Training for Zion Update

4 months down, 2 to go.

As I enter the last third of my training block, I am feeling pretty good about it all. I haven’t completed all the mileage as written, but overall have done really well.

A couple weeks ago I ran a solo 50K for training. I had everything I needed in my truck, parked in a spot I would pass by a few times and used it as an aid station. It was a very quiet and overcast day in the canyon, which kept the temps cool. I used it as time to practice nutrition, using my poles, and to see how my mind would hold up for several hours without anyone to talk to. Everything went perfectly except my shoes sliding around some and causing blisters. I have yet to find exactly the right trail shoe. I was actually quite surprised at how quickly the time went by until about the marathon mark. Then I was just ready to finish. It took me right at 7 hours, which was my guess, so all went really well.

I also did my first run from evening to night. I run in the dark in the morning often. But I haven’t ever done that in the canyon. Derreck came to keep an eye on Donna and I as we looped around trails to different parking lots to check in. What surprised me most was how hard it is to see right as the sun is gone, but still light enough that a headlamp doesn’t help. It’s really tricky during that time. Also, how fast the temperature dropped as soon as it was dark dark. But what was most fabulous about running in the canyon at night is the open sky without any light pollution. The stars!! It was absolutely incredible!

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars which you have set into place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Psalm 8:3-4

And then just this week, the race director announced a course change. My first thought was dread. But after they explained it all, it’s actually all the same course, just start/finish in a different place and the order of the trails is a little different. I will need to re-think my drop bag items and placement, but still have plenty of time to get it all sorted out.

I’m also over half way to my fundraising goal for lupus. I’m so grateful to the many people who have donated. If your curious what that’s about, see my previous post. As always, thank you for reading. Happy running!

Why Zion 100?

You hear it often in the business world and the running world; “What’s your why?” You need a strong “why” because if you don’t, when it gets uncomfortable, when it gets hard, you may lose sight of your goals or quit your race.

My running Why has evolved over time. When I first started running it was to lose weight. What I didn’t realize as I was shedding pounds is that I also was shedding my depression. As I ran more and more, my whys became about race goals. 10K, Half Marathon, Marathon, Boston Qualifier. Then I found trail running. Running trails brought me closer to my creator. The beauty and purity connected me to God in another avenue.

After running trails I was introduced to Ultra Marathons. I never thought I would ever run farther than 26.2 miles, a marathon. I couldn’t believe people ran farther than that. But the more I ran trails, the longer I wanted to be out on them. My first 50K I just wanted to see if I could run that far. My second one was all about the location and the experience at Monument Valley . It was so incredible, beautiful, humbling, and hard. But so worth it. After that is when I got sick.

Sunrise at Monument Valley

The next 50K I ran was Cedro Peak. It was just over a year since MV and I was just so grateful to be running again. I wasn’t sure if I would ever be able to run far again. It was such a blessing. I was much slower. But after a few miles of feeling sorry for myself that I had this stupid disease, I realized I could still be stuck in bed. That run turned into a song of thanksgiving and praise to God that I was running at all.

Cedro Peak over my right shoulder

50 miles, could I?? I had a lot of self doubt in training. My why was to see what I was made of. I wanted to come to the end of myself. I was tired of the pain without rhyme or reason. This was a pain I could control. I could run until I decided if I wanted to stop or not. I was chasing cutoffs but I didn’t want to stop. I knew I had it in me. Thanks to my husband and son who took turns pacing me, I was able to finish strong.

Palo Duro Trail Run 50 miles

50 Miles at Antelope Canyon. Recap Why?? Location, location, location. Have you seen my pictures? They don’t do it justice. Plus I liked the training. I liked the distance. Plus my friends were doing it. So “Why not?”

Why 100 miles at Zion?

First off, I don’t know how much longer I have to run crazy long distance. I really want to at least try for 100 miles. Plus, you get a really cool buckle!! Not familiar with the belt buckle hundred milers get? Here’s an Explanation .

