Going Psycho

The textbook definition of psycho is short for “psychopath,” and is defined as: one who has a personality disorder characterized by enduring antisocial behavior, diminished empathy & remorse, & disinhibited or bold behavior (Wiki dictionary). Psycho as used in this blog has the more vague definition of “crazy” as in the “disinhibited or bold behavior,” insane, or just plain “nuts,”  in a “why would you want to do that” sense. At any rate, this is my experience with my second but long(ish) trail run called the “Psycho Wyco Run Toto Run” winter trail race put on by Ben Holmes & the Trail Nerds. It was held on Saturday, February 20 this year.

I’m assuming the “psycho” in the race name is more referring to the course itself more than the people who run it, or maybe a little of both. The “Wyco” is short for Wyandotte County, as it takes place at Wyandotte County Lake Park Bridle Trails. I’m guessing the “toto” is referring to the cute little dog in the Wizard of Oz since it is in Kansas. But sometimes I guess & assume amiss. At any rate, it was the most difficult course I have ran to date since I became a runner. But then again, there is a HUGE difference between road racing & trails. Here is my journey of four hours, 29 minutes, & 34.6 seconds.

The description per psychowyco.com – “A loop course on rocky, rooty, and hilly bridle trails & single-track trails. Time limit: 9 hours for 50k & 20 miler, 8 hours for 10 miler.” I was a little scared of the “rocky & rooty” since I met some of those face to face last November at Sander’s Saunter. But then I thought, “how hard can it be, I’m nearly a PRO now after completing a six mile trail run” (I laugh heartily at myself). I was originally going to sign up for the 10 mile since I really thought it was going to be cold. As I watched the extended forecast, it was looking like great weather so I decided to jump on the 20 mile. Two ten mile loops, what the hey. Signing up late meant that I forfeited the race hoodie. I would rather lose that than lose my entry fee had I signed up early and had a DNS (Did Not Start) if it had turned out snowy & bitter cold! I shudder to think about what that trail is like in snow & ice as it was two years ago.

I arrived at the lake right at 0630 per advice from a trail running god friend. He stated that the parking lot near the start/finish would fill up fast, so be an early bird. After a complete loop around the lake (I am somewhat directionally challenged), I found the aforementioned parking lot. First things first-johnny room location. I was pleasantly surprised that I was the only one in there (two stall park bathroom). I went back to the car, grabbed a jacket, and went to pick up my bib. I felt chilled, so since I had plenty of time to kill, I sat back in the car. I made sure all of my gear was intact, ate a “Honey Stinger” waffle, sat some more, made another trip to the john, pinned my bib on, took the jacket off, donned my new CamelBak hydration pack (without the bladder on purpose) & headed to the shelter where the heat was. Important things first: love on the running god’s dog “Athena” and get into her head.

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Photo Credit: Mile 90 Photography

Since the director strongly advised carrying your own hydration device or water bottle, the vest was perfect for one bottle that I could fill up along the aid stations & carry my phone, keys, gels, & salt capsules. Or so I thought. The water bottle was about three inches too big & I had to hold onto it for 2.8 miles until I got to the first aid station where I dumped it and had the kind volunteer put it where my water bladder should be. Some of us gathered around the electric heater as if we were freezing to death at 43 degrees.

0758: Engage Garmin to find satellite & head toward the start. Two minutes pass & we’re off across a lawn full of Sugar Gum tree balls-#$%@&*! I felt those! “Hope I don’t roll an ankle before I even get started,” I thought. We cross a bridge, go up a hill and enter the trail head. Lots of people. Congested. I engaged my herd mentality and took the lead of the feet directly in front of me. Lots of rock, lots of walking. The faster runners began to gain a little speed until the all rock hill from hell.

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Photo Credit: Stephanie W.

