Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Am I being asked to change or does he actually care about me?

Society presents us with all kinds of ideas on how to behave, what to wear, who to be friends with, etc. We also have to deal with our own feelings on top of it.  It’s a tough battle, knowing that you are probably not doing what society says or what your family believes is right but your emotions are telling you to do something else.  Where do you draw the line?  Are you even conscious of this line?  If you’re a man, you’ve probably never thought about it.  If you’re a woman, you’ve overanalyzed it time and again.  Especially when someone posts an inspirational quote with a beach behind it on facebook, telling you to live the life you want to live and do what you want to do.


I have gotten myself into romantic relationships in the past that have disturbed my image of what is right and wrong.  One that I wanted out of for almost 2 years yet I kept trying to please him, hoping that it would work out eventually and it never did.  The other I wanted to be in the relationship for life and simply did too much for him and jeopardized myself; making myself vulnerable.  Either way, looking back, I realized that I did too much for the relationship than what I was getting out of it.  When we discussed issues, independent of who brought them up, I was the person who was committed to making it work out.  I was told that my ‘selfishness’ was getting in the way, so I moved him up in the priority list, I was told that my problem with his mother was my ‘problem’, so I threw myself in the pit and spent the weekend with her, etc.  FOR YEARS I did these dumb things, thinking that it was the best way to go about these things.

Until I started to take into account all of those comments from women over the years about dating men who simply wanted to change them to fit their image of the woman they wanted.  I dawned on me that I was doing that same thing.  “Why don’t you wear lipstick?”  I made an effort to wear lipstick…  Or, “You use too many pronouns, I can’t understand you.”  I thought I had a problem.  Maybe I did use too many pronouns???  So, I tried to change the way I spoke around him.  Which caused other problems in my daily life, in turn complicating life in ways I don’t want to even think about anymore.  Little did I know it then, but, I was putting way too much effort into relationships than they were worth.  I was honestly getting too little out of them for it to even be worth it.

This is not the problem however.  The problem is that, NOW, I cannot distinguish between a legitimate relationship concern and a boyfriend trying to ‘change’ me.  I am so terrified of someone compromising who I am to even think about their concerns from an objective viewpoint.  I’ve taken the stance to be who I am, no matter who that is and who I hurt.  Which is honestly very sad.  Whenever a subject comes up that concerns the relationship or the needs of the other person, I refuse to listen.  I’ve gone all the way over to the other spectrum where I cannot even listen to the other person’s concerns for my fear of being manipulated and ‘changed’. 

Therefore, where do you draw the line?  I don’t feel like I can trust my emotions since they’re the ones wreaking havoc on my heart in the first place.  Yet, logic tells me to be aware of men and to be vigilant as to who is going to try to ‘change’ me.  Emotional abuse is a real thing.  I suppose Pat Benatar knew what she was talking about in “Love is a Battlefield”.  For now, I’m going to focus on taking some time for myself, getting to know myself on a different level, without the manipulation or even the guidance of a man.  Although, in the future, I hope to accept advice and constructive criticism from a boyfriend/partner without thinking they are trying to manipulate or change me; while still being aware of the malicious ones.  

Thanks for reading!


Monday, February 10, 2014


I took an online quiz probably close to 6 years ago with inquisitive questions that asked you to relate a color to a person, list how much you like certain animals, etc.  It turned out that family came up first in my order of importance, money being the last... I always knew I am a family oriented person, I grew up close to my cousins, am a 3rd generation lifetime member of Sokol, a family fitness organization and love children.  However, when the answers to this quiz were presented to me, it was right there.  Granted, it's simply a fun online quiz, but these things are powerful for me.

They say how when you start to think about something and you desire it deep inside yourself, those things take shape.  I realized at age 30 that I was getting to that age where most men I were to date would have children or if they had never been married, probably had a reason why or nobody wanted to marry them.  (I've since realized that there are many other reasons for someone to be unmarried...)  However, I decided that I would have a ball dating a man with children.  No more than a month later I met Jorge's kids, Cony and Panchito.  And they were a BALL.  From playing with the continual flow of puppies at their Grandma's house, making slides on the beach or creating our own games, I had a ton of fun with them.  I haven't seen them in years yet I can still hear them calling my name.  Panchito used to come to me when he needed to use the potty- and I loved it!