All the other reasons I have had for my other ultras are good. But not good enough to carry me through this kind of distance. If I make this race only about me, well, that’s not a good enough why. Because at mile 70, just before another mile long steep hill, I might say enough. I don’t want to lose sight of my goal – to finish the race set out before me. That’s not to say finish at all costs. If I am risking injury, I will stop. I’m not going to be stupid. However, I know that at some point my mind will want me to stop. My legs will hurt. My feet will hurt. I will be tired. I will think this is dumb. I will think about giving up. I need a good reason to continue, up steep hills, in the dark, through the night. And it’s got to be about more than a buckle and some yummy aid station food.

I am raising money for Lupus Foundation of America. These funds will go directly to help improve the quality of life of those with lupus. This is my why. Many others with lupus are in much worse shape than I am. The younger you are when you contract this disease the worse it attacks your body. I am fortunate that I was older. I am fortunate that I was already a runner and in good health. I am fortunate to have been diagnosed quickly compared to the countless others who’ve waited years for treatment. I have a voice that is able to bring attention to this disease through my running. I want to bring awareness and give help to my brothers and sisters who are fighting much harder than I am. This run is for all my fellow Lupus Warriors.

If you would like to donate it would mean so much to me. Thank you with all my heart. Click on the link below.

https://support.lupus.org/site/TR/MYM/TeamMakeYourMark?px=2522831&pg=personal&fr_id=1641

Hard stuff

I have been thinking a lot over the last few months about many things – pain, suffering, comfort, The Abundant Life, God’s will, his sovereignty, my faith, my prayer life, and more.

My mom, my best friend, faithful daughter of the King, went to heaven July 12. It was unexpected, and so very, very sad. But I saw it, and still do see it as a gift from God. Her suffering ended. She had been in chronic pain for many years, I could hear it in her voice when I spoke to her. Yet she rarely complained to me. Her lifestyle was slowly stripped away as she lost ability to do many of the things she used to do and enjoy. But she continued to pray, read the Bible, have many spirited conversations with Dad and I. We would pray for her pain to ease, but it never did. I suppose that is life – as you age and your body deteriorates, and then it ends. God finally called her home the way we all wish it could happen, at home and in her sleep.

My body has been deteriorating as well. Lupus has been progressing, slowly, for which I am grateful. I still have really great days, weeks, months even, and then I don’t. Sometimes it is a short setback, sometimes it’s a major flare that won’t stop. So my rheumatologist decided it was time to take an immunosuppressant, as lupus flares means your immune system is super overactive. I felt great for 2.5 weeks! I could feel myself improving and feeling like myself again! And then… Why did there have to be an and then?

I got shingles. I didn’t know what was happening at first so I went through pretty awful pain for 6 days until it became so excruciating I couldn’t really walk. I finally was seen at urgent care and then got the antivirals. Let me tell you, this pain was like nothing I had ever experienced. It was constant and then it would shoot in my leg and back and I was in such agony. I am on the 3rd day since taking the medication and it has eased up somewhat.

This severe pain had me thinking all kinds of things. First, I cried out to God to remove it. Then I cried for him to at least relieve it even slightly. This pain was relentless. Day, night, sitting, laying down, no relief. How do people live like this? Every day? I thought of my mom, I thought of a woman I follow on Instagram who has chronic pain and is mostly bed ridden. These two women have been examples of how to still praise God even in their pain. I thought of Job, and all he suffered, I thought of the apostle Paul, and all he endured. I knew I needed to turn my mind towards finding something to be thankful for.

I have a wonderful family and friends that have prayed with me, brought me meals, walked my dogs. There are small things.

But the pain is all encompassing. I can’t make it stop. I can’t even cry because for some reason that made the pain intensify. I begged God again. I said, my God, why?

Then I had the picture of Jesus on the cross. His agony was so much worse. And he cried out, “My God, my God! Why have you forsaken me?!”

Pain, suffering, comfort, God’s will, praying. How does it all fit in to the life of a Christ follower?

