Thursday, December 31, 2009

memories: the year I nearly died

a lot has happened this year, but in lieu of a year-end report, I looked back in a very different the year I nearly died. while I have rarely shared this story with many, it felt right to write.

awkward. clique-y. and sometimes just downright miserable.

yes, middle school.

while some may have enjoyed the often-disdainable grades of 6-8, I have no love for them. by the time I hit my first year of middle school, my parents were in the midst of divorcing and my two siblings and I were living at my dad's office. seventh grade, while uneventful, was pretty blah. I played soccer but sucked, missed making the cheerleading squad twice (why I thought I could be a clue) and made my way through the mess that was maturing boys and girls. once eighth grade rolled around, I clung to the only two things I knew how to do well: school and running. I was a late bloomer, thus boys barely gave me a passing look so I buried my nose in the books. by this time, my mother had also basically disappeared from our lives, angry we chose my dad over her and to be honest, not altogether ok herself. soooo, I guess you could say I was a little bit of a lost soul.

it all came undone the october of my eighth grade year. that fall I had played soccer once again, and once again, I had sucked (why I didn't run clue). mom was gone. dad was always at work. my older sister was busy thriving as a superstar on her crew team. my brother was making mischief. me? I decided to starve myself. in the beginning it felt like such control. yes! finally something in life I had control over. and I was also really good at it. sure, I was a standout student (I won every eighth grade award that year, much to my embarrassment), but it was such a rush to succeed at something other than school.

I began losing weight rapidly, but for the first month or so, hardly anyone noticed. I was tiny to begin with (not even five foot) and always skinny as a rail (except as a baby...pudge!). the weather also began to turn cool so I hid myself in giant layers of clothing.

it was around thanksgiving that people began to notice. we spent another wretched holiday in PA with my dad's then-girlfriend's family and I couldn't hide. still a runner, we went shopping at an outlet for new tights. while I can't recall the size I selected, I do remember their electric blue color as well as the look on my father's face when I stepped from the dressing room: horror. although I never weighed myself during this time, I was probably around 70 pounds. yeah, way thin.

there ended my "cover." I was now under eagle eye watch. my dad "took away" my running until I started eating properly again and gained weight. I cared, but I didn't. by this time, my little body was so depressed, mentally and physically. while I don't remember saying to myself, "I want to die," I did.

by christmas, I was even thinner. and EVERYONE was noticing now. the attention was both embarrassing and so sweet. finally, I was getting people to notice me! sick, I know.

the next few months...a blur. I sat by a heat vent in our apartment nearly all winter long, perpetually chilled to the bone. my sister, who I shared a room with, said I would whimper in my sleep. my dad didn't know what to do other than insist I eat. I, however, had lost all will. I didn't really care what happened to me. yes, I was a miserable mess.

my father finally took me to a doctor—a chinese acupunturist/herbal med guy—after the school nurse called him up. she had claimed she needed to do a scoliosis screening, but I knew she just wanted to see just how skeletal I was.

the chinese doctor prescribed herbs. I laughed. whatever. he also weighed me: 62 pounds. holy smokes. before I left his office, he looked me straight in the eye and said, "you must eat or you die."

perhaps that was my wake-up call. perhaps it was something else. but slowly, I started adding food back into my life. slowly. by eighth grade graduation, I had put on a couple pounds, but I was far from better.

with a little life (and food) back in me, however, I became desperate to feel the freedom of running again and my dad knew it. as what can only be described as a bribe, he said I could go on short runs with him when I hit 70 pounds. this is when I put as much effort into eating as I did into starving. I finally had something I wanted back in my life. it took until early summer, but I finally reached my goal weight and began pounding the pavement with him again. and man, did it feel so good. I can only chock it up to endorphins (I was prescribed nothing to battle the depression that had consumed my year), but I was FINALLY happy again. I was also eating as well as gaining weight gloriously. once I had my running back in my grasp, there was no way in hell I was letting it go.

by mid-summer, I was looking—gasp!—healthy...probably at least 75 pounds. it was then that I approached my dad with a newspaper clipping I had found in our suburban paper: "ALL RUNNERS WELCOME! UAHS CC team. Practice begins August 1. Call for details." Desperate to see me normal again, my dad agreed to let me join the team. And that, saved my life.

