It's seems like I've been away from my blog for longer than 2 months. A lot has happened.
Here are some updates:
I have recovered well from my Badwater to Whitney self-contained solo. There is a fun article in this month's Out There Monthly magazine by Jon Jonckers on it:
Click HERE if you would like to read it.
Through August and September, I trained hard for the Northcoast 24 Hour National Championship Run. I ran it last year and eeked out 117 miles, and felt with better training and pacing I could do better.
Well, I was very pleased to log 125.98 miles in 24 hours, nabbing the 3rd place award for women. This is a nice PR for me. Machelle Poole crewed for me and made all the difference! What a fantastic lady she is! Next up... 130. I think I can do it if the stars align. :)
I did not recover well from that race. Maybe I had done too much in the preceding months. Maybe it was because we jumped right on an airplane right after the race to head home and I returned to work without a day of rest. Probably a combination of several things, but my legs remained swollen and sore for about 2 weeks.
I was nervous about that because Tim and I had already registered for the Big Dog Backyard Ultra in Tennessee on October 22, a unique race contrived by the sadistic race director of the Barkley Marathons. It was a "last man standing" format, and I knew I needed to be running on all cylinders for this one if I stood a chance at doing well. It was just a 4.167 mile loop through trails, kinda gnarly trails, and on the hour every hour runners had to be at the start line to start the next loop. So, it really didn't matter how fast you ran the loop (except that speed - or lack of - did impact your ability to refuel or change into warmer clothes, etc.). What mattered was who could do this the longest. There was no distance or time cut-off. Many good runners came to run an N number of loops. Tim and I went to run N+1.
But I was worried because my body required lots of rest in the month prior to this race. Instead of training, I was trying to sleep, get some massages and eat well, all to help charge all my cylinders.
That's when a good friend and massage therapist suggested I try Xango, which is just a fruit drink but very high in antioxidants. She suggested I drink it every day. Now, I'd like to say that I eat healthfully every day, and for the most part I do, but no, not always. So, I took her up on this. Additionally, as I was describing to her what I felt to be an "endocrine fatigue," she suggested I try Eleviv to see if it would help. Since both products are completely natural and free of any additives, I gave it a whirl.
Interesting thing, I felt better. Much better. And very quickly much better. My energy returned, even my motivation to run returned. And when I ran, I felt back to my normal strong self. So, I continued both the Xango and the Eleviv and thought the real test would be not so much during the race itself, but in my recovery.
As it turns out, the race was awesome! We had such a fantastic time making one loop per hour. We had no idea how long we were going to be out there - 12 hours, 24 hours, 36 hours? I think most everybody - including us - was expecting 24 hours.
But as the race progressed, runners were dropping one, two, sometimes three at a time. It was a lot tougher than anyone could predict. By nightfall, there were 9 left, and with each additional loop, one would drop.
Until the final 6. And then until the final 4. At that point 16 loops (hours) into the race, it was Tim, Dave, Joe, and me. I was happy to still be playing with the boys. The guys ran together for the most part, and I ran alone far back in the field. They completed their loops in about 50-55 minutes, leaving a little time to regroup and refuel. I had been looping a lot slower, coming back to the start area in 58 minutes and sometimes just as the bell would ring to start the next loop. I loved it! I really did. I felt great from an "endocrine" perspective. I felt strong and healthy. What I was losing, however, was my grace in jumping over downed trees and managing the loose rocks. (Have I ever mentioned that I have a bad unstable ankle that doesn't like unstable surfaces?) :)
So, the 4 of us set out on loop 16 and only 2 made it back in time - Tim and Dave. Joe missed it by seconds, and I missed it by minutes. That meant one of these two was going to run N miles and the other N+1. But nobody knew how many loops it would take. They both started on the bell, but after the short out and back section, they come back through the start staging area, and it was there that Dave decided to drop and not continue the loop. The race director's report said that Dave said, "Clearly Tim is the tougher runner."
So, it was just Tim on the rest of loop 18, and all he needed to do was finish it under the time. He had been running strong and smart the entire race, so I didn't doubt for a second he could do it. Sure enough, he saunters back in 53 minutes...the Last Man Standing. The Big Dog!
While there is only one winner, one last man standing, I at least was the last woman standing. :) So, Tim and I took our winning buckles and sat around the fire with Laz and are old and new friends, some of us smoking cigars and others passing around Laz's moonshine. Near morning, we left, but came back later to sit around and trash talk some more. It was a wonderful event, not just the run, but the entire event.
Here are the race results.
I continued my healthy supplements and I made the quickest, easiest and fullest recovery I have ever made after a tough ultra. I am sold, I love the stuff. It's pure health with no toxins or anything.
So, I approached Xango with my story and they offered to sponsor me! I couldn't be more thrilled. I believe in the product. We have set up a website for information if anyone is interested. I do not sell the products, and I have no financial interest in them whatsoever. Like my Drymax socks, I just believe they excellent quality products, and in my life, they support my crazy ultrarunning hobby.
If you want to check out the products, then you can go HERE.
So, great recovery from that race. Flew back home to Spokane and picked up my dogs from boarding, and Steely Dan was looking lethargic, kind of sick. I thought I'd watch him a bit, but when he didn't get better, I made an appointment at my vet. That vet appointment day, I went to work, and stopped back home after work to pick him up to go, and OMG! the lymph nodes in his neck were nearly the size of tennis balls, and he was very ill, now with a fever, and was vomiting. It didn't take the vet long to tell me, "I have bad news..." She said he most likely had lymphoma and that he would need chemotherapy if I elected to do that. She took an aspirate from the node and sent him home on Prednisone.
The next morning I headed to WSU where I spent the next 11-1/2 hours with him while he received test after test. THe verdict? Yes, lymphoma, stage IV. Chemo provide 90-95% remission for at least one year. Dogs tolerate the chemo well, not nearly the side effects of humans, and his quality of life would be good. So, I started him on chemo that day.
He's only 6 years old. He's my baby. I didn't expect this; it came on so suddenly and he was at death's door.
But now, one week later, he is doing GREAT! No exaggeration. He's his normal self in spirit and energy and goofiness. I can't tell you how much this has affected me emotionally. And yes, I now let him sleep in my bed with me! :)
His treatments will be weekly and will last for 6 months. A long time and lots of money, but it's a decision Tim and I made and we made it easily. We love our dogs.
So, given that, things are now good. There is a plan in place with which I am comfortable. Life is precious.
Being that I stayed home with Steely after that first dose of chemo to monitor him, I had to cancel my trip to the Wilderness Medical Society meeting in Tucson, where Megan and I were presenting on the Badwater Ultramarathon Medical Coverage. I put together my part of the presentation and reviewed it with her and she presented it just last night. Word has it she rocked the presentation!
So, things are settling in now. The days are shorter and there is no longer sunlight to run in after work. My miles will decrease and that's ok; they always do in the winter. But I will still run because I love to run. I can't wait until Steely is well enough to run with me again. Those are some of the moments in life that are most precious to me.