Since then, I've pondered what it takes to make a family a family.  In my immediate family of parents and 3 siblings, we've remained remarkably close.  In the outer circle of family, we are just as close.  How can you gather 60 people together EVERY Christmas Eve in an outer suburb of Chicago, some people traveling 70 miles to come on Christmas Eve?  We have a Cousin Club Pub Crawl every fall!  We get together for the 4th of July, we go to weddings, we make beer together, my male cousin even put sunscreen on my back on a topless beach in Spain...

We have a family calendar that Emily started doing a few years back, probably close to 7/8 years ago.  In the digital age, this is so important to print every year.  If not, how will my great nieces see the picture of Great Uncle Matt and I running a 50K if it's not printed.  Who knows what will happen to facebook in years to come?  Who will see the text my sister sent me of her dog when we're in our 80s?

With family, it is important to remember that the dynamics will not come together on they're own.  Just like any other relationship, it takes effort.  The chemistry is there simply because of the genes.  But, when there is backlash, you cannot walk away from it like you can a former co-worker.  You'll still need to see each other at family events.  Unless, of course, you convince yourself it's useless to go because nobody likes you or you don't want to see the other person.  And, in that case, you only have yourself to blame for allowing the family to fall apart.  I text with my sisters practically every single day.  However, we have gone through our fights like most sisters do.  We haven't spoken for weeks.  We've called ourselves bad names and bitched about each other to the other one.  But, you better believe it that we'll be there for each other when the time comes. I appreciate my family so much for not only their unconditional love but also for keeping me in line.  It's fascinating that we have matured to a point where we can give each other tough love without getting offended and without pointing fingers and making fun.

However, I've realized over the years that the relationship relies not only on tradition and getting together for holidays, etc, but it's a constant effort.  It's a good thing we have facebook!  Unfortunately, these things would be much more difficult.  However, I still think of the cassette tape my sister made for me and sent to me when I was in Spain and how I got my rolls of film developed in doubles so that I could send them home since I didn't have a digital camera.  It made for a very emotional reuniting at the airport when I finally got home.

That being said, there is something very important to keep in mind as well, regarding knowing when to stop trying.  When you are the only one putting into the family and it starts to destroy you, that's when you need to learn to take that step back and put yourself first.  However, for most families, like other relationships, you're only going to get out of them what you put into them.  We wouldn't have a family calendar announcing birthdays and anniversaries if we didn't upload our pics into a common drive.  Uncle Mike and Aunt Terry wouldn't continue to host Christmas Eve and the 4th of July if no one came.  My mother wouldn't make red velvet Santa bags for everyone if they weren't used and appreciated.

I love my family and vow to continue to keep the lines of communication open, send cards out, appreciate their advice and spend quality time together.  It's not too late to come to San Diego and enjoy some sun during winter!!!!  It's 63 degrees at this very moment, 11:52 pm.  And 3 degrees in Chicago.

Thanks for reading, I had to get these ideas written out...


Tuesday, December 31, 2013

They say that 'time flies when you're having fun'.  2013 FLEW BY!  I guess I had fun!

It started off with an adventurous vacation in Paraguay with a good friend, visiting another good friend in the Peace Corps.  Drinking tererĂ© in the plaza, jumping off waterfalls and discussing machismo while staying out all night!  Then English Dave and I celebrated our one year anniversary in February and my sister Anne came to visit in March where she witnessed the Old Goat 50 mile race and met a lot of my close running buds.  I also took a class at San Diego City College on Native California Indians in the spring.

When I originally came to San Diego, I knew there was good running here and when I got the invite to run Badwater Salton Sea, I couldn't pass it up, regardless of vacation time confines and training for my first 100 mile race.  So, I quit my job in the for-profit higher education industry I was sick of and knew it was time to make my change and take the steps towards a career change.  After completing a brutal 81 mile Badwater Salton Sea race and getting a kidney infection, I got the call about my mom being admitted into the hospital on a Saturday, I was there by Monday evening.   

