20 December 2014

Frozen Bonsai Half

Even though the race had frozen in its name, I still figured it might be fun to run. Hey, why not? A half in Central Park, easy peasy close, and I could run it super slow.

The night before I was up late at a friend's play in the Bronx, so I was on little sleep. The train got me there too quick, so I froze while waiting. I began pacing, which was better than standing still. I piled on layers. I ran into Karen, who told me she was still feeling ill effects of her late night, and ran into Stephanie, who ended up PRing.

I started out sub 8s for quite a while. I felt okay, was thinking of all I had to do. Then around mile 8, my feet started hurting. It was out of control painful, and I was involuntarily audibly moaning. Then Wayne biked up and I whined to him while he whined to me. He was supposed to bike with a bunch of people for six hours but everyone bailed and now his back was hurting so he headed home with 20 miles instead of 50 or 60 or more.

I finished, and limped to the train. My feet were killing me.

The medal was nice, the course was fun, the after spread great. Go NYC Runs, with another awesome race.

Staten Island Greenbelt 50k: Mud, Trails, Yes, in the City! (2014 Race Report)

I had fun last year at the Staten Island Greenbelt 50k, even if the course was muddy. I thought it would be a nice last ultra of the year, and decided to run it on the easy side. A bunch of friends were signing up, so why not?

The day before, my grandmother fell and hit her head. She ended up getting stitches, though she’s ultimately okay. My mother and I cleaned up all the blood (You bleed a lot from head wounds.), I made my grandma lunch, and hung out with her. I was so shaken up that I couldn’t eat for a while, despite being hungry. I knew this was probably a bad sign for tomorrow’s race, but nothing I could do.

I cried when I got back to Brooklyn, and wondered how  could possibly run the next day.

When we met JT at 645, it was lightly raining. Great. Karen, Cole, and I were running the 50k; JT was supposed to run the 25k but ended up DNSing because he felt sick. But he still drove us because he’s awesome like that. “I made a commitment,” he said.

I planned on running pretty easy, and spent much of the baby loop running with a Staten Island local, talking about the bakery business he used to own. It was somewhere in the 40s (maybe even 50s?) and raining lightly. Karen caught up to me and we began running together, chatting.

The course is easy but not so easy it’s boring. There are twists and turns and single track trail, but nothing technical. It was muddy and the mud got worse as the day went on. There were some hills.

There were four aid stations – the start/finish one, one I never seemed to stop at, one that only had water, and one with Cheez-Its. Obviously the last was my favourite.

As Karen and I neared the end of our second loop, it began raining hard. Luckily as we headed into the start/finish, it mostly abated, so we headed out like two idiots. It began pouring at many points, and was only a light rain at the best points. The trail grew slippery, we got tired and hungry, and thoughts of  Cheez-its flooded our mind. I tried to not think about my grandma, which often resulted in Karen hearing random stories about various races. Wooohooo.

We finished, and grabbed our finishers’ hoodies and ran inside. I baby wiped bathed in the bathroom and put on warm clothes before I felt human again.

And then I went home and ate a bunch of food. Life is good.

29 November 2014

Take Me to Church

I was in Brooklyn Banya with Menachem and friends. We were going back and forth between the wet and dry saunas, between the steam room, and the jacuzzi. We were resting in between sweat sessions, Menachem and everyone was sitting at table, dipping chunks of bread in hummus, in avocado dip. I was in the jacuzzi alone.

You could relax and stare into space, which I did. But there was also a television showing MTV. ("MTV still exists?" someone asked. Clearly we all watch our videos on YouTube.) I don't find television particularly relaxing, but I found myself drawn to this video. They were playing a song that I had heard before and liked, "Take Me to Church." I never knew much about the song or Hozier or anything. But the video drew me in. It horrified me and I couldn't stop watching.

I researched it. They made the video when all the homophobic laws were being passed in Russia. It gave me chills and I was almost crying. Here I was, in a Russian banya, unable to stop staring at the homophobia I was witnessing. In some ways, I grew up in a bubble being from New York - I have never seen things like this. My dad likes to say, "People are different outside New York." I know this kind of horrifying violence can happen in New York, but Russia. Matthew Shepard. So many other things.

I'm glad through my job I can do things like educate people about LGBT issues and sexism and diversity, and I think that's so valuable. But the fact that bullshit like this exists today around the world, where there are countries where same sex acts are punishable by death, where hate crimes go unpunished even in our own country - it's enough to make me cry.

At the banya, I watched the video. A lump in my throat. I got out of the jacuzzi, where I had been sitting alone, and sat back down with my friends. I was doing nothing, and that's not a good thing. We always need to speak up. I spoke up to the homophobic assholes in my high school who threatened me senior year after learning my prom date (aka my best friend) was gay. I've spoken up to many people over the years who think using the term "gay" as a substitute for the word "stupid" is okay. I've challenged people in other countries, got into arguments, and cursing fights.

