loved the idea of having matching bra/panties. I just do. When I was obese and desperately wanted to feel good about how I looked and wanted to feel attractive – this duo always did the trick.  Cute undies was a near-daily goal.  When I was wearing a size 26/28 the options were limited.  Or ridiculous. Or really, seriously functional; steel belted bras with really wide straps, scratchy/ugly lace and cotton granny panties.

I finally, after years of searching and failed attempts, found a bra and undies set that matched and FIT and was cute.  I was so freaking excited!  I wore them all day at a conference, felt like a million bucks and was thinking I needed to go out and buy the dang undies in every color they made.  As I got undressed at the end of the day…

I discovered that I had in fact worn the underwear backwards all day.

They fit perfectly, totally ass-backwards.

Huh.

Why had they fit so well you might be wondering?  Well….  I was close to 400 pounds.  And I was built very much like an apple with all my weight in my belly.  With a really flat butt.  My belly was significantly larger than my butt.  So undies are typically cut to cover your bum and lay flat on your belly – right?  They didn’t work for me and my apple-shape.

But wearing them backwards worked for my body…

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Disney with the family.  And yes… I am about 99% sure I have my underwear on backwards in this picture. 🙂

So for about 10 years I pretty much always wore my underwear – cute or otherwise – backwards.  A problem accidentally and creatively semi-solved. I never admitted it to anyone, never advertised it.  But wasn’t proud of it by any stretch.

I was just too fat and misshapen to wear underwear normally…

So I adapted to what worked for me at that time.


So today Carlea and I were laughing over yet another clothing failure I snagged from a clearance rack.

I have lost weight and had the full-body lift surgery to remove 10 pounds of excess skin from my belly/waist.  While I am still built a little funny at my waist with some skin scarring and bumpy surgical ‘seams’ at the sides of my hips — I now have a pretty typical ‘runners’ butt and fairly flat belly.

NOW I can totally wear matching bras/undies if I want to – without having to wear them backwards. 🙂  (I just have to remember to pack them in my gym bag. 🙂 )

Turns out that even putting my underwear on can serve a daily reminder of how my healthy lifestyle now is so different than my Type 2 diabetic/obese days.

Carlea and I both had a really good laugh as I shared this story with her.

I managed to get back to my car and not accidentally show my bum off on the trail.

Today anyway. 🙂

*Screaming-hot-pink running tights are now free to a good home.

 

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Zion 100 miler and chasing a finish line…

17523124_10154763997078423_2477238029137083914_n.jpgI trained for the Zion 100 miler. This past Friday/Saturday I ran 75ish miles of the race.

On their official race list I am what they call a ‘DNF’.  Did Not Finish.  It means that I toed the start line and never crossed the official finish line.

But life isn’t really about finish lines right..?  

It’s about the journey.

It’s about living the dash.

It’s about learning and growing and moving and loving — not just about arriving.

This was a vivid and forceful reminder that I need to spend more time and effort just enjoying the journey.

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Hannah, Matt, Spence. So many sappy, heart-felt emotions when thinking about these 3 souls.  

I have no idea who the quote or idea is truly attributed to – but it’s common advice given to those embarking on these monster events that you run the first 1/3 with your legs, the second 1/3 with your brain and the third 1/3 with your heart.

I think I used a lot more heart this time.

While you can run these buggers unassisted, I live for the moments when I can see my crew and meet new friends.  This sport, for me, is the ultimate team effort.

I am proud of what I did, how I raced, problem-solved and stayed calm.  I am also proud of how I accepted the results when it became painfully obvious halfway down Gooseberry Mesa that we couldn’t make the cutoff to the next aid station.

I didn’t cross the finish line, but I won big in some very important ways.

The terrain was tough and there were some challenges. It’s an ultra and if you aren’t ready for tough or challenges or fear or pain or being humbled — um… You have likely picked the wrong sport.

Examples?

I reached an aid station that had run out of water, as I had, during the heat of the day.  I got lost navigating around on some of the endless slick rock in the daylight.  Got lost again with my trail sister/pacer Hannah on the rim of another mesa about 1 AM along with about 5 other people; and Hannah saved us all with her quick legs and sharp mind.  I started getting hot spots on my feet — that would turn to blisters — around mile 3 of the race.  There were fierce gusting winds that almost blew me over and I weighed close to 190 pounds on race day.

I want to share, in random order, some of the things this ultra schooled me on…


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Mile 53.  So excited to see crew.  I got to pick up my pacer Hannah, I would no longer be running alone in the dark.

76 miles is still a long freaking way to run.

Running a race in smaller segments, mentally, is the ticket for me.  Thank you Andrew and Spencer for that racing trick. I raced 13 mini-races, within one single race.  My strategy was to get from aid station to aid station and then focus on the best strategy to get to the next aid station.

Cactus are assholes of the plant world. 

Coke is amazing, soul-saving liquid when you’re racing. Followed closely by watermelon with salt, pickles, cheese quesadillas.  BUT not all together.  Especially the pickles and coke. That was a mistake.

If you are pooping in the middle of the desert and following trail etiquette by being off course 100 feet or more, facing your bum away from your fellow approaching runners….  It does NOT mean that an entire pack of mountain bikers won’t come right up behind you.  Literally.   They, nor I, will ever be the same for the experience.

My brain is my biggest enemy.  I have to stay alert to her shenanigans.  She can be cranky, sneaky, mean.  They only person ever doubting my ability to do this race, was me.  Not Spencer, Hannah or Matt.  Or any of my beloved running friends.  Or any of the bazillion kind souls who sent texts, called, emailed, FB’ed me…  Just my brain.  And I am getting better and better at shutting that crap down, ignoring it or re-directing my thinking.  So much better.

*Sap alert*.  We are better people when we have strong, smart, caring, loving friends in our life.  We just are.  We might have one or two or fifty.  Number doesn’t matter, quality does.   Friends.  That’s what this is all about for me.   17861839_10155965230531258_4199045014150158133_n.jpg

I trained hard, raced well, fought hard, dug deep, did all the right things that I knew to do.  Our crew was spectacular. And I can honestly say the results were better than the belt buckle I thought I was chasing…  This course taught me some crazy cool lessons about what I’m doing right and where I can get stronger if I choose to commit to the work. I didn’t get injured.  I live to train and race another day. This race was a win on so many levels.  

