Saturday, November 25, 2017

The Taboo of the Suicidal

Suicide is such a taboo subject, which is so weird that it's taboo because this culture has an obsession with keeping people who hate this world alive in it. It baffles me that people will jump leaps and bounds to keep a miserable person alive but will do nothing when that person needs help. I just don't get it.

I never knew I would become suicidal. I never knew I would want to end everything to end the pain. I never knew I'd have enough pain to want to end it. A person never plans for any of it.

One of the things I truly hate about this society is that they always say that suicide is selfish. Suicide isn't selfish; it's a desperation. It's feeling like the nightmare you're living through will never end, day after day, the same nightmare. Sleep doesn't let you escape that nightmare either because you're dreaming it as well. There's no end. And to end that feeling of end, you feel there's no other way but to end your life.

Another thing I hate about society is that they tell a person to simply snap out of it. If you have never felt so lifeless while still living in a world you hate, then you cannot tell a person to snap out of it. If you have never felt dead while still being alive, then you need to educate yourselves and help, instead of being a prick and telling a person how they should feel. Educate yourselves to help if you feel the need to comment on a person's reality.

I came across this on Facebook from the page Depression Awareness:

And I realized, as I'm in my room, even with my roommate with me, that I feel alone and I no longer look forward to the next day. I simply wait for it. I'm waiting to leave this place, I'm waiting to move on, I'm waiting to leave all of this pain that this place has brought to me... but I don't look forward to anything. I stopped living my life. The dreams I once had are gone. The dreams of me riding and competing at a high level of Dressage, riding and completing Tevis, becoming a CAT 1 racer, running an ultra race, completing an Iron Man... even having a good military career or becoming a Doctor of Psychology... it's all gone. 

As I sat on my bed, I realized that I no longer live my life. I used to enjoy it, and as the years at this command went by, the more bullshit that I go through, the more I get extended, the more that I just wait for it to end. The problem is that people don't want to deal with that. People don't like to actually help each other when one of them feels like living their life is over, yet they're completely obsessed in trying to stop you from ending that lifeless life. 

What am I waiting for? Before I used to live to make my dreams come true. Now what? If I'm not living or waiting for those dreams, what am I waiting for? I think that it's the unknown that scares me the most. In fact, it terrifies me. 

I no longer have the dreams of finishing big races. Hell, I've failed the High Cascades twice already. I will no longer ride horses, let alone a super fancy Dressage or endurance horse. My horse is now gone and I’m still so broken hearted about it. I will never be a CAT 1 racer. I'll definitely not have a military career. I'll most likely never become a Doctor of Psychology. At this moment in time, I will be going through my days, moment by moment, hour by hour, waiting. Waiting for the next event to happen. I stopped living my life, and it brings me so much sadness because I look back at how hopeful I was. I look back at it and I see dead dreams. I look back at it and I see no point in even trying to restore those dreams. I just look at the clock and wait for the next hour until it's time to sleep, where I dream more nightmares, and wait for the next day. 

Have you ever woken up and felt disappointed? If you haven't, I envy you, because that's what waking up is to me... a disappointment. 

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Ode to The Spanky

Everyone knows I love horses. I had my own. The love of my life. The love of my life since I was 14-years-old.

I went to the High Cascades 100 race in Bend, Oregon on July 15, 2017. It didn't go well. I was pulled due to severe dehydration and I couldn't make it. I'm no longer the athlete I used to be. In fact, due to seeing my blog being read by someone at work, I decided to look at previous entries from 2013 and yonder. Man... was I a different person. 

I was clearly upset since I didn't finish this race for a second year in a row, and I had to come to terms that I couldn't ride that distance anymore, especially with the little to no training I have and could even do at the time. I wasn't feeling well due to the dehydration, and I should have actually gone to the ER, but I didn't want to have to deal with work (lol) being pissy about it. 

On the morning of July 16, 2017, I woke up to a voice message saying that Mac has colicked through the night and wasn't recovering... that it was most likely his last day. 

I still have that voice message. 

My heart sank. I called as right after I heard the message and talked to his caretaker, my best friend's mom, and my second mom. I kept crying because I made the decision to let go of the one thing that I knew would always be there for me and who had been there for me since I was 14. 

I lost part of my heart that day, and there was no getting it back. 

The Spanky is the horse that taught me some huge lessons in life. He's the one who never judged me or ridiculed me for my mistakes, the one who truly forgave me for the horribles mistakes I've made in life. He taught me that every mistake is a lesson in life, and every time you learn something new, it makes you a better person. He taught me what true forgiveness felt like and what true unconditional love is. 

Ge taught me some lessons the hard way, too. He taught me that you don't have to be a brute to be firm. You don't have to be calloused to be disciplined. You don't have to be mean to teach. He taught me that sometimes you have to take a step back and recollect yourself. He also taught me that sometimes you just have a bad day and don't want to do anything. On those days he'd buck me off, and you know what? That's okay. 

