Saturday, April 20, 2013

A Blast from the Past!

I got a surprise friend request on my Facebook account from one of the daughters (there are six) of a couple of my best friends while they were stationed here at Cannon AFB. I last saw this family when the oldest graduated from high school out in California several years ago. That was the first time I had seen them since they transferred to Japan in 1997-ish. The timing was great because I was back and home visiting and I was able to meet up with them and attend the eldest's graduation. I was also able to meet the last 2 additions (including my god daughter) to the family who had been born since they left New Mexico. Now, the fourth daughter is getting ready to graduate high school. When the family left New Mexico, this young lady was a feisty toddler. Geez, I feel so old! LOL!

There were a core of four families: my own, these friends, my cousin's family and another family. We used to do so much together probably the most memorable being a caravan up to Santa Fe to take the kids (8 total for all the families) to the Children's Museum there. We'd rotate houses to have potlucks or parties, we'd take the kids on walks on the fitness trail (but these walks were supposed to the moms exercise...yeah, right!). We were just really tight.

I'm just sitting here reminiscing about those days. They saw me in my earliest stages of the bipolar disorder and even in a severe enough depression that they feared for my life and called an ambulance. We saw our kids grow up together for several years. The fact that we were mostly Filipino, of course, meant that all the adults were automatically "auntie" or "uncle." We all became each other's surrogate families since our own blood family, aside from my cousin, wasn't around. Heck, even my cousin and I had only met by chance while they were here. My mother had told me I had a cousin whose husband was stationed here but if I remember correctly it wasn't until the mother of the young lady who contacted me introduced us to each other. I may be a little foggy on that, but that's how I remember it anyway.

I really miss those days. To have a close knit group of people that you could count on at anytime. I have a few friends now that I could confide in but they each have their own things going on. But there's nothing like our little band of families was. We were a family whether related by blood or not. I can't wait until one day when we can all have a reunion and have all of us on one place again, even if for just a day or two...

Friday, April 19, 2013

What? Huh? I'm a Liebster Award Nominee??

I was just cruising through my Twitter feed and saw that I had been mentioned in a post. So I casually click on the "Connect" tab and up pops a post from Angela at Sole Sister On the Run saying that I and 10 other bloggers had been nominated for the Liebster Award. I was both humbled and confused because I didn't know what the award was. Thankfully Angela's blog post it explained the whole concept. I'm not going to try to restate what she says because she says it so well so here's the quote from her blog:

"The Liebster Award is an 'award' that bloggers give to up and coming bloggers or to someone they think deserves recognition for their blogging. Liebster is a German word meaning dearest.  It’s also a great way to possibly discover a great new blog to read!

The requirements for this award are to provide 11 random facts about yourself, answer 11 questions from the person who nominated you, create 11 new questions, nominate 11 other bloggers in your post and of course thank the person that nominated you.

So, let me start with the last task...thank you Angela for nominating my little ol' blog! I just use it to record how my races go primarily but it's also a sounding board for things that go wrong or right in my life. Sometimes I just ramble and don't make any sense and other times I'm on a soap box for things that I feel strongly about. To me it isn't about how many readers I get, but just getting things off of my chest whether good or bad.

11 Random Facts About Me

1. I have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, type 2 since 1997 while in the last semester of earning
    my masters degree.

2. I have "survived" many attempts to take my own life due to the effects of the bipolar. I say
    "survived" because while I usually see being incomplete in my effort there are days that I just wish
    that one of my attempts had been successful.

3. I started running in June/July 2011 as I was coming out of a severe nearly 2 full years of depression.

4. I ran my first half marathon at the TinkerBell Half Marathon in January 2012. I've run 28 total at this
    time. I did my first full marathon (Bataan Memorial Death March) in March of this year.

5. I am a huge, huge Pitch Perfect fan. I've watched the movie probably over 300 times now. The only
    reason I watched the MTV Movie Awards was to watch the Pitch Perfect cast reunion and have it
    recorded on my DVR so I can watch it over and over again. I have a Spotify playlist of songs from
    Pitch Perfect that lasts 3 hours without any repeats and yes, I actually jumped up and down and
    squealed like a little school girl when the Pitch Perfect sequel was announced to be released in
    2015. I actually apologized in advance to my Facebook friends who had to "listen" to my fanaticism
    to let them know that my written diarrhea about Pitch Perfect would be picking up again in 2015.

6. I don't know what to call it...I'm too old to be a fangirl so I guess it's more of a cougar crush but I am
    totally into Skylar Astin. Especially after watching 21 and Over (thank you for wearing only a sock
    Skylar) even watched this movie in the theater 5 times. His voice when he sings...just OMG! I go to
    sleep listening to all the songs from the Pitch Perfect soundtrack that he sings on...on multiple repeat
    on Spotify so that I am sure to fall asleep to his voice. Did I mention he's only 11 days older than my
    son? There's is just something so wrong with this obsession...not just a crush, but a true obsession. I
    mean when you have photo albums of an individual on every electronic device you own, Facebook
    and's definitely an obsession. Am I right?

