Stories from my youth: Volleyball

I haven’t always been a runner. Heck, I joined the track team in high school,because I had a crush on my older brother’s friend and he did it. Shout out to Mike, who I believe is married now so you know I picked well. He actually ended up dating my friend but I’m not bitter at all…

Anyway, my main sport was volleyball. I grew up playing it, taught by my mom, and cannot remember a time I wasn’t either waiting to play on the school team or actually playing on it. There were not all the young teams for 6 year olds where I grew up, yet I think I started going to the older kids practice at that age.

It was simply fun though, I was not training to be a child prodigy.

When I entered 7th grade, I was allowed to play on the junior varsity team. I was tall for my age and had been coming to practice for a while, so the coach took a chance on me. I took to the sport and soon learned how to actually play.

I loved it! Playing with other girls (older girls!) who treated me like an equal, like a friend, was so fun! Middle school is an awkward time, I was gangly, chubby and just felt weird in my body. Those girls made everyday fun. They knew so much more than me. They had boyfriends! They were in high school! It was all very exciting.

I think what I remember most were the bus rides. After I got over feeling shy, sitting with someone new was something I looked forward to. They liked to talk to me, to tell me things. I was really naive and innocent (relatively speaking) and they both liked to share their stories and also see what someone who had limited knowledge of relationships, boys or life things thought. 

I guess I should have known that this would continue all my life. Not only do I love to talk, I love to listen. 

When I got older, our team got better. My peers in school became my teammates and our senior year we won the league. Again, what I remember most was singing on the bus. My friend and I sang is this really vulgar song each ride both to shock the younger kids, but also because it was hilarious. The bond we all had was the one thing I miss about team sports.

The one thing.

After high school I was recruited to play D2 at Daemen College in Buffalo, NY. However, by that time, my heart was waning. I would love it one moment and then just not want to be there the next. I ended up transferring schools at the end of that year, so that ended my volleyball career.

I now work with a woman at the gym who plays on an adult volleyball team. I enjoy listening to her stories but am glad that part of my life has passed. I will always enjoy watching the sport, it’s so beautiful. However I know that I would not want to play again. I do not regret my decision to stop. 

Give me beach volleyball and Olympics though, and it’s the most patriotic I will ever be.

See you out there!

Bumps In the Road

Sometimes, I do everything right and still hit bumps in the road. I have been trying to be smart this training cycle. I gained weight and have kept it on. I foam roll. I do mobility work. I stop runs short to have more time for stretching or form drills. I bike instead of run longer miles. I eat more than enough. I have taken steps to de-stress my life. I prioritize relationships over working out.

I am happy with everything and what is happening in my life.

Yet, I hit a snare a few weeks ago after 0SPF. I mentioned this in my Escarpment race recap. I hadn’t run for the two weeks leading up to the race. My foot simply hurt. I don’t know what I did, I did not go to a doctor. I took the advice of my coach and did what I normally do when I feel niggles, I took off.

This sucked. I was finally back in my city. The town I love and where I learned to run. Yet, I was stuck on the elliptical for two weeks trying to maintain some semblance of cardio and making sure I didn’t do anything worse so I had to DNS Escarpment.

I was being overly safe and still hit a snare.

Sometimes I think, because I am running smarter than I used to, that everything will be sunshine and rainbows forever. That is simply not the case. I could step off a curb wrong and twist my ankle. I could eat expired food (like yesterday) and get a stomach ache. Just because I’ve worked on certain areas and fixed things holding me back does not make me super human.

Sure, I’ve come a long way. I no longer feel like I am about to break. I do not have the stress I had this past winter. I have a team of people I let in to help me run smart and healthfully. I spend time with loved ones and friends simply because I want to, not because I feel I have to.

This does not mean I don’t have to struggle to run my best. Figuring out life issues does make my body less susceptible to burn out, but I still break sometimes.

That’s ok. I am still a human. I still live a full life when I am not running. It was the things outside my running that have blossomed, so even though I may need to take weeks off, I don’t feel as empty anymore.

Hitting rough patches is part of training. In order to appreciate the good, I am someone that needs to go through the bad.

See you out there! (finally!!)

Escarpment, I bit off more than I could chew.

