formats

Martha’s Vineyard 20 Miler 2018

 

My worlds collided at the MV 20 miler that left me feeling exhilarated, relieved and I’ll admit it- overwhelmed. I was faced with an angry knee that had debunked my recent training, two athletes racing with goals of their own, a friend who I hadn’t seen in 3 years and an ex I hadn’t seen since well… the last time. Oh, and I had 20 miles to race. Why do I put myself in these situations? I’m a masochist. It’s the only damn explanation. Well, that and I’m addicted to running.

The MV 20 miler is a race of pride for many who are brave enough to go to Martha’s Vineyard in February and run 20 miles. The weather this time of year is a complete crapshoot. It could be 50 degrees and sunny with a light breeze, freezing rain and 40 degrees or 10 degrees and a blizzard. And not to mention the inevitable gusts of wind that lift you up and move you across the course when you run on that tiny strip of pavement that leads the way from Oak Bluffs to Edgartown. So who wants to run it next year??? I do. Why? Cause why the hell not!

This year mother nature must have decided to punish and torture engender mental fitness within runners in some others part of the world as the 2018 MV20 miler hopefuls faced a day of light winds, 35 degrees and sun. Dare I say that it was near perfect running conditions? Yes, technically there was a strong headwind from miles 5-7 and 17-20 but I’m pretty sure that’s inevitable when you’re running on an island.

My athletes (Sarah and Mary Beth) and I arrived at the start around 10 am for an 11 am race start. I was a complete ball of nerves with a resting heart rate of 90 (when its usually 38-42). Don’t you love how technology can confirm that you are losing your shit? I know I do. Deep breath… and now another. I was worried about running 20 miles on a knee/ hip that while getting better had been giving me some serious grief in the previous two weeks. I was nervous about my athletes running their own races and achieving the performance they had trained for (mamas always worry). And yes, I was mildly freaking out about seeing my ex for the first time since October. The whole morning I felt like an overstimulated toddler who had stayed up past her bedtime: if you even looked at me the wrong way there was a strong chance I was going to burst into tears. There were simply too many feelings in my midst and I was having trouble processing them so quickly.

I retreated into myself and tried to simplify the quiet chaos that surrounded me, “You’re here to run. Just run.”

At the race start I joined up with my friend, Sarah Slater. An ultramarathoner who races (and often wins) 50 and 100 miles much more frequently than road races Sarah made an exception to hop in on the MV20 miler. Weeks ago my goal was try like hell to run 7:15s for all 20, but then my hip and knee started acting like jerks so my goal… umm…evolved to run with Sarah as fast as I could until my legs told me otherwise. I smart runner. 🙂 At the start we agreed to run 7:40-7:50 pace together for the first 12-13 miles and then empty the tank. We griped like mamas. We chitter chatted like girls. We ran like runners. The miles ticked away at a comfortable 7:30-7:35 pace (faster than we discussed, but it felt goooooood). We started to settle into the race and the paces dropped into the 720’s. Sarah kept saying, “too fast” but she was still conversational and her breathing wasn’t labored. I’m going to go out on a line and say that it was faster than Miss. Ultramarathoner thought she could run, but right in her wheelhouse of her current level of fitness. Sarah’s used to running 50+ miles of technical trails at a slower pace, but that doesn’t mean that she’s not strong enough to hit quick paces on the road.

Sarah and I

At mile 14 our girl talk went from conversational to quiet. The race had just begun. My body was holding up and with six miles to go I was willing to start throwing down to see what my legs and mind could do. Miles 11, 12 and 13 were completed at a 7:19, 7:21 and 7:19 pace, respectively; these paces were far from comfortable, but manageable. My mental goal was to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.  Somewhere in mile 14 my mind flashed to a study described within the book I’m reading, Endure. It described two groups of athletes who either engage in low or high intensity workouts. The study revealed that pain tolerance increased by 41% with the group of athletes who engaged in high intensity athletics. Furthermore, athletes who set goals on the road and who are willing to tolerate pain for longer are subject to faster race results. During the race I translated this information as such: You are going to be uncomfortable. Discomfort doesn’t mean that you CAN’T. YOU CAN. So start believing. Embrace the discomfort and keep running. Fatigue is a state of mind. 

