31 March 2015

A desert in Barbary: What's in your sack? (pt. 2)

When we last looked, I was gathering the items for my pack. 

This is what I'm going with for clothes: 

2 pair 7" UnderArmour HeatWear compression shorts
1 12for12 race t-shirt 
1 MARSOC Foundation t-shirt
1 Semper Fi Fund neck gaiter 
1 Buff UPF neck gaiter w "Remembrance" poppy design
3 pair socks (Farm to Feet, MARSOC Foundation)
1 CEP compression socks
1 pair Athleta Featherweight pants
1 Columbia FreezeZero UPF long sleeve shirt (white)
1 pair Columbia FreezeZero UPF arm sleeves (white)
1 New Balance running bra
1 DreamChasers mesh racing hat 
1 crushable polyester down jacket
1 pair Locals shower shoes (had these since first deployment)
1 pair Hoka One One trail shoes w/full gaiters

And then the food. Here's a few pics of the prep: 

Then the assembling of each day's supply:

I have between 2,400-2,950 calories per day; the one above has 2,805. And yes, MREs. So happy. Happy.  

We must have no less than 14,000 calories for the race. Some folks bring as much as 30,000 calories worth of food. They weigh a lot more than me. (Did I mention that having MREs makes me happy?)

And finally, with all the rest of my gear next to the pack: 

.....aaaaaand, packed. 

Foot care? Trail Toes foot balm, moleskin, 2Toms foot powder. I don't normally do this, but here are my feet today, after 1500+ miles since last April. There will be an after picture.

And a most special item, courtesy of the Pumpkin Noodle: 

Oh, hygiene, you ask? Dehydrated Acure argan oil wipes, hand sanitizer, toothbrush and toothpaste. 70 SPF sunscreen. No deodorant. We will still smell better than the camels. 

Boom. To the airport. 

30 March 2015

A desert in Barbary: River to the sea

0630 start + 40F, rain + 3.0 miles =

1200 training miles completed.


The WRRC crew who braved the dark & wet morning to run with me and cheer me on! 

But I ain't done training yet, folks.....

 0800 start + 31F, sun & wind + 3 checkpoints + 11.11 miles =
WRRC River to Sea race (3rd female)
Tracy C. and me, before the start
Part of the WRRC crew at the beach finish
One last hug before I bid adieu to my friends and training companions! 
Tomorrow, a final look at the sack & its contents......

27 March 2015

FBF: Lo último

This is the last Flashback Friday for me for one simple reason:

Let us recall how I got here one last time.....

And yet, we are remiss about ending our sentence properly. But, then again, pirate.
By the numbers:

Five years, one month, 28 days since my injury on 29 January 2010
Eight abdominal and internal organ surgeries
14 pints of blood, five pints of sera and lots of random painkillers
One military SAR helicopter flight
Four (five?) resuscitations to bring me back from flatline
Three years and five months of physical rehabilitation
Two children
One divorce
One military retirement
11 pairs of running shoes
11 races
321.14 racing miles
1186.58 training miles....

....as of this morning, I have 13.42 miles to reach 1200 and one more grand adventure of a race to close out the fundraising and race series.

Near Petra, Jordan (May 2007)
Photo taken from the window of my CH-46E 
Below are all the people who brought me back to life - on the operating table, during rehab, in my fight to get back in the cockpit, and, sometimes, when I was fighting to get through the day. Without you, I would not be here.

My sister, my mom and my sister cat, Rachele
Laurie S., Beth C. & Caroline M., Maurice H. & Zach H.
My family of friends, near and extremely far (yes, you, Joanne, way over in NZ!)
The VMR-1 "Pedro" SAR CH-46 flight crew on 31 January 2010
Drs. Dunn, Cortina, Faibisoff & Jones
The ICU staff at New Hanover Regional Hospital
The 2nd Floor nursing staff at the Betty H. Cameron Women's & Children's Hospital
Col Rock, Col Curtis, Col McCoy, LtCol Augustin & LtCol Hart
VMMT-204 & MAG-26 (2d MAW)
LCDRs Haines & Reed (Navy Medical)
LTs Cuozzo, Romer & Lynch (Navy Medical)
Kira B. at Peak Performance Rehab
Dr. Brown & Lauren at JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute
Amanda at MCAS New River Physical Training
Amanda & Karen at Physical Therapy for Women
Jordyn, Sonya & Savannah
Ron Baggett & L.B. Wilkins
The Wilmington Road Runners - every step of the way

26 March 2015

A desert in Barbary: On foreign soil

It is always worth knowing a little bit about a country to which one is about to travel, and so I thought I would look up some things that piqued my interest. Did you know...?

