Liberation Running

You will never find time for running. You must make the time. Make that time for you - to think about anything, everything, or nothing at all. Run free, liberated from technology, or run with all the gadgets - just run.

Monday, August 7, 2017


Hello!  Helllloooooo!  Echooooo....echooooo.....!  It has been quite some time since this running blog has been updated with fabulous (and cringe-worthy) running experiences.  I am happy to be writing again.  Whether you have stumbled upon this blog because you were searching for a race report, or you are interested in a unique 24 hour treadmill experience, or you heard about that lady who ran 100 miles when she was still breastfeeding her twins and wanted to check it out for yourself, I welcome you.

I am finishing up creating a unique and thought-provoking form of coaching runners called Liberation Running which has helped me immensely during my hiatus from the long distance running scene.  I am currently coaching beginners as well as very advanced runners, and everyone in between!  I am honored to be able to apply my experience to help others reach goals - and avoid the costly mistakes I have made in the past! 

Please check out the tabs above to learn more about my personal running experience, my favorite charities, and coaching styles.

Again, I welcome you - and hope to see you out on the road someday soon!


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

24 Hour Treadmill Relay Recap

Four Women, One Cause.
February 16-17, 2011

Wednesday morning started with my son, Dallas, up and at 'em at around 4:30am. So much for a few extra hours of sleep! After getting up and walking around a bit, I was jazzed and ready for the day...and the 24 hour treadmill relay that would start at 8pm that evening!

At 8:00am or so, I received a text from Kelsey, our dear crew chief. She informed me that it would be an interesting 24 hours because she just got her period. I instinctively laughed and thought, That sucks! Madame Karma reared her ugly head and got me good at around dear Aunt Ruby had arrived as well. THAT SUCKS.

Wednesday flew by in a blur of running errands and cooking food for the night and following day. Red quinoa with cranberries, OJ and almonds, polenta with tomatoes and peppers; bagels, some protein bars, black bean and lentil soup, garbanzo beans with spinach, avocado, and hummus, baked sweet potatoes, bananas with peanut butter. That was the menu for the 24 hours ahead.

I dropped off my bag at the gym where the team was meeting to drive down to the Arena and headed over to watch my kids play at the pizza joint near the gym. All the kids screaming and lights flashing was making me feel out of whack and out of focus, so I gave and received many hugs and kisses from the kiddos and my mom, who graciously flew in to watch them as David was out of town, and ran down to the gym.

I met up with Kelsey, Clarissa, and Jill and started to pack up Jill's car (they had LUGGAGE....we are talking rolley-suitcases!!!). Amy followed us down to the arena. Sarah was not too far behind as well. The mood in the backseat, where Kelsey and Clarissa were seated, was upbeat and giggly. I could tell Jill was concentrating on something as she drove. The sunset was amazing and I wish I had had a camera at that moment.

We arrived at the Arena and Matt Audibert, representative of the Phoenix Coyotes NHL team, met us at the door. He was in jeans and a sweatshirt and had a bag of what looked like running gear! But, I was wrong. I asked him if he was ready to run ten miles on the pacing treadmill and he told me about hurting his hip....hmmmmmmm...

The ladies lugged in all of their bags, blankets, and coolers and I held the door. Sarah arrived about ten minutes late in her own car. She wasn't feeling well and her daughter, Kylie, was running a fever so she needed to be able to leave - just in case. We walked in and saw the treadmills set up, ready to go. I walked in front to take a look at our view and this is what I saw:

Needless to say, it was amazing. Cold...but amazing....and cold.  Brrrrrr....

We set up "camp" and Donna Bartos (president of the Purple Ribbon Council) arrived with her three precious kids. I played tag with them for a bit (I needed to stay warm!).At 7:59pm, Matt had his clock out and ready to start us off at 8:00pm, sharp! We decided that Sarah should run first so she could go home and rest...her eyes were dilated and she was feeling feverish, even in the ridiculously cold arena. Sarah stepped onto the treadmill, Clarissa right by her side, and at 8:00pm, on the dot, the relentless running began! Our cheering echoed across the arena. The 24 hour relay, a first of it's kind, had started off with a bang!

After running 6.25 miles, Sarah got off the treadmill and Jill hopped on. Jill, in her fluorescent yellow tank top (resembling reflective tape!), was all smiles as we put "Anchorman" on the TV for her. Clarissa kept up her jogging and was at about 4.85 miles and going strong. Previously, her personal distance record was 3.1 miles...and that was a week before this run.

Jill's husband, Chad, and her sweet kids, Jack, Will, and Libby all came to cheer for her. Dave Wilson was our volunteer paramedic...THANKS, DAVE! Jill's brother, Ben, also came to support her and he stayed until she reached her own personal distance record of 20 miles!!!!!!! Before that night, Jill had run up to 16 miles on the treadmill at the gym. We both agreed that this was definitely more fun...running in "perfect" running conditions with the cooler air temps and not looking at the same ol', same ol' view at the gym.

Clarissa gave us all a scare at her 7 mile mark...she started motioning me over to her and asked for her inhaler...I hurriedly went through her purse looking for it as someone else grabbed the
nebulizer and plugged it in. Two puffs and she kept on going. She made it to 10.85 miles, more than tripling her own personal distance record. She got off the treadmill and was very emotional and had to have her inhaler again. After almost forcing her to eat (she gave in and had my black bean and lentil soup) she took a nap. Amy, under her electric blanket, and Matt were playing Rummy and talking about Coyotes...and mules, and quite possibly anything in between. I read a book for a bit and chatted with Mike before he went and got into his huge camping sleeping bag, which was apparently "too hot" for him. HA!

After "Anchorman", we watched "Inception", this is when I could see Jill getting into her zone. It was hard to figure out if we should ask her if she needed something or if we should just leave her alone. I gave her a thumbs up every once in a while and as long as she gave me a thumbs up in return, I knew her universe was in balance. I was glad her brother was there to stand by her side and even walk by her side for a bit. Another hour gone and she finished those twenty miles like it was a walk in the park!