Mac had been in my life for 16 years. He let me try everything, from poles, to herding horses, to jumping, eventing, dressage, and endurance. He was always willing to let me learn. He didn't yell or get mad, he didn't hold a grudge, he taught me and he let me learn. He wasn't shy about letting me know when I made a mistake, and he was always so firm, but gentle, when he corrected me. 

The Spanky and me when I was 14 and he was 7

Because of him I know that you don't have to be an asshole to correct a mistake. 

A huge part of my life is gone and I'm completely devastated. I made so many mistakes along the way but he never hated me for them, he never looked at me like I was a fuck up. He knew me for who I was. I was his caretaker, his rider, his teammate. 

I was his person, and he was my horse. 

I'm so sorry I wasn't there for you, Spanky. I wish I could give you one last kiss. In times like these, where I wish I wouldn't wake up, I need you the most. To hug that big neck and cry into it, just like you would let me. I'd always calm down because your breathing would always help me. 

I love you and miss you so much. I wish I had you. You were only 23-years-old. I wanted to see you again when I finally left Washington. I've needed you so much these past three months. I should have been with you... but you're no longer in pain. I'll see you when my time comes. 

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Adventures of the Psych Ward Part Two: 2015

Have you read Part One? You should. This story is a lot longer than Part One.

I asked the Chain of Command for help for months. How much can people pretend to care just to cover their own asses!yy?

2015 was the start of everything for me. You know what the awesome thing about being extremely paranoid is? You write everything down, and when the time comes, you can present it. When you have specific times and dates, it's kind of hard to have a counter-argument... unless you're a Company or Battalion Commander, but that's for the future.

In the summer of 2015, one of the MA3s decided to say a lie about me because I had accidentally mentioned that some people bowdip/jetwash. The lie had to do with the MA2 that started to make my life a living fucking hell. MA2 Dumbass decided to believe said lie and started to do things to make my life difficult. It started to get difficult to even do head calls because if I was coxswain, he'd see that I was heading to the pier and he'd intervene and moor his boat to the pier or is I was on his boat as a crewmember or gunner, he wouldn't let me have bathroom breaks. Eventually I stopped drinking water. The solution to that was for me to become a coxswain as often as I could, but guess what? That wasn't happening, so I was a gunner or crewmember most of the time. Me being able to take bathroom breaks then became difficult. Quals? Forget about it. I couldn't get signatures to save my life, so those were now at a stand-still.

At this point I had asked an LPO to please switch me sections, but it didn't budge.

Around August 6th of 2015, I ended up at sickcall because I had a migraine that wouldn't even let me drive. I drove out of the restricted area after work, which I didn't remember, and ended up in at the base's NEX overflow parking lot. I called my then-husband to please pick me up, which he did. On August 7th 2015, I went to sick call, which my two-week migraine was deemed to stress and dehydration. I was SIQ for 3 days. Finally the LPO decided to switch me sections.

Everything was fine until November 19th 2015, when I had PRK surgery. I had my 4 days of convalescent leave and then I went back to work. To my happiness, MA2 Dumbass worked days, so now I had to deal with him again. And boy did it turn into something.

He lied about everything I was doing. Told the Chain of Command that I should be punished because I was lying about where I was with paperwork and that I didn't actually need to turn it in, when it was the LPOs who'd put me to the task. He went as far as saying that "five other people told him [I] was lying." But I had detailed logs on everything... (Names have been changed to save the guilty from severe embarrassment.)

