All posts by manay21

Daytona 100 Ultramarathon

Daytona 100

Here goes my first race report for my first 100 miler.  It seems crazy to me I am even writing one as I never thought I would do this distance.  Why did I decide to run 100 miles? After completing a 50 miler, I wanted to see if I could push myself that much farther, physically and mentally.  I wanted the challenge of training and mentally committing to not giving up.  I also wanted to run for a purpose.  Therefore, I joined the High Hopes Challenge with Charlie Wittmack to raise money for the new cancer center in Tanzania.  This challenge was a collaboration of Fighters 4 Life, The Foundation for Cancer Care in Tanzania and Radiating Hope.  I had previously worked with Radiation Hope for this cause, so this was very near to my heart.  I sincerely thank everyone who donated, and those names of loved ones were written on the prayer flags that hung from the crew vehicle.  They were a mental reminder of why I was out here and why I was never going to give up.

The adventure started off with Ian and I arriving in Jacksonville only to discover that I had forgotten my suitcase!  Luckily I had my gear bag and shoes, but I did not have my race day attire I was planning on wearing.  I panicked for about 5 minutes and then we were laughing about it.  A quick Target run and all was set.  My crew included the amazing Thompson family:  CB (Pops), Julie (mama bear) and Tamiya.  Ian was going to pace me the last half of the race.  I was so humbled and amazed at the amount of support from the Thompsons.  They showed up with so many fun surprises.   Ian had designed a special race shirt for the team: “ Slappin the bass mon”.   (a favorite Paul Rudd scene from “I Love You Man”).  The crew vehicle was decked out with special signs Julie had made and we strung the prayer flags and were ready to begin the adventure.

Slappin the bass mon!

Race morning came and I was so excited to just get started.  I started out feeling great, I stuck to my plan of taking it slow and walking about 2 minutes every mile.  I averaged about a 12 minute mile and was having a blast.  Then around mile 18, my hip injury and bursitis started flaring up.   It was a hot day but the heat never bothered me as my crew did such an amazing job always having fresh ice, a cold wash cloth to wipe me down and a spray bottle.  I never really felt all that uncomfortable.  I got off the long beach section and went to change my socks and discovered a huge blister.  Ian popped it while shoved half of a turkey sandwich in my mouth and I was off again.  I grabbed my music around mile 30 and was having such a great time.  The hip was manageable and the course was so beautiful.  One of my favorite parts was catching a gorgeous sunset around mile 50.  I checked into the mile 52 checkpoint and picked up Ian to start pacing me.  My hip was getting worse, yet thankfully, Alex at the aid station had this magical medicated cream.  This stuff felt so much better than Tiger balm!  Ian and I took off into the night and then shit turned south around mile 62.  The rest of the race was such a disaster.  We made it to checkpoint 6 and at this point both my hips were bad and kept locking up.   I had felt another blister and one of the volunteers pulled off my sock to check.  We discovered a huge red blood blister that he didn’t want to drain.  So, Ian named it Ruby and we had some delicious ramen and took off again.  We were pretty much walking at this point and I was in a lot of pain and in a low point.  I told Ian I didn’t think I would be able to run again at all.  A few more miles later, I made the mistake of sitting in the van for a few minutes and we checked what I thought was another blister.  Sure enough, another huge one had formed and Ian popped this one, only to have it squirt in his ear…hahaha.  I went to stand up and everything had frozen.  OK, no more sitting the rest of the race…lesson learned.  We slowly crept along, and by  this point the pain was the worst I had ever felt and I was so worried about missing the cutoff point.  At some point, somehow I managed to work up to running for 2-3 minutes at a time. Then my tendon in the back of my left knee locked up.  Ian was truly amazing juggling carrying a small cup of coke and another cup of crackers and trying to run at the same time with his water bottle. He took such good care of me the entire race, whether it was popping blisters…massaging my legs with Tiger balm or making me smile:)    The rest of the race was a series of low points and just trying to get to the other side of the pain I was experiencing.   My crew was so amazing and full of energy throughout the night, I always made sure I had a smile for them whenever I saw them.  My stomach was a little upset and I couldn’t handle the thought of any foods, but was able to sip on ginger ale and keep moving. Honestly, I just wanted to poop!  I felt so full and uncomfortable.  Around 2:30 in the morning, Ian and I were pretty tired and decided to pass the time playing the “Penis game”.  This lightened the mood and I think it was Jodi Samuel’s crew that happened to witness our silly antics.  They later drove past us and yelled “Penis!” out the window.  I know,classy right?   The night continued to be a suffer fest consisting of multiple tiger balm slather sessions and even having Alex come find us on the course to deliver more of the amazing cream.  By mile 85, my ankle tendons starting locking up as well.  Overall, I was completely stripped mentally, physically and emotionally.  I was crying and couldn’t get a hold of the pain, nor see how I was going to make it to the finish in the shape I was in.  However, I was determined to make it to that finish line.  We ticked off the miles one by one.  I told myself that the human spirit is stronger than any pain.  My crew was amazing at keeping me encouraged.   At one point, Julie reminded me of every name on the prayer flags and why I was out there.   After I left the last check in at mile 93.5, I literally had to stop every few minutes and bend over and massage out the spasms in my ankle.  Jule was telling me just to get to the next driveway, and then the next.  I don’t think I ever stopped crying.   Pops tried cutting off my calf compressions to see if that would help and it did seem to a little bit.  Jamie Woyton passed by and sprinkled some “pixie dust” magic to keep me moving.  That made me laugh:)   Ian joined me for the last two miles on the beach and at that point I couldn’t look up.  I could only look at my shadow on the beach as we slowly hobbled along holding hands.  Finally, he said, “I see the Thompson’s!”  I looked up and saw the finish line and started sobbing again for the umpteenth time.  Pops and Julie and Tamiya met us on the beach with the prayer flags and we made our way to the finish line.  Crossing the finish line was surreal.  I couldn’t believe I had actually finished…28 hours and 40 minutes.  It was truly a team effort and I never could have made it without my crew taking such good care of me and having Ian there to not only crew but pace me and keep me moving forward.  Never underestimate the human spirit!  I am pretty beat up and swollen and blistered but my spirit is stronger than ever!   Thank you to all the volunteers that ran such amazing aid stations, it truly was such an amazing course and race.  Ultrarunning is truly a special community, I am already looking forward to the next race adventure!

