24 September 2014

24 Hours North Coast: “This is BS,” “Cleveland Isn’t Detroit,” “We had some ‘weather,’” “Today’s just not my day”

Going into the North Coast 24 Hour National Championships, I was not feeling 100%, but feeling very hopefully – because confidence is much more fun and positive than self-doubt. I didn’t have my best race, or my worst race, but I did have a whole lot of fun. How is it possible that so many things could happen in just 24 hours?

We went to the pre-race where, where the amazing Dr. Andy Lovett gave me some ointment cream that he swore would protect me from blisters. (It didn’t. My feet suffered. Sigh.) Then Jackie and I headed to the hotel, where we fell asleep at 9pm. Success. Turns out, Cleveland is kind of like those YouTube videos you know you’ve seen and loved online. Ha!
me and andy!!!!

Chris and Dave arrived at 2am but I barely woke up. I slept pretty good, had pre-race bowel success, and ate, feeling okay. The day before I flew, I was so nervous I could barely eat lunch before my flight. We checked in at the start, set up our stuff inside the pavilion in case we had the rain they predicted (No matter; the entire where we placed our stuff flooded, but luckily, most of our stuff were in plastic bags.), and said hello to friends. Let’s get ready! Wheeeeee!
HUGE ultrarunning hero - John Geesler. Swoon!

The course is a .9 mile loop through this park (essentially around a parking lot, but it’s actually nicer than that sounds) with the Lake on one side. There were tons of people in the park, so that added an interesting people-watching element; one vegan weightlifter was working out at 10 a.m. until the first rain came well after dark. There were kites, multiple wedding photo shoots, families picnicking, seagulls, that sort of thing. The course is a paved loop, with some slight ups and downs, but nothing too bad. (In the middle of the night, you will find yourself walking “the big hill.”)
ready to run at lakeside

Because the lake is alongside the course, you get wind. Lots of it. This course is known for being windy. At times, the wind was so tough you found yourself using tons of energy just to propel yourself ahead. Some people confessed to me that they gave up running and just walked.


The race started a few minutes early, and we were off. I took off too fast, as usual, yelling at myself for running sub-9 minute pace. I got a cramp early in and was forced to slow down, which was a good thing. I chatted with everyone, ate gels, laughed.

The day was hot. It was supposed to be a high of 80, but it was much hotter than that – mid to upper 80s. I felt parched, and needed to make sure I was quite hydrated, but not drinking too much to cause the dreaded sloshing stomach.

Marathon in 4:10. Okay, a little faster than my best 24s, but not too terrible. 50k in 5:05. Okay. Okay.

Then in the mid 30s, my hamstring tightness grew worse. I went to the medical tent  to have my hamstrings stretched. And again a little while later. And again.

And then my period showed up two days early. I spent much of the race begging for tampons. Thank you, ladies of North Coast 24!

It took forever to get to mile 50, or so it felt. 9:40. Ugh. 50 to 60 felt really awful. It took forever.

In the 70s, Chris warned me, "Cherie, it's going to rain." I had read an article about thunderstorms in Outside Magazine the day before. "I am going to stop if it's thunderstorming." I really wanted to go to medical and get them to stretch out my super tight hamstrings, but I figured I'd wait until the thunder and rain arrived.

I kept running, feeling kinda crappy. The miles dragged on. Where was this rain? I wasn't eating a ton - nothing looked appetizing (Well, mac and cheese did but I knew where that would land me!) and I ended up eating some vegan pizza. I do love cheese, but not when running.

I dragged on. I ran. I took a 5 hour energy shot. I changed my shoes. I ran some more. I ran some more. I put music on - it pushed me ahead. I flew. It felt great for a few laps. Then, I slowed down. Ran. Ran.

I came in. "You should stop now. The rain is going to come," Chris told me.

"Well, can't I just do one more?" I asked. It was only drizzling.

"No. Stop now."

"Really? I can't just do one loop - only .9 miles?"

"No. You can't."

So I went to medical and as they began working on my legs, the skies opened. Good timing. I thanked Chris profusely. I had medical pop some blisters and then I relaxed for a while.

Then, as I was pulling on my shoes, it let up. I head out and put in some more miles.

I ran on. Sunlight was coming, I knew it. I said hi to everyone I passed, and smiled. Only a few more hours of this hell/love.