I fought my head hard for the first 35 miles. Around mile three we had hit a narrow segment on the steep single track that required about a 20 minute slow down. Ok.  Actually it was a total stop; stood in line on the face of a mesa and chatted with my new friends.  (We had a rope assist up a chunk of the trail that all 250(?) of us were waiting to use… One at a time.) And we had the same traffic jam on the way back off the Flying Monkey Mesa.  For those who race — you’re doing the math… Yeah.  When you are up against time cut offs from the start line, like I am…  That bottle-neck took AWAY any of the margin I was planning and working to build. By mile 3 I was already in head games about cutoffs and not having any breathing space in my race plan.  It hit me HARD.  By mile 3 of this race I was seriously thinking I needed to just quit and was already fighting off tears.  GOOD LORD. My head had a list of reasons why I should just quit and stop for just about every step of the first 35 miles of the course.  I KNOW that when you get in a ‘low’ (moment of fear or doubt or apathy)  you KEEP MOVING.  So I kept moving according to plan while I fought with my pissed off brain. Getting that far behind that early in the race was a serious mental road block that I battled for 12+ hours.  But I didn’t quit… I did NOT QUIT and this right here is probably my biggest win of the race…  Because all I wanted to do was quit.  And I didn’t.

When a near-by runner tells you they feel like they’re going to throw-up, trust their judgement and get out of the way.

When something starts to nag at you — take care of it the best you can because it’s only going to be magnified with miles.  Take the moment and fix it.  So…  I was getting blisters by mile 3.  In the past I would have kept going figuring I didn’t have the time to spare and I could manage the pain.  Spencer and I actually talked about this pre-race; he reminded me that as crew they would make the call and I was to go along with their call if they were working in my best interest.  The example he actually used was about shoes and correcting whatever was wrong with them at the first point I noticed them.  I’m notorious for trying to ignore the nagging — when it’s something FIXABLE and have created some bad situations for myself and my feet.  THIS TIME I think I shocked Spencer when I cruised into mile 15 and asked to stop, change socks and shoes.  While blisters were kind of my downfall at the end of the day, I KNOW FOR CERTAIN I bought a hell of a lot more mileage by trying to take care of things early — when they presented themselves.  BIG lesson for this mop-top trail runner in patience and paying attention to what my body is telling me can be fixed.

You can sunburn the back of your knees.

Putting on lip balm in a dust storm is just a dumb idea.

Ice in your water pack/bladder, when it’s warm out is a straight up gift from the heavens.

Peeing when the wind is gusting and swirling is just… interesting…  And I’m not the only one who struggled with this little practical joke from Mother Nature. (Same goes for snot rockets.)  It was actually funny to watch the guys dancing around and trying to outsmart the wind.  We girls…  Uh…  We’re not quite so flexible or lucky. I had some serious penis-envy going during the wind storm.

‘Fear is what you’re feeling.  Brave is what you’re doing.’

Barreling into an aid station and hearing your friends yelling for you is the sweetest of all sounds in my world…  (Sappy again…)

Barreling into an aid station and seeing the faces of two other runners you know and love and who you did NOT expect to see jumping in to hug your smelly ass and help you without any fanfare or hesitation…  One of several mental snapshots I will have the rest of my life. (Thank you Rebecca and Ben!)

Mental snapshots?  Climbing Gooseberry Mesa.  Wicked steep climb.  (1.5 miles and 1,500 foot of vertical gain…)  I was struggling up that biotch of a climb and bombing down is our friend Ty Atwater. He yells my name and must have seen the tears, dirt  – and possibly vomit at this point – on my face.  He was on his way back down and headed for the finish line and would be top 25 for the 100K…  He stops, hugs me and reminds me to breathe and tells me quickly to climb, stop, breathe, repeat and keep repeating until I get to the top.  Deep gratitude for this young, talented runner taking the time to stop and comfort me.  Another mental snapshot I’ll keep close to my heart for years to come.

I managed my pre-race nerves and taper craziness WAY better.  I think it was meditation, better nutrition, focusing on time with friends and simply knowing that you can’t know everything about what’s in front of you.  And that’s the beauty and magic and secret of these events.  I was afraid and nervous no doubt and apologies to anyone caught in the taper cross-hairs!  But not terrified like I was heading into Mountain Lakes.  I wanted this finish line as badly as I wanted Mountain Lakes, understand that my hearts desire to do well was exactly the same.  But the fear was more a deep and wide level of respect for this distance and the challenge instead of stark terror of the unknown.

Spare headlamp.  ALWAYS pack the spare headlamp.

Double shot espresso at 4 am is like liquid gold.

Brushing your teeth after the race feels the best.

Showering after the race is where you discover all the chafe and sunburn you didn’t know you had.

Speaking of showering… There is NO SMELL on earth like that of an ultra runner.  We should bottle it up.  It would sell.  Maybe.  Maybe not.  Ok… Forget that whole idea.  Who are we kidding?  Spencer and Matt wrapped me in a blanket and rolled the windows down on the car on the ride back to our house.  And then I was ordered straight into the shower – clothes and all.  And handed a garbage bag to put my clothes in. HA!

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Walking off the course. (Spencer, Hannah.  Picture Credit goes to Matt.)

I walked off the course, instead of across the finish line.  This was a long road to walk, but I walked it with friends by my side.  Hannah was with me when I broke down and understood meeting the cutoff was not going to happen despite every single thing she and Spencer and Matt had done to get me there.  Spencer and Matt walked up the road to meet us not knowing what they would find…  I cried. A lot. I was crushed by the idea that I was disappointing my crew and hadn’t done what I set out to do.  They hugged me a lot.  And then we walked, as a tribe, back to the car.

This picture means the world to me because of the people in it and the friend who is out of the frame capturing the moment for all of us to remember…

A picture is worth a 1,000 words.

And this one captures my entire heart.

 

 

 

Taper crazy.

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Tapering.

Since I have some free time on my hands at the moment, I figured this was as good a time as any to try to explain some of the running things I talk about non-stop — for my non-running friends.

Actually, this idea was prompted when I said something this weekend about tapering to a work-related friend.  It was met with a blank, confused stare.  And they finally said ‘I don’t get it.’

I then tried to explain.

I thought this information might be helpful to some of those close to ANY runner or athlete as the taper crazies for Spring events start to set in… You’ll know to simply smile/nod,  tell them they are going to crush their goals because of all their hard work, and walk away.

For real.

That is a legit plan for encountering someone who starts the conversation off by warning you that they are tapering…


Getting ready for an event is a process.  A long, hard, complicated process that requires dedication and focus and committment.   The more I do and watch and get to be a part of these events the more I realize just how hard everyone works to chase down these crazy dreams.

It involves plans for training, logging the actual miles, learning new skills, maybe some study or practice on the course, racing plans, recruiting crew, running in all kinds of weather, even planning for your rest/recovery.

I’m sure I am still forgetting a bunch of stuff that has to happen to get to the start line.

The idea behind tapering is essentially ‘fueling up the car and getting it ready for the road trip.’  You’ve trained, practiced, have everything packed, memorized directions, have your race plan laid out….

Take a quick break (taper) and hit the road (race)!