Near Ouarzazate, in eastern Morocco.
The University of al-Karaouine (Arabic: جامعة القرويين‎) in Fes is the oldest, continually operating university in the world, built and founded between 857-859 A.D. (The oldest in Europe is in Bologna, Italy, was founded in 1088.)

The national animal is the Barbary lion (panthera leo leo). Their original habitat was the Atlas Mountain range but they were hunted to extinction in the wild in the early 20th century. Barbary lions were used by the Romans in the gladiator arenas, given as gifts to royals, both African and European, including two that lived in the Tower of London in the Middle Ages.

Other animals of note in Morocco: the ubiquitous camel, the Dorcas gazelle, the Saharan striped polecat, the honey badger, over 450 types of birds, 25 kinds of bats (what?!), 24 venomous snakes, including the the Sahara Sand Viper, the Puff Adder and the Egyptian Cobra, and around 30 scorpions. Apparently, the worst is the black Fat-tail Scorpion (they come in yellow, too!), of the genus Androctonus, which name translated from Latin via Greek means man-killer. Good to know.

Hope I don't step on one....
The 1786 Treaty of Peace & Friendship between the U.S. and Morocco is the oldest unbroken treaty relationship in U.S. history. The diplomatic property in Tangier was originally acquired in 1821 and occupied continuously for 140 by the U.S. consulate and legation; it is now a museum and the only property outside of the U.S. which is a nationally recognized historical landmark.

Speaking of extra-national property, Spain has two enclaves in Morocco, the cities of Ceuta and Melilla, once trading ports, now independent cities.

Morocco is one of the four countries that comprise the Barbary Coast, most famous to the west for the Barbary Wars of the early 1800s, arising from the extortionist practices of the pirates along the north African coastline. Bonus if you know off the top of your head which American president refused to pay "tribute" to the pirates. (It was Thomas Jefferson.) Tired of our merchant ships being attacked, ole TJ thusly ordered in the Navy, equipped with 1stLt Presley O'Bannon and a few other Marines, and well, you know the rest.
(drawing by Arman Manookian, c.1920)
The Strait of Gibraltar passes between Spain and Morocco, the narrowest point is 8.58 miles/14.3 kilometers.
The view from Spain to Morocco across the Strait. Yes, that is snow.
(photo: Mike Randolph)
There is a ski resort in the Atlas Mountains. Just saying, there is. See the snow?

If you watched Lawrence of Arabia, The Sheltering Sky, Gladiator or Kundun, you can thank the Moroccan desert and Atlas Studios, based just outside of Ouarzazate.

....and lastly, it is tradiotionally the liver, not the heart, that is the symbol of love in Morocco. (So many open-ended alcohol comments here.....) They do make wine in Moroccoa, FTR.

My favorite discovered proverbs, which I am writing on paper and bringing with me:

Endurance pierces marble.

Exert effort, you shall be rewarded.

In movement, there is blessing.

In Morocco, never be surprised. 
If you see a donkey flying, just say Allah is capable of anything.

24 March 2015

Diz runs with....


As my last race draws nigh, I thought it might interest some of you to hear my interview* with Denny Krahe on his "Diz Runs With" podcast. I was approached by Denny last fall after one of my readers recommended to him that he interview me. After a few conversations and emails, we set a date and conducted the interview in February. I think it encapsulates, in less than a hour, why I run, why I believe so strongly in the work of the Semper Fi Fund and MARSOC Foundation, and what blessings this year long adventure has given me. A big "Thank You" to Denny for the interview and for helping me tell my story.

Here's the link to the interview, you can also download the podcast via iTunes. Enjoy!

The munchkins at Figure Eight Island, June 2014
One correction: MDS requires you to carry a minimum of 2000 kcal per day; I will be bringing closer to 3000 each day, as I state in the interview. ('Cause, well, 'Murica, folks. And bacon. Walk softly and carry a lot of food.)

If you haven't listened to the Diz Runs With podcast, I highly recommend it. The interviews are personable and candid and many of the interviewees are both running icons and stars, including Bart Yasso, Sage Canaday, Molly Huddle, Ian Sharman, Ray Zahab, Liza Howard and Mike Wardian. The podcast also offers training tips and Q & A sessions.

*The interview went live on the podcast just after the seven MARSOC Marines were killed and I didn't think it appropriate to turn any attention away from that story at the time.

