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History (or is that Herstory?)

Runnin Turnip asks, "how long did it take you to get up to ultra-running?"

Um, I don't know that I want to answer that, as the answer will tell y'all exactly why I'm injured :)

I met Johnny 10 ? years ago, and he got me hooked on hiking, rock climbing and backpacking. At that point, I was 17 (yes, young, I know!) and at a healthy weight (135 pounds), after battling disordered eating throughout high school (trying to starve myself - was never diagnosed with anorexia, and I don't think it was full-blown, but disordered nonetheless - got down to 118 pounds). Through the years after I married Johnny, I continued hiking, rock climbing and backpacking regularly, even as my weight steadily climbed (and climbed). I was proud to be an active 200-pound woman.

Six-and-a-half years into our marriage, we were surprised with Ash. After being married for so long with no conception, we figured we were barren - and happy with that! While pregnant, I took walks and tried to stay at an "okay" weight, i.e. not dangerous. I ended up at about 235 pounds by the time Ash was born. After I had him, I quickly dropped down to 196 pounds, and stayed there until December of 2004, at which point my running saga begins...

It was the holidays, full of rich foods and family gatherings - the combination of which led to much over-eating! Food was my friend, my comfort, my constant, non-judgmental, ever supportive companion. After a particularly celebratory week, I started to feel incredible discomfort in my right torso. The pain didn't go away, and would get worse when I ate. I had noticed throughout the year that I couldn't eat pizza at night anymore, because the pain kept me awake, but I figured it was some sort of indegestion with the tomato sauce (the only tomato-y thing I ate). But during this week, everything I ate was causing indegestion and pain - I was getting no sleep! The pain intesified to the point where I couldn't walk anymore. I could barely hold myself up, and nothing was staying in my body - everything was coming out one way or another. Horrible! I developed a fever, and spent the weekend in bed, without eating anything. I went to work on Monday morning, and a friend told me, "Gallstones." What?! What are gallstones? She told me to go to the doctor immediately, and so I did. She was right. I have gallbladder disease, including a large gallstone. This means I have to watch my saturated and trans fat intake, in addition to watching my portion sizing - for the rest of my life.

Well, this completely changed my life - no more pizza, french fries or ice cream for me! January, February and March of 2005 were the most miserable months of my life. Breaking that addiction felt impossible, but I knew that if I had my gallbladder removed, I would stay addicted. I knew that I needed to change my life, and let me tell you, there is nothing like the threat of imminent pain and emergency surgery to keep you from reaching for those french fries!!!

After the first 30 pounds melted off, my body felt like it needed activity, so I started running. Johnny and I had spent some time previously running, but it never lasted for long. It was around March of last year, and I couldn't even run a half mile! But I was out there! Plus, I started yoga. My body began to feel grateful for how I was caring for it.

Then, a coworker mentioned that she ran in the mornings, and would love a partner, and that's when I actually began a regular running routine. Paki and I would head out three times a week for about two miles each day. She did such a great job teaching me patience (which I still have issues with!). She also taught me that it's okay to walk when you run - and in fact, walking can really help! In the process, our relationship went from being coworkers to being friends. That's one of the things I love most about running - the community. I have made so many friends through running!

In the meantime, Johnny really began training for ultra running, and so we had two runners in the house. I decided that a race would make a great, fun goal. I ran my first 5k race in August ? it was a trail run. I ran my first 5 mile race at the beginning of September (with Paki), and did a 7 mile trail race at the beginning of October ? when I finally decided to go for Pemberton 50k.

Here?s how my weekly mileage went as I trained for Pemberton:
Week of...
Jul 18........12.00
Jul 25.........5.50
Aug 1..........9.61
Aug 8..........8.20
Aug 15.........8.30
Aug 22........14.80
Aug 29........13.60
Sep 5..........3.20
Sep 12........10.85
Sep 19.........9.60
Sep 26.........9.40
Oct 3.........14.50
Oct 10........11.60
Oct 17.........4.60
Oct 24........17.20
Oct 31........10.00
Nov 7.........20.75
Nov 14........19.00
Nov 21........22.40
Nov 28........27.21
Dec 5.........21.10
Dec 12........32.45
Dec 19........24.80
Dec 26........34.35
Jan 2.........31.00
Jan 9.........32.20
Jan 16........23.90
Jan 23.........4.55
Jan 30........33.30 (race week)

There really wasn?t any cross-training in there. As I upped my mileage, the yoga stopped. Most of the running was done on the local river path, which is half packed dirt and half pavement. I did some running on dirt roads, and the rest on local, steep, rocky trails. The most vertical I did in one run was when I did Wasson Peak ? 3300 vertical feet. Mostly, I focused on overall gains around 1200 to 2000 feet ? since Pemberton was 1600.

As my mileage increased, so did my appetite - so much so, that even eating low-fat foods, my gallbladder was hurting! My weight continued it's downward slide, and I now average 137. The week after the race, I was down to 133, but with being injured, it's creeping back up - part of my panic!

(Obviously, I have weight issues that I have never fully resolved. Intellectually, I know I should be happy at whatever weight I am - as long as my gallbladder and the rest of my body are healthy and I can keep doing what I love - running. But I still have issues with the number on the scale, with the size number on the clothing. I went from an 18/20 to an 8/10. And I really, really want to keep it that way. But then, I wonder why? Why do I care about that? I read some blogs where I feel so happy and proud and "damn straight!" that the authors don't need to be "stick-thin" to participate in incredibly awesome athletic endeavors (marathons, triathlons, and even Ironman!). Then, why, pray tell, am I so hard on me?)

