Saturday, February 3, 2018

Race Recap: Uwharrie Mountain Run 20 Miler

"The obsession with running is really an obsession with the potential for more and more life."  Dr. George Sheehan

I love the above quote, as I think it explains why I do so many races and running adventures.  I feel so alive during these adventures, and they really help me appreciate my life and be my best self.

Today's adventure taught me so much!  I showed myself once again that I can do something really hard and come out smiling  on the other side.  I felt strong physically and mentally, and I had so much fun with my friends!  My daughter gave me the best encouragement when I got home:

I hope I'm teaching my kids that you can do hard things, be a little afraid of them, but get it done and gain confidence by doing  what you said you would. 

So here it is, race recap of the Uwharrie 20 Miler:

Race Preparation
This winter, I participated in the Fleet Feet Trail Running program for the first time.  I have always been a bit hesitant in doing trails, and I live with a Forest in my backyard FULL of trails!  I have run the Uwharrie 8 miler before, in 2016 and 2017, and I had a lot of fun, but I thought of it as the toughest trail ever.  I had never prepared for the 8 miler by running trails, I stuck to the roads.  This winter, I practiced almost every weekend on the trails, and I gained so much more confidence in my ability to stay upright, get lost and found, and slow things down to enjoy the scenery.  It was a very welcome change from speed work and road running.  I also got to wear the coolest trail shoes EVER!  That helped.  :)

The Mental Game
The week before the race I started to have a lot of nerves.  Could I really do it?  People were telling me it was really really difficult.  I usually think I can do anything I put my mind to. Was that true this time?  The day before the race, I spent some time reading some blogs about this particular race, and I even watched an 8 minute video a participant had taken along the way.  It helped calm my nerves, as everyone seemed to just love the race, they all succeeded in finishing, and I found out that there was going to be a creek that looked like you should cross it, but really you don't--follow the white blazes on the trees!  So I felt that I had some insider info.  Then, I listened to a podcast by Mario Fraoli about an amazing ultra-runner named Amelia Boone.  I started following her on Instagram and saw amazing pics of her strength.  So I was inspired, and so excited to  have FUN.  I was reset, ready to go.

Logistics of the Race
Race day!  My alarm was set for 4:30am, but my body woke me up around 4:20am ready to go.  I showered and  dressed, made 2 cups of coffee for the road, and ate a bagel (how anyone can be hungry at that hour is beyond me, but I was!).  I left the house at 5am, picked up my friends, and  we were on our way!  The race was 1 hour and 40 minutes from the house, and thanks to good conversation, the time passed quickly.  When we arrived at 6:40am, it was still dark.  Parking spaces were ample, and the volunteers helped us find a great spot.  We then went into the Eldorado Outpost to check in and get warm.  There were bathrooms and portapotties, which we used, and I was pleasantly surprised to find the line for the men's bathroom was longer than the women's!  That never happens!  I guess more men were running than ladies, so I felt special.  :)  I fueled with a Clif Bar as well.  When we got out of the store, the daylight had arrived, which was really cool.  We boarded the waiting shuttles for the starting area, which was about 15 minutes away.  When we got to the race start, I took advantage of the portapotties again, and then we were able to stay warm by the fire.  Starting temp was 19 degrees!  We chatted with veterans of the race, who all seemed to love it, something that boosted by excitement again.   Before I knew it, it was go time!  We lined up near the front, and off we went!!