I can’t emphasize enough the level of discomfort I experienced from mile 14 through 20. I was holding a 7:20 give/take pace and if I wanted to I could slow down. I could ease the discomfort at any moment if I wanted to. But the fact of the matter is that I didn’t want to. I was no longer running; I was racing. I used my mind to push through the final 6 miles of the race. My legs were tired. My body was beyond uncomfortable. But my mind was on point. I left Sarah (or so I thought) and I leaned into my pace to throw a 7:10 down for mile 14. I turned my attention to the athletes on the road ahead and started picking them off. Close the gap. Lean in, Kass. Focus on the mile you are in. Get to the next mile. Just get to the next mile. I chose to ignore the discomfort enveloping my body and focused on getting to the next mile, then then next mile. I saw another female runner ahead of me and told myself, She looks tired. She has run 15 miles too and she’s slowing down. Close the gap. Lean in. Was she tired? I have not a clue. Didn’t matter. I told myself that she was tired. Heck, I was physically tired. I silently pushed onward with an encouraging inner monologue at my side You have a 5k to go. Three miles, 21 minutes, about 5 songs. Focus. Hold the pace. Push. The final 5 miles were a series of rolling hills and I held on to a sub 7:20 as best as possible: 7:22, 7:15, 7:18, 7:13, 7:18 and 6:52.

During the final mile I noticed a female runner wearing bunny ears ahead of me. My personal self thought it was hilarious, but my runner-self was annoyed. I refused to be beat by a bunny-eared maven. PUSH LIKE HELL. YOU GET TO STOP IN 4 LAPS AROUND A TRACK, 3 LAPS, less than 4 minutes of running left. I did it. I caught the damn pink bunny and miraculously managed a 6:52 in the final mile. I crossed the finish line with a final time of 2:28:18 (7:25 splits) and nailed 6th place woman (2nds in my AG). Mere seconds after I finished Miss Slater rolled in!! SHE HELD ON LIKE A BOSS! I am so insanely proud of her. She told me she was maxing out her fitness at 7:30s. Liar! Haha. She has some serious fight in her. Sarah and I are currently in negotiations for future races … it’s possible I’ll do a few ultras with her if she does some road races with me :). I’m pretty sure we just want to hurt each other on our own turf. Muhahaha.

 

 

Inundated with so many emotions pre-race I am incredibly happy with the race results and the day. I had a blast hanging out with Sarah, survived coming face to face with the ex, am proud of my athlete’s efforts on the road and best of yet- my body didn’t blow up! Horray! In fact every day since the race my knee/hip has felt a little bit stronger. Maybe it’s the PT or the reduction in weekly mileage. All I can say is that I am starting to feel like myself on the road again. Phew!

Post-race, post-shower, post- shoving cookies into our mouths.

 

If I learned anything during this race it is that the mind is an incredibly powerful muscle. In the final 6 miles I passed 5 other runners, three of whom were female and one within the final .25 of the race. I couldn’t have done that without being willing to be uncomfortable. I find it affable how willing I am to be uncomfortable on the road and yet not in life. Life’s uncertainty overwhelms me and yet the uncertainty during a race doesn’t seem uncertain at all. Rather, the uncertainty ins a race feels like a challenge. My runner self loves challenges. My other self not so much.

 

 

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again- why can’t we always be running? Life feels simple on the open road.

Cant stop, won’t stop.

Kass

Post race relaxxxxx with a glass of wine. 🙂

formats

What’s going on….

Helllllllloooo.

