Burning the candle at both ends

Aug. 2, 2012

Two weeks ago, I received the results of my blood work. What I was told didn’t come as a surprise …

November, 2007 was a tough time for me. I was taking classes full-time at Kent State University, working full-time as editor of Ohio Sports & Fitness and training for various trail races (07 was my fourth race season and I had completed one 50K in 06 and a half IM in 05/06). Needless to stay, my body was under a lot of stress.  I had been keeping this schedule for more than one year. One morning I woke up feeling like crap. I was exhausted and felt like I had been used as a punching bag. Basically, I had flu-like symptoms, it was time to go see the doctor.

I went to the KSU health center. The doctor I had an appointment was old school. He did the standard tests. My blood test revealed my cholesterol level was elevated and my triglycerides were extremely high. I was told I had mono and that I had to go on cholesterol meds. Nope, I wasn’t going on meds. I changed my diet and dealt with fatigue.

That doctor was let go and I saw a new doctor, to address the fatigue which had not subsided. More blood work. Cholesterol was  a little higher and triglycerides were higher 404… not good. I was also given a glucose test. The results were off – I was told I may have diabetes … high triglycerides indicate an inflamed pancreas.

Next step, pancreatic scan. Results: normal. Now what? Endocrinologist.
Not in the budget.

Months went by and I did more tests with new doctors. I think I had four different doctors.  A lot of turn over and changes at the health center. All in  a matter of months.

So, I did what any type A triathlete/trail runner does. I continued to train, work and study. I did take one month off, December 2007. I slept a lot and I mean a lot.

I went through many tough months, years of  deadlines for the magazine, group projects, mid-term and finals … it was never-ending. I even did an internship in 09, along with everything else I was doing – I know, crazy!

July, 2012: I finally hit rock bottom. It was a Friday and I couldn’t get off the couch. I slept all day. The last three months I was suffering from extreme fatigue. All I wanted to do was sleep. That is not me. I started a new job, January 2012. More stress. How much can one person handle? Apparently, a lot!

The results of my blood work: Chronic Fatigue Syndrome /Adrenal Fatigue.
Like I said, this came as no surprise. Actually, I felt relieved.

My new doctor, Dr. Kocha asked me to take 12 weeks off of training, and he said it with a big smile. Not a fun smile, but a smile that indicated he knew I wasn’t going to like what he was saying. And he was right, but I prepared myself for that outcome. Taking 12 weeks off will not be easy, but I am so exhausted, a small part of me and I mean small looks forward to the off time. The off time is no running. Just light cycling and swimming.

I will begin my 12-week, low intensity, no running, stick-a thorn-in-my-side and torture me  more with walking instead of running regime.

Five yeas ago I would have been devastated. Now, well I don’t have the energy to fight it. That is how tired I am.

Fatigue is tough. I am not just tired. I am having a hard time staying focused. Without focus, it is hard to complete tasks, with good results. Since I was able to push myself to train, I can push myself to work and get results. I just have to do it between naps.

I wanted to share this for a few reasons:
It’s easy to overlook symptoms. As athletes we are always pushing ourselves, demanding more and more and more. Good is never god enough. This mentality eventually catches up with you.

How will I handle this: I am gonna do things I never have time for, because I am always swimming, biking or running. I am going to finish my last few classes at KSU and achieve my B.A. I would like to take a cooking class or cake decorating class. I can come up with many more things I would like to do – and I just may do that.

If you are feeling any fatigue, I urge you to take some time off. Yes, it will be tough, but your health is more important than running faster or winning your age group. In hind sight, that is what I would do. Five years of feeling like crap is five years I lost doing things good, instead of half-assed, because I refused to take time off.

If you have a question, or need help redirecting your energy, contact me. I would be happy to converse with you.









Forget the PR April 15, 2012 
Mohican Adventures, Loudenville, Ohio

The start of my 2012 race season started with my favorite trail race, Forget the PR.







Right be for the start of the fourth annual FTPR

I love the course. It’s hilly with a few thousand feet of climbing. One of the most brutal hills, appropriately named the “Bad Ass Hill.”  What makes this race so cool is the 4-mile loop that follows the second aid station at the Covered Bridge.

The 4-mile loop, in the Lyons Falls section starts out with a single track covered with a rocks and roots – making the run technical. Then comes the best part: the creek climb. Climbing up stream, runners must maneuver around fallen trees, moss-covered rocks and muddy sections that have rocks, trees and pools of water. As the climb continues, runners hike through the gorge, which is beautiful, especially today. Beams of sunlight made it’s way through the leaves, creating a gentle fog that made the picturesque scene dream-like. All the while, water falls gently around you. As the gorge parts, runners are lead to a wall of infused roots that are used to climb up to the next trail. 