One part of me said, pray harder, have more faith, believe it and God will make it happen! God help my unbelief. Okay, what did I do wrong, I followed the formula but God didn’t answer my prayer how I wanted. Here’s the deal – what am I going to do about it, if he doesn’t answer prayers the way I pray them. Is He enough? Even if this is what he chooses for me? I need to not only be okay with the body and all its diseases, but to have joy and be thankful. That is hard stuff!! You must truly believe God is who he says he is or you’re going to eventually walk away from faith. He doesn’t always give us the life we envisioned for ourselves. If we are going to thrive and have the abundant life, then we need to praise God, no matter what.

Always be joyful . Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” 1 Thes 5:16-18

It is so hard not to complain, to compare, and to become bitter. But that improves my life Zero percent. In fact I think those things make my life worse. My church when we lived in Albuquerque had a phrase, ‘Preach the Gospel to Yourself’ often, over and over, anytime you need to. We are frail humans. We forget God’s word. Stay in it, surround yourself with people who will hold you accountable.

“Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate each other to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near. Hebrews 10:23-25

It’s Permanent

May is Lupus Awareness Month AND Mental Health Awareness Month. These two things effect me greatly. I thought I would share a little more of my story through my tattoo.

I had been contemplating getting a tattoo that would represent me in a special way; one that would remind me who I am and how far I have come. I thought long and drew some ideas out. And then I finalized my drawing. The next step was to decide where should I get this tattoo? I knew I wanted it visible to myself. I wanted to see it to remember. But did I want it visible for everyone? Am I ready to talk about it? Do I want to explain it and open up to vulnerability? I kept that drawing for over a year. My son gave me the gift of this tattoo for Christmas this year, so I had no excuse not to do it.

There are three components to my butterfly tattoo. The butterfly is one of the symbols for lupus, which often causes a malar or ‘butterfly’ rash across the face on cheeks and bridge of the nose. Lupus affects my everyday life and there is not a cure. It is sometimes called an invisible illness, because ‘you don’t look sick.’ I want to bring awareness to lupus. The Lupus Foundation of America estimates 1.5 million Americans and at least 5 million people worldwide have a form of lupus.

The semicolon makes up the butterfly’s body. Amy Bleuel, founder of Project Semicolon, shares the meaning of the semicolon. 

“It represents continuance. Authors usually use the semicolon when they choose not to end the sentence. You are the author and the sentence is your life, and you’re choosing to continue.”

I have depression and have contemplated suicide multiple times. Yet I continue, I chose not to end the sentence. I got help, and I continue to seek help at times when I can’t fight it on my own anymore. My story is here, if you would like to read more.

Chronic Illness and Mental Illness overlap in many ways. We don’t always feel free to share our struggles. We are afraid of being judged or thought less of. But we need to share. We need to speak out. Others are struggling and feel alone in their feelings and isolated from others. We need to bravely share our stories to encourage those struggling and to inform and educate the other people in our lives.

There is no shame in admitting you are not well, be it physically or mentally. Mental illness is a medical condition. Treatment is available. Please reach out to someone if you feel helpless. Suicide is not your only option.

So I said there were three components to the tattoo. The last thing is really the first thing.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come! 2 Corinthians 5:17

When I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior, I became a new creation. Like a caterpillar becoming a butterfly, the old has gone, the new is here. When you belong to Christ, you become a new person, you begin a new life with Christ. You are a child of God!

Of course this does not mean my life is easy or I am always happy. But I have a solid hope to build my life on.

Continue reading “It’s Permanent”

Guilt, Pain, and Spoons

I haven’t written in a long time. I haven’t run in a long time either. I feel like I haven’t done much except exist in a long time. I have been wanting to express my thoughts for some time now, but I haven’t been able to formulate sentences beyond what is necessary  until recently. So you might guess that I was feeling bad, but am now feeling better. Somewhat. But that is too simple. Here’s the thing – there are thousands of people that are like me – functioning, but not fully functioning. People with Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Fibromyalgia, Hashimoto’s, Sjogrens, etc, etc, etc. Some people have a diagnosis. And so many more people do not. They have no idea why they are “not up to par” as I would say about myself.