"On 18DEC15 at approximately 1630, I was given a negative counseling chit by MA2 Derp. I was informed while I was doing field day on the Moose Boats and Marginal HRFF that it was due to me snapping at him earlier in the day (approximately 1100). At the meeting for my counseling chit, it came up that the negative counseling chit was for more than the small outburst I had at MA2 Derp. Events from 09DEC15 and 17DEC15 were brought up. 
"The counseling chit stated that I lied about my reason to go to Battalion on 09DEC15, specifically DePaul Industries (to file four level 2 certs and check in on the status of a fifth one) and Navy admin (to turn in MA1 Hooyah overseas screening to Admin Lady). I was asked by MA1 Hooyah to turn in the paperwork to the mentioned offices in Battalion that morning. MA2 Dumbass and "five people" informed MA2 Derp that I did not need to be at Battalion and that the only reason I was going was to make sure that MA2 Derp checked in at DePaul because MA3 Idiot's Level II cert was not filed with them and whose temporary coxswain letter was about to expire. MA2 Derp was off the watch bill so I asked him if he could take me down to Battalion in the Harbor Truck because he needed to turn in brass and links at supply due to having an M240 range on 08DEC15. I was told by MA2 Derp to wait in the vehicle while he and MASN NiceGuy got the brass and links from the Compound RFI. I waited about 20 minutes when MA3 NiceGirl came out and said that she needed to be taken to her vehicle because she had a home emergency and asked where MA2 Derp was. When I informed her that he and MASN NiceGuy were getting brass and links, she looked confused and said that she has not been able to find them. I walked back into the Compound to find MASN NiceGuy in the galley and MA2 Derp in the LPO Office, who then stated that he couldn't get the brass and links because the duty armorer was in a meeting with Chief. Since I had to get the Level II certs filed and I had to start driving home at 1500 due to PRK surgery (19NOV15) and unable to drive in the dark, I informed MA2 Derp that he would have to make two trips since I had to get the certs and overseas screening turned in. He said that he wouldn't do it because he was only going to do one trip. After informing him that I needed to get it all done before 1500, he refused to go down to Battalion in the government vehicle, which at that point I was still uncomfortable driving because my vision fluctuated too much. I went into the LPO Office and informed MA2 GoodGuy of the situation, in which he told me to use my POV, get everything done, and cut me from work for the day provided I got everything taken care of at DePaul and Navy Admin and I had no other tasks that needed to be done in the Compound. MA2 Derp assured me that MA3 Idiot's Level II cert was taken care of. 
"Upon arriving at DePaul, (approximately 1250), I was informed that everyone's certs were taken care of except MA3 Idiot's, who was missing the cert altogether. I informed MA3 Idiot via text message at 1301, which he replied to at 1821. I then called the LPO Office at 1302, and informed MA1 HeadLPO of the situation. MA1 Hooyah's paperwork was turned in to Navy Admin with no issues. 
"On 17DEC15, binoculars 041 went missing. All of the down bodies and the react crew were looking for them. The three PRP down Seamen were told to go down to the boats by MA3 WhoCares, the react coxswain, who was directed by MA1 CoolLPO. MA2 Awesome and I looked in the HSB berthing and the LPO Office in every space we could think of that the binos could have been placed or misplaced. Originally, the negative counseling chit said that I was told to go to the boats when the binos situation came up and that I purposefully did not go down after MA2 Dumbass told me to go down, which the only interaction I had with him that day was to take a letter for MA1 Who? down to Navy Admin because she was no longer with Bravo Co. However, I was following MA1 CoolLPO's orders because he needed immediate accountability of those binos, which MA2 Awesome and I promptly started looking for them. The binos were eventually found on Gunny's desk. I'm not aware of anything that happened at The Pier while MA2 Awesome and I were in the berthing and LPO Office looking for the binos except for what has been said by the crews on the pier. 
"MA2 Awesome mitigated the negative counseling chit meeting with MA2 Derp on 18DEC15, in which she verified what I was doing on 17DEC15 to help with the missing binos situation. I sincerely apologized for snapping at MA2 Derp and informed him that it wasn't personal, I was having a bad day, and that I will work on my military bearing. MA2 Derp then changed the negative counseling chit so it only reflected on the events of 18DEC15, which MA2 Awesome also suggested due to the events written on there being in the past and not reflecting the events that happened on 18DEC15. MA2 Derp and I cleared any misunderstandings with each other and he said that it was now 'water under the bridge.'"

Boy were things not good after that, because MA2 Dumbass thought he could retaliate even more because I had no proof, even though I had phone logs and whathaveyou... but he didn't know I kept logs. Joke was on him.

MA2 Dumbass' plans on getting me kicked out of the Harbor unit didn't work because of the detailed logs I kept. I realize that when you first look at the logs it's not much, but once you start dealing with this shit every single day, for months (six plus at this point), it starts to get to you. I dreaded going to work; I dreaded putting the uniform on and having to deal with bullshit every single day. It was a hostile and nasty work environment. No person should have to deal with that for the larger part of the year. 

You know what was the best part of that counseling chit? It was kept, not in my record, but as an example on how not to write a counseling chit. That made my fucking day when I heard. I wish I had it framed...

This bullshit didn't stop until Senior Chief KickAss stepped in and nipped that shit in the bud. And I finally had peace... or as much as I could have, because this wasn't the end of it. I was still dealing with the aftermath and the bullshit that MA2 Dumbass' friends made me go through. He made a new collateral, the “Sensitivity Trainer,” because apparently if you have had too much bullshit, you’re too sensitive and someone, meaning him, had to train people on how to be sensitive. But he and his buddies did it all behind my back and I only found out because one of the guys said what it was because I saw that he had it on his Brag Sheet for our evals and I asked him what it was. “You seriously don’t know? You had a huge part in making it, Steele.” They had it on their brag sheet for their evals, the ones our CoC could see, and the CoC did nothing, just went along with it. But he should trust them, right? He’d then pass on the torch of sensitivity trainer to his other buddies because it was all a joke; making fun of people and plotting how to make their lives a living hell was all a fucking joke. 

I should have known that if I had (still have) leadership that allows that shit to slide, it’ll let a lot more than that slide. And boy did 2016 bring a lot of that shit up. 

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Adventures of the Psych Ward Part One: The Beginning

There's a huge stigma about people going to the psychiatric ward. Most people think that if you get admitted, you'll pretty much lose everything; career, family, life. That's true only if you're forced to go. I was given the choice.

Don't let people lie to you; everyone is given a choice unless you're in immediate danger of hurting yourself and/or others. Example: You're drunk as fuck and flailing a gun.