My mother has always taken care of everyone else.  Driving us around, working two jobs, devoting herself to our events and our goals, she has neglected herself for as long as I can remember.  Either believing she can live vicariously through us, or that her happiness depends upon ours, this is what I have seen over the years.  While it may be normal to think that this is exactly what a good mother should do, underlying emotions and barriers have developed in the progress.  She has seen herself in us and has worried that we might bring the same lack of respect for ourselves into our lives.  In my case, I have subconsciously never been able to rely on emotions in romantic relationships, instead, using logic to guide my actions.  I have such a fear of neglecting myself that I have become too selfish to get myself into a position where I could possibly give myself to someone else.  I had been contemplating this since my mom's hospital stay and during an emotional sports kinesiology session with my chiropractor, after I asked if perhaps I was holding emotions in my foot, this came up! 
What I'm going to do about it is yet to be determined.  Attend emotional workshops?  See a therapist?  Run some more and think about it??  Whatever I do, I'm glad I am now consciously aware of it.

After she got strong enough, my dear mother was released to go home and now has a new lease on life!!  Thank you to friends, family, God and the world for the support.  She's doing well and keeping herself busy with projects for both others and herself!  It's an everyday battle, just as life.  She got out of the hospital just in time to celebrate in the best way possible.  My sister's marriage!  It was beautiful and they are perfect for each other!  I love you all.

Returning to San Diego after having ran no more than 15 miles in total since the 81 miler 4 weeks beforehand, the San Diego 100 mile endurance run on June 8-9 was amazing.  Everyone asked about my mom and I thought of her the entire time.  I had a great crew and pacers with me the entire time.  It got into the 100s in the mountains and while 60% of the runners who started did not make it, I was able to tough it out.  (I get that from my mom! :))

The summer involved climbing Mt. Baldy and Gorgonio, the 4th of July with the Hassetts, saying goodbye to Cadbury, my other sister's wedding in August and a visit from my cousins and a friend from Chile for the Cubs game!  It was great to be able to see family so much over the summer!  September was Mt. Whitney, we did it in one day and dealt with altitude sickness, cold weather and hail on the peak!  Thank you to my good friend Julius for getting the permit and inviting me!

The newlyweds Ginny and Jeremy came to visit the following weekend and the 4 of us literally spent the entire time on the water.  We left for only minutes at a time to walk the dog or see the sports game and I managed to sprain my ankle in that half hour!  AND THEN, at the end of September, I participated in my first swim event, at the La Jolla Cove and swam two 1 mile legs for our team, Ladies of the Sea. 

Since October, I've had a few volunteer opportunities at races, I have been applying to grad school, (SUCH A PROCESS), building a marketing position for my chiropractor, Dr. Garrett, selling a new-to-the-US-market herbal supplement, and training others in the art of having fun while running.  Recently, as a Christmas gift, my mom gave me a shirt that reads:  "Any idiot can run a marathon, it takes a special idiot to run an ultramarathon."  I guess she's proud of her special idiot daughter.

2013 has been a year of trying new things, of strengthening family bonds, of spending time with David and our silly dog Maximus, and of making new friends!  It feels great to have made such strong connections with great people over the course of the year!  I love keeping in touch with people and therefore, cannot deny how much I appreciate the technology that allows us to do this.  

For 2014, I look forward to my nephew coming to visit on his spring break and swimming in the pacific with him, the opportunity to attend a long time friend's wedding in Slovakia, getting a scholarship for grad school (!!!), going to Florida with my sisters and mom, running another 100 and becoming a student again in the fall.   

In 2014, I also hope to focus on releasing my fear of giving myself up, spending quality time with loved ones, helping the world in little ways and learning Portuguese.

I have not been able to come up with a resolution and simply have these goals.  However, if you have a resolution, stick to it and believe that it will make you a better person in the end if you can tough it out.  There are so many things to do in this world and a million ways to do them.  You are stronger than you realize.

December 31st, 2013


Thursday, December 5, 2013

My experience with Nelson Mandela started Junior year of high school with Mr. Casey.  He was an assistant cross-country and track and field coach.  I also took his African Cultures elective where we studied the geography of Africa, politics, history, etc.  We watched The Power of One in his class.

He introduced me to TIME magazine and I got myself my first magazine subscription.  He introduced me to Swahili.  He introduced me to Nelson Mandela where I learned to believe.  Believe in myself.  Believe in my ideals.  Believe that I could do something.

I had other things to do in life so I told myself I was going to visit Africa before I turn 30.  