23 March 2015

A stroll by the beach: Landfall made

This weekend was full: of running, of camaraderie, of friends and of races. Friday, I manned the WRRC booth with fellow RoadRunners and on Saturday, after a shake-out run at FleetFeet, I headed over to the expo for a bit, working that booth for a few hours before having the humbling opportunity to meet and speak with Julie Moss. (Yes, that Julie Moss, of 1982 Ironman fame, who was there with fellow Ironman icon, Kathleen McCartney, as the guest speakers for the race.)

Shake-out run w/Julie Moss & Kathleen McCartney
WRRC representing at the expo! 
I then heading out to meet up with the Pumpkin Noodle (and the Bubbaloo, of course). She was running in her first "officially timed" race and was super excited. She had so much fun - see below!
At the start with her friend Xavian (#1057)
And she's off! Yes, she went from the left to the far right and then when the tiger came upon her, she swerved even further right to avoid him. She doesn't like mascots.....
She asked me to run in with her....c'mon, Mom!
Finish line hug from the Bubbaloo...
She gave him her finisher's hat....
Which he rocked, of course! 
We had a post-race dinner and then I was off to get some rest before a 0430 reveille call for race #11, the half-marathon.

Sunday was slightly humid and overcast, with temps in the low 50s. I met up with Tracy C. and Michael B. at the finish area and we hopped the race shuttle to the start at Wrightsville Beach. Julie Moss had asked to meet us at the start, with plans to run with Tracy and I, as we had chosen a relaxed finish time goal of 1:50 - Tracy was coming of a marathon two weeks prior and me, well, I wasn't planning on getting broken two weeks before MdS.

We met up with Julie, who had that morning decided to run with the 2:00 pace group, wished each other well, and then Tracy and I moved up toward the 3:45 marathon pace group, high-fiving and shouting well-wishes to all the other WRRC runners in the crowd. Perfect, low-key start as the gun went off in the dark at 0640.

Tracy C., me and Julie Moss, pre-race.
Random tall dude with the stink eye in the back.....
Tracy and I ran completely relaxed, enjoying the weather and the familiarity of the course. Our pace was comfortable enough that we (ok, I) could critique the grammar on the various moto posters people held up along the course. (For the record: is=singular/are=plural for noun/verb agreement, folks. Zombies = plural, thus, "there are" is correct, "there is" is just wrong).  At about mile 8, we fell into step with another runner, Lillian P., from Rocky Point, and the three of us ran abreast throughout the remainder of the race, which was pretty cool.

We picked it up at about mile 10-10.5 and by the time we reached 11.5, we were holding steady at about a 7:50 pace, which started messing with my head because I got panicky about pulling something. So what did I do? As we rounded a corner with 500 hundred yards left, I told Tracy to go, as she was chomping to open up. She went. I extended my stride a bit and, as I turned the last corner, with the finish in sight and Tracy a few yards ahead, I went after her. We finished one second apart, over 2 minutes faster than our goal time.

Happy runners! During the race, we realized we've been running together for almost 10 years. 
I received the socks a week prior from the MARSOC Foundation. They are fantastic and are coming with me to the desert! 
I have to say, in reflection, I'm pretty impressed that I was able to run an 8:14 avg pace after having put in 49.5 training miles this past week, six of which were on Saturday. Someday, I'll actually add speedwork back and be properly rested!

Other awesomeness from the day: Lillian PR'd. Fellow WRRC runners Amanda J., Shannon  O.& Brittany C. BQ'd in the full, and the WRRC relay team took first place. I can't say enough about the WRRC and the running community here - you guys rock and I apologize for not having all y'alls races included here (Yes, talking about you Sam B., Jenny P., Keira, Ali, & Marcy)!

Another huge thanks to Tom Clifford, Colin Hackford and all the event staff and volunteers who made the Quintiles WB Marathon happen. Well done.
Best spectator shirt of the day. 

19 March 2015

FBF: Don't feed the camels!

There are plenty of these where I'll be going, so chances are, I'll get to say hello again. Not sure if they'll be any untethered ones like those we encountered below. Wonder if they still like MRE bread?

A stroll by the beach: The Noodle dash

In addition to my half-marathon this weekend, the Pumpkin Noodle is doing the one-mile dash. Her request? "Mama, can I have a race outfit like you wear?" How could I say "No" to a mini-me request? Fast-forward two weeks, a trip to Dick's Sporting Goods, Omega Sports and finally, yesterday to Target, to find running shorts that fit.

