Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Today I am completely overwhelmed by His grace.  There is no way to describe how deeply He has touched me today, as I am at a loss for words.  The song, "How He Loves Us", would sum it up best.

I am on my knees, breathing this all in, praying I can fully accept His love, His grace, His providential care.  I don't feel at all worthy.  I know I am not worthy, but I hear His gentle whisper in my ear, "Do you hear me now?"

Lord, I hear you.  I love you.  I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word, and I shall be healed. 

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Project Simplify

I thought perhaps I would share some of my life outside of running for a bit.  I love organizing and simplifying and every year I look forward to less stuff and more simplicity. 

This year I am taking on a more "formal" approach after reading Organized Simplicity from Simple  It's a great read, although it really doesn't give me any new information, it does present it in a fresh way and gives me great inspiration to delve into the organizing waters once again.

I will begin Project Simplify on March 7th.  I'd love some company!  I hope to post pictures of my progress along the way.  Don't laugh!

Vacuum Escapades

Taper and recovery weeks are the most dangerous around my house.  This is the perfect time for my clutziness and somewhat quirky obsessiveness to rear it's ugly head.

I have done pretty well the last few weeks, with only starting one major project.  I hired someone to rip out the backyard deck which was beyond repair.  Now I have a big muddy mess in the backyard and an imagination that is running wild.  The only thing holding me back from my dream yard is my stinking checkbook...

Whilst the handyman and my sons were busy ripping out the said carpenter-ant-infested deck, I began a cleaning frenzy inside the house.  I am about to embark on my quarterly, if-it-isn't-nailed-down, it's-going-in-the-trash, organizing spree.  The festivities began in the kitchen, cleaning out drawers, rearranging the cupboards, etc.  Then it was time to vacuum.  I hate the vacuum.  I hate the noise.  It is offensively loud and does nothing for my sense of peace.  Sweeping is my thing.  I could sweep all day.  It's quiet and effective.  It is hypnotic and I like being under the influence...  But I had a student coming for a session, so I resorted to Mark's favorite household appliance, the vacuum.  (Anyone who knows my husband, knows his true love is the vacuum... I just happen to come with it!)

As I furiously wing The Shark around, I am pleased that I am almost finished and then, WHAM!  My toe eats the corner of the cupboard.  Yeah.  Thanks.  Foreign words flying all over the house.  And me on my knees in the middle of the floor.

After a few minutes spent trying to catch my breath, I gather my composure, insist to the children that I did NOT say words like that, and then finish the job.  Stupid vacuum.

Now I am left with the knowledge that I ran a 100 miler and had not one blister or foot problem.  Leave me to my own devices at home with The Shark, and I end up with a foot I can't run on...I wonder how well duct tape would work on it?

I guess since my runs will be on hold for a day or two, it will give me more time to ponder some more projects.  I've been considering flip-flopping the appliances in my kitchen and breaking down a wall or two to make a larger gathering space...  I wouldn't need a vacuum for that! 

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Post Rocky Evaluation

I've had about 10 days to process the experience of Rocky, the good and the not-so-good.

Recovery continues to go well as I rest, eat, and enjoy the easy-going training schedule.  I continue to have pain in my right knee, but it isn't unbearable and actually felt pretty good today on my longest run since the race.

I have started scouting out a few races to consider for this year and should be deciding fairly soon on which ones I will commit to.

After each race I complete, I try to come away with lessons learned for next time.  This post will be boring to most everyone as it really only pertains to what worked and what didn't specific to my experience.

What went well -
I know without a shadow of a doubt that the 8/2 method of run/walking was the best advice and best way for me to train for this race.  I will continue to train this way for all ultra events.  I understand that I will most probably never "win" a race with this method, but honestly, that is not why I run.  Being able to return to running shortly after participating in these races is a possibility because this run/walk method allows for a quicker recovery.
I became quite accustomed to the back-to-back runs this past year.  I enjoy them most of the time and I think that they go a long way in securing the kind of endurance that one needs to run the longer distances.
Hills.  The minimal hills that are available to us here in this area were hills that I tried to run most every single training run.  At first, they gave me reason to walk, but now, they are easy to navigate and don't pose much of a difficulty for me.  Admittedly, these "hills" are laughable if you aren't from this flatlander paradise, but it is all we have around here.  Maybe one day I will have a treadmill and can work on some inclines.

