Approximately one year ago, I arrived at Rock Cut State Park to witness my very first Hobo Run. I believe it was held in August, and it was unusually warm. My plan? Start running at 6:00 a.m. and then watch my new found friends compete.
As I parked the car, I couldn’t help but notice this strange figure unloading a van packed with various boxes. It was obvious that he was setting up for the race, so I strolled on over in the dark and said, “Hey, would you like some help?” He said “Well, you could put this box here, and this container over there, and oh yeah, don’t forget ……etc, etc.” It was quite dark, so it wasn’t till hours later that someone introduced him as “Uncle Larry.”
Excitement built as the sun rose and the volunteers arrived. Ann , Ed , and Carol were the faces I recognized. I couldn’t believe how many people started to arrive. This was completely new to me. Everyone seemed eager to start, relaxed, and happy.
“Hey Ed! Can I borrow 40 bucks?”
“Why, do you want to enter the race? “
“Yeah, I think I do.” It didn’t matter to me that the longest distance I had ever attempted was 10 miles. It didn’t matter that I was totally clueless as to how to train over time. It didn’t matter that my normal pattern was to run until I was thoroughly lost, and then ask Jeff Miller how to get back to my car. It just seemed like fun.
Next thing I can remember – the race suddenly started. I was talking to someone 30 years my senior, and he was running past me with ease. Up ahead, I could hear Ed’s voice “Watch out for the walnuts! It’s easy to slip!” By mile 10, I was dying. But I remembered Ann Johnson’s optimistic advice “You can always walk it!”
By mile 14, I wanted to lie down and die. I hydrated at the aid stations, but I knew nothing about gels or salt tabs. I can’t even remember if I had eaten breakfast that morning. Doggedly I walked on. When I rounded that corner and eyeballed the finish line, I was ecstatic. Carol Bingley snapped a photo of me at the finish line. My foot was barely raised a centimeter off the ground! My legs were so heavy.
Did I use ice afterwards? Nope. Did I enjoy delicious citrus flavored recovery drinks? Nope. Did I manage to eat some Hobo Stew? I think so. Did I sleep that night? Not a wink. My system couldn’t come back down. Several days later, I fell ill with a bug that wiped me out for a week. My immune system had crashed. Geesh! Somebody train that girl!
Fast forward the timeline to the Triple Crown Series 2008. On Thursday night before the first race, it was rumored that not one female had registered for the Triple Crown Challenge. Tanya, Tonya T. and Kathleen were certainly capable of finishing the series with outstanding times. But all of them had chosen different goals. Something stirred in me. Could I do it? Could I run all three races? Could I run through the series which equaled 57 miles? Would I finish on Sunday by crawling through the finish line on my hands and knees? Could I endure?
All right, I thought, I will see how my body feels before officially registering for Sunday, the 50 kilometer race. Friday night came and went. I actually earned a spike(a trophy)! I felt great. Hmmmm. What is my strategy? How many gels do I need? How many salt tabs? What should I eat? Should I alternate endurance drinks versus water? I hate that packaged stuff! I prefer honey, lemon juice, water and maple syrup! Should I tape my feet? I knew my arches needed a little more support. Decisions, decisions.
Saturday’s run went well. I beat my previous time by close to 30 minutes. No walking for me in this race! Rush home, an ice bath, a nap, and the get dressed for the Rockford Road Runner’s Banquet. Thanks, Larry W., for the dance moves! Twisting on the dance floor with Kathleen reminded me of my college dancing days! Coach Mike took a survey which astounded me. Several people in the room have put in as many miles as this planet is round. You have got to be kidding! But enough was enough, let me rush home to bed, please.
Sunday morning arrived. Why did I want to complete this never before attempted feat? It was overcast, and I was worried about running in the rain. Recently, I had learned that I am ‘anemic’ and low in calcium. I have suffered with that since being a teenager, even when my diet consisted of good old fashioned meat and potatoes. (Yuck! No offense!) I honestly don’t know if it made a difference, but I had started taking vegetarian supplements faithfully. Didn’t I learn my lesson from last year?
Yes. Never give up. Stretch beyond your comfort zone. Achieve, recover, and then achieve again. My heavy duty water belt was stuffed with gels and salt tabs. I had studied Chi running for almost a year (almost), and I knew I was a much more efficient runner than last year. My overall diet is a pretty strict one . But most importantly, I said to myself, “I want to finish.” Nothing else matters. I needed proof.
How strong can one become?