While she's 5, she's taller than the average but slim, which did not help when trying on the XS children's sizes. We even tried to go unisex (and, by the way, if you have a son that runs, what the heck do you use for shorts, because everything I saw resembled a basketball short).

The Noodle was with me for the first two of three treks, but by the time we got to round two, where she got excited about choices only to find they were too big, she was disheartened, so she declined to make the trip to Target with me. And lo, guess what I found!

And guess what sizes they had? Yup, 4-5(XS), and 8-9(M), so once again, I was in a state. They had a pair of purple polka dot bottoms, but no matching top (and by this point, I had it in my head that this needed to be an outfit. Why? I don't know).

At the end of pacing from one end of the athletic wall to the other multiple times, I got creative. After all, the Noodle did say she wanted a running outfit like mine, right?

I resemble this outfit....
Aha!! Running capris with a wicking top, plus a warm-up jacket and warm-up pants. Yes! I sold it to her by saying that it's going to be a little chilly the day of her race (truthful statement and her race starts at 4 pm) and that the pants are exactly like mine. She loves them and the jacket, so I'm going to say it's a win. (Caveat - I did send the top pic to her dad and asked him to check the Target near him - just in case, you know?)

16 March 2015

A stroll by the beach: The last half

With all this talk about Morocco, I have been remiss in telling you about my March race, the Wrightsville Beach Half-Marathon, which course covers many of the roads I run regularly with the WRRC. It is race no. 11, and is this Sunday. Yes, Sunday.

Why this race for March? First and foremost, it's local and by that, I mean that the RD is Tom Clifford, a fine runner in his own right and the owner of Without Limits, which does individual and group coaching for runners, triathletes, and youth runners. It's also a run that many of the WRRC folks run and it has a 1-mile timed fun run, which the Pumpkin Noodle was adamant about running.

So, this week, in addition to my regular training, I will be adding the 13.1 miles of this race to the mix. My paranoia? Getting injured. Thus, I will be running comfortably, no time goal in mind, but just to enjoy it, be with my running friends and complete another race start-to-finish.

Because who doesn't sit on the stairs for a photo right after a 10-miler?
The other thing that happened today that made my day:

I received this email from one of my No Boundaries athletes: "Felicia, I have a deep respect for all who have served in the military. My favorite uncle was a decorated US Army Major (Green Beret), and he is buried at Arlington. This poster hung in his study, and it is symbolic of his toughness, which I think you share. (Yea, I know the Marines are tougher than the average Army guy, but there are indeed some badasses in the army too.)"

The text reads: Dec. 23, 1944 - "Battle of the Bulge" - An entire U.S. armored division was retreating from the Germans in the Ardennes forest when a sergeant in a tank destroyer spotted an American digging a foxhole.

The GI, PFC Martin, 325th Glider Infantry Regiment, looked up and asked, "Are you looking for a safe place?" "Yeah," answered the tanker.

"Well, buddy," he drawled, "just pull your vehicle behind me...I'm the 82nd Airborne, and this is as far as the bastards are going."

The athlete's words were generous, although I in no way claim to hold the above level of badassery. And in truth, for the personal success he achieved through the 10-week training program, he did all the work, pushed himself, and stayed on task - I just told him how far he had to go and shoved him out the door to do it.

As a friend recently told me, and I echo this sentiment, "I am just trying to do my part in this world, and hope it makes the world better." Boom.

15 March 2015

A low tide run

Yesterday I had the privilege of watching my trainees run their first ever 5K following ten weeks of training under the Fleet Feet No Boundaries program. It was inspiring and I was happy to have been a small part of their journey as their coach.

They ran the Lo Tide Run 5K, in Carolina Beach, a race that supports local cancer patients, and which is always held around St. Patrick's Day, so is replete with costumes and beer. It was a looped course with a small out-and-back, so I was able to cheer them on at various spots on the course.

We trained through the dark nights and the cold temps that affected everyone this winter and they persevered. Luckily, we had trained through many a rainy day, so when the skies opened up just prior to the start, it didn't phase them one bit.

Course Marshal
Per-race with the team and coach Michelle F. and mentors Blanca G., Dare M.
(our other mentor Cindi is NP but was incredible throughout this cycle!)
And they're off in a sea of green.....
Moving well to mile one
Thumbs up at mile one
The below pics I took about 100yds from the finish....

Post-race, goal achieved. Boom. 
 Another well-executed race by Colin Hackman and the ItsGoTime crew - you guys are so much fun! And big congrats to all my NoBo peeps - job well done and we'll see you on the next cycle.