The Course
As I remembered from previous years, the first part of the race on the trail is a very steep and rocky incline in which most runners are walking.  Being towards the front of the pack definitely helped, and we were running again shortly.  My friend Mike had graciously agreed to run with me during the whole 20 miles, an unexpected surprise, so I was really looking forward to the company.  We had looked at the elevation map ahead of time (a mistake, don't do it!), but thankfully we had forgotten most of it, other than there were some killer-looking hills throughout the course.  The first 8 miles went by pretty quickly.  When we came up to the 8 mile aid station, I was a little sad remembering that in years past, I would be done by now.  But on the other hand, the 8 miles seemed less hard than in previous years, maybe because I knew we were not even close to the end.  I used the portapotty (the only one  on the course), ate some pb+j, refilled my water, and stripped down some layers (we warmed up quickly with all of the hills and  sunshine).  I then broke the rest of the course down in my mind into the next 5 miles (until mile 13), miles 14-17 (where our friend Gina and her family would be manning the aid station), and miles 17-20 (the finish!).  Breaking it down in my mind definitely helped.  
It was really exciting to be on a part of the course that I have never seen before!  On the uphills, we walked and I tried to catch my breath;  on the downhills, I commented on how this course is great!  It was surreal to be out in nature, often only the two of us around.  Occasionally we would find groups of runners to be near, but eventually we would either pass or be passed.  The terrain was very rocky at times, which made it difficult to run even down the hills--I really did not want to fall.  I ended up falling twice, but both were minor, and I had no major injuries.  I had one serious ankle roll that did not result in a fall, but I was able to run  it off, and I didn't feel any long-lasting effects from that one.  As the course went on, my legs were getting REALLY tired.  I felt like I couldn't pick up my legs enough, so I kept stumbling and ALMOST falling, which is sometimes worse than ACTUALLY falling with how scary it is and how every muscle in your body screams on high alert trying to keep you upright.  I felt like this.
There were some pretty gnarly hills from miles 15-16, it's all a blur now, but we walked them, and it was ok.  There were also a lot of stream crossings.  I knew from prior years that it is often easier to just get wet than to spend a lot of energy balancing on rocks to avoid the water, but most of the streams were really low so I only ended up wet on 2 streams, and my feet dried pretty quickly.  There was one crossing that involved a 10 foot log balancing act, but it was pretty fun, and  thankfully we did not fall in there, ha!  There were a few times that we were not  sure where the trail was headed--we were supposed to follow the white "blazes" on the trees, and most were well-marked, but a few times we had to stop and look around to make sure we were not going  off course.  We figured out that 2 blazes meant a sharp turn, which was a new discovery from prior years, and that helped us navigate a lot.  As we got tired, we noticed that our vision wasn't quite what it should be, and everything seemed a bit blurry, so that combined with the bright sunlight reflecting off the leaves made everything a bit of a challenge.
We finally made it to our friends at mile 17!  I ate a chocolate chip cookie (it was heavenly) and refilled my water bottle and we were off for the final 3 miles, which were so much fun since I knew at this point that we were going to finish!  We also thought we had a chance at our long-shot goal of under 4 hours, so we tried to stay running as much as possible.  Our GPS watches were off a little so we weren't entirely sure.  The last part of the course was also really fun because we got to see a lot of the 40 milers turning around and coming back our way, so we had some people to encourage, and it put our 20 miles into perspective--at least we could be done at 20 and did not have to turn around and do it all over again!
Finally, when we thought we still had almost a mile to go, we saw our friend Randy on the course taking pictures, and some colorful flags just beyond.  "Is that the finish?!" I asked incredulously.  It was!  What a nice surprise to be done early, and we finished just under the 4 hour mark.  Yay!  

I would say the race was mentally easier than I thought it would be, but physically harder than I thought it would be.  The terrain and hills are a lot harder than the 8 miler, so I did not quite know what to expect there.  But mentally, I kept going and never felt like I was going to die (it happens on long runs, you know that).  My mantra was "I feel good, I feel great, I feel wonderful" from the movie "What About Bob" (not sure why that was in my head).  Check it out here.
I also had just listened  to Justin Timberlake's new song "Man of the Woods" which I felt was an appropriate soundtrack for the day, so that was running through my head.  

At the end of it, me and Randy and Mike all gave each other our new trail names (mine gets to be Ladybug!!) and we ate some food (potato soup and peanut M+Ms for me), then we got a ride back to the car.  After changing  into some warm and dry clothes (temps were up to 40 degrees now) we headed back home.  I will say, the drive home was pretty uncomfortable. and as I write this in my bed, my legs are pretty much done.  Running on tippy toes up a mountain for four hours will do that to a person.  I plan to continue rolling out my calves tomorrow, I got a good headstart today.  

So, in summary, I DEFINITELY recommend this race.  The whole Uwharrie race series is so well put-together and organized.  The energy is amazing.  Everyone out there wants to be there and is so encouraging.  Also, you can challenge yourself in ways you never thought possible.  