Looping around runners come back to the Covered Bridge to prepare for the river crossing. The water is so cold, it numbs your feet and calves for several minutes. Not being able to feel your calves is weird. It takes about a quarter mile for my shoes stop sloshing. We are just four miles or so form the finish line. 

Making out way to the finish is not easy. The worst hill is awaiting us … it’s a never- ending climb that makes your heart pound and your quads scream. Once at the top, the trail rolls and climbs one more time before it levels off and guides you through the park to were the crowd loudly cheers you in the be greeted by the race director. 

Rob Powell puts on a great race and races money for Damon Schramek of the Galion Girls Softball Program. 

After all the climbing, an ice bath is in order. I will be back for the fifth annual Forget the PR. Kim and I ran for the second year in a row. We shaved 37 minutes off our 2011 time. Our finishing time: 3:51:22.

I will be back for the fifth annual Forget the PR. 


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Today’s run: Muddy, cold, long. 
Running 13 miles in the CVNP, on various trails – Pine Hollow, Salt, Run, Ledges Trails and Boston Run to name a few – took forever. 2:52. Yes, slow! 

If you have never been on any of these trails, especially the Ledges Trails you need to see them. I think the Ledges are some of the most beautiful in the CVNP. See for yourself 

Click here to see an actual trail map.

On April 28, Grunt Girl Racing is hosting April RAINN, a 4.5-mile trail race to help race awareness about sexual assault. The 4.5-mile races is all on the Ledges Trails.




Speed for 2012

Training for the 2012 race has begun. I have some pretty hefty goals this year.
I have spent the last nine years racing at the same speed: slow and long.

I have participated in:
Three Half Iron(wo)mans
Three 50Ks
Three or four 25Ks
Several Half Marathons

In between I have done shorter races, mainly trail races of varying distances, several  10Ks, and few short-course dus…

Now, I want to focus on speed. 

My 2012 Goals: 
Sprint Tris
Swim goal: my most hefty goal is the  sprint swim (0.5 miles) in 12-15 minutes
Bike goal:  average 20 minute miles for 15- 20 miles
Run goal: 5K = 25 min. (8.5 minute mile)

My “A” race: Rev 3 Sprint Tri, Sept. 8, 2012. I chose this race as my “A” race for two reasons:

– This course is great for beginners or for those veterans that want to go fast.
as stated on the Rev 3 website.
– No doubt, this race will be exciting. Not only is it the first year Revolution 3 is offering a
sprint, but the Rev 3 venues are gaining in popularity. This event could sell out.

Course Maps:

I went to HELL…

… Really I did.

didn’t get dropped from the pearly gates of Heaven for being mischievous. Nor was I casted to the fiery depths of Hell for being a sinner. I didn’t even die    to get there, but I’ve been dying to go there for quite some time.

How’d I get to Hell?  I drove — in the Rover mobile, with my friend Heidi.

It only took us three hours to get to Hell, Michigan. Our reason, to run the notorious Dances with Dirt 100K relay.

If you are not familiar with DWD here is a brief description from the website:

“You must be livin’ in a cave if ya ain’t heard of the DWD Relay and Ultramarathons! I’ll tell ya what it aint’, it aint’ no place for wimps and it ain’t a place for pansy, “don’t get my shoes dirty” runners afraid of a few roots and cliffs.”

You can read more here, if you ain’t afraid.

Heidi organized a relay team of five runners, four gals, three above the age of 40,  one gal 39, and one guy, Dan, he’s 65.
The name of our team: Obsessive Trail Disorder.

DWD has been around for quite some time, say 16 years or so.
Some crazy runners do this race every year.

As a DWD virgin, I must say, “I didn’t “break, burst or bust anything …”

just got a small spider bite on my left elbow.

DWD isn’t your typical trail race. Sure, you run on single-track trails,
through creeks, jump over fallen trees and such …

DWD is best described by Randy Step, RD and Head Goat.

I am copying and pasting this right from the DWD website,
without permission – oops I may go to Hell for that.

“…Basically, a difficult, wicked on- and off-trail run with stupid spots. Stupid spots include swamp crossings, river crossings, hills too steep to climb … and can only be a butt slide down. Did we mention poison ivy, thorns, poor marking, bad (no) footing, a waiver that mentions your death three times … and that we charge you for this?”

