Posted on Sep 9, 2014
Yes, I’m still pregnant (39 weeks) and yes, I am still running. It’s just taking me a lot longer to cover the distance. So of course, this means I have lots of time to think and reflect on those trails. I ran 6 miles on Sunday to my favorite meadow and baby seems pretty content in there for a while longer, but as I tend to be impatient, I found some reflection points that I hope to come back to even when I am not pregnant:
“God has to nearly kill us sometimes, to teach us lessons.”
― John Muir
If you’ve ever been 10 miles away from a 100 mile finish, you know what I’m talking about. You hurt, you breathe a bit harder, you almost wish away those miles because you feel the finish line and therefore, the end of the suffering. It’s hard to stay in the moment. But you also know, those last 10 miles are where the work is done- not so much the physical work, cause let’s face it, your body is cooked, but this is where the mental work, the soul revealing, this is-who-I- am moments lie in your race. These are the moments you think about forever. What do you have left?
As I sit here, likely still a few days (or even longer) away from giving birth, it seems so easy to wish away these last days- to want to hold my baby, to want to run for hours and hours on the trail, to get rid of the constant heartburn, achy hips, large belly and all the other ailments I could sit and focus on. But instead, I find myself having acknowledged all these things, wanting to let myself be okay savoring the uncomfortable feeling for a bit longer. I have talked about this before, but running a 100 miles is akin in some ways to being pregnant. But more than ever, I have found this pregnancy a real lesson in ultra running patience that I hope to think about when I am hurting in my next race.
Things I will think about over the next few days and in my next 100 miler:
1. Find a spiritual focus and tap into it throughout.
2. You will suffer and you will get to the end of it.
3. Flow, don’t fight.
4. Go inward when you need to and likewise, use the energy around you to help give you power.
5. Smile, even when you hurt
6. Make your plan and then get ready to ditch it
7. Have a mantra and repeat it
8. The things that hurt are the things that make memories
9. Be grateful, always.
10. They don’t call it labor for nuthin… nor is ultrarunning supposed to be easy.
Posted on Jun 18, 2014
I do have a coach, and a good one at that (thank you Ian Torrence). But as I was thinking about how things have evolved for me as a runner in the last 4 years, I notice that many of the lessons I take with me on the trail were given to me by my daughter. I wanted to share a few things that she gave me.
1. Love for sunshine, dirt, mud and plain fun. So many workouts prior to Eva, were just workouts. Not saying I didn’t love them, but I did “work.” for them more times than just enjoy the hard challenges. I got to watch my daughter fall in love with grass and dirt and mud pies and the intrigue of being on singletrack with her mama. I began to find myself smiling more on my daily runs. I would actually see and look for bugs, plants or I would stomp in a muddy puddle on purpose. Just cause it’s fun. Running done just for fun is the best kind. You can still work hard and smile.
2. Helping others is such a privilege. All Eva wants to do is to help me. Can she water the garden, can she help me cook, can she wash the plates in the sink? Always asking to help me. I got to thinking, if all adults were as eager to help as a toddler, we would live in a different world. I apply this to my running when I am in racing mode and instead of running against someone, for the sake of competition. I think about running with them and beside them. Helping each other achieve our best day. When I ran Pine to Palm in 2012, Jen Shelton and I were together leading the race. In the hottest part of the day, she started puking. Yeah it was a race, but I stuck with her to make sure she was ok. It felt wrong to leave her at that moment. I see this happen every time I’m at an ultra. We are constantly helping one another. I love this sport.
3. Sometimes its better to just lay down and nap. Work, running, chores can wait. The hardest thing for me to do is simply to be. Eva, though a usual bad sleeper, would throw her hands in the air and try to resist a nap, but would give in, sleep away and wake up a different person. When your day is going to shit, try taking a nap.
4. Put down the phone, the facebook, the twitter and just go do and be. The greatest reward to watching Eva grow is to learn to be in the moment. Stop multi-tasking, checking instagram and zoning out. One of the greatest weekends our family had, was backpacking and crewing a section of the JMT while our friends were out setting the FKT (Hal and Mike). No phone, no zoning out, just talking to one another and being in nature made for a slow feeling moment in life. Kids are always in the moment. They capture each minute and go with it.
5. Practice makes you better. When Eva has tried to do anything: walk, crawl, draw, paint, ride a bike, she has practiced it over and over and over. She taught me that we are all rookies at things until one day we aren’t. I am not sure when you cross the line over to expert, but it takes a ton of dedication, practice and patience to get there. If Eva wants to do something, she does it. Failure isn’t an option. As I think about next season in running, and my return to competition, I think about this the most. Practice and then practice some more.