I’m still really new to this sport.  But, in watching my friends and other local runners — there are clearly some defined styles and personalities that emerge during the taper…

There’s militant, precision taperers. 🙂   They follow the letter of the law.

There’s nervous taperers.  They fear they’re losing fitness, they’ll sleep through the start line, they second guess their training, every twinge or ache or twitch is an impending disaster that will keep them from racing.

There’s casual taperers.  My friend Wade. “Eh…  I think I should probably taper here soon.  Maybe. What do you think?’  ‘When’s the race Wadeo?’ ‘I think it’s in two weeks, maybe three.  No.  Two.  Let me check…’

There’s the ‘I earned this and I’m going to enjoy it’ taperers.  They hit yoga, meet up with friends, sleep in, have dinner out and just enjoy the down time from logging miles to catch up on life.

The mean little sister in this group would be angry taperer.  ‘I hate this.  This is stupid.’  Snappy, cranky, ill-humored.  Ask them a question and get handed your head. They’ll comply, but they’ll be pissed about it.

There’s fighters. ‘I don’t need to taper.’ ‘Tapering doesn’t work.’ ‘I can run well on tired legs.’

There’s fake taperers.  ‘I AM TAPERING…’  ** Said while running long miles, fast workouts, logging mileage JUST short of normal, hoping to not get called out on their non-tapering/taper…**

And I’m sure I’m missing a bunch of other types. 🙂

I’m personally a cross between precision, I like following plans and rules. Especially if I know it works for me or someone I trust. And I have enough experience to know now that rest helps my body and gets my mind antsy enough to want to push hard on race day.  Tapering is a good thing for me – even if I deny it in the moment. 🙂

And I’m also really, really good at being a nervous taperer.  And just to keep things really interesting for the folks around me I throw in 10-15 minutes surprise sessions of being an angry taperer. Oh and if it’s a really long taper — a little whining and insecurity in panicked moments that make no sense to any witnesses — JUST to keep things fun and exciting for my running friends.

And my poor roommate. 🙂

It’s taper time for me.

Zion 100 miler is in 10 days depending on how you count.

And whole bunch of my friends are tapering too!

FUN TIMES!  😉

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We’ve all busted our rear-ends, we’re ready to go, we’re excited — and we’re a little jealous of our non-tapering friends.

Just being honest.

Ok.  Really?  Totally jealous. Somedays I can’t even look at social media when I’m ‘resting’ and they’re frolicking in the FIRST days of sunshine we’ve had here in Oregon since like 2002. I find myself wishing there was ‘fear of missing out’ button on Facebook or a feature to block anything running related so I can pretend everyone else is tapering too.

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There’s also some distinct seasons in the running community as well.  As distinct as ‘school’ or ‘Football’ season.  And it has nothing to do with the weather for most of us.  We run in all kinds of weather… 🙂

There’s the training period where we’re all getting ready for races and looking for partners who will leg out the crazy long/weird/specific runs/adventures/schemes we have planned.  Rebuilding our base.  Learning new skills.  Making new friends.  The frenzy of running to meet the goals you set while you were recovering or tapering or had a moment of weakness and signed up for a race. 🙂

There’s race season — where we’re all on TOTALLY different schedules.  And we’re tapering, missing out, cranky, excited, joyous, determined, recovering, volunteering, running long miles.  We’re all over the map – and trying to keep up with all of our friends race/event schedules is a full time job! We want to wish all of them success every time they race — which is basically every weekend between now and October. So.Many.GOOD.Events.  So many!

There’s recovery season. Where we take a break, re-group, plan.  For some they grab other sports to work on. For some this period is a day. 🙂  For some this is a month, 3 months or longer.  It is simply marked down-time, letting the body and mind recover.  Waiting for that ‘itch’ to run to creep back in and around the edges and signal that you’re ready to start training and building again.

And of course — none of us are training, racing or recovering at the same time. 🙂

If you have a runner/racer/cyclist/triathlete in your life and they’re getting ready for a big event…

Just be patient with your dream-chasing, goal-crushing friends.

Tapering is a critical part of the training/resting/recovery/racing process.  And it really is mentally difficult to work so hard and then simply shut everything down, ‘sit on your butt’ (that’s what it feels like) and let your body get ready to FLY.

Smile/nod patiently,  tell them they are going to crush their goals because of all their hard work, and if you really want make their day — ask how you can track their race and cheer them on. 🙂

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All sizes. All.

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Is that my hair or a bush? You decide. 🙂 (PC C. Stephens)

I love trail and ultra running. The people, the challenges, the community, the support.

Soul-enriching, strength and character building beyond anything I have ever done or been involved with in my life. It’s saved and changed my life in ways I can barely begin to describe. I hold those random, bubbly, precious feelings near and dear and tightly in my heart.

While deeply satisfying and challenging, I will be the first to admit that it is really not a very glamorous sport.

If you’ve run trails or ultras you’ll feel this list is missing something. (Tell me what you would add!)

If you have not run trails or an ultra you might be wondering…  Just how not-glamorous can this possibly be?

Well…

Pooping in the woods, snot rockets, chafe, sweat and mud and dirt. Blisters. Missing toenails. Black toenails. Sunburn in the oddest of patterns and places.  Did I mention chafing? Squatting in poison oak. Headlamp batteries dying and leaving you in the dark at 4 AM. Hallucinations, scabbed knees, puking, smelling like a yeti, digestive issues, swamp-ass.

🙂

I know I’m missing some critically UN-glamorous, probably hilarious, things.

But you get the idea.

Some of you are totally horrified and wondering what on earth there is to possibly love about this sport. You’ll just have to trust me.  The thrill of covering a whole lot of miles, seeing country I would never see any other way, supported by amazing people and the challenge of pushing myself well beyond the normal boundaries…

It’s all worth it.

Every bit of it.

I feel strong and bad ass and challenged and alive.

It’s worth ALL of it.

Some of the best ultra-runners in the world wear skirts when they run.  The woman are strong, talented and fearless.  And they’re wearing these practical and comfortable and cute skirts.  Win, win, win.  It’s as close to glamorous as we’re going to get in this sport. I always wanted to try to pull off that look.  Except that I am a larger size than the elites. And having lost 200+ pounds; well, my upper thighs need a little more care and coverage than most peoples. I simply need a longer inseam in the built-in shorts than is typically offered to help prevent the aforementioned chafing.

I searched high and low and experimented with all kinds of product lines for well over two years. I want to look cute in race pictures. (Ego!)  I also want to respect the spaces I’m running in, special spaces that are wildly scenic. Kind of like dressing up for a party, I like to dress ‘up’ out of respect for the place I’m visiting and running in.

And let’s face it… I don’t need to spend each run looking like I’m wearing whatever doesn’t smell and like I dressed in the dark with whatever garments I could put my hands on.

