2016 Year in Review
|January 4, 2017||Posted by Melinda under Training journal|
I found myself reluctant to commit 2016 to paper until it was absolutely truly finished. Maybe I would go out on an epically long ride or run! Maybe my house would catch fire! Maybe I won the lottery!
None of those things happened.
But still. They could have.
A LOT happened in 2016. A fact I keep trying to remind myself over and over as I am more “couch potato” than “trail warrior” the last couple of weeks. A year ago you were homeless with a 2 month old infant. Ten months later you ran your first 100 mile run. How they heck did *that* happen???????
2016 – A year to remember
No posts linked – most of you were there…for those of you that weren’t, check out my archive page.
After ringing in the New Years in the ER with a kidney infection that was bad enough I was just grateful to be conscious and upright for my birthday 4 days later, it was time to pack the house, throw everything in storage, and find a place to live with 3 dogs, a bird, a 2 month old infant and 60 days notice (which included the Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years holidays – so really more like 45 days notice). We had to be out of the rat-infested rental that the owners wanted to sell on the spring market by January mid month.
We finally found an apartment that would take 2 of the 3 dogs on a month-to-month lease so when we found a house to buy we could do it. We boarded the third dog and bird, spent every night driving around and meeting with the realtor and somehow I found time to run. It was my secret weapon to staying sane.
As a consolation prize I planned on doing a 3 days “school of the horse soldier” event with Farley in March. I figured the event would give me a reason to make time for the horses, get me back in the saddle, and surely by March, ages away, everything would be settled enough for me to go?
We bought a house and escrow closed on Feb 29th. To stay sane I ran some more in February, including a 25k trail race. It was hard, I was slower than I remembered, and mentally I just couldn’t get “into it” – I couldn’t go down hill with any speed because my brain was still trying to compensate for the loss of vision in one eye, and my hips and pelvic floor were still seriously complaining from pregnancy. I decided that getting back into long distance running was going to take longer than I thought.
I was 3 months out from giving birth and frustrated that I wasn’t back to “normal” after pregnancy. All those guidelines about “back to normal activities”? Apparently they don’t apply to women that actually DO STUFF.
BIG tangent. I talked to some other athletic women a couple of months after this point and they all said it was 12-18 months before they felt “back to normal”. This made me feel a lot better – and btw ended up being true for me. At the 12 month post-partum mark I felt like I had my *”old” body back that I could push the same way as before.
*I feel like talking about “getting my body back” after being pregnant is such a taboo subject. Everyone wants to reassure you that you just need to get used to the “new normal”. Here’s the deal. I’m not talking about a number on the scale or a pant size. I was built like a broodmare before pregnancy, and I was lucky enough to go right back to broodmare body condition afterwards. But that’s not what I cared about. I cared about being able to go out for a long run and being able to walk that evening or the next day without debilitating hip pain. I’ve been back to my “old size” starting at about 3 month post partum – but it took 12 MONTHS before I was confident I could finish a long run without excruciating hip pain. On top of that, losing some of the vision in one eye the last couple weeks of pregnancy really affected my depth perception. I had to relearn how to run on technical trails and downhill. *That* took a good 6 months before I felt I could trust my eyes on the trail again at speed.
I don’t even remember the month of March. My husband and I, with the help of our family, remodeled the entire house (almost) in 3 weeks. On the weekends and in the evenings after work. Neither one of us took vacation time to do it. And yes, we still had an infant and she wasn’t in daycare yet.
It was hell.
I managed to go to the School of the Horse Soldier event and far from being able to show off the bond me and Farley shared and all the stuff we had been working on since the last time I went to the School (pre-blog, with Minx) it was a complete, utter, f*cking disaster. The witch bucked me off the first day, got really close to bucking me off twice the second day, and then jumped really well the third day but my riding and position was so atrocious I’m still not going to post those pics on the blog. Nope nope nope you can’t make me. It was a huge disappointment.
