I’m feeling pretty darn good today. Last night, all I wanted to do was take a cool bath, prop my feet up on high a few pillows and rest. Wayne brought me a half sandwich and some chocolate milk and my stomach was grateful. I put on my CW-X tights since it occurred to me they’d be great for the “compression” part of RICE for recovery and I just rested for a few hours. Later on, I felt up to making some chicken noodle soup for myself and the two younger girls (the others had been snacking all day and weren’t hungry.) Wayne brought me a hot fudge sundae from Sonic later that night since I was craving one. It was delicious and hit the spot!  I shared it with Wayne since I couldn’t finish all of it. Then, I slept. Very well…..

I didn’t wake up until 8 this morning. I felt good. Refreshed. Surprisingly, I’m not that sore. I think all the walking helped. Usually my worst soreness happen two days after a race, so we’ll see how I feel tomorrow – but so far today – I feel good. I’m wearing the CW-X tights again and they seem to be helping with the usual edema (swelling) I always get after an especially long run. Just last week, my legs were so swollen, I gained 4 lbs in one day. It lasted for about 4 days total, gradually getting less and less until I was back to 126 lbs the morning of the ultra. I really hope to avoid so much swelling this week since the swelling always makes me walk a little funny and it hurts a bit. Savannah is having her dental surgery tomorrow morning, so I want to be able to take good care of her and I thought this would help. So far today, it really has! My legs feel great! This morning I weighed 125.0, so all systems seem fine again too. I’m eating lightly and that’s helping my stomach feel fine again too.

Mentally, I really am ok that I was the last place runner yesterday. I wanted to finish and that’s what I did. Emotionally, I’m a little fearful of thinking of doing another marathon or ultra right now. I’m wondering if my IBS will always be an issue and come out to attack when I really need all systems working well. My period is due and I have also noticed that the hormones that occur around the time of my monthly cycle do seem to increase my chances of an IBS attack. The Jan 30th race was also at the same point in my cycle and it went terribly! I wish I could handle gels and GU’s better. Maybe that’s something to work on? I wonder if I could build up a tolerance to them?

I have to admit to feeling a little introspective right now about my racing. Last week, at Robie Creek, I felt like I kicked butt! I was almost in the top third of the finishers!!! I felt great the entire race and really great afterwards. I wonder if my body really prefers the half marathon? I can pull out a pretty fast final kick usually no matter what the distance. I can do that consistently – even in training and even on tired legs. Maybe I have more speed in me than I think? Maybe I’m designed for shorter distances? I have such a fear of pain and injury that I hold back when I run. I’m too conservative. I take too many walk breaks. Always thinking back to the injury that side-lined me for three months. I wonder if it’s time to put that fear to rest and just focus on training for some shorter distances for a while and see how I handle them?

I’ve only done one 10k since I started running and the one half – Robie. I’d be curious to see how I handle a 5K or a half that isn’t so steep? I’d also love to do a 10k this year since the one I did was last June and I think I’ve gotten faster and stronger. Last year’s time was 1:02 and I was darn proud of that then! I wonder if I can now hold a 9 min pace for that length of time? Last year was 10 min/miles on the nose. I “think” I can. I’d like to try! I’d love to see if I can do a 2:10 half this summer. I have one I’m thinking of doing in July. The 10K I did last year is in June. I don’t have any 5k’s picked out, but I’m sure it won’t be hard to find one for sometime in the next few months. I’m looking forward to May – my month of taking it easier and recovering from the hard efforts I’ve put my body through since January. So far this year, I’ve ran 448.24 miles – with an average monthly mileage of 112 – and this month isn’t quite over yet. I can’t believe it! That’s so much better than I ever thought I’d do! My goal this year was to run about 20 miles a week and I’ve found that I’m usually happy running closer to 25-30.

Wayne asked me last night, “Are you going to change your nickname now?” On his chess site, www.idahochess.net – I’m known as “marathonmama” – He wanted to know if I’d change it to “Ultramarathonmama.” I told him, “No.” That’s not really how I see myself. Honestly, I’m not sure how I would define myself right now. I’m so thankful I did the distance. I wish the course had been accurately measured, so I’d be able to really have done a 50K – but it’s ok. It’s close enough. But, that’s not all. I really think I’m not cut out for these super long distances. I wondered going into this if I would sign up for a 50 mile race in August that my running cousin (who I believe WON the race yesterday or at least came close) is putting on. At the moment, I don’t think that would be a smart idea. I just don’t seem to have the stomach needed for these super endurance events. It bugs me that I’ve done 7 distances now of 20 + miles this year and that 2 of the 3 times my stomach revolted were races. The third was the race around Lake Lowell with Bertha. I was fine until our buddy came and gave us some snacks about ten miles before the finish. He was so kind to do that, so I ate the energy bar (at least a few bites) and drank some of the vitamin water (though I’d never had any before and wasn’t sure how my stomach would handle it.) A couple miles down the road I was in agony again and spent about 15 minutes at a gas station’s bathroom regretting eating new foods on a run. Bless Bertha’s heart, she had to wait for me the whole time. I love running long. Most of the time I handle distances up to 20 fine. It’s when I have to eat “real” food that I get in trouble. I wonder if I can beat this? I wonder if I can’t?

How do I feel about myself? Proud. Thankful that I’m healthy enough to run. Grateful for a wonderful, supportive family and honored to have such a great group of running friends – most especially my awesome sidekick, Bertha.  I think I’m also humbled. I’m really a very ordinary gal. I’m not particularly fast or particularly tough. In fact, I’m known as sort of a “weenie” when it comes to being outdoorsy in general. I hate sleeping in tent for instance. hee hee. I’m a little bit prissy or soft I guess. So, the fact that I even tried to do an ultra and have learned to pee and poop in the wild is a sign that I’m getting tougher. Do you know, I actually peed myself like 10 times yesterday? Yeah, gross, huh? Apparently, once my stomach had diarrhea, the bladder just stopped working properly for awhile — hence the clothing change after mile 20. I was a stinky mess!!! You don’t even want to know how bad I felt shaking hands with that poor race guy who offered it at that aid station! I had just been sick in the woods over and over and was wiping my rear with grass and leaves – and – it’s a messy business and and….. you get the idea. UGH! I felt SO GUILTY!!!  I did wipe my hands on the grass and in the dirt and on my clothes and once got close enough to the river to wash – but — it happened several more times — so honestly – I was not a very sanitary person to touch yesterday. 

Anyways.. this has toughened me up a bit. I’m learning to face some fears. Even the one about coming in last. Turns out it wasn’t so bad and I was smiling (while crying) when it happened. And the tears were happy ones. Grateful ones. Not sad ones. Maybe I’m growing up a little. Maybe I should keep doing this? I’m just not sure.

Marathons and Ultras or all shorter distances instead? Hmmm….. I think I’ll take some time this next few weeks and consider the path I should be on. My confidence is definitely shaken about the longer events and I wonder if I’m in over my head with them. I crashed and burned at the end of the marathon even. It was a nutrition thing again. Not a bathroom one, thankfully – but I bonked at mile 21 and fell from an ave pace of 10:53 to a pace of 11:20 ave by the end.  I missed my goal by 12 minutes.

I’m reflective right now — but honestly — happy and content. There is no wrong answer.  Thanks for reading my ramblings, good friends. I’ve enjoyed sharing my journey with all of you.

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