Posted on May 28, 2014
Ok, well here we are, a bit over 24 weeks pregnant. I have to say this pregnancy is zooming along. The pace of life is keeping me going. My biggest struggles have been a few things-1) work responsibilities are growing as big as my belly (i.e. travel, then a 70 hour work week on the East Coast is getting harder and my heart breaks to leave my daughter more than ever), 2) The realization that I cannot and will not be able to do everything once this baby arrives mean I am more reflective now than ever about how I want to prioritize my life and 3) on a very superficial but related to running note, I struggle with accepting the needed pregnancy weight gain. They say when you have a breakdown, you have a breakthrough. Much could be said about juggling so much you begin to crave simplicity- running in the mountains, being a mom, productions with Journeyfilm are still the most important things. More on that later- but let’s just say, I am looking at my life no longer through only my eyes, but now with the vision of my two kiddos. I want them to be clear who their mama is.
Smores of course
The pregnancy health wise, has been spectacular thus far- I only had one little scare when I thought I had appendicitis, but later confirmed, no in fact, it was massive acid reflux. A lot of Pepcid AC later, and I am back on track. At 6 months, my scale is telling me I weigh about 16 pounds more than training weight and 19 pounds more than racing weight. I can honestly say I have never eaten more clean however- and often wake up wanting only greens and blueberries. So this amount of gain perplexes me. But just this week, I made peace with it and have stopped complaining (sorry JB). I don’t feel super heavy- though I notice it much more on the steep climbs on the trails more than any other time. I am trying to just accept that yes, I will gain about 35 pounds in total and just like with Eva, I will lose them again. The major difference is that my belly is smaller this time round- maybe its that whole boy vs. girl thing or its just plain different. That only means one thing thus far- I haven’t had to break out the running support belt yet. I’m sure its coming. I do feel more fit this time and so I am grateful for that. Running volume isn’t much- still about 30-40 miles a week. But usually 30. I am trying to keep up squats, side lunges, push ups, side planks, tricep work about 2-3 days a week. I am also getting ready to take some ballet/barre core classes and other ways to diversify and keep it fun in the summer heat.
Robinson Flat, Eva ready to run
Finally, the greatest weekend of the year happened to be just last weekend at the Western States 100 training camp. JB, Eva, Luna (the pup) and myself loaded up our camper trailer (the new HQ for Journeyfilm’s traveling TraiLive show) and we headed to Robinson flat. JB did the bulk of the running with a 20, 48, 5, 20 mile sequential days of running on the trail. I ran each day on the course and found my favorite section by working hard to get up from the creek below Duncan Canyon to Robinrson flat. I also got to enjoy views, stop and look around and basically do all the things you don’t get to appreciate during the race. I reminisced about my race last year- how fit I actually was (I ran most of the Robinson climb compared to my hiking last weekend) and what went wrong. It occurred to me that for some reason Western States is the only 100 mile race I have started, but haven’t finished. Twice. The first year was major sickness that should have been a DNS, but last year was my infamous myriad of mistakes led to DNF at mile 80. I thought about what it means to put it all together- be smart, be fit, minimize the little mistakes. Pam Smith- your name came up as doing that so well. I relished the footsteps I was taking on the course, the mending of my mind and the forgiveness of myself for such a lousy race last year. I came away with that level of stoke that you get right before something great happens or maybe that feeling you get heading into a race that goes well. It was so amazing to be so simple and to sleep under the pines with no particular pressure of my own. I could feel the excitement of the other runners and for this year, that will do just fine. I promised myself that I will be back to that race- maybe next year if I don’t get into Hardrock 100. I will make it right.
JB along the WS trail
The other major accomplishment this past weekend, is that Eva did the Little Bald loop from Robinson- all 4 miles and 1400 feet of climbing all by herself- much of it running. She would say things like- “Mommy, isn’t this a beautiful view?” or “Mommy watch me run over these rocks.” She’s a wild child- her technical downhill skills are pretty dang awesome. No fear, pure foot rhythm and feel. What a joy to watch.
So Hokas are so comfy, Luna can sleep on them
Next up is crewing at WS100 and then a major road trip to Hardrock. Wishing the WS runners a bit more of a push in their training and then a successful and happy taper. See you at the race.
Posted on Apr 16, 2014
Well, I am almost halfway through this 9 month taper, you could say. It’s a bit of a different taper than the what I am used to, but one I have endured once before. No googling course maps or split times, but there is a definite race date in September. I’ve gained 12 pounds, am really only running about 30-40 miles a week and I tend to google things like boy names and lightweight breast pumps. I’ve totally lost race fitness and crave green apples, lots of them. A pretty wild journey of pregnancy.
