Friday, February 7, 2014

Running, Life, and Everything In Between....

Hi everyone!  Again, I apologize for being so slack in updating my blog, but it seems life just keeps me busy (which is a plus, no complaints over here!).  Lots has happened since my last update.

I started my training for the Grand To Grand Ultra (September 2014).  I am beyond excited about this upcoming adventure.  As most of you know, Iceland didn't turn out as expected but I grew from it, learned a lot about myself, and met some incredible people that I am happy to call my friends.  I am lucky to have a new coach for this adventure, Ray Zahab.  Ray is known for his amazing adventures across the Sahara and Atacama deserts, holds the Guinness World record for breaking the world speed record for an unsupported expedition by a team to the South Pole (with two other Canadians), but he is also one of the kindest men I've ever met.  I had the pleasure of meeting Ray for the first time at the Grand to Grand in 2013, which I volunteered at.  He is an advisor for the race and came in for a day or two to cheer the participants on and see how his athletes were doing. After meeting him, I knew that was the person I wanted to guide me in my future races.  After sending him a message, he agreed to coach me (which was like hitting the ultra running lottery!).  He is humble, kind, generous, and goes above and beyond when it comes to giving back.  His organization impossible2Possible teaches our youth how to reach beyond their perceived limits.  i2P creates and delivers innovative experimental learning to students of all ages, simply by connecting student ambassadors out on expeditions to students in classrooms via interactive websites.  I started training in October 2013, and can tell such a difference in my running and outlook on running being under Ray's guidance.  Good things to come.....I know it ;)

After taking roughly a year off from having a 'real' job, I decided it was probably time to find something to do, but really wanted to do something I enjoyed.  I was anxiously awaiting the opening of a brand new running store in Charlotte called Ultra Running Company.  Being an ultra runner, when you hear about a store like this coming, it is like hearing the angels singing!  A store that is going to house not only some of the hottest clothing on the market (INKnBURN, Salomon, Oiselle) but some of the best shoes ever too (Hoka One One, Salomon, Altra, INOV-8).  One day, in between finishing up watching General Hospital and grabbing a Starbucks, I noticed there was a link on the URC Facebook page saying they were accepting applications.  I figured 'why not'!  I was a runner, loved to talk about running, loved to educate people about running, and loved being around runners....I would say that was a perfect if you ask me ;)!  I submitted my application and then waited.  Within a few days I heard back from URC owner Nathan Leehman asking to set up a phone interview.  I got through the phone interview (nervous but got through it) and again waited.  A few days passed and Nathan asked if I would be interested in coming into the store.  I arrived at the store, chatted for a few minutes, he offered me a full time position, and I graciously accepted :)! I couldn't believe it, I was actually going to be working at a place that I liked what I was doing, I liked the people I worked with, I loved what we sold, and the hours were perfect to fit in my training for the G2G.  It was a perfect fit!

The latest and equally exciting news came roughly a week ago!  At the start of 2014, I notice that one of my favorite running clothing companies was accepting applications for new ambassadors.  I'm the type, you never know unless you try, so I completed the application, submitted it, and waited.  I wasn't sure what my chances were but all I could do was hope (and pray!) and wait to see when they announce the chosen ones at the end of January/beginning of February.  I was finishing up a busy day at work, when I happened to go check Facebook one last time before getting in the car to head home.  And there it was....I had been chosen!!  Me, along with 11 other lucky people, had been chosen as the newest INKnBURN ambassador!  I have never been so honored and proud!

I know plenty of you are wanting to try INKnBURN but just haven't taken the jump yet.  Well I hope for all you first timers, this 15% off discount will 'nudge' you to give it a try :)  When checking out, use discount code: INBJM14 plus when you set up a new account, INB will give you 10 points which is equal to $10 off any order.  INB is not only quality tech clothing, unique with it's designs and styles, but each and every piece is made in the USA!  INB is headquartered in Costa Mesa, California and that is where all the beautiful gear is made as well.  So don't's time to go shopping :)

So with all that, you all should be up to date with what's going on in 'Jaime's World' and will understand why I've been a slack with updates.  I do promise to be better with updates.  I am currently getting my gear together for the G2G so will hopefully provide some reviews on items to help others going through the 'stage race process' know what works and what doesn't.  2014 is shaping up to be one very exciting year :)!

Until next time,


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A Long Awaited Update!

Yes, I know...I have been extremely slack with my blog, but I PROMISE I am going to do better :)  My last post was when I was heading to the Woodstock running festival in Michigan at the beginning of September.  It is now November 12th, and boy has a lot happened since then.  I'll do my best to put it in the shortest version I can!