Okay, anyway, this was supposed to be about how long it took me to get into ultra-running. The short answer: not long enough. In analyzing my weekly mileage, I really only took three months to go from a recreational runner to ultrarunner. And now I'm paying the price :(

Once I heal, I plan on getting my mileage back up there - I'd like to maintain a base mileage of 20 - 25 mpw, and in prepping for ultra races (yes, I still want to do ultras!) I want to get up to 50 mpw. My life this year probably won't allow for that much mileage, but (depending on how well I heal) I will probably be able to do the Soul Run 50k in October. My big goal is Zane Grey 50 miler!


DATE: 7:08 PM, February 28, 2006
Thanks for sharing- what an amazing journey!

DATE: 8:35 PM, February 28, 2006
Angie, what a change in such a short period of time! It's cool to read the history, and I'm glad to hear Ash is enjoying school now. Good luck with the IT band issues.

DATE: 9:30 PM, February 28, 2006
Angie- You're an inspiration to me!

DATE: 12:08 AM, March 01, 2006
I agree, you had a most amazing journey! I hope you heal up quickly and can get started on your next goal.

DATE: 2:34 AM, March 01, 2006
Other people might have folded after getting gallstones. You took it as an opportunity and totally turned your life around. You're now fit, thin, active, and probably happier than before. That's really inspirational, thanks for sharing it.

DATE: 9:45 AM, March 01, 2006
Thank you so much for sharing your journey! You really are inspiring, It gives me hope that I will be able to run an ultra some day! Glad to hear that you are healthier too, its amazing how running has turned so many people's lives around (including my own). I will have been running for a a year in April, so I hope that maybe next year I can run an ultra. Feel better soon with your injury!

DATE: 9:46 AM, March 01, 2006
You've had an incredible journey. It's amazing. Continue to take care of your body...it will take care of you.

DATE: 11:54 AM, March 01, 2006
What a triumphant tale that is still being written. You helped inspire me to run a 50k next year...too many intermediate goals to take care of before then.

DATE: 2:25 PM, March 01, 2006
Angie, great story, thanks for sharing. And Ash did better in school yesterday? Did it go okay?

DATE: 5:48 PM, March 01, 2006
Angie, I have a weight issue:) I gained lots after having kids and dropped 60 lbs before I began running. Well, I gained 15 of them back since, and only pray some of it is muscle:) You have a great journey, and it continues.

DATE: 10:27 PM, March 01, 2006
When I said you could do Pemberton 50K with only a few months training, I didn't think you would do it. I am very impressed that you stuck with the "crazy" goal and were even willing to keep your goal as your intended training fell through many times. You were tough at 200 pounds and you still are - rock on baby!!! You can achieve anything you want (no pressure of course ;)).

DATE: 4:38 PM, March 02, 2006
What a great change in your life and I totally agree with what running can bring to anyone's life. There is a great sense of community with runners that brings out a great joy in life that can get lost as we get older and fall away from our high school friends.You're a great example of all that can be accomplished if you just get rid of the "I can't" and realize that "I can" is such a better way to live. Thanks for sharing your story.

DATE: 5:09 AM, March 03, 2006
What a great story! I know you have to feel proud for all you've accomplished as you rightfully should!Just think how much more enjoyable the rest of your life is going to be having made these choices early!

DATE: 7:24 AM, March 03, 2006
Wow - what a story. ...and I was almost in tears reading the post about your son in preschool. I followed my daughter around w/a video camera during her first day of Kindergarten and had a real TOUGH time leaving her there. (She was fine and kept telling me to go...)

DATE: 12:19 PM, March 03, 2006
Angie, you've truly come along ways! So proud of you, amazing you ran a 50K too! You're very determined, so cool! Thanks for the story.

DATE: 3:23 PM, March 03, 2006
WOW! Thanks for sharing your story. Your honesty is refreshing and your courage is most commendable. Good luck and I hope you heal quickly!

DATE: 11:55 PM, March 03, 2006
Every time I read your blog I am struck by what a strong person you are - physically and mentally. You really are an inspiration.Scales are EEEEEEVIL. I keep trying to bargain with the numbers. We're supposed to have a deal, i.e. numbers go down, not up.This deal is totally backfiring. In fact, the more I run, the more weight I seem to gain (I *suppose* it's muscle!). As you say, it's so true that we shouldn't care about the number, as long as we feel healthy in our bodies - and yet ridiculously, it still seems to matter so much! It's so hard to break away from the pressure to be thin - or should I say, light.

DATE: 9:21 AM, March 27, 2006
WOW what an amazing story. I have just started out running, and found the story of how you got from not running to running great distances SO inspiring. Thanks for sharing thatSuexxxxxx

do u still run and r u in the valley? i am moving from tempe to paradise valley area, and cannot find anyone yet to train with. I just did my 1s'goalt ultra 26.2 on Mt Diablo. My "goal" is Moab to SLickroak 50 in september and maybe Mt Baker 50k in the fall. I do not run fast...probably 09:20 avg as i pace for endurance and ultimately want that pace to be my average pace no matter what the terrain. if you work out solo or r not interested perhaps u have leads....thank u for ur time...

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