28 April 2013


I should be walking the dog, doing my core exercises, running, anything but lying in bed at Noon. I think I'm having a mini MS relapse. It could be a lot worse. My only symptom is that my eyeballs brain vision is are not functioning normally. And I'm extremely cold, but I think that's because I have the windows open.

This all started on Tuesday night in the Las Vegas airport. Everything around me started moving ever so slightly, but it was not really moving. When I looked up at the high airport ceiling, things moved even more, but they didn't. I went into panic mode. Last time I was dizzy like this, I ended up violently ill and then in the hospital for a week. I was about to get on a plane. It was grim. Sean had just run 100 miles with a broken foot. I was supposed to be taking care of him.

I went for a walk around Terminal E. I had a firm talk with my immune system that went like this, "Before you go attacking cells that you think are not-us, take a step back. Take a big-cell-breath and look again. Is it really an enemy invader? Or is it us? Are you confused? It's okay, I get confused too. Just make sure you are actually attacking invaders, not our own cells." Then I went to the bathroom and had some intestinal distress, and chalked the dizziness up to maybe I just ate something that didn't agree with me.

By the time I sat down on the plane with the giant airsick bag that the nice flight attendant had given me just-in-case, I was feeling marginally better. The talk worked! My immune system was calming down, or my stomach was better. The dizzies were almost gone. I put in earplugs and slept most of the flight. We got home Wednesday morning. I slept most of the day, and on Thursday I went back to work. I still felt weird that morning, but by that afternoon I felt pretty normal. I did my tempo run on Friday and it was a slogfest but I still hit my target paces.

Now it seems like once or twice a day I get a bit eyeball floaty, but I'm mostly better. This morning I meant to get up and do my core work and go running, but instead I made muffins, got floaty, and had to have another strongly-worded talk with my immune system. I am probably crazy but I think that shit works. MS is a disease state where your own immune system attacks parts of your own brain. For me, MS is a metaphor for not knowing myself, ignoring myself, and being a bitch to myself. See what I mean? My tough talks now have a hint of compassion.

The dog really has to pee. Time to see what walking is like. Hopefully I'll be running within a few hours. You might think I should lay low until this thing passes for good, but I think there's some benefit to maintaining a normal routine during a relapse, as much as possible. If it were a regularsized relapse, I'd be more tempted to do nothing, but I feel normal a lot of the time, so as long as that's the case, I'll keep doing normal things.

27 April 2013

100 Miles

Sean ran his first 100-miler. I am so proud. Here he is at mile 31:

I saw him at mile 58 but was crewing (getting him food, gear, and forgetting to make him change his socks) so I didn't take any pictures. I saw him again in the pitch dark about an hour later, around mile 62. He was running down US 9 in Virgin, Utah during a very short road portion of the race. I don't have a picture. Then I went to bed and he kept running.

The next morning I got up early to meet him at the finish line, but when I got there I learned that he hadn't gotten to the aid station at mile 88 yet, which was weird because he'd been hauling ass the day before. I decided to jog backwards on the course until I saw him. That was my first run in jeans. It was beautiful out, and the trails were nice and gentle. I was surrounded by the gorgeousity of the southern Utah desert. I jogged about three miles before I saw him walking down a steep mountain road:

He said he'd fractured his foot around mile 70 and had been walking ever since. We walked the rest together. Here he is at mile 99:

And at the finish with Maple in 28 hours, 51 minutes:

After he finished, he got to pick one of the handmade Zion100 belt buckles:

And now he looks like this:

The end.

14 April 2013

One Day

I've already complained about living in Boston. But there's one day a year that makes me happy and proud to live here, and that's Marathon Monday. I love that I live in a town where the biggest sporting event of the year isn't the Super Bowl or whatever that baseball championship thing is called. The biggest sporting event of the year is a foot race.

Traffic Alerts
Once a year, everyone heads to routes 135, 16, and 30. They set up chairs on the sidewalks, sometimes two or three deep, sometimes setting the chairs out the day before, and they sit and stand and sleep in strollers and wait for tens of thousands of people to run by. There is screaming and cheering and copious tears (for me anyway) and an assload of cowbell. It's a fun time.

Portapotties on the Town Common
Lots of people have the day off, the schools are closed, and you better not try to drive anywhere unless you're staying north or south of the course. If you do have to work and you live anywhere nearby, you have to get there early or risk six hours of road closures. Even though my company doesn't give us the day off, people at work understand if you don't show up on Monday morning. It's just what we do around here. And for this one day, I'm happy to be part of the "we".

Barrier Delivery
This week was rough. Not running rough, but work rough. Sean and Maple headed to Utah and I worked my ass off and went a little crazy in the process. I think the craziness is over, and I'm only working a few days this week before I take off for Utah too. My job isn't usually stressful, but when it is, I typically deal with it pretty well, largely because I run six days a week. This week I didn't run at all, so my brain chemistry was in a sad state. I had four days of complete rest after my race last weekend, and then I did some cross training for two days, and today, glorious today, I got to run. It was just 3 slow miles, but it was wonderful.

I did manage to get my head out of my ass about the race. It was hillier than I thought. So what, who cares. I ran a half marathon faster than I've ever done it before. I have MS and I'm still running. I should be more graceful about a few stupid hills. I was so busy complaining that I forgot to mention how spectacular the views were. Think ocean, rocky outcroppings, sunlight filtering through trees and adorable little houses perched on the rocks. It would be a really nice place to visit.