On a trip to Salzburg, on the Sound of Music tour, I met a man from South Africa.  The first person I had ever met from South Africa.  He helped me with my luggage, I was only 20 and hadn't perfected the art of packing... we shared some smokes I and had to be out to Vienna.  When I discovered I didn't have enough money to get to Vienna, he offered to help.  Remembering my grandmother's words of advice about being too trusting, I declined.  To which he responded.  "Don't let your pride get in your way.  Pride can keep us from doing things we would or otherwise should do."  

That stayed with me forever.  I still quote him to this day and carry it with me daily.  Don't be too proud to speak up when others are not.  Don't be too proud to tell someone you are hurting.  Don't be too proud to ask for help.  Don't be too proud to do a job below your pay grade or education.  

Today Nelson Mandela has passed on and we are left with his legacy.  He had the innocence of Anne Frank and the power of Gandhi.  A hero for his people and a role model to everyone everywhere.

Please take a moment to watch the trailer for the film "Mandela:  Long Walk to Freedom":

There is also a portion of the website dedicated to educational resources.  If you have children, are a role model or teacher, please consider using these educational resources:

In honor of Mandela and in order to celebrate the holidays more effectively, I propose the following:

- Do not judge anyone this Holiday season.  
- Don't think you're too cool to give money to the homeless.  
- If you're someone who brings food home from a restaurant and doesn't eat it, give it to someone who will.
- If you're someone who doesn't bring food home, stop ordering so much or cook your own food.
- Be thankful for what you have always.  
- Realize what is important not just to you but for everyone.
- Do something differently than you normally do.

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of thinking.  

Use your own thought to come to conclusions. (This may be difficult)

Stand up for what you believe in.  

Do not be afraid.  

These are the ideals I have learned from Mandela.  I think it's time I go to Africa.

RIP Madiba
You will forever be in our hearts.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013



  • Group of 2-6 individuals to train for and run the Carlsbad marathon Jan. 19th
  • Must be able to dedicate the time it takes to train for a marathon, roughly 10 hrs/week from now until January
  • Need to be motivated and enthusiastic
  • Must have either running experience or be fit enough to begin running immediately



  • We meet to learn your capabilities and get to know one another
  • I provide training schedules two weeks at a time according to your ability; including mileage, cross training and injury prevention exercises as well as diet
  • We communicate regularly by email, text, phone
  • Hold each other accountable and plan runs together, including me!
  • We meet every two weeks to discuss your successes and difficulties in order to make the next schedule



  • $100 per month/per group
  • First two months paid in order to begin
  • Sundays are for ourselves and family



  • Lifetime achievement of running a marathon
  • Pushing yourself beyond your physical and mental comfort zone
  • Learning about your body and it's limits
  • Acquiring the ability to conquer anything else in your path



  • Elizabeth Kocek: (847) 804-7506
  • ASAP- this race will fill up!
  • San Diego Rock 'n' Roll will be coming soon in June as well!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Do One Thing Everyday That Scares You

I'm sure you've heard that quote from Eleanor Roosevelt, "Do one thing everyday that scares you."  I remember reading it years ago and decided to make sure to do it.  In Junior High, I said one thing out loud to the classroom at least once a class period.  In college, I stepped way outside of my comfort zone traveling and working on political campaigns.  Which all boils down to why I started this blog when I made the decision to move to Chile.  (BTW- if you don't know much about Eleanor Roosevelt, you should look her up, quite the woman!)

Lately, I've been getting rid of access in my life.  This included my YMCA membership, which I had primarily for the pool access.  I live in Mission Bay, across the street from a cove known for swimming and have two wet suits. What my excuse was to not swim there, I don't know.  So, in late June, I donned my wet suit and headed over to Ventura Cove, not exactly knowing what I was doing.    Luckily, there was another swimmer there so I was able to follow him and realized that people just swim along the buoys.  Easy enough!  I had never swam, like swimming laps, in salt water, so that was a bit weird to begin with.  I had also never swam in a wetsuit!  I didn't know I needed to lube up, I didn't realize my armpits would be so torn up!! LOL  Plus, I also was afraid, and still am afraid EVERYTIME I go, that I'm going to be attacked by a shark.  When the water starts to get dark and I can no longer see the seaweed, it's scary.  But, there's also people there, and a lifeguard, so I reassure myself that I'll be fine.  Plus, ultramarathon swimmers swim from Los Angeles to Catalina Island, which is 20 miles with an always-present legitimate fear of sharks.  So, I have nothing to worry about in Mission Bay. 

