Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Reluctantly Returning to Blogging

Forgive me blog world, for I have sinned. It has been over 2 years since my last......

Wait.....I am not Catholic! Why am I confessing?

I reckon I do owe my old "followers" (and myself) an apology for up and disappearing. Some of you may remember a time, long long ago, when I used to blog. Scratch that, a time when I was obsessed with blogging. Especially blogging about my adventures in running/triathlon at "My Reason to Tri". But one day, I lost the will to write (as some of you breathed a sigh a relief!). I became burnt out on product reviews, obtaining and keeping sponsorships/ambassadorships, boosting site hits, branding, blah, blah, blah. One day I just dropped it like it was hot. Even went so far as to let my paid (see, I was obsessed) domain address expire, and eventually deactivated the original feed. However, I couldn't quite bear to delete the whole damned's all still archived in case I ever forget I was once an "athlete".

Blogging became a moot point anyway, I was just faking it because I was also burnt out on training. My knee wouldn't give up the fight, and continued to plague me with pain. One day, in the middle of a 4 mile trail run at Lake James, I stopped dead in my tracks, and said to myself "this is stupid!" I quit running, riding, swimming....everything....right then and there. I turned my back, and did not return for over a year.

So why the renewed interest in writing and documenting my (muddling through) "training"?
#1. I must be bored. I am on winter break from grad school and I feel some sort of strange compulsion to write. I should be welcoming the respite from being under the gun to pound out 30 page papers.....not finding something new to write about!
#2. I actually have something to write about again. I've taken up a new "hobby", a whole new beast called ultraaaaaa running. And by "hobby", I mean an all consuming, time suck.

What is ultra running you may be asking yourself? Is it some mystical version of running that is a better than average running? No, not at all, quite possibly the opposite. Ultra running is the act of running an ultra marathon.  And an ultra marathon is an ultra crazy distance over 26.2 miles. Standard ultra marathons are formatted as 50 kilometers (31 miles), 50 miles, 100 kilometers (62 miles), 100 miles....and beyonnnnnd. Although, technically, an ultra marathon can mean just one step beyond the 26.2 mile mark. But that's a whole other subject, often a sore one amongst ultra geeks.

So, how did I get turned on to this ludicrous sport when my last measurable run lead to my early running retirement? I befriended one of these mythical ultra runner creatures in late 2012. I had never actually known anyone who was dumb brave enough run an ultra, and was simply in awe of them. How was it possible to run that far and survive? I remember asking, "how does it feel to run an ultra?" The reply was "death, it feels like death!" So, the only logical thought I had was "I MUST TRY THIS thing called ultraaaa marathoning!!!!" Of course, it felt ridiculous to even utter those words aloud, so I kept the dream of one day running an ultra to myself for a few more months.

January and February were touch and go months. Three road miles was a death march. I felt like a turtle running through peanut butter. My first trail run back was torture, I barely made it a mile! How would I ever complete an ultra? I shelved the idea for a while, filed it back into my subconscious and just concentrated on building up a "solid" base....which, at the time, a solid base was just 15 miles per week, and a long run was 5 miles. I had a lot of work to do!

Slowly but surely, my mileage improved. I was running 20 miles a week. My long runs were hovering around 8 miles. And I was getting close to breaking the elusive 100 mile/month barrier that I was never able to reach.....even in the height of triathlon training! Then SNAP! I made a tragic misstep just one mile into a run at Poston. Of course, I never went to the doctor (nurse + runner = bad patient!) but I self diagnosed the injury as a high grade two/low grade three, inversion ankle sprain.

Side note (and shameless plug)....I think Poston secretly hates me for allowing 100 runners to trample her trails last year. I host a 5k/10 mile trail race called Race for RARE. She has punished me, with bumps, scrapes, bruises, near misses, a nasty sprain, and one chipped tooth. I'm sorry Poston, but can we play nice now? The race is on again for March 22nd this deal with it Poston!
I digress.....

True to my stubborn nature, I got back out on the trails way too soon.  I've probably done some minor, although long term/permanent damage. Seven months later, and I still have pain (although I dare not admit it....shit, I just did!). But somehow, despite the injury and pain, just one month after the incident, I hit my first ever 100 mile month. Dumb!

For those who don't know my background, my longest race (or run for that matter) was a half marathon....which actually wasn't quite a half marathon...but that's another story (I'm still slightly bitter about that.) I also dabbled in sprint distance triathlons. So my path to ultra marathoning was not exactly conventional....skip over marathon, directly to ultra marathon, completely logical! But apparently this is common in the ultra world....weridos!

I'll spare you the (even more) boring details of my training that lead up to my first ever ultra distance race.....One Epic Run. Instead, I will dazzle you with a pictorial cliff notes version of June thru November 2013:

Trail friend at Poston, or Bunkacabra spawn?

Dammit! Left ankle assessment after sprain. Not so bad?

15 minutes later. Uhhhh, maybe it's kinda bad?
One hour later. Alright, it is bad!

Post sprain treatment. Although I did not adhere to the "rest" portion of the rehab process, I did ice and compress the hell out of it for many weeks to follow!

Just a few weeks post ankle sprain, I decided it was a good idea to run climb up and down every single f*@%ing step at Bank of America Stadium. Go Panthers!

See, I really did do that nonsense!!!!
Muddy legs, courtesy of Poston

More muddy legs at Poston fallen tree. Fallen forehead. Yet another Poston attack, resulting in a chipped tooth. I decided to take a hiatus from Poston after that incident.

Crawling over logs on the (pretty primitive) 16 mile loop at KM Battleground

Creek crossing on that same primitive loop
First ever 20 miler at USNWC

Trail friend at USNWC

My sentiments exactly regarding this run at Boulders

Swamp ass at Boulders

Crappy 6 miler at USNWC

I swore this was a (small) bear print at Kings Mtn. You see it, don't you? Ok, whatever, I'm an idiot!

Second ever 20 miler. Thought for sure I was dying

Another crappy 6 the cold, cold rain. Trying to earn some street cred.

One of my favorite Boulders

Last long run before Epic at USNWC. Felt great, finally feeling confident.
Getting cold....time for tights.

Last trail run before Epic. Fitting that this was at Lake James, the site where I lost my mojo over two years ago! Note the orange flower, I have deemed it my lucky charm and trademark.

So there ya have it it or not, I am (still reluctantly) re-entering the blog world. I am super self conscious about my writing abilities. Forgive the choppiness....I had to switch gears from creative/journalistic/bullshit writing to "scholarly" writing for grad school. I still have mental whiplash and writing for "fun" feels a little forced.

Next episode: How I survived One Epic Run. What I (vaguely) remember, what I might have hallucinated, and how pickles saved my life!


  1. Welcome back to the blogosphere Laura! I'm still here, not because I like it but I seem to have an underlying superstition that if I ever stop blogging, an end to my running career will follow shortly thereafter. Glad to see you're finding the ultras to be fun. Take care of the ankle!

  2. Looking forward to your thoughts on Epic, everyone experienced something different. Very cool to read about them all!

  3. Looks like running makes for a fine, adventurous thread in your tapestry :-) Can't wait to hear your take on EPIC, which has kicked me up into a new gear. I likely saw you there, passing me however many times :-)