Post Marathon High

After the marathon I enjoyed spending time with my friends and family. First lunch with my family an BFF Amelia and her adorable family. Then I took a much needed long hot shower. We enjoyed a delicious dinner at the Farmhouse Tap and Grill. The energy in Burlington was electric. And yes I wore my medal the entire night!!

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On our way home from Burlington we stopped in the tiny state capital of Montpelier. We wandered around so I could stretch my achy legs! I really love Vermont and these two handsome guys.

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The Vermont City Marathon seemed to have the complete opposite effect that Montreal had on me. I have been on the post marathon high since I finished and it’s been two weeks. Maybe it’s the psychological effect of having another tangible goal in the near future. Since I registered for the New England Double I am automatically registered for the Hartford Marathon in October. Just knowing I have that race to run has made me incredibly excited about training. I usually take a few days off of running after a marathon in exchange for nice walks, not this time. I couldn’t wait to go for a run.

Part of that enthusiasm was due to my new running shoes. My sister had purchased a pair of Hoka One One running shoes while I was running the marathon. She suffers from neuromas in both feet. These are essentially caused by thick skin that grows over a nerve in the ball of the foot typically between the 3rd and 4th toe. They are very painful and she is almost always uncomfortable no matter what shoes she wears so she keeps a sharp eye out for comfortable footwear. She was raving about her new Hokas and offered to buy me a pair as a congratulatory gift . I really wasn’t in the mood to try on shoes, but she convinced me and after taking a little spin in the purple Hokas I was sold. My sister’s husband bought a pair as well.

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Team Hoka One One

I feel like I’m bouncing on air when I run and my toes don’t hurt anymore something I had come to believe was normal.

I have been running, made a return to strength training and I am hiking whenever I can. I have enjoyed a few trail runs too. I love them. They are so refreshing and tranquil. Moving more translates into eating better too. I’m not perfect, but the last couple of years have proved to me that I don’t have to be perfect to continue to achieve goals and overcome obstacles. I just have to keep trying and doing my best.

I emailed the following to my health coach and I think it sums up perfectly how I’m feeling and where I’m heading:

Vermont City lit a match under me. I have placed way too much emphasis on the outside of my body. I am never going to be a super model. I’m going to continue to age and my body will inevitably change through that process. After reading about the 92 year old woman who finished the San Diego Marathon I came to the conclusion that I would much rather still be running marathons when I’m 92 than be thin. I enjoy being active and in the middle of a race I could care less what I look like. However, I really would like to see what my body is capable of doing, how far I can push it and what else I can accomplish. 

 

9-28-14

Fort Ticonderoga

I won’t give a history lesson here, but if you are interested in the Revolutionary War time period or have children who are studying it and you don’t live too far I would highly recommend visiting Fort Ticonderoga. It was immensely interesting and very engaging for all ages.

Before I get to the fort let me rewind to the early morning. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to run in a new place so I set off on foot to discover a little bit more of Hague, NY. I was expecting a crisp cool fall morning, but the temperature was warming up quickly. The area is very hilly, but beautiful in every direction. I ran back past the Hague Market, along a wooded trail and then up a huge hill where I came across an old cemetery. I stopped at the cemetery and walked around a bit before heading back to the resort. The foliage was so rich and colorful. My run was slow with lots of photo breaks.

After my run I grabbed Carlos to go kayaking. We each had our own kayak and we rowed out away from the dock in silence, Carlos leading the way. Carlos went to a kayak camp this summer for a week. I watched him in awe as he maneuvered the kayak effortlessly over the calm water. He was confident and strong. We didn’t talk much and just enjoyed the peacefulness of the lake and the gorgeous scenery.

I could have stayed out there all day, but we really had to get back to the cabin and get a move on if we wanted to make it to Fort Ticonderoga. After checking out of the resort we returned to Libby’s for breakfast. Then it was time for the main attraction. From the parking lot it doesn’t look like much, but once we passed through the welcome center which houses the gift shop and restaurant you go through a door to be greeted with a spectacular views all around.

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We wandered around for about 20 minutes awaiting the next tour. There was a wall with chronological information. You could peruse the cannons on display. The fort was strategically built overlooking the outlet of the La Chute River which connects Lake George to Lake Champlain. This was an important area because it essentially linked New France to New York.