7. I was born on 9/11/1964. I was home sick from work on 9/11/2001 and saw everything happen live
    on TV. I cried for most of the day on every 9/11 and didn't celebrate my birthday for the next 10

8. My friend, Jeff, who is 20 years old convinced me to start doing Spartan races. So far I've done a
    Spartan Sprint and Super Spartan. In just short of 3 weeks we have a Military Spartan Sprint, then
    Spartan Beast at the end of June. Then to top off the year at the end of September we're doing
    Tough Mudder. What the heck am I thinking? I'm almost 50 years old!!!

9. I am a very proud US Air Force veteran (1982-1986). I am also a USAF wife (1983-2008) until my
    husband now I'm a retired USAF wife.  ;)

10. I have a fear of deep water and drowning. Not real good since one of the Tough Mudder obstacles
      is to jump off a 20' platform into muddy water below. I recently took a month of swimming lessons
      to try to get over my fear. It kinda worked, but not completely.

11. I am a huge advocate of stopping the stigma of mental illness. I worked as a RN (VA, military
      clinic, nursing instructor), earned a master's degree and was working on a second master's degree
      and a PhD concurrently until the bipolar became so severe that I chose to end my 22+ year nursing
      career of my own accord. You wouldn't know that I had a mental illness if we were to meet and
      spend some time together. That shows that someone/almost anyone with a mental illness can thrive
      just like anyone who does not have a mental illness.

11 Questions from Angela

1. What is your favorite herb?

    Had to think about this one since I'm not really someone who likes to cook, but I'd have to say basil. I
    just think that it is a very versatile herb that can be used in many dishes.

2. Most memorable scent from childhood?

    Fresh baked Pandesal, a Filipino bread that my best friend's mother made almost weekly when we
    were kids.

3. Favorite way to treat yourself?

     A massage and facial when I have the extra funds to do so.

4. Your dream getaway vacation?

     Going back to England, we were stationed there for 4 years, to do the sightseeing that we weren't
     able to do because I was pregnant most of the time that we were there. Both kids were born there.

5. If you could travel/participate in any sporting event what would it be?

    The London Marathon...that would get me back to England for my dream getaway vacation above. ;)

6. How many pairs of non-sneaker shoes do you own?

    Not including the ones have have bagged up to give to Goodwill, maybe 12 pairs.

7. Beach or mountains?

    I'm a California girl originally so the beach of course!

8. Favorite book?

    I'm not much of a reader (other than running magazines) but An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods 
    and Madness by Kay Redfield Jamison was the first book that I read after my bipolar diagnosis. Dr.
    Jamison has a more severe type of bipolar disorder and has overcome and become a huge inspiration
    in my own life.

9. Your Go To song that makes you smile?

     As I said earlier, I'm a serious Pitch Perfect fan. I love the Pitch Perfect soundtrack but my favorite
     song that almost always makes me smile in the Treblemakers finale mashup of Bright Lights Bigger 

10. Coffee or tea?

      Tea if I really had to choose between the two, but in truth neither. Give me some hot cocoa instead.
      I can't even really stand the smell of coffee!

11. Best vacation you have had to date?

      A 7 day cruise to the Western Caribbean back in 2006.

Questions For My Nominees

1. How or why did you start your fitness/running routine?

2. Do you consider yourself addicted to the internet?

3. Why did you start blogging?

4. What one cause is the closest to your heart and why?

5. Do you get along with your siblings if you have any? If you are an only child did you wish that you
    had siblings?

6. What is your favorite meal?

7. What is your favorite app on your phone and why?

8.  iPhone or Android?

9.  Which celebrity do you have a secret crush on or at least would love to spend some time with?

10. Fast it or hate it?

11. What is your one guilty pleasure?

My Nominees

1. Amy at From Pumpkin to Princess
2. Heather at Run Faster Mommy!
3. Kelly at According To Kelly
4. Tina at For the Love of the Run
5. Jess at Run With Jess
6. Laura at Mommy Run Fast
7. Heather at Through Heather's Looking Glass
8. Theresa at A Change of Pace
9. Debra at Miles to Run
10. Elaine at Tri Girl Runs
11. Becka at 50 Half Marathons in 50 States

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Running for Boston

I woke up today at 2:30am just because I had gone to bed way earlier than I normally do. Over the last 2 days since the events at the Boston Marathon unfolded I've been doing some thinking and having the reaction of horror as other have at hearing about the injured and the dead. News footage and photos for the bombed area once cleared clearly showed the amount of blood left from the injuries sustained by the spectators. Those same spectators that cheer on we runners even if we're total strangers to them. The spectators are no less part of the running community than any runner is.

On Monday the national office of Team Red, White & Blue (Team RBW) called for members to don our team jersey's and run with a flag on Tuesday. I was already scheduled to do a 10 mile training run so I wore my Team RWB shirt, grabbed our one and only flag which is 2.5' x 4' (kinda hilarious since I'm just over 5'3"), printed out one of the Runners United to Remember Boston bibs "laminating" it with packing tape on both sides and pinned it to the back of my shirt. In my eyes this was the right thing to do, to show the solidarity of Team RWB in supporting Boston and to also show the solidarity of the running/walking community as whole for those affected by this act of terrorism. I am positive that I am not the only Team RWB member to do this...there's a run tonight in Albuquerque and nationwide through at least Saturday. I am also sure that I will not be the only team member to run solo because we have members all across the nation.