Amy Craft was ready to run next! We put "Dumb and Dumber" on the TV and she zoned into her music. She had a solid pace of 7.0+ for quite a while. I had to remind her of what she told me a month or so ago: "I don't know if I can go 6.5mph, it seems so slow!" After hours and hours of running, sometimes the "slow" becomes the "fast"...our perceptions change. She had her "game face" on and she was focused. When I first saw Amy, I thought she was tough and extremely unapproachable (honest truth, Amy...sorry. Ha!). But, like the old cliche states: never judge a book by its cover. She is a very easy going and fun person. When she smiles, you cannot help but smile back. That night, err, morning, she held a hell of a solidly quick pace. Once she got off the treadmill, it was off to change into comfy clothes and get under her warm heated blanket (which, at some point, I stepped on and disconnected the plug...ooops).

After Amy's run, I hopped on the treadmill at approximately 4:00am. I was already stiff from sitting around in the cold air of the arena and being awake for (thirty minutes shy of) 24 hours. I started out running with my Brooks Green Silence running shoes. They are super light-weight and (usually) feel great. I brought my Vibram FiveFingers and Crocs as well so I could switch out shoes if I had a "long haul". After running for only about 30 minutes, I had to get off and go to the bathroom (damn you, Aunt Ruby). Amy hopped back on while I was gone. I have a broken pinkie toe due to an earlier training run this year, and it decided to scream in agony and remind me that it was there.  So, I took the Brooks and Drymax socks off and put them on the spare treadmill near where our paramedic, Dave Wilson, and Jill were napping in their sleeping bags. I put my FiveFingers on along with my favorite shirt from No Meat Athlete and got back on the treadmill.

At this point (and I have no way of telling you what time it was) I felt like I was running on a cloud, well, at least my feet did. My broken-ish toe felt great and supported in the FiveFingers, and I adjusted to my own biomechanically correct running form.  At one point I remember someone asking me if my feet ever even hit the treadmill belt. Well, yeah....duh! I remember my good friend, Marta, telling me that I run lightly, like a boxer.

After a few (or more than a few) more bathroom breaks, and - luckily - some baby powder that Brianna brought (thanks Brianna!) I stopped running at around 8:20ish. I was chafed in areas that I didn't even know existed on my body.

Sarah was back. She was rested and ready to go. She looked like a totally different person. We were all a little (just a little) envious of the sleep she had that night. We are all thankful that she came back too. The realization hit us that if Sarah didn't come back, we would have to carry this thing through to the end as a three person team. After each one of us completed our "long" run, the thought of doing it again was not so appealing to us. So, thankfully, Amy, Jill, and I all had a break to enjoy together. It was at this point that a real (and reasonable) strategy came into place. Each one of us would run for an hour then switch. Brilliant. Why didn't we think of this before? Ah...because the novelty was there earlier on in the 24 hours, once Sarah arrived and started running, giving us a break, the death of the novelty had set in.

Sarah ran for more than an hour. Clarissa had jumped back on and started running with Sarah. During that 24 hour period, she had 3 asthma attacks (the first one due to getting upset that the belt stopped when she accidentally hit it with her hand; the second one after she ran the 10.85 miles and she was overwhelmed with the feeling of such an accomplishment; and the third during her last few miles in which Dave put her on oxygen and told her to call it a night!). Clarissa's strong mind and determination is so strong, her body cannot keep up! She ran a total of 18.3 miles...six times more than her previous PR from one week earlier. She is living proof that one can run, even with severe asthma.

I can't be sure of exactly how long Sarah ran, but she ran strong. I do know that the rotation became Jill, Amy, Sarah, then myself.

At about 2:00pm (18 hours into the run and 33.5 hours of my own awakeness), the "funny-delirious" stuff started to happen. The run was being "skyped" (is that a verb now?) and I was performing for the audience as was everyone else. The delirium had started to rear it's ugly head which makes me laugh at extremely inappropriate times and makes me more "preachy" with my opinions. Some of the people around me were either laughing with me, or taking things personally (which, I covered my butt by making a blanket "apology" before the run - just in case things got ugly!). Here are some highlights from the streamed footage (just scroll down from the black screen).

I truly believe I was in a mental fog at this point. The conversations and things that occurred from late afternoon are blurred together: Phoenix Coyotes practice skate; Atlanta Thrashers practice skate; some guy checking the ice; some people randomly sitting in the stands; high school hockey players running bleachers; Amanda asking me if I could sub her class the next morning ("yes, of course!"); high school hockey game; guys checking the ice again and the ice temperature; re-playing Chris Farley's El Nino skit over and over and over in my head; Interview with Phoenix Coyotes website rep; Donna and her kiddoes coming back to visit and set up for the game; Jill making fun of my stinky Brooks shoes as she finally realized that THAT is where the smell was coming from; Amanda asking me again if I could sub her Friday morning class ("YES!"); talking about food; many more bathroom breaks with baby powder; Brianna running 15 miles non-stop and then, me, walking with her around the arena and chatting about random stuff; helping Brianna stretch her hamstrings; getting a lower leg massage from Clarissa and her 5-in-1 massage oil (OMG); realizing that I forgot my rolling pin (dammit!); Matt Audibert frantically making sure that our crap was all cleaned up and put away nicely; some other guy checking in on us every hour or so (I still have no idea who that guy was!); the National Anthem being rehearsed (cringe, pray, applaud).

Then, all of a sudden, people started to come in and get settled in their seats for the game. It was 7pm, game time, and Sarah was running, and running strong. I finally got to see the famous "Jamie Behrens Run" (someone please post a video of her running!). She had a bottle of Dr Pepper and was so excited to be running with Sarah. Sarah finished over 27 miles total, beating her personal record and I think Jamie actually beat her own personal record too that night...she ran over 4 miles at the end! The music was blaring and the lights were shining all over the place. I remember getting super stoked and annoyingly over-excited that there was a blimp dropping coupons into the crowd (and the excitement died when I realized that the blimp was dropping coupons to the lower level seats - I thought Come on, really? Drop those coupons in the nosebleed section for crying out loud!!!) As I got onto the treadmill, AC/DC was booming though the arena and I was fueled with the 32nd wind of the day. As I started to run, I watched people walk by and asked what was going on. I saw dollars being donated, and eyebrows raising as the true nature of this spectacle was revealed. One woman got on the treadmill and wanted to run because she said that she ate a big dinner. Matt was all over a charming (and super nervous) manner, her that it was a liability. She then proceeded to tell us that she had fallen off of a treadmill a few month back. Ouch.