Went to Woodstock, volunteered at the Grand to Grand, ran the Chicago marathon, crewed/ran at the Javelina Jundred 100 mile race, and that brings us up to date!  Woodstock was a tough 50K but was my "comeback race" (the first one after Iceland). When I decided to volunteer at the Grand to Grand Ultra, a 170 mile 7 day stage race in Utah and Arizona at the end of September, it was a last minute decision but I'm SO thankful I did it.  I was so moved by the beauty, the people, and the journey that I immediately went home and did 2 things: signed up for the race and contacted ultra/adventure runner extraordinaire Ray Zahab to see if he would be willing to coach me.  I had the pleasure of briefly meeting Ray at the G2G this year and knew his determination and kindness was exactly the kind of coach I needed to guide me for the G2G 2014 and races beyond that.  The Chicago marathon was my one year anniversary of my first marathon, and the Javelina Jundred was an experience like no other that I'm so glad I was a part of!

After submitting my deposit for the G2G next year, my training began!  I am now 4 weeks into training and it has been unbelievable!  I can see myself changing as a runner and that is AWESOME!!  I just keep focusing on the big picture....the G2G 2014!  It's going to be a rewarding 10 months of training only to be followed by an amazing 7 day adventure through Utah and Arizona :)

Until next time!


PS This video is 6 mins of some of the highlights from the G2G 2013.  I only volunteered this year, but this race changed by heart.  A beautiful experience <3

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Woodstock or Bust!

It hit me today, as I was sitting in my chair, admiring my beautiful view of Lake Norman "holy crap, I have a 50K trail run in 2 weeks!"

The weekend of September 5-8,  I will be heading to Cleveland to meet up with my friend Crystal and then hit the road to Pinchney, Michigan for the Run Woodstock 3 day festival!  5K-100 mile races will be offered over the 3 day event.  Camping, music, and lots of fun fun fun :) I will be running the 50K and look forward to the fun times ahead with new and old friends!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Life Goes On....

As I was making my way from Lake Norman to Marshville today for the weekend to visit family and celebrate my sister's 41st birthday, I realized how most of us spend our lives running away from things, me being one of them.  Let me explain.

I was born and raised in beautiful Lake Norman/Huntersville NC.  I thought I would spend the rest of my life there, with my husband and family, and live what so many think of as a "normal" life.  At the age of 19, after losing my fiancĂ©, Randy, to suicide in 1998, my life was changed forever.  I immediately was looking for a way out (even though at the time I didn't realize it).  It wasn't long after Randy's death, I had met someone and was spending most of my time at his home, in his town, which was over an hour away from Huntersville, but it was new, different, and had no signs of my past.

After moving to my new home, Monroe NC, within months of Randy's death, I felt like I had escaped the memories, the hurt, the guilt. Within 2 years, I was married, had moved into a new house in Marshville (a small town outside of Monroe), my parent's had moved to the area, and my sister and her family lived there as well.  It was all the good aspects of my life without all the bad that I had left in Huntersville.  Even though I would visit Huntersville (my family kept their lake house), it still was difficult and all I really wanted to do was stay in my safe haven in Marshville.

After my marriage ended, I still stayed in Marshville for another 12 years.  Towards the end, I wanted to move but had a beautiful home, my family was near, and my job was close by.  Fast forward to November 2012, when I received a Facebook message from Charlotte Running Company Lake Norman owner Todd Joefreda.  After scheduling a phone chat with him, I was given the opportunity I had been waiting for.  I would come on as the head trainer for the running programs for the store.  It was my opportunity to make the move back to Huntersville, which I wanted but was terrified to do.

I moved into my family's lake house in November 2012 and now close to a year later it was the best decision I could have ever made.  Moving back made me face the issues I had escaped so many years ago and find peace in all that transpire so many years ago.  OK, fast forward again to today, to my drive back to Marshville.  As I was heading back to the beautiful country side, filled with crops, tractors, and "good hearted people", it hit me that there was so much I had left unresolved in Marshville, when I left last November.

I am the type of person that hates thinking someone is upset with me.  I like to deal with issues right now, and be done with it. I think when you are upset with someone or something, it is a waste of everyone's time.  Life is too precious to spend time being angry.  As I was driving back to Marshville today it hit me, I needed to let go of the resentment I was carrying.  Yes my marriage was a failure, yes I loved someone more than I could ever imagine but also got hurt by that same person more than I could ever imagine, yes there have been failed friendships, but in the end, LIFE GOES ON!  Holding on to all of this, is not hurting the other people, but only blocking my heart and mind from embracing new friendships, new experiences, new love.