About a dozen Chicago marathoners competed that day. They were treating this race as a long distance slow training run. They walked every hill and ran cautiously the first 25 kilometers. I observed their expertise as many of them had raced in ultras before, and I copied their every move. Once I hit that halfway point, Ann Johnson offered me a protein bar. Yes, I was desperate for protein! I listened to my body and took off. I found my rhythm. Breathe, lean, move. I was on automatic. Jim Simmons met up with me toward the end and compared me to a metronome. He even offered to carry my water belt. “No, no “I said. “Isn’t’ that cheating?” He assured me it wasn’t. Soon, I handed him that weight belt and sighed with heavenly relief. But oh, my aching feet! The extra support I had placed in my trail shoes was no longer helping. I foolishly chose to run one of the very last hills, and started to feel my legs spasm. Oh no! Was I going to collapse? My legs felt like quivering sponges! Slow down, Deb, I thought. Slow down. Breathe, count, lean, - imagine Chi carrying me through the path of least resistance. “Jim, I am going to take my shoes off at the end!” I do not remember what he said. I just imagined running barefoot through that soft, lush grass. “Kathleen!” I can’t remember why she was there, I just remember being so thankful. ‘I am taking my shoes off!” Plop. Thank God for grass. I pulled those shoes off of my swollen feet, ripped my socks off, and stood back up. Power through that finish line! Lean, breathe, and pump! Oh god, it felt so good. No one was there to take a picture. My time was a slow 6 hours and something. Nothing to brag about! But by God, there was no need to crawl. My spirit was flying.
I learned a few more things after that run. First, cover yourself with ice IMMEDIATELY. Coach Mike saved me with his ice bags. I think I could have slept on them. Second, drink recovery drinks for 2- 3 days after the race. (I would love to find BTD compliant recovery drinks. I just haven't found them yet!) My brain didn’t feel normal again until Thursday. (Oh sure, I read this tidbit from the ultra marathoner’s magazine AFTER the fact!) Third, take one day of recovery for every mile of the race. I should have taken 57 SLOW days of cautious running. Oops. Live and Learn.
And last but not least, give back to the world. Be there for people when challenges block their path. Give to those in need. Lean on your friends when times are tough. I can endure and I can push on, but my friends added to my strength. Seriously. Lean on your running buddies. Lean on the people who choose to solve “all of life’s problems” during a run. Lean on their positive attitude, their desire to improve, and their unending support. Believe in your dreams. Dig deep within yourself. Believe in the possibilities. Coyote Strong.
I wrote this article for the local Rockford Road Runner Newsletter. I would like to share it with the BTD community for reasons that will become obvious, I think. This place has been very supportive to me over the last couple of years. I would like to give a little bit back.....
I also attended a raw cooking class today. I just love 'expanding' the knowledge base. Organic dates, organic cocoa powder walnuts, and a little water created a delicious chocolate cake. Gluten free, too! I can't wait to make it for Thanksgiving....
Meanwhile, I will attempt to important my article into this site. Here goes nothing..... :
School aches and Pains…..
Every year is a learning curve. Every year is different. Originally I was scheduled to teach Kids Yoga on Monday nights. At first, I was disappointed when the class was cancelled due to lack of participation. Now, I am exceedingly grateful.
Monday night is a good night to stay home and recharge from the weekend. At the moment, the kids spend the day with their grandparents or with Dad, and Monday night is ‘adjustment’ night. Monday night they are back at home with me and they are usually tuckered out from the weekend. I am also a little tuckered out from the weekend, as it is hard for me to fall asleep on Sunday night. I am still not used to this empty house……….
In order to try to eat in a healthier manner, I fix a big meal right at 3:00 p.m. It makes sense actually. Just as Dr.D recommends in one of his earlier books, eat like a King in the morning, a little bit less at lunchtime, and eat like a pauper at night. We will have a small snack close to bedtime, and hopefully- everyone will easily fall asleep.
Tuesday morning comes with an early 6:48 A.M. bus stop for my oldest. Eating appropriately at the right time makes sense. However, the rest of the world, does not.
Two weeks later:
Okay- it might be easier to just keep this document consistently on and sit down whenever I can to record my thoughts.
Great weekend. Over 30 running buddies of mine got together to ‘race through’ the woods. I pushed myself harder than I have every pushed myself before. More importantly, it was a great community experience with many of us striving and reaching. One of us broke his arm after a fall, but he kept on and finished the race. (Ouch).
Crazy = you say? Yes. Also a little symbolic. All of us felt empowered. Two of us raced all three races which equaled about 57 miles total within 3 days. Could we do it? Yes.
Were we overjoyed when it was all said and done? Yes. Are we ‘family?’ Yes.
Now, if I only I could figure out how to naturally supplement during these races. I hated cheating and taking those energy gels, drinks, etc which are full of bad stuff. I even drank some Coke during one of the pit stops!
(Insert curse word, here.) I swore I wouldn’t do that, but when you are running for 57 miles and there isn’t anything natural available – you do what you gotta do.
So let’s review.