Fort Ticonderoga was built by the French beginning in 1755 and originally called Carillon. The fort changed hands a number of times. In 1759 the British defeated the French there and took control of the fort for the next 16 years. In what is considered the first American victory of the Revolutionary War, Fort Ticonderoga was captured on May 10, 1775 by Benedict Arnold, Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys.

The tour began with a lengthy history by our very intelligent and sarcastically witty tour guide.

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Once inside the fort you could roam around checking out the various rooms like the shoe workshop, the tailor’s shop and a bunk room. There was also a museum on the top floor of the building with historical artifacts, weaponry, clothing and paintings.

We were invited to return back outside of the fort to watch a demonstration of muskets being fired.

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From there we took a tour of the King’s Garden.

The corn maze adventure was next on our list. It was actually quite easy which worked out great since it was beginning to get very warm out and we were all hungry for lunch. We ate lunch on site and enjoyed the gorgeous views. On our way out we were given directions to Mount Defiance. For a small fee you also received a ticket to drive up Mount Defiance just across the river from Fort Ticonderoga. During colonial times the mountain was deemed too steep to fortify with troops and weaponry despite the major vantage point from the top until finally in July 1977, British General Burgoyne ignored past skepticism and brought his cannons up the mountain forcing the Americans to abandon the forts below.

Once at the base of the mountain I did my best to convince Carlos and Orlando to hike up the mountain. It’s only about a mile up. They reluctantly agreed and complained the entire way up! Wimps!! However, once at the top we were treated to amazing views all around.

We decided to take the nearby ferry across Lake Champlain into Vermont on our way home. The small ferry crosses in only 6 minutes on cables to a dock directly across the lake. You can even buy Vermont maple syrup and a few other goodies on board.

Whew! That’s it for our weekend getaway. I would highly recommend checking out north western Lake George and the Ticonderoga area.

9-19-14 to 9-21-14

Friday, 9-19-14

I brought Carlos to school in the morning and went straight to the dentist. I’ve had Invisalign “clear” braces for almost a year now and this was to be my final set of trays. The problem area, my two front bottom teeth, has resolved quite nicely, but I had to report to my dentist that my bite is still very uneven. We decided I would proceed with three more trays to see if that helps. As anxious as I am to be done with this process, I’m also very grateful to be able to address the issues with my teeth. With no intervention my bottom teeth would have turned inward so much the gums would have been negatively affected and the teeth would have likely come loose.

After the dentist I went to one of my favorite noon Vinyasa classes. Sandra is a newer yoga teacher. She is so sweet and patient. I also love her teaching style. I learn something new each time I attend her class. She loves arm balances and really encourages us to try even if we are unable to get all the way into the pose. I’m convinced I just have too much body to hold up! I keep trying though. Typically the next day I feel like I’ve done a heavy weight lifting session because my arms are so sore.

After school there was a school pizza party. Carlos and I went for a little while, but had to leave early to go to soccer practice. I love his new school and all of the activities designed for the families to become more familiar with one another, but somedays I’m just not all that chatty or interested in pursuing small talk. This happened to be one of those days. I tried striking up a couple of conversations, but they fell flat and eventually I just took to sitting on a bench facing the playground where the kids were playing. People are friendly and nice, but most already know each other. Do you ever feel like you don’t know what to say?

Typically this would be my weekend off, but I took the following weekend off to run the Vermont 50. Although I am no longer running we decided to go away for the weekend anyway. So after soccer practice and dinner I took a little rest before work.

Saturday 9-20-14

I rarely talk about work and I’m not going to drone on about it now, but suffice it to say I had a really crappy night. Each night that passes lately has me wondering why I stay. My resume is done and I’ve put some feelers out. In January the hospital is implementing a time clock system to punch in and out. At that time the 11pm to 7am shift will be required to work 11pm to 7:30am and we will be required to take a 30 minute “lunch” break. When I was hired I was told night shift works until 7am. This has been my saving grace in being able to get Carlos to school. I cannot leave work at 7:30am and get him to school on time. I am so frustrated by this. I mentioned to my boss that I was concerned about it and would probably be forced to quit. She just shrugged! I arrive to work 10 minutes before my shift starts. I never call out (it’s been exactly three years since my rib fracture and that was the last time I called out). I am a hard worker and go above and beyond my job description. But the bottom line is, we are all replaceable. This is probably just the kick in the ass I need to move on.