I guess the New Radicals said it best...."you get what you give"! So here's to letting go of the past, embracing the future, and loving the journey in between!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Adventure That Changed Me!

I know, I know, it's been a while since I blogged last (actually around 8 months) but I have been slightly busy! For the last 8 months I have been training, training, and training more for Racing The Planet Iceland!  A 250 km/155 mile 7 day, self supported stage race.  I literally lived and breathed this for the last 8 months.....and then the day came, August 1.

My mom dropped me off at the airport, after I spent most of the night before awake wondering had I packed everything I needed, was I really prepared for this adventure.  Basically doubting everything I had done for the last 8 months.  My family, my coach, and my friends all told me I was ready, but getting myself to believe it was easier said then done.  My flight left for New York City around 1:00 PM.  After multiple delays, my flight finally arrived to NYC around 4:30 PM.  After exiting at Gate 5, leaving the terminal area, grabbing my bags, checking myself (and the bags) back in, going back through security, and ending up at Gate 2 (yes just three gates past where I came in!), I had finally joined up with my Runwell Iceland teammates!  We had a few hours to catch up, grab some dinner, and then board our IcelandAir flight that would take us to this great adventure!

                               5 of 7 Team Runwell members about to board our flight to Iceland.

The IcelandAir flight was roughly 5-1/2 hours.  We all were scattered around the plane so we all made new friends during the flight and napped on and off (not much sleep on the overnight flight).  We arrived in Iceland around 6:30 AM, exited the flight, grabbed our bags, and immediately got some coffee!  5 (Gabe, Lee, Chris, Des, and myself) of the 7 teammates had frown from NYC, and the other 2 (Willem & Veronica) were coming from Seattle.  The Seattle flight arrived about 15 mins after ours and then it was off to the hotel!

We stayed at a beautiful hotel in Reykjavik called The Grand.  It was full of windows, much like a greenhouse, and with the 20+ hours of daylight in Iceland this time of year, it was beautiful to see the landscapes through the windows.  With checkin not being until around 2 PM, we left our bags at the hotel and headed out to stretch out our legs and get something to eat.  We ended up at a cute little cafe, where we enjoyed coffee, quiche, paninis, and heart shaped waffles :)  We ventured a little more after eating but with little sleep the night before, going back to the hotel and resting in the lobby sounded like music to everyone's ears.

As we sat in the lobby, more and more competitors arrived.  It was great to meet people as they came in.  This is where we met many of our tent mates and new friends from all over the world.  The time went by fast and soon I heard "ma'am, your room is ready!" Hallelujah!  I was so tired, I just wanted to lay down ha!  Thankfully I had my Runwell teammate Veronica as my roommate, so her and I headed to our room to rest some before heading out for dinner.

A few hours passed, we all had showers, and it was time to go explore Iceland a little more and get dinner.  Des, Veronica, Chris, and myself headed out to check out the "main drag" of Iceland.  I'm certain there was a name for this location but I never got it.  It was right along the water, and had a mixture of shops, restaurants, bars, clothing stores, tattoo name it, and it was on this street!  After doing a little shopping (and buying touristy stuff we didn't really need) it was time to find a place to eat.  We ended up at a place called Cafe Paris.  I got a steak and potato (first white potato I've had in 8 months!!) and holy hell, was it worth it!!  You know a steak is going to be good when they provide you with a butter knife to cut it with ;)  With our bellies full, we walked back to the hotel.

We ended up sitting in the lobby, chatting with the other competitors and trying to calm our nerves.  It also was the central location for the best Wifi, and with most of us having no cell service in Iceland, wifi was our lifeline to our family, friends, and of course, Facebook :)  After a long overnight flight and a day full of adventure, I knew my evening would be early to bed.  Veronica agreed and we were both asleep by around 8:30!  But of course at 4:00 AM we were up and wide awake!  The never ending daylight and time change had us all completely backwards with our sleep.

August 3 would be a full day with the Racing The Planet briefing at 8:00 AM, buffet breakfast afterwards (or as Des said she was certain that was how Jesus felt at the last supper haha), equipment check & form finalizing, buffet lunch, and then it was time, to load the buses and head to camp 1, 4 hours away.