I ran my usual long run route along a couple of the main roads near the outskirts of town. This is a military community, my husband is a USAF retiree from the base here and I have my own connections as a veteran. My husband didn't run with me because he had to work and truthfully, he's not ready for a 10 miler. The wind for most of the run was in the 20+mph range especially in the open areas that are unprotected by buildings...which is most of the route. I had several people honking as they drove by a few actually stopped and took pictures or took pictures as they drove by. I had one lady, who had just started to follow the local club FB that I manage, actually stop and we chatted for a few minutes as to how she had seen me a couple of times and was just compelled to stop and thank me for doing the run.

One of the people who had taken a picture had posted it to the local newspaper's FB page and they were trying to figure out who I was. One of my former students identified me as did someone who apparently found my posts on Twitter. I made a couple of posts of why I did the run focusing on Team RWB and the running community's support for Boston. These are my posts:

Beth Hardy Yes, that is me. The national office of Team Red, White and Blue asked members to don their team jerseys and run with a flag today. The bib on my back is from an online movement by the running community over the next couple of months to honor the Boston community. This was a planned 10 mile run for me (although the wind wasn't) as part of my training for the OKC Memorial Half Marathon. When I ran it last year I dedicated my run to the victims of the OKC bombing and all veterans (I am an 80's era veteran). Unfortunately this year besides the OKC victims and vets I will be wearing the Boston bib as well and dedicating my 13.1 miles to the Newtown victims in honor of those runners who didn't have the chance to run the 26th mile which was dedicated to Newtown.
For more information on Team Red, White and Blue go to: You don't have to be a vet or an athlete to support the organization. Veteran athletes can apply through the website. My husband and I are the only members in the Clovis area (as far as I know) so we affiliate with the ABQ chapter...we did the Bataan Memorial Death March as a group as well as other races.
If you're a runner/walker, please consider doing some miles or your next race for the running community at large but more specifically the whole of Boston.
I will post the bib that can be printed out on the Clovis Area Run/Walk Club page (
Thank you.
Beth Hardy As an aside from my windy run this morning...there is one more online movement going on today. If you have ever run/walked a race, please wear a race shirt to honor Boston. If you can't due to dress code please try to wear blue and yellow. Thanks again.
Beth Hardy XXXXX XXXXX, I really don't want to draw attention away from the reason for this run. I've explained it in my posts above. I am simply a runner supporting the running community in Boston and as a whole. Thank you, but that is all I really have to say on the matter...I just ask all to remember those affected by yesterday's events and every other act of terrorism (homegrown or foreign). Any other info is in my earlier posts in this thread.

Somehow the reporter whose name I have "X" out found out where I live and came ringing my doorbell. I was trying to nap and ignored the first ring but at the second ring I answered the door in my robe and tactfully (I hope) told him I had nothing more to say and that everything he needed to know was in my comments to the picture as well as the fact that I was exhausted and trying to nap. The run for me was just a normal training run/walk due to the winds...not that I'm fast anyway...with the added touch of representing Team RWB and teaming up with the running community nationwide and internationally to remember those affected by the bombing. Nothing more. I ran to remember, I ran to support Team RWB's actions to remember. It was not about me, I was just training and remembering those in Boston.

Me after my windy 10 miles with the flag
I carried in the background.
The back of my Team RWB jersey.
That's a full page (8.5" x 11") bib.
One last thing, if you post on Twitter please try to keep using the hashtag #UnitedWeRun...

Race Recap: Hula Hustle 10K - My first DNF

Race Day: Saturday, April 13, 2013
Location: Ned Houk Park, Clovis, NM

This race was a local fundraiser for the March of Dimes. I had registered a week or two prior, but on race day I just wasn't feeling the run. I kept saying that I should probably just pick up my packet and bib and then just sit out the race. I was familiar with the course as I had run/walked it several times during training. It included some of the only hills in town (I hate hills!) and a section of cracked, dry rutted dirt road. I knew that I would be walking up the hills running the flats and downhills, but when it came to the dirt road I knew way ahead of time that I would have trouble. I don't do well on trails of any kind unless they are flat and fairly well groomed with packed rocks/pebbles. This section was not like that. 

Let me preface this by saying that at my half marathons I typically use KT Tape to stabilize my ankles because they are so weak from spraining them so many times when I was a kid. On the day of the race I had forgotten to grab my ankle supports that I was going to use since it was only a 10K. First bad choice. Second bad choice was to try to run on this short section of  "trail." I should have known better. Just over half way down the section I rolled my right ankle. I was able to maintain minimal weight bearing on it, but I also had to think of the fact that in 2 weeks I'd be doing the Oklahoma City Memorial Half Marathon. It was almost an immediate decision to take the DNF because I didn't want to worsen the injury. 

