Halfway to the Finish

“To be pregnant is to be vitally alive, thoroughly woman, and distressingly inhabited. Soul and spirit are stretched – along with body – making pregnancy a time of transition, growth, and profound beginnings.” ~ Anne Christian Buchanan

I can’t believe I’ve reach that halfway mark in this pregnancy. 20 weeks. It still feels surreal and I still say to myself, how is this my life? You think I’d be used to it by now. I’m not. Not really. But I’m adjusting. I still get frustrated that I can’t keep up with my old pace. And I don’t mean just in running. And when it comes to the run, I barely run these days. When I see other pregnant mama’s out there running or posting on the baby board that they got their mileage in, again and again, I admit, it really bums me out. I thought that I would be that person. The one who could run until the day before they gave birth. But, I’m not. I get a couple of miles in here and there, and I do try and get out there at least once a week, but running even 2 miles takes me down for the count. It seems like everyday I have to make a choice, run and be a zombie, or not run and be functional. I go back and forth between the two. I don’t know if age has anything to do with it, after all, I am 43 and most of my high school friends are grandparents now, or if it’s just the way my body is handling growing a human. In any case, it sucks.

But it’s worth the suck.

“When you moved, I felt squeezed with a wild infatuation and protectiveness.
We are one. Nothing, not even death, can change that.”
~ Suzanne Finnamore, The Zygote Chronicles

When I started to feel her flutters the day after Mother’s Day, the reality that there was a little being inside really started to sink in. I, of course, broke down and cried…you know that ugly cry with snot where you can’t catch your breath. Ugly face with tears of happiness. This is really happening. It’s still happening. I haven’t been dreaming all this time. When when I felt her strong tiny little future-ultrarunner legs kick on the outside of belly the day before Father’s Day, I cried again (but not as ugly). This little lady is already sending me messages letting me know that she’s here to stay and she going to be strong and free-spirited like the women that came before her. I haven’t met her yet and I love her so much already.

SO MUCH!

“Then I saw her face, now I’m a believer
Not a trace, of doubt in my mind
I’m in love, and I’m a believer” ~ The Monkeys

I was able to see my baby girl during one of those fancy 3D/4D sonograms. And while she looked like an alien monkey hybrid, it was incredible. She was sweet and beautiful and moving around like crazy! Actually, I think she looks just like her father (and I think he’s an alien monkey hybrid…shhhh…don’t tell him I said that). Her tiny little nose and her tiny little lips. Just absolutely beautiful. And last week I had my anatomy scan. This is where they get a good look at the baby to look for defects or any soft markers that could translate to a genetic or chromosome disorders. I’ve been nervous about this as I’ve been watching other mothers-to-be receive not so great news during their anatomy scans. But I knew no matter what came of the scan, I’d love her anyway. As the technician went through each part of her body and told me over and over again that she looked good, I started to tear up. Heart, good. Femur, good. Humerus, good. Stomach, good. Cranium, good. Kidneys, good. By the end of the appointment, I was crying again. Baby girl was 12 ounces of perfection.

“Pregnancy is a process that invites you to surrender to the unseen force behind all life.” ~ Judy Ford

As I slowly get settled into this pregnancy, I’m accepting the fact that training in the summer heat, even for a short race, might not be in the cards for me. And I’m almost okay with that. I’ll do what I can and see what each day brings. I stay active and try to walk at least 2 o 4 miles a day and squeeze in a run if I feel up for it. But I’m also learning how to slow down and be okay with giving up control. After all, I’m not in control anymore. She is. For over forty years, people have tried to tame me and the only being successful enough to do so is this tiny little human. This tiny little human who has changed my life in a big amazing way. I used to think that this was the next chapter of my epic life’s journey, but I’m beginning to think that this is an entirely new book with new characters and new adventures I haven’t dreamed of. I have a sneaking suspicion that the second book is going to be way better than the first. It will still have all the running and traveling and epic adventures as before, but this time it will have a different dynamic. One with unconditional, out of this world love for another human being and all the ups and downs that go with it.

It’s going to be quite amazing.

Baby, oh Baby! The Next Chapter.

“Sometimes life has a cruel sense of humor, giving you the thing you always wanted at the worst time possible.”
― Lisa Kleypas, Sugar Daddy

I have a confession to make. When I dropped out of the HAT 50K run at the last minute, it wasn’t entirely due to illness. Yes, I wasn’t feeling great and had been battling a little bit of nausea for a week or two, and I had the all clear to run it until the Friday morning before the race, when I got a call from my doctor. He had informed me that he was concerned about the low fetal heart rate on the ultrasound was and he wasn’t sure if running the race was a good idea. It would be a gamble. Fetal heart rate? Wait. Wha-waaat?? Yep. If you don’t already know, I’m totally preggers.

The chances of a 43-year-old woman conceiving naturally in a given month drops to 1 percent according to the Association for Reproductive Medicine. The chances drop significantly lower when a fertility doctor tells you that you need fertility treatments to have a shot of having a baby. One of the philosophies that I live by is, “Tell me I can’t and I’ll prove you wrong.” Well, apparently that goes for making babies as well. The crazy thing is, we weren’t even trying. The idea of having kids was no longer in the picture. For me, that ship sailed and having a family was just a distant dream that floated in and out of my mind from time to time. Well, I guess the ship that sailed, took a nice tour of the Caribbean, and found it’s way back to Maryland.