As I turned up the speed to 7.2mph, I looked in front of me and I immediately recognized my sweet Shelleigh. She stood there in the glowing lights with her family and we immediately connected. I got goosebumps. Here, right in front of me, was someone who knew the true reason behind it all. The music was so loud, I couldn't hear what anyone was saying, but I could read what she said, "Thank you". It all became even more real for me. I set my pace at 7.4 mph for a good 10 minutes then put myself back between 7.0 and 7.3mph for the remainder of my run.

A check was granted to the Purple Ribbon Council. The PSA that was filmed a few weeks prior was debuted on the Jumbotron for all to see and become AWARE of what was going on in the Bud Light Chill Zone that night.

In the last few minutes, I slowed my pace and Jill got on the treadmill with me and started to jog. Amy and Sarah got on the treadmill next to us and started to run. 4 people, 2 treadmills, after almost 24 hours of running and no do the math. Jill stepped on my heels a few times so I had her get in front of me. Matt came over with his official clock and we counted down from one minute, then from 30 seconds, then from 10 seconds. Then, just like that, the run was over.

Kelsey announced that we had completed 139.3 miles collectively in the span of 24 hours. We are the first 4 woman treadmill relay to accomplish this feat. Ever.

I had my emotional release (finally) as I gave Jill, Amy, and Sarah hugs. Some pictures were taken (and my purple Hope shirt was in my bag! Ugh!). I got my celebratory (and muchly anticipated) hugs from Donna and Shelleigh along with many, many other women who stood by and watched four ordinary women challenging themselves in honor of an extraordinary cause. Hearing the softly whispered "Thank You"s as I hugged them was my reward for it all. I am sure I can speak for all the runners and crew when I say that every moment was worth it and it will be something that we will cherish in our hearts forever.

As I finish this recap, almost a whole month after the run itself, I had experienced such a close bond with the people that shared those 24 hours with me. The day after the run, I called Jill in the morning...I had such a strong urge to just hear her voice, and Sarah's, and Amy's, and everyone else that was there with us. What we all endured, no one will understand no matter how many times they may read a recap or hear the story. The main thing is that people become aware of WHY we all endured: Knowing that there are many people in our country, our city, maybe even our own neighborhood, who endure so much worse and are afraid to tell their story in fear for their lives. I hope this experience of the Purple Crewsaders gives hope to those who feel they cannot endure another day...another 24 hours. Those same people are the ones who inspired us.


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

24 Hour Treadmill Relay PRE-Run

Tomorrow is the big day! The Purple Crewsaders, Jill Monson, Sarah Mitcham, Amy Craft, and I, are running as a relay team for 24 hours on the treadmill at the Arena where the NHL's Phoenix Coyotes play. Kelsey Hughes is our leading lady as crew chief once again and we have Brianna Wilson and Clarissa Borboa, along with others, ready to pace! We have teamed up with Donna Bartos of The Purple Ribbon Council, making magic happen once again! We are running for the children who have been orphaned due to domestic homicide. It has to end.

It has been three months since I did the run solo. I learned so much from that experience and hope that I can be of help to my fellow runners who are all trying to beat their own personal records. I tweaked my training and scaled it down as if training for a 50 miler. I have found that "running" on the treadmill is just glorified "bouncing" in I made sure to do a heck of a lot more jump roping in my own training this time around along with running on the treadmill, hill training and interval training, and of course cycling and tabata training. Every runner knows NOT to eat anything different on race day, but I was lax on that during the solo run is probably what ruined it for my stomach. I have my lunchbox full of wonderful food that I trust and KNOW will fuel me correctly and give me a quick recovery so I can go running on Friday morning with my running club! 

So...once again, I find myself removing the sediment from my mind and clearing a nice cozy cave to zone into during my part of the run. This time, the atmosphere will be much different: The average temperature is 56 degrees Farenheit, my iPod died, and there will be a stadium full of hockey fans in the final hours of running. No pressure.

There will be a skype stream of the run starting tomorrow night. The skype name is "Purple Crewsaders". Please go to and click on "Pucks for Purple" to get more information regarding this run and the CAUSE.
Stay tuned for the RECAP.

Monday, December 27, 2010


My friend, Debbie, sent some photos she had stored in her camera of my recent charity run. One picture absolutely touched my heart. She captured a very important moment that made me think about how I am still here on earth.

About eleven years ago at a doctor's appointment, I was told that I had a very slim chance of having children...EVER. I was in the throes of Bulimia after dealing with Anorexia before that. I had punished my body inside and out and had not even thought of the repercussions that could eventually reveal themselves. At age nineteen, it was the last thing on my mind anyway, so I continued to silently and slowly kill myself.

At age twenty-one, I was still Bulimic and trying to find "balance" in life. "Balance" came in the form of a protective and sweet college guy named David Flores. Always moving around or running, or staying busy enough to keep my mind from imploding by adding calories in and out, he taught me that it was okay to just slloooooowwww dooowwwwnnnn. I enjoyed his company as a distraction from myself. I told him, up front, about what the doctor had said. I wanted him to move on with his life if he couldn't live with the fact that if we continued our reltaionship, we would never have children. He didn't hesitate and told me how much he loved me and it was okay. Yes, he is definitely a keeper.

On June 20th, I was doing some last minute studying for the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA-CSCS) exam in Houston, Texas. David had just graduated from Texas A&M and had moved to his own apartment (my second home at the time!). I had been throwing up, but keeping it a secret. My body was not cooperating and I could not vomit "on-demand" for some reason. I wasn't even losing any weight and I was holding onto a lot of water. I called a friend of mine and she told me to try taking a pregnancy test. Absurd, I thought, but I bought one anyway. One time. One test. PREGNANT. No way! I remember thinking. I bought three more and took one before, during, and after my NSCA-CSCS test. All positive. Imagine the emotions one would feel seeing the pink plus sign on that pee-stick after being told that there was a slim-to-none chance of ever becoming pregnant...EVER .

