Just to forewarn you, this is not your average race recap.
This past weekend I ran in the San Diego 100 Mile Endurance Run. This is my second 100 mile attempt, the first being at Javelina Jundred where I completed the 101.4 mile distance but did not make the time cutoff.
I knew going into San Diego that I am by far a more fit and trained runner than I was 7 months ago. Since Javelina I have raced in Ridgecrest 50k, Twin Peaks 50 Miler, American River 50 Miler, Miwok 100k, New Orleans Marathon, Los Angeles Marathon, and a handful of other 25ks or Xterra trail races. The time I have invested in racing and training has paid off in the confidence that I can physically handle these types of distances.
I went into Javelina back in October undertrained, but mentally I was tough. There was never a doubt in my mind that I was going to finish that distance.
San Diego was different. I went in knowing that I was physically able to take on this challenge, but my head and heart have not been in a clear place for many weeks now. I have been debating whether or not I am in fact self-medicating with running rather than living this pure and free lifestyle in which running is simply a forum of my own self-exploration. Running makes me happy. Running gets me high. Sometimes, instead of doing things that I need to do, or thinking about things I need to think about, or writing a song that’s in my heart, I hit the trails. I reflect, I relax, I reset, and I continue on.
Most times I think that running serves as a balance, but about 5 weeks ago I called myself out for the first time. I admitted to myself that running had become the only thing I wanted to do not only because of the way it opened me up, but the way it closed me off to everything else, and this was something I needed to address in order to save the artistic side of me.
I think that the result of all of this self-reflection will be a new balance of my life, my music, my friends, and my running. Running is a passion of mine, but I can’t let it be at the expense of all other passions. That position is reserved for music.
This past month has been a whirlwind. I sent out a letter to some of my most trusted music friends asking for help. I told them that I needed to be talked off of the figurative edge. My heart was broken because my need to create music and move forward had come to a halt and I was paralyzed with fear that I might actually give up, and this broke my heart. My dreams were endangered.
Immediately following my call for help, my life became immediately more interesting. Exactly 1 week later I was rehearsing with pop star Ke$ha as a background vocalist for her summer tour. I would find out a few days later that she would replace the spot I was auditioning for with a friend of hers, but it was a huge boost in my confidence as a musician and my hope that the universe is on my side. I just have to ask for what I want and not be shy when it’s presented to me.
Another area of my life that running has cleverly shielded me from is my love life. It has been a year of learning for me. Every time I am racing or training I am left alone with my thoughts, which some days are not very nice. But because it’s just me, for the very first time in my life I’ve been able to make complete space for who I am. I’m okay when I’m happy, I’m okay when I’m pissed off. There’s always another side to whatever I am feeling and the idea that I get to WATCH my own brain figure itself out is fascinating.
But running is time consuming. It’s hard to fall in love when you’re running 70-90 miles a week, unless of course, you run with hot guys (which I do… but none of then are candidates). So in the past month I took some time to re-explore what falling in love feels like, and also, what having your heart broken is like. One week ago tonight I cried myself to sleep, then woke up the next morning able to say, “hey, that was worth it.” Then I re-learned how to forgive and self-sooth. I’ve spent so much time by myself and high off of endorphins, I have been depriving myself of very real human emotions and interactions that are essential to my growth. Especially if I ever plan to come back down to planet earth off of the trails.
SAN DIEGO 100 MILER
“Show up. You don’t have to finish, but show up” is what what my coach, Jimmy Dean Freeman, said to me while I hiccuped giant sobs because my heart was broken and my world was over and I couldn’t possibly spend 100 miles alone with my own thoughts during a 100 mile race in just 3 days! But I did show up. Two of my three pacers had to back out at the last minute and my crew chief went MIA, but I pulled together a team of incredible people willing to do whatever it took to get me to the finish line of this 100 mile run and I showed up.
Nicole Latorre took the reins as crew chief. This was a very hard and not very rewarding job. I have to give Nicole a ton of credit here. She drove the car to and from the race while everyone else slept, she drove to all the aid station, dropped off and picked up pacers, kept everything organized, knew me well enough to know what I might need when I came through, but she didn’t get the same credit or taking care of that my pacers got. She is a complete rockstar.
But I digress – My friends Gabi and Daniel would end up pacing me through the night. I ran through the day and early evening comfortably and relatively happily. When night fell, so did my thoughts and my ability to comprehend most things. I had a couple of very minor hallucinations including a hiker that was actually not there and an aid station/cabin that was not real. Gabi and I were getting through a stretch during the night that would lead us up to mile 72. It was technical and neither of us were able to run it very well without stumbling and tripping. When we finally got to the mile 72 aid station, the first thing the volunteer said to me was “You have 9 minutes.” Meaning – I was only 9 minutes off the cutoff time for that aid station and I now had to hustle to get to the next aid station which was another 8 miles away. Going the distance in the time allowed should not have been a problem, but because the volunteer felt I was pressed for time, I believed it, and this is what triggered my completely coming apart.
Gabi led me out of the aid station and picked our pace up. I followed. All the while my thoughts went to, “How could I have worked so hard all day and all night only to be minutes from the cutoff?” and “This pace is barely comfortable now, how am I going to keep it up for hours?” and “Once I get to the next aid station I’m going to have to hurry again to the one after that! I can’t handle this anxiety for the rest of the run!” and then finally “I. Am. Done.”