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I want to talk about guilt.

I love my job. It suits me well. But, when my body is flaring on the days I work, that’s where all my energy went. I have nothing left to give the people I love the most, the people I care about the most. That makes me feel guilty. Especially knowing who might read this. My kids are growing up so fast and will be out of the house within a couple of years. I feel like they have not gotten the best of me, I hate this. My husband gets the least of me. How will this impact our marriage down the road? Friends? I just trust that the good ones will still be there.

People with autoimmune disease sometimes throw around the term ‘Spoonies’ because of the Spoon Theory that Christine Miserandio came up with to explain what it’s like to live with Lupus. Each task one must do each day takes a spoon. A healthy person has an unlimited supply of spoons, while one with a disease only has so many. We have to think carefully about what task we must do each day before we ‘run out of spoons.’ This includes getting out of bed, taking a shower, any housework, writing a blog post, going to work, getting gas, going to the grocery store, going to church, etc. My husband doesn’t understand why I don’t take a shower everyday. He asked sincerely, doesn’t it make you feel better? The answer is no, it takes so much energy to get in and hold up my arms to wash my hair. I am more tired after a shower. Every little task is something that can be overwhelming to me.

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I want to talk about pain medication.

Not everyone on pain meds is an abuser or faking it. Here’s the thing about pain medication. It masks it. It doesn’t take it away. Any pain medication strong enough to take away the pain, also takes away the ability to think clearly. So most of the time my pain is a 3/4 on the pain scale. When it goes to 5, 6 or 7, I take something that brings it down to a 3/4. Any more than that, I may as well sleep. And what good does that do when you want to be a functioning member of society? Massage helps. But it doesn’t last. And insurance (at least mine) doesn’t cover it anyway. CBD oil was like taking a whole bunch of money and flushing it down the toilet. Tequila is nice for an hour, then I just feel sick. So I live with chronic pain. Running helps. Eating right helps. Massage helps. But each of those things takes a spoon. I only have so many. I have to choose between what would be really good for me and the stuff that has to get done. That is why I don’t always shower or stretch and do exercises because I have to do laundry because there is nothing left to wear, and go shopping because there isn’t food in the house, or go to work, because it’s time to go to work.

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I don’t want this to be a whiny post. I want it to be for people who can say, yes, that’s me. I am not alone. And for others to say, oh, I didn’t know.

I get it, I don’t look sick. I do a lot. I run many many miles and it helps me to feel better and in more control. I smile at work and shake hands with people and help them to help themselves. I coach others to find the joy in running and make it a lifestyle because it is SO SO good for people mentally as well as physically. I do all these things and I have a genuine smile, somewhere, deep down.

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I just want people to know there are many many people that are having a tough go of it. Be nice. Be kind. Be understanding. Be gracious. Be helpful. Be generous. Be loving. Be forgiving. Be patient.

 

 

Faith Over Fear

Why would anyone run that far?

I don’t even like driving that far!

Aren’t you worried you’ll ruin your knees?

No, other people aren’t saying this to me, I am thinking it myself. I am in the middle of training for my first 50 mile trail race. It is daunting at best and absolutely terrifying at worst.

I am extremely fortunate that all medication is working fairly well; lupus and Hashimoto’s are well managed except for the sun sensitivity that I now experience. I am in a very healthy place for me right now and am so grateful that I even get to train at all. No, it’s not what I used to be able to do, and it is so much harder than it used to be. I let fear and doubt take over because I overlooked how far I have come since my diagnosis. My training runs had been miserable, mostly because of my bad attitude. ‘Why try this at all? I probably will DNF anyway, imagining that I won’t make the time cutoff.’ and other negative self talk polluted my thoughts.

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Feeling defeated.