I ran three of the 15 legs. Each leg is fully defined, thus, you have a good idea what to expect. The description of my three legs follows. As I read each for the first time, I couldn’t help but wonder what I was getting myself into.

No. 3: Rave Run – 2.5 miles
Beginning and end are out and back so opposing runners present. A face-to-face meeting in blind
turn could take an eye out. A beautiful trail run. Some say harder than advertised. Yeah, it’s kinda confusing, but I didn’t write the description.

No.5: Styx, the River of Death – 3.1 miles
The path to Hell is the river of death, Styx. Your tormented soul is ours. Multiple river crossings and river run with dangerous river rocks and deep holes. Life jacket or swim wings optional.  Wanna see what we had to do? Click here.

No. 13: The Stupid Lake – 3.65 miles
Aquatics Running 101 is taught here. In fact, you are in the class. Failure is not acceptable. Who’s stupid? Trail Dog measured the lake with his bike. Many runners lost shoes and finished barefoot, ouch! Not for wimps. One big hill and some great trail!

While running leg No. 13, I saw a sign that said:
“Wrong way moron.” I missed my turn by three steps. Better than getting lost … that happens.

The runners at this race are pretty laid back. It’s not unusual to see a beer being exchanged in
the transition area. The costumes, signs and other race-day rituals make DWD a HELLAVA LOTTA  fun! 

I plan on going back next year. Hell, I may even travel to Gnawbone, Indiana to try that DWD.

In the end, it took our team 10:43:55 to complete the 100K trail run.

Forget the PR


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April 17, 2011: The Mohican Report 

L to R: Kim Zepp, Heidi Finniff, Stacy Rhea, Tonya Faye, Andrea Chisnell, Jill Malusky, Gale Connor.

Crossing the finish line of any race is sweet success. Crossing the finish line of Forget the PR is sweetness topped with whip cream and two cherries on top.

Friday, April 15
Bags are packed and we, Kim Z., Andrea C. and I are on our way to Mohican State Park. (6:15 p.m.) We are meeting nine others. We rented Al’s cabin for the weekend. Al’s cabin is the primo spot, as the race starts less than a thousand feet away from the Al’s front door.

After settling in, we gathered around the fire ring and shared childhood stories and other fun tales. We laughed until it was time to call it a night.

Saturday, April 16
Nothing beats sleeping in, especially the day before a 25/50K. Napping is great too.

Mid afternoon, two more of the 11 arrive: Heidi and Gale. Since it is raining, five of us go to the “fun” town of Wooster for groceries and a little sight seeing. I think the locals were entertained by us. Not exactly sure why, but they could tell we were not from the area.

Once the rain stopped we hiked the first 3 miles and then some of the course. We wanted to see just how bad, the “Bad Ass Hill” would be.

Judge for yourself.

The rest of the evening was spent munching on food and sharing more fun stories of past race experiences.

Sunday, April 17: Race day
Alarms were set for 5:30 a.m. Coffee is on, and the bathroom is in full use. The kitchen looks as though a tornado hit, but that’s what happens when you have 11 runners, their gear and food in a room ideal for four.

The excitement is building. This is what we live, eat, train and sleep for … for the most part.

7:30 a.m. The 50kers are off.
8 a.m. the 25Kers are off

This is one of these races were you wish you were carrying a camera. I am looking for pictures via the Internet. In the meantime, here is what runners had to say about the race.

Gale Connor describes the course perfectly:
I just ran the craziest, bad ass, LONG (17.1 miles) 25K of my running career!! Waist deep river crossing, root climb, crazy stream trail that didn’t seem like it was a real trail. Ran behind a waterfall and over, under and between fallen trees and boulders!! High winds most of the time as well, but perfect temps!!!

Stacy Rhea
The course was amazing. Climbing the exterior roots, straight up the hill side was the coolest. To get to that point, we had to climb numerous rocks, fallen trees and cross the creek several times. The 5-mile loop by the covered bridge was absolutely beautiful. Running behind a waterfall was a unique experience. I wanted to stand there and take it in. Words can’t describe this course.

Beth Trecasa shared this on her FB post: 
Drove almost 4 hours and 200+ miles to run almost 4 hours and 17+ miles. So worth it. Beautiful, tough course. Relentless hills; mud; hand over hand root/rock climb; and a freaking thigh-high frigid river crossing. Thanks to Rob and the volunteers and to my new friend Greg who held my hand across the river. I felt alive today! Check out Beth’s Garmin info, click here. 

