28 October 2010

Tough Running

From one of the Javelina Runners, about my near-breakdown and pull-it-together around mile 75 or so:

Nice job on the finish. You looked done at that aid station yet you pulled it together and finished. It was my fave part of the race. you are super tough.

27 October 2010

2010 Javelina Jundred 100 Miler: Race Report!

I had always wanted to do the Javelina Jundred 100 Miler. Halloween is my favorite holiday, and the idea of running 101.4 miles in a costume sounded like the ultimate fun! It took a while before I came up with the idea of a good costume, but I ultimately decided upon being a pink flamingo. Armed with a variety of amazing feathers B picked up for me in the fashion district, I transformed a running outfit into an amazing blur of pink fabulous feathers.

The race is held on the full moon weekend closest to Halloween, which was the weekend prior to Halloween (so finally I can celebrate Halloween!). We got lucky with weather – high only in the low 80s, no rain, and not too cold at night.

I spent the week prior in Santa Fe, resting, loving, eating carbs, drinking water, getting nervous. And you know what? In the end, none of it really mattered. It went how it went. I look back at this race, and I'm proud of myself. I'm so proud that I finished - but I also know there is absolutely nothing I would have done differently. Okay, maybe not worn the stupid timing thing around my ankle, maybe drank a bit more water - but I don't think there's anything that could have drastically changed the results of my race.

I got to the race bright and early, the first runner to arrive. I chatted with the brother of the RDs in the shuttle up, then chatted with the volunteers and the racers. I took photos, drank some water, got nervous, chatted with friends like Tony and Kino. I met some people from the Ultra List, including the infamous Dave Combs, and mid-race, I met Rajeev! Yay! Meeting Rajeev was super exciting, especially when he rattled off my blog address. I also met UltrarunningBren from Twitter. Total ultra geekout!

The costumes were GREAT - cavewoman, clown, peacock, spiderman, nurse, guy with face makeup, cheerleaders, fairies, among other things. It was SO fun to see costumes at an ultra! Yes, people run in these outfits the entire time, or part of it, or even change their costumes in between laps. It was heaven for a Burner ultrarunner.

 I started the race by tripping three seconds after I crossed the starting line, to the amusement of Tony. Well, that was the only time I tripped, miraculously! I ran most of the first loop with Cat and Paulette. I lost Paulette around the end of the first loop/beginning of second. We shared awful dating stories (and oh, do I have some terrible ones), laughed a lot, talked about ultras.

I ran the next lap with Cat and the great thing about the course was it was "washing machine loops" - meaning you go out in one direction, come back in a different. I felt good and kept a good pace.

Lap three I was alone, running with new friends, thinking, enjoying the scenery, the running, the aid stations. The aid stations were GREAT - they had pumpkin pie (yum!), avocado (heavenly!), oreos, cookies, my beloved pretzels, jolly ranchers, other things. I ran with a really great couple from San Diego and had a twinge of jealousy; I, too, wished my partner was an ultrarunner (though he's an amazing wonderful person and I don't want anyone else) who motivated me through the race and that I lived in someplace as amazing as San Diego for running. I found myself stopping and peeing frequently, yet felt dehydrated the same. I drank a coconut water and a bottle of water in between each aid station - the course was very exposed, I was quite thirsty, and it felt hot!

In the middle of lap four, I ran into Tony (and Rajeev, who was going in the opposite direction). I ran with him for a while, until he bolted off when I stopped to pee. I enjoyed some too hot soup around mile 55, and felt nauseated shortly after. I stopped to walk a bit, realized I still felt queasy, and kept running. I pushed myself. It was getting dark, darker, and it was hard to see.

Jenn Shelton, who had previously been winning the race but dropped out and was now pacing, saw me. "You don't have a light?" Nope, I hadn't planned on it being so dark when I returned. She lent me her flashlight, telling me, "If you get to the aid station before I do, give it to Maria."

This is what I LOVE about ultrarunning. A runner who frequently wins races will say hi to you, even offer their assistance, lend you their flashlight. I wonder if Paula Radcliffe would even glance at me; I doubt it. Jamie Donaldson who won the women's race and was second overall told me she liked my outfit. Yeah, ultrarunners are different.