Finally, I will end with this quote by one of my favorite runners, Alexi Pappas:
"Run like a bravey
Dream like crazy
Replace can't with maybe
Through sunny and shady"

Good night!

Love, Sarah

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Just Say Yes

I remember hearing some parenting advice that advised that when you can, say "yes" to your kids.   In the early days of parenting, it feels like the word "NO" comes out of our mouths with such frequency!  As my children have got bigger and more independent, I have tried to be more mindful of saying "YES" when I can.

Yesterday I was doing my track workout and I brought my kids along with me.  They were trying to keep themselves occupied with their skates and bike.  One found an old ruddy baseball that was instantly a "treasure."  Another found a Duke water bottle (Me: Leave that there--go Heels!).  Eventually they got tired of their activities and came up with a new idea.

"Mom, can we roll this tire down the stairs?"  At first my reflex was to say, "NO."  I started to say it.  But then I asked myself, "Why not?"  There were no other people on the track that we had to worry about injuring.  I still had quite a few more laps to do.  So I said "YES!"  And they had so much fun rolling that tire down the stairs for the next 20 minutes or so.

I think this is also a principle we can apply to ourselves.  When faced with an opportunity or a request, I try to ask myself if I can say "YES" first.  Of course I must balance my desire to say "YES" with setting good boundaries for my time.  But I have had so many memorable experiences from saying "YES" when invited.  A half Ironman relay.  A 206 mile relay through the Blue Ridge Mountains with 5 other brave souls.  Getting set up on a date with my now- husband.  Going to country concerts with my sweet babysitter.

"To my young friends out there: Life can be great, but not when you can't see it. So, open your eyes to life: to see it in the vivid colors that God gave us as a precious gift to His children, to enjoy life to the fullest, and to make it count. Say yes to your life."--Nancy Reagan

Love, Sarah

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Who I Am

First of all, it has been almost 2 years since my last post, but I'm excited to start recording my thoughts again in an organized way.

This post is inspired by an upcoming book club where we will be discussing the book, "Boston Bound" by Elizabeth Clor.   In the book, the author tries to overcome the mental hangups which are preventing her from achieving her lifelong dream of qualifying for the Boston Marathon.  She meets with a sports psychologist, who recommends to her that she stop thinking of herself as "a runner" and instead think of herself as "a good person who does good things."  In other words, her identity does not need to be based on an activity that she likes to do.  Her identity is so much more than this, and she is then set to the task of figuring that out.

This really got me thinking about my own identity.  There have been many times over this past year where I definitely have found myself primarily identifying myself as "a runner."  I have met great friends through running, have participated in many fun and challenging races, I like to read about running and listen to podcasts and audio books about running.  Running has become a big part of my life.  I really enjoy it--the social aspect of being a part of a running group, the physical and mental challenges I have to overcome along the way, and the health that it brings to my body and mind.   However, I am more than just "a runner."

Last year, when I was injured (severe plantar fasciitis), I was unable to run for a few months.  During that time, I had to make a choice.  I could be miserable and depressed, OR I could spend that time fostering the other aspects of my life that I had neglected during my running obsession.  I remember reading an article that dealt with how to mentally get through an injury that keeps you from running, and the main point that I remember was that I am MORE than just a runner.  I am Sarah--a mom, a wife, a friend, a doctor.  I am hardworking, passionate, energetic, positive, optimistic.  I DO love to run, but I also love to be with my kids, to write, to read, to exercise in general, to play outside, to craft, to be with friends and family.  That really helped me through that time and kept me from getting depressed at not being able to run for a few months.

Now, I have started thinking through these things again.  What do I want to be known for?  I don't want to be known as a runner.  I DO want to be known as someone who loves life and encourages others; someone who is passionate about her goals but flexible if needed; a loyal and thoughtful friend; a child of GOD.  And when I run, I can show these aspects of my identity!  But if I could never run again, I could continue being me.  And that makes me feel safe and at peace.

There is a song by Nichole Nordeman called "Legacy" that really resonates with me; in fact, I chose it during the slide show at my residency graduation.  The lyrics are as follows:

I don't mind if you've got something nice to say about me
And I enjoy an accolade like the rest
And you could take my picture and hang it in a gallergy
Of all the who's-who's and so-and-so's
That used to be the best at such and such,
It wouldn't matter much

I won't lie, it feels alright to see your name in lights,
We all need an 'Atta boy' or 'Atta girl'
But in the end I'd like to hang my hat on more besides
The temporary trappings of this world.