We all need to speak up about these things. It's never okay, and we need to keep fighting until people can be who they are without others thinking it's okay to punish them for what they don't want them to be.

25 November 2014

To dance to, today

When the world is a mess of confusion of love and life and everything, put on a song you love and sing it and dance to it.

Today, that song is this....

17 November 2014

Hey, this is who I am, Runners' World!

After I finished the NYC Marathon in 2013, this photo was snapped. This is my story.

The week prior, I ran 24 Hours the Hard Way, which was the 24 Hours National Championships USATF. I was desperately trying to break 120 miles so I could get a shot at qualifying for the National Team that would go to World Championships. My coach gave me advice, but severe blisters ended up costing me about 45-60 minutes. Medical helped out, but I needed treatment a few times. The blisters were pretty brutal.

I needed 120 to qualify. i ran 115.6 miles. 

I was pretty devastated, but I ended up taking 2nd place for USATF women. I won a check for $750, a neat medal. I stumbled onto the plane after a shower and flew home to New York, feeling pretty destroyed.

Less than a week later, I ran the New York City Marathon.

I tried to run hard, but my legs reminded me, HELLO, you just ran 115.6 miles last week. I stopped to hug friends. I smiled. I absorbed the energy from the streets.

Coming into the finish, something hit me. Cherie, you ran 115.6 miles last week. You were second USATF woman, and who else here can do that, and do what you're doing now? 3:45 - not bad, especially after that effort. You ran your heart off last week, and again this week. 

And I burst into tears that last half mile...that is my story.

RW has my image on an inspirational quote (see above). I am more than just a quote. I am a running body of energy, tears, sweat, passion, and love.
Just after crossing the finish line

The original plan: I would run Croatan 24 Hour, then, a week later, Wayne and I would do Brooklyn Marathon together. Unfortunately, I had the flu, followed by a week of asthma troubles, prednisone, and reduced running for the past two weeks - and I ended up DNSing at Croatan. Also, Wayne's injury has kept him from running the entire year, and he decided not to run Brooklyn. Sad.

Oh well. I have to run Brooklyn anyway. It's put on by NYC Runs, which does an awesome job with its races. Plus, Steve is much cooler than Mary Wittenberg, and you don't feel like something is scraping the contents of your wallet and giving you hideous t-shirts.

The course is 2 bottom loops of the park, followed by 6 full loops. There are some rolling hills, nothing too terrible but at mile 22, you hate the whole world and it sucks.

The park was gorgeous - lots of nice autumnal leaves. The temperature was unfortunately coldish (high 30s at the start to high 40s at the finish) but it wasn't raining, so that was good. (Tomorrow: 100% chance of rain and 60. I'd rather have cold and dry!)

I knew I wasn't having a PR race, so I wore some extremely ridiculous pants (see photos!), my rainbow tutu, my BRC50k shirt, and some awesome new Runningskirts.com arm warmers (that really kept me pretty warm). Oh, and pink and black glove-mittens. I carried my inhaler the entire time, and only used it six times.

The race had a pretty chill start, and I ended up meeting some nice people (Lisa from CA and Cortney newly relocated to the West Village) and running sub 8s with them for the first six plus miles. I began to struggle on the hill with my asthma and slowed down a bit.
Menachem listened to me complain, and was an awesome pacer

Wayne showed up on the bike next to me! He tossed me Smarties, which I think are a terrible thing to eat. It got tougher as the race went on, for I lost manual dexterity, and the wrappers are a nightmare. (When my coworker Liz joined me, she marveled, "I've never seen anyone eat Smarties while running." Ha, me either. I do not recommend!)

Wayne and I ran chatting and then I ran into Liz! I was so excited and we ran together for maybe 7 miles. It was really nice to catch up with her outside of work, and the pace was still sub-8. Nice.

Beth joined us for a loop, and after I introduced them to each other, Beth said, "So you're an Elizabeth too." Oh, duh, they're both Elizabeths. Ha. We ran together, Beth talking about bars and beers, and the miles slowed down a bit, but not terribly.

Beth dropped off. Menachem hopped on the pain train. We ran up the hill, and then Liz left the park to head to yoga. Bye, Liz. Menachem watched me completely deteriorate, and he was a pretty great pacer. I was mumbling and blubbering and fighting with Smarties wrappers and I met my friend's super-cute bundled up baby, and it was fun, even if I was suffering.

The last lap I perked up. "You seem better," Menachem observed. Yes, because one lap left!!! I still hated the world, and I was freaking out, thinking I'd go over four hours. I really had wanted to, you know, PR or something, but after the past two weeks, asthma and the flu and today sucking with foot pain and asthma and queasiness, I wanted to at least break four hours.