Don’t get me wrong – I got exactly what I deserved. Farley hadn’t been worked in a long time, I made poor decisions out of pride, and sometimes determination isn’t a positive trait. But I’m still embarrassed and disappointed and not only was it not a motivating force before the event, it didn’t motivate me to ride afterwards either. AND I sprained my ankle when I got bucked off and so ran exactly 1 mile in the month of March. ONE MILE.
I started putting the pieces of my life back together in April and things stayed quiet through May. I ran a little. Tried to figure out how to see my horses more often. Committed to writing blog posts at least 2x a week. Watched as the 2 races I had optimistically put on my calendar for May – a 100k and a back up 50k – came and went without me being a participant.
I decided to put some realistic goals on the calendar for the remainder of the year. I chose an LD for Farley in July and a 50 miler endurance ride in September. I officially deleted the running November 100 miler from the calendar. I could probably work up to a marathon over the summer and be 50 mile ready in the fall. My first 100 miler and qualifier for Western States 100 would have to wait another year.
In June I took a good look at ML and realized that she was still way too skinny and it was getting worse, not better. Not being able to blame it on the pigeon fever episode from way back or growth, I did some triage and played the wait and see game.
That brings us to the mid point in 2016 when I wrote this: “I spend too much time fighting against how things are. Play within the rules. Embrace the suffering. Adapt and move on. Flexibility versus idealism.”
I was planning on putting it into some sort of self-reflective blog post.
But I never got around to it because then CRAZY SH*T started happening. REALLY FAST.
Cyd announced she was going to run the Pioneer spirit 50 mile run in August and I realized I had some unfinished business there and really really REALLY wanted to make it happen. So, with 2 months to prepare and my longest run being the 25k in February I signed up for it too. I had literally erased it and Rio 100 off my calendar only the week before.
June and July was going to be some serious catch up for running so I decided that I could just do an LD on Farley on my own at home and skipped the planned LD in July.
I started running like I was scared (because I was) and put in some of my highest mileage weeks ever (which is still very low mileage compared to what must ultrarunners do). I did the shoe and gear dance and discovered Spandits shorts and a model of Hoka that felt very much like Cinderella’s slipper for my weird hard to fit feet.
This season’s goal was to not be a dumbass wimp and actually learn to get into the water to cool off. There’s a video of me screaming and cussing as I lower myself into what the freezing pit of hell that was disguised as a stream several inches in depth running across the trail. By the time I was marking the Tevis course with glow bars (Fransisco’s to hwy 49 crossing) the hysterics crossing the river was limited to one false start, a pep talk, and non-profane shrieking.
I learned the hard way to carry a water filter on long runs next to the river and spent the last weeks before Pioneer crossing my fingers that giardia or crypto didn’t get their invite to the party.
I ran Pioneer and finished but had to dig deep to do it. I had IT band pain early-on that I had to manage, and a technical section of trail that was beautiful….but changed the course from an easy 12 hour finish to scrambling to stay ahead of 14 hour cut offs for me. It’s the race I’m most proud of this season. In the middle of a big afternoon bonk had a choice of letting the clock run out and missing a cut off or pushing as hard as I could and DOING IT. How badly did I want this? I made it by a couple of minutes. The next cut off was also going to be close. I red-lined it for as long as I could and as the clock ran out and I was over time and still on the trail, I completely emptied the tank. I swear. And then something really interesting happened. I got to the aid station and they had extended cut offs and I had made it with a cushion to spare. Somehow I bounced up and took off for the finish line. I found my “ultra shuffle” and told myself that Rio 100 was off the table. Completely off the table. Just finish this 50 and be in this moment and afterwards I would figure out what I wanted to do, but it was NOT A 100.
As I sat in the grass after finishing Pioneer I said something about “well, maybe Rio 100 is next”. WHAT??????? WHAT DID I JUST SAY?????????
But first of all I had to get Farley through that September 50 miler. Apparently 50 mile running shape doesn’t equal 50 mile riding shape and in the second half my IT band (bane of my existence) flared up so bad I could barely sit in the saddle and walk, and trotting was a HELLZ NO. So I ran the rest of it.
Farley is in favor of future rides being performed in a similar manner.