I want to leave a legacy,
How will they remember me?
Did I choose to love?
Did I point to you enough
To make a mark on things
I want to leave an offering
A child of mercy and grace
Who blessed your name unapologetically
And leave that kind of legacy.

I don't have to look too far or too long awhile
To make a lengthy list of all that I enjoy
It's an accumulating trinket and a treasure pile
Where moth and rust, thieves and such
Will soon enough destroy

Not well-traveled, not well-read
Not well-to-do, or well-bred
Just want to hear instead,
Well done, good and faithful one

In the same way that I don't wrap up my entire identity in being a doctor, I want to continue to remember that my identity is in Him, in Christ, not just as a runner.  But in the meantime, I am surely thankful that I can RUN!

The Big Run 5K
June 7, 2017 Global Running Day
Chapel Hill, NC

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Dance Like Cinderella...

The music was playing boisterously.  The notes drew us to stop and listen.  A crowd had gathered around an older couple, the man wearing a T-shirt advertising the name of the band, the woman wearing a Disneyland T-shirt and blue tutu skirt.  They were dancing in step, swing dancing it looked like, reminding me of when I tried to swing dance back in college.  My daughter was standing with us, but she inched forward, step by step, and I saw her toe point, her leg lift slightly off the ground.  I knew she wanted to dance.  She walked further and further into the circle, by herself, still seeming shy and hesitant.  I recognized this as a moment, one that she might remember for just today, but one that I would always remember.  I embraced the moment and asked her if she would like to dance with me.  Her entire countenance lit up brightly as her little hands took mine.  I danced with her, dipped her, twirled her around.  She loved it.  I glanced over and saw three other little girls tapping their feet, inching closer, their mom on her phone.  I beckoned to them, "Come dance," and just like my daughter, their faces immediately lit up as they giggled, held hands, and ran into the mix.  As I continued to dance with my sweet one, I took notice around me, more and more people were abandoning pretense and starting to join us.  Two college aged girls grabbed hands and skipped awkwardly right through the middle of the "dance floor," laughing, as their friends giggled from the sidelines.  It was so refreshing to see so many people just enjoying the moment like I was, Mickey Mouse ears on and all.  My son was still on the side.  I reached out my hands to him, beckoning, "Do you want to come, too?"  At first he shook his head no, but then he jumped all in with fancy footwork and handstands, laughing just like the rest of us.  What a magical memory, I am so glad I didn't miss it...

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Weekend highlights

Feeling blue right now, winding up a great weekend with the kiddos.  Wanted to jot down some highlights to remember:
--taking Jackson on a date Friday night for dinner and a movie while Savannah and Daddy had a date, too!
--10 mile run Saturday morning with my fave running partner, Julie
--Savannah practicing to put her hair in a ponytail/bun just like her mommy--she got it!
--Jackson graduating from Tiger Cub to Wold Cub at the Cub Scout End of Year Campout
--Savannah earning a belt loop for biking at Cub Scouts (even though she is OBVIOUSLY not a cub scout) due to her learning to ride a bike without training wheels this week!\
--Jackson giving Savannah the sweetest hug after she received her belt loop and saying, "Congratulations, Savannah!"
--taking a cat nap on the beach at Jordan Lake this weekend while the kiddos played (under Dad's supervision, of course!)
--being able to cheer up Savannah on the LONG hike back to the campsite from the beach, by playing her favorite song on my phone (and thus avoiding having to carry her all the way home, score!)
--both kids falling asleep on the way home from camping
--watching my Sunday school kids recite their memory verse on this last day of Sunday school for the year: way to go, class!
--finding the perfect bench to go at the foot of our bed (at Home Goods, what a steal!)
--updating my shower curtain for the first time in about 10 years :)
--snuggling with the kids at bedtime tonight

Ahh, what a great weekend.  Now off to do notes for work...

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Something in the Water...

God has always spoken to me through music and songs.  For the past few months, I have really loved the song, "Something in the Water" by Carrie Underwood.  For those of you who are not familiar with it, it is a country pop song, but the underlying theme is water baptism.