I hobbled back to the start, told the time keeper that I would be taking a DNF...and because it was a local event she had to ask what a DNF was. I explained the concept of "Did Not Finish" and the reason that I was taking the DNF. I then hobbled back to our club's meeting area to ice and elevate my foot while I waited for the rest of the group to finish.

You'd think that I'd be upset with my first DNF but I'm not. I knew it would happen someday and I was just glad it wasn't at a major race, especially with my first full marathons happening this summer. If I was to DNF at one of those I would be totally devastated. At least I started the race so as the saying goes...DLF>DNF>DNS (for those unfamiliar with this it means "Dead Last Finish beats Did Not Finish beats Did Not Start). I had multiple DNS's last spring and summer due to an exacerbation of my bipolar symptoms...actually 9 half marathon DNS's. At least I don't have a DNS in 2013 yet. I would have been a DLF once I saw the field at the 10K but if I could've I would have continued, but I have OKC to prep for so healing for that race was my priority. My DNF is of little consequence at this point. Such is the life of a runner!! :)

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Spring Mix(ed) Bipolar Episode

You'd think that after an exhilarating weekend racing a Spartan race with the Weeple Army that I'd be on a pretty good high or at least a good mood the week following, however that has not been the case. During that past week I've held in a lot of anger issues, been ill with a recurring cold/allergies/or whatever the hell it is, plus my mood/motivation has dropped to near nothing and I'm doing some unhealthy obsessing.

I'm not sure what's going it just a mood swing or my annual spring depression setting in? All I know is that I'm just not happy with basically everything. It would be easy enough to blame everything on the bipolar but that's just not true, sure it's got a big influence in things but life is just biting the big one overall. Last week when I was feeling this way, but to a lesser extent, I was able to go get some exercise and get the endorphins to kick in beating back the poor mood/depression. This time around it's just hard to get out of bed, let alone go out for a run or even a walk. I have a 10K this afternoon and truthfully, I just may play drop out, get the shirt and man some drinks/fruit for our run/walk club. I just don't have the energy to deal with anything right now.

To top it off the old man's dad and step-mom called yesterday let us know that they'd be here early in the week. They're nice people and at least they did let us know they were coming whereas the old man thinks that his brother got no warning at all. I'm just not in the mood for visitors. All I feel like doing is sitting on my ass or sleeping. I'm still taking my meds, 3 weeks in a row now, but I just don't give a damn about anything.

This is especially not good since I have the Oklahoma City Half Marathon in 2 weeks with my longest run being 8 miles last week. I need to bump up to 10 miles at least before next weekend, luckily I graded down from the full marathon. Then there's the old man whose training has consisted of walking on the treadmill 3-5 miles at a time. I told him that I'd run the half with him (thus the downgrade) since it's his first road race but I don't know if I can go that slow. I'm by no means fast or anything, but I would like to finish around 3 hours give or take, at his pace he'll be lucky to finish before they sweep the course. Yeah, that's one of the things I'm angry about...

At least I have one thing that I'm looking forward to this weekend, the MTV Movie Awards with the Pitch Perfect cast reunion. I actually cleared off space on the DVR to record their 3 minute opening performance. I don't remember when the last time I watched the MTV Movie Awards but between the cast reunion (and my continued obsession with Skylar Astin...I mean really, what the hell is that all about?? He's freakin' 11 days older than my own son! Dude does have a voice that could met the polar ice caps though...) and Rebel Wilson hosting the show should be a hoot.

Other obsessions have cropped up again and have me thinking about racing in specific states just for the hell of it. Really, I seem to be the most content when I'm away from town whether it be with my racing friends or alone. Between the obsessions and the depressed moods most psychiatrists would say that I'm having a mixed episode which in fact is likely. Hell, if I actually drank, which I rarely do now, I'd love to get totally wasted and just pass out. Not to worry though, I'm not suicidal or having any suicidal thinking...I'm just fed up with everything.

Sorry for this downer of a's just where I am now and this blog is a place that I can put everything into words. I do have an appointment with my psychiatrist in just over a week and the plan was/is to switch me over to Abilify in place of my Welbutrin, but considering I'll be running OKC within a few days I won't be making the switch until a little later...well actually probably a couple of weeks later because I have Military Spartan Sprint in Colorado the following weekend. Oh the joys of medication management and running. Later.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Race Recap: Super Spartan & the Weeple Army

Race Day: Saturday, April 6, 2013
Location: Lake Las Vegas, Henderson, Nevada

Race Day -1: Travel day

Nothing special happened during the drive. After a 13 hour drive, including stops to eat and pick up snacks for the drive, we arrived in Henderson around 4:30pm or so. By "we" I'm referring to my friend, Jeff, who is 20 years old and the one who got me into doing these crazy races. We drove out to the venue for the next day's race to make sure we knew where we were going and then I took him down to the Strip for a quick tour and some dinner. By they time we got done it was about 9:30pm so we headed back to the hotel to settle in for the night since he had the volunteer heat at 8:45am.

