Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Race Report on the Yellowstone/ Teton 100 miler Running with POTS: A Journey Back Into Ultrarunning

Race Report on the Yellowstone/ Teton 100 miler
Running with POTS: A Journey Back Into Ultrarunning

Back in July of 2010 I wrote a description of POTS and symptoms that are associated with it. To learn more about POTS look at my blog archive.

After being diagnosed with POTS in 2010, I thought I would have no trouble beating it. But it was a couple of years of beating me to the ground after that. I have recovered from a lot of things in my life. Becoming an ultramarathon runner was one of the ways I successfully recovered from a severe eating disorder by changing my mindset around my body and developing positive self-talk.

Turns out those skills would be necessary to work my way back into running. POTS diagnoses was followed by a year of adrenal fatigue syndrome where I literally had to sleep for 12 hours a day. Imagine balancing sleep with a demanding graduate school schedule and practicum for 12 months. It is only with the grace of God that I was able to survive and finish school.

During that time I healed enough to successfully summit Mount Kilimanjaro. To watch my epic recap video visit Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JidL_3pBqbg
Kilimanjaro was a pilgrimage and a prophetic journey of self discovery. I had to make a choice, finish when half of my family had been taken out of the journey due to illness and wonder if they were OK, or quit and go down the mountain with them. A lot of prayer in the decision told me, I had to finish. There would be nothing I could do for them if I went down with them, and I needed to finish the journey. I had a guide, Baraka, who journeyed with me, and when I wanted to turn around just 30 minutes from the summit due to Oxygen deprivation effecting my thinking and my body feeling like it was splitting Baraka said “Come on Simba Lady! We will finish this journey together!” And so we did. Baraka encouraged me, and kept my inner voices screaming at me to turn around and run at a lower volume.

After I graduated from the U of U with a Master’s in Social Work, I was not sure what I was going to do with my life. That was another two year epic journey of trying different approaches to doing the work that I am good at and meeting the requirements of 4,000 supervised hours of mental health practice, while also having a new midwifery school emerge under my feet.

During this time, I had a hysterectomy, and have done a lot of work to overcome the effects of POTS and heal my adrenal glands. I have also had a lot of success and miracles with business, growing midwifery education, and maternal mental health. There were a lot of parallel challenges in that as well, and continue to be, but every challenge that is overcome brings growth and unseen blessings with it.

Stress, body limitations, has made running difficult for the last 3.5 years. In fact, the last 50 mile finish I had was Squaw Peak in June of 2010. It was a tough finish because I was still having a lot of hydration issues. The body difficulties have added 50 lbs of weight to my frame in 3 years, and I have suffered through a lot of fatigue. But I have gotten a little better every year, even though I have entered many races and DNF’d all of them except for The SnowShoe 50 K in January of 2011 where I was dead last finisher, but the only female finisher and ended up with a first place trophy!

Circa Kat'cina Mosa, August 2013: My speed was slowly improving, but when the race started I started feeling hopeless and depressed, and lost desire to race. After thinking about it, and knowing the signs of PTSD, I realized I had a lot of fear that my body would never work efficiently again. I couldn’t’ put all of my mental energy into it, because I had a lot of emotions and built up discouragement about perpetual DNFs, and even though I am pretty good at not personalizing, it was a big sting in my heart when someone jokingly referred to me as “The famous DNFer” when I dropped at Katchina and asked to be taken to Big Springs to be an aid station worker.  What the person who made the comment doesn’t realize, is that it takes courage for me to start each race knowing that I may not finish, but never saying I won’t finish. Always starting with the intent to finish, and only dropping when I have to. What he didn’t know is that the alternative would have been that if I quit running, my body would have likely continued to lose functionality and I would have become bedridden.

POTS can be a scary diagnosis. Some people with POTS get so severe that they can’t climb out of bed in the morning anymore and are bedridden much of the time. I was crossing that bridge, and through all my research on POTS I learned that those who fight their symptoms can keep them from getting worse, and may see improvement. I kept ultrarunning, and starting races because I needed something big to keep me from giving in to those days that I didn’t think I could get out of bed.

I have been able to improve my health and through a lot of emotional healing, work, health and dietary adjustments, I would say that I barely notice that I have POTS anymore. I have to be careful, and I know how to read my body and adjust for what it needs.

