Sunday, April 29, 2012

Just another day: Days 114 - 120

Day 114 – April 23, 2012

On a cold and rainy day, practice was cancelled, leaving me to run country roads by myself. . .and loved every minute of the good run!

Total – 6 road miles

Day 115 – April 24, 2012

The practice schedule was a little messed up today when we needed to borrow a track across town. We enjoyed a 3.5 mile warmup through a beautiful part of town: tree-lined streets, stately homes, and manicured yards. After that, I was needed to time both sprinters and distance people. So for me, it was a short but sweet run.

Total – 3.5 road miles

Day 116 – April 25, 2012

What a wonderful way to start the day: in Horton’s truck and heading to the mark the Promise Land course. Fun, good running, beautiful scenery, and contributing to the ultrarunning community. Good stuff.

Total – 6 trail miles

Day 117 – April 26, 2012

The kids ran hard yesterday at a track meet. So today, it was Runner’s Choice. I took a group up on the trails at Chandlers Mountain, where we explored some trails in the direction opposite what we normally run. Things look a lot different! But what a great time!

Total – 5 trail miles

Day 118 – April 27, 2012

Off to the woods with my trekking poles in hand. Didn’t even trip myself once! I think I’m getting the hang of it. Trying to hike/run like I will be doing this summer for 14 days straight (32-46 miles a day.) I think me and my poles will become best friends.

Total – 15.5 trail miles

Day 119 – April 28, 2012

Will someone please kick me ext time I have a chance to run some miles at Promise Land with sweepers Sophie Speidel and Jennifer Nichols. I knew it wouldn’t be very long since I needed to go coach at a track meet. But had I run in the morning, I would not have had to figure out when to run later on when it was cold and driving rain. Stupid!

Total – 6 road miles

Day 120 – April 29, 2012

Unlike yesterday, it was crystal clear, sun shining, and about 70 degrees. I decided to put some tunes in my ears and get in some more miles. I normally don’t listen to music while running but it was perfect for a couple hours. With a variety of music, it kept me moving, thinking, and praying. I was very pleased with the pace, feeling strong.

Total – 15.6 miles

Year-to-date – 768 miles

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Lessons learned from a race I did not run

Being a TrailMama is almost as hard as being a real mama. I know this for a fact.

My beloved UltraGirl, previously blogged about as "UltraBaby," ran another race that I didn't get to see. Today it was the Promise Land 50K, a tough trail race with about 8,000 feet of climb and the same amount of quad-punishing descent. Being a (reasonably) responsible adult, my coaching calender told me there was a track meet I needed to attend. Though I long for the day to run a race with UltraGirl, it wasn't going to be this time-again. Three races in a row, she raced. I didn't. But I thought non-stop about her, just like any good Mama would do.

Shivering Sarah Quigg with brother Zach (center) and finisher Dylan Perry
When I saw her at the pre-race event last night, her face carried a peculiar look. To me, it said, "I'm worried about my knee. It hurts. My confidence is non-existent." I knew she had been having some problems the last couple of weeks. There were cryptic Facebook messages and a few texts asking for advise. Knees are can be tricky and I'm no expert. Back off. Rest. Ibuprofen. That's about the best I could do.

I searched high and low for her this morning before the 5:30 a.m. start, official timer in hand, poised and ready. Surely, I could see her off before departing for the track meet. I searched frantically but couldn't find her in the large crowd of runners. "Have you seen Sarah?" I repeated over and over. No positive sightings. Where could she be? My heart dropped. A good mama would never let her baby go off to war without a hug and a prayer.

Once the herd of runners disappeared into the darkness, gravel crunching under foot, there was nothing more I could do. After tidying up the pavilion where the masses had guzzled coffee and OJ, and ate packaged donuts, I headed to the car and drove home to get ready. I think I risked a neck crick for glancing down at my watch. "I bet she's on the single track now." Later, "She should be at aid station 2." And, finally, at the track meet, I voiced, "Sarah should be finishing within thirty minutes or so." I couldn't stand not being there, sharing the moment with her. Bad mama. Bad mama.

I texted her, "Well. I want to know." Then I waited. I knew she wouldn't be able to until after leaving the finish. (No cell service in that mountain hollow.) Finally, the call from UltraGirl. This Mama hoped she would hear good news.