I bought a new (used) horse trailer and sold my old one to a friend in need. I can’t even tell you how much it means to me to have a trailer I *like*. The 3 horse Logan was useful and serviceable and the right choice when I bought it….but the 2 horse Sooner is something that sparks joy every time I use it. The Logan was just a tool.
The rest of September and first part of October was spent trying to get the last training in for the Rio 100 while staying uninjured. I figured out that my IT band tends to flare when I do big runs after a long break so I decided to keep running (easy) double digit runs all the way up to 5 days prior to race day (it worked!).
At the Rio 100 start line it started to sink in what I was going to do. I had a baby 12 months ago! I was still breastfeeding! What the heck was I doing??????? The trick to successfully pacing the first half of a 100? Be convinced that you are seriously undertrained. I had a great race. It was so fun and one of the highlights of my life. Right up there with the day I got into vet school and getting married. They won’t all be that delightful but that’s OK.
While sitting around and recovering from the 100 I decided to start a 100 days of horses challenge to help me make the time for the ponies. It hasn’t exactly gone to plan (100 consecutive days? BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA) it’s been completely worthwhile and awesome things have happened – like Fig’s first horse back ride and getting on (the now fat and looking great) ML’s back.
Then it was lottery season and didn’t get into WS100 so I hatched a plan with Ashley to do a 100k in her area as my next qualifier. On a whim I registered for the Tahoe 50 miler and didn’t get in that one either (#39 waitlisted, unlikely that I’ll get to run). My lottery luck sucks.
Finally, at the end of the year I realized that the blog name and look no longer matched what we talk about here – not surprising after 8 years of blogging – so it got a new name and a new look I decided that there were way too many awesome posts in my draft folder that kept getting skipped over so I created an editorial calendar. I will WRITE MORE in 2017. I’m not completely happy with the new look of the blog and it still needs tweaking, but content is more important to me and you than a perfectly looking blog, so I’ll revisit the blog look later.
2016 Training Log – The numbers
ML: not training for anything beyond general “let’s go for a ride and not kill ourselves”, so the only stat I have for you is….”handful of arena rides”.
Now we get to the good stuff.
My goal was 100 miles. The 100 was in November, let’s pretend I started training in January. Here’s what the breakdown of the runs from January to the start of my 100:
After the 100, through the end of the year I ran:
- Over 10 miles: 1x
- Under 10 miles: 8x
Total mileage for the year: 750ish miles
Goal was a 50 mile ride in September. If we assume that any sort of training started in January (remember I was pregnant most of 2015) this is the eight months of prep that we did for the 50.
- Bareback walk/trot casual arena session: 2
- 20-30 min of arena/dressage mostly walk-trot: 15
- Ground driving session: 1
- Trail rides less than 1 hour: 3
- Trail rides 1-2 hours: 2
- Trail rides of 2-3 hours: 4
- Joined me on a run with a leadline: 3
- School of the horse soldier event – formation riding and some jumping
I *think* me and Farley did about 150 miles (including the 50 mile endurance ride). I didn’t really track miles, Strava lumps my running and riding miles together, and some of the strava miles are arena miles. So. Somewhere in that ball park. We definitely didn’t set any mileage records this season, but we got our ride to qualify towards decade team and we are both sound and healthy at the end of 2016. Can’t ask for much more than that.
FWIW, I feel like Farley is set up for her 2017 season almost exactly like she was prior to the 2013 season that was a HUGE success.
Here’s what I mean:
- 2011: pulled for a soft tissue lameness early in the year (February), was 100 mile VERY fit at this point. Rest of year was off.
- 2012: mostly off. Completed an LD in the fall.
- 2013: 50s, multi days and a Tevis attempt! Fitter and more fun to ride than ever.
Now compare that to the present:
- 2015: Mel pregnant, Farley in 50 mile shape but got pulled for a stone bruise in single ride attempted, limited activity in last 6 months of year, mostly off.
- 2016: mostly off. Completed 50 in the fall.
- 2017: ????? 100 mile attempt?????
It’s going to be a crazy year in 2017.