The Bluegrass BAMR Podcast: Episode 8

BB Episode 8

 

Episode 8: “Keep Moving Forward” with Donna Yurt Giovenco, RDN, LD, CN, ACSM-CPT

In Episode 8, Stephanie chats with Donna Giovenco, RDN, LD, CN, ACSM-CPT.  Donna has an amazing running resume that includes earning a BQ and completing Ironman.  We find out more about how Donna started running and what running has brought to her life, including great friends, her husband and an attitude that inspires new and seasoned runners alike!  Donna has some great advice for new runners who might be hearing their inner critic and she shares how she has been able to deal with her own inner critic to achieve her goals. You do not want to miss this health enthusiast’s inspirational words of wisdom.

Show Notes

Donna’s blog (and social media account) page

 

 

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The Bluegrass BAMR Podcast: Episode 7 – “Don’t Overthink It” with Abby Auger

 

 

BB Episode 7

 

The Bluegrass BAMR Podcast: Episode 7 – “Don’t Overthink It” with Abby Auger

Get to know Abbi Auger in this episode! Abbi is an Ironman, Ultrarunner, Achilles Athlete and all-around BAMR.  Hear more about Abbi’s running journey, including how she balances training with life, advice she gives new runners, as well as her take on living with Bechet’s disease.  Abbi has a contagious spirit and is always willing to help motivate her fellow athletes. We hope you benefit from her take on running, and life in general, which is: “Don’t Overthink It’.

 

Click here now:  https://anchor.fm/BluegrassBAMR/episodes/E7-Dont-Overthink-It-with-Abbi-Auger-e40bcs or find it anywhere you listen to your podcasts.

Episode 2: Firsts with Allison Reid – Listen to the Bluegrass BAMR podcast now.

Aside

Bluegrassbamr block podcast 2

In this episode, I sit down to chat with Allison Reid, co-leader of Moms Run This Town/She Runs This Town in Louisville, KY and one of my best running friends (BRF). We discuss “firsts” in running journeys, as well as lessons learned in training. If you are a busy parent training for a “first” race, there are great tips and insight from Allison in this episode.  Click here to listen now!

 

Show notes:

Learn more about the Louisville Chapter of Moms Run This Town/She Runs This Town here.  You can request to join our private Facebook group here.

Visit the National Moms Run This Town site here.

 

My podcast is LIVE!

Bluegrassbamr block podcast

I did it! My podcast is now live.  GULP.  I am so excited…and nervous. Listen in and let me know what you think!

The Bluegrass BAMR podcast is really a way to share stories of amazing women runners and the people that support them. I feel that there are so many amazing stories about women runners in Kentucky and my goal is to help share these stories to inspire and motivate others.

I plan on interviewing lots of runners, not all of them identify as women! The old saying, “It takes a village…” applies to runners also. So, sit back, relax and listen. I hope you find as much joy and inspiration in these stories as I do!

You can listen and subscribe now at this link:  https://anchor.fm/BluegrassBAMR

Aftershokz Operation #GiveGoodVibes is a Success!

Disclaimer: I received a pair of Aftershokz Trekz Air headphones to review and a pair of Aftershokz Titanium headphones to gift to a friend as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!”

I was so proud to have the opportunity to be a part of the recent Aftershokz #GiveGoodVibes campaign.  I was first introduced to these amazing bone conduction wireless headphones about two years ago. My husband gifted me a pair of Titanium headphones for Christmas. I could not believe the sound quality, it was amazing –the bone conduction technology allows you to hear without obstructing the ear! I felt much more confident listening to music while I ran solo and I knew my hearing was much better off with these than the old pair I was using.

Let’s not forget, while Aftershokz sent a pair of Air Trekz for me to try out, they also sent me a pair of the Titanium to gift to a friend as part of their #GiveGoodVibes campaign. how amazing is that?!  Now, who was I going to gift the other pair to…? That was the big question. I have so many wonderful friends that love running and did not have these!

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So small and lightweight! Loving my Air Trekz!