There’s the boy at about 12 weeks
We find ourselves expecting a little boy in the fall and we couldn’t be happier. We weren’t sure if it was going to happen to be quite honest. I promised over and over to JB that after Western States last year, I would slow down and be ready to complete our family. Eva is already 3 and we didn’t want to space our kids too far apart if we could help it. But how do you pause in competitive running when you have so many goals left to accomplish? Well, it turns out, you follow the path that is given to you, because running isn’t going anywhere. While the beginning of 2013 started out strong and my body was performing really well, I got a bit too ambitious and derailed the second half of the year. I tried to “do it all,” (mommy, jobs, running, lack of sleep) and well, learned you just can’t. (more on my revelation about that later) After my race at WS100 didn’t go to plan, and a DNF ensued, I felt I needed to make it right. So I hastily ran a few more races and all of a sudden, September and Run Rabbit Run 100 came and went with what was my slowest 100 miler to date. It was at that point that I could see I was at the stages of burnout and my body wasn’t taking my crazy life well any more. Not to mention, my daughter was asking when was she going to have a brother or sister. (Whew, no one ever warned me about that one- its the sweetest and most honest request ever and by the way, it worked). So, I committed to the process and got my head right. I knew it was now or never, and I trusted the path as it seemed so clear finally. We were thrilled to find ourselves pregnant right away. I really couldn’t believe it, I had just run a 100 miles 4 weeks before. A few weeks passed by in the pregnancy and I was out on a short run on the Donner Rim Trail, enjoying the fall colors, when I began cramping and bleeding pretty profusely. The days leading up to this, I told JB, I felt something wasn’t quite right. I was losing the feeling of being pregnant. Sure enough,the doctor couldn’t find the heartbeat and he told us we lost the baby. That was devastating to both JB and myself and something I wasn’t really prepared for. It began a time of uncertainty and some anxiety about what my body was capable of. I wondered if we tried too soon after my hundred miler that was so physically out of sorts for me. After waiting the time suggested by my doctor, we felt okay to try again. In early December, I got a positive pregnancy test, only to find out it didn’t stick around for more than a few days after. They call this a chemical miscarriage,where implantation does not fully happen. I was pretty down and sad after two miscarriages and I began questioning my body. My doctor told me, it’s rare to miscarry more than twice and he felt okay for us to give it another try if we were mentally okay to do so. I wanted some reason why it happened, but as life is constantly teaching me, sometimes there aren’t answers for a long time, if ever. I pondered my years long struggle with low ferritin levels and possibly irregular hormones, but neither case seemed too extreme. My doc suggested gaining a few pounds for hormone regulation- (i.e., body fat of runners can affect estrogen/progesterone levels,) adding more iron and to stop stressing. The key in all of that: STOP STRESSING!! Trust your body and it will happen. Plus I am not one to give up. In late January, we were surprised and blessed with the news, we were indeed pregnant again. While this pregnancy felt different right away (strong sense of those pregnancy hormones- fatigue, nausea, hunger pains) I was very, very cautious in celebrating it.
The last of the flat belly, me preggo at 8 weeks.
Once I went in around the 7 week mark and saw that tiny little heartbeat, I was emotionally overjoyed and relieved all at once. They say once you hit 12 weeks and beyond, the chance for miscarriage is less than 5%. I still pray every single night this little life will continue to grow. Occasionally, I get feelings of caution and well, being a bit scared, but each day is getting me closer to meeting this little love. But I am feeling really good and the baby seems really strong and healthy. Again, finding peace in my runs and in breathing deep. Not to mention, my daughter is so involved in the preparation for her little brother, we both get excited in talking about him, or letting her hold my belly and say “Good Morning brother or sister “(she’s still holding out hope for a sister).
I am really lucky that my sponsors are being totally supportive of this new pause in my racing. Hoka One One, Drymax and Vespa are totally on board. I am also excited to continue my work with Lululemon as they just opened a store in Reno. I am super thankful for all the support from each brand as much of this year will be me cheering from the sidelines. But, I’d imagine with all that extra belly I’ll be sporting soon, their logos will look even more prominent right? I also want to thank my coach, Ian Torrence, for not hesitating to give guidance to his first pregnant ultra runner. We (meaning I) have so much work to do come October.
A little time with my girl. A little belly action at 13 weeks and whole lotta boob. Not my favorite side effect.