Race Day: 

Let me start off with I survived! :D I've now done my second Spartan race and truthfully I feel a lot more comfortable and happy after doing Super Spartan than I did doing Spartan Sprint. When I did Sprint in AZ it was myself,  my son's female friend, my son and my local friend who kinda got the idea of doing an obstacle course race (OCR) into my head in the first place. At that race I ended up cramping up severely in my calf and told my son's friend to go on without me so that I could stretch out the cramp for a while. I then went through the rest of the course on my own with the occasional help of complete strangers. By the time I hit the fire jump (the last obstacle on both races other than the Spartans with the pugil sticks at the very end) I was totally spent.

In comparison at Super I had signed up through one of my TinkerBell Half Marathon friends to run with the Weeple Army. What is the Weeple Army you ask? They are a group of extreme/OCR racers ranging from beginners (like myself) to elite Death Race athletes. This is a true one is left behind. I can't tell you how many times they saved me from having to do punishment burpees or helping me by sharing my punishment burpees when I did receive them. To me, the burpees are possibly the worst thing of the whole race! I love the camaraderie, support and motivation that these guys and gals provided! Enough so, that I have joined their ranks and hope to meet up with some of them at the Military Sprint in Colorado next month and then Spartan Beast in Utah at the end of June.

So, let's get to the race already...

Jeff and I got to the venue at about 7:45am and picked up our bibs and just hung around until his heat at 8:45. After I saw him off I went to my car to try to take a nap because I was having some dizziness that had been an issue since I started getting sick on the previous Thursday. When I couldn't sleep, I sent a message to my friend Jessica who had posted that they were on their way and she said to meet her at the "Biggest Team" tent. After a few more minutes trying to nap, I gave up and headed back to the festival area to meet up with Jessica and the Weeple Army for the first time.

At the start of the race the Weeple Army was recognized as the largest team. This resulted in a tent/canopy just for the team to use. The heat started at 11:15 and you could feel the anticipation in the tent as time was counted down until about 11 o'clock when everyone started heading to the start. With the traditional battle cry of "I am a Spartan! Aroo! Aroo! Aroo!" the race began with the throwing of a smoke bomb through which you had to run. Now, I hadn't been feeling well for the 2 days prior to the race and was really questioning if I should race or not due to some dizziness that I was feeling. I decided to go for it and just drop out if I needed to.  So this early into the race I was still feeling the dizziness until we came to the first obstacle...the moats. These were 3 dug out holes of muddy, slickness that you either jumped across or waded through. It seemed that they started our narrow enough to just jump over then progressed a little wider which I jumped but one leg slipped into the muddy water and the final one I just said "Screw it!" and waded through the muck. So early on I was wet and muddy but the dizziness had disappeared, maybe because I had something else to focus on.

Next came a hike on hills...never ending hills. I thought Bataan was bad but this race came pretty close to that! The next obstacle was the under and over repeated 3 times. You basically crawl under some netting then go over a wall I think it was probably a 6 foot wall.  After that we continued on, I should mention we weren't going for time and there were several of us newbies so the pace was slow and steady and finally passed the one mile marker...only 7 1/2 more to go. The next obstacle came up the over-under-through...basically another wall to go over than the guys helped the girls get over by providing a step/lift, then crawl under a wall, then climb through a square hole in another wall easiest done by going feet first.

Another hike of seemingly never ending hills and we came to the monkey bars. Now these are not the typical school or park playground monkey bars. These are thicker and the spacing is uneven...mostly too wide for my short arms. Thankfully, my friend's husband was kind enough to give me a lift on his shoulders (yes, this kind of teamwork is allowed) and as long as I touched each bar I was good to go...thank you Mike!

More hills followed on rougher terrain that was marked as non-drivable by the race map. Next came the Rolling Mud which in this case were big mounds of mud that you literally had to slide down and wade across to yet another mound for a total of 3 if I remember correctly. Obviously, it involved mud but I can't remember if we just had to wade through it or what. A nice hike over some smoother terrain landed us at the Hobie Hop. OMG. I wasn't expecting anything like had to put a rubber exercise band on both legs between your ankles and knees then could only hop to get around. To make it even more challenging, you had to jump over or on/off hay bales. Let me tell you, I need to start going to CrossFit more regularly and do some box jumps! Unfortunately, some of the bales were already falling apart from previous heats and the baling string holding them together posed a tripping hazard if your foot happened to get caught in them. One Weeple did go down with either a cramp or sprain and several of the more experienced Weeples stayed with him.

Back over some more rough terrain we landed at the Tractor Pull. This is basically a weight attached to a chain that you have to drag behind you up a hill and back down to the starting point.  This wasn't too bad and I was familiar with it from the Arizona race. After a mix of continued hills over both smooth and rough terrain we passed the 3 mile marker and landed at the tire flip. Nope, these are not little car tires. These are tractor tires, slightly smaller for females, that you literally had to flip over 3 times if you did it alone or 6 times if you had a partner. You did this out and back to the starting point where you had to center the tire on top of a block. There was absolutely no way that I could do this alone, so my friend, Jessica, helped me with it...let me tell you, Jess is a beast and probably could have done hers alone fairly easily compared to my t-rex upper body/arm strength!