I got back to David's apartment as movers were bringing in his brand new leather couch...his first big purchase for the apartment, aside from a TV and a Playstation 2! I sat on that new couch and told him that I was pregnant. The first thing he said, after a hug, was, "Should I return the leather couch?"

I found an OB/GYN doctor that would do "blind" weigh-ins during my pregnancy which kept me sane and actually helped me beat the demon that was Bulimia at the time. My water broke on that new leather couch eight months later and my sweet Maya Lynn Flores was born.

Many women say that their first child is a miracle. My Maya is my own miracle. She saved my life. If God had not given me the chance to be pregnant, I would not be alive today as my eating disorder (or ED) would have taken it's toll on me and eventually win it's sick game against me.

As most of you know, eventually I had twin boys who are now three years old....another totally unexpected and humorous gift from God. I wish I could call the doctor that told me about my slim-to-none chance of ever having kids. I think that doctor would find it interesting that six years after having my daughter I got pregnant with fraternal twins on "accident"!

I see this picture and it reminds me of how much I love her and how thankful I am to be her mom.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

24 Hour Treadmill Run Recap

Mountainside Fitness - Carefree, AZ
November 12-13, 2010

24 hours. 2 times 12. One full day. 4 times 6. 1,440 minutes. 86,400 seconds. No matter how you look at it, 24 hours is a long time to be on the treadmill, at least it seemed that way for me a few times during my 24 hour run.

At 5:00 on Friday morning, November 12th, I got up and made sure I had all my food together, all the crew shirts passed out to crew members the night before, and all those "last minute" things (like remembering socks, shoes, and my brain!). My kids woke up one by one and I made an easy cereal breakfast for them, a smoothie and coffee for David, and an avocado fold-over sandwich for myself. By 7am I kissed them all goodbye, got in the car and drove over to my friend, Katherine's house.

Katherine Nelsen-Allan is a 59 year old "all green lights" force to be reckoned with. She is tough as nails, don't let her fool you! When we first met over a year ago, we became running buddies and instant friends. She ran her first and second marathons this year, and ended 2010 with a bang by running 32 miles in the treadmill that day by my side.

We were both excited and ready to RUN. She was wearing purple....even purple eyeshadow I think! I had my purple tank top on. Why purple? Purple represents the Purple Ribbon Council, an organization that aids those who fall victim to domestic violence. Purple is also the color symbolizing recovery. The two meanings together (for me, at least) meant bringing hope to the children affected by violence, or who had lost a parent due to unnecessary brutality. This was my focus, my cause, my motivation, the mental and emotional fuel that fed my spirit and made my body run. On November 12-13, it was my PURPOSE.

We made it to Mountainside Fitness by 7:45am and unloaded all the food from my SUV. Justin Blessing greeted us and was happy to help bring in the smorgasbord of Vegan food (and Diet Coke - a.k.a poison). Clarissa Borboa was already decorating the treadmill area with purple, purple, and more purple. It was festive and exciting. Mike and the Pre-Cor representative were hastily working on installing the new belts for three of the treadmills to be used that day. Ah, those belts felt so nice to run gap between belt and refreshing!

Katherine and I walked over to the weight room area to stretch. I saw Jess Olson and Daniel Alvarez working out (workout #1 of the day for those guys!). I met them the day before the run. I had read in Mountainside Fitness's magazine about Jess and his weight loss journey. He has been filming his progress and has 12 years of video of this journey. He and Daniel were gracious enough to want to film parts of the run! Genuinely kind hearts they have...

Kelsey Hughes, my Crew Chief, came in and helped set up the food along with Carrie Butler, Sarah Mitcham, and Jamie Behrens. I had gone to Whole Foods, Sprouts, and Fry's the day before the run and was thinking about what would be needed and what would taste good during all that running.
In the past, Pedialyte has always worked for me for electrolyte replacement. I also got crackers, bananas, Israeli couscous, Miso soup, raw peanut butter, Whole Foods energy bites, grapes, pineapple, strawberries, blueberries, whole wheat bread from The Bread Basket (a local bakery), and a few other things that might've sounded good to my stomach during the run. The three items I was excited about eating the most were (not in particular order) Jill Monson's peanut butter and avocado finger sandwiches, Susan Etheridge's homemade granola/fruit bars, and Naydine Reill's peanut butter and coconut no-bake cookies.

At 9:00am, I was supposed to start running, but in my usual fashion, I was tying my shoes and talking. At 9:02am, Rus Smith and Ryan Raymond (officials) started me off. So it began...

I had a pretty fast pace at the beginning...the excitement and novelty kept me feeling fresh for a few hours. We celebrated the 5K, 10K, half marathon, marathon, etc. I kept the speed between 5.8 and 6.4 for the first five hours or so. My first bathroom break was timed at 33 seconds! I remember telling Katherine, "beat that!". I felt great...nothing was hurting (yet). After the first marathon of the day, I started getting into my tunnel or "the zone". I put on my sunglasses a few times blocking out everything around me. Around noon, my mom and dad showed up which was really exciting for me. They drove two days from Dallas, TX, to help support the run as well as take care of my kids while I was running! David came up to visit as well, and acted like such a "coach" which is just what I needed when he got there! "Just keep going strong! Don't slow down! You've got it". I love him!

I kept looking behind me every once in a while and I saw a teen aged blond girl standing there watching the whole scene. She finally came over, shyly, and introduced herself. Julie Pack, an awesome cross-country runner in her Senior year of high school, hopped on the treadmill and we started chatting about running. There were so many other people popping in and out while we ran, but she had some great questions, including: "Would you consider coming to coach Girls Cross Country next year?" Gotta love it! I think I bumped my pace back into the upper 5 or lower 6mph range. I promised her we would have dinner at some point so we could REALLY talk about running without all the distractions. It was refreshing having a young runner passionate about just that...running. After she left, "Girl, Interrupted" came of my favorite movies so I tuned in...