A bit after I finished, no clue what I was doing.
And I did. 3:55:07. I finished and was delighted to be done. NYC Runs loves their runners, so I chowed down on a bagel and cream cheese (real bagels, not day old ones like NYRR provides to their runners), raspberries, grapes, hot cocoa. There were apples and donuts too. My hands were too cold so I couldn't really eat the raspberries and grapes, but tasty addition.

And after? Menachem mentioned vegan food at his house, but I was so cold. I headed home for a long hot shower and then ate a ton of food. The rest of the day was taking care of stuff around the house, a lot of it while sitting in my chair. Yay!

09 November 2014

DNS: A Very Sad Race Report for 2014 Croatan 24 Hour

Note: crucial to understanding this piece is that I have cough-variant asthma.

Friday, eight days prior to the race, I woke up with a cold. Miserable. Tea and lots of fluids, and I ended up feeling better. Still felt a little slow on Saturday and Sunday, and then BAM woke up on Monday feeling wretched. I got dressed in running clothes, and as I approached the door, realized I couldn't run. There was no way. I went back to bed in my running clothes, napping and reading until time to work. Then I worked for a few hours, and said I was going to take a half a sick day. I ended up napping, which is something I almost never do. I woke up and read some more, and then we ordered delivery because cooking was not happening. The rest of the night I read and took a bath while Wayne sawed and worked on electricity stuff.

The next day I decided to run to the polls to vote. Ha. 2 minutes later, I felt like utter crap and voted. I slogged it home, and showered and worked for two hours, then I had to stop to rest. I got up, worked and finished a request due that day, and then when I was done, I had nothing left. I sent my coworkers a brief message like, "Need to sleep now, so sick," and passed out for three hours. I woke up and it was dark and Wayne was coming in. Ooops.

Wednesday I made it through the workday by working at home, with some breaks. Wednesday night found me in a horrible asthma attack, and I passed out, scared after coughing like crazy. Thursday I felt less flu-like but not 100%, but I couldn't stop coughing. How on earth would I run a 24 hour this weekend? I kept coughing and as I headed to my early flight on Friday, Wayne said, "I don't think you should fly like that."

I coughed on the plane. I coughed in the rental car shuttle. I coughed in the drive to my sister's, and I coughed while I played with her kids. I warned her I might not finish  my race, but my plan was to do at least 50k, if not 50 miles, if I couldn't run through the night. As I drove to the hotel by the race start, I was coughing a ton. I could not get through a phone call - hell, I couldn't get through a sentence, without coughing. I had tears streaming down my face. I was scared.

I checked into the hotel, and it was more dismal than I remembered. (Mental note: next time I do Croatan 24, do NOT stay in the Best Western.) There was a beetle on my ceiling. I felt awful, but I quickly sorted my clothes and then showered. I couldn't stop coughing.

I went to bed. I woke up shortly after - maybe 10-20 minutes later, coughing. Coughing nonstop. Tears streamed down my face. I sat up, which sometimes help, but the coughing wouldn't stop. For hours, I couldn't stop coughing. I'd pass out, and wake up, coughing. It was hell. It was scary: I was in a dumpy hotel room with stains on the carpet and beetles on the ceiling, and I was coughing and couldn't catch my breath, and my inhaler wasn't working, and I was alone. When you have asthma, you often think about death when breathing seems impossible, and it's so scary.

I finally fell asleep after 3 a.m., and woke up at 5 a.m. There was no way I was doing the race. I had no appetite to eat, and my throat was too sore anyway from coughing all night. I packed up my car and headed to the race start. I greeted the RD, Brandon, who is one of the nicest people in the ultrarunning world. I immediately gave him the sad news, and he felt bad for me. By not doing Croatan, I wasn't just skipping a race I had prioritized over other races (not doing NYC Marathon, not doing Icarus 24 hour, not doing other races), I was missing out an awesome race. Brandon always has tons of amazing food (cake! lots of vegetarian options! veggie broth! grits! fruit punch! so many other things) and him and his awesome friend wife, Heather, do such a great job. I was sad I couldn't hang out with him.

He said if I felt better to come hang out with him, but that didn't end up happening. I got in the rental car, and sadly drove away. I imagined everyone else throughout the day the next 24 + hours, thinking how they were having fun, struggling in the night, greeting the morning...and wishing I was there.

Me? I headed to Urgent Care, where the doctor didn't fully seem to grasp the concept of cough variant asthma (I usually cough painfully instead of wheeze.), but she ended up at least giving me prednisone, which take at least 2 days for me to fully feel the impact. The next day, my cough is still persisting, but I slept much better through the night, only awakening a half dozen or so times to cough.

Instead of running, I spent my time resting at my awesome sister's, baking and eating with her, and playing with my super sweet niece and nephew. And coughing. I'm still good at that.

Let's hope I'm ready for Brooklyn Marathon next weekend...

02 November 2014

Too many 100s, 24s. I'll focus on 50s next year.

Ultrarunning is great. 100s and 24s are especially great - you all know you're on a journey, an adventure, and people really bond in amazing ways, from the fastest to the slowest people. It's such a wonderful awesome journey.