I promised myself that I would post today so here I am posting. I have about 30 minutes so let see how many words I can smash together on this screen. I haven’t had an epiphany or emotional crisis. Okay well that’s probably a lie, I’ve an emotional being so I’m sure I’ve had lots of mini-crises in the past 2 weeks but as per usual the feeling pass. What have I been up to? Hmmm…. Well…

* My body is semi broken: First thing I should probably say is that I was running a lot. Like A LOT. Like 70+ mile weeks a lot. Which in itself isn’t that bad, however I simply wasn’t doing enough strength work to back it up. I’m a bonehead. I know the rules. I make my athletes follow the rules. If you want to run then you have to lift at least 1x a week, ideally 2. Because of my boneheadednessity (yea, we’ll make that a word) I had a hiccup in my training that resulted in a swollen/painful knee. I refuse to call myself injured; however, I took 3 days off and started physical therapy at Teamwork Physical Therapy in Quincy, because I’m proactive like that.

Yes, I’m well aware my boot socks are awesome (Thanks mom), but also notice how my left quad has subtly more definition than my right? Muscular inbalances are no bueno for running. The only answer is strength training!

 

So far I’ve learned that I have to do more hip strengthening exercises (boo) and that my right hip is so week that my left leg has been compensating for it. So much so that my left quad actually looks like the hulk and my right leg is all shriveled and sadness. The reality is that if I want to run a lot then I have to do the strength work to back it up. I’m still planning on running Sugarloaf in May as well as Martha’s Vineyard 20 miler tomorrow …. weeeeeeeeeeee! We’ll see how that goes! However, training for Sugarloaf will have to be adjusted to lower mileage and lower intensity. My focus is really to just get through this weekend.

 

 

* I have been reading- adult books! This is a BIG deal. I have been reading- a lot. Well, I’ve been reading Harry Potter to Lillian for the past few months but that’s neither here nor there. I often struggle with either making the time to read or staying conscious long enough at night to get through a page. However, I just got this book, Endure: Mind, Body and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance and I can’t put it down!! Guess I made the right call to start the Sports Psychology program :). I highly recommend this book to anyone who is curious about how the human mind works and wonders if we ever reach our true limit during a race.

 

Greg has a go-pro and often runs ahead on the trail then jumps out of the bushes and takes pictures. He’s the trail paparazzi!!

 

*Trail running with the boys. For the past few months my friend Greg has been asking me to go trail running with his crew in Blue Hills. Week after week I have declined. I’ve used the excuse that it doesn’t fit in with my training plan, but in all honesty I was nervous that the trails would be too hard or that I’d fall behind. But Greg kept asking… and a few weeks back I caved and had a blast!! So, last weekend I went out for 16 miles on the trails in Blue Hills with Greg and a few of his friends again. It was pouring rain at times and muddy fun. The boys even tolerated me asking them about relationships, their moisturizing routine (don’t ask) and other nosy girl stuff. I’m not sure I’ll be invited back, but I had a blast! And honestly…. it got me to start daydreaming about trail races….. possibly next fall… posssssssssibly an ultra- if my right leg doesn’t fall off first.

 

Can you see the water bottle tucked into the small of my back?

* I’ve been falling in love with a new water bottle I received from SimpleHydration. I received it as a gift from a friend and wasn’t so sure about having a waterbottle smashed right up against my tush. I couldn’t wrap my head around it. Yes, I’m well aware I’m stubborn. However, it’s been a few months now and I’ve noticed that I start to reach for my SimpleHydration bottle over my hand flask or waistbelt. I like my hands free and I don’t mind refilling the bottle if I’m out on really long runs. As you know I’m really not into product placement on this blog, but I use this and I really like it soooooo… if you’re looking for a water bottle- I’d recommend giving it a try :).

 

Puppy sitting Grettle 🙂

* I’ve been mom’ing a lot. Lillian and I have been pet sitting here and there- which naturally has made me want a puppy REALLLLLY bad. I’ve decided that I’m going to buy a Viszla… in a year or two. I hate being financially responsible. Honestly, I want a running partner and since men are being stupid the only logical thing I can come up with is to replace them with a dog. Seems reasonable, right?