Ian popping my first blister..
Ian popping my first blister..
Sunset around mile 50
Sunset around mile 50
Heading off into the night...
Heading off into the night…
Got that buckle!!
Got that buckle!!

Enjoy the moment

waterIt has been awhile since I last wrote…for good reasons! It has been an incredibly busy summer in all areas of life. I am feeling so blessed with how life is unfolding and never imagined a plan B could be much more than I ever could dream of. This post is just about an incredible recent Sunday morning I shared with Ian where we truly just lived in the moment.

We woke up early and decided to go for a 17 mile run. It was such a beautiful rare summer morning in Florida…the heat wasn’t too steamy and there was a nice breeze. 4 miles in we were down by the water and I suggested we stop and enjoy the breeze on the water…it was quiet…just the gulf and the birds. So we sat on the ledge by the water and just enjoyed the morning sunlight…the waves …the breeze…the peacefulness.   Ian is a former surfer…so he easily gets lost into the peacefulness of water. We just sat…..for quite a while. I then suggested we go get an iced coffee and abandon our run…so we walked to a cute little Italian coffee place and got some iced coffee and espresso and ice cream…and continued to walk our way back enjoying the morning.

For so many many years, a morning like this would never have been possible. I would have been set and determined to finish my miles…not enjoying my surroundings and would have felt so guilty for stopping short and would have spent the rest of the day filled with anxiety.  I would have been planning when I could make them up. Although it makes me sad that I spent so many years missing out on so much of life…it makes everything so much sweeter now. I have no regrets…I am so grateful for life and all the beautiful people that are a part of it. Allowing myself to be flexible and enjoy the moment and connect is living for me.:)

I am happy.

Megs

Choosing lightness

“It’s easier to be heavy than light” (Gretchen Rubin).  This quote has resonated with me ever since I came across the book “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin.  It is a wonderful beautiful read if anyone hasn’t heard of it,and also one I will read many times.  I read this line and it made me pause and reflect on how true it is.  It is fairly easy to let something small spiral into a disaster and ruin a day or even ruminate on something that really doesn’t matter.  It is common to let worried thoughts consume our minds and distract us from our daily lives.  ( I know this is not true for everyone, but sometimes choosing to be light and happy is the harder choice)  From anyone in a recovery process, the journey is far from linear.  Sometimes choosing recovery is the hard choice, it is choosing the light when you feel like sitting in the dark.  It is choosing to be uncomfortable.  It is choosing love and happiness and acceptance when some days that seems like the farthest thing from your mind.    I find peace in recognizing that we all have choices and I feel much happier choosing lightness over darkness.  For anyone struggling with anything,  we are all stronger than we know.