My running plans: Since I am one of those people who is unable to take it easy when running with a race bib, I won’t put myself in that situation right now. No ultras, even though I dream about them all the time. Not even sure I want to line up for a road marathon. There is something I am really trying to facilitate here- a true break from racing. But I am still running as much as it feels good. Usually, 3-10 miles a day with the occasional long run and somedays nothing at all. But note, I am still gaining preggo weight like a champ- one of the biggest struggles for me is this part of the journey. I have also amped up some serious cross training and strength work about 30 minutes 3-4 times a week. Focusing on my weak glutes, tight hamstrings and overall core strength. This is the greatest lesson I learned from my first birth- you need all the strength training you can get. It seems to make all the difference in return to fitness.
I will definitely blog often to update and with shameless belly pics as long as I have them. I have no issues freely discussing the ins and outs of navigating this pregnancy- there are so many highs and lows, just like a real race. The good news is that I can’t lament about my state too much as JB and I will be extremely busy this summer- putting together a full on production at Hardrock 100, JB will be running Western States 100 and the new Tahoe 200. We are also in the works of launching a web based live TV show, TraiLive, where I will be hosting occasionally and commenting on all things ultra/trail running. We are also still working on the women’s ultrarunning film- more interviews, race footage and home town footage in production through this year. Not to mention, I still am working my corporate 9-5 biotech sales job with a ton of traveling and stress to boot. I know, its a lot and more than I can probably handle for too long.
Almost 5 months. Oh its just starting.
While I am anxious to begin racing again, I am trying to stay in the moment and relish this really special time in my family’s life. I am growing a tiny person after all, which never ceases to amaze me. I have a new found appreciation for the beginning of life and the journey so many couples are on to conceive. We are so lucky. I have a feeling this baby will be here before we know it and the hard work will begin. But I am up for the challenge. The great parenthood journey is constantly teaching me patience, happiness in simplicity, and acceptance of things you can’t control.
Suggestions on boy names? So far this is alluding me…
Posted on Mar 31, 2014
Years ago, had you asked me if I trained on a treadmill, I would have scoffed and probably told you some line about how the trails are everything to me. And well, yes, the trails are still everything to me, but sometimes a run is a run is a run and I would always rather get a run than not. Even if that means getting on the treadmill. Here are my top reasons that make me want to make a t-shirt ” I Heart the Treadmill when….”
1. I need to do my speedwork and I need to keep it honest. The treadmill won’t let you cheat the speed or incline. I find a 6mph at 12% -15% incline is about perfect for uphill repeats.
2. My daughter is napping, I don’t have a babysitter and this is as good as it gets today. Let’s face it, this happens- quite a bit. I try to run before or after work or even at lunch, but the best laid plans….
3. Two a days. Treadmills really are great for the second run- I can watch Netflix, or listen to tunes and get a bonus round of miles in.
4. Late night running. After the family goes to bed, many nights I have hopped on the treadmill and gotten my workout in. It’s safe, well-lit and I am not missing anything. (other than beautiful moon-rises and peaceful night trail running, which is always preferable, but sometimes not doable.)
5. Work trips. I travel for my corporate job a fair bit. If I’m flying to a unknown city, a hotel gym gives me the treadmill.
6. Mindless movie watching long running. It’s the dead of winter. There’s snow in every direction and unless I get out the snowshoes, I sometimes prefer to get more speedy miles in for a long run. A great movie and about 20 miles are known to happen here every now and again.
7. I’d rather not run, but I had better. There is something convenient about getting on the treadmill that usually solves the lack of motivation… or sometimes not. This can go both ways. The fresh air and trails can clear my head where a treadmill usually doesn’t. But, if I am suffering motivation, I can get by on the treadmill.
8. You can practically run a business on a treadmill. JB will set the dial at 4-4.5 mph and will work on the treadmill for hours- scanning paperwork, making calls, talking to people, editing, etc. It’s hilarious and yet super smart. I take many conference calls on the machine as well.
9. Overall, I can definitely say time on treadmill has made me stronger and a better runner than before I had one. More miles, more options, less excuses when I need to get a run in. Don’t get me wrong, I’d take a trail run ANY day over a treadmill run, but running on the machine is okay with me. Maybe that’s one result of parenthood.
Ok, Part Deux : The Bad, to come next: Some of the disadvantages I struggle with as a true trail lover.
Posted on Jan 29, 2014
A most wonderful vignette featuring mountain running momma, Kasie Enman, was just released by Solomon as part of their TV series produced by the awesome African Attachment. I highly recommend you go check it out here. It brought me to tears several times.