You can probably guess why I was so hesitant about being admitted into a psychiatric ward. My military job revolves around guns. I didn't know what to think, what to do, what to even feel... or how to feel since I was pretty numb and lost. The Social Worker explained to me that people who seek and ask for help can still have a great career in the military, unlike those who refuse to get admitted but end up in the psych ward anyway.

Why did I end up in the psychiatric ward on October 31st, 2017? I guess I'll have to start from the beginning.

I'm pretty sure you all remember that I used to be extremely excited about joining the Navy. I figured it was a fantastic way to restart my life since it really wasn't going anywhere. I had a Bachelor's degree but I couldn't find more than an entry-level job with it, and I had always wanted to join, so I decided to go for it.

Boy, do I regret it a lot of the times.

I'll be honest and say that right now, I absolutely hate it. The hypocrisy, favoritism, and lies pretty much killed the military for me. Or, at least the Navy, though I'm sure other branches are just as shitty.

The military tells you that if you're having issues, to tell your Chain of Command. The CoC will always tell you that they have an "open door policy" and that you can tell them anything. They tell you that they won't say anything to anyone about it. If you actually believe them, then you should get kicked by a donkey on the face, because if you believe anything anyone in a CoC tells you, you pretty much deserve that kick. I learned that the hard way.

To be fair, I've never trusted anyone, but I figured, hell, this is a new start, why not try to actually see the good in people and trust someone for once? Because it's a mistake in the military. They don't care about you, they only care about what's going to happen to them and if it's going to help them. That's the problem I have with the Master at Arms community: you trust them, believe they're after your best interests, and in the end, they only use the information you told them so they can push you down so they can get ahead of the game.

It's fucking bullshit.

Oh yeah, I know that some people whom I work with are probably reading this, rolling their eyes, and saying I'm being overly dramatic and whatnot. And it's because they haven't gone through the shit I have at this command and don't believe me when I tell them. Look, my dudes, if you don't believe me, that's fine, but telling me and others that I was faking my suicide plans is fucked up and obviously not true. And that's another problem I have with this command and the MA community, if it doesn't happen, then it's obviously not true. More fucking bullshit. And the saddest part is, those people who say that I was faking it won't say it to my face, because they're a bunch of fucking cowards. They've probably had a decent time at this command because they fit right in with the rest of the cowards that are here.

This is going to be a long story, so stay tuned for the rest of it. I'll promise you'll actually learn why I ended up in the Psychiatric Ward. And yes, I am pretty angry.

Monday, June 12, 2017

The Helper

My entire goal in life has been to be able to help people. That goal got a bit diverted, but I had a Come-To-Jesus moment and I've snapped out of my slump, which lasted nearly three years. Do you know how a three-year slump feels? Shitty. It feels shitty. I know other's have had longer slumps but this is all I could take. No more. No more... It nearly threw me over the edge.    

Anyway, my goal was to help people. Unfortunately I was unable to to continue my education and get my PhD/PsyD because it was going to cost me $250,000. I didn't want to go that deep into debt, so I decided to enlist. We know that story.

Fuck my life.

But it's not all bad. I know what truly hitting rock bottom is. I've lost nearly everything. Because of that, I realized that I want to help people again. It sucks feeling so horrible, and if I can help someone not feel like crap, I'll do it. I'll try as hard as I can.

My dear friend, Asa, then told me about becoming a representative for JuicePlus+. I looked into it and while I was a bit skeptical about the chews and capsules, I throughly enjoyed the bars and smoothie mixes. My biggest seller was the Tower Garden. If you're like me and live in a tiny ass apartment but love growing and having fresh vegetables, then this thing is spot on. I just got mine and it fits perfectly in my balcony.

How does this help people? First of all it's promoting growing fresh food. You know exactly what's being put into it. Gardening is also very therapeutic. While this isn't a typical garden, you still have to care for it. This thing made me smile even when I was just putting it together. It distracts you from the negativity that's going on around you.

I mean, heck, guys, I even have business cards and whatnot. It's like I'm official! Which I am... so... it's just a weird feeling, okay?

 I'll be posting updates on my cute little garden. Stay tuned!

Sunday, June 11, 2017

The Lost Girl

I think that one of the biggest disappointments in my life is that I mostly followed The American Dream. I moved to this country, went to school, graduated college. I couldn't find a job with my college degree and I found out that student loans don't help with bills or with getting a job. Because I didn't want to go into a deeper debt hole, I decided to skip furthering my education and didn't enroll into any Master's or PhD/PsyD programs. I was pretty much stuck with many other people who were well educated but couldn't find a job. I was completely lost. To help with that lostness, I decided to join the military.

Let me tell you, I'm even more lost and disappointed than when I was a jobless graduate. Which really sucks, because I was so excited when I wrote that entry back in 2014. A career change, a new life, a steady paycheck... everything seemed brighter. It's a damn shame it didn't turn out that way.

I think I'm even more lost because I lost pretty much everything since I've joined the military. I lost most of my friends and family, I lost my marriage, I lost my fitness, and I've nearly lost my motivation.

I lost myself.