After Katchina Mosa, I contacted Lisa Smith-Batchen, whom ironically I had met just a few days after completing Squaw Peak 50 in 2010, and ran the last of her 6 miles with her at Liberty Park on her 50 mile in 50 state journey. I ran Lisa and Jay’s race in Idaho in 2011, and made 46 miles of the 100, and then after a hysterectomy 6 months later, running was more like a walk for about a year.

After a month of coaching she talked me into coming back to finish the 100 miler. I started again, with the intent to finish, but needed to drop at 50 miles. But I made it 50 miles, and that was a milestone! And my legs aren’t sore two days later, even though I haven’t run a lot of distance in two years!

Now my goal is to win. Next year I will be back, and I am going to win a 100 mile race J I have started working on figuring out this metabolism, so I can restore a healthy weight and hopefully solve some inflammation problems. Me winning a 100 mile race seems like a joke right now. But I am going to do it. I dream big, and I accomplish my goals. It is more about the journey to see what I am made of and how far I can go that drives it.

Monday, April 22, 2013

A Marathon For Boston

Run one for Boston, and help out a good cause! 

Saturday was significant for many reasons. One, was for the cause I was running for. Many of my ultra-friends ran three marathons back-to-back this weekend, or will be sometime this week. They put in 78.6 miles each, or one marathon for each of the 3 victims who died at the tragic bombing of the 2013 Boston marathon. 

Why was this significant when their are bombing, killings, and terrorists attacks everyday all over the world? Well for one, runners are loyal to each other, and distance runners support each other as family. So it seems natural that the running community would band together to help out the family of Richard Martin, the 8-year old boy who was killed while watching his father finish the Boston marathon. 

But for me this marathon was doubly significant. Since having some major setbacks with being diagnosed with POTS in 2010, and having major life events and moves, and then a hysterectomy  in February of 2012, this was a breakthrough for my running recovery. 

The last successful marathon or greater distance I have run was running 50 miles of the Buffalo 100 miler starting at Yellowstone National Park, running near the Grand Tetons and ending in Driggs, Idaho in October 2011. At that time my running was starting to come back to more normal, but still not quite there and we had just moved to an apartment in Springville and broken ground on our new home in Springville, Utah. 

A few months after that among starting a midwifery school, moving into our new home, and other major life changes I had a hysterectomy. That surgery left me barely able to run as it took my muscles per 8 months  to be able to show some speed! It really weakened my core and upper body. It was a frustrating and demotivating 8 months and I was feeling pretty discouraged about my running life. 

Many other great things have happened during that recovery time, but I put on about 25 lbs after my surgery and then decided to sign up for a fitness challenge with Lisa Smith-Batchen and Julie Bryan because I needed a coach coming into my email box to remind me to get moving and to stop focusing on how out of shape I was feeling. Tandi Ogden Suitter, my mean trainer has kept on top of me, and suddenly things began working again. Then I started a local community ladies fitness group, and helping other people helps me to feel accountable to work on myself. 

That helped kick me into gear. Then my sisters Alyssa Workman and Katrina Bishop, got me hooked up on Herbalife. Suddenly I have a ton of energy, where I was dragging all the time before. After committing to run 26.2 on Saturday, and not knowing how my body would handle it since it has been so long since I was in gear I woke up to a downpour of trenchel rain, and on a cold morning begin my race at 3:15 am. 

I kept a slow and steady pace, wanting to make sure I finished my first recovery marathon of about an average of 5-4.5mph, for the first 17 miles. And then I had to take a 20 minute break to change my clothes because I was getting hypothermic and ran down to a local 5k keeping about the same pace. After the 5 k with about 4.56 miles to go, I had to take a break to eat breakfast because in all of my excitement to finish I had gone too long without nutrition. 

But after two pieces of toast with butter and my mom, Ange' Workman's, homemade Peach/Loganberry Jam, and two eggs. I headed out in the cold again. By this time it had stopped raining and was just overcast. I finished the last 4.56 at a slower 4.5-4mph pace, and then finished. 

I was tired from the cold, wet, and early morning, but felt great. I was very surprised when I woke up Sunday morning and had no tightness in my muscles, in fact my hips are looser than before I ran on Saturday! I was not sore, and didn't feel like I had run more than 5 miles! Today I feel like I could run another 26.2! I may, and maybe I will completed 2 more marathons this week for the victims of Boston! 