At around 5:30pm, I had to step off the treadmill and let out some pent up frustration and emotions. I had my mind focused on my purpose for running, and I thought I had sorted through all the negative and stressful emotions beforehand, something really got to me. I started to think about a student I taught a few years ago. She had the trust and confidence in me to share her horrifying experience of abuse. It struck my heart like a dagger that has never been removed. As I kept re-living that moment in time, many other experiences that people have shared with me started popping up in my head and it just became overwhelming. So, as I said, I stepped off the treadmill, squatted down in the corner next to the treadmill and just let it all out. I just sobbed. I became vulnerable. I took about four minutes to cry and I felt better. I turned around and started to get up and I saw Rob Gollon, a great running confidante and friend I met a year ago. I immediately felt better...I knew he would provide some light-hearted and fun conversation. I hopped back on and began to run again. Rob ended up running a 10K that evening, even though he had a 5K the very next morning! The funny thing is that he ran that Saturday morning 5K in less than 21 minutes which was a PR for him!

At 11 hours (on the dot!), I hit 50 miles. I had a much needed and much deserved roll out. Those rolling pin massages were THE BEST.

Katherine Nelsen-Allan became an ultramarathon runner that wonderful day. She did magnificent! I was so happy and honored to have her there sharing her special day and special goal with me. It was so nice to run by her side for a good 9 hours or so! It was such a great accomplishment that seems to have been overlooked. Katherine did so much for this run..mentally and physically trained herself and she helped spread the news about the Purple Ribbon Council. She kicked butt and probably could have gotten up and done it again the next morning! In fact, if there weren't such a crowd on the treadmills that Saturday morning, she probably would have jumped on that treadmill next to me to run to the finish! Katanator (as I like to call her) and her husband Barry were a huge part of my success in the run and the record-setting logistics.

My sweet neighbors, Mario, LeAnn, and Joseph Birsa came to see me that night. Joseph was my youngest pacer of the day, 10 years old. It was fun to have them there, they are fun people to be around!

My high school friend, Pablo Vidales, drove out later that evening as well (after getting lost in the mountains in New River somewhere...) and he had some great jokes to share. He walked on the treadmill next to me for a bit, and in his usual sincere manner, he gave me some great things to think about. Suzanne Campbell and Michelle D'Alessio brought fun games and I listened to them play for a while. Joy Few ran that night next to me and fed me pineapple and strawberries. There were so many more people who really helped me through those tough hours. Even Ryan Raymond came back to the gym late at night, admittedly "tanked"!

Naydine, me, and Joy

Naydine Reill showed up late in the evening ready to pound out 17 miles. She brought a card that her daughter, Allanah, had made for her a few years back. It was a visual and mental focal point for her. This cause was personal and that night she beat down all self-doubt and guilt. She broke into a safe in her mind that she previously thought was forbidden territory....she gained a confidence that night that will shine through her and to others forever. The metaphorical chains had been broken. She now has an even stronger testimony of not only surviving, but coming out on top of the world. She shared that she has run up to 15 miles, but never I told her "once you commit, you cannot quit!" and she was off and an 8.0+ speed. I remember saying, "Slow down there, racehorse!" It was refreshing and motivating to see the excitement and adrenaline again, even if it wasn't in myself at the moment. She put her iPod on and started to rock out while occasionally sipping on pomegranate green tea. During her time running, I saw her go through the phases of a marathon runner: the excitement and novelty, the realization of the challenge, the hyper-awareness of the body and nagging past injuries that rear their ugly heads, the WALL, then the elation of the finish...and of course, the runner's high that comes afterward. It was fun to see it happen in one place (treadmill)...interesting to say the least. She ran her 17 miles and we all celebrated! Nichole and Allannah hugged their mom and were so happy for her...what a night!

While Naydine was running, Melissa Why came up and ran a 10K with us. She had to be up early for a soccer game on Saturday, so she decided to come on out and run a little on the treadmill to get in her workout for the day! It was fun chatting with her. I felt the honesty-and-lack-of-disclaimers-before-I-open-my-mouth syndrome hit and I told her that I am always so intimidated by her in the cycle classes...she is one tough cookie! It was fun having her there running with us. At that point, we had many people running at once. Hearing the foot-falls in cadence and out of cadence was like a symphony....I was obviously getting a little philosophical, as I usually do late at night and especially late at night while running!

Things I remember occurring that night....Caprice quoting Forrest Gump, Jenn Cohan's son, Cameron, running on the treadmill really fast. Tanner running barefoot on every single treadmill at some point or another. Lori Karn coming up and giving me a deeeeeeeeep massage which resulted in a scene similar to "40 Year Old Virgin" when the main character (Steve Carrell's character) gets waxed: "KELLY CLARRKKKSON!!!" Ouch that hurt so good. At some point, we discovered some nasty chafing! At that moment, Nichole V. came to the rescue with a Diet Coke and she had to rub it in that the chafing came from my cheap shorts and not Under Armour (where she works). So, in the picture below, I put on the compression shorts once again and put gauze on the chafed areas. I LOVE all of my scars. Who needs a tattoo when you have these awesomely sentimental battle scars!?
In the meantime, an ice bath was ready...and I was ready to try it out. I remember telling Kelsey and Carrie that I should probably stay in for 4-5 minutes. It looked inviting to my feet until I actually put my feet in it. WHOA!!!! It was mostly ice, and I felt a shock throughout my entire body from my toenails all the way up my spine to the top of my head. I think I lasted about 15 seconds, but my feet felt refreshed! Back up and ready to go...At this point, I think I put on my compression socks and Crocs to give my feet a break and work some different stabilizing muscles.

Clarissa Borboa also stepped up on the treadmill that evening and beat her personal best. She suffers from asthma, always has since she was young, and running had always been a challenge for her lungs...until that night. Her PR was 15 minutes of running on the treadmill, but that night, she ran for an HOUR. The energy was high and she made it look easy! It was amazing seeing her push through her own obstructions and seeing her discover her 2nd and 3rd wind along her hour long journey that evening. She has the drive and the spirit to go even farther, and since that night, she has already gone ten minutes more than an hour of running! Clarissa is one of the most (if not THE most) genuine people I have ever met. She is passionate about life and shows it no matter what she is doing. She has such a joyful spirit. Having her positivity nearby radiated to me and kept me truckin' along on that treadmill. Once she finished her hour, we all celebrated and cheered for her awesome accomplishment.