be the light

So long then…next chapter..

naples sunsetDon’t ask me where I see myself in ten years. Life is so far from anywhere I would have pictured myself if someone had asked me that question ten years ago at the age of 24. Ha!..So much has happened that my brain could never have fathomed. Truthfully, it has taken me awhile on the journey to graciously accept that His plan is far greater than any I can imagine. Faith is a personal relationship that is different to everyone. It is something I mostly keep to myself as it is personal to me and I am also one that believes that there are no “right” answers. No matter what you believe in, I believe in the good of people and staying true to yourself. Perhaps that is the inner “hippie” in me, but I think that humanity and love are universal that can overcome any differences.   My faith has grown stronger in the last decade as I have grown on my own and have gone through some of the lowest times in my life as of yet. It was faith that gave me hope, surrender and a sense of letting go.

I am packing up getting ready to close the chapter on Naples. It has been a great home to me for a long time. I went through some of the greatest times and also the lowest times here in the last decade. My very first friend I made has become a sister to me and will be a friend for life nor matter where we live.  I am truly grateful for that. My career has started and changed here…my faith has been explored and grown…I received my outpatient treatment here…I went through my divorce here…I started over. I reinvented my life and made new friendships. Through it all, the peaceful beaches and amazing sunsets remained my “earthing” haven. A constant place of being present and not taking things for granted. I will miss them dearly as they have weathered me through some storms.  (And a Minnesota girl never takes a beach for granted!!)

So now it is on to the next chapter, and I am so excited and terrified. But first, pack, throw out everything that doesn’t add anything and simplify.   I am going to work on the motto that less is more…except for love and mushrooms and duct tape.  More duct tape is always a good thing.  May there never be a day with out consuming my beloved fungus friend.

Meg

Give Presence

I was feeling the urge to get lost in a project today…the urge to create something. I haven’t been able to run much lately due to a nagging injury, so my mind is a little restless. I find that creative projects are almost as therapeutic as running for me. Whether it is painting, distressing furniture, cooking, writing, or today it was working with leather. I went to the store with no idea in mind…I love that part of creating…..it’s not forced…it just happens. I sound like a just described a great bathroom moment. Ha! I was attracted to some leather and fun looking tools and thought I would entertain the idea. Leather is already cool…how bad can you mess it up right? I decided to carve a favorite message of mine lately; ”Give Presence”.   I texted Ian my idea and he responded with “what do those words mean to you” Hence why I am now writing. My mind started spinning….not only was I engulfed in a fun project and my music was playing…now I thought about the WHY??….Why do I love these words? What do they mean to me?

Being present is a hard thing…especially for me. My mind is filled with so many distractions. What I need to to…what I should be doing…what I didn’t do…I should be doing more…I need to reach out to so and so…I should run…why did I eat that? ..I should really take my clothes out of the dryer instead of restart the cycle…I need to fundraise…..the mental chatter is endless! I have tried meditation…which I found hysterical. I am pretty sure I was only hearing my gassy awkward stomach. So being present to me…means acknowledging and being grateful for what I have now. Not being lost in what I want my life to be like years from now and not dwelling on the past. It is a daily acknowledgement of all that I have and all the wonderful people in my life.  It is remembering that life is a beautiful journey with amazing sunsets and horrible storms…green fields and rugged mountains…soothing rain and full moons. Even in the midst of a storm ….life is a gift.   In the deep moments of the greatest serenity…life is a gift not to be taken for granted.   I want to be present for it all.give presence-Meg

For my Mother…

One of the greatest friendships and love stories of my life begins with you Mom. As a child I looked to you for strength, comfort, advice, and love. You were my compass and in many ways you still are.  When I was sick, I would lie in your lap and be soothed by your head rubs or comforted by cinnamon and sugar toast.   You let me be a tomboy and play in the dirt and explore and run free.  You nurtured my inner athlete spirit and taught me that I was capable and courageous. You sacrificed so much for me and also sacrificed so much and allowed me to be a serious gymnast. I spent my life in the gym and you and dad willingly dedicated so much time and money. Yet, you never made me feel that I was a burden…you were both my biggest cheerleaders.  You taught me independence and that I can take care of myself. You taught me that being perfect is boring. I will never forget that weekend at the cabin while I was in high school and you told me to say ”F*** it!”   You taught me that love is an action and happiness is a choice.