After thinking loooonng and hard, I decided to gift the Titanium headphones to one of my best friends, Jill.  She was training for her first trail half marathon and was working really hard to meet her goals. Jill is a very selfless person. She is a preschool teacher with two young children and her husband travels for work, which causes her to get really creative in finding the time to train for races. She does not have a good pair of headphones that are lightweight and safe for running. She is one of those moms that goes without things she wants to give her children, family and friends things that they need. She was a perfect candidate!

So, I decided to surprise her with the headphones at her trail race! I was also signed up to run the race. We traveled down together with our husbands to the race. I watched her run with joy at this race, despite the horrible, muddy course we had to endure due to the heavy rainfall that month. She persevered and finished the race when some people decided not to even show up to start due to the weather-she did amazing! After we received our medals and cleaned up, I gifted her a card telling her how proud I was of her and gave her the headphones. She was shocked! I could not film this due to the poor cell phone service at our cabin, but the look on her face was priceless.

We now are both happy owners of Aftershozk. I am so grateful for this opportunity to give back to a great friend and runner! I highly recommend these headphones to runners but really anyone looking for a way to use headphones that are safe for your hearing and conducive to high-quality sound experience.

#GIVEGOODVIBES

Check out these other fun #GiveGoodVibes stories from my fellow Bib Rave Pros!

With Purpose and Kindness  

ScootADoot

Jenna Runs

 

Running for Every Mother.

It is hard to believe that just over a week ago I ran the TCS New York City Marathon. I am still in awe of that experience (you can read my full recap here soon). Even more amazing is the fact that I was able to run as part of an amazing charity team: Team Every Mother Counts. Thanks to the generous support of so many, I was able to meet my fundraising goal and have an amazing purpose for running of this race. Runners always talk about their “why” and for the NYC Marathon, my why was every mother.

I was so humbled to have some amazing running friends support me for an interview with the Louisville Courier-Journal as well to tell my story:

Kentucky mom runs to fight maternal deaths after near-tragic pregnancy

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How my birth experiences prepared me for endurance running.

Running:  The Back Story

In order for me to tell this story, you have to know I was not a runner as a child or young adult. Growing up I rode horses, played basketball and was on the dance team. I did not like running. I despised the running portion of our annual PE fitness test in school. I thought cross country runners were weird. I thought marathons were for elite athletes. Back then, I obviously knew nothing about running.

Fast forward a few decades and I married an athlete who ran marathons for fun. I was skeptical of his hobby but listened to his stories because I loved him. We decided to have kids. I bought a book about preconception fitness. It suggested what else? Running! So, I started jogging as a way to increase my fitness and prepare my body for other things.  I still didn’t like running.  At the end of that year, I found myself in great shape thanks to exercise and diet, and I also found myself pregnant. I knew that I did not want the typical birth experience, based upon all of the research that I had done.

Now came what I did not realize at the time; training for my first endurance event was about to begin.

Pregnancy and Birth

As for many women, pregnancy and birth changed me.  I knew I did not want to experience the medical model of care; pregnancy is not an illness.  So, I began reading as much as I could about the more holistic, treating birth as normal, midwifery model of care. My first pregnancy was pretty normal but my birth experience did not meet my expectations. I was not a “normal” patient, asking for things that most patients did not know they could/should ask for…you know, things like the right to refuse treatment, informed consent, etc.  I had to fight off the anesthesiologist who told me repeatedly I would change my mind on no IV/no pain meds.  I had to fight to keep my support team in my room. I had to fight to get out of the bed and move around or eat/drink during labor (these things are hospital policy but merely a convenience for the hospital, not for the mother). I was so focused on keeping a cascade of interventions from happening to me, I did not get the joy of having birth happen to me.  After 24 hours of start and stop labor, I did have an unmedicated vaginal birth, but I was ready to get out of that hospital as quickly as I could. As we left, my nurse-midwife said, “See? You didn’t even need the hospital?”. Those words stayed in my head and two years later when I was pregnant again, I decided I definitely did not need the hospital and began planning my home birth.