By 3:30am, I started to feel a little nauseous. It felt as though my stomach and intestines were fighting for attention. What I realized (now, looking back) running on a treadmill requires propulsion upward more than forward (obviously, right?). Outside running, you can push-off the ground, you have traction and move forward. So, the realization hit my insides before it actually hit my understanding: The bouncing up and down was jarring my stomach and intestines a whole lot more than it would road running. At 3:45am I started to get really pissed off at myself but soon accepted the fact that I wouldn't be able to reach my mileage goal (this time). I drank some Pedialyte, sucked it up and kept going at a 5.1 pace. Lanny Nelson, a fellow ultrarunner from Anthem, came and ran with me for a good two hours when my stomach was bothering me. It was nice to have someone running by my side that "got it". I listened to his running adventures which enabled me to go someplace else in my mind, imagining I was out there on the road, or the trails in the mountains, or even back on the beach in Florida.

Sarah Mitcham ran a half marathon the Sunday prior to the Purple Day weekend and ran a little during the week. She got on the treadmill and ran 16 miles that night!!! She remained so focused and so committed and had a great pace and made it look like she could keep going and going. Sarah has a smile that is contagious. She smiled throughout her run, and I honestly think she should have run the full marathon distance (just my snooty opinion! hee hee). I know her daughter, Kylie, and her husband must have been proud of how well she ran. I had been bugging her to register for the PF Chang's Rock and Roll Phoenix Marathon for a while, and now that she proved to herself she could run more and feel great afterward, she is going for gold...Sarah is marathon bound and I am so anxious to run with her during her training! When she finished her 16 miles that night, I remember Amanda Soerhide running out in a towel to see her finish. At this point, Kelsey announced to the Facebook world that there was running and streaking going on at Mountainside Fitness. What a riot!

This is the part where things became a bit "blurry": After many many applications of Tiger Balm, some roll outs, , bathroom breaks and some shuffling and power walking on the treadmill while listening to Amanda read the "Would You Rather?" game cards (and making up a few of her own like "would you rather have a booger stuck in your nose and you cannot get it out or would you rather have dirt in your buttcrack?"), the time was 5:15am and my stomach and intestines had started to get the best of me. I threw up at 5:35am and felt better, thinking I could start running strong again. intestines were still very unhappy. Lots of bathrooms trips at that point and slowed down to a shuffle-run! No leg issues, no injuries. Next time I must do some extra intestinal exercises because it was the cause of my slow down!

The gym was open and I got to see the really hardcore early "A.M.-ers" start their morning routines. I watched a guy look like he was going to fly off the elliptical he was going so fast it made me laugh. I thought I saw an ant crawling on the information center on the treadmill so I asked my friend Debbie Smith if it was really there (just to make sure I wasn't going through the same strange hallucinations I have before in other really long distance events!). She flicked it and I knew I was doing alright.

I kept yelling over at Kelsey to look up the 24 hour treadmill records (at least ten times) to make sure that I would be able to land a spot on the list. She assured me (all ten times) that it was fine and I was doing great and to just keep moving. I remember her asking me if she was being too "nice" to me...and I honestly told her that she was. It was then that I stayed on that treadmill for a really long time. So long that now it seems like a blur. That sun-rise-morning-fog-lifting sort of blur that one gets after a long night of partying. It made me think of the movie "Dazed and Confused" when they were up all night partying after the last day of school lets out and no one really remembers what the movie is about between the hazing at the beginning to the sunrise at the end. Yep...that pretty much explains the final few hours for me.

The last hour approached and I picked up the speed a tad. I was running by Rhonda Freerks as she spoke with Katherine and Deb. David came up to the gym and ran beside me for a little while which I had imagined to be a great thing before the run. At that actual point, I got annoyed by him beating my pace. I get so competitive with my Sweetie. He got off the treadmill 30 minutes before the finish. I entered the short but honorable list of 24 hour treadmill running women after I passed up Austria's Manuela Resnik's record of 77 miles. There is a huge gap between her record and the next one up...I had to run 93 miles to beat the next runner on that list. That day, November 13, 2010, it just wasn't going to happen. I accepted it graciously and focused back on the task at hand, and the reason why I was running in the first place. I could not allow negative feelings seep their way into my thought process. I had to stay in control of my thoughts so they would not control me. At that time, Kelsey came up to me and told me that with the amount of money that had been raised so far, at least five kids would be saved. I broke down in a happy-sad-overwhelming-emotional sob. I pushed the green arrow upward and moved onward with a faster pace. At 5 minutes left, I began to kick it in a higher gear (which was, sadly, only about 5.2 at this point!) and people began to gather around. So much love and support filled that room. It was nice to see all the smiling faces. Rus Smith and Dan Graziano, officials, were there looking at the clock. At 9:02am, I would be finished. TWO MINUTES LEFT. I looked at Katherine and she was were many other bystanders. I told her it wasn't time to cry yet and that I could not cry yet, I had to finish strong. ONE MINUTE LEFT. I punched it out and ran 5.8 which - at that point - felt like a sprint. 10...9...8...7...6...5...4...3...2...1...FINISHED. I hit that red stop button and thought "NO WHAMMIES!" I bent over and let it all out. I cried and probably snotted all over myself. Dallas, in his usual attire of a Batman cape and a Darth Vader sword, was screaming. I picked him up and hugged him. I kissed David and Austin. I gave Maya a huge hugStreamers and confetti shot out from around the treadmill area. DONE. A moment of unintentional silence and I felt that I needed to fill the void. The first thing that came to my mind was letting everyone know about my friends who had conquered so much that night...who had run more than they have ever run before...I was a wreck and wanted to desperately get off that treadmill. Amanda stepped up and thanked everyone, especially the crew, who came out and helped. 86.21 miles. That is from Anthem, AZ to Sedona, AZ. McKinney, TX to Hillsboro, TX. Fort Pierce, FL to Delray Beach, FL. You get the point....