What can be improved upon-
I would love to find a place to train that could incorporate more of a rocky terrain.  I DNF'd two races this year due to the rocks that I had no practice running on.  If I decide to run these again this year, I will have to be able to find the time to train on similar terrain or I will not register for them.

Core and Upper Extremity strength.  I worked fairly hard on these areas over the summer, but once the holidays hit and the mileage was much higher, I let these things go.  I am stronger than I have ever been, but I am still not satisfied with these areas.  I need to balance my schedule a bit more so that I can be sure to not skip the workouts needed.

Cross Training, Stretching, Yoga.  Again, earlier in the training season, I was doing more of this, but as the summer came to a close, I seemed to pull away from biking and swimming and focused mostly on getting the mileage in.  Then the Yoga and Stretching went out the window.  It seemed to take too much time away from family to do these things after spending 4 hours running.  I believe better scheduling will allow more success in this area.

Through the training season, I tweaked my daily diet and became primarily plant-based.  This wasn't too difficult during daily life, but on the run, proved to be quite the challenge.  Even more, eating plant-based at races was very difficult.  Eating on the road is a nightmare as restaurants in Texas seem to live and die by cheese.  It's on everything.  Salads are pre-made with cheese and bacon thrown in.
I also discovered that I have been having issues with gluten for years.  Taking that out of the diet was worse than giving up butter and cheese.  And I never thought I could do that!
By mid-August I was severely anemic and had to readjust everything from training to my diet again.
I agreed to eat some non-plant based foods to help my iron levels, began the iron supplements, and started to feel better.
I am still not 100% plant-based, but I am working my way there again.  Mark worries about me if I don't eat some other forms of protein and if it helps him feel better about me training this hard, I will eat a portion off my plan from time to time.
One positive that has come from all of this is that I learned to carry what I need during training runs as well as races.  I don't rely on the aid stations to provide what I need, but love it when they have it.  I gave up all sports drinks resorting to only water.  I drink coconut water as needed on the run.  Making sure I take S-caps on a regular basis ensure an adequate supply of electrolytes.
Ultimately, I do need to maintain a clean diet that is primarily plant-based, making sure that I take in enough calories, enough iron, and enough protein to support the hard training that ultras require.

 Most of what I discovered is already in my race report, but since writing it, I've discovered a few more things.  One thing I've learned is that I really, really, really love running.  I knew that I liked it.  I knew that it helped me to center myself and gave me time to listen to that innervoice that gets drowned out during daily life.  I knew that it gave me time to talk to God and even more importantly, listen to Him.
What I didn't quite get though, is how much I really love what I do.  I love how my body feels when I am pushing it to another level.  I love the feel of the breath entering and exiting my lungs.  I love the way that the cadence of my gait sets my mind into a meditative state that brings about a sense of peace and calm that isn't duplicated anywhere else except in the adoration chapel, before the Blessed Sacrament.

I've also learned that I have been blessed to be running in a community where we all support one another.  We may not all see eye to eye on all issues, but we respect one another, we celebrate each other's acheivements, and we do all that we can to help encourage and lift one another up even through the difficult times, whether it's a difficult point in training, or a struggle in life.

 I am still trying to define my goals for this running season and as they become more clear, I will take what I've learned from this past training year and put it into practice to become a stronger runner.

As always, my number one goal is to always run happy, run with joy.  Because if I am not finding joy in what I am doing, I should not be doing it. 

Friday, February 11, 2011

4 days

Pre-Rocky, I was wondering how much time I would take off from running.  Taking a cue from Scott Jurek, I figured a nice block of 2 -4 weeks with no running would be a good idea.  I've trained for quite a long while with many, many miles on my body over the past year and thankfully, have no injuries. 