Except when it's not.
exhausted in my first 24 hour race (hinson lake 2012)

I love the laughter, the jokes, the cupcakes, the fun.

I hate the deprivation of tea for a week. (I'm a HUGE tea drinker, so this is actually quite a big deal.) I hate the sleeping early every night for a week, then running without sleep and feeling exhausted all night, and then barely able to sleep after because I'm in so much pain, and then being wrecked the rest of the week. I'm sick of missing super fun parties, events, relaxing time because I'm always racing.

My mom said, "You are always destroyed after 100 milers; why do you keep doing them?" (She also said, "You are always so miserable after marathons; why do you keep doing them?"

So next year, I'm dialing it down.

The plan is to focus on 50 milers. Run fun races. Hang out with my friends more. Study Spanish. Write. Play with the kitties. Have fun parties, and go to fun parties. Kiss my love. Dance. Read. Live my life, don't stress out.

I'll do a select few longer races - Vermont 100 has a special place in my heart, and there's NOTHING like TGNY 100, and of course I'll do Hinson 24. But I already decided to do 50 miles at Umstead instead of 100. Instead of running through the middle of the night, finishing at an ungodly hour, showing up at my sister's exhausted and depleted, eating half her fridge, then spending time with her family messed up. Instead, I'll run 50 miles, go back to her house, shower, eat, hang out...and wake up in the morning in the mood for an easy run. Much more fun, right?

29 October 2014

RIP Blake Norwood

I have tears in my eyes. The ultra community has a huge gaping loss today. The founding director of the Umstead 100 miler, Blake was there for me in my second 100 miler, the first time I broke 24 hours. He was taking photos, including the gem below, laughing, teasing, enouraging, being out there. He was such a present RD - I have been to races and had no clue who the RD was. He, on the other hand, talked with everyone. He will be missed. Oh, Blake.....
Running my 2nd 100 miler

27 October 2014

Cape Cod Marathon: Views, Wind, and Split Lips (and I didn't throw up on myself or poop in my pants)

Post race: no one fainted or pooped in their pants or threw up. We all finished. In other words, the marathon was a resounding success.

I'm one of those people that are easily convinced to do things. Like run marathons, blow money on things they shouldn't, travel at the drop of a hat, get another cocktail, and bake something sweet and eat way too much of it. So when Jill said, "I'm running these three races. Want to run one with me?" and the Cape Cod Marathon fit, of course I said yes.

Jill was hosting a party the day before, so I prepared for the marathon by drinking mimosas and eating lots of delicious things. I slept a good deal, and we head over to the start in Falmouth, which was pretty low-key.

I was hungry at the start, and was looking for water to take a pre-race gel with. Someone told me it was at the front and then after I had looked around a bunch, someone else told me it was in the back. No time. Booo. I started, holding a gel, looking forward for the first water stop...which was in 2.5 miles. Water was every 2.5 miles or so. Boooo.

But the course was good. Hilly, yes. But oh-so-gorgeous. Really pretty. The ocean, the houses, the lighthouse. As Wayne said the day before, "Super f-ing quaint." Indeed.

After around 2 miles or so, someone came up behind me and began touching my face. I had no idea what was going on, and smacked the person away....and it was Stephen. Apparently I accidentally split his lip, and he said, "I deserve it. You don't startle a girl from Brooklyn during a marathon." It was a little strange to have someone touching my face from behind.

Stephen and I ran the rest of the race together - we talked about Burning Man, work, relationships, running, friends, the desert, lots of stuff. We suffered together, and enjoyed things.

My stomach was pretty wrecked. I didn't have pre-race bathroom success, so the last part of the race, I was in agony. As we came into the finish, I thought I was going to throw up all over myself, which would've made for a fantastic finishing photo - right?? But I didn't.

We finished, 3:55. Far from what I wanted. But considering I'm still dealing with that foot soreness issue (The bottoms of my feet are swollen, ow.) and my stomach was in agony, I guess it was okay. I need to do more speed workouts so I can kill it in a marathon, someday.

Post race, I shivered under Mylar and talked to runners. Then we drove back to Jill's house where we drank delicious alcohol and talked about everything until it was pretty evident I should have left hours earlier - which really wasn't a bad thing after all, as sometimes, fun takes priority.

Burning Man in Slow Motion

An amazing video. Can't wait to be home again.

Burning man 2014 from UBERcut on Vimeo.

Why can't I run down the street free of suggestion?

Today I was running home from the library. A worker in a construction hole had to watch me run towards him and then turned his body and head to look at me in the other direction. (Too bad he wasn't an owl.) I stopped and say in a really pleasant voice, "Why do you have to stop what you are doing and look at me? Really, it's not a compliment. I just want to run. I don't want to be stared at."

"Oh, you're doing a good thing."

A good thing? Why don't you go to the nearest gym and give a round of applause to everyone there.