 

 

My second {home/water} birth was the perfect birth for me. I had a team of professionals, including a certified nurse-midwife and doula, along with my family to support me.  I ate, drank and labored where I wanted; I could squat, straddle, lay down, or turn upside down if I needed to in order to help guide my baby.  After six hours of consistent laboring, my baby was gently and quietly born in my garden tub with a roomful of people who knew exactly how to support me.  I had been preparing for this day since I left that hospital two years previous.

Much like running, birth was not easy; laboring and giving birth was hard work and I loved every single minute of it.

Training for Big Moments

So, the big question: How did my birth experiences prepare me for endurance sports?  Well, the midwifery model of care really puts the power of birth into the mother’s hands.  She is the center of the model and must prepare for that role, psychologically, physically and emotionally.  This same responsibility lies upon runners as they prepare for races. While people can support and cheer you on, ultimately you have to do the work yourself.  Here is how I see the similarities between preparing for birth and endurance running:

  • You should train your mind and body for the event.  Everyone is a little different, but most endurance athletes follow a training plan. This includes following a healthy diet, resting, hydrating and staying on top of training miles and avoid injury.  It includes back to back long runs to prepare your mind for running on tired legs.  I typically can hit my race goals if I take care of myself and follow a good plan. The same goes for when I prepared for birth, starting at preconception and moving forward, I did the best I could to prepare my body and mind for birth. This not only included a healthy diet, but I also followed an exercise plan with lots of walking when I could not run, yoga and meditation. Rest was also super high on my training plan for birth!
  • People will tell you it is painful or that it is not possible.  Life lesson: Naysayers are everywhere.  When I was preparing for birth, people told me I would end up begging for pain meds. They criticized my home birth decision because they assumed it was dangerous.  When I decided to run my first marathon, I heard all about how running was bad for your knees or that it sounded painful.  Because I am who I am, instead of feeding into this negativity, I use it as a time to educate people who really know nothing about birth or running. If they can’t/don’t want to learn truths, that is not on me. I also make sure I surround myself with people who are positive and believe in me (another good life lesson).
  • You need a good support team/crew. As far as I am concerned, having a good support team is critical to my mental strength.  In birth, this includes people who understand your goals and know your likes/dislikes.  They are there to tell you that you can do this! The same goes for running. That crew member who will change your shoes for you and shove pretzels in your mouth after 9 hours of running while telling you how bad@ss you are is a game changer.  At your low points, your support team is there to nurture and guide you; at your high points, they are there to celebrate with you.  Good support is critical and a key to success.
  • You may hit a wall and you will go through dark places. I feel for most women and runners, 90% of their experiences are mental. Your body can handle most things as it designed to do; birth and running are no exceptions. But you have to know and believe those things.  If you train properly for birth or racing, you can avoid hitting a wall.   But most women in labor, as well as most endurance athletes at some point during their event, go to a dark place and start to doubt they can complete the task in front of them.  I think to experience this dark place and come out of it helps prepare you for the next time. Having gone through labor twice and now training for my third ultramarathon, part of my training is to think ahead about ways to manage my low points. 
  • The experience is transformational.  I remember distinctly the sounds and smells in that hospital room as I gave birth to my first son. The same goes for the first time I crossed the finish line.  I will never forget those times. There was so much preparation for those events and it was hard work. But, the person that emerged from those events is a more confident person who understands the meaning of hard work and sacrifice to meet the goal.

 

 

One of my favorite quotes on birth and women is this:

“Birth is not only about making babies. Birth is about making mothers–strong, competent, capable mothers who trust themselves and know their inner strength.”

― Barbara Katz Rothman

My nurse-midwives were the first to help me embrace the power I have as a woman and really dig to find my inner strength. They helped to reinforce the fact that my body is not the broken vessel many providers, hospitals and mainstream media would want us to believe. They helped me harness fear, pain and doubt and nurture confidence, strength, and triumph.  They helped me face the biggest and most important challenge of my life: giving birth.  Now, when I am faced with the challenge of training for a new race, I just think, “If I can give birth, I can do anything I set my mind to do.”