2-4 weeks of crosstraining, not thinking about any races to train for or even sign up for, seems like a reasonable amount of time.  I strongly felt that after running 100 miles, I would not want for a run for at least that amount of time.

I was wrong.  What else is new?  My recovery is going well.  Other than being very tired my only real issue is my right knee which took a hit on one of the wooden bridges during Rocky.  It is quite sore and is lending itself to a "peg leg" gait.  My kids are enjoying calling me a pirate.  I have promised myself that I will absolutely not run at all until I have zero pain. 

Waking up on Monday, I had a strange sensation.  I had nothing hanging over my head.  As much as I wanted to run Rocky, I will admit, it was, at times, one of those "things" looming in my mind.  Knowing I HAD to get my training done so I could get to the start line at Rocky was, at times, annoying.  Honestly, the last two weeks of training before the race, I had to motivate myself with the promise of taking off as much time as I wanted once the race was over, whether I finished it or not.  Not having that external pressure on myself on Monday was nice, but at the same time, kind of a lonely, empty feeling.  Still, I swore I would not even consider anything for 2 - 4 weeks.  Then last night, I could no longer sit idle. Instead of 4 weeks, my fast lasted 4 days.  I started scanning races to possibly sign up for.  There are not too many for me to choose from because they have to be local right now. 

I did not sign up for anything, yet... but I am considering two possibilities in April.  I have some longer term goals that I would like to entertain as well but they are somewhat incongruent with one another which would mean I probably could not work on both of them at the same time.  Not sure where I will go first. 

I suppose that is the beauty of rest.  I don't have to decide anything right now.  It is ok to rest.  Maybe I will even get caught up on some things around the house. 

In other news... today is my sweet grandbaby's 1st birthday!  Ahhh... the good things in life!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Rocky Raccoon 100

Trying to use words to express what happened this weekend is close to impossible, so I ask for your forgiveness ahead of time if this post seems disjointed, rambling, or otherwise poorly written.

I began running in September of 2006 as a challenge to myself.  If I could run consistently for three months, I would indulge myself to a new bicycle that I could ride outside as an alternative to my spin classes.  Five weeks later I ran my first 5K in honor of Hans Weberling, and I was hooked.

I ran my first (and strangely, my only) marathon in Jan of 2007 and with little thought, turned around and ran Hog's Hunt 50K a few weeks later.  I fell in love with trail running and decided at that point that I wanted to run a 100.

In 2009, I ran my first 50 miler and had a wonderful time!  In April of 2010, my second 50 miler at OT 50 in Arkansas.  What a beautiful course!  Yesterday, I was able to reach my goal set in 2007 by finishing the Rocky Raccoon 100 in 26:04!  103rd place, 16th female, 6th in my age group. 

So that's the short version.  Now for the details...

