06 April 2015

Umstead 50 (!!!!!!!!!!!!) Race Report

good friends on a nice run in the park

Umstead was to be my comeback race.

Comeback from injury.

Comeback from grief.

I didn't run exceptionally well - but I finished. My morton's neuroma was not really bothering me, except when I felt a few flashes of numbness towards the end, and I simply took some walk breaks. My stomach was off. (Port-a-potty queen!) I ran my slowest Umstead first-50 mile split ever, but WHO CARES? My morton's neuroma was okay!

A few days before the race, Tony and Ray began trying to egg me on to do the 100. I crazily pondered it, but did not. A few reasons:
  1. I hadn't trained for a 100 miler. How much would it suck to run and recover if I hadn't trained? Bleh.
  2. It was going down to 26 degrees F at night. Ummmmmmm, no.
  3. I wanted to spend time with my sister and her family without being out-of-my-mind exhausted. 
  4. I was afraid that I could hurt myself. I was really nervous that 50 miles might be doable, but 100 could destroy me. I knew this could be the case, so I stopped at 50.

I began the race in good spirits - I had so many friends that I was chaotically running around like a maniac while saying hi while trying to find moleskin while arranging my stuff while catching up...

Umstead is a 12.5 mile loop course - rolling hills on carriage trails. The hills seem easy the first loop or two, and then, by the end, you are cursing the park. Unfortunately, the temperatures were the coldest I have ever experienced there, and this definitely impacted the runners. The aid stations are well-stocked and the volunteers super friendly.

And then we were off! I began running with Tony and immediately knew I was out of my league. I have only been running slow and short since, ohhhhhh December. And slow like, 10-12 min mile slow. Ha.

But I stuck with him. We had fun, chatting, gossiping, catching up.

On the 3rd lap, I began to feel dizzy and just crap. I told Tony to go ahead; I needed to walk. We were pretty close for a while, but I took my time, stopping to pee, and then, my stomach began to fall apart (I really need to figure this out). I spent some quality time in the port-a-potties over the next two laps.

My sister came around mile 44, and that was nice. I ate some animal crackers and chatted with her.
just behind tony through the chute

As I got closer to the finish, I could ALMOST feel the weirdness w my neuromas...and began walking more. No pain, but that *feeling* that's hard to describe. Walking was fine. I wasn't in a rush.

I finished. 9:38:38. My slowest Umstead, but my neuromas were okay. That was all that mattered! This was huge!

I hung out with some friends, drinking amazing hot cocoa that Brandi made for Bruce and I, and then began to cough. My asthma was not happy. I hopped in my car, and began the perilous drive on the course. I luckily hit no runners, and got to cheer on the friends I had wanted to stay to see in at 50 miles.

Then I got to my sister's, played with her kids, and spent the rest of the time eating, chilling, and snuggling. It was a different Umstead, and a fun one.

Grandma Blur

The past two months have been a blur. I have been better at keeping my head above water, and the grief is no longer as painful as it was.
after running the grandma 50k. grandma is wearing her beloved cahsmere sweater with a silk blouse underneath.

When my grandma was ill, I felt sick with worry. I called and texted my mom, who was with her in the hospital. No one realized it was as serious as it was; I think the one the most stunned was my father. He last saw her a month and a half before she died; he had dropped her off at the grocery store and she walked around and did her shopping by herself. Fast forward to the day she died - Dad arrived 20 minutes before she died, straight from the airport. She looked so terrible (She fell apart a lot in the last few weeks, and from Friday afternoon to Sunday morning was such a massive difference that I cried when I first saw her.) that my dad must have been in shock. I still don't know if he has processed it. 

Then grandma passed away. I spent my time crying. I rode the bike for hours. I listened to the same song on repeat for even more hours. I cried. I refused help from my friends, only finding solace with family. Poor Wayne had to deal with my mess. Nothing felt right. Nothing made sense. I hated everything. I felt horrendous.

I went back to work, and while my job is fairly good with giving us a week bereavement for a grandparent, I thought, "We should get a month." I was that much of a wreck after returning. Perhaps I could have asked for more time, but at the same time, it probably was good that I was "returning to normal." My coworkers understood my mind and I hid out, working at home in pajamas and crying.

Mexico was truly healing, and brought me back to a very different place. I talked a lot about my grandmother because she was so top of mind. I decided after Mexico, I'd run with her rosary beads in every single race - until Burning Man. And then I'll leave them in The Temple after the ultra, so they can become part of the universe, part of the playa, part of me forever.

I thought something was truly wrong with me; my sister and father and mother and cousins seemed fine. Instead, I was bawling on my runs and in the gym and during yoga class; I cried on the subway and in the shower. I sold my tickets to parties and concerts and thought about how my grandmother would never have my cookies again, and wondered what she looked like in the casket now, and it was so cold out and I hated that she was gone gone gone gone gone.

But everyone's different. I realize part of it is that I had the closest best relationship with her. My grandmother adored my father, but they had a very complicated relationship - and my grandma had a similar difficult relationship with my uncle. She was not appreciative of all that my mother and aunt did for her. My other siblings/cousins did not talk to her as much as I did. Family was everything; she pushed aside other things. 

I would visit her whenever I could. In summers, I'd bike to the beach and then bike up to her house. I'd run to her house in what I dubbed the "Grandma 50k" (because I ran the long 50k way there). I would call her once or twice a week. I'd send her little notes every week or so - and inexplicably, I found a few of these unopened in her house.

Her life was sad at the end - very alone, not much passion for things. It is a little scary.

I've had trouble keeping it together. I've been writing articles and running and going to work and doing my laundry and plucking my eyebrows and all that. But on the inside, I felt very shaky.

It's spring now. New things. Biking weather has begun, and I took my heavy blankets off the bed. My grandma always loved spring; I'd get her nice plants every year on Mother's Day. She loved them.

So even though she's gone, I must let my heart fill with joy again. I'm going to get a plant - the purple little flowers she liked - for my fire escape. I'm going to bake her strawberry shortcake for Wayne's birthday, maybe. I won't ever forget her, and even though my heart is still heavy, I have so much joy knowing how much she gave me.