Getting Divorced: The Best Thing I Ever Did

I always feel like I have to explain to people that getting divorced was a good thing.  Over the last couple years, I have found that the conversation would often go like this:

  • Me: I got divorced two and a half years ago.
  • Them: <insert pity face here> Oh, I’m so sorry.
  • Me:  Don’t be!  It was the best thing I ever did!

People who have not gone through a divorce don’t seem to understand that it’s not always a bad thing.  Sure, the actual process of going through it is a giant pain in the ass, it can be obscenely expensive, and it’s completely emotionally exhausting, but it’s also freeing, and helps you learn things about yourself that you never would have otherwise.

First, some background.  I had never been happy in my marriage.  I knew even before the wedding that it wasn’t the right relationship for me.  But I was young (26) and dumb, and too embarrassed to call it off.  So on with the show we went.

Fast forward to nearly three years later, and I was at the end of my rope.  There were many factors that fed into my deciding to begin the divorce process.  Over the course of the summer 2012, I left several times, only to come back – fooled by promises of change that never really meant anything.  Eventually, there was that one event that was the final straw.  Everyone who has gone through this process has that “ah ha” moment – mine was the night before our third wedding anniversary.  In that moment, I finally found the courage and strength to stand up for myself and say “I want a divorce.”  and mean it with all my heart.

In that moment, I felt instantly better.  Yes, now the world was upside down and there were a million unknowns to worry about, but I felt so relieved to finally be taking steps in that direction.  The next several months were frustrating, and our divorce was one of the more amicable ones.  I can’t even imagine if it hadn’t been.  But even through all that frustration, I knew it was the right thing to do.  Neither of us was happy, so why continue like that?

Does getting divorced suck?  Absolutely.  Even in the most amicable of situations.  There’s something terrifying and sad about losing the life you thought you were going to have.  But in that loss, whole other worlds of possibilities appear.  It’s in this transition that I learned who I am, what I want for myself, what I want to give to others, and what I expect others to give to me.  I also learned what I want and need in a healthy relationship, what I am willing to compromise on, and what I am absolutely not willing to compromise on.  I learned how to actually date and get to know people.  I learned how to take care of my physical and emotional health.  I became a strong, and confident woman.  I learned how to deal with toxic, angry people, and not let their anger and hatred infect my life.  I developed excellent communication skills, and the ability to talk rationally and calmly through difficult situations.  All of these were things that I never would have been able to do if it hadn’t been for my divorce.

I am sure that I would not be the person I am today if I hadn’t gone through all that.  So even though it was emotionally and financially difficult, I can confidently say that it was one of the best things I ever did.  Without forcing myself to jump off that cliff, I never would have learned any of these things.  Instead, I would probably still be in that unhappy, frustrated, and resentful life – wishing for something different, but too afraid to make a change.  Instead, I’m a happy, healthy, vibrant, confident woman living in a place I love, doing something I find exciting, surrounded by wonderful friends.  I am so thankful for this life every single day, and I know I never would have ended up here if it hadn’t been for that fateful night when I finally said “I want a divorce.” and meant it.

Fatass Frozen Dead Guy 50k

Yesterday, my friend Tara and I, and about 65 other runners, had a blast running from Nederland to Boulder for the Fatass Frozen Dead Guy 50k.  It was exhausting, but a great time.  Although this was not an official race – really just a glorified group run – this is, to date, my longest run ever, and my first “ultra.”

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Since this was a point-to-point run, our morning started out with dropping off one of our cars at Chataqua Park in Boulder, picking up a few other runners, and heading up to Nederland – about 17 miles west up Boulder Canyon.  Several of us ended up grabbing coffee, tea, and snacks at New Moon in Ned before heading over to the Carousel of Happiness and the start.

People were all milling around and chatting – greeting old friends and making new ones – one of my favorite things about events like this.  John, the organizer of these events, made a few announcements from the top of his car, and then we were off!

10384843_10205808973248293_8734039022776455960_nAlthough this run was a net downhill, there was certainly no lack of butt-kicking climbs.  The first several miles weren’t too bad, but it always takes me a while to get warmed up, and climbs are a little ugly until that happens, so we took our time and enjoyed a leisurely pace out of Ned.  Along the way, we lamented the fogginess, chatted about random things, and met some other runners around us.

After a few miles, we made a right turn onto 68, stopped at the aid station (awesome volunteers!) so Tara could dislodge the mound of rock and ice that had become embedded in the bottom of her shoe (road shoes =/= trail shoes), and had a stretch of decent downhill.

After not too long, we reached the trail for the Twin Sisters.  Many of the fast people in the group had taken this side trek to the summit, but since there was really no view at the top today (too cloudy), and we were bringing up the rear (we were calling ourselves the unofficial sweepers), we decided to skip it and continue on.

Eventually, the road we were on turned into Flagstaff Road, and we found ourselves back with the pack.  We followed Flagstaff until we reached the Walker Ranch trail head, and the second aid station.  After a brief break for some snacks, we were off again.

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We headed clockwise around Walker Ranch, until we got down to the river and the split for the Eldorado Canyon trail.  The run through Walker Ranch was spectacular – great views and a runnable trail.  We definitely stopped here and there for some fun pictures and moments to take in the view.  The trails were a little icy at times, but nothing too icy to manage.  There were moments where I was wishing I had brought my screw shoes (I was testing out my Hokas this time), but those were brief.  The climb up to the top of the ridge on the Eldorado trail was steep and slow going, but once we got to the top, the view was excellent!