Rocky Raccoon 100
Going into the weekend of Rocky, there was great excitement in the air as we were told that several of the elite ultra runners would be running Rocky as well.  Also, a predicted snow fall of 1-3 inches for Houston was creating quite a stir among everyone in the area and a traveling nightmare for those trying to get to Houston.  Several runners were not able to make it to the race because of the closed airports, icy roads, and snowy conditions on the way to Houston.
Mark and I had reservations to stay in the park in a "winterized" shelter.  I can assure you, winterized was a very liberal term.  It was freezing out there!  23 degrees Friday night left me cold and sleepless in Huntsville, Texas.
I always have a fear pre-race that I will not hear my alarm or that it will malfunction and not go off.  Saturday morning, I began to hear cars and realized that my fear had come true.  I had dropped off to sleep for a few minutes only to be awoken, thank goodness, by those attending the race.  I jumped out of the sleeping bag and had 35 mins to eat, dress, and get to the start line.  Looking back, this worked out well because it didn't allow me much time to worry or second guess my sanity.
It was pretty cold at the start so I was looking forward to running just to warm up.  I kissed Mark goodbye and headed out into the cold, dark woods.  The energy was electrifying!  I immediately forgot that I couldn't feel my toes and started moving forward.  Ben and Sophia were next to me and we were able to run together for a good bit.  It was great talking with them and more importantly laughing with them.  They are wonderful people with great hearts for running.
One of the only mishaps of the race was discovered at this point.  My hydration pack was frozen and I could not drink.  Some of the volunteers at DamNation tried to help me out, but as soon as they were able to defrost the tubing, it would refreeze.  I knew I should have blown the water back into the bladder, I just simply forgot.  Lesson learned.  This caused me to not drink nearly enough which may have played into my later issues with stomach upset and dizziness.
I spoke with a couple of other runners, one of whom asked me how I prepared for the race.  I, doubting up till the finish that I had adequately trained, was hesitant to share that my longest run had only been 42 miles.  I know other runners who run much higher mileage than I did.  This runner shared with me that his longest run had been a 15 miler.  I don't know if he finished or not.  Some other ladies overheard us and shared that their longest run had been a few 20 milers.  Not sure how they fared either.
Soon I was running with a very nice guy from Oklahoma, Bill.  We ran most of the first loop together and had an opportunity to share about our faith and how it motivates our running.  Truly a blessing to experience that on the first loop out.
Park Road Aid station was rockin' the Jimmy Buffet themed Margaritaville and the H-trexer's proved  what true heroes are.  Hanging out, on a freezing cold day, listening to runners whine and serving up anything we desired, including GLUTEN-FREE options!  Are you kidding me???  Love that!  Miles was cooking up something yummy and promised to let me know if I started looking bad...  
I ended the first loop feeling great, warming up, and ready to go onto the second loop. Coming into Dogwood, I noticed Jon Walk taking pictures.  I tried to hug Jon as I came in, but it looked more like a bodyslam!  In spite of my efforts to take him down, he was a gentleman and sent me on my way.  Seeing Jon at races doing what he does to support running always lifts my spirits.   Mark grabbed me as I crossed the timing mat and played crew.  He did a great job getting me out of the aid station and back to the trail.  Predicted time for loop 1 was 4.5 hours.  I came in ahead of pace at 4:02. 

Loop 2 felt great as well.  I ran by myself most of the time, listening to the music only on the portion of the trail that looped between the two stops at DamNation.  While the volunteers at DamNation were truly a godsend, I came to loathe that portion of the trail.  It was a beautiful section, and though it was only 6 miles around, it seemed to go on forever.  The music on loops 2 and 3 during those times was very helpful.
It was during loop 2 that I had my first glimpse of Anton, Hal, Scott, and Karl.  I only saw Ian on my third loop as he was heading in on his 5th with his pacer...flying, so what I saw was an amazing blur!
I noticed at DamNation that Scott was talking  and taking pictures with the volunteers and the runners.  I passed him at the aid station and chuckled to myself..."I just passed Scott Jurek!"  Of course, shortly thereafter, he passed me again.
As I reached Park Road, Mark was there to cheer me on.  I noticed Lynnor, Maryann, and others gathered around Scott.  They encouraged me to meet my inspiration to run and maintain a plant-based diet.  This picture makes me look like a crazed fan, but truly, I was just so excited to get to meet him!
Before heading out of Park Road Aid Station, Scott asked how I was doing and if I was running the 100.  I shared with him how much I admired him and that I was thrilled to not only be running my first 100, but to be running on the same dirt that he was and to have the added blessing of meeting him!  A true gentleman who even remembered me when he saw me on the next loop and continued to encourage me.

As I came into Dogwood, Jon, Bill, and Adrienne, as well as other local runners, had gathered to greet the  runners as they were finishing their loops.    Seeing the group of them standing there brought back memories of my first 50 miler when they came out in the dark of night and surprised me in the middle of nowhere out on the trail.  My eyes welled with tears, the first of many times this day.
                                                           Photo courtesy of Jon Walk

I finished up loop 2 in 4:36, 24 mins ahead of pace.  Pete was there to encourage me and Stacy and Mik had arrived to get ready for Stacy to pace me for loops 4 and 5.  They worked fast and furious to get me in and out of the aid station and before I knew it I was off on the third loop.

