Seen on the run (May 26, 2019)

Riprap/Wildcat loop Cranky irritable annoyed exhausted anxious sad My cousin died Molly is sick again I can’t remember the last time I slept through the night I checked my hydration pack after Promise Land and couldn’t find a leak. I filled it up the night before this run and refrigerated it overnight. When I pulled it out in the morning there was no sign of leakage. Five minutes into the run my back and legs were soaked. By mile 6 I was out of fluid. It was hot. Fuck it. I hate rocky, technical downhill. Why did I choose this route? Oh yeah. I wanted to see the Rhododendrons. And jump in the swimming hole. There were a few Rhododendrons here and there. I tried to feel happy. I mostly just felt tired. There were people at the swimming hole. I felt self-conscious. And I really just wanted to get home and check on Molly. Two thousand feet of climbing in the last 2.5 miles. In the heat. Brian shared his water. *When I got home I discovered a crack in the small plastic piece that connects the tube to the bladder in my hydration pack. I’ve had it for maybe 9 months.

Seen on the run (April 6, 2019)

Four easy miles on the Monticello trail.

Just me.


The anxiety crazies are back. And/or I’m injured. It’s just so much fun that I can never tell the difference. The pain always feels very real.

My toe started hurting at mile 5 of my run on Wednesday. I cut my run short, but I thought I was just being overly cautious. It didn’t hurt so bad that I couldn’t run on it.

I was planning to run Friday morning, but I decided not to because the toe was still hurting (I did a lot of walking around on Wednesday and Thursday). I also spent a lot of time Googling everything I could think of involving running and toe injuries. Stress fractures of the metatarsals are common in runners, but stress fractures of the phalanges (which is where my pain is) are not.

It could be metatarsalgia. There is some pain under the toe. And my second toe is longer than my big toe. And I always have a callus in that spot.

Or it could all be in my head.

Or just mostly in my head.

The fun is that there is no way to know.

I nearly made myself sick worrying about whether I should try to do a long group run this morning. There were two that I really wanted to do. One was a training run on the Promise Land 50k course. But I also knew I didn’t want to drive all the way down to Lynchburg when I wasn’t sure if I’d even be able to do the run. I wasn’t even sure if I wanted the hassle of driving to Sugar Hollow and meeting up with a group only to possibly have to turn around after a mile or two.

By the time I went to bed last night I was pretty sure I was just going to do a short easy run in town to test it out. Then, if all was fine I could still do my own long(ish) run on Sunday. I’m not convinced that I should be running 20+ miles on consecutive weekends anyway.

The run was fine. My toe was just a little achy.

I walked to the City Market afterward though and it hurt. Not bad enough to make me limp. Just bad enough to keep me guessing.

Fun with anxiety and running.

Poison ivy

This poison ivy has brought back the anxiety crazies.

I noticed the first spot on my arm on Wednesday, July 5. By the end of that day, I had a big patch on my right hip and some spots on my inner thigh. For the next few days, some smaller spots showed up all along my arms, stomach and upper thighs. Since the biggest spots were on my right hip and upper inner thigh, I figured that the poison ivy oil was on my shoes and when I put my shorts on, it transferred to the inside of my shorts and onto my body.


I threw out those shorts (they were old and not good for running anymore anyway).

For the record, I always take my shoes off before I change my shorts. Except the Sunday before I hadn’t. Because I usually change out of my sweaty wet clothes in the woods at the trail head. But the day before I’d found a tick crawling on my shoe when I did that. And a few days before that, I’d found a tick attached to me. So I didn’t feel like changing in the woods. Instead, I pulled off the Blue Ridge Parkway at a picnic area to change. It was still fairly early in the morning though, so it was deserted. Ever since I’d read about the Seattle runner who was attacked in a bathroom, I’ve been leery about deserted restrooms. I really wanted to get out of my soaked clothing, though. So I went in and quickly checked all the stalls. I then changed as fast as I possibly could, while standing with my hand holding the main door closed. So I didn’t take my shoes off. Until I got back to my car. Then I put them on the floor in the back of my car. Then probably into an old grocery bag with the rest of my wet clothes to carry into the house.

It wasn’t until this Tuesday, a full week after finding the first spot that I started thinking about everything that I and my shoes may have come into contact with, though. I started thinking about this because after a few glorious days of not finding any new spots, some new patches showed up on my wrist and lower thighs.

Since my last major anxiety flare up, I’ve been doing really well! I can’t say exactly what I’ve been doing to get it in check, but I think the main thing was cutting way back on my training. I’m pretty sure that I was over-training last summer, trying to follow my half-ironman training plan. I also started doing gentle yoga everyday (that only lasted a couple of weeks) and cut way down on caffeine. I still make 6+ cups every morning, but I only use 2 scoops of regular and the rest decaf.