Then I found this active dress company out of Seattle…

And our local running store, Running Princess, sold the dresses.

I saw one.  Bought it.  Ran in it the next day.

I kind of fell in love with their dresses.

I wear my own compression shorts under it – and WA LA!

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Checking out the horizon. Staring at the far off Gooseberry Mesa that I’ll be climbing in about 20 days during the Zion 100 miler. (PC C. Stephens)

I finally had the running dress/skirt I’d been searching for for over two years!

The dress is from a company called Nuu Muu.

And there’s one additional and really vital thing about them that has become increasingly important to me…

They support active women of all sizes.

Legitimately.

ALL sizes.

Some companies say they do. This company does it in their branding, marketing, size offerings, event support. I know.  I watched and looked and snooped around to see if this was JUST their clever marketing niche, or if they really meant it.

Their commitment to active women of all sizes is at their core — and it’s obvious. As someone who was starting to be active and painfully stood out EVEN MORE than I already was at 300ish pounds in my boxy cotton T’s and ‘big and tall’ men’s shorts from Walmart…

I instantly felt a surge of gratitude and compassion for this company’s approach to helping woman feel strong and pretty and confident while being active…  No matter their size.

And now a days, I’m 180ish pound, about a size 12-14.  I find really cute active clothes and sometimes at my current weight and fitness I still don’t fit in their largest offering. I can run a 100 miler, but they don’t make clothes that fit me.  Huh. Their message is clear and frustrating to me. ‘We don’t want larger women who are active being seen as our customers or brand ambassadors.’  OK…. Maybe that is not their intended message at all. However, that’s certainly what I hear LOUD AND CLEAR.

Spencer and I  were having a conversation about a running team that I am on. Last year after some consideration and a wild dose of courage, I applied and got accepted.  I never expected a yes. It was totally a thrilling moment for this former 400-pound, non-active woman to be invited to join a running team!  I was over the moon.  It is a group of women across the country that are all tied to a clothing line by their love of running. I was expressing to Spencer that I was not sure how much longer I would stay on the team after a year of being on it.  He suggested perhaps I hadn’t given it enough effort, hadn’t worked to reach out and meet some of my fellow teammates.  I finally said that I never felt like I fit in. They only offer up to size 12 in clothing and I can only fit in a select few of their ‘looser fit’ garments on a good day.

The racing singlet they give you for being on their team barely fits over my boobs and so I have never even worn it to represent them when I run.  I won’t wear it in public.

It’s great, high quality and fun clothing line for some woman, and while I respect and loved the community of supportive women, the clothes just don’t work for me. And perhaps more importantly, their clothing is not an option for the women I am trying to reach, work with and encourage who are learning to love being active and themselves wear sizes 12 – 30.

I told Spencer that I was in a spot with my running and health and with our business, Novo Veritas, that I was truly interested in finding companies that I could suggest and endorse that embraced the idea that active woman come in all sizes.

I want to find companies, events and products that back up OUR brand with theirs; they show support and exhibit the understanding that woman are fierce, bad ass, healthy in all sizes.

Women (and men, let’s be fair!) kick ass, conquer mountains, battle fears and chase down dreams in ALL shapes and sizes.

I told Spencer that I wanted to intentionally throw my support behind those endeavors that recognize active, adventure-seeking, healthy people of all shapes and sizes.

And then I found this dress.

But it turns out to not even really be about the dress.  It was more about finding a company and a community that support me and all of the other women I know so we can go out and do daring and bad ass things.

No matter what it may be. No matter our size. 🙂

What daring and bad ass things are YOU up to?!

‘Clothes aren’t going to change the world, the women who wear them will. ‘ – Anne Klein.

Save

Fear.

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Perched on the edge of the monolith that is Angels Landing, Zion National Park.  Pictured with Cary Stephens.  Cary is an accomplished ultra runner who bravely and patiently spent the weekend legging out the mileage with me that I needed in my last big training block.

For me there is a rush in facing off against a fear.

There is a rush, a feeling fully alive moment, a thrill. Maybe it is just INTENSE relief when you are safely on the other side of your fears.  But there is no denying that you ‘feel’ something big and profound and unforgettable as you dive head first into something you are afraid of.

And get to the other side.

I never thought I was afraid of heights.

I have a healthy respect for heights.  Or more accurately, a healthy fear of falling. I can go to the top of tall buildings and enjoy the view, climbs ladders and scramble onto the rooftop, ride a Ferris wheel, run (carefully) along a mountainside with a cliff on one edge.  I’ve always figured I wasn’t really afraid of heights.

This weekend I was doing one of my last training blocks for a race. I met up with a friend in Southern Utah who had volunteered to play trail guide and preview part of the course with me.  We took one day away from the course and ran in Zion National Park.

JAW DROPPING!

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Holy smokes is that place stunning!

Eloquent orators and authors have carefully picked the perfect words to attempt to describe this amazing spot.  I ran out of good words really fast. I mostly stopped and uttered ‘wow! ‘about a 1,000 times. 🙂  Sheer walls, views in all directions and colors and shapes that simply don’t seem to belong together in nature.  Yet are entirely nature in all her perfect glory.

There’s a hike to a popular spot called Angels Landing.

My friend Cary and I opted to go in to Zion National Park and hit two of their big climbs in the same day.  Observation Point and Angels Landing.  At the end of the day we had over 24ish miles and about 5,000 feet of vertical.  (GPS doesn’t work well in those rock canyons so the vertical is a close guess.)

It was an incredible training day!

Here’s a shortened/edited version of their description to park visitors about Angels Landing:

‘The Angels Landing Trail is one of the most famous and thrilling hikes in the national park system. Zion’s pride and joy runs along a narrow rock fin with dizzying drop-offs on both sides. The trail culminates at a lofty perch, boasting magnificent views in every direction… Narrow ridges with deep chasms on each of its flanks. Hikers pull themselves up by chains. The last half-mile is across a narrow sandstone ridge, anchored with support chains attached along some sections of the sheer, narrow fin.’

I read that and went ‘AMAZING! Let’s go! I have to see this!’

We hiked and ran Observation Point (wow!) and then headed over to Angels Landing.  We climbed for about 3 miles up switchbacks and fairly smooth, well-traveled, but steep and stunningly scenic terrain. We get all the way to the top where it narrows down to go out on the ‘fin’ and it is at this point that the words I read earlier began to get real…

It really is a little, thin, bony, spiny back of a fin from one monolith top to another.  With anchored chains.   Like…  The ‘fin’ is not even ONE PERSON wide in some spots.  There are rock chasms you have to shimmy though to higher ledges. More narrow than the opening of an typical escalator — with a 1,500 foot drop to the canyon floor on either side if you miss a step.

I did a lot of self-coaching on that fin.

A lot.