After giving a few more hugs to Bill, Jon, and Adrienne, Adrienne surprised me by running a few steps with me!  This moment of the day will always be remembered as something special.  Adrienne is a remarkable runner and she has become a great friend. 
                                                           Photo courtesy of Jon Walk

Loop 3 was fairly uneventful with one exception.  I hit a root and landed on one of the wooden bridges along the lake trail just two miles from the end of the loop.  I took a very quick assessment of any injuries and didn't feel like I had done any damage, so I continued on my way.  I was getting very excited to be at the end of my 60 miles.  Turns out I had landed on my knee pretty hard, bruising it, but it wasn't a concern until later in the race.  The only other issue I had was that the sun had set and the temps started dropping rapidly.  Stacy had Mark meet me at Park Road to give me my jacket.  Thank goodness.  It was really cold and I was having some trouble regulating my body temp.

As I had shared in my previous post, I felt pretty sure that I would be able to complete 60 miles, but the remaining 40 were sure to be a tremendous challenge both physically and mentally.  I had, for months, been trying to figure out how to "toughen up", and not show any weakness.  Then I heard a voice whisper to me, "in your weakness, I am made strong."  After spending some time meditating on this verse from scripture, 2Cor 12:10, I felt compelled to embrace my weakness so that He could show His strength.  This is not something that I thought others would see, but I knew I would.  I knew, because I knew I wasn't strong enough to finish Rocky and if I did, it was only because He worked through others to get me to the finish line.  I ran as well as I could, finishing up my three loops in 13:29.  31 minutes under my predicted 14 hour time.  When I reached the 60 mile mark, I knew that my physical strength had been exhausted and I was going to be placing myself completely into the hands of God, who worked through Stacy, Mark, and Mik. 

Stacy made sure that I changed every stitch of clothing, right there in front of everyone, and I never objected.  I was under her command at that time.  I ate a bit and then she and I headed out into the cold and dark.   Stacy kept a good pace and I happily followed right behind her.  I had no desire to "go out to fast" or argue with anything she told me to do.  The next two loops are pretty much a blur.  I know that pretty early into the fourth loop, my right knee felt like the quad was tight and pulling on it.  The more I ran, the more it seemed to hurt, so we began walking more and more.  I am so thankful that Mariela introduced the walk/run method to me in a real way this summer.  I had used this before, but always felt as though I was somehow "cheating" by using it.  She explained that most of us who run ultras will walk some so we should train those muscles as well.  And she was absolutely correct.  I've been able to recover faster from my long runs this year and run further as a result.  As well, my pace has actually become faster, which I really can't explain!

I began to notice some deterioration of my cognitive status.  I couldn't add simple numbers.  I couldn't remember my kids birthday's.  I felt my eyes closing and had no control over them.  I was pretty certain I was going to fall asleep while walking.  I didn't even know that was a possibility.  I was horribly sick to my stomach and wished I could throw up, but didn't because any further loss of calories could have ended my run.  I told Stacy what was going on and she continued to encourage me.  She suggested I take my 5 hour energy which I had tried in training and worked well.  I took it, but it didn't seem to help much.  She then gave me some chocolate covered espresso beans and within minutes I was ready to go again.  I think I might have even run some more!

Mark and Mik met us at Park Road.  My face was so cold and we tried eating more broth and coffee.  It wouldn't go down.  I was extremely nauseous and could barely drink water by this time.  I knew I needed calories, but I could not take any in.  I was burning something other than fat stores by this time.  Instead of focusing on how lousy I felt, I decided to not say very much, which if you know me, you know I am not one to keep quiet about these types of things, and just trust in Stacy, trust in God, say my prayers coupled with the intentions that went with them, and continue with the forward motion.  We came into Dogwood at 1:26 am,  a 5:53 loop, on a predicted 6 - 7 hour loop. 

I don't remember much about the end of loop 4.  Pete was there again which completely astounds me.  I have the best friends in the world!  To see a friendly face in the crowd always brings me joy, but this time, it helped me to survive.  Seeing Pete, Mark, Mik, and others I knew, kept me out of my head and back in the game.