Words I would use before motherhood now take on new meanings. I am not timid; instead, I am confident. I am not nervous; instead, I am excited. I am not weak; I am strong. Giving birth to my sons has prepared me for so many things in life, including becoming the mother and runner I am today.

Review of Nuun Immune System Support

Disclaimer: I received Nuun Immune System Support to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

When I had the chance to try out Nuun Immunity, it was really perfect timing. My husband and I had just discussed our favorite (and least favorite) ways to hydrate while training for our upcoming races.  While I have had Nuun in the past, the immune system support was new to me! Runners all know how important hydration is for our bodies, but I was more interested in the immunity support aspect of this particular line.

Nunn

I hopped online to read more about what set this product apart and here is what I found:

…nuun immunity’s propriety mix of botanicals and electrolytes aids in the protection of your immune system. with a balance of anti-inflammatories (including turmeric & ginger), free-radical fighting antioxidants (such as elderberry & echinacea), and our hydration-optimized blend of electrolytes, nuun immunity packs a triple punch in supporting immune health and protecting against common cold and flu symptoms.

I was provided one tube (10 tablets) of both the Orange Citrus and Blueberry Tangerine flavor. I have to admit, I turned my nose up at the second flavor description at first, but more to come on that in a minute… Each serving is one tablet mixed with 16 ounces of water. I decided to drink one 16 ounce serving pre-run and post-run daily.

blog post Nuun

 

My thoughts on this product from a runner’s perspective?

  • Flavor  – While the Orange Citrus wasn’t overly citrus, I was pleasantly surprised by the Blueberry Tangerine (it was my fave of the two).  Both were mild, refreshing, not too sweet and definitely effervescent.
  • Consistency – You have to shake or mix the tablet into the water well before drinking.  It goes down pretty smooth; not “chalky” at all.
  • Ingredients – The product is organic, vegan and ingredients are listed plainly on the website and tube.
  • Portability – The tube of tablets are easy to stick in my gym bag. I can easily drop one into a 16 oz water bottle after my work out! I can also mix several tablets into a larger container and store in the fridge for up to a week, which makes it super easy to not have any excuses for being “out” of my go-to hydration after a run.
  • Effectiveness – I cannot say I felt any more “immune” after using the product, but I can say that both of my kids had started back to school at the time I was using it and they became ill (think colds and stomach virus) but I did not. As a mom, that is a huge WIN for me.
  • Bonus – the FAQ section of the website allowed me to easily locate if this was safe for my children to drink and revealed all allergen information I was looking for (nut free, gluten free, etc).

Overall I would definitely recommend this product to others (not just runners) who want a boost to their daily hydration and nutrition routine.  The product is relatively inexpensive and does the job.

Do you want to try out Nuun Immunity?  Use code HYDRATEBIBPRO for 20% off, good through the end of October. Note this code will only work on the US webstore nuunlife.com and not on nuuncanada.com. 

 

 

Every Mother Counts.

I decided about 6 months ago I wanted to be a run ambassador for Team Every Mother Counts. With the daily work I do at Frontier Nursing University, I am immersed in the current issues related to maternal health, in particular, the rising maternal mortality rate we are facing here in the United States. I wanted to do more.  I started researching ways I could use my running for good. That is when I found the Every Mother Counts running ambassador program.

maternal mortality rate

Every Mother Counts is a global non-profit organization “dedicated to making pregnancy and childbirth safe for every mother, everywhere. We educate the public about maternal health, engage individuals to advocate for the well-being of mothers, and invest in community-led programs to improve access to essential maternity care.”  The founder, Christy Turlington Burns was affected by a maternal health crisis herself and that experience spurred her to start this organization.

As I read more on the running ambassador program, I realized there were no EMC ambassadors in Kentucky.  This is important as Kentucky ranks 27th* in maternal mortality rates in the United States.  I felt that with my combined love for my home state, passion for running, and access to women’s health resources through my work, it only made sense that I join Team EMC.  An even bigger goal? Raise over $3500.00 as a set my sight to run the TCS New York City Marathon as a part of that team.  I know. It is a HUGE goal. Want to help? It is simple.

