“Perhaps the genius of ultrarunning is its supreme lack of utility. It makes no sense in a world of space ships and supercomputers to run vast distances on foot. There is no money in it and no fame, frequently not even the approval of peers. But as poets, apostles and philosophers have insisted from the dawn of time, there is more to life than logic and common sense. The ultra runners know this instinctively. And they know something else that is lost on the sedentary. They understand, perhaps better than anyone, that the doors to the spirit will swing open with physical effort. In running such long and taxing distances they answer a call from the deepest realms of their being — a call that asks who they are …”
– David Blaikie

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 on...no gap between belt and board...so 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 on...one 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 more...so I told her "once you commit, you cannot quit!" and she was off and running....at 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. Nope...my 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 crying...so 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 come...pictures 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?

Friday, June 11, 2010

Dreadmill 24 Update...

I got the thumbs up from Mountainside Fitness today regarding my shot at the 24 hour run on the treadmill! Woo-hoo! Sweet! I am so excited! I think I am still on a runner's high from my 10+ hour run on Tuesday! I am going to speak with the general manager next week to square away the details as to when the event will take place. I will keep you all posted!

Oh! And I got hired as a group fitness instructor today! (:

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Rising from the Ashes..

Running Hope Across America: PHOENIX
June 8, 2010

PHOENIX: |ˈfēniks| |ˈfinɪks| |ˈfiːnɪks|
(in classical mythology) a unique bird that lived for five or six centuries in the Arabian desert, after this time burning itself on a funeral
pyre and rising from the ashes with renewed youth to live through another cycle.
• a person or thing regarded as uniquely remarkable in some respect.

On June 8, 2010, Lisa Smith-Batchen, a world class ultra endurance athlete, was scheduled to run 50 miles in Phoenix, Arizona. This, of course, after running 2000 miles in other states. She will be the first person to ever run 50 miles, in 50 states, in 62 days. Amazing is an understatement.

I had been following her progress and was really excited about her running in Phoenix. I knew it would be hotter than hell, and probably THE MOST unbearable heat she has seen on this excursion across the United States. (It was). She runs to raise money for AIDS Orphans. I have heard her speak about the charity, and it is a heart-wrenching reality that I never knew about until the Keys 100 mile run last May. Sister Mary Beth Lloyd, a nun from the Filipini Order, works directly for and with these children. She also has been running 20 miles per day with Lisa. Oh, and she runs in full nun habit! I was anxious to run amongst these incredible women.

I must say that I have not run outdoors since March of this year. David and I joined a great gym and I ran on the treadmill, which gave me the inspiration for my 24 hour run this fall. For my 100 miler last year, I completely OVERtrained, and I knew this time that I needed to do much more weight training. So, I ran on the treadmill a few times a week, usually 3-13 miles each time, not really pushing it. I continued to take different conditioning group fitness classes almost every day. My diet changed drastically since my last ultra. I gave up meat.

As June 8th approached, I had it in my mind that I would do the 50 miles. Why not? In my (messed-up-crazy-sometimes-irrational-falsely-invincible) brain I thought it wouldn't be a big deal! It was just half of my max. race mileage! No biggie!

At 4:00AM in the morning of June 8th, after less than 4 hours of sleep, I was out the door and psyched to be driving to a running event. I felt like I was going to see an old friend that I have not seen in a very long time. Over the last few months, I have maintained a long distance relationship with running....maybe in a literal sense! Absence made my heart grow fonder, and my legs antsy. I have had the "shakes" from the lack of endorphins that come with running. I am no sports scientist, but I truly believe there is a special kind of hormone that is secreted in the bloodstream in runners....just runners. No one else seems to "get it". It is an out of body experience, yet, you are so in tuned with your body at the same time. On my way to the run, I was already in that mindset. I was excited, did I mention that?

4:45M: I arrived much earlier than I thought I would. I reached the Nesbitt Park parking lot. It was still really dark, and I realized that I need to go to an optometrist to get my eyes checked because I really had a rough time trying to see in the dark! Damn, I am getting old. I sat in my car and looked all around to see if I could spot the "Run Hope Across America" RV. Nothing. I did see a few cars and some lights on way across the park's soccer fields. I drove around some neighborhoods to try and find out where those cars and lights were...maybe THAT is where we supposed to meet? I got to the lights and cars that I saw and realized it was only a garage light on with 2 cars in the garage and 3 cars crammed together on the driveway. So, I turned around and went back to the park.

5:05AM: A black BMW parked a few spaces from my car. We were the only cars in the parking lot at this point. I rolled down my window and asked the driver if he was here for the RHAA run. He smiled and nodded. Another man got out of the car and they walked over to the restrooms. The sun was up already at this point(yes, the sun comes up REALLY early in Arizona). I decided to get all my stuff ready in the back of the trunk. Still no RV.

The two men came over and introduced themselves as Cat (like the pet) and Jay. Jay's a seasoned runner...he runs half marathons and trails. Cat just started running a few months ago from what I understand. He had surgery and was in bed for a while and Jay gave him the book, Ultramarathon Man (by Dean Karnazes). From that moment, he was inspired. I love hearing stories like that! So, we were all chatting and waiting for the RV to show up.

5:20AM: A guy in an SUV with Triathlon stickers on the back window showed up. He was rustling around, getting all his gear together. He introduced himself, Eric (who would become a great running partner for me that day). We exchanged stories of runs, triathlons, and inspiration while nervously checking the clock to see what time it was. At 5:45AM, we were all trying to figure out what had happened. Cat looked on his phone to see if anything on the website had changed. No changes. The worst began to enter my own mind. What if Lisa's foot is too hurt to continue? What if the RV broke down? I couldn't fathom what would step in the way of this amazing woman's journey. There HAD to be some sort of explanation.

6:00AM: The four of us began to run.

To be continued...

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Dreadmill 24.

"The Road Goes On Forever and the Party Never Ends" (Pat Green). Sounds like fun - sounds like ultrarunning!

After moving to this barren, hotter than hell, full of deadly animals and plants (yes, there are "shooting cacti"), I thought my journey as an ultrarunner had ended at the finish line of the Keys 100 miler last year. That was until I came up with a brilliant plan to continue my quest to challenge my body and mind and use the gift of endurance God gave me for a good cause! I am going to run on the treadmill in the air conditioning for 24 hours and log as many miles as I can! Yippeee!! Life is good again.

But, again, it IS the dreadmill, er, the treadmill. When I tell you that I strongly dislike running on a treadmill, I mean it. I don't "hate" many things, but it is one step up from pure hatred. This will be the toughest mental running I have ever endured. I hate the treadmill, did I mention that?

So, I will keep you posted on the when-and-where on this blog and on Facebook. Until then, I will be accepting brainteasers, riddles, and audiobooks to keep my mind off the task at hand during the run.