A few seasoned trail runners leaped right up that thing. Since I didn’t want to
“bust a knee cap” (I do a BAD Joe Pesci impersonation), I walked gingerly (always wanted to use that word) up & around those rocks. Smooth sailing for a bit until the wrestlers mud pit (at least that’s what it looked like-doubtful that much wrestling goes in in mud-dung). Great! Thought there was no mud?! Since I don’t own gators, I tried to stay to the sides.

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Mud & muck (photo credit my own)

All this time my water bottle was going “slosh, slosh” and my keys were singing “jingle, jangle.” It was annoying to me, so I know it had to be annoying to others. Have we even reached a mile yet? Next up: a creek (stream?) to cross.

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Photo Credit: Mile 90 Photography

I don’t know what I was looking at but it must have been pretty interesting as runner in back was looking that way too. Could have been an alligator for all I know. Right foot got wet. Glad it was warming up. Just a bit longer and there it was in all of it’s glory-the 2.8 mile Triangle aid station!

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Photo credit: my own

I can’t say enough good about these people. I drank what I could of my water, dumped the rest & nice lady put it in my back compartment I ate one of my gels, fixed the key problem and off I went annoying noise free! I was entering the “triangle” one of the most fun parts of the trail with lots of winding up, down, & around. I was feeling pretty full of myself staying upright around all of those rocks and mud and water. Then it happened at mile 3.2 after I had just told the girl behind me if I fell to just “use me as a stepping stone.” Toe caught a rock or root and down to my right side I went. This pic must have been a little before it happened because that was definitely the girl.

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Photo Credit: Mile 90 Photography

Okay, had to get that first one out of the way. No bragging rights for no falls this day. Then just 0.2 miles later, there I went again-down to the right. I determined that the Jeff Galloway “shuffle” for the roads was not working out for me on the trails. I decided to pick my knees up a little and “trot like a horse.” After all, they ARE bridle trails!

Mile 3.8 was the backside of the first aid station. I downed some “Heed” drink and some more water and took off again. I don’t remember specifics about the next 1.2 miles, but there were a couple of open culverts to cross and the long winding dam area. I suppose that’s why the next aid station is called the “Dam aid station.”

There I swallowed a salt capsule as I had been running over an hour at this point, drank some water and glory of all glories: road hills! Two gloriously STEEP hills to run before entering back into the woods & on the trails. “I can make up some time here,” I thought to myself (as if I cared about time, <snort>)! I remember mumbling to the guy I passed (who was walking), something like, “THIS is MY forte-the ROADS!”

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Photo Credit: Stephanie W.

 

Crowd was really thin at this point, 3 of us and a lady with a Weimaraner. This was the toughest part of the course to the finish. Lots of steep, steep hills and rocks.

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Photo Credit: Stephanie W.

After feeling like Tarzan and three miles later, there was the mile 8.2 aid station. I drank more water & Heed, ate something that I don’t recall, and took off with 3 other women. I actually “semi-fell” while walking up a hill but caught myself, so I count that as 1/2 a fall. On this next steep rocky climb, I told the three gals to go ahead so that I could take a pic.

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Photo Credit: Stephanie W.

A mile or so later after topping a hill, there was a lone drummer in full marching band gear. It was weird & awesome all at the same time. Wish I would have taken a pic. I will mention the lady in pink and the lady in orange in the above pic again in the next paragraph.

I caught up to the three and was enjoying some shady, soft leaf covered trails and got a bit ahead. Darned if those rocks didn’t jump up and grab the toe of my right foot and down I went AGAIN… on-can you guess? MY RIGHT SIDE! This time the inner part of my left knee hit the hard ground. The girls in pink and orange were not too far behind and stopped and were genuinely concerned. Yes it hurt & for a moment I thought that with less than a mile left, I may be hobbling to the finish and dropping down to the 10 mile distance. Girl in pink offered to help me up but I told them to go on, that I just needed to “sit and feel sorry for myself” for a minute. After what seemed like 30 minutes (it may have been three), I got up, dusted my butt off, tested out the knee and took off running. It stung some but not enough to impede my running or walking.