Again, more hills over smooth and rough terrain and we landed at the Sandbag Carry. I thought that this was actually easier than at Arizona because if I remember correctly we actually used sandbags at that race compared to the "pancakes" that we used at Super...but then I could be wrong too. So up a hill with the sand pancake on my shoulder shifting it to the other shoulder every so often just to keep from getting too tired on either side. We continued on then hit the Tire Drag which is exactly what it sounds like. It's a tractor tire tied to a rope and you had to drag it out to the length of the rope and then pull it with the rope back to the start. Yup, no way I was able to do this alone so one of the other Weeple ladies and I worked together to pull it inch by inch over the sand that would pile up in front of the tire (did I mention that you couldn't lift the tire up?) which took us forever and Jess had finished hers (alone) and came to help us get the tire all the way out and the three of us pulled it back in. Thank you Jess and I think it was Ursula  (?)  for the teamwork! :)

More hills over rough guys know how much I love hills! Not! and we ended up at probably the worst obstacle to date...the Bucket Carry. You take a bucket and fill it with dirt to the marked line and carry the damned thing over some rough terrain, slightly uphill and then back over the same kind of terrain which in this case involved a bunch of small hills one right after the other. You couldn't lift the bucket over your shoulder (not that I could anyway) so you end up holding it close to the body...there were no handles on the bucket..that would be too easy!! LOL! I managed to get almost to the end with about 3 of the little hills left when I slipped or tripped falling forward with the bucket but landing so as to not spill any of the dirt. I got back up and continued on to the end but was so tired that I couldn't climb the hill of dirt to dump it down to the people filling their buckets, I just ended up dumping it where I was basically laying.

Just a little bit more rough terrain before some easier hiking still on some hills and then we came to the Atlas Lift. This is a weight that you carry across to a marked point, do 5 burpees and carry it back to the starting point. Not really too bad other than your arms being a little tired from carrying the weight then having to get the burpees done. It could be worse..but I don't want to give Spartan Race any new ideas. LOL!

Onward we went hitting mile marker 6...and let me tell you at each mile we were counting down, "only x miles to go!" Then came my most hated obstacle from Arizona...the Traverse Wall. Basically it's a climbing wall using blocks instead of climbing holds to hang onto. There's no helping on this, although at Arizona you could, and I couldn't even get onto the first set of more burpees to do. Wait, now that I think about it that was the first set of burpees I actually had to do. I think I had gotten to about 10 total when some of the guys came over and did some burpees for me and the other ladies that needed them. I can't thank these guys for all the burpees they did for us in this last portion of the course!

Not very far from the traverse wall came the Barb Wire Crawl. Would it be wrong of me to say that I actually love this obstacle? The wire was lower in Arizona but the bottom there was truly mud. Here at the Nevada race it literally was like a stone covered bottom...not smooth stones either. I wished at this point that I had worn my neoprene knee sleeves just for some extra cushioning, but I kept going no matter how much my knee were hurting. Finally towards the end the muddy water was deep enough that you could float and pull yourself along with your hands. Thankfully one of the other Weeples who had already gone through had taken a bunch of our hydration packs at the start and carried them to the end for us. Once you got out of the mud there was a pool of still muddy water that you could at least rinse off some of thicker mud on your body and clothes.

The next obstacle is another of my most hated ones...the Log Hop. I have no sense of balance and when I tried to do this on my own in Arizona I failed miserably. This time Mike again came to my rescue and guided me with each step. All the guys were knights in shining armor during this race! As we continued on, we had to wade through a knee high swampy area which wasn't bad at all...I was thinking it would be a lot worse.

The next obstacle was both fun and a bit scary at the same time. It was the Cargo Net Bridge. At Arizona you basically climbed up a cargo net, got over the top and climbed back down. Not in Vegas! You had to go up about a 20 foot net, get on top of the tower, then cross another cargo net about another 20 feet to another tower and then climb down. Climbing up and down was no problem for me, it was getting across. Basically I just sat down and scooted across using by butt crack...yes, that's what I said, to perch on the ropes scooting over one at a time until I got across. When I was on the towers all I could think of was "If someone falls between the holes in the cargo net, there's nothing to catch them" and "I wonder if too many people get on these towers will it topple overs?" I think that was enough incentive to try to get down as soon as possible.

Then we came upon the next obstacle...the Herc Hoist. Basically this is a weight tied to a rope with the rope going through a pulley at least 20 feet above. You basically had to just pull on the rope to get the weight all the way up to the pulley then bring it back down in a controlled manner. I didn't find this too difficult, it was just a matter of digging in and pulling in a controlled, short manner. The men's weights were about twice as heavy as the ladies, and one of the guys who was fairly small almost went flying as the weight was coming down until some of the other guys grabbed him and the rope saving him from what could have been a bad situation.

Some more hiking and we hit the last of the walls. First a set of two 7 foot walls and then a little further down a set of 8 foot walls. Again Mike, Dave and the other guys came to the ladies rescue and helped hoist us up until we could get our footing and swing over the walls. There are some 2' x 4' screwed into the right side of the wall on both sides but they're even hard to climb onto by yourself. Finally, we were almost at the end...