"I finished. My knee hurt for 22 miles. I was running in eighth place all day. My goal was top ten women. I  looked back at the third last aid station and saw a crowd of five girls come in. Ugh! I held them off as long as I could. I was able to out-climb them. But the last four miles of downhill were brutal and the pain excruciating.  The five women passed me. I cried from the pain. But I finished under seven hours."

This girl is tough. Super tough. It's one thing to have something start hurting during a race. But to run a race already injured is a whole different thing. UltraGirl, aka Sarah Quigg, learned something about perseverance and keeping her eye on the finish line. The bone-chilling sleet, hail, and rain late in the race forced her to dig deeper than ever before in her young ultra life. The wicked storm punctuated her pain, driving her further into the arena where fear and dreams battle to the death.

Today, the dream drove a serrated knife deep into the heart of fear. UltraGirl's finish just a few places outside of a top-ten finish proved she has what it takes to be a competitive runner. But more than that, the lessons she learned about pain, suffering, circumstances beyond your control, ruthless conditions, and emotional response are priceless. These things can not be learned from a book. She can't even learn them from her TrailMama. No. They must be learned on her personal trail. And what's learned out there translates into wise living off the trail.

No mother wants to see her baby suffer. But today, it's okay. I'm glad she did. UltraGirl tightened the belt and sucked it up. With time, I have no doubt she'll recover physically. What she experienced today was a right of passage. It was a necessary evil. For that passage will lead her to new horizons and beyond.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Dear Mom and Dad

Dear Mom and Dad,

I just wanted to tell you how much I embrace the life you gave me. In July of last year, your plan for me was born, a thought planted in your hearts and nourished by your unfailing love. Oh, how exciting it was to grow cell by cell, day by day. Then one glorious day in late summer, I could feel it! Thump-thump. Thump-thump. My own little heart started beating, rhythmically pounding out the melody of life. I relished hearing my heart in concert with yours, Mother. Your heart beat was soothing to me. I easily fell asleep to its hypnotizing cadence. I felt safe and protected, warm in your womb's embrace.

Mom, I heard you sing to me. Your sweet voice was music to my ears; a pleasant sound delightfully muffled by the water surrounding me. I smiled every time I heard you speak. Yes, I heard the idle chat of those around you, but there was no mistaking your voice. I could have picked it out of a chorus of thousands. I hung on your every word. I always wished I could put a face to your voice. But that would have to wait a while longer. Still, I knew nothing but a beautiful woman could be behind your kind words of affection.

But Daddy, I heard you, too. I loved it when you put your ear to Mommy's belly, listening as I flutter-kicked my way across the pool. When you put your hand on Mom's cute little baby bump, I swung my arms and did a few deep knee-bends just to get your attention. I was so pleased each time I heard you nearly shout with pleasure, "I feel him! I feel him moving."  Daddy, I'll let you in on a secret: I was playing with you, ya know. Sometimes I played hide and seek just so you would come back later and look for me. You thought I was sleeping, but I wasn't. I laughed every time I fooled you! I liked to play with you, Dad. I'm so glad you liked to play, too.

As I grew into a big boy, I have to admit it was getting a little crowded in my bubbled home. I liked it, to be sure. I got to be with you every minute, Mom. You took me wherever you went. Yippee! Lots of field trips. Loved to travel! I got to see and do so much. But, Daddy, don't feel bad. I know you were there, too. Somebody had to drive the car!

Then one day, I got the sense something was changing. I did a flip turn and felt myself get pushed along head first. It was pretty exciting. Maybe this was the day I dreamed about. Maybe this was the day I would get to see you face-to-face, Mom and Dad.

Sure enough, there you were. It all happened so quickly, but I saw you. I really did! I was so excited I could hardly stand it. You were more beautiful than I even imagined! But just when I was about to give you big scream, something wasn't quite right. I closed my eyes and settled into your comforting caress.

Mom and Dad, those days we shared were precious. Thank you for staying by my side. I loved you being near. I felt your fingers wrap around mine. I sighed contentedly when you rubbed my head. I know your tears flowed out of love for me. On the inside, I was crying, too. I love you both so much.

But I'm not crying anymore, Mother. And Daddy, guess what? You'll be glad to know a kind angel carried me to the arms of Jesus. He loves me and he told me he loves you, too.

But do you know what else I learned? Where can I go from his Spirit? Where can I flee from his presence?  If I go up to the heavens, he is there;  if I make my bed in the depths, he is there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there his hand will guide me, his right hand will hold me fast. If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to him; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to him. For he created my inmost being; he knit me together in your womb, Mother. I praise him because I was fearfully and wonderfully made; his works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from him when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. His eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in his book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are his thoughts! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand— when I awake, I am still with you.