I admire you mom. You are beauty, compassion and strength.   I admire your career and what you stood for and what you did for open adoption. I admire your Faith and courage to stand up and follow what you believe in. I admire you for coming out stronger for everything you have gone through in life. I don’t know all your stories, but someday I hope to know more.

I am sorry that I have put you through some rough times. I am sorry when I was in the depths of my eating disorder, I distanced myself and hid. I am sorry for pretending.  I am sorry for meals and birthday cakes I couldn’t eat. I am sorry for making you worry. I am sorry for times I have rolled my eyes at you or made you feel unappreciated.  You are a soul mate to me mom. You know my darkest parts and have witnessed my failures.  You give me tough love and unconditional love. You call me out when I need it and are always my biggest support. Thank you for always allowing me to be so open with you. You are my best friend and a source of strength in my life.   You have seen me through some journeys….and taught me that it all works out on the other side and starting over is always possible.  I can’t thank you enough Mom for everything you have done for me and taught me along the way. Saying I love you is simply not enough.  mom beach

mom yoga mom baby mom young

She decided she was worth it…

It has been awhile since I have written.  Life has been so busy with beautiful new beginnings and more exciting races!.  I am writing now to address a tough demon that tries to surface in times of change.  Eating Disorder recovery is sometimes a constant battle.  No, I do not EVER want to go back to being sick and so closed off from family and relationships and normal everyday life.  However, I am now in tune with triggers that bring back old thought patterns and negative restrictive behaviors.  Now, those thoughts may bring me a tough day, but I realize that I have come too far to ever go back.  One of my toughest struggles has been with restoring a healthy body image.  Recovery is so much more than just eating food to be healthy….the mental demons and guilt are the lingering demons.  Everyone has a different story…different triggers…but the shared struggle is near to my heart.  A friend recently encouraged me to do a photography session to help me break out of my shell and feel confident about my body.  (Which is still on the way to completely weight restored).   It terrified me…but it ended up being so fun and freeing…and the experience taught me to let go and appreciate how far I have come and to be grateful for my health.

Running has been a huge part of my journey.  This may sound backwards…but every race I run and complete I still feel like I punch my ED in the face.  It is me saying….” Enough…I am stronger!!!”  Choosing life is so much better than being chained to the shackles of an eating disorder.   I wish I could run every run and raise money for other ED soldiers needing treatment.  In my heart I dedicate all my races to anyone who is struggling to regain freedom and their selves.   Eating disorders strip someone of everything life has to offer.   I still have some of my own “recovery win” goals to accomplish.  I am confident that I will  be able to  and I am worth it.  Life is precious and beautiful and we are all worth fighting for.   I am excited for a new move soon from Naples and my incredible new relationship with an amazing soul.   Craig Ambrosio

Love Meg,

No one has to limp alone …

This was me when I was way too thin...and not allowed to run.
This was me when I was way too thin…and not allowed to run.
This was taken Sunday after I ran my fastest half marathon to date..I felt great after!
This was taken Sunday after I ran my fastest half marathon to date..I felt great after!

As I was running today I noticed a bird along side of me that was struggling to fly.  Something was wrong with its wing and the poor thing couldn’t take flight.  He tried and tried over and over until finally receding to the shade under a tree.  I wish I could have stopped to help him and take care of him.  This got me thinking how lucky we are as humans to be able to ask for help.  Whether it is small things or big things we struggle with, we always have an option to ask for help.  Asking for help has always been a hard task for me, even as a child.  I believed I should be able to do everything by myself.  (Except killing spiders…then it was always easy to yell for Dad’s help:)  )  I think a lot of people feel week when seeking help, when really it shows character to acknowledge that you can’t do something on your own.  I think it takes courage for people to let others in and let your guard down.  Previously I wrote about my past struggles with self image and my eating disorder.  I have a big year ahead and have so many huge goals with running that I want to tackle and I know I can’t do that unless I am properly taking care of my body.  So I have decided that I can’t do it alone and am seeking the help of a Endurance Sports Nutritionist to help me have a better relationship with food and educate me on how to properly give my body enough of what it needs.  (Thank you Anne for the recommendation!)    However, my running goals are not the sole factor in asking for help.  I would love to be free of some old thought patterns that affect every area of my life and keep me shackled to old habits.  I feel like I have come a long ways from where I started, but I have this last hump to get over.  I feel like that bird I saw today who was getting by limping along…but just couldn’t fly.   After my run, I felt blessed and humbled to be able to ask for help and also know that we are not alone if we choose not to be.