                           Team Runwell: Des,Willem, Chris, Gabe, Lee, myself, and Veronica

As we all gathered in the lobby, we checked to see what bus we were to be on and then figure out a meal for the night (since it would be our last "real" meal for 7 days).  I opted for my rehydrated food, only because I didn't want to upset my GI system but the pizza the people behind me on the bus had was torture!  We arrived at camp 1 roughly 4 hours after leaving the hotel.  Camp 1 had been moved to a local camp ground because of the extreme wind and rain at the first location.  Because of the lack of trees in the area, you couldn't tell just how bad the wind was.....until you stepped off the bus!!  All I can say is WOW!!  During my training, I heard a lot about the cold, and a lot about the rain, but never did I hear about the wind, and boy was it howling!  The tents were already set up, the fires were burning, the hot water tent was ready for our use, and there they were....the most beautiful sight I had ever seen....port-a-potties!! It was like the angels were singing :)  After spending 8 months worrying about having to squat and potty in a hole, this eased my fears more than you can imagine!

We all made our way to our tents, meeting our "roommates for 7 days" and doing our best not to freeze to death!  The winds howled all night like I have never heard or experienced before.  The next morning, we all woke around 5AM.  I felt so out of sorts, but did my best to keep my "normal" schedule.  I brushed my teeth, changed into my running gear, had my coffee & breakfast, and socialized with other nervous competitors in the hot water tent (with it being freezing cold, this was the place to hang out!).  Briefing for day 1 was at 7:30 AM.  We all gathered around, hoping and praying we would hear that we didn't have to go through the river crossing (as planned on the course for day 1).  Sam and Riitta spoke for a bit then Dr Brian took over the megaphone and said the sweetest words we could ever hear "the river crossing has been removed from the course today!"....YAY!!  With temps near freezing, winds blowing with 60-70 mph wind gust, and drizzling rain, the race began at 8:00 AM.

                                                                 Starting line on Day 1

We crossed over the camp sight bridge, made a left, and started climbing the mountain.  I have NEVER felt cross winds like that in my life!  Thank goodness I brought my trekking poles, because they kept me from falling over many times.  After climbing the mountain, and making a right, we were on the road that would take us the 47 km/29.5 miles for the day. Our course was suppose to be much different but because of the weather, we had to go to an alternate route, which would be a gravel road, full of rocks the size of baseballs, but thankfully it overlooked a beautiful glacier so it wasn't all that terrible :)

I found myself running the downhills, powerwalking the uphills and flats, and just soaking it all in.  I made it to checkpoint #1, refilled my bottles, and I was off again.  After leaving checkpoint #1, I felt amazing and decided I would run a little more. Looking back, I'm not sure if that was a good idea or not, but I felt like I was on top of the world for that short 6 mile period so I would say it was absolutely worth it!  I made it to checkpoint #2 and realized that with the wind and sandy surface, I needed to put my gaiters on.  I also felt some hot spots starting my feet so I wanted to take care of them.  I did that and started out to checkpoint #3.  The wind started to pick up more at this point and I found myself walking more than running, but I happened to meet 3 guys walking too so I wasn't out there alone (and the conversation helped the time pass faster).  Matthieu from France, Badr from Holland, and Grant from South Africa....they were awesome!!  They ended up going a little ahead of me after checkpoint #4 and it seemed right after that things started to fall apart.  Because of the rocky rough terrain and the extreme wind, I could feel the blisters forming on my feet.  As most ultra runners will tell you, talking to yourself is not an odd thing....mind over body :)  So at this point I told myself my feet weren't hurting, it was all in my mind.  I needed to suck it up and get through this.  It was day #1, I had 6 more to endure and lots more pain to deal with.  I prayed, I cussed, I cried....but none of it would help the pain I was feeling in my feet.  I made it to checkpoint #5, hobbling in hoping that someone would be able to help me with my feet.  This is where I first met Dr Suzie.  She told me she could fix my feet but if I could just make it another 5 miles to camp, they would have better tools to get my feet treated.  She told me to take 2 tylenol and get back on the road (tough love is sometimes needed in these situations).  So I did just that.  I was about 3/4 of a mile out from camp when I saw my Runwell teammate Lee coming towards me.  She walked me into the finish, but saw how bad I was hurting so took my pack and immediately took me to medic.

Once in the medic tent, my blisters were drained, treated, and taped. And I was feeling better about being able to get this race done.  Lee hung out with me the entire time, making sure I was OK.  She was just plain AWESOME!!  We ended up going straight to the cyber cafe and hot water tent so I could eat, and we could hang out with everyone.  After eating, having some coffee, and warming up, I made my way to my tent to get some rest.  Most of my tent mates were already asleep so I slipped in to my sleeping bag and tried to get some rest.  The winds continued to howl and the temps dropped to well below freezing so needless to say, I didn't sleep much that night.