Around mile 92, I connected with Isiah, who later won the men's race with 154 miles - in his first ultra! We ended up running together until I hit 100, at which point I drank water and ate a little extra food, and then spent the last hour running, walking a bit, laughing, smiling, so glad it was almost over.
Hitting 100 miles
I hit 104 miles. And then nearly 105. But it was over.

Far from what I wanted, but still, a pretty decent race. 5th USATF woman, lots of blisters, lots of soreness, lots of fun with friends, lots of hallucinations (Why do people do drugs when they can just run 24 hour races????), and some fantastic tater tots after. Yep, that's a good race!
NY/NJ crew post race (Where's Zandy?)
Tired runners, yay

16 September 2014

Because Time Isn't Real at Burning Man

So many months of working your butt off for a week? Does it even make sense? And then you get there and it's work work work and then it's playplayplayworkplayplay and blink it's all over and you are packing up your camp with tears in your eyes. This video gets that time is imaginary.

Time Shifts at Burning Man 2014 from Michael Tosner on Vimeo.

07 September 2014

Re-entry and Decompression

Re-entry has been really weird this year. I feel like it is going to take me longer to decompress as my burn was full of so much this year, almost too much. 

On playa, I felt stressed, a first for Black Rock City: the race was overwhelming and way bigger than ever, which was totally exciting and amazing and wonderful but a lot for me. Next year, I might not be able to run it as things needed to be managed while running. The stress prob contributed to stomach issues which led to 15 min in the port-a-potty, 30 min sitting around waiting for my tummy to feel better, and the poop shuffle - you know, when you have to poop SO BAD while running that you run to get to the toilet fast, then have to stop and hold your stomach, then you walk, then you run, then you clutch your stomach. AWFUL. The volunteers offered to have me poop into a black garbage bag, but HELLO I HAVE SOME CLASS. Not really, I'm just poop shy!

We also had some camp issues: people who didn't pick up their fair share of helping out, and striking camp left me in tears when not everyone helped out. I take things personally too much. So I felt stressed and upset and frustrated and it definitely showed. We grew a lot very quickly, and some people had different ideas about camp responsibilities. I think some will find a better home at a plug-and-play camp next year.

To be honest, all of it broke my heart a little bit. I know I wasn't able to fully be present at all times on the playa because of the stress, even showing that stress, being cranky to those who loved me (and everyone, I AM SORRY, I do love you!) and was hurt a lot. People are really their true selves on the playa, whatever that may be - so you get to see some truth to people. But mostly, it was a beautiful wonderful week, and everyone had their bright happy spots!

Moving on...the playa was good for me, as always. I had some big epiphanies about life, work, writing, love, living. People always say, couples, friendships, they either break up or get stronger. Wayne and I got stronger. Rachelle and I had some wonderful time together. I met some incredible new folks. I saw neat art, made some important internal decisions, danced my butt off, ran, meditated, talked to strangers, met lots of amazing runners, missed my kitties, kissed Wayne, drank mojitos with all my friends at Dementha (except Ben - you were missed!), had some great talks with Yosvany, watched the sunrise a few times, saw the amazing Embrace Burn (prob my fave Burn of this year), saw the other burns, danced a ton, met some great people, connected with so many of the amazing runners, ate lots of guac, drank tons of delicious pina coladas (even with the "WHO THREW AWAY THE PINA COLADA" drama), had a brilliant time.
i love this boy. this was a good year for bonding for us.

oh how he makes me smile. sunset time! howl!

ride this. no.

embrace. the best piece of art this year, IMHO

matching patterns

what i wrote in the library of dreams

that's my boy up there

holding things up

mud and cats

good friends

oh caretaker, how i heart you

some of my camp

dome and us

all smiles

embrace burns

good times at dementha

our annual wedding

dancing at my fave camp on the playa

burning man indeed.

goodbye temple of dreams. take those messages to my grandfathers and uncle and take care of all of them.

let it burn, burn, burn

And for now, we are resting our hearts, our minds, our bodies. I am at home, reading and writing and practicing yoga and running and cooking and baking and seeing those who matter most (Wayne, Mom, Dad), making plans to see others who really matter (Rachelle, Lissy & fam), and figuring out what is next for me.

The Burn always inspires me to do a lot, to be more of myself, yes, to see more fun art, to connect with friends who matter, to figure out what matters, to reach deep inside myself, to meditate, to think, to breathe, to be in the present moment, to push harder, to relax more, and to figure everything out in due time. 

Funny how fake fur and shiny things and burning art and amazing people can inspire all of that.