"I'm sure you are not doing this to the men."

The whole interaction went over his head and I ran home, annoyed that I cannot just run down the street free of suggestion.

In the words of Fugazi,
Why can't i walk down a street free of suggestion?
Is my body the only trait in the eye's of men?
I've got some skin
You want to look in
There lays no reward in what you discover
You spent yourself watching me suffer
Suffer you words, suffer your eyes, suffer your hands
Suffer your interpretation of what it is to be a man
I've got some skin
You want to look in
She does nothing to deserve it
He only wants to observe it
We sit back like they taught us
We keep quiet like they taught us
He just wants to prove it
She does nothing to remove it
We don't want anyone to mind us
So we play the roles that they assigned us
She does nothing to conceal it
He touches her 'cause he wants to feel it
We blame her for being there
But we are all guilty


What is decompression? It's untangling yourself from Burning Man. It's saying goodbye but reminding yourself of what you learned at Burning Man - and not giving that up. It's carrying on your dreams. It's refusing to give up a hope for an idyllic lifestyle. 
Me, Kathy, and Carrie

It's art. It's conversation. It's community. It's dancing. It's sharing. It's love. I want it every day.

Dreams I share

Pink twins

Decom takes place down a couple of streets in San Francisco in the Dogpatch area. There's a park in the middle with a bunch of art (including LOVE and Kathy's piece abbreviated, YAY!), people having picnics, hanging out. Then there are different theme camps providing music, snacks, drinks, interaction, that sort of thing. There's dancing, conversation, catching up with friends fun.

One of my fave runners (sans Mohawk) showing off his BRC 50k medal!

Love, Love, Love....

This year I found myself spending most of my time catching up with friends - talking, sharing dreams, talking about our Burns, talking about what we learned, talking about what's next, sharing secrets that we're barely comfortable telling ourselves...it's Burning Man in a real city.

The teacups!
 I stayed until the bitter end, dancing, catching up with friends, having fun, talking, listening, sharing, chatting. When it ended, I decided I was too tired (and too sore from the Dick Collins 50 Miler the day before) so I wanted to skip on an after party. But I helped Kathy disassemble her piece and move it to the van. We chatted in the ride home about love and life and searching for happiness and art....

I'll be back next year - it works well with running the Dick Collins 50 Miler, and it's a nice way to tie things up - and see Kathy and Carrie and Rachelle and Jonathan and Utah and Valerie and so many others. I love you all and thank you for making me realizing there's more to life than the everyday!
Kathy's super awesome piece!

Can't stop playing this song on repeat....

The lyrics don't move me heaps, but I just feel like I'm transported to a dance floor under blazing sun or blinking lights, pulling my energy up and out and sharing with everyone around me.

Dick Collins 50 Miler 2014: Hills, Madelines, and Super Nice People

I was pretty excited to run the Dick Collins 50 Miler. I hadn't run a 50 miler in quite a while, since May at Bear Mountain (which is so tough and technical it's more like a 75 miler than a 50, ugh). I had PRd on this course, so was hopeful, even though it was 2 weeks since Hinson 24 hour, and 3 weeks since North Coast 24 hour. Ouch. I felt it.

I started out, pretty excited and happy to run! It was so pretty. I was chatting up a storm with everyone around me, pointing out all of the pretty views. The course is just jaw-dropping, and oh yeah, this is totally normal for California and everyone stares at you like you are an alien when you scream, "OMG LOOK AT THAT VIEW," and they say, "That looks like everywhere out here. What is wrong with you?" Ooops. New Yorker.

There's a different vibe to running out in California; there's history. I mean, GORDY was in the race. Swoon. Gordy, the father of ultrarunning. People said, "Western," and they meant Western States. OBVIOUSLY. Everyone was amazed I came out for this race, but I told them they shouldn't be. It's an awesome race, beautiful, AND very importantly, the day before San Francisco's Burning Man Decompression.

The course is not easy but beautiful. Lots of ups and downs. I kept saying, "I don't remember the course being this hard!" Up and down, more ups than downs, it seems, but as the course was pretty much out and back, you know it really wasn't. My hamstrings felt DESTROYED. I kept stopping to stretch. They hurt so terribly.

I saw an old ultrarunning friend Steve, who was working an aid station while he was injured. He didn't mind the sweaty hug. 

I'll admit; the food at the aid stations weren't quite as good when Ann Trason was RD. I basically ran a 50 mile all-you-can-eat buffet when she was RD. This was still quite good - grilled cheese at the turnaround, yay. They had these little packages of madelines, and given that I adore madelines and bake them, I ate approximtaely 400. Well, not that many, but I couldn't stop eating them and had to restrict myself. I knew I wasn't burning that many calories, ha.

I pulled it into the finish, way slower than I thought and hoped. Blisters, soreness, but I was okay. I was disappointed, but I guess my legs are just too slow right now. Sigh. Oh well. Next year, I'll be fresher!