I have always had a great support group. My friends back home are supportive, my cycling circle of friends are fun and encourage each other. In my current rate in the military, people stab each other in the back for absolutely no reason whatsoever.
I told one of my supervisors that I was getting out of the military after I did my tour in San Diego. Whether that's true or not, who knows? If that command is anything like my current one then I will leave and happily never return, however, I've heard differently. When my supervisor asked me why I wanted to leave the military, the reasons where:
  • I'm a 30-year old woman who is told where she can live and nearly got my home, animals, and bikes taken away from me because of my divorce, which, and I told him, this command caused
  • I'm a 30-year old woman who is told she cannot train because she has to do "group PT," which normally consists of chasing a fucking Frisbee. I'm training for the High Cascades 100; the training that I do for that race will improve me a lot more than fucking around with a bunch of people who have never been on a bike for more than 5 miles
  • The Navy caused my divorce, and yes, I have said this to my supervisor's face
  • It has caused more stress and weight gain than I like to admit
  • People stab each other in the back instead of empowering and encouraging each other
I think the most disappointing part about those bullet points is that when I said "People stab each other in the back," all my supervisors can say is, "Well, that's just the nature of the rate." Excuse me? So I should just accept that some 20-year old punk is blaming me for something for absolutely no reason and accept the consequence? Women couldn't vote in the early 1900s but there my ass is, voting. Why should people just accept that the rate is a bunch of backstabbers instead of changing that horrible environment? Sorry, but that just doesn't go well with me at all. In fact, it makes me sick that people let that shit slide. Change is good. Change the rate. Make better standards. Stop being stupid fucks!

I refuse to accept such a stupid, lame, and lazy excuse.

So, because I was tired of the environment and my lack of training, I took leave for 23 days, which I'll write about later because it was an amazing trip. I rode over 500 miles, got faster, happier, and healthier.

People in the military don't like it when you practice self-improvement.

I came back to an extremely negative environment, which I knew I would, but since I was with so many supportive and amazing people on my trip, I decided that since I can't change people at work, I'll change myself. So far, not much has gotten on my nerves on my first three days back. I only have 60 days left in Washington, and my goal is to make them as positive and happy as possible. Will it be hard? Oh, yes, but it'll keep me healthier, the weight loss will still be coming (14 pounds so far!), and I'll be the girl racer I once was. With my best friends and happy family.

Always keep this in mind: Do no harm, take no shit. Keep your head down and your chin up. Uplift people, help them get to their potential. And fuck the haters, because they'll just deviate you from your goals.

Wish me luck! And good luck to you all!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Mediocre Athlete

I've never been an awesome athlete. I used to be a terrible jumper. My hand strength and grip are terrible. In Middle School, I couldn't even do a full sit up. I was just one of those kids who wasn't athletic. I mean, I was a pretty good softball player and I could jump for balls (I was the catcher), but that was after hours and hours of practice.

How terrible is it for a Mexican kid to not be able to jump? I completely killed the stereotype so when people made fun of me for "jumping the fence" I couldn't even laugh. If I had come into this country by hopping a fence, I'd probably still be in Mexico.
In fact, people still see me and they don't see an athlete. Most people at work didn't even know I could run as fast, or as far, as I do now, which took years and mile after mile, hundreds of miles, to be able to run as fast and as long as I do now. Hell, I'm a marathon runner now. I still suck at sit ups but at least I can do them now. People also don't know that I'm a cyclist. I used to be much better than I am now because I used to have the time to put in the miles. I was competitive at one point, but that also took thousands of miles to accomplish.

The reality of me is that I'm such an untalented athlete that I have to train very hard to be mediocre at best. 

But that lack of talent is what makes me work so hard. I work really hard because I know that I suck at a lot of things, so I train. 

Trying to set goals when time gets taken away from you is hard. Trying to balance a time-consuming job, cycling/running training and racing, and trying to spend time with someone other than your cats can take its toll, especially when you want to snuggle and every cat rejects you. Even the needy one. I mean... what the fuck? Something has to be sacrificed. And I've been thinking a lot about what I want to give up or what I need to put on hold. At this point, I decided to put the Navy in the back burner and decided to get my fitness back. Fitness first, job that I'm not able to quit second. I'm still getting my quals, don't get me wrong, but I won't sacrifice sleep and training for it. At least not on purpose. Also, the more fit I am, the better I feel, and the better I'll most likely do my job... so, if we want an example of cognitive dissonance, there you have it.

I'm still pretty hurt about my cats rejecting some snuggles, though.

Starting this StrongMan shit adds to it. The stuff is so cool yet so hard to do. I see people at the gym killing it, and I can hardly lift a 115-pound atlas stone. But I'm able to do it more and more each day. I've gotten several PRs lately, which is pretty fucking cool. I think that the reason that I don't hit PRs more quickly is because I'm a living example of the self-fulfilling prophecy; I've been told and I believe that I'm such a mediocre athlete that I don't actually believe I can become a great athlete.

I'm ready to return to my mediocre competitiveness. So ready, that I signed up for a 100-mile mountain bike race in Bend, Oregon, and I'm debating on whether I'm going to sign up for the StrongMan meet at the gym I go to in June. Signing up for stupid shit is what keeps me going when shit keeps hitting the fan.