After work Carlos and I hurried out for an impromptu hike so I could shake off the night. We went to a new place I’ve been dying to try called Lithia Springs. It’s only a few miles from our house and I can’t believe we’ve never been. It was awesome and there’s still so much to explore. We hiked about 3.30 miles in 2 hours. We walked and talked, laughed and goofed around. It was kind of overcast and cool, but it was such a fun morning.

 

After the hike we picked up our CSA. I got loads of kale, purple potatoes, a big zucchini, tomatoes and a big cabbage. I am going to miss big bundles of organic kale!

Carlos had a soccer game in the afternoon. He plays in-town soccer. No pressure, no crazy parents and no traveling to other towns. Carlos has had a lot of soccer training, but it became clear that he just really doesn’t care for anything too intense so this is perfect for him. He enjoys it and loves being with his friends. I think they won, but honestly I don’t care because it’s supposed to be instructional with the focus on team work.

We chilled out in the afternoon. I went to bed when Orlando came home to get ready for another night of madness.

Sunday, 9-21-14

I left work and went straight to the gym for some strength training. I really could have used a punching bag though. When I got home I asked Carlos to come out for a short run one mile run with me. After all our hiking and his soccer playing the day before he was whining about his legs bothering him. I said we could walk and within about 10 minutes his legs were fine! We ended up doing a walk/run in the rain for a total of 2.16 miles. We even did a sprint to the driveway. He declared himself the winner, but I explained that I was the real winner because instead of one mile he did double.

We got home, relaxed, ate and then it was time for skating. Carlos did a fabulous job. I absolutely love this program he’s in. This was his third week back on the ice after being off for months and the progress is already noticeable. He is starting to skate backwards very smoothly and much more quickly. I’m so impressed with him. Skating backwards is difficult in my opinion. I have a very hard time with it.

It has become somewhat of a ritual for Carlos to go over my mom’s after skating. This gave me time to go grocery shopping, prepare minestrone soup for dinner, prep vegetables for the week, juice some fruits and vegetables and make a pot of quinoa and sprouted lentils to have on hand for the week. I couldn’t believe how much I accomplished in a few hours. Before I knew it I had to leave to pick up Carlos.

We chatted a bit and then played with Photo Booth until Orlando came home and I went to bed. In the spirit of Halloween we had fun with the X-ray setting on Photo Booth:

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Spooky

9-17-14 and 9-18-14

Wednesday, 9-17-14

I met a friend for coffee in the morning after dropping Carlos off to school. This is the mom of a friend of Carlos’ from his old school. I hadn’t seen her all summer so it was great to catch up.

After that I had plans to meet Kate for a long run. It has been so much fun helping her to train for her first half marathon. The summer was really tough for her because of the heat so she scaled back her training. Kate recently mentioned that she was struggling to get her breathing under control so we decided that we would really emphasize breathing this week particularly during the long run. She admitted that she was getting very caught up in her pace/mile and even felt some competition from an acquaintance who just began running.

I think it is so discouraging for new runners to worry about pace. There seems to be a lot of concern about minutes per mile. I had always run alone and was very reluctant to discuss running early on so I really had nothing to compare my time to. There are almost always time goals going into a race, but mine were very personal and private. Running and particularly running races has become much more common. With apps like Map My Run it is easy to view friends’ progress. This can create an unhealthy sense of competition.

To avoid unnecessary stress related to distance and pace we are focusing on overall time running with a goal of working up to a three hour long run before the half marathon. Kate and I ran a very consistent 7.32 miles in 1 hour 42 minutes. The goal was 90 minutes with a slow cool down. Her breathing was in control for most of the run and when it became an issue we took short walk breaks to get it under control. If she continues to train this way I think she is going to exceed her expectations on race day.

For me this is a great opportunity to get back into long runs without any pressure to improve my own time. I am running at Kate’s pace which will also help me to avoid injury during this training. It’s been a fun change running and chatting with a friend. since I’m so accustomed to running alone with music. Honestly the 90 minutes flew by.