And yes, next year, I'll be back.

We got pretty good schwag - tshirts, wine glasses, little reusable backpacks, fleeces. The post-race BBQ was nice, the volunteers friendly, and I'll def be back! See you next year on the trails!

23 October 2014

Wait, why don't I live in California?

We slipped on our shoes and headed out the door....and Jerry and I were running here within a mile. There's a wolf in the background. Tough hills. Mountains, really. Dry. Why do I live in NYC? Because it's my energy and my city and my love and my family and my friends and my community but sometimes, I just want to roll out my door into awesome running. Maybe in another ten years I'll be ready to move out there, but until then, I know all the awesome spots to run in NYC.

02 October 2014

Because Dreams.

Lake of Dreams from roy two thousand on Vimeo.

This Doesn't Belong Here

This isn't now. No, it's not. It's a very different world. It's a world of the now, it's a world where we are cold, tired, talking, waiting, dancing, looking, and being.

I took a break from a busy day and decided to watch a video a friend had posted a while back. It was this.

It might not be the best video of Burning Man, but I really did love it. It made me think, Oh Cherie, that is so different. That is another place from where you are now.

How can I get to that place of just being in the now? I guess it's a journey we work on every day...on playa, it's so easy to just be that and there.

01 October 2014

Hinson Lake 24 Hour Race Report (2014): It Was Awful, But an Awful Lot of Fun

                Hinson Lake 24 Hour Race has a special spot in my heart: it was my first 24 hour race (which I won the first time) and really turned me on to 24 hour races. No matter your finishing results, you get to run with and meet and chat with a ton of different awesome people at all sorts of paces. SO MUCH FUN!
                I knew going into this race that I wouldn’t run my best, as I had run 105 miles the week before at The North Coast 24 Hour National Championships, but hoped since I hadn’t PR’d, maybe my legs would be decent, good enough for 100+ miles? Not exactly. My legs were tired, and a stressful week of work, plus not enough sleep, plus lots of other things going on in my head did not leave me well-rested. I took a nap the day before and literally had to pull over 20 minutes from the start of Hinson to stretch because I was too exhausted to keep driving. Not a good sign, but remember, I don’t often pay attention to bad signs. Sigh.       

                Hinson Lake is an awesome 24 hour race – the fee is $24 and you get a tshirt, bumper sticker, pint glass (Good because Wayne and I are always breaking the ones we have!), and food, and 24 hours of running fun! The company is great – I love all of the runners and end up chatting with tons of great people. The course is a 1.56 mile loop around the lake – it’s pretty, there are some small rolling hills, but it’s mainly flat on dirt, sand, and boardwalk. There are tons of tents along the course and fun signs.
                At the start, I took off, chattering and laughing, enjoying and remembering the course. What a beautiful day. Soon enough, my pace slowed to 9:20s, which is definitely not terrible, but I usually go out a bit faster, with less effort. These 9:20s felt tough. Oh no.
                “My legs feel so tired,” I told Shannon. We ran together for a while, and she seemed strong at times, but she ended up not having a good day either and dropped. I was very sad to see her go. My legs were feeling tired before 2 hours.
                I ran with Jonathan Savage, who told me about his brown recluse spider bite and his recovery. He promised his wife to only run 50 miles, and only that much if he felt okay. He ended up quitting at 50 miles, feeling good. We talked about stress and how it impacts running. Talking always helps, and talking while running is the best. If only I could find a therapist who wanted to go on long runs with me…I would have no problems, I’m convinced.
                I reached the marathon in under 5 hours and the 50k in under 6 hours. Compare this to last weekend’s 24 hour (with the marathon in 4:10, 50k in 5:05). I knew it would be a bad day.
                I talked to Ray. He was weary, still. Running for 52 days straight from 6a.m. to midnight on concrete will do that to you.
                I hung out with Kelley, I hung out with Joe, I chilled with lots of amazing people. It was fun.
                I had my set up of various bags next to Brett. Brett’s dad was 100% awesome and his name was Wayne. He called me “babe” and was sweet, hilarious, helpful, and nice. Brett ended up taking a 3 hour nap.
                After it got dark, I just crashed. I curled up on the air mattress Wayne had set up with Wayne’s sleeping bag and passed out. I got up, and slowly began running. My blistered feet felt better, and my legs were still tired, but I could do this. I knew 100 miles would be almost impossible.
                I took a 5 hour energy shot. I ran with music. I danced while I ran. I chatted. I walked Mount Hinson, that giant mountain they put on the course. I napped in a chair. I got up and ran more.
                About two and a half hours from the finish, Rich and I began running together.
                He gave me a red bull and we talked each other’s ears off. We mostly ran, but we’d walk Mount Hinson.  I don’t remember what we talked about – dissolving marriages and cupcakes and blisters and this race and that race and oh this race and yeah that race. I ate a lot of pink cupcakes.
                Oh, the food. This year I ate homemade cookies and pizza that I took the cheese off of and animal crackers and cheese its and lots and lots of pink frosted cupcakes. Oh, how delicious it all tasted. At least my stomach was awesome! Yay!
                I ended up with 94.6 miles, or 93.6, something like that. Ugh. Depressing. So close, yet so far. And I still know that’s a pretty awesome effort – esp since I ran a 24 hour last weekend.
                My legs felt tired and my body was exhausted. Stress has been seeping in everywhere lately – it sucks. My blisters were out of control – I stopped to cut moleskin and cover them, but they were a horrendous mess and I think I scared my little sister when she saw me popping them afterwards. Yum.
                So Hinson? Not my best race. Nope. Not this year. But fun –yes. Lots and lots and lots of fun.