I went on to letter my first year and attend the state meet as the varsity alternative. in the spring, I lettered in track. by my sophomore year, I was thriving, running varsity for both teams. my junior year I ran in states for cc and track...and grew some 9+ inches. by my senior year, I was strong, fast and ready to compete as the college level.

today—one ultra, 19 marathons, too-many-to-count halves, five half ironmans and one big wonderful ironman later—I think about the year I nearly died often, yet it doesn't define me; it drives me. when the going gets tough, sometimes I bitch and moan, but eventually I draw on the incredible strength I cultivated during that year of hell.

so here's to yet another great year. I'm thankful I have it before me to cultivate. happy new year.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

no spring 26.2??? schedule revised.

yep, 'tis true.

since I only have 5+ months to train for IM #2 AND I need to spend a lot of time in the saddle, coach is recommending no providence marathon (poop).

so, here I come 13.1...and yes, one really sore butt in my future.

revised spring schedule:

24 January- NYRR Manhattan half-marathon
28 February- Snowflake 4-miler
21 March- NYC half-marathon
17 April- Asbury Park half-marathon
26 April- More half-marathon (maybe)
22 May- Harryman or Jerseyman 1/2 iron
6 June- Rev3 70.3 
27 June- Ironman Coeur d'Alene

Monday, December 28, 2009

tentative spring 2010 schedule

I've been meaning to map out my spring 2010 schedule for ages. this afternoon, I finally had a chance to take a tentative stab at the first six months of our new decade...lots going on:

24 January- NYRR Manhattan half-marathon: to get my groove back

21 March- NYC half-marathon: to race/run semi-speedy (not sure I'm ponying up the $ yet)

17 April- Asbury Park half-marathon: to defend my 2009 title! :)

2 May- Providence marathon: to do a 26.2 before IM (marathon #20!)

16 May- 70.3 Florida: to practice, practice, practice

6 June- Rev3 70.3 in Middlebury, CT: to kickoff the IM taper
27 June- Ironman Coeur d'Alene: to finish sub-12 hours!!!

revisions might be made, but right now this schedule is feeling "right" I just need to kick my training into high workout and swim this PM!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

the last 16 weeks. no wonder I'm tired.

as a writer, I'm well aware that one shouldn't lead with one's conclusion. but rules are made to be broken. thus, I'm breaking 'em.

conclusion: time to take time for life.

this really isn't a revelation. I've been saying this same thing for the last three years. but now I can finally make it happen.

so what has happened in the last 16 weeks that has left me feeling like running far, far away and/or hibernating for a month?

a lot.

august-- finished my MA thesis. traveled to portland for work. traveled to kentucky for pleasure. turned 29. completed my 5th half ironman (on VERY little training) in 5:49:00. celebrated a girlfriend's bachelorette party on LI (the vineyards).

september-- successfully defended my thesis. had some very unpleasant surgery. saw a really good friend get married (@IronKRan). ran a half marathon (grete's gallop). decided with the bf that we were moving in together for sure.

october-- ran another half marathon (staten island). ran the Nike Women's Marathon in SF (3:42, my eighteenth 26.2). did my longest run ever (31 miles). worked. worked. worked.

november-- ran another marathon (NYC), pacing my bf to a 14 minute PR (his time: 3:24, my nineteenth marathon). went to one of the weirdest weddings in the world. took up a second job: real estate broker (attempting to sublet my apartment). packed up my apartment in three days and moved everything downtown to bf's. drove to OH to see family & settle my cats into my father's house. ran my 1st ultramarathon (knickerbocker 60k) and finished in a respectable 5:38. went to another wedding the night of the ultra. helped the bf pack up his place. went to NJ for thanksgiving. cleaned. cleaned. cleaned. packed. packed. packed. moved into a beautiful new apartment with the most lovely man. CRASHED on the couch (where I was tempted to stay all day today...dammit work!).

did I miss anything? probably. do I look back on my fall fondly? definitely. I am also, however, fondly looking forward. next week the bf & I leave for 10 days in Argentina. I haven't had a vacation of this magnitude since...I was a child? needless to say, I'm ready for it.

it is time to relax. it is time to take time for life.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

thankful. for my dad.

today is my father's 61st birthday. I'm sure he would cringe knowing that I just wrote that (and will be sharing it with the "world"). regardless, it reminds me to take a moment to be thankful for EVERYTHING he has been for me and continues to be to this day.

my dad was born on turkey day '48 and as my grandma says, "he has been a turkey every since." yes, from day one my dad has drummed to his own beat, forging an unique path despite admonishments from many around him.