At the aid station, I began tearing through my bag. Some random crew of some runner helped me dig through my bag and I didn't see Jon, who was pacing me. Suddenly I shouted, "Jon Roig!" and he popped up immediately. Whew! I drank a coconut water, changed my socks and shoes, and tried to head out as quickly as I could.

I followed Jon blindly, feeling like my socks and sneakers were too small for my feet, despite the fact that I had just changed into thinner socks and shoes that were a half size bigger than my normal running sneakers.

I got really confused at an aid station and suddenly realized, "Jon, we went the wrong way!" We went out in the wrong direction. Everyone thought we were super fast, but we were just spacey!

I got up to move on and said, "Jon, we need to leave." Suddenly I couldn't even stand, much less walk, much less run! I grabbed onto Jon and was in tears. I thought about how I should probably DNF; I was in SO much pain. I had no clue what was up. I thought about how I would have to tell people I didn't finish; for some reason, I thought of my boss learning I DNF'd. I know she'd be impressed if I told her I made it to 70 or 80 or whatever mile it was, but still, I wanted to finish. I wanted to be impressive. I wanted to do this. I had worked so hard. Remember that 5 hour run in 95 degrees in 90% humidity in Florida with all the chafing? Remember missing parties to run, events, parties, sleep? I have worked too hard.

So I let Jon convince me to sit in front of the heat lamp and I drank more coconut water and then we walked slowly out of there. People told me they couldn't believe I had actually continued. I am so proud of myself for doing that.

I felt really sick. The stupid thing on my ankle caused some sort of painful, awful rash, and I switched it to the other ankle, where it did the same thing. Brilliant, Cherie. I ultimately had Jon put it in his pocket.

This guy at the medical station began using this metal wand to do some sort of energy healing, which didn't work. Some other volunteer put neosporin and gauze around my ankle. The next lap, I had to take off my gaiters completely and deal with rocks in my shoes. The ankles were so red and irritated, and forget taking off my sneakers to dump out rocks; my feet were to swollen.

I have never been in so much pain. Jon and I did a lot of walking. Jon was amazing. We talked about who he's dated/dating, my new love, work, ultrarunning, my pain, work, friends, love, trail running, that sort of thing. You know, the foundation of the life of an ultrarunner. We talked about kids, about stomach issues, about how I needed to eat more pretzels. 

I saw shooting stars - never so many in my life. I wished for a lot of wonderful things, but I LOVED seeing them. The only time prior that I had seen them was this summer at BM. Jon missed a few of them, but we saw some pretty amazing ones.

I also hallucinated HARDCORE during this race. I started hallucinating around the 50k mark when I swore I saw someone in one of those tall cacti. Shortly after that, I saw lightning burst from a cloud (and that never happened). Mostly, in the middle of the night, the cacti turned into things, like large telephones and other bizarre objects. My hallucinations were pretty insane; I think I was making Jon jealous. Poor boy got sleep while I was running so his time wasn't as interesting (though it wasn't clearly as painful!).

I stumbled on. The sky was bright and we passed other runners, and I was fairly comfortable. I wore my  pink running skirt (covered with feathers), sports bra, pink tank with feathers, two long sleeved shirts, and gloves. We wore headlamps but rarely did we turn them on. Despite the clouds, the full moon lit our way.

We walked. We ran. We hobbled (or rather, I did, and Jon slowed his pace to mine). We talked. We looked for shooting stars. I ate oatmeal cookies and broth and potato soup and pretzels and coconut water and jolly ranchers and wintergreen mints. I tried to not complain. Every so often, I'd almost start crying. "Jon, I hurt sooooo bad." Jon encouraged me, told me how tough I am, how impressed he was that I had finished VT100 the year prior with my swollen feet, made me eat. You gotta love a man that encourages you to eat!

The thing that really began killing me as we did the last 9-point-whatever mile torturous loop was that people I had been a loop ahead of were passing me. Until mile 55, I was on sub 21/22 hour pace. Mile 60, still on sub 24 hour pace. My feet did me in. I was glad I finished in 28 hours.

What was my issue? My feet, ankles, and legs were covered with horrible red splotches, some areas that looked rather rash-like. The medics hypothesized it was the desert sand, which makes me nervous - what if I went back and it happened again? However, I do have a history of swelling so...hmmm....