My family took a little weekend away to the Taos Ski Valley and hiked up Wheeler Peak. That was not only a perspective and altitude change, but a mental change as well. No running. Just hiking with the family, climbing about 3000 feet in elevation to the peak at 13,160′ and enjoying the views! It was physically so hard because of the elevation and steep grade, but when we all reached the top, it was such a relief and sense of accomplishment. I thought, if we can do this, I can do the 50 mile race.

My latest 16 mile run was done on the trails on the day after a 10 mile run which was on the day after a 13 mile run. Tired legs. Good gage of how the race might go. I felt better than I have felt in a long time. My pace was slow, but hey, it is what it is. (I need to let that go.) I kept a good attitude and knew I could continue on. This run gave me some confidence back. I can’t help but think that when God prompted a person to scratch something in the dirt, He knew I was going to see it and I know it was a reminder for me.

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Amen.

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1

I need to keep the faith. Trust my training. This goes not only for my race plan but my life plan. I need to remember that whatever I am facing, faith is stronger than fear. Faith will overcome fear! Fear can paralyze you, faith can set you free. By trusting in Jesus I can rest assured that no matter what, He’s got me. So I can rise up to challenges with a strength and resolve from above. And if I do end up with a DNF, it won’t be because of fear.

 

 

The Wolf and the Butterfly

May is Lupus Awareness Month. I was diagnosised on August 1, 2017 with Lupus. It was a very long road and so many tests to finally get an answer to what was wrong with me that it was a welcome answer; someone confirmed that indeed, something was very wrong with me and it wasn’t all in my head and I wasn’t just lazy.

Lupus is Latin for Wolf. The first mention of lupus in history dates back to the 13th century physician Rogerius describing a rash on a face as similar to a wolf bite. Lupus can be contained to the skin in rashes and lesions, called Discoid Lupus. Lupus also is often manafested with a “Butterfly” or Malar Rash across the cheeks and bridge of the nose, thus associated with a butterfly. By 1904 Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) was firmly established. SLE is a chronic autoimmune disease that attacks different parts of the body. It is unpredictable and misunderstood, often called “the great immitator.” No two cases of lupus are alike. Common symptoms include joint pain, skin rashes, debilitating fatigue, brain fog, low fevers and inflamation. Most people with lupus don’t look sick. Lupus can affect any organ or tissue, from skin, to joints, to heart or kidneys. Because the cause is unknown and there is no single blood test to diagnose more than half of the people with lupus have suffered at least four years and saw three or more doctors. There is no cure.

I have had Hashimoto’s Thyroidistis since 2009 (though I suspect I have had it much longer). This autoimmune disease attacks the thyroid. The symptoms include major fatigue, hair loss, and weight gain. Keeping my thyroid monitored and adjusting thyroid medicine as needed became part of my life. For a few years it was well controlled and I lived a very normal active life. Suddenly, in 2013, the fatigue came back with a vengance. I had extra thyroid tests done, including ultrasound on my thyroid. There were a few small nodules, but nothing significant. My labs showed my medication was the correct dose, yet I was not well. After insisting on being tested for Mono, that test came back positve for reactivated Epstein-Barr Virus. My doctor was surprised but she gave me a prescription for an anti-viral medication and sublingual B12 to see if it made any difference. It did not. She said I would have to wait it out. At this point I had started running as a stress reducer and to try to lose some weight. It was very slow going, but it was helping. I guess the EBV went away or became dormant and I was feeling much better again. I started training for a 10K, then a half marathon, and finally a marathon. I even got a BQ on my second marathon! I was doing great.