This Sunday, I'll complete another long swim in La Jolla Cove, which is awesome.  The sea life is amazing, beautiful coral and plant life, along with seals, sea lions, bat rays, leopard sharks, etc.  It was great the first time to be swimming along and see a few bat rays below me, just chillin'.

Yesterday, on a great heat and hills run with Trasie, we discussed how fear is the motivation for doing anything exciting.  "If it wasn't scary to jump out of a plane, it wouldn't be exciting."  (Better get into the fear business, eh?)  It's so true that anything exciting normally has a level of the unknown involved.  You don't know what kind of obstacles you'll run into during your run.  You have no idea what kind of people will be at your new job.  What if they're all jerks?  What if your boss is jerk?What if they fire me?  What if I fall in my new heels in front of the big boss?  All a part of the excitement/fear factor.

TODAY, I decided it was a great opportunity to take my boat out alone.  A friend of mine was going to come with to help just in case I needed it.  Not quite alone, but she is also a relative novice.  Plus, the guy in the slip next to me was gone, which makes it easier to pull out and pull in.  Yesterday I had seen 'Crazy Mike', from E dock, a seemingly 135 year old man, take his boat out alone and an intoxicated neighbor go out on his own, both in sailboats my size!  I'm am active, fairly intelligent woman so I figured I could do it sober.  Unfortunately, I couldn't get the throttle to do anything, it was stuck!  We drifted a little bit and needed some help to get back into my slip.  At least I got over the initial fear of trying to go out alone.  I think I'll be able to do it next week sometime.  This is a two year fear I'm facing.  It's about time I do it. 

So, I started thinking, if you're not into physical endurance or boating, what else can one do to scare yourself? LOL 

My suggestions:

1.  Take a new route to or home from work WITHOUT your gps. 
2.  Say something in a work meeting you've been meaning on saying and you know you have support from at least one other person, without risking too much.
3.  Sneak away on your lunch and do something totally scandalous.
4.  Try a new class or machine at the gym.  No one is watching you, don't think they're laughing at you.
5.  Smile at your creepy neighbor.
6.  Go to a car dealership and test drive a car you would never buy.  A pick-up truck, a sports car, etc.
7.  Walk around your neighborhood at night.  (If you legitimately can safely.)
8.  If you're someone who likes being in control, give it up for a day.  If you're unable to take control, grab it for a short while and learn that the consequences aren't that bad.
9.  Call in sick and go somewhere you've never been within 20 miles of your house.
10.  Jump off a tree.

There's a million things you could do!  Carpe Diem!!  EVERY SINGLE DAY.

Plus, you get the added benefit of knowing that when you do these things, you're keeping yourself young.  Young at heart by keeping the fear barriers small, like a child.  Young in the mind by going outside your comfort zone and using your cognitive brain, which is said to help prevent Alzheimers!


Sunday, June 23, 2013


100.  100 miles.  100 miles running.

I delayed this race report because I didn't quite know how to go about it.  Just a juicy narrative would be great, people want to hear all the stories, I'm sure.  All the people I saw vomiting, the millions of spiders and scorpions on the trails at night and the size of my blisters.  I'm going to go into details, don't worry.  But, I'm going to start with answering the most common questions I've gotten about the experience followed by a brief narrative.

 1.  Do you run without stopping?

There are aid stations along the route, every 4-9 miles.  This is where you can grab things like pretzels, pb&j, candy, gels or fruit.  In this race, I stopped at every aid station and only sat down three times, only once in a chair.  The first time was on a stump at Penny Pines Aid Station, mile 23, to check a blister, another time in a chair at Stonewall Creek Aid Station mile to change from my shorts to my pants, (apparently it was a show according to one of my pacers!).  Then again to change back into my shorts.  I also had the luxury of using a flush toilet at two Aid Station in the race!  Gotta take advantage of them when they're available!