Cheers,

Meg

The Grinch is NOT stealing Christmas…

It’s the holiday season…this can be viewed as either a happy time or a sad/lonely time depending on your state of mind. I generally look forward to this time of year when work slows down, friends and families get together and wear ugly sweaters for fun and eat drink and be merry. People seem happier and smiles seem brighter. That all sounds like a month of living in Mr. Wonka’s chocolate factory right?    Then there is the viewpoint that this time of year can be one of the loneliest and stressful time of the year. As it highlights what you may not have in your life or pressure to deal with finding perfect gifts and dealing with family you would rather throw your drink at than see once a year. Perhaps you are estranged from your family, or you recently ended a relationship, or you just love being a Grinch:)  I myself, just ended my relationship that has been a huge part of my life this past year. #Holidaybreakupssuck.   It’s sad an always a loss to end any relationship, but being honest about what you want is sometimes the hardest thing to acknowledge. Normally, I would look at this as yet another failure in the book of Meg. I would dread going home and yet again feel like the oddball out at family gatherings. Thoughts of “Will I ever have a family of my own?…what about kids?…Do I even want kids? My nephew won’t shut up about trucks…what if I had to deal with that? ”…and so on and so on. It is an internal dialog of comparing myself to others:(  Get out of your head Meg!!

However, instead of getting on that same old train of self-criticism and internal vomit, I am choosing to embrace this time of year and step back and reflect on how I have grown and what I can learn from this year. I have been beyond blessed! No matter what is going on in life, this is a time to choose love and remember it is about the gift that He gave us and His presence. So for anyone having a hard time getting into the holiday spirit…step off that train and reflect on all that is great in your life and be thankful for even the small things. I have to make a conscious effort sometimes to change my perspective…but it is always worth my time. I am looking forward to visiting family in Minnesota for a few snowy days:)

Happy Holidays!!

Meg

You can’t take out your trash until you deal with it.

I write this after I have just made a healthy homemade meal.  Something that seems so normal and common to most people right?  Why the heck am I even writing about this?  As much as I love love love to cook and experiment with new and healthy ingredients, I am still haunted by my relationship with food.  Sometimes, beginning again happens everyday.

This past weekend I hit a new milestone and was able to run the farthest I have ever run. 36.8 miles.  This meant a lot to me in so many ways.  First of all, a year ago, and even ten years ago,  I would have laughed at anyone telling me I would be capable of that.  I am one that was always fearless as a child and still loves to push myself.  However,  I do battle some personal demons that even to this day I have to keep at bay.

Rewind back to my past struggles with anorexia and a history of self acceptance.  I won’t go into the full blah story..we have all heard it before.  (Sad, that so many women have walked in my shoes).  However, I remember my first marathon in 2004..and I felt like crap afterward.  Fast forward a few years….severely sick with anorexia and attempting a half marathon and was throwing up blood and cramping up the rest of the day.  I was mal-nourished and pushing my body beyond what it was prepared for.  During my out-patient treatment, I wasn’t allowed to run….I was pissed!!  Probably why I left treatment early after 3 months.  Where am I going with this you wonder?

This past year,  moving on has been about exploring and pushing myself to new limits.  A huge part of this is confronting my still struggles with getting over my past and anorexia.  Some days, I am ashamed that I am 33 and still freaking deal with these issues.  I have a new re- born  passion for running and wanting to race faster and longer, I am learning to focus on nutrition to fuel myself and be healthier.  I know I was only able to do the race this past weekend by fueling my body with 3-400 calories per hour (Thank you Spence).  Ultimately, I want to be a healthy role model for my nieces and that means being honest with myself.

I have come a long ways from where I was at, but I still have a ways to go as far as being as healthy as I can be.  In the past, I would beat myself up for not being perfect and punish myself for being flawed.  Now, I am learning to laugh at myself and be a little easier on myself.  After all,  I am the only one that has to live with myself through this crazy ride..I may as well love myself.  Easier said that done!

Some days are great…and then some days hit me in the face and I want to shrink with thoughts of shame and failure.  However, I am slowly learning that if you don’t deal with the hard stuff..it doesn’t go away.  The other day I finally realized that I wouldn’t want to be anyone else.  That simple thought felt so huge!!  A long way from the girl who used to wish her life away and wanted to be anyone rather than herself.

It’s always a new day to begin again:)

Meg

Ultra Save the daylight