Here's to being mediocre!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

A Quick Update... Stay Tuned!

Oh, life. What can I even say about you at this point?

I haven't posted since I did my my adventure race, which was in 2015. To say I've been neglecting this poor blog is an understatement. However, I can assure you that I have gotten very out of shape since that adventure race. It wasn't really by choice. I haven't been able to work out as much as I usually do due to work, but I think most of you know how much I bitch about that. I've been changing that recently, though. I joined a powerlifting/strong man gym, and after a while of working out at the place, I decided to pay one of the personal trainers to kick my ass twice a week. Legit giving her money to hurt me.

Okay, so it's a little better than that. I keep saying that I'm out of shape but I've ran two marathons and several half marathons since that adventure race, mostly without much training. Thankfully my "out of shape" is most people's in shape, at least for endurance bullshit. I mean, the marathons hurt but I finished them strong. How many people can say that want to run a marathon just because?

Not many, because they're not as stupid as I am. 

I also have a bunch of cats now. It's pretty cool. They're mostly judgmental and they keep pushing everything off of the counters so Nova, my awesome dog, eats everything so he's super fat now. I keep calling one of them Tiny Satan because she's pretty much what I believe Satan would be in cat form. I think she'll eventually eat me if I sleep for too long.

I also got a divorce, so I believe my future will be a bunch of cats, but that's all I'm going to say about that subject because I'm still pretty sad about it. 

 I got eye surgery, too, so now I can see without glasses, and I also don't look like a complete jackass, which is what I look like when I wear glasses. So now when I wake up I no longer do the daily ritual of, "Where are my glasses? I need my glasses to see but I lost my glasses but I also need my glasses to be able to find my glasses." It was a stupid game and I'm glad I'm no longer playing it.

I still hate my current command because it's stupid and they way they run things is stupid and I don't like it. At all. I blame it for destroying the little family I had, but I've survived 2-1/2 years of that shit hole. I'm here for 6 more months. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel now. And I can't wait to get out of Washington State. I'm so tired of the rain, and the gloom, and the rain. Everything is wet. Even the air is wet. What kind of fucking state is always fucking wet?

So that's what has been happening for the past couple of years. Not much, really. I'm now just more bitter and out of shape, but things seem to be turning around a little bit. I now can draw for the blog so I'm pretty excited about that. I have a few blog ideas so... keep your eyes peeled. My blog is finally coming back!

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Equinox Traverse 2015 Adventure Race

Oh man! I know, guys. I haven't written in a while. But... I have something to tell you now. I mean, my life has been pretty boring. I've been working 16+ our days in the Navy. I love it, though. I bitch a lot, but as my dad (a Sailor now civilian) told me, a bitching sailor is a happy sailor. ANYWAY.

I decided I was going to do a 44-hour Adventure Race in Ohiopyle, Pennsylvania. I had never done one and I didn't know what it was all about, so, naturally, in my style, decided to go for it.

I've always called myself an idiot. I know I can be less dumb than I probably put out to be, but I'm an idiot. Any junior enlisted sailor knows what gets you in trouble... Boredom. And I think that boredom is what brings the biggest idiot out in me.

This year hadn't been my year for racing. Boot Camp and "A" School got me pretty out of shape for the bike. I've struggled in races and I've only gotten on the podium for a second place on one time trial, albeit a hilly time trial, which hilly isn't my forte, but still. The fitness is coming back quickly but man, it sucks going from being top contender to going back to the bottom of the totem pole in the field.

Not too long ago I saw a teammate posted about needing a female for an adventure race. I later learned that "elite" teams in Adventure Racing need at least one female since not very many females take the beating. It makes sense. If you have a female than can take this brutality, it should be called an elite team. I didn't really know what Adventure Racing was and I knew I had good endurance, although it hasn't been my year, so I replied with something along the lines of "if my Chain of Command lets me." When I brought it up to my CoC, they were all for it and started to do the paperwork needed for me to go before I could even say, "HELL YEAH I'LL GO." They pretty much did that for me.

Oh... Oh, shit. They're letting me go. Okay then.

I was pretty much balls deep into this now. I got my plane ticket and my arrangements to go to this race. My husband was supportive, though understandably skeptic of it. Oh, I also got a bike box since I'ver never traveled with a bike via plane and I wanted to ride my Grammo Toa during this race, not rent some other bike.

Crap! I'm balls deep now.

So, I get to the air port, and it was nerve wracking because the key to my bike case broke and it was all messed up, so I thought my new beautiful Toa was going to get messed up on the ride over. It didn't, but that's all I could think of. Five hours later, I got my stuff and met up with my team leader, who is a seasoned and amazing Adventure Racer, and went to his home, where he and his family were nice enough to host me.

Okay, so the first day, my host, Mr. "Dash" decided to go on a ride to test out MTBs, probably mostly mine since I had to rebuild mine after flying. By the way, my Grammo was flawless on this pre-ride. I saw lots of cool stuff and even got a kick ass cupcake which was fucking delicious and totally within my diet.