My feet and ankles and legs were SO swollen. I had blisters all over my feet. I was also dehydrated. Upon crossing the finish line, after the medics attended to my feet, I was shivering like crazy. They wanted me to go to the hospital, but I refused. I was severely dehydrated, and suffering from electrolyte imbalance. I huddled under a blanket, drank lots of water and coconut water, ate a veggie burger, and eventually hobbled to my rental car to leave what had been a torturous and loving and fun home for over 28 hours of running and fun.

Videos from the Javelina Jundred 100 Miler

So I ran with my camera for laps two and four of the Javelina Jundred Miler. I started really feeling pain at the end of the lap two (which you might be able to tell) but took some pretty interesting and amusing videos.

Team Odwalla Athlete of the Month!

I'm so excited and proud that I made it to Odwalla Athlete of the Month! Being a part of Team Odwalla has been a great experience this year - they support us with gear, juice, bars, and motivation. I'm really proud to have them backing me in my ultras, and best of all, I believe in their products!


"A lot of people run a race to see who is fastest. I run to see who has the most guts, who can punish himself into exhausting pace, and then at the end, punish himself even more."
--Steve Prefontaine

In light of my painful, suffering performance at Javelina, I can attest that I have a lot of guts, as I pushed myself beyond my limits. I could barely walk. But you know what? It was worth it in the end.

20 October 2010

Santa Fe

I just did one of my famous wanderings tonight. I do them whenever I travel, and there’s often no purpose, no mission, simply to see the place I’m in. Or perhaps I decide to go someplace really far, and decide the walk will serve me a purpose. On my wanders, I think, I feel, I become much more in touch with what it is I really want after all.

It’s beautiful out here. So dry, and the altitude is ever-present. (As an asthmatic, I can never ignore that.) The running is wonderful. The first day I did a run where I fell in a brook more than once – and that was definitely the highlight. It went up and up, in a rolling way, and was a lovely downhill run on the way back.

We went on a moonlit hike that I thought to myself, “Iliana and I would love to run this!” It was lots of up, rocks, sand, lovely views. Of course, like any run Iliana and I would do, there were disasters. I dropped my shirt on a prickly pear cactus and spent much of the hike pulling thorns out of my skin. (For the record, I still have one in my finger. I can’t get it out. Also, I have to throw away my grey hoodie because they are ingrained in the fabric.) Then it got super dark on the way down, and the headlamp was in the car, and I was paranoid I was going to twist an ankle a few days before Javelina. Luckily there was lightning every so often (sarcasm here, though it did illuminate our path!) and thunder and a little rain too. We had to recover/celebrate with some Mai Tais at a bar where an older lady engaged me in a long interesting slightly drunken (on her end) conversation about fabric arts and fabric installations and clothes we sewed.

It’s been a good trip. Good in so many ways, full of love, but also, full of great running and this sense of peace. I am a bratty New Yorker in many ways (I like my good pizza and my chai and my awesome parties), but I really need to leave every so often to mellow out and be in touch with who I am. Also, the running is awesome elsewhere. One day I wonder if I’ll carry out my vision of living on a house on a dirt road where I can bike to my small-college-town library where I’m a librarian, and I write, and the beach isn’t far. Until then, I’m a New Yorker, escaping every so often for love and run.

15 October 2010

Please Don't Kill Yourself. Life Gets Better. I Promise You.

I had a horrible experience in high school. The kids were so mean, horrible. Even my "friends." I talk to no one save my sister from high school. I have blocked out so many awful, painful memories. I wish someone told me these things when I was younger...that you shouldn't let bullying get to you. The kids were mean to me because I was different, creative, had pink hair, wore awesome crazy clothes, listened to riot grrrl and punk and electronica, had wild friends, didn't give a crap what they thought...but sometimes I did and then it hurt.

This video may make you cry. I wish I could have seen this 16 years ago. He is talking mostly about LGBT teens, but this really applies to any teen that has ever been bullied in a way. 

High school sucks. Real life is actually much better, despite paying bills, cleaning my house, and going to work. I don't mind being an adult so much of the time.

Packing List for Javelina Jundred!

I can't believe it's almost here! I ran Vermont, got sick in August and was in my Burning Man-prep-obsession time, then came back to my grandfather's death, too sad to run sometimes, decompressing, new relationship, Blue Cruise 50k. It's been a wild ride, these past few months. 