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The picture doesn't do it justice.

The picture doesn’t do it justice.

We made our way down the Eldo trail and into the park.  Quite possibly the hardest part of the day was coming down all the stairs at the end of this long downhill.  By the time we reached the park road, our legs were wiped out.

We followed the road out of the park, and made it to the third and final aid station.  It was here that we picked up a third for our little group – Ruth.  At this point, my sprained ankle (rolled it on a run two weeks ago) was not thrilled with me, Tara’s knee was killing her, and Ruth’s legs were done.  The three of us decided to stick together for the last 6 or so miles back to Boulder.

We left the Eldorado park with a few other people, and made our way to what we thought was the Old Mesa Trail.  After huffing and puffing our way up to the top of one of the hogback ridges, we discovered that we made a wrong turn, and had climbed all the way up the ridge, when we were supposed to stay in the valley.

Dang.

We very carefully made our way back down to the valley and the right trail.  All in all, this little detour took an extra 45 minutes, and destroyed Tara’s quads for the day.  The climb back down was definitely not easy.

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Once we finally got onto the right trail, the rest of the way back was pretty simple.  We followed the Mesa Trail all the way north to Chataqua Park in Boulder.  At this point, we were going pretty slowly because we were all quite sore and tired, but we were making steady progress.  About 2.5 miles from the end, Tara decided to run the uphills because it actually made her legs hurt less than walking, so we didn’t see her again until we reached the end.

After what felt like an eternity, Ruth and I could tell we were getting close.  After 8+ hours on trails, logic starts to get weird.  We spotted a group of people pushing a stroller along the path, and I found myself saying “Alright, we must be close.  They have a stroller.  They can’t have gone far.  Also, look at her shoes.  She’s not hiking.”  Somehow, we found this really amusing.  I still maintain that those were pretty good observations.  🙂

We made it!

We made it!

A few minutes after that, we rounded a corner, and saw the Chataqua parking lot, and Baseline Road.

Hooray!

Some people from our group were hanging out at the bottom of the hill, and we happily ran towards them.  There were plenty of hugs, high fives, and pictures to celebrate.

Pretty celebratory picture

Pretty celebratory picture

How we actually felt.

How we actually felt.

Total mileage was somewhere between 27 and 29 miles.  Watches are notoriously difficult to rely on when you’re in trees and going slowly.  But either way, this is still my longest run ever.  We had such a blast!  It was 8:34:00 of fun.  Can’t wait for the next one!

What’s in store for 2015

2015 is set to be pretty exciting – and exhausting.

I’ve never been one to try to get faster.  Pushing myself for speed has just never appealed to me.  There’s nothing wrong with it, and I have tons of respect for people who do it.  I’ve just always been drawn to go farther, or longer.  It seems to be one or the other for most of us runners.

Over the last several years, I’ve found myself always trying to reach for that next big distance, continuing to test my limits.  First it was a marathon.  Then after a few years of those, I realized they didn’t scare me anymore.  So I signed up for an Ironman.  After three of those, the terror has worn off, and I was looking for another thing to be afraid of.

Enter: Ultra running.

Considering I live in Colorado, I guess it’s one of those “when in Rome…” situations.  I find myself surrounded by friends who are all crazy endurance athletes (myself included), and we’re really great at enabling each other.  This is the one place where a typical conversation goes like this:

  • Me:  Soooo… I did something crazy last night.
  • Friend:  What?
  • Me: I signed up for the Run Rabbit 100.
  • Friend: Awesome!  I’m doing <insert other insane race here>!

Or this:

  • Me: Hey!  Come do this run with us!
  • Friend: Where?
  • Me: We’re running 31 miles – from Ned to Boulder.  All dirt roads and trails.
  • Friend: Fantastic!  I’m in!

Back in upstate NY, the conversations are usually more like this:

  • Me: So I signed up for another Ironman.
  • Friend: Are you drunk?

Ahhhh… Colorado.  I love you.

I’m excited to test my limits, and get out on lots of trails.  Now that I’ve been “running” those (I use the term “running” loosely here.  It’s really more like power hiking up the mountain and then running down.), the thought of getting back on the roads isn’t very appealing.  There are so many spectacular places to explore here.  I want to get to them all!

So 2015 looks like this so far:

I’m really excited to tackle these events.  Sure, I may crash and burn here and there.  Others may be spectacular successes.  There’s only one way to find out!

Welcome to Veggie Runner Girl!

Well, hello there!

I’ve been writing for several years (see my Dec 2009 – Jan 2015 blog here), but wanted to start fresh, since things have changed quite a lot in the last 5+ years.  It’s been a bumpy road, but it’s gotten me to where I am today, and I couldn’t be happier about that.  Compared to where I was in 2009, I’m much happier, stronger, more confident, insightful, and inspired than I ever was back then.  Sometimes major change, while scary, can be an incredibly liberating thing.

Now, I live in spectacular Boulder, Colorado.  By day, I’m a Ph.D. student, but in my free time (because I get loads of that as a Ph.D. student – ha!), I’m an explorer.  2015 is a big year for me.  Not too long ago, I had a moment of insanity, and signed up for my first 50 mile and 100 mile races.  I’ve been doing Ironman triathlons for three years now (2015 will be my 4th), but this is a whole other beast.  I’m super excited, and also terrified, to take this journey.  It will certainly be one to remember!  Fortunately, I have a lot of wonderful friends, and a fabulous support network, so at least I won’t be alone!