I have begun to write this post before running the Escarpment Trail Race this weekend. Tomorrow, I will do something I have never done, hike, scramble and essentially try not to fall off a cliff.

The past two weeks, I have run 60 seconds. Total. After 0SPF two weeks ago, my foot felt off. Then the next morning, it hurt a lot. I had a very aware uncomfort when I walked. There was no point in running, so I stopped. I got on my trusty steed, the elliptical, and maintained my cardio while keeping weight off my foot.

Thursday of this week was the first time I tried running, got to 60 seconds, and then stopped. I only wanted to run enough to convince myself I would be able to get through my race this weekend, not press my luck.

I have not run since then (unless you could racing across an intersection with 2 seconds on the clock). It just does no appeal to me since no fitness will be gained. This race will be a hiking trail and I am doing it to learn how to navigate complicated trails. Not to win or become some adventure racer.

I guess we shall see how it goes. Couch to 5k in 2 months? Try Ellitical to Mountain in 2 weeks! 😉

Ok, so here we are…two days post Escarpment. I have yet to fully understand what I did to myself. It was such a beautiful race in a gorgeous area. The Catskills are one place I will return to, I probably will not run there again.

At least, not very soon.

The race boasts almost 10,000 feet of elevation change in 18 miles. That I could handle, the terrain was something else.

To say it bluntly, I was very unprepared to tackle a race of this difficulty. I had never come close to doing something like this and I am very humbled to say the least.

Escarpment revealed my weaknesses, exploited them and then proceeded not to show any mercy. Just when I thought things wouldn’t get worse, they just did. I cannot imagine doing this course with terrible weather, which is how it usually is.

I’m getting ahead of myself, so I’ll just start at 6:00AM Sunday morning.

I drove up the night before and camped on the RDs lawn that night. Dick is a great guy and lives in a perfect place to train for mountain running. Ithaca has hills, but not terrain like this.

We boarded buses at the finish line and got to the start to begin in waves at 9AM. My wave started at 9:15. I was surrounded by really talented runners, whom I wanted to learn from while we ran. However, it soon became about staying upright and injury free for me as they ran away.

The first few miles were mostly uphill, and I’m a good climber, so it felt great. After aid station 1, at about 3.5 miles, we started to descend and this is where fall 1 one happened. After that, I walked all the descents. My foot was just coming back from some time out and I was not going to push it. I started to be overly cautious, and it stole my confidence, but since I was in over my head, being that way was probably the best strategy.

After that point, honestly I struggled the rest of the race. I averaged 2 falls per mile for 18 miles. Not easy falls, but flying, hard, blood on my knees and exploding Gu falls. I just couldn’t catch a break. This was not even on the descents, this was the flat sections where I should have been a bit more confident.

The whole course was very technical with roots, stones, boulders and just crap everywhere. The only parts I did well were the sections where we climbed the side of the cliffs. I could climb and I wasn’t afraid of them. However, the confidence I garnered from climbing was extinguished by the fall I took each time I hit the summit.

After mile 9, I was thinking “ok, this is enough of a taste of this terrain to get a good training run. I can stop now.” Ten miles would have been perfect to end on. But there were still 8 left.

The hard part here was both physical, I was literally crushing my body when I fell, but also psychological. I was afraid I was going to get injured and there goes my season. Being overly carful got me nowhere. I eventually had this acceptance that I was going to fall a lot and I had to lessen the blow. Like in a boxing match, you know you’re going to get hit, you’ve got to absorb the impact and not let it hurt you too bad.

The final 8 miles were a battle both to not injure myself and try to keep going. After each aid station I told myself I was dropping at the next one. Then I would just keep going, tears, blood, s’mores Gu all over my leg, I just didn’t stop.

I did manage to get to the finish. However the feeling I have is odd. Normally once I finish a race, at least I feel like I overcame the course. I mean, that’s true because I finished. But to be honest, I feel like this course defeated me. I just don’t know what happened out there. Beautiful day, beautiful place, just not my day nor my terrain.

Maybe once I process this and heal, I’ll consider the day a success in terms of learning and teaching myself trails. But right now I stand by what I said at the finish line. Through tears, snot and blood I said “guys, I just don’t think this is my kind of race.”

On to other things.

I want to thank Red Newt Racing for the support and On Running for the Cloudventure shoes I ran in.