For the record, I'll be running in costume. It's running clothes covered in pink feathers - a great fun costume. A lot of the runners run in full costume, but you have to be comfy for a 100 miles, so it's a bit of a challenge!

I was supposed to fly out next Thursday but I just changed my ticket - I'm heading there, with Santa Fe on the way. So I leave tomorrow. I haven't packed at all, and the ultrarunner simply pulls out her old list that she's published many-a-time to remind her what to pack.

And maybe remind you?

  • 3 sports bras
  • 2 tank tops
  • 2 running skirts
  • 3 pairs of underwear
  • 4 pairs of socks
  • 2 sneakers (one is a half-size bigger, which will feel like heaven at mile 70!)
  • thin long-sleeved shirt
  • warmer running shirt
  • two visors
  • 2-3 pairs of gloves
  • Sunscreen (spray on)
  • baby wipes
  • body glide
  • packs of tissues (for when you gotta pee behind a cactus or a port-a-potty that of course, has no tp!)
  • foradil (asthma medicine)
  • albuertol (asthma medicine)
  • 15 gels (though I never eat this many, just in case!)
  • 12 sports chews (power gel strawberry blasts)
  • 2 sports beans
  • 30 endurolytes
  • gaiters
  • extra velcro for gaiters
  • Hydration belt
  • 2 water bottles
  • 2 5-hour energy shot (one for drop bag at Mile 70, another for Mile 76 or 88)
  • Ziploc bags
  • sunglasses
  • headlamps
  • extra batteries
  • Advil
  • Imodium & tums
  • mint
  • for post race: sandals, fleece socks, comfy pants, warm hoodie, clean undies, t-shirt, flip flops
  • Marker & tape & Post-it notes for Drop Bags
  • 2 Drop Bags
To buy:
·         Coconut water
·         Pretzels

12 October 2010

Being Pretty Is Not A Crime

I hate when, after a pretty woman complains about being harassed/hit on, people respond, "Well, you should feel flattered." Or, "You won't get it forever - and then you'll miss it."

Being pretty is not a crime. It should not make you a victim. I'm sick of the attitude that because a woman is pretty, she is there for male delight or gawking or being treated a certain way (i.e., as if she is not smart, a sex object, whatever).

Nothing wrong with looking good. I wear heels, eye makeup. But there's more than prettiness.

This post is really what inspired me to write about this, especially this: 

You Don't Have to Be Pretty. You don't owe prettiness to anyone. Not to your boyfriend/spouse/partner, not to your co-workers, especially not to random men on the street. You don't owe it to your mother, you don't owe it to your children, you don't owe it to civilization in general. Prettiness is not a rent you pay for occupying a space marked "female". 

UPDATE 10/13/2010: Reading Feministing today, I saw a great post, Why Do Strange Men Touch Me. I have had this happen to me before - ugh. Chloe says,
"He wanted to touch me, so I was going to be touched, by a stranger, whether I wanted it or not. What he wanted was more important than what I wanted, because he is a man, and I am a woman. Did he consider that his words and his gesture, perhaps intended to compliment, might mean something totally different to me? If he did, that didn’t stop him. What he wanted was more important than what I wanted, perhaps because we live in a world where what men want is more important than what women want. That is why strange men think they’re allowed to touch me – and any other women they feel like touching. It’s that simple."

08 October 2010

The Strokes + Regina Spektor

You were right
Modern girls always have to go
Right on time
Old-fashioned men always want a mistress
You were right
Modern girls always get their way
I was wrong
Modern men dream of what they can't say
That's alright
(That's alright)
I don't belong

I don't belong

Why you sitting over there?
Why you gotta say it
If you know it's sounding wrong
Says that he'll apologize
And it won't take too long
Always thinking about yourself
You don't wanna trust nobody else
There's a few things
That are gonna have to change
I'm your son
Everyone has the same opinion
Won't you please
Your time is almost over
Don't be mean
We won't get the chance to do this over
That's alright
(That's alright)
I don't belong
I don't belong
Why you sitting over there?
I don't want the imprint of your key on my nose
We don't have to tell no one
Cause no one wants to know
Always thinking about yourself
You don't have no happiness at home

Oh yes we're falling down

Oh yes we're falling down
Oh yes we're falling down
Oh yes we're falling down
You don't love me
Always thinking about yourself
I am an animal
Always thinking about yourself
I am not practical
Always thinking about yourself
Was I?
Was I?