Later that afternoon while our boys were at swimming lessons we took advantage of the gorgeous weather to stroll another 2.06 miles around the pond at the college. I’ve been trying to include more walking into my days. I think it’s a great way to include mindful activity that isn’t forced or stressful. I enjoy it alone, but it’s more fun walking and talking with a friend.

Thursday, 9-18-14

I started my morning with a nice 75 minute Vinyasa yoga class. I love yoga and really hope to begin doing it more regularly.

It’s Big E time here in Western Massachusetts! OK I’m not actually that excited about it. The Big E, is said to be the largest fair in the northeast. It opens every September and runs for 17 days. There are buildings dedicated to each of the New England States, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont…no New York is not part of New England! The fair showcases agriculture, animals, musical performances, a midway of rides and games and butter. Yup butter! Each year there is a new butter sculpture on display. Go ahead click on the link to see this year’s butter sculpture, you know you want to! There are also parades including a Mardi Gras style parade where you can catch beaded necklaces. There is an old colonial village you can tour. There are horse shows. The Better Living Center is a mecca of goods including my favorite, the Vitamix demonstration.

However, for most people the big attraction is the food. Each year there is something even more disturbingly unhealthy than last year. It’s not exactly a vegan’s dream dining experience. I definitely do not go for the food, but according to friends and family that love “the fair,” I’m weird! Everyone I know that attends the Big E each year goes for some specific treat or two or three. This year it seems that bacon is the most popular item. Bacon ice cream, chocolate dipped bacon, fried dough topped with maple syrup and bacon, and more I’m sure. If you’re a bbq fanatic you might love the pulled pork parfait. It’s all the fixings plus the pulled pork all in one handy dandy cup! And if you’re feeling particularly undernourished or maybe you just ran a marathon go for something deep fried, anything, literally anything you want like an Oreo, banana, Kool Aid (I don’t get it), peanut butter and jelly, cheesecake or butter. Yup butter…deep fried butter! No not your thing? How about the Craz-E Burger, a bacon cheeseburger served between two halves of a grilled glazed donut. Last but not least you absolutely cannot leave the park without eating a famous Big E Cream Puff.

Not exactly a vegan’s dream dining experience. In fact all I ate was a free packet of dried cranberries. I get the whole YOLO (you only live once) mentality, but I’d be concerned about making it out of the Big E alive if I were some of these folks.

 

 

 

Why Me?

If you had known me back in my younger years this whole running thing would come as a surprise to you. It still surprises me. I believed that I was not, nor was I capable of becoming athletic. I sat on the bleachers during high school gym class because I refused to play football. I nearly failed my junior year for lack of gym participation. I managed to slide under the radar somehow and passed by the skin of my teeth because I told the male gym teacher I had really bad PMS cramps!

This injury is a real bummer, but don’t think for one minute I’m sitting here with a box a tissues whimpering Why Me when I have a marathon coming up in a couple of weeks. Running has taught me so many things and I’m not about to let those lessons fly right out the window because of an injury. Running has made me a stronger, more adaptable person. I will run again and there will be other marathons.

I think the most important thing you can do when you are injured is try to understand how the injury happened so you can avoid re-injury in the future. So how did this happen to my foot? Even without a definitive diagnosis I have reflected on my training this winter and the activities during the week of injury. I did a lot of my training indoors this winter. I have never trained for a late spring marathon and training outdoors in the frigid temperatures with ice and snow on the ground wasn’t possible. I ran a lot of my speed work and tempo runs on the treadmill. I also ran in the same running shoes I’ve had since before the Montreal Marathon in September. I bought a new pair, but stupidly only wore them a few times in the two weeks before the injury because I kept telling myself I would wait until I was outdoors more often. How silly! Three days before the injury I did P90X Plyometrics. I used to do this workout a lot, but hadn’t done it quite sometime. It involves a lot of jumping and dynamic moves. I can’t be sure, but it’s possible that a combination of overuse, speedy treadmill workouts, maybe landing the wrong way during Plyometrics and old shoes are what caused this foot injury.