We packed up and left for the race.

It was supposed to be about a three-hour ride. It wasn't, because there was so much traffic. Holy crap, what the hell? So much traffic there. Also, it's nothing like the West Coast. If you drive 20 minutes (maybe with limited traffic) on the West Coast, you get to the next town. In the East Coast, you get through like five state lines. It was crazy.

So like we got there and set up camp and met out teammate Dustin.

In the morning, I should have thrown up because I was so nervous but I didn't, and then we went to check in, and we got our stuff, and Dash did our map stuff. Dustin knew some of it, but I don't know maps at all, I know charts (FYI Maps = land, Charts = water... I'm Navy.. I don't know shit about maps), and we got our gear together and all of that and waited for the start time. It was cut close and Dash had his work cut out for him with the charts maps with plotting points and such, but he did it. I don't know how, but it's pretty much because he's awesome.

We started the race at 0900 on Saturday. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaand we started.

And we started going up the mountain. I saw a few people in a single speed, which I though was crazy, going up the mountain, but up the mountain I was going about my 8 to 12-ish hour speed. It was pretty comfortable except the humidity. Holy shit... I was already sweating up a hill I normally am okay going up... it was bad and I became concerned. If it's this bad now, how bad is it going to be later? But then I decided that it's all fire roads and I can just grind it out. And I did.

We did got to some single track-ish section with some loose rock and my teammate Dustin crashed on it. I was right behind him and it was pretty bad, but he got back on and rode on. Against both Dash's and my instincts, we kept moving on. We probably should have stopped for a concussion assessment but... I don't know. We kept going because it was just an endo... and who doesn't endo on a race? I mean... seriously? I do at least twice every three races.

We got to the first transition area after some riding.

As we kept going through the race, my brain kept fucking with me.
Hey! My brain would say.
What? I'd answer.
No... What are you doing?
What do you mean?
What are you doing? You've never done this? The most you've done is like.... 20 miles uphill. Give up. 
But why?
Because it's over your limit.
Okay... I'll let my team leader know at the top of this hill.
I fucking hope so. You're too far and out of shape for this. Tell them!!

And we trekked. I thought that "trekking" was like.... the kind of trail running/hiking I do; pretty technical but you know, there's a trail. Nope. We went up shit I didn't even think we'd do and then went down it. I felt like I was going to die. Not only was the vegetation attacking and eating me alive, we were going down the fucking mountain and I couldn't find my footing at all. I was completely out of my element and I had no idea what to do... besides just keep going... or letting a bear eat me. That was also an option that came into my mind. 

We got to some of the check points, one way the fuck up the mountain, and then we trekked down, in which we were going down some creek bed or I don't know what the hell and we had to climb down. Climb, not walk, not run, not slide, climb. I've never done anything like that before. 

Yeah, we're way up there and we have to go back down... all the way down. This was only hour 6 of a 44-hour race. 

I was struggling down the mountain. I was getting cut up because I didn't realize what "trekking" in Adventure Racing was, and I just couldn't figure out how to get my footing down the mountain whereas my teammates looked like experienced billy goats. And because it was such a struggle for me and at this point, though I didn't know, I had sprained my knee pretty badly... like super bad I'm still recovering from it, that we got to the Transition Area cutoff by mere seconds. I wish I was exaggerating but I wasn't. 

We took a break in which I contemplated on whether I was dead or if this was a bad dream or something, ate food, got fresh water (we had gotten some water when we were climbing down the creek thing or whatever, so fresh water was awesome), changed back into bike stuff, and headed back out, which I don't know, man. 

My knee was bothering me while I was riding but I figured it was just because I just climbed up and down some fucking mountain like a three-legged mentally challenged donkey. I fell back a bit and Dash asked my why I was falling back when we were going at an easy-ish pace. I didn't have an answer for that... I was wondering the same thing, so I just kept on pedaling. 

We had more climbing, more this, more that, hills that kept kicking my ass. My brain wouldn't shut up, my knees were feeling weird, I was struggling on things I don't normally struggle with on the bike. Granted, I was 20 pounds heavier due to my pack, but I just didn't get why life was such a struggle. I was breaking and I didn't know what to do. My brain started to go into panic mode because I should have quit, but I kept going for some stupid reason, and I kept breaking more and more. 

We rode through the night. I actually had a few hours where I felt pretty awesome. I was riding well, I had fun, the downhills were kick ass and my body was, "WE WORK NIGHTS I KNOW WHAT WORK AT NIGHT IS!!!" so I was a bit more in my element. We went to some checkpoints, strategically not going to the northern-most checkpoints, and grabbed the checkpoints we could while going to our next mandatory checkpoint, a 24-hour gas stating, which, unlike the first mandatory checkpoint, we reached five hours early. 

This gas station had some awesome pizza roll things and I tried eating one. It was rough. My body just didn't want to cooperate, but I ate as much as I could, got some Gatorade (which I never drink but I think that shit saved me on this race), chatted with some other racers and found out that they, too, decided to skip the northern checkpoints, some were also struggling in the hills, and so on. We moved on.