I know we can trust God, Mom and Dad. He made me just the way he wanted. God shared me with you for nine wonderful, joyful months. I know we were just getting used to living together. None of us saw this coming. But God says that you can come live here too, one day. He says he has a house waiting for us. I think I might decorate it just the way you like, Mom.

I will never forget you. Never. Ever. I love you with all my heart and soul. You loved me into existence and no one can take that away. But for now, I will close this letter and await the day when I can see you again.

Ezra Ryan Masters
Conceived to life, July 2011
Born to the world, April 21, 2012
Returned to the Father, April 23, 2012

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Just one more day: Days 107 - 113

Day 107 – April 16, 2012

It sure was warm today; 85 and sunny. But what a great day to take the kids to the woods. I felt strong but was a little surprised at how wimpy some of the kids seemed. They usually aren’t that way but it must have been the heat. We ran a little more than I intended (oops), but was pleased with no soreness or fatigue from my weekend outing.

Total – 6.7 trail miles

Day 108 – April 17, 2012

This was a ridiculously easy practice. After some time with core exercises, we took a three-mile slow jaunt around campus. The kids are running a meet tomorrow so a down day was appropriate. I wanted to run extra but ran out of time.

Total – 3 road miles

Day 109 – April 18, 2012

85 and sunny Monday. 75 and overcast Tuesday. 55 and rainy today. Not sure I like the trend. Nevertheless, I managed to get in a great 6 miler, feeling smooth and efficient. Yahoo!

Total – 6 road miles

Day 110 - April 19, 2012

With a track meet this Saturday, I knew I needed to squeeze in a long run today. Heading across the valley to the mountains, I ran 12 miles of the MMTR course and then hopped on the AT for the last 11, including a big climb up Bluff Mountain. I only tripped myself once with the trekking poles, an improvement. I am actually like having them. They are extremely light and do seem to offload some weight. I’ll be using them on every step of this summer’s adventure. Maybe the jiggle will leave the wiggle part of my arms after a while.

Total – 23 trail miles

Day 111 - April 20, 2012

I couldn’t resist a friend’s invite to run more trails this morning. We explored a newly finished trail called “Idiots Run.” Great trail! Despite a  little new issue after my run yesterday, my legs and energy levels felt good. Very pleased.

Total – 7 trail miles

Day 112 - April 21, 2012

Let’s see. Mow the grass. Do some other outside work. Shower. Drive to another county for another track meet (got home at 10:30 last night from the last meet). Do errands during a rain storm on the way home. Put away groceries. Cook dinner. Run before I sat down. A short and snappy road run.

Total – 4 road miles

Day 113 - April 22, 2012

So much to do. So little time to do it in. A busy morning at church and only about an hour at home to get I my run in the chilly rain and get ready to go of to a wedding. A couple miles was all I could fit in.

Total – 3 road miles

Year-to-date: 710 miles

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Just one more day: Days 101 - 106

Day 101 – April 10, 2012

I was really excited for our Tuesday Adventure Run. Jack Mountain, a long, steep rocky trail underneath a power line, is the toughest climb in the area. I had gotten reacquainted with it last week and wanted to share the wealth. I ran the 6.3 mile course before practice to make sure we would have enough time. Then, we ran it as a group. Their eyes about popped out of their heads when they first saw the mile-long climb. But, they loved it and I could tell they felt pretty accomplished. I listened to the chatter and laughter throughout the run. That’s probably the best part; knowing they are embracing being out in the woods and doing things most would think crazy.

Total – 12.6 trail miles

Day 102 – April 11, 2012

After a couple of challenging practices, we did a light run around campus. Nothing special but a pleasant time in surprisingly cold, windy conditions. It was surprising to be running with temps in the 40’s after days in the 80s.

Total – 3.5 road miles

Day 103 – April 12, 2012

After last Saturday’s run at Blackwater Creek, I knew I had to take the kids there. On the bike path, we did a 1 mile warm-up followed by a hard 1 mile effort. (I worked hard to pull off a 7:07. My goal is to go under 7.) Anyway, we ran back to the cars on the Creekside Trail, a lovely ribbon of real estate bursting with scents of honeysuckle and lilac. This part of the run was quick, keeping the pressure on the whole way. A couple of ladies walking their dogs asked who we were and said they were impressed with the kids. Good times.