It was a very special 24 hours for me. It was one that I will always hold dear in my heart. I was so happy to be able to use my passion for running to help raise awareness about Domestic Violence and how it can affect ANYONE. Thank you to all of you who shared your life experiences and stories. I am honored to have each and every one of you in my life. Thank you to Carrie Butler and Kelsey Hughes for staying with me for the whole evening. I could not have succeeded without you.... Thank you, Donna Bartos, for having the faith in me to do this event to help share the "little purple secret". I will never forget the love, support, and encouragement you gave me and the efforts you put forth into this special cause.

The logbooks and paperwork has been submitted and I am 9th in the world and 3rd in the U.S. for Women's 24 hour Treadmill running. Thank you all for your love and support, and especially for believing in me and supporting my purpose for this run.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Into My Tunnel...

I thought about writing an elaborate pre-run summary for the 24 hour treadmill run this week, but all I can focus on is one great discovery I have made over the last few days: What doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.....and sometimes a little nauseous and daydreamy....

I am digging into my little tunnel in my mind, next time I come out and write, the run will be over and you will read a more elaborate re-cap.

Until then, prayers, thoughts, and virtual high fives are welcome and encouraged! See you on the other side of the tunnel!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Make the Marathon More Mini....

For the last few days, I have needed gas in my car. I have a screen that tells me how many miles I have left until the dreaded "E" (empty). On my way out this morning, the warning light came on reminding me that I need to fill-er-up soon. I cleared the screen and saw that I had 26.2 miles left until "E"! I laughed and thought about a time when I had put the marathon distance into perspective, for a marathon virgin, in just this way:

I was running with a good friend, Tami, in Florida training for the A1A Marathon a few years ago. It was her first marathon, so we were doing the"wall buster" 22.5 mile training run. I was trying to put the whole "marathon" distance into perspective for her so it wouldn't seem so daunting. So, I said, Think about when you are low on gas and you have 26 miles to go until you are out of fuel, do you panic and rush to the nearest gas station? I was happy that her answer confirmed my theory, Of course I would get to the nearest gas station! CLICK...there it is, folks...26.2 miles is NOT that far. Keep telling yourself that and you'll be fine...

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Looking Backward, Moving Forward...

"One can look back a thousand years easier than forward fifty." - Richard Bellamy, Looking Backward.

In my kitchen, I have a digital picture frame that plays a slideshow of photos taken throughout the years. As I was cleaning up after lunch, I stopped and stared at each picture as it appeared on the screen. Pictures create memories of our past. Deep inside, I wished that the digital frame would give me a glimpse of what's to that will one day be on the display screen.

Photos taken during the Keys 100 mile run came on the screen and I had a huge moment of self-discovery. I have been in Arizona for a year now, and I remember looking at these same photos last year at this time. I recall thinking, I wish I was THAT person again: that strong, that focused, that happy. Pictures of Lisa Smith-Batchen's 50 miler here in Phoenix came up next. I hadn't trained at all for that day, but I went out and ran anyway. I remember feeling confident that day, and smart (making good decisions about nutrition, pace, etc). Today, as I looked at the pictures flash by, my heart smiled, I am a BETTER person: stronger, more focused, and the happiest I have ever been in my life. I have reached the summit of your pyramid, Maslowe! What could possibly come next? Do I dare ask?

Keep moving forward, one foot in front of the other. Relentless. Forward. Motion.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Stephen King Does Ultra-endurance...

I recently finished reading another wonderfully written and motivational book called The Long Walk, by Stephen King. I know what you're thinking: Stephen King? Motivational? This was my first Stephen King experience, and it was a fulfilling one.

The initial intrigue I had for this story is this : 100 boys are summoned to partake in a walk starting from the northern border of Maine and going southbound as far as they can walk. They must maintain a speed of 4.0 miles per hour or faster or they are warned by soldiers riding on a half-track. After a boy receives 3 warnings, he is shot dead in his tracks. They are offered food concentrates (like GU gels) and can have unlimited refills of water. Charley-horse cramps, stomach cramps, extreme exhaustion, heat exhaustion, pneumonia, insanity are some of the reasons why numerous boys "buy their ticket" out by being shot dead. Now, you are thinking: Okay, you're sick, Robyn! How is this motivating??

After reading about the first boy getting shot, I honestly didn't think I could get through the rest of the book. But I remembered what Marta had told me when she had recommended this book to me before the Keys 100 mile race: Stephen King really describes the boys' psyche as they push themselves to keep moving forward. So, I kept reading and came across some of these great literary gems (specifically for an ultra long distance runner!):

"They (the Walkers) got that way, Garraty had noticed. Complete withdrawal from everything and everyone around them. Everything but the road. They stared at the road with a kind of horrid fascination, as if it were a tightrope they had to walk over an endless, bottomless chasm" (p. 121).
I vividly remember, during the Keys 100 race, a man (I thought he looked more like a helpless boy) walking like a zombie in front of me, crossing over the bridges in the darkness. At one point, he had two crew-members holding him up. He was completely dazed...nutrition must have been a little "off". It seems as if the brain is usually capable of multi-tasking, but when it is that exhausted or under-nourished, it can only focus on the task at hand...moving forward.

"How deep inside himself is he? Fathoms? Miles? Light-years? How deep and how dark? And the answer came back to him: too deep and too dark to see out. He's hiding down there in the darkness and it's too deep to see out" (p. 209).
My tunnel. My cave. The quintessential "zone-out". Forty-six and two. Ultimate zen. Whatever you want to call that intimate place you have deep inside yourself, the place where pain and the outside world cannot harm you anymore until you are bitch-slapped back into reality. This is my favorite place to "run".