It was cold as can be but we rode on through  the night. I broke again, my brain wouldn't shut up, I was struggling. We got more check points, I kept struggling. I just didn't know what to do. I kept pedaling but I was so out of my comfort zone and my body's limits that I just didn't know what to do besides keep following my teammates. So I did just that. My knee was hurting a bit more but oh well. 

We kept going through some fun trails and then they got super technical. They got to the point where we couldn't ride, and we hiked the hike-a-bike trails of hell. They were pretty bad. We got to the checkpoint we needed and kept going, hiking our bikes more because the trails were just not rideable. I was getting annoyed because, god dammit, bikes are for riding, not fucking hiking! But, whatever, I was still struggling and it sucked and I hated my life. 

It became day time and then I realized that this wasn't a nightmare, it was real life. Shit. But some of the views were pretty sweet.

We kept going while getting checkpoint to our next mandatory checkpoints and transition area, which the cutoff was at 3p.m. We got lost once trying to find the trail, and had to hike a bike more. At this point my knee was absolutely killing me. Great. So my brain finally shuts the fuck up but now my knee is bitching about being hurt or something. Whatever. We got to our transition area and Dash had promised us a nice break, where I took about a 45-minute nap. We were late but we didn't get the penalty because so many teams missed the cutoff time due to the race promoter misjudging how long it would take to get there. Sweet, good news. The other good news is that the trekking in that area wasn't mandatory so we rode on to our next transition, which was the kayaking. WOO! 

On the way to this transition area I literally had a mental, emotional, and physical breakdown and was literally crying because it sucked and I was hurting like crazy. I've never been so out of touch with my body and it was freaking me out so I broke down and had a total meltdown and tantrum. We sat a bit and took a break.

After that meltdown, we rode some more and went to the kayak portion, which was a ton of fun. 10 miles and 2-1/2 hours later, we were at our second to last mandatory transition area/checkpoint. Holy shit, I've made it this far. The race promotor was there and checked in on me, which I thought was super nice of him. My knee was so bad at this point that I fell when I went up the stairs to go to the bathrooms. 

There were more checkpoints to get but none were mandatory. We decided to just walk the 8-ish miles back to the bikes and come back to finish the race. 16 miles and a severely sprained knee were in the way of me finishing this race. That's it. 

Too bad that the walk got harder and harder. My knee wasn't doing well. No matter how much we walked we seemed to never get there. I actually don't even remember part of the walk because I fell asleep. Apparently I was walking so slow that Dash and Dustin were wondering what was going on (besides the hurt knee) and when they came back for me, that's when I woke up. I started walking faster then, the hallucinations from sleep deprivation were so trippy, too. 

Then... there were lights. It was the little town, and Dash said it was about another half mile or so for the bikes. 

We got to the bikes and we got ready. Luckily, because of my cycling background, my body just said, "Fuck you, brain. I know how to do this." I went into auto mode and I was able to hop on, tell myself it's a flat 8 miles... Go! My body knew what to do, though I was so hurt I wasn't able to do a full revolution with my right leg, but fuck it... we had 8 miles and I would be done. Officially done. We kept going and Dash stopped once because he was falling asleep on the bike. We took a little break and kept going. We TTd it back to the finish. 

And there it was. Ohiopyle. We finished. I got off my bike by the last checkpoint so the race promotors could see I was with them but I sat on the grass. I was done. I went beyond my body's and mind's limits, but while many times my brain said I needed to quit and I told myself I needed to quit, I never actually told my teammates that I wanted to quit. It was done. 

We headed back to the campground, showered, and passed the fuck out. 

We went to the breakfast buffet the race provides for us and then the awards. We got 5th place... our 2/3rds novice team beat some very, very experienced teams. The race promoter even gave me a shout out because it was my first race. Normally, people don't make a 44-hour race that's this hard (apparently this race was pretty hard even for experienced adventure racers) their first race. It was done and over with and I was able to wear my Equinox Traverse shirt I got. 

As far as aftermath, I didn't realize how badly I was hurt. My knee is just now, two weeks later, feeling better on rides. I was finally able to ride a few little hills on my mountain bike. Tomorrow, June 6th, I'll actually try to ride my road bike. I'll probably lose a couple or three toe nails, but so far they're being champs and hanging on. Throughout the race I mentioned that this type of racing was probably something I'll finish and cross off my bucket list, now I'm wanting to train to do another one, a shorter race, but I really want to do another Adventure Race. I'm changing my diet, trying to trim a few more pounds, and trying to figure out how to make my giant fucking quads smaller (the struggle of a sprinter). 

I'm glad I had awesome teammates. I would have never made it without their support, and I'm so happy my team provided me with this opportunity. I went to a place I never thought I'd go visit, DC and places in Pennsylvania, and I went to a place mentally, emotionally, and physically that I never knew I'd ever reach. Overall, this was an amazing experience and if I can get through this, I can get through a lot. I'm part of an official finishing elite team! 

I want to do another Adventure Race.