Soon after, I heard the music and knew the finish line was near. My ten mile split was 2:05:03.1 with a 12:30 pace. I stayed at the Main aid station for 5-10 minutes to stretch, hydrate, swallow another salt cap, ate some bacon and other goodies (sugar free diet out the window until after major races), and took off for the second loop.

This time there was no crowd and I determined that I was just going to take my time, not fall, and take some pictures. It was truly peaceful until I caught up to a guy that had the same four AC/DC songs blasting over & over. He finally got way ahead of me after the triangle. The next pic was taken by Mile 90 Photography on what they call “Speed Demon.” Some of the down hills the last 4 miles were of the winding, curvy type.

PsychoWyco-2016-4295-XLOne of the coolest things was seeing the four firemen in full attire doing the 10 miler. I thanked them for their service. Photo Credit: Mile 90 Photography

Being mostly alone the second time around was great for leisurely taking photos of steep, rocky cliffs with danger signs, complete with a shot of my shadow! (humor, arr, arr).

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Photo Credit: My own (sad)

I had one more fall between miles 18 & 20, this time on my left side-go figure. Only one witness. I finally reached the finish with a total time of 4:29:34.6 with an average pace of 14:27/min per mile. All things considered, I was extremely happy with that in the sense that my projected finish time for my age and gender was 5:50:00. Not bad for an antique finishing 60 out of 87 with 8 of those total being older than me and 3 the same age. Of the 27 finishing after me-two were older and one the same age. Not bragging, just stating that age is a number. Photo credit below: Mile 90 Photography.

I try to learn something from every experience in life. What I learned was this:

Avid trail runners are beasts & are much more nimble of foot than I am.

The “proper way to fall” skills I learned from skydiving class come in handy on trails.

The dancing lessons I took as a child for my clumsiness did NOT help.

The appropriate size water bottle for your pocket is essential.

Extraneous noises out in nature annoy me.

I need to find a really GREAT trail shoe.

Ben Holmes & the Trail Nerds/Volunteers are awesome.

Mile 90 Photography is phenomenal (of course I already knew this).

Many (and mini) down hills shred the quads.

When in horse territory, learn to pick up your knees & trot like a horse.

I don’t know if bears crap in the woods, but horses sure do!

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Photo Credit: My Own (REALLY sad)

 

All in all it was a great time on a 72 degree winter day in February.

Hope to see you sometime soon on the roads or trails,

Stephanie

 

The Unfettered Life Part II (Burying Dead Things)

Unfettered: Not controlled or restricted; free, unrestrained (Google search, Merriam-Webster).

12644886_224805114526812_5891399491727631686_nWe are born into this world not by choice, but by chance. Out of the millions of sperm that don’t reach an egg, we are the product of that ONE that makes it & fertilization takes place. We have no control over whom we are born to or where we are born. We have no control over how we are raised. Our worlds for a time are dictated by our parents’ beliefs. They do the best they can with the knowledge & experience they possess. We see the world for a limited time through their lenses.

Example: Both of my parents smoked cigarettes. As a small child with concrete thoughts, I assumed everyone’s parents smoked. I cringe now to think how much I must have reeked of second hand smoke when I went to school each day. I didn’t know much about what went on outside the walls of my childhood home, my grandmother’s house, and my neighborhood. My grandmother babysat me & my brother while my parents worked. We had bacon & fried eggs every morning. Bologna, Spam, deviled ham, canned spaghetti Os, ravioli, or soup were the lunch offerings. Occasionally grandma would make a meatloaf, goulash, or fried chicken. Again, I thought this was the norm. I really had no choice in what to eat except maybe between tomato soup or chicken noodle. I had a lot of stomach issues as a child-hmm, I wonder why?