I continue to do whatever I can to stay active without the risk of worsening my foot. Yesterday I joined the YMCA for a month mainly so I can use the pool to swim laps. I love swimming, always have. In fact I was actually a pretty decent swimmer back in the day. We used to spend summers at a local lake and I would be in the water from early morning to dusk. My mom was constantly yelling for me to swim closer to the dock, but I always managed to swim my way out towards the middle of the lake. Water has always been a source of peace for me. It was so refreshing and soothing to swim quietly for 45 minutes this morning after an extremely hectic night at work.

I will undoubtedly learn from this experience and take those lessons on the road with me when I start running again. Absence certainly makes the heart grow fonder. A break from running always reminds me how much I love to run simply for the sake of running and not just a race. Although this swimming thing did get me thinking about what a triathlon might be like. I am a good swimmer and I know I can handle the running. Now I just have to get a bike. Orlando if you’re reading this Mother’s Day is on Sunday and there is still plenty of time to go to the bike shop!

 

 

Injured

I’m inured. It’s my Achilles. It happened last week. I felt a little discomfort after my run on Tuesday, but it went away so I ran again on Wednesday. Both of those were treadmill runs because Carlos was on school vacation and I had to run late in the evening. It also happened to be raining both nights making outdoor runs even less. My schedule was upside down due to the school vacation and it just so happened to be my biggest mileage week for marathon training. My sister said she could watch Carlos on Thursday so I could attempt my 22 mile run. I was psyched to have the opportunity to do such a long run on an entirely new to me trail. I really welcomed the change of scenery.

About a mile in the discomfort crept up and I slowed down a bit contemplating what I should do. It didn’t hurt at that point, it was simply a nuisance. By mile 4 I stopped at a dock overlooking the Charles River. I burst into tears before turning back. I was in pain. I hobbled and limped back to my sister’s place. I was frustrated, angry and worried.

Cut to today. It’s not much better despite all of the interventions I have tried. Here is the list:

RICE (minus the R)

  • icing
  • compression
  • elevating

Medicine

  • Ibuprofen (not helpful)
  • Aleve (just started taking yesterday and I do feel some relief with it)
  • Homeopathic herbal supplements like Arnica, MSM, Magnesium and Bone & Tissue Support (I would like to believe that the injury would be much more painful still without these supplements, but there’s no way to know.

Other therapies

  • Icy hot (just because I had it in the medicine cabinet)
  • Epsom salt soaks
  • Shoe inserts made to relieve heel pain (I’m returning them! Horrible, no relief what so ever)
  • A slip on ankle sleeve (soothing, but not life changing)
  • Sports massage (I just had it done today. No immediate relief, but perhaps I will notice a difference in the morning.)
  • Stretching (I’m reading conflicting viewpoints on stretching with an Achilles injury. Some doctors I’ve read online say stretching is key, other

I have an appointment next Thursday with a Sports Medicine doctor. He was a Pentathlon athlete in the XXI Olympics and continues to compete in triathlons. I was told he will be empathetic to my situation.

The massage therapist I went to is a runner and used to do triathlons. She was not very optimistic about my plan to run the Vermont City Marathon in 3 weeks. She asked me if I had resolved myself to the fact that I may not be able to run. I lied and said yes. Truthfully I haven’t given up hope. The only intervention that isn’t on the bullet list is rest. Life goes on and my life is active with or without the training. Since the injury occurred I also worked almost every night except for Sunday and last night. I’m off again tonight and tomorrow night. My plan is to take the next two nights to actually rest as much as humanly possibly. Carlos is sleeping at my mom’s tonight. Orlando just ran out to pick up dinner. I’m lying on the sofa with my left leg elevated on a bag of ice. Friday nights sure have changed!!

I welcome any advice, words of wisdom or stories to commiserate with me.

Love Your Body Challenge Day 2: Capable

Where do these stories we tell ourselves come from? As I try to make sense of how I came to feel such disdain for my body I am reminded of how I was acutely aware from an early age that my body was different than other girls. I also decided that I wasn’t capable of being athletic presumably because of my bigger body.

I remember vividly standing in line in my elementary school gym waiting to hang from the pull up bar. It was part of the Presidential Physical Education Challenge. I was so nervous. Finally it was my turn. I grabbed the bar, held on for dear life and lasted probably less than 20 seconds. That part is a little hazy, but I remember even back in grade school accepting the fact that I simply was not athletic.