Total – 5 bike path and trail miles

Day 104 – April 13, 2012

It’s an interesting situation to take sprinter and field event kids up the mountain to the “LU.” They are not used to 1) doing BIG hills and 2) running on anything that resembles a trail 3) and covering distances over 400 meters. But eventually, we reconvened at the gazebo that overlooks the entire campus and story of my SB6K adventure as illustration. After that, it was a nice time on trails, taking the round-about way back to school/

Total – 5 trail miles

Day 105 – April 14, 2012

A beautiful day, a long experiment with my Black Diamond trekking poles, and a good bit of patience marked the day. Tons of climb and descent, I put in a solid 32 miles on the AT. I am feeling stronger and so grateful for that.

Total – 32 trail miles

Day 106 – April 15, 2012

Today’ run was between pool cleaning and weeding the garden. It wasn’t long but it was a good time with Caleb, my oldest son. Very pleased there is no soreness or tiredness from yesterday.

Total – 3 road miles

Year-to-date: 657 miles

Monday, April 9, 2012

Just one more day: Days 93-99

Day 93 –April 2, 2012

Time for some tempo. The team and I ran 2.5 miles to our normal turn around point and after a brief rest, ran back as a tempo run. I told the kids that if they could say more than a syllable or two, they were running too slow. I was pleased to catch and pass a couple of the mid-distance guys that shared the practice with us. Feels so good to be able to run again.

Total – 5 road miles

Day 94 – April 3, 2012

One of my guys commented that he didn’t have a lot left at the end of his last 1600. We did what we could to work on running hard when tired. So, to get tired, we ran a 2.5 mile warmup with 5 150-yard steep hill repeats in the middle of it. When we arrived back at the track, it was 5 x 400 with a 200 active recovery in between each one, run at faster than 1600 race pace. Total volume for the day was not high but it was effective for our purposes.

Total – 4.3 road, hill, and track miles

Day 95 – April 4, 2012

Time to back off with a meet coming up this weekend. We toured campus with a conversational run, stopping periodically to do full body weight exercises, balance, core, stairs etc. I loved to hear all the joking and goofing around. It was a good workout disguised as pure fun.

Total – 3.5 road miles

Day 96 – April 5, 2012

I started off the day with a great run in the woods with my “TrailBaby,” Sarah Quigg. We toured trails new to use, discovered a couple of cemeteries dating back to the mid 1800’s, climbed a HUGE hill, and then ran off of it and got temporarily displaced. Oops. We snagged a ride to make the long run back to the car a little shorter since Sarah had to get to class.

Then, it was time for practice. Another 6.5 trail miles was great fun. Attitudes were perfect and a sense of joy pervaded the group.

Total – 18.5 trail miles

Day 97 – April 6, 2012

So much to do and so little time to do it. When I get in project mode, I have to admit my interest in running declines a bit. I still managed a short run, making sure to do it BEFORE I went weeding the gardens because I knew my back wouldn’t like it much. Hard to run after manual labor.

Total – 4 road miles

Day 98 – April 7, 2012

Track meets are such long hauls. With the meet’s conclusion coming at 5:45pm, my mind was spinning with the things I needed to do in preparation for Easter dinner guests. But I could not resist the opportunity to run my old standard route in Blackwater Creek park. I hit the trails and was immediately embraced with the sweet scent of honeysuckle. It was an instant boost, allowing me to run hard the entire way. It was magnificent.

Total – 5 bike path and trail miles

Day 99 – April 8, 2012

What a glorious Easter day! Once home from church, it was steady activity to get ready for our eight guests. It was such a sweet time getting to know these young couples (all of whom are expecting their first babies), chatting it up long after the meal was consumed. By the time they left and the kitchen was cleaned, it was 10 PM. I put on my reflective vest and headed out the door for a brief jaunt. I ran right down the middle of the country road and felt free. Nice way to end the day.

Total – 2.2 miles

Year-to-date: 592 miles

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Top ten indications you are the worst mother—ever.

(My words delivered on April Fool's Day at a baby shower for two first-time expectant women.)

 10. Baby’s bottom is red, white thrush spots decorate the interior of her mouth, and her face looks like she had an encounter with barbed-wired from her too-long fingernails that you miserably failed to trim. Yes. You truly are the world’s worst mother—ever.