Where am I going with this you ask? To make the statement that I had no say in most of my day to day happenings. I was restricted & didn’t have the freedom of choice. As I grew older and started thinking more abstractly, I started seeing things through my own lens. Much to my parent’s dismay, I chose the music I liked, clothing, & hobbies. I had some freedom. But as I still lived under their roof, they still had the final say in a lot of things. I suppose that’s why I rebelled and got married at a young age. But that is the subject for another blog.

My point is this: The past is the past. My dad is deceased and my mother no longer has control over what I do. That is just an example to segue into part two of this blog (if you missed part one, go back and read it). We grow up, we form thoughts based on our experiences, learning, and hopefully research. This is America and we have the luxury of making our own choices and having our own preferences. I may not agree with you and vice versa. That is okay. My best friendships are based on the “agree to disagree” model about certain things. I value those people. On occasion, either I or they are enlightened to each other’s way of thinking or see something from a different angle. We in no way chastise each other or treat each other like the children we once were. That is called tolerance. I am always seeking to understand another’s point of view.

So here it is-my response in it’s original form (I had to put together the screen shots) to the one who thought he needed to reprimand me for my choice of favorite football team:

12705190_10208674231319326_444364289096473887_nSo there you have it. The answer to an egotistical male who was “disappointed” in my posts (translated-I am not the submissive robot he thought I should be). I am clearly over shallow people/friendships. I can get along with anybody. I will have an adult, meaningful debate/conversation with anyone. But the minute you talk down to me and treat me like a child (especially when hiding behind the keyboard), we have nothing left to discuss. The exchange is as dead as the dog buried in my backyard.

For far too long I lived to please other people and lost myself in the process. When I was a child, I often longed for my mother to be a “stay at home mom” like some of my other friends’ mothers. In hindsight, I am so glad that she wasn’t because I learned to stand on my own two feet. We don’t always see eye to eye, but that woman doesn’t take crap off of anyone!

Our culture either buries or burns the dead. Sadly, some friendships/relationships are meant to be buried as well before rigor mortis and the stench of death sets in permeating the psyche.

When I started this blog, my goal was to maybe help & inspire others. I had no idea exactly the direction it would take. I had hoped that folks could see that aging is not a bad thing and to never stop dreaming. We are all on this giant planet called earth, and none of us gets out of here alive. Set those goals and live life to the fullest every single day. Get healthy so you can do just that. For me, part of getting and staying healthy is avoiding negativity when it tries to creep into my life. Part one and two of this blog was to bring awareness to the many ways that people can try to control you. I refuse to let others make me feel bad. If you don’t like this blog, don’t read it. There are plenty of others out there to suit your needs. Frankly, I don’t give a rat’s ass if you don’t like it!

11161338_866514773423305_298743892664125993_nI love Lucille Ball-another strong, successful woman. On that note, I will bury this subject and get on with running posts and updates for the next few blogs. Spring races are right around the corner! Stay safe, stay strong, and don’t let the asshats get you down!

Until We Meet Again,

Stephanie

 

The Unfettered Life

“The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.”- Hans Hofmann (20th century painter)

Elimination-The process of getting rid of or removing something (Google search). Wow, I don’t know about you, but that can certainly apply to a LOT of things in my life. In fact, I have been on a demolition of sorts trying to get rid of clutter. It seems like it procreates as I sleep. All of the “stuff” seems to weigh me down in one way or another. If I don’t control it, it will control me in the form of moving it around, cleaning/maintaining it, or just “stuffing the stuff!” Out of sight, out of mind. It’s one thing to eliminate tangible items, but it is truly another to remove toxic attitudes & those associated with them when one’s character is attacked.

Disclaimer: I am NOT talking about opinion. Opinion (noun) 1. A view or judgment formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge. 2. An estimation of the quality or worth of someone or something. Synonyms: belief, judgment, viewpoint, outlook, stance, position, perspective, persuasion, standpoint. EVERYONE has an opinion on EVERYTHING. We could debate this to infinity and beyond, but this is not a debate. Lest I get off on a rabbit trail, this does not cover obvious black & white things like an orange is orange or day versus night. If someone looked at one of my dogs and said it was a cat, then they are obviously crazy or blind! One’s perspective becomes their reality which eventually forms their opinion.