 

Good times in Warwick with Kristi and Philip, my adoptive parents… who do yoga while drinking wine while listening to Desposito on repeat.

*I’ve been reaching out to friends as much as possible… wining here and there and secretly hiding money in their home when they try to pay for me for dinner (KRISTI!) :-P.

When friends become family 🙂

 

 

* One more thing…. I applied to Wilder, a weekend long retreat in Maine for women who love running and writing. I truly want to become a better writer and begin to hone this skill; this workshop is the perfect opportunity to surround myself with knowledgeable, passionate women. Organized by Lauren Fleshman, Marianne Eliott and Laurie Wagner I can only hope to be accepted into this fall program. We will see! I will find out in a few weeks and will let you know either way :).

My time is up! I have to pack, get to morning physical therapy and then get my bum to the ferry to Martha’s Vineyard! I’ve got a race to run tomorrow!!! Wahoooooooooo!

 

Can’t stop. Won’t stop.

Kass

 

 

formats

The Only Lonely Casualty

 

This post was inspired by: Hercules by Sarah Bareilles

I encourage you to listen to the song and then read.

 

***

“What if I don’t find him? What if I never truly experience love?” She paused to break eye contact and released a heavy, painful breath. She tightly closed her eyes to shut out the rest of the world, simultaneously releasing mascara-clogged tears onto her cheeks as she whispered, “What if I never have a partner… a family… a baby?” I felt her pain as if it were my own. The air of desperation in her voice rang far too close for comfort. We spent the session exploring these desires and fears around finding love and even more importantly the woman’s identity apart from being in a relationship. Who is she? What are her passions? Aside from longing to love and be loved what makes her happy?

My fourth client of the week who was searching for love, her words triggered a tightness in my chest. A strong yet delicate woman with so much heart to give; for a brief moment I saw myself sitting on the couch across the room. I blinked to erase the image but the feeling lingered for days. Her words poured over me again and again, “What if I don’t find him? What if I never truly experience love again?” It wasn’t until this past weekend that I added my own questions: Do I even want to find love right now? Am I capable of love right now?

My days are often filled with an ebb and flow of knowing and pondering. Knowing that I need to be alone. Pondering if I will always be alone. Knowing that I can be alone and yet I don’t want to always be alone. My anxiety has been replaced with a sense of wondering curiosity as I look at the world through peaceful, questioning doe eyes. After spending a decade with my exhusband and a year and a half in another deeply committed relationship I have started to wonder who I am when I’m not someone’s other half.

Soon enough I’ll stop hovering between the lands of knowing and pondering. I’ll find my way, I’m sure of it. In the meantime I just keep running.

Well…. And dating…

 

***

 

“I just don’t know if there’s a future with this guy. He’s super nice and I could talk to him for hours, but there’s just not enough chemistry. No spark.”

Play the field, Kass!! There’s nothing wrong with that. HAVE A LITTLE FUN. You’re just dating around….”

Wait, what?! No way in hades did I see that pearl of wisdom being chucked in my direction. My Newport-summering, paddle-playing, J.McLaughlin-wearing mother just told me to ‘play the field.’ Are we in the upside-down? What on Earth is going on here?

A few months ago my mama said I should play the field, so play the field I have. I met my husband when I was 19 years old so this dating business is brand new to me. Over the past few months I’ve been on all sorts of dates with several gentleman. I’ve drank a lot of coffee, gone ice skating on Frog Pond, hiking in World’s End, been serenaded, gone running along the Charles and even tried out a Core Power yoga class. One dude even baked me a turkey pot pie on the second date. I’ll admit that fellow was a little left of center. As I held the pie in my hands, I met his excited boyish gaze with my own concerned puzzled expression. My furrowed brow and pursed lips could have spoken for themselves, but my mouth opened and words fell out to fill the awkward silence between us. “Is. It. Safe?”