Glad to be back into action and I am feeling hopeful about being able to complete the Squaw Peak 50 on June 2nd, and Wasatch 100 in September! 

Donate to this great cause: 


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

April 20th, running 26.2 for Boston and a Good Cause, Join me!

On Saturday morning April 20th, 2013 I am getting up at 3am and I am going to start a 26.2 mile run. I will run 23.1 before 8am, and then finish with a city sponsored 5K at the Springville Arts park in honor of those who witnessed and were affected by the horrific bombings of 4/15/13. Many of my friends were their and witnessed it, and I donated $26.2 dollars to this fund today and committed to run 26.2 miles for this boy and his family. Consider Joining me even if you only want to walk the 5K at the end with me, I will have stickers and I am making an iron on to put on one of my old race shirts to help this family out. Martin Richards is the 8 year old boy who was killed while watching his father finish the marathon. His mother is in critical condition, and requiring brain surgery, and his sister lost her leg. This is being headed up by a fellow ultra-runner and all of the funds will go directly to the families funeral and medical expenses. Join my event on facebook below, or donate directly to the fund with the link below. Or come watch me finish the 5k at the Art's Park at 8am!

Facebook event:


Donate to the Richards family:


Register for the FREE 5k in Springvile on April 20th, 2013 or to watch me finish come to the Art's Park before 8am!

Tara Tulley 

Monday, April 15, 2013

When Life Takes You Away - Come Back To The Wasatch!

Let me give you an overview of the past two years:

1.  I graduated with my MSW almost exactly two years ago.

2. My family decided to move from our home in Lindon about a month later and started renovating the Lindon house.

3. We decided to peruse building a home in Springville.

4. We couldn't sell the home in Lindon with the poor economy so we rented it out and moved into a 700 sq foot underground house while our home was under construction.

5. I started an office up in Spanish Fork during that time, and a midwifery school emerged, now known as The Community School of Midwifery.

6. What I had intended to start was a holistic mental health and birth clinic and in order to meet supervision requirements in Utah, had a supervisor who owned Trauma Recovery Center. That situation did not work out, and so I focused on midwifery education my first year out of grad school.

7. During that year I had a hysterectomy, my little sister lost her baby a few weeks after my surgery due to sudden onset pre-eclampsia at 20 weeks, and then we moved again into our new home in Springville.

8. I also attended a midwifery educators conference in Virginia while still recovering.

9. During the summer of 2012, I connected with The Healing Group and found a way to enter the mental health field again, working with the population I love, Mamas! I went to the BEST training amongst the fires of Colorado City, flew to the scorching heat of Las Vegas to attend the Postpartum Support International Conference on Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders where I was privileged to meet my new coworkers at THG and listen to Wendy Davis and Birdie Meyer for two days.

10. Upon returning home it was another office paint and move from Spanish Fork to Springville to establish a presence with THG in Utah County.

11. Learning much from teaching the first year, and knowing that I needed more business professionals in the school I took on Melissa Chappell as a business partner and we officially established the Community School of Midwifery.

12. Now in our second year running we have a home for CSM in Springville as well.

13. Conferences, meet ups with other well-qualified professionals a cross the country, and my practice with THG becoming full in less than 6 months of being established with them we took on two more therapist down at the Springville Office.

Post-surgery recovery really took a tole on my running as did life. So now I am committing to taking some pieces back for my health and wellbeing. After a miserable start at the Wasatch 100 in September 2012, my body and muscles were still too week to push my up fast enough, and I timed out before Francis peak (about 18 miles). I got into the Wasatch again for 2013, and I am making all of the necessary changes and setting boundaries on my time and demands to commit to my health, training, and wellbeing.

I am joining my sisters in supporting their Herbalife business by becoming a consumer of their produces (I am not selling them myself, I don't sell products but if you are interested I can pass your name onto my sisters). I told Claude Grant after jumping in his white truck again for the second time at Francis Peak that I never wanted to see the inside of his white truck again on that course!

And I mean it! This year is lucky 13, and Wasatch is my big obstacle of my stubborn endurance and I will conquer! Follow me to see my commitment to conquering the beast of The Wasatch 100, 2013! Also registered for Squaw Peak 50, and hoping for my 3rd finish for Squaw Peak, and Kachina Mosa 100 K driving for a finish!