But dealing with this poison ivy is making me feel pretty crazy again.

It’s not helping that I’m not getting much sleep because the itchiness is keeping me awake. And thinking that everything I touch could possibly have urishiol on it is driving me mad.

Today I scrubbed down both pairs of my running shoes with technu, and then washed them in the washing machine. I also used the technu to scrub down my steering wheel and seat belt, and washed both of my backpacks and all of my reusable grocery bags, because any of them may have been on the floor of my car. The hairbrush that I keep in my car and my windshield visor are on the floor now, and since I don’t want to touch them, I just plan on leaving them there indefinitely.

Watching this You-Tube video initially made me feel a little better, but now I’m scrubbing my hands three times after I touch anything. Soon I may not have any skin left to scrub. The video said the Dawn dish soap works better than anything else, so I used some from a bottle that someone had left in my apartment long before I moved in. The date on it was 2009. After scrubbing my raw, open-sore arms with the stuff, I became paranoid that it was contaminated with god-knows-what and all of my sores were going to get infected, so I doused them with alcohol and went and bought a new bottle.

See? Crazy.

None of this has kept me from running in the woods, though. I’m heading to the mountains tomorrow. I’ll just be scrubbing like crazy afterward.

And searching for ticks.


When it’s all just a little bit too much

Tomorrow morning, I should be doing my first iron distance triathlon. I paid the exorbitant entry fee and spent the last four months training for it.

But that’s not what’s happening.

Last Friday, I threw my back out reaching for my water bottle on what was supposed to be my last long ride before the race. I spent most of last week lying in bed. It was Monday before I could go from lying down to standing up (or standing up to lying down) without crying.

My back still aches, but I can walk now. Yesterday I went for a short swim. But I still can’t bend down. There is no way that I could bike 56 miles and run 13.1. It’s possible that I could do the 1.2 mile swim, but I’d be worried that my back would seize up in the middle of the river and I’d drown. And I’d just be depressed that I couldn’t do the whole race, anyway.

On Monday (when I was still mostly bed-ridden), I found out that my divorce had been finalized the week before, which made me very sad. It also left me without health insurance until October.

The next day, I found out that Pignoli, my favorite little owl at the Wildlife Center, had died the day before (on the same day that I’d found out about my divorce). Pignoli had been Kurt’s favorite, too. We had “adopted” her once as a fundraiser for the center. The timing was more than I could take. I cried for a good long time. For Pignoli. And for my marriage.

Such a stressful time was probably not the best time to train for a half ironman. I think I was doing it as a distraction. The intense training didn’t leave much time to think about anything else. But, it has also taken a toll on me emotionally. I’ve been anxious, on edge, and fearful.

Anxiety is something I’ve dealt with for most of my life. But the feeling of being constantly on edge and fearful is new.


A stranger knocked on my door the other night and I hid on the floor for a while, then put chairs against the doors.

I’m guessing that’s not normal behavior.

I’ve always gotten up early to go run. Usually by myself and in the dark. These past few months, I’ve been putting a whistle in my mouth and carrying pepper spray in my hand just to walk out to my car to go to the gym in the morning.

A really scary and presumably stray dog chased me on one of my long bike rides and ever since I’ve been on edge every time I ride, worrying that I’ll be chased again. The ride last Friday when I hurt my back was the first one I’d done solo since the incident. I was feeling pretty nervous about it.


There have also been a few social engagements that have caused me anxiety for days in advance.


And then there was the time I thought I was being murdered on my run.

I’m telling you all of this because I can’t help but think that if I’d been a little less tense, I might not be missing my race tomorrow.

And because I don’t want to live like this.

I guess it’s time to slow down, take some deep breaths, and work on regaining my mental and physical strength. Maybe actually confronting some of the things I’ve spent so much energy avoiding.

For the next couple of months, I’m going to make reading, doing yoga, walking in the woods, picking apples and sitting on the porch my top priorities.

I’m hoping that’s enough to take the edge off.

Seen on the run (August 21, 2016)

I was leaning through the fence trying to get a picture when I heard two loud pops and was thrown back onto the ground. I was sure that I was being shot at. It felt like the bullets had hit my head. Surprised that I was able to run, I was nonetheless up and running as fast as I could, screaming “Help! Aaaaah! Help me!”. I 100% believed that I had been shot. When I was pretty sure that whoever had shot at me wasn’t following me, I searched for blood and couldn’t believe there wasn’t any. I was still pretty sure I was going to die.

Have you been reading the news lately? Several women runners have been murdered this summer. At least one was shot in the back of the head. I don’t need to read these stories.

Do you see that wire behind the fence in the picture? It’s electric. I didn’t know that.

I had unwittingly electrocuted myself.

Very embarrassing in hindsight, but absolutely terrifying at the time.