Back in mid March, after I was about 11 days late, I decided to take a home pregnancy test. I have had this happen before and never had a positive result. Typically, Aunt Flo would show up within the day of me taking a test and I assume this would happen again. And besides, I wan’t really that regular and I was pretty sure I was pre-menopausal anyway. But it didn’t. After taking two tests at home, which came up positive, I went for a 10 mile run (of course) and then went to urgent care and had them take blood work. When it came back positive, I questioned the accuracy of the test. I had a little back and fourth with the doctor about reasons why I thought it would be a false positive and then broke down and cried. How could this be?? Complete denial. Having a family of my own was no longer in my plan. This can’t happen! But I was wrong. My tears weren’t tears of sadness or disappointment, they were tears of shock and denial. The Universe had a plan of her own and I just didn’t know it.

The past couple of months have been rough, to say the least, with the extreme fatigue, the morning sickness, the thought of this living being inside my uterus. It has stopped me dead in my tracks, brought me to my knees, and completely knocked the wind out of me. The shock of it all has been overwhelming. Almost twelve weeks into this pregnancy, it still feels surreal. How is this my new life? How is it that the thing I wanted most in life was given to me at a point in my life where the timing couldn’t be any worse? But when is the timing ever perfectly right? This little soul defied the odds and found its way to me. The timing is exactly how it is supposed to be.

So, now what? Running has been temporarily put on the back burner as I was taken off of some of my asthma meds because they were considered risky during the first trimester (don’t worry…they would have put me back on them if I couldn’t keep my asthma under control without it). Running triggers my asthma and so does the pollen. I have, however, been able to get a few runs in and I’m hoping as I enter into the second trimester, I’ll find my mojo and get back out there to run consistently. My sanity needs it.

As I come out of my fog of “holy shit, this is happening,” I’m embracing my new reality and the challenges ahead, and the excitement and joy of having a baby is settling in. I’m learning how to adjust to a body that’s growing a human and learning how to navigate in a world of being responsible for someone completely reliant on you.  Every decision I make affects this little nugget and I’m willing to do whatever it takes to ensure a safe and healthy pregnancy. My pregnancy is high-risk and the health of my baby concerns me. Sharing the news is risky this early in the game, but I have always found strength in the support of my tribe, good or bad. And as I get ready to undergo First Trimester Screening and a few other genetic screenings, I pray for a healthy outcome. It’s all I can do at this point.

So, the big question that everyone is dying to ask. Who’s the baby daddy? While almost every aspect of my life is pretty much on public display, my personal relationship is the one thing that I have kept to myself. It is sacred to me. He is one of the most incredible human beings I have ever met and I have never experienced a love so deep and spiritual as I have with him. Our relationship is long-distance, but we make it work. And yes, he too is an ultrarunner (of course). Until we can find a way to come together as a family (our careers currently stand in the way), I’m okay with living as a single parent for the time being. I trust in the Universe to bring us together when the timing is right and I have an amazing support group who I can count on to help me along the way.

I’ve already started planning my comeback with a 100-miler in 2019, and I hope to start racing again sometime in 2018, and while I realize I can no longer dictate my schedule as I have done before, it won’t stop me from trying to do what I love. Somehow, I always find a way to make things work.

When I start to feel the energy, I will hit the trails as soon as I can. Together, this little soul and I will breathe in the air of our beloved trails, together our hearts will beat while we climb the hills, and together, our love of the trails and of running will continue deepen. This little incredible soul inside my belly beat the odds…all of them, to get here. She or he is here for a purpose and she or he chose me to be their mother. And when UltraBaby crosses that birthing finish line in November, I can’t wait to take that precious little hand in mine and guide this little soul through life and teach them about all the wonders and beauties of this world.

Life. It’s such an incredible, amazing, magical thing. I am so overwhelmed with gratitude with all that life has given me. Every difficult challenge in my life has given me something more beautiful than I can ever imagine. I take none of it for granted. Always humbled, grateful, and blessed and in awe of all that surrounds me and I can’t wait to share the next chapter of my life with you. It’s sure to be a hell of a ride!

Reflecting on 2016

“I’ll never know, and neither will you, of the life you don’t choose. We’ll only know that whatever that sister life was,
it was important and beautiful and not ours.
It was the ghost ship that didn’t carry us.
There’s nothing to do but salute it from the shore.”
― Cheryl Strayed, Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar

Another year has come and gone, and another year has left me in awe of this wonderful thing called life. If you were to ask me five years ago how my life would be now, I assure you, the answer wouldn’t be what it is. I was telling a friend at dinner tonight that I took a stroll down memory lane and looked at pictures of years gone by on my Facebook page. I noticed how I’ve changed in so many wonderful ways. My smile is brighter, my eyes have more meaning behind them, and I can see how I’ve come into my own. And I can honestly say, I attribute all of this this to my passion, running.