none of these words stopped him however (for better or worse) and today he has much success to look back on. a 30 year-plus photography business, wonderful friends, caring family, three lovely children (if I don't say so myself!), health, happiness and many, many years of greatness ahead of him.

my dad & I at my first race

my point? to applaud my dad. and say thanks to him for giving me the greatest gift so many years ago. many of my close friends know this, but my father is the one who introduced me to running when I was just 8 years old. a tiny beanpole, I immediately took to it and was soon hooked. it is this sport that has me sitting here penning this post.

running helped me see something good in the world when I sunk into a deep depression in middle school. running gave me confidence when I was the late bloomer in high school. running provided me with a grounding when I entered college. running taught me to be tough when life soured in my early 20's. running inspired me to strive for bigger things when I was looking for my next journey. running gave me a community when I returned to new york. running offered me freedom whenever I needed a break from the "real world." running helped me through the many hell days of my MA. running allowed me to become an IRONMAN! running has made me the individual I am today.

so thank you daddy. thank you for the gift you gave me and thank you for you. I love you. xox beans

Monday, November 23, 2009

a quick catch-up: 6 significant things from the last 18 months

thing 1: I AM AN IRONMAN!

Ford Ironman Florida. 1st November 2008.

one of the ABSOLUTE coolest, craziest, most amazing things I have EVER done. the day started with a gorgeous 2.4 mile swim in the gulf of mexico (1:14:06), continued with a longggggg 112 mile bike in (boring) panama city (6:27:18) and finished with 26.2 (4:26:34). grand total: 12:25:21. I crossed the finish line and couldn't stop saying, "I did it!" such a cool feeling.

thing 2: my first win

asbury park half marathon. 18th April 2009.

a small race on the coast of jersey. I had a feeling that might have a shot at the win (and perhaps a PR), but I hadn't "won" anything since high school, so it was hard to grasp. nevertheless, breaking the tape was pretty freaking fun. no PR, but it definitely gave me a good high and confidence going into jersey two weeks later.

thing 3: mega marathon PR

New Jersey marathon. 3rd May 2009. Marathon #17.

after spending several years focused on training others with TNT, I finally buckled down and ran like I knew I could, running nearly an eight minute PR. final time: 3:14:24 and 4th woman overall. yeah, that felt good.

thing 4: completing two half IMs while completing my thesis

Rhode Island 70.3, 12th July 2009 and Timberman 70.3, 23rd August 2009

no mincing words: I WAS NOT TRAINED FOR EITHER. yet I did 'em teammates were counting on me and in a way, I needed something beyond work and school to keep me was a tough summer. I rolled into the finish of RI in 5:51:33 and Timberman in 5:49:00...and breathed a sigh of relief.

thing 5: completing my MA degree

anyone that has been close to me in the last three years knows how very hard I worked to earn this degree...PART-TIME. while training for marathons. and mentoring new runners. and fundraising for blood cancers. and working full-time. and going through a terrible break-up. and completing AN IRONMAN!!! yes, finishing my MA is truly one of my proudest accomplishments...and MOST expensive endeavors (the loan statements have already started to roll in...). but who cares. I did it...and I'm SO much stronger for it.

thing 6: running my first ultra

knickerbocker 60k. 21st November 2009.

my training for this consisted of whatever I wanted, truly...and that was: 1. helping my bf train for NYC by doing a bunch of half marathons & long runs at his race pace. // 2. running the Nike Women's Marathon in October (3:42) then taking on an extra 5 miles to make it a 31 mile day. // 3. pacing my bf in NYC to a sub 3:30 marathon. // 4. completing a 20-miler five days later. // 5. tapering.

how it felt: long. how it went: fine, except for those last three laps...KILLER! how I finished: 5:38:43, good enough for 10th woman. while the competitive devil in me stared at the results wondering why I didn't run faster, the new "easy-on-yourself" me patted myself on the back. I'm an ultramarathoner now!

so there you have it...a glimpse at my last 18 months...and I mean a glimpse (blood, sweat and tears not included here...I'll save that for future posts!). more to come...promise. :)

life interferred. for a year and a half. is coming back!

after completing my first ironman last november, setting a new marathon PR last spring, finishing my master's degree (including my bear of a thesis...110 pages) this fall and running my first ultra this weekend, I am finally, FINALLY, FINALLLYYYY re-making time to pen my thoughts in the blog I started before life interferred.

get ready because I can be verbose. or just thoughtful. in any case, happy reading!