                I WILL BE BACK FOR SURE NEXT YEAR. I hope there will be pink frosted cupcakes!

24 September 2014

24 Hours North Coast: “This is BS,” “Cleveland Isn’t Detroit,” “We had some ‘weather,’” “Today’s just not my day”

Going into the North Coast 24 Hour National Championships, I was not feeling 100%, but feeling very hopefully – because confidence is much more fun and positive than self-doubt. I didn’t have my best race, or my worst race, but I did have a whole lot of fun. How is it possible that so many things could happen in just 24 hours?

We went to the pre-race where, where the amazing Dr. Andy Lovett gave me some ointment cream that he swore would protect me from blisters. (It didn’t. My feet suffered. Sigh.) Then Jackie and I headed to the hotel, where we fell asleep at 9pm. Success. Turns out, Cleveland is kind of like those YouTube videos you know you’ve seen and loved online. Ha!
me and andy!!!!

Chris and Dave arrived at 2am but I barely woke up. I slept pretty good, had pre-race bowel success, and ate, feeling okay. The day before I flew, I was so nervous I could barely eat lunch before my flight. We checked in at the start, set up our stuff inside the pavilion in case we had the rain they predicted (No matter; the entire where we placed our stuff flooded, but luckily, most of our stuff were in plastic bags.), and said hello to friends. Let’s get ready! Wheeeeee!
HUGE ultrarunning hero - John Geesler. Swoon!

The course is a .9 mile loop through this park (essentially around a parking lot, but it’s actually nicer than that sounds) with the Lake on one side. There were tons of people in the park, so that added an interesting people-watching element; one vegan weightlifter was working out at 10 a.m. until the first rain came well after dark. There were kites, multiple wedding photo shoots, families picnicking, seagulls, that sort of thing. The course is a paved loop, with some slight ups and downs, but nothing too bad. (In the middle of the night, you will find yourself walking “the big hill.”)
ready to run at lakeside

Because the lake is alongside the course, you get wind. Lots of it. This course is known for being windy. At times, the wind was so tough you found yourself using tons of energy just to propel yourself ahead. Some people confessed to me that they gave up running and just walked.


The race started a few minutes early, and we were off. I took off too fast, as usual, yelling at myself for running sub-9 minute pace. I got a cramp early in and was forced to slow down, which was a good thing. I chatted with everyone, ate gels, laughed.

The day was hot. It was supposed to be a high of 80, but it was much hotter than that – mid to upper 80s. I felt parched, and needed to make sure I was quite hydrated, but not drinking too much to cause the dreaded sloshing stomach.

Marathon in 4:10. Okay, a little faster than my best 24s, but not too terrible. 50k in 5:05. Okay. Okay.

Then in the mid 30s, my hamstring tightness grew worse. I went to the medical tent  to have my hamstrings stretched. And again a little while later. And again.

And then my period showed up two days early. I spent much of the race begging for tampons. Thank you, ladies of North Coast 24!

It took forever to get to mile 50, or so it felt. 9:40. Ugh. 50 to 60 felt really awful. It took forever.

In the 70s, Chris warned me, "Cherie, it's going to rain." I had read an article about thunderstorms in Outside Magazine the day before. "I am going to stop if it's thunderstorming." I really wanted to go to medical and get them to stretch out my super tight hamstrings, but I figured I'd wait until the thunder and rain arrived.

I kept running, feeling kinda crappy. The miles dragged on. Where was this rain? I wasn't eating a ton - nothing looked appetizing (Well, mac and cheese did but I knew where that would land me!) and I ended up eating some vegan pizza. I do love cheese, but not when running.

I dragged on. I ran. I took a 5 hour energy shot. I changed my shoes. I ran some more. I ran some more. I put music on - it pushed me ahead. I flew. It felt great for a few laps. Then, I slowed down. Ran. Ran.

I came in. "You should stop now. The rain is going to come," Chris told me.

"Well, can't I just do one more?" I asked. It was only drizzling.

"No. Stop now."

"Really? I can't just do one loop - only .9 miles?"

"No. You can't."