The next hurdle was the Water Crossing. Now, if any of you know me personally, you know that I've been taking swimming lessons for the last month trying to get over my fear of deep water and drowning. Thankfully it's worked enough that I had no issue getting into the deep water, with a life preserver. The hardest part was getting on top of the floating platforms. The guys were again helping everyone up and Dave had me and just when I thought I had a grip I slipped off and under the water. Surprisingly, I didn't freak out and just tried again. The second time I managed to drag myself over with Dave's help and slid into the water on the other side. I didn't try to swim with the PFD on because it just wanted to do it's own thing so I grabbed the rope they had buoys on and dragged myself across. Then came the attempt to climb onto the second platform which also took a couple of tries but I eventually just took off the PFD since I could stand in the water and was able to get dragged up by Jessica and Ursula. I had survived the water crossing without freaking out! That was a huge deal to me! Again I wouldn't have been able to without the help of the Weeple Army!

There's just certain obstacles that you know you can't do and for me one of them is the Rope Climb. You get one try at climbing a knotted rope about 20 feet high, ringing the cow bell at the top and then climb back down. Heck, I couldn't even get my feet onto the lowest knot. I did try, fell in the water below and proceeded to the burpee area. Again the guys had finished and came and helped all the ladies with our burpees...I'm telling you, these guys are great! :D

Next came the Slip Wall...basically and incline wall that is slippery as all heck. I managed to get near the top and had my fingers over the edge when my feet went out from under me and I started sliding down. Again the Weeple Army was there to save my ass! The guys at the top had grabbed me and were pulling me up, Dave was at the bottom hanging onto a rope himself and helping to push me up from there and with some effort I finally made it over! These guys are so awesome!

Yup! That's me that the Weeple guys are saving!
The Spearman was next and another obstacle that I hate because I can't figure out how to get the form right. Basically it's literally a sharp pointed spear that you throw at a bale of hay. If it sticks you're good to go...if not, it's burpee time. Needless to say that It was burpee time again. And once again the team came to the rescue and helped those of us doing burpees by sharing the burpees and doing some for each of us.

Burpee time after the Spearman...that's me bent over on the right.
Finally, it was the last two challenges the Fire Jump and the Gladiator Pit. As the Weeple Army gathered together to make the final charge, I kinda stayed back because I was just a visitor amongst the Army and not a true member but Dave said to join in and while I still remained at the back of the pack I crossed the finish with these awesome band of people.

Weeple Army charge to the finish, I'm standing on the
left but eventually joined the group.
Now, let me clarify something here. The Weeple Army is all about teamwork. I didn't matter if you were a Weeple or not, they stayed back as long as anyone needed help and then we went on together or the slower of us moved on knowing that the guys would catch up sooner than later. The Weeples define the true spirit of teamwork and I am now glad to be counted among their ranks. It's going to be an honor and a lot of fun to be going through these extreme races with these folk!

At the end of the day I couldn't find Jeff who was supposed to be working at the registration area which was being broken down. My phone had died so I ended up just hanging around until I thought of moving the car to the parking area directly in front of the entrance to charge my phone and finally got to see an text from him. He had been moved to the Spearman obstacle, evidently I had looked directly at him 3 times while I was there and didn't recognize him, and hadn't eaten all day so I got us both some BBQ sandwiches and he took a break to eat then returned for the rest of his shift. Once he finished we headed back to the hotel to shower (we had "showered" at the race using garden hoses and sprayers) and then headed out to find a Fatburger to eat at. Luckily the hotel clerk knew of one that wasn't on the Strip, the only one I knew of, and we grabbed some burgers and fries there for dinner before heading back to the hotel. I stayed up doing laundry having to wash the clothes twice to get most of the dirt/sand out but still would be needing to wash them again at home. Jeff had already crashed out and I finally finished the laundry and fell asleep around 2am.

Race Day +1: Travel Day

We had decided to sleep in and woke up just in time for the last 30 minutes of breakfast. We were both a bit stiff but I was moving much easier than I had been the day after Sprint. The trip home involved eating...a lot. I think we made three stops just to eat with the final stop in Albuquerque at Texas Road House for a nice ribeye steak. I swear, that last 3 1/2 hours seemed to take forever! We finally arrived home at about 1am and after some calming down of my pack of K9s and a viewing of my obsession, the movie Pitch Perfect. I pretty much died not waking up until noon today. All in all it was a great weekend!

What I Liked About This Race:

The camaraderie of the Weeple Army was by far my favorite thing about the race. Finishing was also great and especially finishing with a group rather than alone was a big plus. The course was challenging but not too technical even on the rough terrain. The fact that I got through the water crossing without freaking out was a bonus as well.

What I Did Not Like About This Race:

Other than those obstacles that I truly dislike or can't do, the race was great. A couple more water stations would be useful because of the heat people were finishing the fluids in their packs before getting to a water station. Other than that I did see anything that needed fixing.

Would I Do This Race Again?

Well, considering hat I'm signed up to volunteer for both days at Military Sprint in Colorado next month and race on one day, plus planning to do Spartan Beast in Utah for my Trifecta...I'd say, yes...I would do this (or some other Super) race again.