I ended the day with a re-defined respect for heights.

You use this anchored chain to hold on at the super narrow parts.  It turns out I man-handled every single link on every single yard of that chain for the .5 mile out and the .5 mile back.  I was terrified to let go of that chain.  I did really graceful and elegant things like plopping down on my butt and schooching with my body stretched out on the ground toward the next chain post to hook my foot for safety.  I groped total strangers who wouldn’t let go of the chain, while I was focused on doing the same… NOT LETTING GO of that damn chain while still trying to keep moving.  It’s sandstone – and super ‘sticky’.  You have GREAT traction on your feet in the dry weather.

No matter.  Didn’t care how good the footing was. I was terrified for a full mile — which took an hour — to get out to that landing and back.

There are some small chasms within this fin that you have to basically shimmy into for a bit and then climb up, out and over.

Enter the OLD fear that I did not expect to encounter…  Real-life, experience-based fear of being the fat girl who can’t ‘fit’ in something.  (A chair, a car, a doorway, a freaking-rock-chasm-on-top-of-a-rock-monoltih.)

Beyond being afraid of the dizzying heights I had several paralyzing moments where I looked at the width of the opening in the rocks, the narrowness of the passage with two people on a ‘ledge’ and thought ‘I AM NOT GOING TO FIT.’

Actually the thought in my head was…

‘HOLY CRAP. I am NOT going to fit, I’m too fat. I’m going to get my fat ass stuck in (not ON) this rock, block traffic, have to be rescued and cut out of a cliff and ruin a National Monument…’

The chasms were tall, narrow and you eventually have to work yourself up and over the chasm to the next layer of ledge.  There were points of narrowness where someone larger than a healthy weight wouldn’t fit.  They just wouldn’t.  I saw it play out several times in the span of about .25 of a mile.

I’m balancing what I see happening to others with the messages firing from my brain who still sees me as 400 pounds at this moment in time.

I am well aware that once upon a time I would have been the women that would have had to turn around before the summit because I wouldn’t have fit on that trail.

Deep breath.

Check in on THAT moment and the reality in front of me and only that.  

Push the fear aside and stare down the facts… 

I fit!

And bonus? I have upper body strength to hoist myself up to the ledge (thank you Jordan, strength coach!)

Repeat. 🙂

I climbed that fin, shimmied up chasms, walked out on the monolith. Found ways around and up and over. So did almost everyone else.

And it was wonderful…

FREAKING EPIC!!!

Once we were back to the initial landing I realized I felt exhausted, depleted from spending an hour with FEAR.  And we still had about 3 hours to run. 🙂

I felt ‘fully alive’.

However I remember with the most satisfaction the feeling of quieting my brain and not quitting.  For going on even when I was afraid.  For breathing and pausing and problem solving and for getting my brain to shut up long enough for me to decide where to place my foot in the next step.

I didn’t let fear win this time.

It got me thinking deeply about fears.

And how we allow them to limit us.

Often I believe we either assume we can’t do something or simply let fear shut the door in our face and accept it. I’m not talking about phobias or fears born of hard or life-changing experiences that leave us scarred.  I get those and I get why those can’t be ‘worked’ around.

I’m talking about the more mundane/normal/regular fears that we accept as facts in our lives.

We have to respect fear for our own survival, I mean it’s there to protect us on several levels.

Fear is: An anxious feeling, caused by our anticipation of some imagined event or experience. — Psychology Today

I’m talking about the fears that we haven’t fully explored, the ones we just kind of blindly accept. Or the ones that crop up unexpectedly even. The ones that perhaps rob us of some of life’s defining moments and treasures.

There is joy in being fully alive.

There is blessing in staying alive because you respected that warning shot of fear.

But are all of my/your fears legit?

Are you limiting yourself because you’re afraid?  Am I?

I did a lot of things this weekend that I normally categorize – big and small – in my brain as ‘being afraid’ of…

It’s Monday and here I am after a good day of work and normal routines. 🙂  I survived my fear(s) this weekend.  Hell, I not only survived, I thrived, I lived, I conquered!

I’m feeling like a happy, tired, fear-facing, adventure girl at this moment in time. 🙂

Lifestyle changes are fraught with fears.  I know most of them well.  Really well.  And I know that most of the time the things we are afraid of aren’t really real.  They aren’t the true foe.

Sometimes those fears are deep and true and were learned with hard experiences and upon closer inspection/introspection we may simply have to respect them for what they are.

But…

But what if being afraid is simply our own choice to stand still and choose to accept a closed door because we’re too afraid to open the damn door?

That’s no way to see the world or enjoy life or grow or LIVE.

I’m challenging you – just as I challenged myself this weekend – to think about what you fear and consider, just for a moment, for a single moment, what would happen if you were to reach out, open the door and JUST SEE what happens.

Just see what lies on the other side…

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Save

Lost in the woods. (This isn’t a metaphor.)

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12/31/2016

Dunn 50K ‘Fat Ass’. (Fun-group run, no awards, no bibs, no timing.  Just a run with friends.)

Dunn is our local forest, tough terrain, and only a few really run in it regularly.  For most of us, this was a chance to experience new territory!

Spencer designed the inaugural course with help from our friend Cary Stephens.

They’re diabolical dudes.

Course was WICKED hard.

Steep goat hills, bushwhacking, game trails, technical and jaw-dropping scenic views.

PERFECT stuff for an ultra to test limits and close out the year.

The course was impeccably mapped/marked. We were all given a turn-by-turn sheet with GPS mileage/flagging directions, overview map with elevation profile and detailed section maps.

We were set.

I ran the first part of it with a tribe of five women.  We all run ultras, the distance wasn’t freaking us out. New terrain that isn’t super-well defined had us being cautious and sticking together.

The directions were precise and easily followed even if the course was ridiculously difficult. Flagging was perfect. We were all happy that Anne Miller was willing to navigate while we followed along.

At the half way point two of the women in our group were done.

Anne Miller was one of them. Fighting a cold for a few days, she told us before we ever started that morning, she was only going 15 miles.

At the only aid station/turn-around, Bonnie Wright, Rita Van Doren and I loaded up on water, chatted quickly with Spencer and Bonnie’s husband, Mark.  Said good bye to Jen and Anne. Hugged the Miller clan and took off for the second half of the course.

Things were great for the three of us until we hit 20.62.

This is where we went wrong…

And I will say, for the record, that it’s not so much a ‘we’ went wrong.

I feel like this mistake was largely mine.

I was the one who convinced Bonnie and Rita to go with the mileage and visible ‘landmarks’ instead of the signage.

Our directions said to follow the sign and flagging and that we would be going up a steep bank and into the trees. We were to follow the green flagging up the side of the hill, bushwhacking.  We saw a steep section of the bank that was pretty heavily torn up with what looked like shoe prints.  No sign. No flagging.