I was baptized as an infant, raised in a Catholic Christian home, confirmed into the faith as a teen, and really embraced Christianity as my own faith while in high school.  Jesus has just always been my Savior.  I heard lots of stories of newly converted Christians getting baptized as an outward sign of the inner change that occurs once you accept Jesus into your heart.  I teach my children that when they are old enough, they can get baptized to tell the world that Jesus is their Savior.  But I never thought adult baptism was for me.

A few months ago, our church was doing a bible study called "Rooted," and we met every week in my small group to discuss basic foundations of the faith.  Of course, one of the weeks covered baptism.  I shared that I didn't really feel that I needed to get baptized again.  The girls in my group are not shy, and they lovingly pointed out where in the Bible it says that basically I should.

"Baptism is an important step in our journeys as followers of Christ and an outward symbol of the work He has already done in our lives.  Some people wonder if baptism is required for salvation.  No, it's not.  However the two are connected.  The Lord commanded, 'Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and of the Holy Spirit' (Matthew 28:19).  The Word of our Lord is sufficient warrant for baptism of believers.  No further authority is needed."  "Baptism is a symbol of the covenant of salvation."  "Eleven times in the book of Acts we see that immediately after someone believed in Jesus that person was baptized."  --From Rooted.

I ended the night in tears, saying that I did not want to get baptized.  (Why not??)  But of course, God was working on my heart.

A few weeks later, I was teaching Sunday School to my first graders, and we were learning about when John the Baptist baptized Jesus (Matthew 3:13-17).  It was the Beginner's Bible edition.  John basically says to Jesus, "I should be baptized by YOU!"  And Jesus replied, "I want to do what is right."  I remember thinking, "Wow, even Jesus got baptized.  Hmm.  Maybe I SHOULD get baptized."  Moved on.  After class, I went to service, and wouldn't you know, the next baptism class was announced.  I clearly felt God telling me to sign up.  So I did.

And tomorrow I'm getting baptized!  I'm kind of nervous.  I'm relieved that I am finally practicing obedience to the Lord in this area.  And I'm excited to join my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ in the beautiful sacrament of baptism.

"Felt love pouring down from above
Got washed in the water, washed in the blood and now I'm changed
And now I'm stronger
There must be something in the water
Oh, there must be something in the water

And now I'm singing along to amazing grace
Can't nobody wipe this smile off my face
Got joy in my heart, angels on my side
Thank God almighty, I saw the light
Gonna look ahead, no turning back
Live every day, give it all that I have
Trust in Someone bigger than me
Ever since the day that I believed I am changed
And now I'm stronger

There must be something in the water"--Something in the Water by Carrie Underwood

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

New Year!

It's a new year, and of course the time for resolutions.  I used to make an exhaustive list of resolutions on New Year's Eve, usually including resolutions about exercise, reading my Bible more often, eating better, journaling more regularly, etc.  That got a bit overwhelming over the years.  For the last few years I have started picking a "word" for the year.  This way, it's like an overriding theme that I can think and meditate on, but it's not so much that if I don't do a certain thing, I "fail" my resolution.

The word for 2015 is:


To me, this encompasses a lot of my goals for the year.
I would like to have more of a regular quite time with God; I have started the "She Reads Truth" Bible in a Year plan to help me; it's on my phone which means I can read on the go, which is helpful.
But I would like to be on my phone less, being more present in my life and daily interactions.  This is especially true with my children.  I would like to really enjoy my time with them more, and not through the distracted murmuring that I do sometimes when I am looking at my phone.
I would like to continue my marathon training, not with a "I need to work out 5 times per week" goal, but continuing to be mindful about my time to exercise and really enjoying it when I do.
I would like to read more books instead of watching TV or messing around on my computer or phone.
I would like to be more mindful of my money and what I spend it on, as well as what is in my home, striving to de-clutter and simplify my life as much as possible.

I'm really excited to get started on this new year.  It will be full, as Jackson starts playing basketball, Savannah continues to dance, and they will turn 7 and 5 this year!  I will run a marathon and I just really look forward to see what God has in store.  I had no idea He would lead me on this road, but I am so glad that He did.

"Whatever you do, do well."  Ecclesiastes 9:10