How can one simple thing change someone so much? Well, I can tell you that the confidence I found within myself through running changed how I looked at obstacles. I now know that there are no obstacles that I cannot overcome. I found a courage hidden so deep within and it allowed me to be okay with being who I am. It allowed me to be true to myself and I no longer cared if people accepted me or not. Through running I found my running tribe. The special group of people who lift me up, support me in all I do, who love me without judgement, and who encourage me to be the best I can be. Through running, I found limits which has inspired me to push even harder, to be better, to find out what possibilities there are for me.Through running, I found love. And that in itself is more than I could ever ask for.

2016 had many ups and downs for me. I hiked from Portugal to Spain, basked in the sun on the beaches of Aruba, ran some incredible races, and had my first DNF. I lost a dear friend to cancer, and then my grandmother immediately after and many friends throughout the year, but through it all, running is what kept me grounded and it kept me sane. Running is what I turned to when I need to grieve and running is where I went to to find happiness.

I used to look forward to the New Year and have an idea of what’s ahead of me. But not anymore. I now look forward to the New Year and I stare at it in awe, like a child seeing Christmas lights for the very first time. I have no idea what’s in store for me for 2017, but I do know this – every moment that comes my way will be a blessing, good or bad, and I will not take a single breath for granted. I know that while the life I have not is not what I imagined it would be, it is a life that I cherish and I am grateful for the choices that I have made. That sister life that I thought I would have was important. But it wasn’t mine to have. But this life, this amazingly wonderful life that I live, it what was truly meant to be.

I wish you all a wonderful, safe and happy new year.

 2016-post

Lost Boys – My Tribe

There was a time when I was alone
Nowhere to go and no place to call home
My only friend was the man in the moon
And even sometimes he would go away, too

I’ve always been the black sheep of the family, marching to the beat of my own drum, never coloring between the lines….all the clichés that describe that person who refuses to conform to fit in. Even now, my family doesn’t quite get me. There’s always the passive aggressive guilt-trips that they try to put on me about how I live my life. I suspect that’s the same with many people. It used to bother me a lot, but now, it bothers me a little. And while I’ve always felt like a little bit of an outcast, I figured that I was just unique in my way of thinking. But, I’m not. Continue reading

Chasing Fast Boys (Training Recap – 2/15/16 – 2/21/16)

When you want to be fast, you gotta run with the fast. This week, I was chasing fast boys and barely keeping up. My target mileage for this week was 44 miles. I ran 37 leaving me short 7 miles. We had another winter blast that came in on Tuesday and with my work schedule, I just couldn’t make the run happen indoors or out. While the missed mileage wasn’t ideal, I did nail some of the runs that I did get in. Continue reading

The Joy of Running with Friends (Training Recap – 2/8/16 – 2/14/16)

Last week had its ups and downs, which is typical during training. But after looking at last week’s totals, I actually did better than I thought. As you can see below, there were hits and misses, but overall, not too terrible. Continue reading

All Lost Souls are Found on the Trails

There’s something to be said about the joy and healing of running. While I despised the act of it when I started, something happened along the way. It was as if someone gave me medicine that I didn’t want and eventually realized I needed. Then I discovered the trails, and it took this thing called running into an entirely new level. And the journey of the discovery of myself went into a new dimension. Continue reading

5 Steps to Help Reach Your Goals

It’s that time of year where people re-evaluate their goals or set new goals for the coming year and just last week, I gave a speech on this topic. How many of you use this time of year to set goals and actually follow through with reaching all of them? In the past, I used to have a hard time setting and accomplishing goals. Somewhere along the way, I lost focus and that fire in the belly to keep going after what I wanted to achieve. When I became a runner, I had to learn how to stay focused in order to train and be successful at races. I came up five steps that helped me each those goals and I have taken those steps and applied it to my everyday life. Continue reading

2016’s Race Schedule – I Think I’ve Got It!

So, after the fiasco last month of trying to figure out what 100-miler to sign up for and be able to qualify for Western States, I think I’ve finally got it figured out.

Here is what my schedule looks like so far:

  • January 16th Phunt 50k
  • March 19th HAT Run 50k
  • April 9th North Face Endurance Challenge – DC 50-miler
  • June 11th – Laurel Highlands 70.5 miler (WS qualifier/on wait list)
  • July 9th – Mount Hood 50-miler (in the lottery)
  • September 23rd – Mountain Lakes 100 (registration in February)

Continue reading

So, Now What?

Determine that the thing can and shall be done and then we shall find the way.” – Abraham Lincoln

This year has been quite a year for me in my running and in my personal life. After accomplishing all the goals that I set for myself, I have to ask…what’s next?

Running has gotten me through some pretty tough times this year. I was grateful for having the goal of completing a 100-miler to keep my mind off of my divorce and keep me in a positive place when the opportunity to fall into a negative slump was hanging over my head. (PS – the Q&A’s for the 100-miler is almost finished…for real). I have met some incredible people and have a following of like-minded folks who support me through all of my adventures. Continue reading