We moved to Amarillo, TX in December, 2015 and I ran my first trail half marathon in Palo Duro Canyon in May, 2016. I was smitten by trail running. I ran the Palo Duro Trail Run 50K in October, placing 3rd female overall. I quickly looked for my next 50K and chose Monument Valley 50K in March 2017. It was everything I could have wanted in a trail run (except maybe for all that sand…) I felt overly tired after this race, but attributed it to needing more recovery after my race. I also had a strange rash on my face. After a month of overwelming fatigue I knew it was time to head back to the doctor. I can’t explain this fatigue – I was sleeping well, and long hours, yet I required a nap every day. I had a very hard time focusing on anything! let alone work or the kids or my poor husband. My PCP had labs done and sent me for a sleep study. All of that was normal. I saw my endocrinologist to check on my thyroid. He did all the tests plus another ultrasound and everything looked normal. When everything comes back “normal” but you don’t feel normal, you wonder if it really is all in your head. When I initially saw him, I had a positive ANA in my lab work which indicated another autoimmune disease so he referred me to a rheumatologist. August 1, 2017 I met my current doctor, and though he gave me some bad news, I wanted to give him a hug! I started on the standard treatment, Plaquinel, which is an anti-malarial drug. When I went back in for a check up 4 months later, I was a changed person. My hands didn’t hurt anymore, I could squeeze out a sponge and wash dishes without any trouble, I could think clearer, I didn’t need a nap every single day, and I could run. Running has been such a huge part of my treatment for depression. I walk a fine line between running enough to stave off depression, but not too much as to stress my body and throw myself into a lupus flare.

Not quite a year of treatment, I have come back to running. I was able to run my 3rd 50K last month and though it was much slower than my first, I thoroughly enjoyed it and was so grateful to be running again! I still have pain but most of the time it is managable. The fatigue is still my worst symptom, and try to rest or sleep when I can.

The hardest part of lupus to me is the guilt. There are so many things I need to do or would like to do but I chose rest more often than not. Most of my decisions are based on staying home and low key whenever possible. Except for running. If I can go for a 10 mile run, why can’t I do the laundry? go to the grocery store? work full time? meet a friend? I feel selfish. My excuse – I need to run for my sanity. And honestly, the more I run (to a point), the better I feel. The slow repetative movement of running releases those wonderful endorphins, which actually do reduce the perception of pain, as well as making me feel better mentally. After a run, I do have more energy for a few hours at work or a couple of errands. But that’s it. I am depleted rapidly. I hate that my mind wants to go and do but my body says no.

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I don’t know why I have these diseases. I am human and I do despair sometimes. I feel sorry for myself. I cry in frustration and pain and fatigue. But I do know I can trust God and all of his promises are true. He never promised a pain free, illness free, trouble free life. God gave us Jesus. And with Jesus I can have it all! He came that I might have life, the abundant life as John 10:10 says. I keep going back to my faith, because with it, I have hope.

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.  Romans 5:3-5

My struggles can bring me joy if I allow them to point me to God and to become more like Jesus, “who for the joy set before him, endured the cross.” (Hebrews 12:2) I relate my spiritual walk with my running life. I want to develop endurance – for it helps me to push beyond what I thought possible, in miles and in this illness. I want to develop character – maturity and strength of character, so that I am not bitter or lead a life of complaining. I need hope! Hope gives me confidence that I can finish the race and hope in the future because it will not disappoint.

For Lupus Awareness Month, Tonia Smith has made a video she gave me permission to share here:

 

I’m also linking the lyrics by Lecrae, because they really address my thoughts! Read them here.

Cedro Peak Ultra Recap

In January 2018, my plan was to run Cedro Peak 50K on April 21. My health was somewhat stable and I really wanted to get on with running and goal setting! I had a year of dealing with, treating and understanding the diagnosis of Lupus last April. I also had the emergency trip in October to Pennsylvania to be with my parents when mom had complications from heart surgery. And then I got sick, very sick in November. End already, 2017! I made my training plan, stuck it on the fridge and started January 1. A month into my training, I was feeling stronger than I had felt in a year. It was so nice to be without debilitating fatigue and pain, to think clearly and sleep well.