To keep the run even more fun, the RD posted signs. Tonya Faye recalls the signs:
Yes, they actually labeled the hill. And the “top” of the hill you see, it’s a false top, that’s only about the halfway point. Other signs said “Don’t hate the hill, hate the race director,” and “remember, you paid to do this.”

Andrea Chisnell summed up the weekend with this comment:
Wrapped up a great weekend with one of the toughest 25K races EVER!!! It was beautiful, challenging and simply fun!!! Got to spend it with wonderful friends and watched Lee (Connor) and Shaun (Pope) win!!!

Lee with RD, Rob P.

Kim Z after crossing the finish line

We will be back next year!

RATL 1: Training for my first road race

After today’s training, I am uber excited about the race season. Not only am I feeling faster and stronger, I am also preparing for a new race experience: road racing, on my bike.

I have run 30 plus miles – BT50K, 2007/2010, tested my endurance in two half-Ironman’s – Greater Cleveland Triathlon 2005/2006 and even did a mini adventure race – mt bike, paddle and trail run. I trained long and hard for the 50K and half IM, but road racing, this will be a true test of my  determination  and perseverance.

The “casual” ride we did today, after a 6.4-mile trail run was “easy” for most of the girls. For me, it was tough. I had to work climbing the – barely noticeable incline. If I hit it hard, then I was spent at the top and needed a brief recovery.
At that point, I was dropped.

I have my work cut out for me. I will be training at least once a week on the RATL course, in preparation for a April or May race.

Today’s ride: 10 miles, 41 minutes. I know my heart rate was up there …

Awwwe – Splat…


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Sunday, March 13, 2011
Buckeye Trail, north of Riverview Road

I missed planting my face in the slushy, cold mud, by less than an inch. After the surprise of getting my foot tangled in a root, I crashed to the ground in a nano second. Face-to-face with the cold mud, I could feel the slushy mud oozing between my fingers, even though I had mittens on.  Laughing, I quickly stood up and posed for the camera. My fall was rated a solid 10 by the group.

Into the darkness


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Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2011

Yesterday, I ran with a few friends. We hit the Buckeye Trail, out of the Pine Lane parking lot at 4:15 p.m.
The snow that once covered the trails had been melted away by a sunny New Year’s eve day – Whoohoo. I hate running in/on the snow –  yet I do it every weekend.  Snow running makes you stronger –  mentally and physically. It also frustrates the hell out of you.

Monday’s 7.37-mile run was interesting. The ground was hard. No snow, but plenty of ice. Ice can cause nasty falls. Luckily, not one of us took a spill. We did, however, get spooked. As the sun set behind the barren trees, the woods became dark – go figure. We forgot our headlamps. We managed to run, slowly up the twisting trails that eerily shielded the creatures of the night.

I heard a strange sound, in those dark woods. An unfamiliar sound. I stopped, frozen in my tracks … what the heck… All around me I heard the leaves rustling,  I wasn’t sure if I should run or just stand there. Then, I heard the flapping of wings. I looked up and saw 10, 15 maybe 20 turkey vultures scrambling in the sky. We literally scared the crap out of them … I covered my head and waited for the turkeys to disappear into the night.

From now on, my headlamp has a permanent place in my car.

Thank you for your adventurous spirit GGs

July 6, 2010

Kneeling: Shelly B. & Sara H.
Back Row: P
am A., Me, Andrea C., Lee C., & Tonya K.

Seven months ago I made the decision/commitment to train for my second 50K.  The first time I trained for a 5oK, I trained alone.  At time, my solo runs were four hours long.  Believe it or not, I enjoyed my solo long runs. During those hours, I did my best and deepest thinking. My long runs allowed me to really

contemplate significant decisions in my life, or situations that were complex.

When signing up for the 2010 BT50K, I convinced several of my dearest friends to race with me. Through the months we trained together . Many times I ended up  running solo,  but knowing the girls are out there  helped me get through my runs.

After our runs we’d grab a bite to eat and discuss other off-road races and challenges we would like to tackle together. Events like the Mudathlon, Dances with Dirt, Mt. Lemmon Marathon, 12-hour adventure races, cyclocross and whatever
else we can find that is off-the-wall and wild.

Here’s to the girls who have helped me through a long training season. In less than two weeks we will be at the starting line of the BT50K. Thank you for having such an adventurous spirit!



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