1) Make a donation to my page here. I have pledged to raise over $3500 for EMC and every donation counts! Even a donation of $5 helps get me to my goal.

2) Share this blog with your friends and family members who are ready to support a non-profit organization dedicated to making pregnancy and childbirth safe for every mother, everywhere.

3) Contact me if your place of business is interested in supporting this endeavor with a donation!

Donations can be made directly to the CrowdRise page above or can be made via check to “Every Mother Counts” and mailed to Every Mother Counts at 180 Varick Street, #1116 New York, NY 10014.  (Please write Stephanie Boyd and NYC Marathon on the “for” line for proper credit.)

 

 

 

*https://www.americashealthrankings.org/explore/health-of-women-and-children/measure/maternal_mortality/state/KY

Dark Sky 50-Miler: My first trail Ultra and my first DNF

Warning: this recap is LONG. Let’s just start by saying this was not my greatest race in terms of finish time (yes, I know, the title of this post already gave it away). However, I can say that it was a great race in terms of the experience I had with one of my best running friends and I learned so much that I can put towards future races!

I initially chose the Dark Sky 50-miler on the suggestion of a friend in March. I just came off of a great experience with my first 50K (The Pistol Ultra) and wanted to move forward with my training by signing up for the 50-mile distance.  So, with little arm-bending, my friend Marian and I signed up to run. I also peer pressured my friend Allison into being my pacer for the last 20 miles of the course. Both of these friends had more trail running experience than I had and I knew they would be important pieces of the puzzle to my success for this race- I was so excited they were ready and willing to take this next adventure with me.

This would be the second year for this particular race.  I liked the idea of a smaller race that would give me beautiful scenery for my first 50 miles.  I went forward with my training plan, focusing on running as many trails as I could while maintaining my strength training.  As race day neared, I was excited, hopeful, calm, and ready.  The week of the race I learned my friend Marian was not able to join us after all.  Allison and I left for Pickett State Park in Tennessee on a beautiful Friday afternoon. The weather for race day looked dry, but also very hot, with a forecast for record highs. I had heard the course was shady, so I was happy to know that we would have some respite from direct sunlight during the long miles.

We arrived to find the Rec Lodge and packet pick-up (we passed it twice somehow). I had looked previously at the race registration and it appeared about seventy people were registered.  I would find out on race day there were only a little over 50 that arrived to run.  Packet pick-up was simple- grab your bib number, safety pins, t-shirt, and coozie. We were then on our way to our rental for the night as we would have to arrive back at the Rec Lodge before 5:40 am Central Time.  We got a little turned around on the trip to our rental, and jokingly kept saying, “What would {our friend} Marian do?”! Little did I know the next day I would be saying this to myself. Alot.

dark sky warnings

 

We were up at 4 am. I did my usual pre-race routine: same food, same liquid, put on my race flat and bib and hopped into the car with my pacer. The sun rose on our way to the start line.  It was warm but luckily {?} my hydration vest bladder leaked in the car and so I started the race with a completely soaked back and behind!  When the Race Director told us to run, I started out mid-pack. The elite runners took the front. We started out on a road, single track and back to the road, so I tried not to run full out and stay where I was comfortable. I knew once we hit the true trail,  I would want to stay middle of the pack.  We started the path into the park on a single track and I fell into a pack of about 10 runners. We stayed this way for a bit and there was little chit-chat. I kept going over my own advice in my head, along with the advice from others, on when to drink, run, walk, climb, etc.

As we got into mile 7, I noticed a hot spot on my right foot. I had just had a foot care plan discussion with Marian and I knew what she would say to do — I knew I needed to nip that in the bud, so I pulled over when I could at the end of mile 7 and bandaged my foot. The group I was running with flew by me while I was tending my foot and all of the sudden I was in the forest by myself.  As I put my shoe back on, a female runner came by and said hello and I picked up the pace with her. We started running near a stream on a cool, fern-covered path.  Then we hit our first water crossing. The current was such that you had to hold on to a rope above you or risk losing your footing.  She successfully crossed and I followed suit… then there was an immediate climb up rocks and a ladder, which was slippery. The next couple of miles were full of cool, damp single track trails- everything was wet, moss-covered and slippery!  I caught back up to the female in front of me and we were soon joined by some other ladies.  Marsha was the woman I talked to most of this time. She and another female were experienced trail runners and Marsha had recently completed an ultra in the Arizona desert. I loved hearing her stories; they were a great distraction for a bit.