As well, some of the sections of the race are big climbs, 8 miles to do 2400 vertical feet is runable perhaps on fresh legs but not at mile 35!  Therefore, in those sections it is wise to walk.  Also, near the end, I adopted the 'ultra shuffle' as some like to call it.  (just move your arms and it looks like you're running!)

2.  Do you eat?

Yes, I eat.  This race, I consumed nearly 5,000 calories.  I try to consume some form of calories every half hour.  This can be in the form of a pretzel that I hid in my pocket of my pack for later, or an entire burrito. I also use handheld bottles with liquid forms of calories.  Running into an Aid Station is equivalent to going through a drive-through.  The excitement of what you're going to find on the table, combined with deciding what to consume, considering what you know you need to consume, what looks good at the time and who is there to greet you and refill your bottles and pack is fantastic!  That feeling you get when you're in an office and it's almost lunchtime and you can't think about anything else, I had to endure that through 15 Aid Stations.  Only one of them had pickles and there were no sticky balls :(

3.  What about going to the bathroom?

This is actually less complicated than the eating question.  The entire race was on trails in the Laguna mountains, Anza-Borrego State Park, and the Cuyamaca State Park, most of which are part of the Cleveland National Forest.  Here is the course if you're interested.  Therefore, it is real easy to squat and pee.  Or, in the male runners case, pee while running/walking.  I can't tell you how many trails I saw of this on the dry dirt.  TP is not required, unless you are a picky runner, which means you're going to need to carry it with you, both before and after you go.  Unless you are disrespectful of Mother Nature and
decide to leave it there.  In that case, you don't deserve to be running on trails, in my opinion.

#2 is more personal.  If you can remember which aid stations have bathrooms, you can rely on the bathrooms.  However, if you have ever been a runner, you know that sometimes you cannot wait til you get to a bathroom.  In that case, you are part of the forest.  Do bears sh!t in the woods???  Just cover it up and move on.

A view from the PCT, where more than a quarter of the race is ran on. I took this on one of our training runs.

4.  How do you train for something like that?

The running part of the training is rather easy.  There are plenty of training plans out there one can follow.  In order to qualify firstly, you need to have ran at least a 50-miler or more in the past 24 months and need to provide proof.  Therefore, you should have mileage under your belt already and be able to log 40-60 miles a week no problem.  The build up should be gradual and the idea is to be out running all day. If you can follow that up with another long run the day after, that is great.  The more time on your feet, the better.  As well, the taper is a VERY important piece of preparation.  The month prior, from May 6th to June 9th, I only ran 4 times, each being no more than 5-6 miles.  I also had a fever in that time frame, spent some time with my mom in the hospital and attended my sister's wedding!  I didn't know if I was rested enough but I knew it was a good taper and I had no injuries going into it.

Then there is the mental part of it.  As they say, "Any crazy person can run a marathon, it takes a real crazy person to run an ultra".  Something like that.  You need to know your body and be prepared to push it beyond normal limits.  Without going into too many details, I have been working on my stamina all my life.  From running around at my family place in Braidwood, IL, making trails through our woods, standing at frontarm for hours on end in the middle of the night at Sokol courses and working or dancing all night and making it to class at 8am in college, I almost feel like I had been training for this race since I was 5!  In addition, I am not a picky runner.  I'm that person who has to change the typical doctor's question of 1-10 for pain into 1-10 regarding my fear of the injury preventing me from doing my daily activities or turning into something worse.  If I were honest, they doctor would tell me to go away.

This race was a little different, however, in that, I needed to use mental fortitude early on.  We were warned about the heat beforehand by RD Scotty Mills and I knew I had 100 miles to run that day.  So, I started slow.  I let people pass me.  By the time I got into Pine Creek 1 at 31.3, I saw carnage.  This meant that near the end, I was 15-30 mins ahead of the cutoff at each aid station, a little too close, but I finished.  Only 82 out of 208 that started finished!

The other important thing to note is my shoes.  I had fallen in love with the Merrell Pace Glove minimalist shoe and just recently got a pair of the Pace Glove 2, the upgrade, from Jon, the local Merrell rep.  I wasn't so sure of them since they seemed extra big, even though they were the same size as my others.  However, after just 7 miles in them, I went out there in them to complete the race.  My feet weren't any more beat up than any other runners feet, honestly.  And, since my form has improved in the past 2 years I've been running minimalist, my knees and hips didn't bother me hardly at all!