We had some unexpected bad news (isn’t all bad news unexpected?) mid February. It really threw our family into crisis mode and we prayed like we had never prayed before. My faith was tested. I had to decide to trust God or not. I wavered between peace that He gave me and anxiety that I gave myself. Trusting God in the unknown is what I profess, could I do it when the stakes were high? I did my best to stick to my training plan but there were days I just couldn’t run. Mentally, my mind was so overcome with sadness and fear; physically, my body was attacking itself and my pain was high. After a month we felt like we could relax a little with our situation, though it is not over. God has been so good to my family during this time. We have been so blessed by friends and family praying for us and He has grown all of our faith.

My training was sub-par for this race with only one 20 mile training run and very few back to back runs. I only averaged about 30 miles a week for all of March. I was determined to still run Cedro Peak and just give it my best.

Derreck and I drove to Tijeras on Friday, picked up my race packet, and spent the night at a friend’s house only a few miles from the start. Imagine my surprise when we woke up to snow! A quick look at the weather and I made the correct decision to wear capris instead of the skirt I had planned to wear. I knew the start would be cold, but I had anticipated it to warm up quickly. It did not!

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There were about 100 people running the 50K and about 40 marathoners that started together at 7am. It was very quiet and surreal running through the blanket of snow that covered everything. I settled into my pace and passed the first aid station about a mile in, which we would see again in about 4.5 miles on this loop. The terrain is very different from where I live so the rocks and tree roots were something I had to quickly adapt to. I checked into the aid station, grabed a slice of apple and went on my way.

The next section was very runnable and so much fun. Somewhere around 7 miles in I found myself alone and a little panic set in that I had taken a wrong turn. The course was well marked and I kept seeing the flags, but runner’s brain doesn’t always function well. I soon came to the Juan Tomas aid station. I was feeling a little winded, but very good overall. I had a little Coke and an orange slice and kept going. The next aid station I would see Derreck. That stretch seemed to take a very long time as we were slowly climbing in elevation. I slowed significantly. I finally reached Derreck, grabbed some of my banana bread and some more salt tablets. This started the BIG climb to Cedro Peak. I walked this section and got a kiss from one of the Search and Rescue dogs at the top. The views were gorgeous.

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We ran down the big hill we just climbed and the marathon separated from the 50K here. I did not study the course map much because I knew it wouldn’t matter or make much sense to me and planned to just run what I could. I completely underestimated how much the elevation would affect me. After mile 18, we climbed steadily until mile 23 topping out around 7700 feet. I pretty much walked all of miles 20-22, most of 23 and 24. I really wanted to run. My legs felt great but I could not catch my breath. Living and training at 3300 feet in elevation is not the same as over 7000 feet!

I never thought about quitting and knew I would finish so I just took in the beauty and took plenty of pictures and ate my gels and banana bread. I also drank ginger ale, ate some chips and ate a very delicious chocolate caramel sea salt truffle at the aid stations. Finally I reached the spot that I knew I would start decending down and looked forward to running again. I had my fastest mile split at mile 28 in a 9:21 and felt great about that. I ran as much as I could the rest of the race but ended up walking many of the hills because I was just plain tired by then. Knowing that 50K’s never quite match up to 31.07 miles I wondered how much farther it would be after my Garmin ticked past that point. When I hit Ponderosa aid station the last time, they said one mile left, which for me ended up being 32.47 miles. I ran what I felt like was fast for that last mile and finished 50K #3 in 7:11:52! They told me I got 3rd in my age group and I got a cool coin for 3rd place! It was a beautiful day and a wonderful race with excellent volunteers and aid stations. I would recommend this race to anyone, but I won’t be doing it again unless I can make some trips to Albuquerque for training at elevation. I feel really good about this accomplishment and am excited to start my new training plan for Palo Duro Trail Run 50 miler in October!

 

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Fun stats: Results posted on Ultra Signup show I was 56th out of 92 finishers, 12th out of 29 females and actually 2nd in my age group! Overall winner was Rob Krar in 4:07:17!

Moving Past Betrayal

via Daily Prompt: Betrayed

My body betrays me.