Tomorrow I start training again, this time for some shorter summer races: a few 5ks, a mile, and another half marathon in July. I don't know what my training looks like yet, but I'm looking forward to more speed work and some shorter "long" runs. I have no idea what Coach Erin has in store for me, so tomorrow morning will be just like Christmas. I can't wait!

10 April 2013


Maple had the flu this weekend. I thought I'd caught it too, since my chest got that tight sick feeling on Monday, and on Tuesday the coughing fits started. I doused myself in herbs for a couple of days, and I think it's going away. I'm not sure if it was just exhaustion and burnt lungs from the race, or if I really got rid of an impending virus. Either way, I'm feeling better.

Work has been nuts the past couple of weeks. There is so much going on that I can't do better than half-assed at anything, which is not my favorite mode. I am not a perfectionist, but I prefer 3/4-assed.

Tonight, my pod left for Utah, which I thought would make me lonelier than it has. At least so far, it's novel. The quiet is amazing. I didn't know how much I needed quiet until this evening. I feel like these four hours of silence have fixed everything that was ever wrong with me. You guys can come back now!

I'm flying out to meet them next week, to watch Sean run his first 100-miler. I am so excited for him. He'll be running the Zion 100 in southern Utah, which is one of his favorite places on the planet. He hasn't been there in years, and I think he was just about to melt into a puddle of New England sadness if it weren't for this trip. He isn't sad really, he just doesn't fit in here. Although I am more capable of fitting in, I don't really enjoy it. Being in Utah together will be so good for us. We might never come back.

The last time I was in Utah was 2005, when Maple was about a month old. I was in the midst of a severe MS relapse, but we went anyway. Here's me, awkwardly holding Maple. I couldn't really move my arms. It's a miracle I didn't drop her.

I had a hard time speaking during the relapse, but I could walk just fine. And my boobs worked, which was really the only thing that mattered anyway. Sean had to feed me when we'd go out to eat because my hands didn't work too well. People stared and whispered that someone that drunk shuld not be trusted with a baby. I haven't thought about that in years. Good times!

My goal for this trip to Utah: feed myself. And maybe run a few miles.

08 April 2013

Fool's Dual Half Marathon

I PR'd in my half marathon on Sunday by 4:20. It was my first sub-2 finish! I'm so proud of that. There is a lot to be proud of. But first, I need to vent. Lets start with a quiz, shall we?

Can you spot the disparity between my Garmin data:

And this data from the race website?

Do you see it? I think the race organizers got their elevation profile from, and mapmyrun is fucking crazy. My Garmin claimed there was 984' of gain, and in this case I am taking my Garmin's word for it. I don't know how mapmyrun gets their numbers. 308 seems like 2*154, or twice the max elevation, but I can't figure out what that has to do with the actual amount of uphill running if there are 4 bazillion tiny hills in between. Also, the axes on the map don't match up with the max elevation anyway.

I apologize; I am a recovering engineer and I can't help picking apart this chart.

When I studied the course map on the race website, I thought the race had a total of 308' of elevation gain, which is pretty flat for a half. That's what I told Coach Erin and that's how she came up with my goal pace and plan for the race. The overall goal pace was 8:24, and the mile-by-mile pacing plan seemed sound. I knew it was ambitious, but I wanted it and I was willing to get it done. I visualized and I believed and I focused and I pushed, but I missed my goal by almost 7 minutes. Maybe I wasn't capable of keeping that pace for 13.1 miles, but the unexpected hills didn't help.

My first four miles were right around 8:35-8:40, and then the wheels started coming off. I knew it was way too early for that. My BRF Lynne stayed with me for TEN miles, watching me slowly melt down and telling me stories to take my mind off the suffering, but I just kept slowing down. Also huffing uncontrollably and trying to call out splits with what sounded like four tongues. My paces for miles 1-6 started with 8s, and miles 7-13 started with 9s.

The great thing about this race was that I never stopped fighting. Even when I knew at mile 5 that shit wasn't going well, I fought every urge to slow down with a tiny kick. I crested every hill with a stride, even when the strides were at a 10:00 pace. My legs felt good and I wasn't injured, and I told myself that I would keep giving it absolutely everything I had. I asked myself over and over, "Is this your edge? No? Then let's go." Even though a lot of the time the answer was more like "i dont know, maybe?" My feet slapped the pavement hard with every step, and my eyes were well beyond their ability to focus, and I kept pushing. I had my one urge to quit - like clockwork, in every race it happens once - but I swept those thoughts away and pushed harder. I talked to my fatigue and discomfort like they were distant family members that you have to be nice to but you really hate them. "I'm sorry Guys, I'm kind of busy right now, can you check back later?" I should have left that last part out, as they did come back later and they were pissed.

I suffered and I slowed down and I suffered some more. But I never gave up.

And then I was close to the finish and I saw Lynne screaming for me and I "sprinted" for all I had. I crossed the line and saw a 1:56, which made me so happy. At least it was sub-2! I couldn't breathe for a couple of minutes; it was like an asthma attack, but I don't have asthma. And then everything was okay.

I feel like the Queen of Excuses with these last two race reports, but I am still proud of what I accomplished yesterday. And I can't wait for another chance to get it right.