We started to approach the 13.7 aid station, where I knew I could refill my hydration pack and grab solid food.  Allison surprised me by being at the aid station (I had not expected to see her there) and she took my pack to refill it and asked me what I needed to eat. A volunteer checked to make sure I was sweating and asked how I was hydrating. I explained I had taken in 4 liters of water with electrolytes since the start and was taking a salt pill each hour.  It was so hot! I was happy to hear they were checking these things.  I asked Allison how I was doing on time and she said great. I took a shot of bourbon, chased it with flat coke and ate applesauce and some gu.  Allison reapplied my sunscreen and then asked me how I was feeling. It was then we both realized I would need to slink off into the woods for a moment as Mother Nature decided my monthly cycle should start RIGHT THEN. Geez. We laughed and then I was off for the longest stretch of the race between aid stations.

 

I then took off into the woods by myself. The sun was starting to get high and I got emotional thinking I was leaving Allison and would not see her again until mile 31. I started to think of my husband and boys and my friend Marian, and my family and all of the people who had supported me to this point. I cried and ran for a good mile and then I was fine again.  I ran through various terrains- root-laden spots, sandy trails, trails covered on all sides by waist-high poison ivy and trails slippery and full of jagged rocks.  Somewhere along mile 18 a large tree fell behind me in the forest and spooked me! I put my earbud in one ear to help take my mind off of that…my son’s playlist started playing “No Sleep ‘Til Brooklyn” and I smiled and kept running.  There were points where I thought my knees hurt or my foot hurt and I would remember my friend Jeanette telling me that feeling was temporary and it would go away, and indeed it did.  As I neared Longbranch Trail aid station, three runners came quickly upon me and I moved to the side of the downhill, single track switchbacks to let them pass.  They ran into the AS and everyone was so quiet as I arrived; I did not know why until one of them looked at me and said quietly, “They don’t have any water here”. Hmm…I quietly thought to myself, “What would Marian do?”.  I was almost out of my own hydration mix Allison had filled at the last station and the plan at this 21-mile station was to refill again. The volunteers were unsure if more water was coming.  It was beginning to feel hotter.  One of the volunteers offered to give me some of his water (he only had a little left in his milk jug) or there was some Tailwind mix left. I passed on the Tailwind as I had not used it for years and was afraid it would upset my GI system.   There were still several people behind me and I did have about a quarter liter of my own Liquid IV/water mix left, so I was hopeful it would get me to the next aid station. I wanted to keep going; time was ticking.  I set out for the next aid station, Station Camp, hopeful there was water there.

Looking back on my time, this is where you will see my pace lag considerably.  Miles 22-25 I had to do walk/run intervals in hopes of conserving my energy and not twisting my ankles on the large rocks in trail. I was out of liquid and I could not swallow food any longer. I was doing my best to swallow the GUs I had and hope that water was ahead. I was wrong.  I was thankful for the water crossings and water falling from rocks to cool me off as I could find them.  As I approached the Station Camp aid station, a volunteer was walking towards me. I said, “Please tell me you have some water here.” He shook his head and said he didn’t, but there was some Tailwind left.  He tipped the large jug forward and drained what I think was the last of the Tailwind into my bladder…about a half liter…and told me that should get me to the next aid station. This would be Charit Creek Lodge #1 and it was four miles away.  This was probably the slowest 4 miles I’ve ever run. Oh wait, I walked most of it. I can’t remember walking in a race ever. I met up with another gentleman who had been out of water for some time. He was walking to conserve his energy. He stopped a man on horseback asking for water.  About a mile from the next aid station, some volunteers on foot came to us with water and gave us about a half liter each. I wanted to drink it all in one gulp! I have never been so hot or thirsty in my life; it was a horrible feeling.  I started to try and run again, but in my head, I already knew at this pace I would never make the time cutoff.