"Thinking, Garraty thought. That's the day's business. Thinking. Thinking and isolation, because it doesn't matter if you pass the time of day with someone or not; in the end, you're alone. He seemed to have put in as many miles in his brain as he had with his feet. The thoughts kept coming and there was no way to deny them. It was enough to make you wonder what Socrates had thought about right after he had tossed off his hemlock cocktail" (p. 134).
Take away all the technology that suffocates us these days and you are left with your thoughts, which can be a good or bad thing. Without distractions, we have focus, but in an extreme endurance event, it seems as though if we can wrap our brains around something other than the task at hand, we may have a better chance of being successful in our endeavors. I rely on my thoughts while running until my thoughts start running me. There is a breaking point or "wall" to be hit with any distance. I find that most beginner runners can't get past that 5K mark at first attempt: I get tired at around 3 miles or I got bored! For marathoners, it is around the 18th-22nd mile when the novelty wears off and the realization, and often panic, sets in. For ultra-runners...true do-or-die type runners who run until they are taken off the course by medics against their will, there are many walls. To some, the hallucinations kick in and the"wall" appears to be a group of galloping gnomes, a snail on a motorcycle, or the dreaded smiling Great White Shark who mocks the bridge crossers! Yes, the latter was definitely a personal experience. Thoughts seem to be infinite. Thinking does pass the time...controlling the thoughts is the key.

"Distance lends perspective, they say" (p. 203).
This phrase speaks volumes to me. One way of looking at it is similar to the over-used, "Absence makes the heart grow fonder." In context, the character, McVries, is speaking about his crazy ex-girlfriend and about how angry he was years ago over the demise of his relationship with her. He was able to look to the past and gain a different perspective, and, ultimately, attitude toward her. This is especially applicable to any emotional situation, especially under the magnification of a teenager. One can look back at stressful situations and often laugh. Distance measured in time does indeed lend perspective. The irony is this: Distance, measured in miles, ALSO lends perspective. I can truthfully say the logical side of my brain awakens from it's slumber during a run. The funny thing is that my creativity is also enhanced. The farther I run, the more clarity I gain. Taken to heart, one may be able to solve the world's problems just by...going on a run...

"'It's amazing how the mind operates the body,' (Stebbins) said at last. 'It's amazing how it can take over and dictate to the body. Your average housewife may walk up to sixteen miles a day, from icebox to ironing board to clothesline. She's ready to put her feet up at the end of the day but she's not exhausted. A door-to-door salesman might do twenty. A high school kid in training for football walks twenty-five to twenty-eight.....that's in one day from getting up in the morning to going to bed at night. All of them get tired, but none of them get exhausted'...But suppose you told the housewife: today you must walk sixteen miles before you can have your supper'...Garraty nodded (and replied) 'She'd be exhausted instead of tired.' Stebbins said nothing. Garraty had the perverse feeling that Stebbins was disappointed in him. 'Well, wouldn't she?' (Garraty says). 'Don't you think she'd have her sixteen miles in by noon so she could kick off her shoes and spend the afternoon watching the soaps? I do. Are you tired, Garraty?...Exhausted?...No, you're not getting exhausted yet...'" (p. 237).
This was too good not to include in this post. Exhaustion, by definition, it is extreme physical or mental fatigue. The literal Latin translation is "drain out". I have only been truly exhausted a few times in my life. I am in a constant state of tiredness...but just before I hit the point of exhaustion, I hit my 127th wind that drains that last drop! Have you ever been truly exhausted?

What I discovered about myself...
I immediately identified with the characters on the level of the mind/body connection which was a great discovery for myself. I don't enjoy yoga or anything in the stereotypical "mind/body" genre of exercise or new aged thinking. I actually detest it! But, instead, I found that my mind/body connection is achieved only when it is forced to work together to keep my whole being intact, like a divorced couple who only see each other at their kid's birthday party.

How do you achieve that mind/body connection?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Experiencing Someone's Pain...

This morning I went to the gym and was having an "off" day. I got on and off the treadmill, stretching in between sets of mileage. I started to worry. I started wondering how the day will THAT day is going to my body cooperates and what tricks my mind will play on me. Perfect example: Watching the Dallas Cowboys lately has been frustrating because they seem to have those game days that they are just "off" and not playing well. I have never earned myself a "DNF" (did not finish) and will be crushed if it comes down to that. These thoughts haunted me this morning.

Next month...that's month. I will be running the 24 Hour treadmill run NEXT MONTH. Although I changed my training drastically from previous runs, I have still managed to become a zombie. My brain has taken the wheel and I am coasting on auto-pilot, and will continue to be on auto-pilot until this run is completed. People ask me how it's going to go, and what I expect. I never know what to expect. This time there's some sort of void. I can't tell if it's in my heart, or in my spirit, or if it is just my head making up stuff.

God was listening. Karma was on guard. The rain gods poured down rain here in the desert. Someone somewhere was rubbing a big gold Buddha belly. A feeling of Zen was in place as soon as I started to chat with a newfound friend. She has been going through a ton of stress in her life. She opened up to me and told me that she had suffered abuse as a child. I felt a sharp tug at my heart and something in me clicked. A whirlwind of realization came out of the cloudy sky as the electricity in my brain flickered and the lightbulb came back on, the void was filled: WHY I am running.

Most of you know, I am dedicating this run solely to The Purple Ribbon Council who is headed up by a true saint, Donna Bartos. This organization was set up to help those families affected by Domestic Violence and even homicide. As I listened to my friend talk, I saw the pain in her eyes and it radiated in her voice. That one should feel it. My heart ached for her. I saw it firsthand, the effects of what it does to people. I flashed back to a scene from my past when I had seen the aftermath of this violence for the first time. My aunt had come over to our house when I was very young. I could hardly recognize her. Her eyes were swollen and bruised. Her arm was bruised and red. The strong feisty person I loved was broken, and I couldn't understand why. The thing my friend and my aunt have in common is that they had been beaten down to the depths of themselves so deep that confidence could not find it's way back out. Having suffered from Anorexia and Bulimia in my life, I felt an instant connection during my conversation today. The toxic feeling of worthlessness. Negativity accumulates a lot faster than positivity and it is a heavy load to lift. It's like fat. It's easy to put on, but a hell of a lot harder to take off. Each stressor and negative thought, each abusive memory burdens the soul, thus making it harder to be uplifted.

These feelings, this connection I felt today made me more motivated than ever. THIS is why I am running. Two attempts will be made on November 12-13. Attempting to beat a record seems so trivial now. My entire focus and my drive has shifted to something so much more important.

Thank you for sharing some of your "story" with me know who you are...