Stacy was having head lamp issues and being the good girl that I am, (HA!) I actually listened to her command to head out and she would catch me.  She did and we proceeded to shuffle our way through the last loop.

This loop was the darkest both figuratively and literally for me.  I never told Stacy or anyone how much I didn't care if we stopped.  If someone asked me if I wanted to quit at mile 92, I would have said yes.  Thankfully, no one asked.  The infamous 6 mile loop at DamNation was the worst of all.  I was so sick to my stomach.  I've never felt that bad.  My eyes began closing again.  5 hour energy did nothing.  Stacy started hand feeding me, two at a time, skittles.  If that isn't someone being Christ to me, I don't know what is.  She talked to me the whole time.  Even when I didn't answer.  She didn't lie to me.  She didn't try to make everything ok.  She told me we would finish.  She told me that I was strong enough.  She told me that when the sun came up, things would get better.  And they did.  Right before dawn, my eyes could no longer focus.  All I could see were her shoes.  And I followed them.  We were both freezing and could not keep warm.  I can't explain how primal my sense of life became in these pre-dawn hours.  I could envision myself laying on the ground to sleep and probably dying of hypothermia.  I didn't care if I finished or not.  I didn't speak unless Stacy asked me a question and I'm not even sure I uttered a response most of the time.  She instinctively knew what to do and when to do it.  I trusted her completely.
I could feel my body shutting itself down to preserve the core.  Weirdest feeling ever.  It was definitely below 32 degrees and we could no longer maintain our body temps.  Thankfully, Stacy had her cell phone with her and called Mark and Mik telling them to bring our heavier coats.  They met us at Park Road.  Again, I saw many of the same volunteers that had been there most of the day before still there serving us.  I took everything off, watch, hydration vest (couldn't drink anyway), spi belt, etc. and donned my big winter jacket.  Stacy grabbed her sweatshirt and we both restocked our gloves with hand warmers.  I truly don't remember anything more than praying I would not look so bad that Mark would be worried.  Mark told me later that he waited outside the port-a-potty to be sure I didn't fall asleep inside or be so confused that I couldn't figure out how to open the door.  Guess I fooled him!  Not.

We headed out of the aid station, leaving even our head lamps with the guys as the sun was beginning to rise.  And just as Stacy promised, I had a renewed sense of strength.  We even attempted to run a few downhills, but by this time, my knee was in real pain and I think my walking pace was faster than my running pace.

The finish.

As we approached the 98 mile mark, I started to become overwhelmed with the prospect of finishing.  I didn't have the energy to cry, but I could feel it in my throat.  I wasn't sure what I was going to do or say at the finish as I really never thought about what would happen as I crossed the finish line, only what I would go through to get to it!

By some miracle, we were able to jog the last stretch in to the finish line.  Joe, the RD, was there to personally hand out the finisher's belt buckles.  I hugged him and thanked him from the bottom of my heart.  I was surprised that I didn't cry.  I wanted to, but I couldn't.  Maybe I had nothing left to even cry.

I hugged Stacy, Mark, and Mik.  I thanked, and thanked, and thanked them and then thanked them all again.  They were the perfect people to help me reach my goal.

Stacy tweaked her ankle right at the finish and thankfully she is ok, but that speaks to the passion she has to running and helping others.  She risked her own training and race goals to help me get to the finish line.  I know she is hurting today too.  Yet she went to work, while I sat around the house enjoying the feel of victory.  I know she says that I could have done this without her, but I highly doubt it.  She was Christ to me out there.  And I loved every minute of following Him on that trail.

Running ultras is an experiment of one, or so it is said.  I can attest to you that it is not.  Maybe as far as training, nutrition, and hydration go it is, but getting through a race of this level, even if you run alone, is not something that is done solo. We all need some assistance, be it through pacers, aid stations, a crew, whatever. 

To everyone who has ever offered me any word of encouragement or advice, experience, or prayer.  Thank you.  To anyone who has run along side me, thank you.  To those who watched my children, picked up the slack in my other obligations in life, thank you.   To those who allowed me to offer my prayers for each mile I have run, thank you.  To my husband and my children, you mean the world to me and I can never find the words to tell you how very much I love each and every one of you.