 

As I made my way to Charit Creek Lodge, my friend Allison was there cheering me on. I am sure the look on my face as I came down the hill towards her said it all.  She quickly got me to a chair and started changing my shoes and socks off, per our plan and a volunteer started dumping cold creek water over my head and shoulders. He did this several times; it felt so good!  My feet were in good shape; my socks and shoes were pretty dry. Allison had me drink water and asked me to eat some peanut butter pretzels. I tried to eat them but my throat was so dry I could not swallow. I just wanted to drink water!  I had to pace myself with the water so I did not make myself sick.  I had a headache that was wanting to make me cry. I had never felt so dry in my life.  I told her, “There has been no water at the last two aid stations!”. She looked at me and said, “I know.” I stood up and looked around, there were runners sitting down on the ground looking defeated; some runners were sitting in the creek they were so hot.  She said, “What do you want to do?”.  I said, “My brain wants to finish but my body is giving me some horrible warning signals.”  She said, “Let’s do this 4-mile loop-it goes up to the Twin Arches; it’s the best part of the course! We should do it!” So, I got on my feet and up, up we went.  This may have been my favorite part of the run. It was so beautiful, I had water, and I had Allison with me to enjoy it.  We stopped, took photos and pretended like I hadn’t just run 31 miles. We went the 4-mile loop and arrived at the aid station again.  We walked passed it; the volunteers were packing up.  Allison said, “Okay, so what do you want to do?  We have 30 minutes to make it 3 miles. We can continue on, but I want you to make the call if we do not. And I wanted you to make this decision on your terms, not on theirs {race management}.  That is why I insisted we run up to the twin arches, so you had time to get water in you and clear your head.”   I looked at her sadly and said, “I want to keep going but we won’t make it to the next aid station in time. And, if we do try, there is no guarantee we will have any water at any of the future aid stations. I don’t want to put you in that position and quite frankly, I don’t want to be in that position either for the next 19 miles.”  We were both crying.  Allison told me I was racing smart and she supported my decision. I asked her to go back and tell them I was done. I couldn’t do it. I felt so defeated and ashamed…all of this training and time and I wasn’t going to meet my goal. I have never had a DNF (did not finish). It was a horrible feeling.

As Allison talked to the race volunteers, I turned around and saw Marsha, my friend from earlier.  I yelled out to her; she looked sick. I asked her how she was and she told me she hadn’t had any water and took the remaining Tailwind at the last aid station. She had been sick ever since.  I was so heartbroken for her, too.  We then grabbed our things and hiked the mile back to our cars.  It was then I realized this was probably the longest mile I had ever walked in my life.  The entire time we walked back to the car, my head throbbed, but all I could think about is “what if” I had kept going.

On the ride back to the cabin, I cried. My friend was so kind and compassionate. She told me I was one of the strongest runners she knew, but I could not believe her at this moment. I felt so weak and defeated. I text my family and friends to let them know I ran 35 miles that day, not the 50 I had planned. Of course, they all said they were proud of me, but my husband had the words I finally could hear: “Steph, you trained hard. You know you can go that distance.  When you get home and are rested, decide on your next 50 miler and sign up.”  (And that is just what I did.)

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I am so grateful to my family and friends who put up with my training.  I do not know what I would have done without Allison by my side at the race, taking care of me when I needed it, but being stern with me when I did not want it.  Having her there was a blessing for me and I will forever be bonded to her because of this experience.  I did not lose anything from this race, I only gained insight and learned things I will take with me to my next race.  One thing I did do to help get over that horrible DNF feeling was email the Race Director. I needed her to know what I and about 10-12 people behind me experienced during that race. I have to hope that my feedback, along with others, will help those racing Dark Sky in the future.

On to the next one…

 

**I studied the topography map and the few blog posts I could find from the previous year’s race. I thought I would leave this elevation chart her for anyone who was doing the race in subsequent years just for fun. This is from the start to Charit Creek #1 Aid Station. 

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