Hashimoto’s Disease, Lupus, Sjogren’s Syndrome and Celiac Disease.

Autoimmune diseases cause an abnormal immune response in which your immune system attacks healthy cells. Once you have one you are more likely to have a second, third, fourth diagnosis; your odds increase exponentially. Sounds lovely, doesn’t it?

There are no known cures for autoimmune diseases, which number over 80 individual types. No single test can diagnose autoimmune disease. Often their symptoms overlap. Getting a diagnosis can take years. Years of knowing something isn’t right. Years of debilitating fatigue. Years of symptoms that don’t seem related, but are. Years of strange rashes, achy joints, brain fog, hairloss, and the fatigue, the horrendous fatigue. Years of watching your abilities deteriorate without cause. Years of well meaning friends suggesting this or that because it worked for so and so. Years of money wasted on so-called miracle cures, special diets, supplements, etc. Years finding a doctor who will listen and take everything into account instead of just relying on blood tests.

Once you have your diagnosis, prescriptions, and special diets you wait and wait some more to see if any of it is helping. If it isn’t, you have more blood work and try something else. And on and on. Even when you find a combination of treatments that are working well, there will be times when it doesn’t, which is known as a Flare. (The other F word.) You must be vigilant in staying away from sick people and keeping your stress low. (HA HA!) You keep a smile on your face even when you are in pain, you show up for work when you want to be sleeping, you try to be a functional member of society until you can’t.

As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? My tears have been my food day and night, while men say to me all day long, “Where is your God?” These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go to the house of God under the protection of the Mighty One with shouts of joy and praise among the festive throng. Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you. Psalm 42:1-6

Without my faith in God, I would be hopeless. He may not deliver me out of the betrayal of my body, but he walks by my side every day. When I am weak, He is strong. I can persevere because He is my strength. Yes, I complain. Yes, I am afraid. Yes, I get frustrated. Yes, I feel sorry for myself. Yes, I get depressed. But there are directions in the Bible – Put your hope in God. Remember God.

Ultimately, I do have hope. I know there will be better days ahead. I know there will be worse days also, but with God by my side, I truly can have hope. He has helped me to have more compassion for others that I did not have before. He has helped open my eyes to the small gifts of creation that I otherwise overlooked. He has brought me comfort through my church family and my friends. It may be hard to feel sometimes, but God is with me. I know I can rest in Him. I know I will be healed completely one day. What a glorious day that will be.

Put your hope in God.

 

 

Learning to Rest

Day 8 of no running. I seem to have caught a cold. It’s not the flu, but it’s got me down and out. My mind is craving the run. It needs that space, fresh air, and clarity. My body needs the rhythm of the run, my heart wants to beat a little faster, my lungs want to breathe a little deeper.

In my beginning running days I would have fretted about messing up my training plans. I would have worried about not getting enough miles in. And I would have run by now. And then I would be sicker. Of course I know this from personal experience. Now, I’m older and hopefully wiser, without rest, not only will this cold last longer or develop into something worse, I’m probably going to have a Lupus flare. This is the sucky part of autoimmune disease. You don’t recover quickly from colds. All the things that shortened my colds before like echinacea or Zinc, etc now overstimulate my immune system more than it already is. Apparently it’s confused and attacks perfectly good cells and organs. Don’t forget that Hashimoto’s Disease loves to attack my thyroid as well!

I have two choices, be bitter or be thankful. I choose to be thankful. Yes, I do complain at times, but it doesn’t change anything except it adds stress. So I am thankful for the bit of good in every day. It’s there, when you look. I’m thankful for my husband, who is patient and kind. I’m thankful for my kids that pick up my slack. I’m thankful for my dogs that snuggle with me. I’m thankful for my God, my Savior, my comforter, my counselor, my Abba Father.

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed in us. Romans 8:18

I can’t wait to get out and run again! Just to run! In the meantime I’ll be resting as much as possible and trying not to be jealous of all my running friends!!