Day #2 arrived with the same as day #1.  Change back into my running clothes, brush teeth, hit the port-a-potty, coffee, breakfast, then head out for day 2. My feet were killing me but I was hoping with tylenol and movement, they would feel better once the race got started.  I ended up starting the race with my new friend Shawn.  He was having blister issues too so I figured we could hobble along together.  8:00 rolled around and we were off.  Shawn and I were in the back of the pack, but hey, someone had to take the spot :)  We went along for a few miles but with each mile, the wind began to pick up.  It was absolutely the most difficult wind conditions I have ever felt.  After another mile, I could hardly walk.  The pain was horrible but I knew I had to keep going.  I looked behind me and there they were....the sweepers.  My heart sank. I knew I had to get the show on the road or I was going to have problems.  I was going so slow, the sweepers caught up to me.  That is where I met Evy. Evy got me through the next few miles to get me to the first checkpoint.  Without her, I wouldn't have made it.

Checkpoint #1 was in sight and I knew if I could get my feet fixed, I could make it.  I was hoping there was a miracle in that medical tent.  Evy helped me get into the tent and there was Dr Suzie.  She had me sit down and we discussed my situation.  She said to me "Jaime, I saw your feet last night and today they are worse.  If this was the last day I would make you continue but you have 5 more days of this and your feet can't take it.  I am going to have to be the bad guy and pull you from the race".  My heart broke....I immediately started crying but deep down I knew it was the right thing for my well being.  I was then put into an SUV and to my surprise, my friend Kris from Washington DC and Sarah from California were sitting there.  Kris had the beginning of hypothermia and Sarah had sprained her ankle.  It was then we formed a bond that would get us through this difficult situation.

After riding around in the SUV for a few hours (because of the weather, no one knew where the camp sight was gonna be so they had no place to take us) we finally made it to the farm where camp would be.  I sat with some of the pulled contestants and the front runners.  We chatted, sipped on coffee, and waited for the others to arrive.  As each of my Runwell teammates arrived, I would let them know what happened earlier in the day.  Each of them were so supportive and understand my choice to go back to the hotel in Reykjavik. I wanted to stay but to be honest, my feet were a mess.  I needed to get back so I could shower and get them clean.  I could barely walk and I had to do what was best for my health.

  Veronica, my tent mate/teammate, and myself in our tent, right before I loaded the bus. Lots of tears :'(

Me, along with 7 other competitors that had been pulled, loaded on a bus and headed back to Reykjavik.  The 1-1/2 hour drive seemed like it took forever.  I was tired, hurting, dirty, and disappointed.  After arriving back to the hotel, I realized I had 2 choices: 1) stay in Reykjavik for the remainder of the time, confined to the hotel room because of my feet but be there for my friends at the end or 2) go home and heal up.  I chose #2.  I left for the USA on Wednesday.

From the moment I arrived in Iceland, I knew I would leave a changed person.  Even though my time in Iceland was cut short, the memories, experiences, and the people I met changed me for the better. I returned to the USA, feeling like a stronger Jaime.  And that is what these adventures are meant to do.  You go with a goal of finishing but leave with a renewed sense of life.  I want to thank all of the Racing The Planet volunteers and staff for there help and service, my awesome tent mates for making me laugh and giving me friendships for life, and for have horrible winds, brutal cold, and rough terrain.  You tore me down but only to show me a different layer of Jaime, that I will be thankful for forever.

My collage from my Iceland adventure.  I didn't come home with a medal but I came home with so much more!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Let's All Runwell in 2013!

I know plenty of people have heard me talk about Runwell.  I am so blessed to be an ambassador for this amazing organization and a part of Team Runwell for Racing The Planet Iceland 2013.  With only a year under our belt, Runwell is still growing but we can't do this without your help.  Come join Runwell in 2013!  We have a list of races you can sign up for or feel free to find an event of your own and create a fundraiser page.  You can find the events and information at the following link: Runwell Event Calendar.

Another option is to give directly to a fundraiser page.  Here is the link to my page: Jaime's Runwell Fundraiser Page

Runwell's mission is to make drug and alcohol addiction treatment accessible to all!  Together with our partners, Runwell will raise awareness for treatment and long term recovery, award grants to accredited treatment facilities to extend existing treatment scholarships to patients, and distribute grants to improve the education and training of treatment providers throughout the world.  Addiction is tragic but recovery is so wonderful!  Help Runwell give the gift of treatment and recovery to all those that want and need it!

Thank you for your time....and remember to Runwell!