So I went to medical and as they began working on my legs, the skies opened. Good timing. I thanked Chris profusely. I had medical pop some blisters and then I relaxed for a while.

Then, as I was pulling on my shoes, it let up. I head out and put in some more miles.

I ran on. Sunlight was coming, I knew it. I said hi to everyone I passed, and smiled. Only a few more hours of this hell/love.

Around mile 92, I connected with Isiah, who later won the men's race with 154 miles - in his first ultra! We ended up running together until I hit 100, at which point I drank water and ate a little extra food, and then spent the last hour running, walking a bit, laughing, smiling, so glad it was almost over.
Hitting 100 miles
I hit 104 miles. And then nearly 105. But it was over.

Far from what I wanted, but still, a pretty decent race. 5th USATF woman, lots of blisters, lots of soreness, lots of fun with friends, lots of hallucinations (Why do people do drugs when they can just run 24 hour races????), and some fantastic tater tots after. Yep, that's a good race!
NY/NJ crew post race (Where's Zandy?)
Tired runners, yay

16 September 2014

Because Time Isn't Real at Burning Man

So many months of working your butt off for a week? Does it even make sense? And then you get there and it's work work work and then it's playplayplayworkplayplay and blink it's all over and you are packing up your camp with tears in your eyes. This video gets that time is imaginary.

Time Shifts at Burning Man 2014 from Michael Tosner on Vimeo.

07 September 2014

Re-entry and Decompression

Re-entry has been really weird this year. I feel like it is going to take me longer to decompress as my burn was full of so much this year, almost too much. 

On playa, I felt stressed, a first for Black Rock City: the race was overwhelming and way bigger than ever, which was totally exciting and amazing and wonderful but a lot for me. Next year, I might not be able to run it as things needed to be managed while running. The stress prob contributed to stomach issues which led to 15 min in the port-a-potty, 30 min sitting around waiting for my tummy to feel better, and the poop shuffle - you know, when you have to poop SO BAD while running that you run to get to the toilet fast, then have to stop and hold your stomach, then you walk, then you run, then you clutch your stomach. AWFUL. The volunteers offered to have me poop into a black garbage bag, but HELLO I HAVE SOME CLASS. Not really, I'm just poop shy!

We also had some camp issues: people who didn't pick up their fair share of helping out, and striking camp left me in tears when not everyone helped out. I take things personally too much. So I felt stressed and upset and frustrated and it definitely showed. We grew a lot very quickly, and some people had different ideas about camp responsibilities. I think some will find a better home at a plug-and-play camp next year.

To be honest, all of it broke my heart a little bit. I know I wasn't able to fully be present at all times on the playa because of the stress, even showing that stress, being cranky to those who loved me (and everyone, I AM SORRY, I do love you!) and was hurt a lot. People are really their true selves on the playa, whatever that may be - so you get to see some truth to people. But mostly, it was a beautiful wonderful week, and everyone had their bright happy spots!

Moving on...the playa was good for me, as always. I had some big epiphanies about life, work, writing, love, living. People always say, couples, friendships, they either break up or get stronger. Wayne and I got stronger. Rachelle and I had some wonderful time together. I met some incredible new folks. I saw neat art, made some important internal decisions, danced my butt off, ran, meditated, talked to strangers, met lots of amazing runners, missed my kitties, kissed Wayne, drank mojitos with all my friends at Dementha (except Ben - you were missed!), had some great talks with Yosvany, watched the sunrise a few times, saw the amazing Embrace Burn (prob my fave Burn of this year), saw the other burns, danced a ton, met some great people, connected with so many of the amazing runners, ate lots of guac, drank tons of delicious pina coladas (even with the "WHO THREW AWAY THE PINA COLADA" drama), had a brilliant time.
i love this boy. this was a good year for bonding for us.

oh how he makes me smile. sunset time! howl!

ride this. no.

embrace. the best piece of art this year, IMHO

matching patterns

what i wrote in the library of dreams

that's my boy up there

holding things up

mud and cats

good friends

oh caretaker, how i heart you

some of my camp

dome and us

all smiles

embrace burns

good times at dementha

our annual wedding

dancing at my fave camp on the playa

burning man indeed.

goodbye temple of dreams. take those messages to my grandfathers and uncle and take care of all of them.

let it burn, burn, burn

And for now, we are resting our hearts, our minds, our bodies. I am at home, reading and writing and practicing yoga and running and cooking and baking and seeing those who matter most (Wayne, Mom, Dad), making plans to see others who really matter (Rachelle, Lissy & fam), and figuring out what is next for me.

The Burn always inspires me to do a lot, to be more of myself, yes, to see more fun art, to connect with friends who matter, to figure out what matters, to reach deep inside myself, to meditate, to think, to breathe, to be in the present moment, to push harder, to relax more, and to figure everything out in due time. 

Funny how fake fur and shiny things and burning art and amazing people can inspire all of that.