My Junior High school housed the swimming pool so we were expected to take swimming as part of gym class in 8th and 9th grade, quite possibly the pinnacle of awkward body image issues for prepubescent and pubescent teen aged girls. I feigned pink eye (spray Aqua Net near your eye or rub something near your eye), headaches and menstrual cramps to get out of the dreaded swim class. And when I didn’t have a physical ailment I could complain to the school nurse about I simply “forgot” my bathing suit. I mean really, are you freaking kidding me? You want an already self-conscious overweight teen to strip down in an open locker room amongst her female classmates, get into a bathing suit and then jump into a pool full of boys. Um no!

The only penalty for not attending swim class was to stay after school one day a week and make it up. The make up class was simply swimming laps. I was a strong swimmer and that was a piece of cake, plus I was usually one of the only people there while the swim team practiced in the other half of the pool. The best part was the gym teacher didn’t care if I wore a shirt over my bathing suit after school, but during school we could not. So I would swim my laps effortlessly and still received credit for gym class. On two occasions I was approached by the swim coach to try out for the team. I never did and I kick myself now thinking back. Not only would I have made friends, I probably would have lost some weight naturally from the increase in exercise. I also may have realized my athletic abilities a lot earlier.

I was a dancer and took dancing lessons well into my teen years. However, I didn’t equate dancing with being athletic. I loved dancing, but shied away from ballet which I considered to be for petite slender girls not big clunky girls as I thought of myself. I took jazz and tap instead. I loved dancing, but never felt graceful and elegant as I dreamed I should.

And the list goes on. In my head I’ve always been the “big” girl and therefore I was not meant to be athletic. By college the only physical activity I did was to walk to and from class. During serious attempts at weight loss walking was my go to exercise and I could walk for very long periods of time at a good clip. It was just walking, though, I told myself.

Ironically each year on the third Monday in April I would tune into coverage of the Boston Marathon, reduced to tears as the winners and those to follow crossed the finish line. Never once during those broadcasts did I consider running myself.

As part of the Love Your Body challenge today’s mantra is: ”I am capable of _________, and that’s awesome. In fact, I am capable of anything I set my mind to, that I am willing to work for. “

My mantra would be: I am capable of being an athlete, and that’s awesome…

Today’s action step is a choice between:

1. Engage in the activity that you talked about in your mantra if possible, and if it makes you smile. Remember to repeat the mantra while you are doing it.

2. Think about something that you’ve been wanting to do/learn/practice/master for a long time, and set yourself a reasonable time limit to achieve it. Reasonable is the key word here. Keep repeating the mantra to remind yourself that you can do anything that you set your mind to as long as you’ll work for it.

I’ve done both. This morning I attended my usual Vinyasa yoga class, but there was a substitute instructor who had a totally different style than my instructor. I was challenged from beginning to end. Of course I also went for a run today, but not just any old training run. I’m running with a friend as she prepares for her first 5K. She is doing an incredible job training. She is super motivated. She is losing weight naturally and healthily. She is also loving running and pushing herself to go a little further each time. We ran almost 4 miles this morning on a rather hilly route. She didn’t back down once. I’m so excited for her and thrilled to be a part of her training. We will run a 5K at the end of April and she is already talking about doing my favorite 10K this summer.

As for the second option above I have hinted around the blog that I’ve been thinking a lot about running an ultra marathon. I did the Fat Ass 50K back in December and although that is technically an ultra it was a torturous 10 redundant loops through and around a paved park. I would really like to experience a 50 mile ultra marathon on trail. I’ve come along way from the “big” girl who wasn’t meant to be athletic. I’m truly in awe of what my body has accomplished in the last 5 years. It’s time to see what else it’s capable of accomplishing. So on my 13th wedding anniversary I will be running the Vermont 50! In preparation for the 50 mile race I will be running the Vermont City Marathon on May 25th, ironically, the same day registration opens for the Vermont 50. Training started about a month ago. I’m happily settling into a routine with a very new style of training plan. I have a few other races planned and a goal or two I hope to accomplish along the way.

I’m not sure how my story started, but I’m so glad that I decided to change how it ends.