Ahh, the wide world of dating. Fun times had by all most.

Over the past few months I’ve actually had a ton of fun. Simply put, it feels really good to laugh again. Even though I haven’t found a partner I have met some really great men. Oh snap, maybe my Mama was right. Well, half right. I’m a lady and I assure you this is not a foray into a Sex in the City crossover blog containing my exploits.

Just this past weekend I went on a date with a wonderful fellow I’ve known for quite some time. He serenaded me with a guitar and his rendition of Bon Jovi’s Jersey Girl (swoon), cooked me dinner and made me laugh throughout the night. It was good fun. We sat there on his couch chitter-chatting and before I knew it he threw out the R- word. “I’ve never been in a relationship with a woman with a daughter.” I nearly spit out my wine as I threw my palm in the air and sarcastically erupted, “Easy there sailor, you haven’t even held my hand yet. Let’s just focus on getting through dinner.” Relationship? Am I ready for a relationship? I feel like I should be jumping for joy. A kind man who loves running and plays the guitar and used the R-word in my general direction. But instead I feel like a freshman girl who just got asked to senior prom. Of course I want to go. It’s every freshman girl’s dream to be asked, but everyone knows what happens at prom!! I may be a girl who wants to dance, but I don’t think I’m ready for this. No, I know it in my heart- I’m not ready for prom or the R-word right now.

When did I become the stereotypical man who is afraid of commitment?

Dating. I can handle dating.

Damn it. Mama was right again.

***

Sunday morning trail runs at Blue Hills.

 

It started at the 5k I ran a few weeks ago: the quiet. My soul, traditionally plagued with the full-bodied uncertainty of a stormy sea, was uncharacteristically at peace at the starting line. The race started and I lept forward with fury. For the first time in a long time my thoughts weren’t saturated in desperate emotions. No mantras. No race plan. A beautiful tranquility filled my soul where a storm once raged.

JUST RUN.

My eyes rested the road ahead. My jaw was stiff and frozen. My lungs burned.

JUST RUN.

The simplicity of my thoughts were empowering, but I didn’t need to be empowered. I just needed to run. I felt strong, determined and free. Running has always been the easy part of my day, and this day was no different. A local Quincy race on a bitterly cold day of -15 degrees I nabbed second place overall, first place for woman and a shiny new 5k personal record of 19:48.

JUST RUN.

Maybe it really is that simple.

I swear to you: trail running is easier than dating.

 

Somewhere in the midst of repaving my life running 10 miles has become effortless. Deciding to hit the trails for 2.5 hours on Sunday morning is as easy as taking a breath of fresh air. There’s no real decision to be made. The run will happen no matter what; it’s deciding what route to take on the rest of life’s windy roads that leaves me puzzles.. Like I said, running is the easy part of my day. With each passing day, date, R-word and turkey pot pie thrown my way things becomes a little clearer. I move farther away from pondering and closer towards knowing that my heart is still healing. I can’t ask someone else to fix my broken heart. It needs time to heal on its own.

I don’t want to be alone, but I need to know that I can survive alone.

I may want to love and be loved. I want to be in a deeply committed relationship one day, but not today.

This is not the end. From on my knees make me a Hercules.

 ***

I’ve lost a grip on where I started from
I wish I’d thought ahead and left a few crumbs
I’m on the hunt for who I’ve not yet become
But I’d settle for little equilibrium
There is a war inside my heart gone silent
Both sides dissatisfied and somewhat violent
The issue I have now begun to see
I am the only lonely casualty

This is not the end though

‘Cause I have sent for a warrior
From on my knees, make me a Hercules
I was meant to be a warrior 

Lyrics from Hercules by Sarah Bareilles.

 

Can’t stop. Won’t stop. Dating? Nahhhhhh… RUNNING.

-Kass

I write my posts in my journal and eventually type them out 🙂