O’Dark-thirty – What do I do after 100 miles?

It has been a little over 5 weeks since RRR 100, and I’m back on the training wagon. My sprained ankle came around quickly, and while it isn’t quite 100%, it is pretty close. I started with some walk/run intervals a couple of weeks ago, and this week marks my return to training. I managed to drag my butt out of bed this morning at 5:15am to head out for the Tuesday speed workout with my coach and training group. After several weeks of being a lazy bum, that alarm came way too early. Growing up, my dad always called it “O’dark-thirty”, because when you get out before the sun is up, it doesn’t much matter what time it is. Back in August, I had started to feel good enough to drive myself to the group workouts on mornings that Josh couldn’t go.  Now that the sun isn’t coming up until much later, I once again can’t drive myself in the morning, so lucky Josh gets a forced workout as well.  Actually, I’m the lucky one that he is willing to do that for me.

Who doesn’t love a little speed work in the dark?

After several weeks off, the speed workout was rough this morning. There was not much “speed” in my workout, but it felt good to be back out with the group. We have 5 weeks until a dozen of us are heading to Arizona for the McDowell Mountain Frenzy, where we will be running the 50 miler, and some (myself included) will be running the 50k. It will be my first time traveling since we returned from Europe after the crash. I’m a little freaked out about it. The trip home from Italy after the crash was HORRIBLE. Upon landing at the Newark airport, I was so dizzy and disoriented that I could hardly walk off the plane. Between the noise, vibration, pressure changes, and the movies I watched during the flight, I was a wreck. We had a long layover, and I took a nap in the United Club until Josh woke me up to catch our next flight. I had no idea where I was or how to get out, and I was terrified. It was the moment I finally stopped denying that something was very wrong. That feeling of total panic is not something I will ever forget. I am someone who has always LOVED to travel, but after that experience let’s just say that I’m having trouble looking forward to this trip. But at some point, you have to get back on the horse. So Josh and I will head down a day before everyone else and hopefully, that will give me enough brain recovery time before the race.  I’m sure the race will be fun because trail running in Arizona is great…in the winter, when the snakes are asleep and it doesn’t feel like the surface of the sun.

Running with Anne Marie and Josh at Spur Cross Ranch in Arizona - 2014
Running with Anne Marie and Josh at Spur Cross Ranch in Arizona – 2014

One of the questions I have been asked frequently since the race is – “So what are you doing now?” Last year, I really thought I would run my 100 miles and then go back to work, but I’m not there yet. My symptoms got worse while I was resting my ankle, and I had a lot of days that I felt pretty terrible and that resulted in me starting to feel pretty depressed. Over the last couple of weeks, with more running and an overall happier brain, I’ve been putting a lot of thought into figuring out how to habituate my brain in small baby steps to be able to return to work. It is no different from running. If you run a 5k and then decide you are ready for 50k, you are going to feel terrible afterward. Going back to work for only 60 minutes, and then 90 minutes, isn’t realistic. As a veterinarian, most days are 9-10 hours, and pretty non-stop. There is NO WAY my brain could handle that. Well, that is not true, I could probably get through a day, but then I wouldn’t be able to get out of bed for 3 days. I’ve received a lot of suggestions about how I might go about this, but the best advice came from my former colleague, Jason, last week. A lot of you may not know, but when the crash happened last year, I had just started graduate school to get a Masters in Health Communication but had to drop out of the program. Last week Jason asked me – “How much time and energy do you invest in getting back into a career that you were trying to change?” When you are in a job, it is hard to stop what you are doing and totally change gears. If I am in a place where I have to start from scratch, why not make that change now? So I’m asking myself if I want to restart the Master’s degree, which I could do in short increments (too bad being a graduate student doesn’t come with a paycheck), or if I want to explore other career options. FYI – If anyone out there wants to sponsor me so we can get a Sprinter van, and Josh and I can travel the country to document the best trails to play on, shoot me an email.

Trail dog in the making.

While I continue to work on brain rehabilitation (yes PT Mary I’m being a good girl and doing my therapy every day), we have a new distraction in the house. This little man arrived last week and is keeping me plenty busy. We lost our 17-year-old  Heeler/Aussie mix Trooper this spring, and in case you were wondering, puppies are way more work than 17-year-old seniors. Achilles, “Kili”, is 17 weeks old, and by next summer should be my new trail partner.  Which is good, because if I do another 100 miler next year I’ll need all the trail company I can get. Stay tuned, I entered the lottery for Hardrock 100, and will find out December 3rd.

Kili our new Mini Aussie
Kili our new Mini Aussie


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