And finally, I thank the Author of My Life, for He knows my heart, my strengths, and my weaknesses, and His grace is sufficient for me. 

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Eve of Rocky 100 Eve

There's been much ado about nothing around here the last few days.  Today especially.  There is a rumor that we are going to be "hit" with a snow storm which could potentially leave 1 - 3 inches of white stuff or at the very least a pretty nasty coating of ice, but as of this moment, nearly 6 pm, there has been not even hint of a flake.  Unless you count the numerous ones combing the grocery stores for supplies, the school administrators whom have already canceled school for tomorrow or the county officials who have closed the county buildings as of 5 o'clock with no promise to open tomorrow.

This is truly silly.  Over reaction to be kind, ridiculous to be real.  I feel most sorry for those runners who have trained so hard to run Rocky Raccoon only to not be able to come because the airport is closed.  One runner is coming from Miami, to Houston, yet can't get here because of the threat of snow/ice.  Current temps in Miami are 73.  Houston 33.  No snow.  No rain.  But lots of canceled flights.

This video from Michael Berry's show puts things into a funny perspective, and since I like to laugh, I figured it would be fun to share it with you.

As far as my preparations for the race itself go, I haven't even started to pack, which is probably not a good thing, but I've been doing my best to keep myself busy so as to not obsess too much about this undertaking. I've read a lot of blogs, reports, scripture, etc., to strengthen my mind as well as my soul.

Going into Rocky, I feel as strong as I have ever felt with regards to my running. I know I have some areas that could be stronger such as my core or my upper body, but even those muscles are stronger than before. I think that I am as well prepared as I can be physically for this race. Mentally, I have been trying to prepare myself for the journey. I have envisioned how difficult it will be to run through the painful times, the cold, the stomach issues, the darkness with the creepy noises. I pray that I am prepared well enough in that realm, but I know that I can't truly be prepared for it until I go through it.

I've never run past 50 miles. I've heard it said that you can "fake it" through a 50 miler. In other words, if you've pulled a muscle, have stomach issues, or the like, you can probably gut out a 50 miler. But trying to white-knuckle a 100 miler is not an option for most of us. I know that there are elites who can do it, and more power to them. I can take pain pretty well, but I always run with the prevailing thought in the back of my mind that I am still a Mom and a Nana and I will still have to take care of my family come Monday morning. Most elites I read about don't have these things to consider. Not all, but most.

I have decided to put it all out there this weekend. I won't stop unless my pacer, an MD, tells me to or until I drop to the ground and the decision is made for me. I have been running for only 4 years and 2 of those I have been preparing to run this 100. The time is now.

I love reading Dave's blog and he has put up some very inspirational posts this week. I am adopting his attitude towards the 4th loop, Loop 4 is on notice and I will not give it the satisfaction of a win against me!

Dave is a strong man and I know many like him who can call upon much physical strength and mental preparedness to not show weakness and cross that finish line.  I am not that strong.  I am not as prepared mentally as I would like to be but only because this is a new challenge that is unfamiliar to me.  Fear of the unknown is present, but I will not allow it to rule me. 

And I will show weakness.  As much as I do not want to, I know myself well enough to know that I will.  I will try to hide it because I am prideful and as much as I hate my weakness, I know it exists.  I was meditating upon this weakness and how to not let it show when a verse came to me...

"My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness".  I will rather boast most gladly of my weakness, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me.   2 Cor 12:10

This brought me such peace and why it came to me when it did, as it just popped into my mind, I can only imagine had nothing to do with my seriously lacking bible verse memory skills.  I will rest in the knowledge that He gently reminded me to remain focused on what HE will do in Huntsville this weekend.

I will get to the start line on Saturday and give it all that I have and then some.  Then I will embrace my weakness so that the power of Christ can be seen.  I am confident that He is asking me to break myself down once again so that He can rebuild me, more in His image then I was before.  And that doesn't come pain-free.