5.  What did you do after you finished?

People are curious about this!!!  I ran into the finish line at 31:22:15 with David and Diane, hugged the race director and his assistant.  He gave me a FRS protein drink which I took one sip of, took 77 million pictures, and then went to sit down next to Iso, a teammate from Badwater Salton Sea who also completed the race.  I was then handed a plate of food, a beer and received tons of hugs.

My boyfriend took off my shoes and tried to touch them but they hurt too much.  After about 10 minutes, I felt nauseous and Diane brought over a box for just in case.  We then went back to the campground where I laid in a friend's air conditioned RV.  I tried to sleep but my legs were way too jittery.  So, I just curled up in a ball underneath a blanket and caught up on the facebook action on my phone.   When suggested that I take a shower, I said that I didn't think I could stand that long, I was told, "You just ran 100 miles, I know you can stand long enough to take a shower!"  I munched on food but still hadn't had a big meal.  Didn't feel like it yet.  I eventually took the shower after 4 hours and went outside to join the gang.  We talked and I had a few beers and two friends went out to get pizza to bring back.  It was delicious.  I was then able to pass out in the tent.

What followed in the next two weeks is more interesting.  We celebrated and celebrated!  Champagne and Jameson on Monday with Diane and Dave, live lobster and crab on Tuesday with Lynne, dinner with the Hassetts and some heavy stout on Friday, Buckle party on Sunday, beers and boating this Wednesday with another finisher, Julie and Carlos, a pacer of mine who jumped in, and then a spa day with Regina, another pacer, this Friday where they scrubbed years of grime off my body.  The first week, I ate like a horse and slept like a dog, this past week, my diet has gotten a little under control...  and I ran 12 miles this week!  My neighbor, a chiropractor came over the first night home as well with his electric therapy massage to electrocute my feet to try to bring down the inflammation.  He then brought over his ultrasound machine for Diane and I.  He tested me for stress fractures and luckily, I don't have any!

My left foot had three blisters, one big one on my baby toe, which appears that it damaged my toenail and it will be coming off shortly, another small one on my middle toe, which deflated shortly and I've since peeled off the skin and one ugly one between my big toe and my second toe.  Which took me 2 days to clean thoroughly because it was so tender.  I'm still peeling off skin from the pads of my forefoot though.  That might take some time.

The narrative portion:

Check-in the night before was great!  Seeing friends, introducing Diane, my friend who had flown in from Chicago to crew me, to everyone and getting my goodie bag.  No matter how much prep work you do, you still have to put together your drop bag for certain aid stations, your water pack and your bag for your crew. So, at our campground, there was myself, Julius, and John who had the trunks to our cars open messing around in there getting our things together.  I wasn't entirely concerned about sleeping in a tent the night before and not getting good sleep, since I know that the night before a big race, I don't normally sleep good anyway!  Which is why I had a good nap on Thursday and consumed no caffeine the week prior.

The first few hours of the race were fun, chatting with folks, making new friends, letting people pass me.  Once we started heading into Noble Canyon and the guy I was running with, Johan, fell and wanted to walk a bit, I went ahead to see the carnage.  It was getting hot and I was taking salt caps every hour at this point.  As mentioned earlier, I slowed down and continued to eat and drink.  I saw friends who are solid runners suffering.  I walked all of the Pine Creek loop, which was where the temperatures apparently reached anywhere from 101-107.

Climbing up to Pioneer Mail, at mile 44.1, 2400 ft. climb, in 8 miles, I could finally use my crew, which consisted of Dave, Diane, Trasie, Regina, Errin, Rachel and anyone else that wanted to help!  They threw a jacket on me and sent me on my way to Sunrise 1.  This is apparently where I started passing people at aid stations, since I wasn't spending time sitting.  Coming into Sunrise, now in the dark, this was the first and only time I had seen any of the front-runners, Jeff Browning, I thought, he's got 20 miles to go and I have 50!!!  Carlos jumped in and paced me from Sunrise 1 to Stonewall Mine, where he told me how frustrated he was at the Mt. Disappointment 50K back in August where it was 105.  He couldn't believe I was still smiling!  Then, at Stonewall Mine, mile 58.9, I ate a grilled cheese sandwich, which was delicious, even after Carlos told me they'd have burritos!  Errin and I took off from there, this was going to be the climb up and down Stonewall Peak and I knew it's rocky terrain so it went well.