The journey of being a mother and simultaneously an ultrarunner, is so very parallel that it feels very natural to compare the two. Certainly in no way are they the same, but certainly similar ,if that makes sense. This is just a vision of how I look at them. A ramble. I wanted to share my take on the trimesters of pregnancy in parallel with the stages of a 100 mile race.
First Trimester and First 30 miles of the race:
You on the start line, feeling hopeful, excited and amazed in wonderment of what’s ahead. Attachment immediately to the life inside you, you are connected to the little heartbeat that your blood feeds. The adrenaline then soon wears off and you feel overwhelmed. What have I done? I have a long way to go. Fatigue, exhaustion, hunger can set in. Adjustments must be made. Perhaps more care is needed. You hit the first aid station, you assess and move forward. You hear the heartbeat for the first time. You are in love. You don’t question anything anymore. It’s time to settle in. This will be an awesome race.
Second Trimester and miles 30-60:
You are taking good care of yourself now. You may have slowed down some in your pacing, but you feel steady. Food is key here. Not too much or too little. You feel the flutter in your abdomen below, reminding you often of the life you sustain inside. Not just your life, but a precious little life that you will soon meet. The race speeds up. You find your clip, your sweet spot. You have energy, renewed purpose and you breathe easy. You know there is a lot of running left to do. But you are over the halfway mark. You search for a headlamp. You search for your husband’s hand to let him feel the child moving. You are inspired to stay positive. You are loving the trail, loving the journey.
Third Trimster, Miles 60-90.
Proportionally, the last third of the journey feels longer. Fatigue sets in and sometimes darkness too. Your friends are racing, they are up ahead and you wish to join them. But you are tired. You know you must drink, eat and rest when you need to. The last 1o miles are magical. They are a place where you find out who you really are. You wish to get there, so you stay upbeat. Your friends and family check in with you. How are you feeling? When are you due? You think, not soon enough. But all the while, this little person grows and stretches and is sustained by all that you do. You keep moving and finding your footing as the sun sets.
The Finish, the Birth, the last few miles:
The pain begins. A rippling in your every being. You breathe, sometimes cry, but keep moving. Food tastes awful, you don’t want any more. You just want to get to the finish, but it seems to be taking forever. You are hurting, but anxious. Your pacer offers advice, encouragement, but you are deep in the place in your head where you can barely hear him. Something instinctual kicks in and your work to finish gets real. You push, despite how much it hurts. You want to remember everything now. You can’t wait to see the finish, to hold your baby. Only one more push, only one more mile.
Birth, Finish line:
And its sweeter than you could have imagined. To hear her cry for the first time, to hold this tiny person in your arms. You are smitten. Life is different now. You are relieved, tired and thankful your body let you run 100 miles. You are proud, You need to sit down and just savor this moment. You realize you love this feeling, hurt and all. You would do again, but just not tomorrow.
Posted on Nov 13, 2013
Can I just say that after today, I would like to personally thank the makers of Hornitos silver agave tequila and Tres Agaves Organic margarita mix. You combine these two potions and are magically transported to the beaches of Mexico, where chores and dishes no longer exist. At least for 5 minutes that actually did happen, and then I came out of my stupor to realize my daughter needs to be fed. A lovely mini vacation. Thank you.
Posted on Nov 13, 2013
Everytime I’m in an airport on my way somewhere and I see a uniformed soldier holding a huge brown duffel, I pause and think about what that must feel like. They are likely on their way to a call of duty, a mission, headed to a place where danger is around every corner. All of their posessions are in that single bag and they are wearing a brave face. I think about how young some of them are, with worried mothers and fathers at home, helpless. I think about them as having families and young children at home,wondering if they will ever come back. I don’t pretend to know any part of this life, but my heart goes out to our veteran’s, active duty and beyond. Thank you for risking your lives for our country. I am so grateful.
Posted on Nov 13, 2013
Today is Sunday and we are being so lazy its amazing. After furniture shopping overnight for JB’s new studio, we are all exhausted and laying around watching movies. JB and I might get out for a lazy slow run and we may or may not shower today. A very rare and wonderful day indeed.
Posted on Nov 13, 2013
Just when I think I have something in life kind of figured out. I get smacked with the imperfect and reality sets in that I am student forever. Parenting often teaches me that everything is perception and managing expectations. I cannot and will not achieve perfection. Thankfully, because that would be incredibly boring. Thank you red wine spilled on my white shirt, thank you for adding too much salt to the chicken, thank you for tripping on rocks and roots, thank you for the B in Algebra, thank you for the slightly crooked set of ears, thank you for the not quite nailing a big 100 mile race, thank you for all of this. It’s why I wake up and try again every single day.