NOTE: All photos courtesy of Sandy Erb

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Who Am I Now?

As I was going through my Twitter feed tonight, I found a tweet about this article by one of my favorite bloggers who also deals with bipolar disorder:

Finding Meaning if You Have Bipolar Disorder - Giving Back

In summary this particular post discusses how those diagnosed with bipolar disorder ends up for one reason or another related to the bipolar has to live a life different that what they had imagined. In this case, the individual no longer feels whole or useful. It's often the bipolar that is providing the negative self imagery rather than what the person sees him/herself as. The post also discusses small ways from volunteering, to doing charitable things online or even just simply signing a petition as a way to give back to the community.

I found that this article pretty much mirrored my life. For over 15 years after my diagnosis I continued to work as an RN in a variety of positions but primarily in outpatient nursing and the final six years I taught nursing at the community college and university level. Being able to continue working did give me a sense of purpose especially while I was teaching. In 2009 a severe depression hit and remained through 2011 during this time I had one short 3 month spurt of hypomania where I felt "normal" or like the me I had always thought I was. Due to the severity of the depression I was unable to complete my work tasks and so my teaching contract was not renewed and I also decided not to work in nursing anymore. I went on disability through Veterans Affairs and due to my rating I was told that since it was for a mental illness that I would not be able to work at all per VA rules (I haven't found anything to verify this). 

My self-image had already been broken when the depression set in and just took another big hit when I had to stop working. I had basically lost my identity. I was no longer a nurse nor an educator. I, myself, did not know who I was anymore. I would stay at home rarely venturing out in public because I felt like a failure and didn't want to run into any of my former students. I finally got tired of sitting around that I decided to start going to the local YMCA to try to loose weight. I eventually decided that I wanted to start running so I signed up with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's Team in Training to learn how to run safely and complete a half marathon. There was a minimum fundraising requirement and I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to raise the amount, but surprisingly I was able to. And thus started my running "career."  I have continued to run and while not raising funds most of the time I have done some fundraising for the American Cancer Society and Team Red, White and Blue. I run many of my military related races wearing the eagle shirt for Team RWB to bring awareness to the organization.    

Another that I have built up a more positive self image was to start volunteering at the Bountiful Baskets local food co-op since I had to be there to pick up my produce anyway. So every 2 weeks, at now at times every week I volunteer for 2-3 hours to set up the baskets of produce for those who have ordered them. I consider this fun even with lifting boxes and a lot of bending over to fill the baskets. I've made friends with some of the volunteers, enough so that we're able to joke around. I typically don't make friends easily.

Another way that I give back is to continue my guest lecture to the senior nursing class at the community college where I used to work. I am very open about my experiences with bipolar and the effect on my family in addition to providing the basic framework of the bipolar spectrum. I also use Twitter and Facebook to share information that I've gleaned from other sources as a small contribution to educate the general public.

So yes, I have found and identity again. It may not be the one I initially saw for my life, but at least I have a better self image now as compared to in my deepest depression.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Product Review: The Handana

One of my running friends bought me a couple of Handanas at the Princess Half Marathon Fit for a Princess Expo in February. I had seen these online and I think in one of the running magazines and was intrigued but was hesitant to order one since I wasn't sure of the sizing. At the expo we were able to try them on and decide on which size felt better. I ended up getting mediums which feel perfect...not so tight on the hand and with a little extra room around the wrist. The small just seemed to fit tighter overall.

Anyway I tried one of the Handanas during the Princess Half Marathon because it was so humid and I'm not one who likes to mix humidity and sweat. I was thoroughly impressed on how well this worked. In the past I had either carried a washcloth which could be a pain if you have to make an emergency stop in a porta-pot...I don't know how many washcloths I've dropped on the floor and just left because...well, you don't know what's on the floor! I've also used terry wristbands, remember those from the 70's? While those did an okay job it could be difficult to get the opposite side of your face if you were sweating quite a bit.

With the Handana you literally just use the palm of your hand if you want to wipe your face or just the back of your hand if you desire. Also these are wicking material so it tends to pull away the sweat and can dry relatively quickly depending on how frequently it's used. Another thing it's great for are those days where you have a cold with a runny nose. Now, I haven't perfected the farmer's blow (AKA snot rocket) and when I carry tissues they eventually become unusable because the get wet with sweat or fall when I try to get them out of my waist pack. The Handana allows you to, somewhat, discreetly wipe your nose much like kids use their sleeves to do the same thing.

As far as I can tell there is no right or wrong way
to wear these. You can wear them on either
hand, Just put your thumb through
thethumb hole and you're set.

When wearing the Handana it's really easy to forget it's there. It's very comfortable and in my own opinion, much easier than any other product for mopping up sweat. In fact whenever I have a long run I don't leave home without one. That's going to be especially so during the warmer spring and hot summer months. So give them a try. You can see the Handanas on their website:

DISCLAIMER:  I did not receive any compensation from Handana for this review. The four Handanas were purchased either by myself or my friend. I just love this product that I felt that getting the word out about them was a good idea.