I was done because I couldn’t wrap my mind around what I was doing. My head couldn’t get it together. This may have been due to me not consuming anything besides coke for the 6 hours prior, or because I absolutely HATE numbers while running, or because I was sleep deprived. Whatever the reasons were, I was unable to accept the rest of the race as a possibility. I was having a hard time balancing, I was crying, gagging, all still while running. When the sun came up and we still had not reached the aid station, I was reduced to a hike, broken hearted, knowing that I was about to pull myself from the race if the volunteers didn’t do it for me.
This broke my heart. I started thinking how I didn’t want to run races anymore, I didn’t want to compete in ultra marathons ever again, I even planned on staying under my covers for at least a week as soon as I got home from this disaster. When you’re alone with your thoughts for a long time, you learn about yourself. I was very disappointed to discover that I was just going to…. quit.
Whenever I hit a wall in a workout I actually get excited. A lot of people never explore what’s on the other side of that wall. My college boyfriend came out of the closet to me right when I graduated. I was so devastated that I was convinced I would cry myself to death. The next year I spent learning how to grieve, and then how to open my heart to someone else. When I heard that Ke$ha had decided to bring her friend on the road in stead, I was so frustrated that I had bothered to get a degree in music when it seemed all I had to do was rub elbows with famous people to get an in, but on the other side of that was an incredible learning experience and contacts with some new people who will eventually make a difference in my life. When I reached out to someone I loved a couple of weeks ago, I did it in spite of a heart full of fear and I did in deed get completely squashed, but I was able to prove to myself that yes, I do still care, yes, I am still me, I am complete with or without my love being returned and I rebounded quickly. Up to this low moment at the SD100, where there have been walls in my life, I have found a way to ignore them or blow them up.
I am the QUEEN of bouncing back. And fast.
So here I am, finally approaching the mile 80ish aid station, fully expecting to be pulled from the race, but in stead, I start running. I come through the aid station, my crew helps me out of my night clothes and into a fresh t-shirt and shorts, and I’m on my way with a new pacer, a cup of coffee and some cold fruit. Before I know it, my attitude has completely shifted. I’m laughing (I think) I’m having fun again, and I am worried slightly less about the time cutoff. I was going to finish this distance, whether I did it in the time cutoff or not.
And I did! I went from being only 9 minutes ahead of the time cutoff to finishing 1 hour and 48 minutes ahead of that time cutoff.
Sometimes things suck. Sometimes I wonder why I’m a musician, if I’ll ever feel complete, if I’ll ever reach a level of success that will comfort me in some way. Sometimes relationships hit a solid wall with nowhere up, down or through. But never have I ever said “this is what I want” and then later said “It’s not possible. You have to quit.” until this weekend. That was a heartbreak I’d never felt before and it was one I still managed to find the other side of.
And so there it is. Not your average race recap, but who really cares about elevation changes and course descriptions anyway? I mean, that’s what the race website is for
Enjoy the video blog!
The first 10 days of the new year have proved to be nothing but awesome, and I hope that this indicates what the rest of the year will hold. I’m beginning to see glimmers of light within my music career, getting more shows, beginning to get paid more frequently, and writing new material that I think will actually stick.
Last week I played at Hotel Cafe with Nina Storey and the rest of the band. This is the third time I’ve played this show with Nina. I’ve really enjoyed doing this with her because the band is basically the same folks each time around and they are all people I genuinely enjoy playing with and hanging out with.
I’ve started to notice the positive effects of training harder and higher mileage recently during my training runs and workouts. I’m planning some pretty fun races this year. This is what I have so far:
Feb: Twin Peaks 50 Miler
March: Malibu Creek 50k
April: America River 50 Miler
May: Miwok 100k
June: San Diego 100 Miler
August: Pikes Peak
October: Oil Creek 100??
Yesterday I ran in the Boney Mountain Half Xterra race and surprised myself with a 1st place age group finish. It was a really fun run and I had the benefit of previewing the course last weekend when I ran it with the Coyotes. There are some good climbs in that course which I really enjoyed. My downhill running has improved tremendously over the past few months as well. I used to be pretty tentative and slow in the downhills. Now, I’m sure if I fall I’ll go tumbling down the mountain, but I’m really enjoying the downhill running more and find I’m becoming more natural at handing more technical sections of trails.
I’ve also started running in the New Balance Trail 100′s (WT100) and I LOVE them. Especially coming from a heavier brand like Salomon, the 100′s feel incredible and light, but still possess some essential features of a trail shoe as far as grip and protection goes.
Yesterday was also the kickoff for my brother’s trail racing series, Forge Racing, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I’m so proud of him for putting this series together. It’s really great to see people come together and get the city of Baton Rouge spending more time outside and being active. Love it.
This week I head to Boston to visit some old haunts before flying to Denver for a few shows and the Parks and Recreation Showcase to try and book some shows through the summer and fall. If I’m lucky I’ll get some good altitude training in and try not to feel left out while my buddies get ready for Rocky Raccoon! It’s okay, many more races to come…