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We live in a constantly changing world system. Some things have changed for the better, others not so much. It has been my observation that in some instances, with some people, that the mindset of “women should be seen and not heard” still exists, especially when it comes to sports. Now before you start forming an opinion & think I am an uber feminist (shitty label), stick with me for just a few, um, er, paragraphs.

I do not understand the mindset that ANYONE has to like, favor, adore, the sports teams of their locale. This is America after all. I have pretty much lived in the Midwest all of my life with a few excursions to the East & West coasts. I like, favor, adore the Kansas City Royals because they were a significant part of my childhood & baseball is just a fun, family type of sport (my opinion). I really did not pay too much attention to football until adulthood and most recently over the past several years. I am not a Kansas City Chiefs fan and much to my dismay, shock, chagrin, I have been ostracized for it to a degree.

I shall explain: I started watching football a few years back when my youngest son for whatever reason became a Denver Broncos fan. The boy was all in and has never waivered. We associate and form bonds with those things that are great memories and make us feel all “warm and fuzzy.” Hence, my love for the KC Royals. His room was decked out in everything Broncos. I even made him a Broncos chair ’cause I’m crafty like that, lol. Whether they knew it or not, my kids opened up worlds to me that I would never have dreamed of before. Such was also the case with the Lord of the Rings and Narnia movies. So when people chastise me for something that holds deep meaning for me, it tends to start to get under my skin.

Enter social media: I have stated previously that social media can be a great tool or a weapon for “keyboard warriors” who would not dream of saying to someone’s face what they blab in cyber space. When Denver defeated Seattle securing their spot in the Super Bowl, I posted a lovely portrait of Peyton Manning. Some found it necessary to jump on MY timeline with rude statements. Then the hcg allegations came out and butt hurt fans of other teams felt it necessary to try to destroy a good man’s character. I don’t know any more than anyone else about the validity of all of that. When the accuser came out and said he made all of it up, I posted a pic of Peyton’s stats with the statement, “go ahead and hate all of you haters, win or lose, he is the man the legend.” (a statement of opinion, not bait).

Now some of my testosterone driven, butt hurt male classmates took it as an invitation to try to start an argument. I never once said anything demeaning about their team. In fact, I praised the contributions of Tom Brady. But, I guess they thought they needed to “shut the little woman up.” Enter this messenger notice at 0342 on January 26, 2016. Never mind that it woke me up as I leave my phone on due to an elderly mother!

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I woke up, briefly read it, texted, “thanks dad” and went back to sleep. When I awoke the next morning, I was able to see how contemptuous and oozing with testosterone and misogyny  it was. Would he dare say this to one of his male friends? And to get this straight, he was a classmate in high school who was at best, an acquaintance. We didn’t hang out, we didn’t date. We were in maybe one theatrical performance together & we all reconnected at the last class reunion. I value very few peoples’ OPINIONS and his is definitely not one of them! You’re dying to know my reply aren’t you? Well, okay…12717196_10208674073595383_7635110789316678936_n

Not really, but it is several paragraphs long. You’ll have to wait for another blog for the response. My point is this: In my OPINION, respect is so lacking in our society that it is sickening. We talk so much about tolerance that maybe team preference tolerance should be addressed.

Closing thoughts: I am not a “sheeple” I can think for myself. When you set boundaries, people don’t like it because they can’t control you anymore. I was once a shy, demure person who would never take up for myself. I am proud of my assertiveness. When you eliminate clutter, toxic material, and toxic people from your life, your perception changes & your mind clears. I have a lot of thinking time out on my long runs with just me and nature and my mind is becoming increasingly clear.

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“Time makes you bolder, children get older, I’m getting older too…” (Landslide-Stevie Nicks)

Until We Meet Again,

Stephanie