9. Your baby won’t sleep, the house is a mess, and your husband decides to enter into a sexual feeding frenzy. You really aren’t feeling that. Yes. You truly are the world’s worst mother—ever.

8. Your baby is whimpering and you have the audacity to stay seated with your cup of java. Yes. You truly are the world’s worst mother—ever.

7. Baby is a two weeks old. You put the little cherub in the crib and she is finally sleeping. Instead of doing the laundry—by hand, on a washboard, outside, in your frock and with a bandana wrapped around your head—you decide to nap as well. Shame on you. Yes. You truly are the world’s worst mother—ever.

6. The stack of diapers, so neatly folded and arranged artistically on the shelf before baby came home from the hospital, along with all the other baby-changing supplies in the wonderfully adorned nursery, now looks like a great wind from the northwest blew in overnight. Yes. You truly are the world’s worst mother—ever.

5. Your baby is sleeping and you actually vacuum the family room, pick up the phone when its loud ring tone sings out “You’re nothing but a hound dog,” and empty the dishwasher, pots and pans clattering in the process. Yes. You truly are the world’s worst mother—ever.

4. Your baby poops while you are bathing him. You accidentally throw the baby out with the bathwater. Yes. You truly are the world’s worst mother—ever.

3. You take your baby, who could easily win a Gerber modeling contract, to church and later stop in at Wal-Mart on the way home. You actually allow the adoring masses to touch his cute little fingers and wiggling tootsies. You didn’t even think about sealing the child into the Baby Bubble Capsule for the ultimate in protection. Yes. You truly are the world’s worst mother—ever.

2. You have fleeting wishes that you could return your “Gift from God” and snag a hefty refund. Yes. You truly are the world’s worst mother—ever.

1. You smile politely, nodding your head in agreement when other mothers generously offer valuable words of wisdom on how to parent—and then you decide to ignore them all and do what you know is best for your child. Yes. You truly are the world’s worst mother—ever.
If you ever find yourself guilty of these infractions or a plethora of others, CONGRATULATIONS! You are one of us! You have just joined  the billions of mothers who have come before, that, at one time or another, feel like the world’s worst. Don’t worry about it. This too shall pass.

Just one more day: Days 86 - 92

Day 86 – March 26, 2012
I ran with my team today plus a little more after the workout. After a warmup, we did 10 x 200 hard with a recovery 200 in between. I like this workout because the pain only lasts for so long.

Total – 4.2 track and road miles

Day 87 – March 27, 2012

After speaking to Dr, Horton’s running class, I took the girls fro a short run. We didn’t have much time due to so many great questions that they asked. Then, I went directly to practice where we ran up to the mountain so we could do hill repeats at out favorite spot. Not a lot of miles but a lot of bang for the buck.

Total – 6 road and trail miles

Day 88 – March 28, 2012

This was a fun day at practice. After two hard practices, the team was ready for a light day. We did a “follow-the-leader” workout. Guess who was the leader? We ran, stopped to do out one-leg balance exercises atop guard rails, ran more, stopped to do 8-counts, ran more, made our way through the indoor skate park, ran more. . .so forth and so on. It was really quite fun and just what we needed.

Total – 3 road miles

Day 89 – March 29, 2012

Trail day! It was great to take the kids out for a jaunt through the woods. Warm and sunny with a nice breeze. Loved it.

Total – 6.5 miles

Day 90 – March 30, 2012

With no practice today, I decided to do the six-mile loop from home. I was so pleased that I felt better and stronger than I have in a long time. My body must be responding to the iron to produce more (and plumper) red blood cells. I actually felt like a runner today. So thankful.

Total – 6 road miles

Day 91 – March 31, 2012

What a day. Track meet until I had to leave early to fulfill a speaking obligation in Roanoke. I finally got home at 7 pm, changed cloths and headed out the door for a quick spin down country roads. Again, I felt like a runner. I could get used to this!

Total – 4 road miles

Day 92 – April 1, 2012

Third day in a row for a certifiably good run. It is so wonderful to run free, fatigued only when appropriate. For a long time, every run has been a struggle; much harder than it should be. But now, now I feel that I can call myself a runner again. Don’t get me wrong; I’m still slow compared to a lot of people. However, I am happy to be running. 

No long runs this week. So busy. I'll have to make up for it this coming week.

Total – 6 road miles

Year-to-date: 550 miles

A walk in the park and a pink finish line

By the time I finish most races, I've figured out at least the first paragraph of my post-race story. This was one of the few where the ...