Week before – ND checked out my blood cell results. 7 things out of balance. Not horrible, not right. Time to fix it before disease sets in…. Started taking my supplements to get ready for detox later….
3 days before – Ezekiel noodles, bread, millet whole grain, oatmeal, etc. Carb loading with fruits, veggies and some protein.
Friday morning- adjustment by chiropractor. Feels great. Loosed up neck and back, improved communication between brain and spine.
Friday night – iced the ankles. Only 6 miles.
Saturday – ran 15 miles. Arches needed support so duck tape was used (I know, I am a geek) Ice bath afterwards. Good carbs mostly (little bit of cheating, not much)
Desperate for energy. Took 3 hammer gels (corn syrup- yuck!), one protein bar (desperate- would have crashed without it), multiple water and recovery drink stops (Heed) and even two glasses of cola (Oh no!)
Iced legs immediately after the race. Literally sat down on the ground and just laid bags of ice on knees, hip flexors, inbetween kneecaps, etc. Shoes came off immediately!
Hot shower Sunday- so sore could hardly sleep. Got adusted Monday with chiro. At 3 p.m. – whoa- exhaustion finally hit.
Tuesday – brain fog – functioning ok. Easy one mile run in grass.
Wednesday – Thank God I scheduled time for an afternoon nap. Thirsty ad hungry. Tuna, whole grain bread, some bad fats (forgive me, I can’t cook yet. )
Easy one mile run in dirt.
Tomorrow needs to be a normal productive day. People tell me to swim, or at least get into a hot bath once or twice- work out the lactic acid build up. Meanwhile, my skin is suffering from all of my effort last weekend. Canola oil after the bath. Love the stuff.
Today – lots of green tea, fresh fruit and veggies- I am getting to that store! If only I had bought my juicer already- I think it would have come in immensely handy.
Thanks for reading.
Melissa writes with such forethought! I enjoy her blogs immensely...
I have been pondering future social trends. So many things to consider. In 2030, there will be a major growth in the population of seniors and a major nursing shortage. There will also be a major strain on our economy as more and more people need expensive medical care. Rules will be rewritten. Insurance companies will tighten their belts. Social Security benefits? Who knows. World events and its influence? Hmmmmm
I hear wind mills are popping up everyone - France, Illinois, other European countries. One of my close friends just closed up his health food store, and was hired to help build these wind mill farms. Basically, he did it for job security....
I think wellness prevention will become even more popular and preferred than it is now. I think it would be a wonderful time for an 'explosion' of NDs, homeopathic practioners, and exercise and nutritional experts.
I was surprised to learn that while tobacco is the number one killer (diseases), lack of proper diet and exercise is number two. I was researching traditional 'preventitive' medicine (forgive spelling- no time to double check !)and was also surprised to see that we are talking between 4 and 7 years of additional schooling. I was also surprised to discover that as a "Personal Trainer", I am already in the field of prevention!
But I am not happy with my lack of nutritional understanding. Even with the BTD and the genotype diet, it is quite complicated.
For example, the results of my live blood cell cultures has arrived. Oh brother, I have some issues. One would never guess by looking at me that I have some significant issues.
So - what is health and wellness? My blood cells all by them self are quite strong and healthy. No inappropriate agglutination. But I am "low on protein, quite anemic, blood sugar levels are yo yo ing, too many heavy metals in my system, too much yeast, and my Autonomic Nervous System is out of balance. Low in calcium and vitamin p, and there is more....
Now, Dr. Julia explains it like this: It takes 10 years for disease to develop. I am not 'unhealthy'. I just finished running 35 Kilometers this weekend. But I am not 'in balance' either.
Anyway, what is the point? I am an ex-smoker who couldn't run .5 miles previously. Nicotine and coffee used to keep me going. Each year that passes I learn just a little bit more. It's time help others walk up that mountain, just like I have started to do.
Thank you for reading.
My cooking isn't that complicated. I still love to cook, and maybe one day I can turn this hobby into another profitable venture... Meanwhile, life is busy and I am amazed at how simple good nutrition can be..
Sardines were mashed up with artichokes (from a can, I am afraid.) Throw in something sweet, and it tasted satisfying. One tin of sardines yields about 40 percent of one's need for iron. It was easy and compliant. I keep looking for combination organic juices and other compliant but easy and portable choices.
Fresh would still be better. One day, I imagine a work environment where everyone has a built in kitchen at their disposal. The current job gives everyone a solid 90 minute break. It's just dead time for the front desk, so people are allowed to lock the front door and do what they need to do. If there were an actual kitchen available, think of the possibilities! Maybe we all need to work out of our home, for that reason.
Some of you might be thinking "So much salt!" You are right- definately not something I recommend often. But when you are in a rush....