Back to Our Roots

Today I finally caught up with Nelson over tea. We sat in the sun and talked about how we're trying to go back to the core of who we are. I really feel like I lost a hold of myself a lot the past few years, and it's been a long journey to get back to who I am and what I'm about.  The conversation felt very comforting, as we were both trying to get down to the deep of things. Nelson's a great friend; he's like hot chocolate, delicious and comforting and full of great things, at the top (like whipped cream) and at the bottom (like that fudgy layer you scrape from the bottom with your spoon). His insights never stop, and always help me.

I'm taking submitting my novel to literary agents as another kind of job. "Don't think about the beautiful creative process," McCormick had advised me. "Think of it as a business. As something you have to do. Like a job."

So I'm submitting my novel. Once I get my grandma's antique secretary in here, I'll be using it to do my writing instead of this stupid computer cart I got seven years ago when I moved in here. Then, I'll move the cart to the bedroom and transform it into a sewing table with a fabric-top cover and I can't wait to start on some projects (which are a secret, since some of you getting these presents may be reading my blog!). I'm reading a ton, as usual, but trying to get ideas and read with a more critical eye. I'm trying to figure out travel plans (December is coming up soon - Central America or India? I can't decide. I've always wanted to go to India but I'll only have 4-6 weeks at the most...so Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica might be a more do-able option.) I'm plotting for NaNoWriMo. I'm spending time with good friends. I'm cleaning my apartment, my head. I'm baking delicious food and using the local harvest at the farmers' market to get back into things. Lissy and I realized we haven't cooked since Papa died. There's been a lot of hummus and bread or going out to eat since I got back from Burning Man. So now I'm getting back to my cooking side of things.

And I'm drinking a glass of wine, enjoying this chill night. I'm going to submit to agents, maybe do a little sewing. Prep for tomorrow's 3 hour run. (How short!) Maybe prep a little for Chaos Cooking, figure out what I'll wear to the Post-Burn party and Rubalad. I just got back from a wonderful bike ride through Williamsburg, where I bonded with a fellow biker over the anti-bike car drivers (Yuck!) and also got told by some car that decided to drive my biking pace that I was "so beautiful, do you know how beautiful you are? You're beautiful." Hmmm, yes. Thanks. Speed ahead. Ahead.

And I feel so happy to be in a city where it's okay to be 31 and riding your bike around in an extremely short red polka dot miniskirt, singing "Outta Me" repeatedly. I think to my relatives and friends in the suburbs who can't believe my lifestyle. Yeah, it's a little ridiculous how much rent I pay (or actually, how little; I have a deal for Greenpoint but I can't afford anything else!) but I love being able to see awesome bands, great art, eat good food, be around like-minded creative people. I always say I want to move to the country and just chill, but really I'm a city girl. I love the trails, but the pulsing of the pavement sustains me.

Rumi Quote

"Don't turn away. Keep looking at the bandaged place. That's where the light enters you."

~ Rumi

06 October 2010

The Joy Within Myself

After lots of thinking and self-reflection today, I met Jonathan to work on some of the business side of writing (aka sending my novel out to a bunch of agents) and talk about love, life, and librarianship. Jonathan and I talked about our respective new relationships, the excitement that came with it, the frustrations with publishing, our writing, our inspiration, our careers, while drinking hot cocoa in super-cute El Beit. I felt inspired and excited and hopeful - about my writing, about my love, about friendship, about life.

Riding home on my beloved purple bike, Mabel, I passed many other cyclists: girls in short skirts, guy in skinny jeans on skinny bikes, and me, in my thick fun tights, hair flying in the window, speeding straight ahead into a view of the beautiful NYC skyline of the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building. It suddenly struck me how LUCKY I am.

Recently, I've been through some rough patches...my grandfather passing away was a huge loss. Everything's not perfect in my life; I work for a great organization doing what I love - but I don't get paid nearly enough. (It's the love for what I do that keeps me going there. Nonprofits come with a price, and I'm glad I'm making a difference in the world.) My apartment is a little crazy right now, especially with all the dust bunnies (and occasional dead mouse, courtesy of my kitty!). I think of my friends in the suburbs, snug in their cozy houses and I think about what I want - is it that? And then I think about what someone said earlier today: "To move to the suburbs is to die."

