Back to Jeju Island and the Volcano, Mt Hallasan

My book, Running Past Midnight ” has been launched! Funny thing was having my first official book signing in South Korea!

The people in South Korea and Jeju Island are so warm and accepting. The language barrier was broken by the fact that health and fitness are understood Internationally. I loved every minute returning there, my second glorious visit. This time I was able to run up and over the dormant volcano with Bill. The friends we made there hand made us traditional Korean clothes called hanbok. It was an incredible visit filled with adventure!

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Great Wall of China

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It’s interesting how so much can change in just a couple of months. The end of last year, 2014, was full of challenges with the death of my adorable Dad, then a torn tendon in my ankle sidelined me. It was awful to force myself to slow down from running and all activity in a time when running seemed to be the one outlet I needed most.

Time does heal. After resorting to pool running and light exercises while I pondered life’s mysteries and sorted through the passing of my dad I seemed to move quietly through the dark transition into Spring and a great trip to South Korea ( see post below). After my return I headed to China to run the Great Wall Marathon with my two kids, 22 year old Taylor and 32 year old Devin. It was a rewarding trip simply to be able to run again in such an exotic place and to share that experience with my kids. It was a tough and demanding race…but so is life. The only thing to do is move through it with as much strength and grace as possible and, when you get to that finish line, or that quiet place of reflection, look back over the challenges you overcame and hang on to the confidence that you have gained. It will carry you through.

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South Korea!

South Korea and the China Sea

I was fortunate enough to get invited by Bill to Seoul, South Korea where he was invited to speak at an anti aging conference. I had never been to that part of the world and since I love to travel I jumped at the opportunity. We had planned to run across the 32 miles of Jeju Island while we were there. Jeju is south of Mainland Korea and I was anxious to run across the forests and streams in that subtropical location. Unfortunately when we arrived the dormant volcano in the middle of the island was covered in snow and the weather conditions were not accommodating.

Nevertheless we were able to get a great run in at the national Forest of Jeju at the base of Mt Halla, the 6,000 ft volcano.
South Korean people were lovely. Everyone we met was gracious and welcoming.

My book, ‘Running Past Midnight’ was delivered to Seoul while I was there and we celebrated the arrival of my first novel. The organization that invited Bill to speak asked me to come back with him in May to do my own presentation on running and fitness. They want to have my book translated into Korean.

The highlights of the trip were meeting an incredible artist named Lee Young Soo, an 80 year old revered national treasure of Korea. He created all the artwork years ago for the Seoul Olympics and is a highly acclaimed artist. He graciously invited a group of us to his home and showered us with gifts. What amazing energy for 80! He presented Bill with a painting he made of a white tiger and he presented both of us with his hand painted scrolls and fans. Incredibly beautiful art!

There were so many wonderful people that we met. And so many incredible wonders in that country. Like the Mysterious Road….a road where you put your car in neutral and it magically drives all by itself ( it’s a mystery but Bill says he thinks it’s a highly magnetic area)
After 2 weeks in Korea it’s hard to adjust to arriving back home in the states. Everything is changed!
I love exotic countries where traditions are so opposite from ours. You can learn so much about yourself as a person and you get such a different perspective of your own life when you travel abroad. Everyday stress is reduced because you realize that your problems aren’t that big. Life really does become more simple as you concentrate on the amazing planet we live in and the beautiful trails and forests of the world. Stress melts away and clarity is formed.

Returning to your own world seems different. You realize you have been changed by the situations that you experienced. I think that’s a good thing. Every now and then you need to be inspired and awakened by new adventures.
Hmmmm, when is my next adventure!?  Ahhh yes,  Beijing, China in 4 weeks!

The Truth about the Holidays

When the bottom drops out how do you gracefully deal with it?

I’d been running well building miles and feeling strong and happy. Life was good. I had a goal to complete a 100 mile race to qualify for Western States. My running resume was solid, Badwater Ultramarathon, Marathon Des Sables, lots of ultra distance, and  I was the first US woman to attempt and complete 138 miles In the Himalayas. Not bad for an average runner.

Then the dreaded freak-day happened, Thursday, Dec 5. I was walking down stairs outside a friends house towards my car. Gazing out at the beautiful lights of distant Reno my foot missed the last step, I felt my body lose balance as my ankle made a horrible pop and the wrenching pain shot up my leg.

I whirled in mid air trying to break my fall, my arm bent behind me and twisted to an unnatural position. My hip smacked the pavement followed by my elbow and hand.