Coming into Paso Picacho, I used a flushing toilet and we took off again to Sweetwater.  This is where we ran into the spiders!  Luckily, Errin was in front breaking down the webs that they're somehow able to build just within the time frame from when the last runner went by.  But the ground was absolutely covered in them, every square inch must have had at least 10-15 spiders on it, for at least a few miles!  It was creepy.  We concluded that all the eggs must have just hatched at the same time and they never had a chance to spread out.  We were also running right next to a stream as well. I didn't tell him at the time but I had nodded my head a few times while trying to keep up, literally dozing on the trail.  Enter caffeinated Gu to revive me.

Coming into Sweetwater, Rachel, Errin's mom took over while Steve hustled me out of there.  I couldn't wait for the sun to come up at this point.  It was already 5:17 when we left for Sunrise 2 and it was a bit of a climb getting there.  Rachel is so sweet and she made me a good luck charm to carry on my pack.  It's now sitting on display with my buckle!  She got me in there and we actually made up time.  I ate a pancake and some eggs but refused the grilled cheese sandwich that was so delicious earlier on.  I guess I only wanted breakfast food!  Trasie changed me back into my shorts and we were off.

Regina and Serina took over from here and literally dragged me into Pioneer 2.  Almost as soon as the sun came up, I wanted it to go away!  Practically the entire next section was on the PCT and it was exposed the whole 7 miles.  I felt so bad for Regina since she hardly knew me when she signed up to pace me and at this point, I was miserable.  I was a zombie.  But, she was practically militant in getting me there and it was just what I needed!  As soon as we came in, I saw a friend of mine who had missed a cutoff the day before, bright-eyed and bushy tailed as if she had done nothing yesterday.  I broke down when I saw her.  Diane was trying to administer sunscreen to my face while tears were coming down.  Kristine told me my nose was bleeding and I told her I knew because every time I tried to pick my dry itchy nose, my finger came out bloody!  (She told me to stop picking my nose!  LOL)

Regina and I carried on into Penny Pines 2 at 91.5.  At this point, I had mastered the ultra shuffle and just wanted to be done.  Everyone was there, Diane, Jeff, Trasie, Julius, Terry, Dave, who was at every Aid Station and a lot of other people.  Sorry if I missed you, they kicked me out so fast!
I left with "The Pope" at this point, who is a mean roadrunner but told me he's not familiar with trails nor ultras.  In his own words, "I got the test done and I don't have that mutant gene."  He got me into Rat Hole and Diane and Trasie carried me out, without a second for me to comprehend what had just happened.  The heat of the day was upon us and I only had 4 miles to go.  4 miles is relatively nothing.  I had Diane in front pulling me and Trasie behind me pushing.  I was no longer cheerful and Trasie tried my normal tricks, including the "Sound of Music's" favorite thing song and I did not feel like singing at all.  I was spent.  Once we got into the campground and started weaving around a bit, I got excited!  Dave offered me a beer when we passed our campsite and I refused.  The 3 of us came in together and it was extremely emotional!  It seemed like everyone was crying or at least had a big smile on their face!  Then the previously mentioned onset of pictures.

Here we are, the entire crew minus the Hassetts, with the RD Scotty Mills and assistant Angela Shartel.

Thank you again to everyone who signed up to help me, David, Diane, Trasie, Errin and Rachel Hassett and Regina.  Thanks to Carlos, Carroll and Serina for jumping in to help me and everyone else that I saw out there on the course and gave me support.  I'm sure I would have either gotten lost or fallen over without you all!  The support teams and volunteers are working just as hard if not harder than the runners sometimes and stay up all night as well!  Thanks guys!!!!  Keep me in mind when you need crew or pacers.

One last question people have asked, "What's next?"

I have some great invites in September already for some races and a Mt. Whitney summit.  I also have a lot of ideas as far as my next 100 or big event.  It's going to depend upon what comes my way.  I'm currently not signed up for ANY race, first time in years!  I don't want to force anything to happen but when things align, I'll jump on it and make it happen.