But we were at the EXACT mileage marked on the directions.

We went past the section for about .2 of a mile looking for the sign or flagging.  We didn’t see any. And NONE of the turns had been off by even .1 of a mile to this point.  Figuring that the mileage had to be right – since it matched the physical description of what were looking for, we went back to the spot where the bank was torn up. We finally agreed that even without the signage, we should go up the bank and into the trees scouting for green flagging.

We knew we had to go .3 of a mile uphill once we were in the trees.  (In this ultra designed by Spencer and Cary we quickly learned that given any vagueness about the intended direction; the answer was always GO UPHILL.  Kind of kidding… Kind of not.)

At that .3 of a mile mark, we still have no flagging.

We’re totally bushwhacking on a forested canyon/side hill at this point.

We keep going, looking for flagging or a road.

We talk about going back or forging ahead to the road that HAS to be uphill from us and scouting for more flagging.  We made the group decision to keep going up the hill. It was a SLOG.  Downed trees, tall ferns, no trail, holes the size of truck tires… Not fun. Slow going. Yet totally in line with the rest of the course we had experienced.

We’re banking on the idea that at the top we’ll have been headed in roughly the right direction and be close enough to see familiar flagging.

Yet somewhere in this mess we begin to realize…

And actually admit…

We’re lost.

And we can’t backtrack.

We don’t even know how to backtrack at this point.

We’ve gone over the uphill mileage stated in the directions — and still have no road or flagging.

Somewhere in there we all agree that I need to call Spencer.  I get voice-mail. I leave a detailed message telling him time, distance, where we think we are.  I say that we’re together and staying together no matter what.

I state clearly in a back-up text at this point that we know we’re *&%$ing LOST.

Spencer is at the start area and there is NO cell reception.

With more climbing and guessing and bushwhacking we finally DO get to a road.

Hallelujah!

Short-lived happy dance!

We re-group. We each kind of grab an idea for problem solving, keep each other in sight and get to work.  Bonnie and I go one direction looking for flagging or signage or intersecting trails or landmarks.  The road dead ends.  Rita was trying to harness technology to help us with GPS or maps. We didn’t have enough connectivity. We gather up again, and head down the road in the other direction looking for flagging or identifying marks of some sort.

We’re more than an hour lost at this point. Spencer has a voice message from us, but no one else knows we’re lost.  Bonnie has also tried to call her husband, Mark.

Mark is with Spencer in cell-phone-no-man’s-land. And we have spotty/random reception at best.

Then it hits me.

ANNE MILLER.

She’s my friend.  She ran with us. She knows the forest.  And we can get calls out.  Just not to the guys at the start line.

We call or text Anne.  I don’t remember which we did first.

HERE enters our Guardian Angel.

For the next 3+ hours we either text or call Anne and she would try to helps figure our location, collect and get information to Spencer.  She leaves her house, brings her son Andrew and they head back to the staging area. (Andrew knows the Dunn as well as Spencer and Cary and had JUST run the 50K course earlier that day.)

She texts us at one point when we admit that we’re pretty damn scared…

“We will not abandon you!”

And not to spoil the ending of the story; but she didn’t.

Neither did Spencer or Andrew.

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Knowing we were ultimately trying to navigate to a peak to get back on course or get to a recognizable spot, we opt to go uphill on the roads when we get to a ‘Y’.

After a few other turns and decisions – aiming to keep climbing up hill – we eventually hit a road with RACE FLAGGING.  RELIEF!!!  I think Bonnie and Rita would agree with me — this was a moment of profound relief.

As we start following the flagging it occurs to us — this race is loosely an unconnected, 2-loop course.  We don’t know if we’re on the first loop, the second loop — or if we’re headed to the start or back to the half-way point.

We’re still kinda lost.

BUT we have flagging to follow.

We follow the flagging looking for landmarks that match our turn by turn sheet.  We can’t quite get what we are seeing and what’s printed in the directions to line up enough to help us figure out where we are.

We’re getting text messages/calls out to Anne as we have service and/or landmarks to report.

We had made it clear that the three of us were sticking together and following the flagging even if we were going the wrong direction or on the wrong ‘loop’.

Details get hazy at this point, but we kept moving and communicating. We eventually get to a spot where I can get a call out to Spencer/Anne. And this time we have clear enough landmarks, details of where we are and what we’ve traveled through…

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They know where we are!

They’re sending Andrew up to rescue and guide us in. I’m told that he will be coming from our backs.

We are told to keep moving, keep following the flagging.

It’s starting to snow.

It’s getting dark.

Even with headlamps we’re having a LOT of trouble finding the flagging until we’re right on top of it.

We start this routine where Bonnie scouts for flagging, Rita stays about 1/2 way between the two of us and I stay by the last known flagging. Bonnie would find the next flagging.  Rita would call back to me and I’d move to catch Rita. I’d park by the new flagging while Bonnie searched ahead.

Without even talking about how to make it work…  We just worked out how to make things work…  TEAM WORK.

I realized on that side-hill that this was TEAM WORK in all its gut-clenching, hard-working, glory.  I remembered thinking these were woman — very much including Anne — that I would now do anything for…

Anything.

Anne, Spencer and Andrew all knew we were safe at this point.  And it turns out we were on the last 5 – 6 miles and headed in the right direction

But the three of us sure didn’t feel safe just yet.

We felt lost and scared. We were getting cold and we can’t see the flagging which we’re supposed to be following so we don’t get LOST again…

We’re scrambling up this horrendous, ridiculous, face of a mountain — when I look back down the climb and see a headlamp.  I BELLOWED out Andrew’s name.  I didn’t know I could yell that loudly.  I’m pretty sure Corvallis, 20 miles away, heard me.

Andrew reaches us.

This 20-something young man, who has now run this ridiculously steep grade TWICE in a single day, arrives on the side of the hill to find 3 crying, exhausted, cold, GRATEFUL middle-age women waiting to be rescued.  He calmly asked if we all had good batteries in our headlamps, if we were warm enough or needed gloves/coats and tells us that we were going to keep moving. He asks me to text his mom, because his mom would be worried about him.  I do just that.

Efficient, calm and we are on the way to the finish line following Andrew’s lead.

So much relief.

Andrew ran with us, walked with us.  Chatted to us.  Listened to our rambling/frantic re-cap of the day’s adventure. He even helped Rita re-tie her shoe when her laces came undone and her hands were simply too cold to function.

We ran a bit of a short cut just to get back to the start area and end this epic adventure. We were greeted with fierce hugs and a warm fire.  And Mark’s hot chocolate!

I hugged Anne like my life depended on it. At that moment in time that was exactly how I felt.

The three strongest feelings that day?

My gut when I KNEW we were lost.

