I am in the midst of tapering for my first race of 2017 at Dawn to Dusk to Dawn on May 13th. It will be my first 24-hour race on a track. I trained exceptionally hard for this race as it represents a lot more than just a race to me this year. This is a comeback. Starting around summer of last year, I had developed a very dangerous addiction to benzodiazepines. I could sit here and say it was the result of the PTSD and anxiety I was diagnosed with, but there’s plenty of non-addicts who don’t go to the extremes I did to try to feel better and function.
I very well could have died from seizures with the addiction hole I had become drowned in. Out of the other addictions I have been through, though they were nasty and uncomfortable, to say the least, none of them had life-threatening consequences like this one did. It was scary. It really has taken me a long time to feel normal again in time to race this spring. Maybe in some ways I’m still recovering from the whole escapade. But there’s no time for that. It’s time to race again.
So much of my training just didn’t feel good, and I felt like I was fighting my body to get out and do the miles instead of thriving on it. A lot of it was emotional. I was mentally exhausted and yet relieved that the people I thought I would lose were still there by my side. But there was the physical aspect. Winter was very mild and with that, the trail I have to train on was mostly mud all winter instead of frozen. It was a real mental and physical battle in so many ways. But I wrote out a plan, followed it, and did the workouts, because this had to happen.
Since D3 is a track race, I knew I had to focus on speed this time. This was hard to do on my muddy trail, so most of my speedwork had to be done either on the treadmill or during my long runs on the local track or paved trails. But when I did get the chance to get out to hit solid ground, I pushed the pace. I also simulated a race environment by setting up a table and preparing supplies so my stops were as limited as possible. These long runs ranged from 40-60 miles, and I set 2 new personal records in the process.
Between the mud at home and the fast long runs, my legs were constantly drained, sore, and fatigued all six months of training. I was also doing a downhill session of 5-18 miles at -10 every 1-2 weeks which always produces at least mild DOMS. I maxed out my peak training week with 170 miles, breaking my 160-week record of last year. But this was only two weeks after hitting a 152-mile week. This was a whole new level of training for me, combining a high level of intensity with high mileage. I kept thinking, if my legs ever feel better, I might see what this can do!
So now, I’m tapering. I’ve been waiting for that sign or signal from my body and my legs that we are going to peak right on time. I do believe peaking is highly mental, but there is definitely a physical component that must join the party to at least trigger the mental aspect. Today, I felt it. I just knew everything was perfectly executed. I felt the rebound effect from healing up finally and the mental focus was unwavering. The speed, power, and mental fortitude are ready to go. It is time.
I put my heart and soul into every race I run. The races ARE me. They define me. I am who I am because of them, so I must be everything I can be to go out there and set foot on the course and give it everything I got and nothing less. Do or die. It sounds ridiculous to some, but I know I have to go big or there’s nothing else out there for me. (At least until my husband and I retire to go bluewater sailing!)
In 9 days I will attempt an epic comeback from an addiction only last year. I will run for The Herren Project, because this is something I need to do. Every mile is representative of those suffering from addiction. There’s such a horrible stigma involved with addiction, and we need to change this! It prevents people from getting the treatment they need. Please, consider donating to my year-long campaign 24 Hours for Recovery so we can not only spread awareness, but THP also brings a valuable message to schools, provides monetary assistance to those in recovery so they can advance their lives, and provides families with help and assistance so they are not alone in dealing with a loved one with an addiction all on their own.