My plans are faded, my future fuzzy. I'm just living day by day, striding towards excellence however I can. I'm excited about the Javelina Jundred in less than 3 weeks; I'm enjoying the magic of being in love; I'm hopeful about my writing; I'm loving my kitty; I'm loving Superchunk's new CD; I love living in a neighborhood where you can go to a cafe and write and then hit up a bar and then still get Thai food and then walk along the skyline, thinking about life and love and talking about how to make it all work. It doesn't make sense to so many, but it does to me. I'm in touch with everything good right now. This good mood - I don't know how long it will last, but I love it right now.

04 October 2010

Blue Cruise 50k Race Report

Feeling rather unprepared for Javelina, and dreading another dull thirty/forty-something mile run on my own, I jumped on the chance to do the Blue Cruise 50k with Iliana. "It's just a training run," we said, but one where there would be other runners, new terrain, snacks (making it easier for us to carry less), water along the route, and the potential for many exciting things to happen (you know, faceplants, eating periogies while running, talking about underwear, getting stabbed with thorn bushes...).

The course sounded easier online than it was in person - there were some gentle rolling hills, but there were a bunch of steeper climbs that we walked up AND down. There was no grilled cheese served along route (Hey, part of the reason I jumped on the race!) and the lack of filling vegetarian food at the finish was as usual, appalling. However, we still had a blast.

The course had was out-and-back, so that provided some entertainment when the first runners turned around. However, the single track (Oh, how lovely! Most of the course WAS single-track!) proved difficult to allow two runners to pass at the same time. Luckily, Iliana and I weren't in a rush so we let people go by us.

I pushed Iliana a bit more on the hills than she would have liked, but our conversation pushed me along. At one point, two men said, "We're sticking with you! The pace is good and we LOVE the conversation." We talked about great running underwear (Patagonia Active Boy Shorts, I love you!), nice drug dealers, love, sex, the impossibility of online dating, ultrarunning, races, chafing, New York City, museums, baked goods, delicious food, driving, men, women, work dynamics, weather, pretty much everything you could possibly talk about. It kept us going.

In ultrarunning, you need to do these long runs. We didn't go as fast as we would have if we were racing, but we went faster than if we had run on our own. Sometimes, seeing someone else ahead, or hearing the heavy breath of someone close behind is enough to push you to run a little bit faster.

In the end, what did we have? A great time. Finishers' hats. Scrapes from thorn bushes. Dirt and cuts on the legs. Sweat. A sleepy drive back to NYC. And another fun 50k run under our belts. 

Counting down the days to Javelina...

Right now, there's less than three weeks to my third 100 miler of 2010, Javelina Jundred. This race takes place on the full moon weekend closest to Halloween (my favourite holiday!) and everyone wears Halloween costumes. My costume is still a secret, but let's just say it will involve a lot of pink!

I'm a little nervous about my training. I have missed some training due to illness in July, and due to my grandfather's death in September (including one 100k race (I ran the 50k instead), and one 50 miler). My weight lifting and cross-training has also slacked off a bit due to busy schedule, but hopefully, it's keeping me strong.

I'm trying to think about the logistics - I'm going to try to stick to a very basic diet of gus (not too many), Power Gel blasts, pretzels and coconut water, and keep Tums and Immodium on hand if needed. I'm thinking of things I can control - not the intense training I'd like to have. I'm thinking body glide, lubing up the feet to protect from the sand, and how rad it will be to have my pacer and one-time running partner out there, motivating me along. I'm thinking how fun people's costumes will be.

The packing list will, of course, be re-posted soon. The sleep will be gotten. The body hydrated. The legs, strong and rested. I'm ready for this. I'm ready for another challenge.

Every 100 miler is a challenge. Of course I have time goals, but we all know that 100s provide so many crazy obstacles you could never predict. I mean, how many times will we need to squat behind a cactus? What if I face plant and really hurt myself? Will my asthma behave? Will -

Yes, I'm going to kick butt. I'm thinking rockstar thoughts. I'm thinking speed. I'm thinking runners' high.

It's going to be a great race.