My head when they said they knew exactly where we were.

My heart and soul flooding with gratitude for my friends.

Two days later Bonnie, Rita, Anne and I were texting about the fact that we’re still emotional about it all.  It could have had a different ending.  And we all know that.

There is an incredible gift in these uniquely strong and fire-tested friendships that are built on and around the trail running community.

I’ve never experienced anything like it in my life.

Rita, Bonnie and I ran just short of 30 miles, so we didn’t officially do the 50K.

We managed to climb 7,100 feet of vertical gain.

Lost. Found. Friendships. Teamwork. Problem solving. Logical thinking. Communication. Battling fear. Fighting for others. Selflessly helping others. Sometimes this ultra running thing has very little to do with actual running.

Thank you Anne, Andrew, Spencer for getting us off the mountain and to the finish line. 

Bonnie and Rita…  Thank you.  

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Honest advice from a friend…

My good friend and fellow trail runner, Jill Puleo (check out her YouTube chanel) gave me permission to share this recent conversation we shared on Facebook.  It’s personal from both sides of our stories, but her advice to me…?

Holy cow.

Her advice to me is too damn good to keep to myself.

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Jill (rockstar in the picture above!) and I have only met ONE time in person. Yet we have both worked to build a strong and growing friendship based initially on two simple things: Curly hair and trail running. 🙂  We met at Western States Camp 2015 waiting for the run for day two to start.

Our friendship essentially started from a three minute conversation at the start of a run.

How awesome is that!??

Here’s the Facebook conversation between Jill and I recently.

Betsy:

So the day you checked in with me?

Thank you following your gut or intuition or whatever was guiding you Jill. I had had a rough day.

Longish story as short as possible? Spencer had a run/stride analysis with a local coaching/Ultra-running/Guru that we all love and respect, Joe. Spencer loved it, gained a ton from it – and was quick to tell me that I should get one done as well. I made some comment at the time about ‘I’m not fast enough to have a stride.’ and dismissed the idea.  Spencer would bring it up every once in a while… ‘Are you going to get your stride looked at by Joe?’ and I would say something benign and dismissive like ‘I’ll think about it’ or ‘maybe’.

Well this past weekend we had a full weekend of training. I am starting to ramp up training from an extended recovery period.

Spencer says he is only going to suggest to me one more time to seriously consider getting my stride looked at and then he’ll drop the topic but do I understand that this  would be a really beneficial thing to do?

So I say yes, I’ll go see Joe. (I’ll admit I said it with the unmistakable tone of bitchy, forced, pissed-off….)

I email Joe and get an appointment.

I go.

Joe is AMAZING. SO much patience and knowledge.  And it turns out I do have a stride and it’s kind of messed up or least could be a lot more efficient and ‘healthy’. He appreciates that my goal is to be running when I’m 70 and that I want to invest time in building a ‘healthy’ stride since I’m fairly new to running. He spent over two hours with me talking about what was weak/strong and how to work to fix some of the things he saw to get me to a healthy stride.

Here’s the deal… And this is what ALL of my resistance was about… He videos you running at different speeds and from different angles. And then you get to watch in ((slow-mo)) while he shows you your legs, angles, back, feet, arms… I assume it’s fascinating and instructive had I not been totally and utterly horrified at seeing myself running on video.

I saw a woman who looked fat, lumpy, flappy, floppy — her hair looked horrible and she really, really needs a new bra. I was so heartbroken at how I looked on that video I could barely hear what Joe was telling me.

And then we go through some range of motion exercises and cues — and we run/tape again. Again…. I’m watching the videos totally transfixed with how fat and awkward and horrible I look.

In my mind I’ve thought I looked happy and solid and like maybe even just a teeny, tiny little bit like an athlete when I run. Seeing the video removed ALL postiive thoughts I had about my body while running. I think deep down I KNEW this is what would happen which is why I was defensive and avoiding it all…  I drove home choking back tears the entire way in self-pity.  I know that Spencer knows something is wrong well beyond the stride analysis thing and me ‘not being fast enough to have a stride’.  And I’d just about rather cut out my own tongue that explain that I just didn’t want to see myself on video…

Seeing myself on video running was actually far worse than I imagined.

Jill, please tell me to grow up. And that everyone hates their self on film. That I need to get over it – so I can get working on what really matters – which is a healthy stride…

I’m stuck in horrified, defensive and bitchy mode.

I want so badly to have a different body than I do… And that makes me sad. I know you will understand that because we’ve talked about body image issues before. And I KNOW that learning to love my body as it is, is a process.

I always seem to know exactly what to tell others who are struggling.

But if you would have seen the video of me running — you would understand my current horror and sadness…

Jill:

The video: YES I UNDERSTAND.

I understand so, so very much.

I am still suffering from seeing pictures of myself that my friend posted of me from her wedding in which, I look like a puffy old crow with a hooked nose and thick calves.

I am not going to tell you to grow up.

I am not going to tell you to “practice self care” (whatever the eff that means…I HATE THAT PHRASE) and I am not going to tell you that it doesn’t suck. Your body was made in a way that doesn’t please you and you fight it every day. Being flippant about that and telling you it will all go away with a journal and a cup of camomile tea is epic bullshit.

Secret?

OK here’s a big one: Although I believe in the Body Positive movement, I don’t really get some parts of it. I feel like there are many good points, but it also seems like there are a lot of excuses being floated around. You know what I mean…?

It’s those people who don’t want to feel ANYTHING uncomfortable. Well you and I both know that if you don’t feel anything uncomfortable, you are not growing. You are also not challenging yourself. I would like to sit home today and eat M&Ms. That would make me VERY comfortable. And the body positive people would say that after multiple days of doing this I should love the body that results. BUT NO. Because that is NOT FRIGGING HEALTHY.

So, my idea is this: I like to think of my body like I think of my my sister in law…I have to accept it for what it is, even like it sometimes, but I don’t have to love it.

YOU DON’T HAVE TO LOVE YOUR BODY.

But, I do think that you have to love what it does for you, and that’s where I choose to focus my thoughts. Or at least, I try. I know I am not a fabulous runner. I mean, I am not fast and I will never win anything. I do have this pretty amazing talent for long distances. I get more comfortable the longer I go and feel better doing it too. I think to myself that I like this about my body and I thank it for getting me this far.

BUT I DO NOT THANK IT FOR THE CELLULITE I’VE HAD SINCE I WAS 10.

I don’t care how much goddamned tea I drink I am never going to love my cellulite. I don’t know if this helps, but your body has done and will do a lot of things.

Maybe it’s a partner, a co-worker, a sister in law…

It doesn’t have to be your true romance.

BUT YOU…you, on the inside…well, you’d better love that part because inside that package is a heart and a mind and a soul and all of it is pretty spectacular.

As far as the video/photos go…you have the choice to never look at it ever again or watch it over and over. I try to think to myself: which of those options will allow me to be who I want to be once I stop watching? Like, I don’t want to be a total bitch all day, so I should probably NOT go through my high school yearbook, you know? Not without vodka, anyway.  

You don’t get an award for being OK with watching your body flop around on a treadmill and being OK with it. But, it is nice to feel good and treat others well (aka: NOT be a bitch after said viewing) so in this case: YOU ARE JUSTIFIED and welcome to not ever look at that video again.

Don’t say “I should get over this” because that diminishes your feelings. Say “I will get better at handling this” because unlike the self-help/life coach/body positive ladies, I do not believe that this feeling will go away.

I think that instead of wishing it away, ya better cozy on up…because if you want to get through it by making it ghost, you’re in for a world of shit when it comes crashing back unexpectedly.

So, think about what you like about what your body does for you and focus on that. LIKE it. APPRECIATE it. But, don’t feel like a failure if you end up giving it the side-eye most of the time. You’re allowed.

That being said, be sure that you are not comparing your body to other bodies. I am pretty sure you don’t do this, but scrolling through Instagram can be incredibly defeating. All of those gorgeous bodies in front of gorgeous mountain ranges can be hard to watch…

OK that’s enough full frontal Jill for now…haha

Sending love as always

YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

You are never alone.

Deeply grateful for you, our friendship and your stellar, blunt, authentic advice.

Thank you Jill.

Diabetes doesn’t go on Holiday…

img_4329-jpgI had to pull out my glucose testing kit this week.

It’s been in retirement for 3 years.

I am not gonna lie.  It was a bit of a low moment.  I was sad and a little scared.

I had a sudden flash of fear that Type 2 (T2) Diabetes was back or trying really hard to creep back in. I was noticing some things…  Things that seemed disconnected, but hauntingly familiar.

Fuzzy thinking. Thirsty. Sleepy. Insatiably hungry. Irritable out of the blue/out of porportion. Craving sugar.  Feeling ‘puffy’.

Not just the normal things that happen in life, I mean, the ‘symptoms’ were out of place given what was happening in my life.

All of the sudden it dawned me WHY these were familiar…  This is the crap that happens when my blood sugars are out of whack.

I hadn’t felt these symptoms in these odd clusters in over three years…

Holy crap.

It was time to test and see what the numbers had to tell me.


I tested as soon as I put the pieces together and realized I was possibly experiencing some blood sugar issues. My post-prandial (2 hours post-meal) glucose was 111.  For me — that’s a solid, if tad-bit high, number.  But respectable.

Whew.  Little breathing room and stab of relief.

I tested a fasting number the next morning and it was 110.  Exhaling in relief.  On the high side, but arguably good.

Yesterday was 100.

I’m in a ‘safe space’ with the numbers I’m seeing and recording.

They’re not as low as I would like, nor are they as low as I can make them when I’m keeping my diet ‘tight’.

While I’m clinically in a non-diabetic range, I still felt pretty clearly this was a wake-up call.


After Mountain Lakes 100 miler back in September, I had a revelation of sorts.  The conversation in my head (and out loud to Spencer…) went sort of like this:

‘I just ran for 100 miles, for close to 30 hours and fueled that effort with about 5,000-6,000 calories of SUGAR.  And while that’s pretty typical running fuel for ‘normal’ folks, uh…  You aren’t normal.  How horribly WRONG/DUMB/STUPID/RIDICULOUS is that equation for someone like YOU??!  Can I remind you that you used to be morbidly obese, insulin-injecting, T2 for two DECADES.  HOLY CRAP BETSY.  You’re a reformed T2 diabetic and you just ran (which you can only do because you are no longer morbidly obese) eating pure, easily accessible to your blood, sugar. This.is.utterly.asinine. You can’t keep doing this.  It’s a recipe for disaster.’

So I made the decision that I needed to change some things.  Immediately.

It all has to start with my day-to-day food plan.


There’s a health condition called ‘Insulin Resistance’.  It also gets talked about as ‘Carbohydrate Intolerance’.  I’ve done a ton of research on it, and I have come to understand that I am no longer T2 Diabetic, but I am still insulin resistant.  And I always will be. I can certainly manage it, but it’s not going to go away. While it is not an entirely accurate description, I kind of think of it as being ‘allergic’ to carbs.

((Here’s the disclaimer in all of this:  I’m an experiment of one. I lost over 200 pounds, reversed type 2 and somehow fell head-over-heels in love with the endurance running world. Turns out that there aren’t a lot of people like me out there, and the ‘normal’ rules for food/nutrition/fueling just don’t ever seem to work well for me. My solutions and chosen paths are not likely to work or make sense for anyone else.))

I’m well aware that if I eat too many carbs {ANY KIND OF CARBS – YES… Even the ‘healthy ones’}  I get swinging blood sugars.  If I keep carbs {even the healthy ones…} to a minimum — my glucose stays in a horizontal and largely stable line.

‘My body hates carbs!’ — me

‘No.  Your body loves carbs.  It loves them to DEATH.’ — Deb, my sister.

So…

Good-bye to my plant based diet that I loved and enjoyed for almost three years. (Averaging 300 – 400 ish grams of carbohydrates per day with a healthy balance of grains, fruits and veggies.)

Hello again to my old friend, no-and-low carb. (Averaging 40-70 grams of total carbs per day.)

I’m tightly restricting my daily carbohydrate load. ANY carbohydrate source.  Aiming for whole, non-processed foods. And I am most especially vigilant for any of the added or hidden variations of sugars/corn syrups that were truly and absolutely my worst enemy as a T2.

I know how to do this.

I just willingly and knowingly strayed from the basics that got me ‘here’; I strayed from the food plan that helped me lose weight, become non-diabetic, learn to run…  I mean I reversed T2 Diabetes — I suddenly felt FREE and healthy enough to try new things with food, fueling, diet.  So I did!  I’m totally OK with those experiments and what they have taught me about myself and the way my body works.

I just find it humbling and interesting that I am back where it all started.

Back to the very basics of what worked when I first started this crazy journey.  Back to low carb, NO SUGAR, low glycemic indexed foods.

((For my running friends who are wondering about fueling during training and events that this dilemma now hands me…  Well. Join the crowd. Me too.  I’m lost and little bewildered with it all at this moment in time.  But I am deeply driven by the knowledge that if I want to stay healthy and running; I have to stay the course in managing this or T2 Diabetes could possibly win this whole freaking thing. I won’t, can’t let that happen.  So let the new fueling experiments begin. 🙂 )) 


This week has been a solid reminder that T2 diabetes is still chasing me 365 days a year.

It never takes a Holiday.

But, guess what?

I have NO PLANS to take a Holiday either.