At first I was so shocked I just sat there. Then unbelievable pain wheeled up my body and I sobbed with disbelief and agony. Bill, my dear Buddy, was a few steps beside me, helplessly watching me tumble, unable to reach me in time.
I couldn’t stop crying. The pain was excruciating.

“You need to get to a hospital Molly” he said quietly as I lay trying to compose myself.

“No!” I sobbed. “I am not going to a stupid hospital!”

I was acting like a frightened two year old reduced to kindergarten conversation. Bill helped me into the car as I continued to sob. I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t want to believe it. I had been running so well. I had a great goal of overcoming a bad running season, bombing at the last several races. I had lost my focus and the shifting sands of a rough year had taken a toll. I was happy to be leaving 2013 behind me. It was not a good year. It seemed like every aspect of my life had been shaken. My dad had also just recently passed away and it had shattered me to the core. I was floating in insecure territory and now the thin thread of stability was pulled out from under me.

I had been hanging on to my new goal of running Umstead 100 in April, 2014. Working out and running has always been a stable, consistent part of my life. If all else fails I have running to fall back on. I received comfort and serenity with my peaceful meditational running in the morning. It quieted my mind and lifted my spirits. What would I do if that was taken from me?

Bill got me into the house and half carried me to the sofa. I sobbed inconsolably. Bill quietly looked over my leg. I hurt so bad I could not stop the tears. But still, I was not ready to surrender to a doctor.

“Molly, your leg could be broken. I really think we should head to ER.” Bill looked at me compassionately.

“No! Doctors are stupid and they don’t know anything and I’m going to spend a bunch of money for them to tell me to go home and ice it…..forget it!” I was yelling and throwing a ridiculous tirade but I couldn’t help myself.

Then there was the pain. I couldn’t remember hurting so bad. It was becoming excruciating. I looked down at my ankle and it was misshapen, swollen and purple. The reality started to set in. I needed help.

“Okay, let’s frickin go see the stupid doctors at the stupid hospital and get the stupid Ice pack!”

Bill was smart enough to stay quiet. I so badly wanted to just keeping yelling at anyone around me and he was the only one. I wanted to punch something. I wanted to scream that it wasn’t fair.

Bill drove me to the hospital as I sobbed. I started to feel bad that I was acting so irrational.

The nurse on duty was so kind and understanding. She grabbed an ice pack and I was suddenly grateful. The doc told me I had torn a major tendon in my ankle and needed crutches. No running for a couple months. It was time to face reality and the needs of my body. It was time to chill out. I didn’t really have a choice. The first 2 weeks I had to deal with the shooting pains up my leg. And I had to get a grip. Both my daughters were graduating from college a week a part. Bailey was graduating from University of Reno. Taylor was graduating from University of Las Vegas, Nevada. I needed to quit moping and appreciate the blessings in my life. I was so proud of my girls. I needed to grab the crutches and keep moving.

So the holidays sped by. I attended and celebrated at the graduation parties. I appreciated the quiet time I had and slowly reflected on new goals and a new direction. I put together a new work plan for my business and I focused my attention on 2014.

I decided (after talking to my awesome foot doc) that I would keep the goal of Umstead 100 mile race in April on my schedule.

Bill invited me to go to South Korea to a science conference and we are running across JeJu Island off the coast while we are there. After the Umstead 100 mile I am leaving for China to run the Great Wall Marathon with a group of runners including my daughter Taylor and my son Devin ( Bailey is working and can’t make this one!)

Will I be able to complete all those goals in the next couple of months? I don’t know. But I’m giving it my best shot. When the challenges hit hard in December it took me awhile to see past them. The new goals helped. It took the focus off the negative and propelled me into a reflective time in the present and a promising future of adventure. We all can get inspired by one another with our goals and dreams. What goals are ahead for you?

July 13 – waking up in Leh, India

It took 24 hours to get from Geneva to Leh. I woke up in Padma Guest House in Leh with a screaming headache, feeling like I got hit by a truck.
My bag was lost somewhere between Zurich and Leh. I didn’t expect to ever see it again even though I paid a whooping $300 to get it from the states to Leh.

I was arriving in Leh to run the Eleventy One race, 111k race, over Warila pass, 18,000 ft. The other runners I was meeting there were running the 222K race over two passes of 18,000 ft. I had completed that race in 2011. I wanted to do the 111k race because I had never crossed over Wari La and I was excited about that section of the course. I had already gone over Khardunga La, the mountain on the first half of the 222k race, twice in the past.  I felt that Kharduga La had given me safe passage twice before. I didn’t want to push my luck with her!

The mayhem trying to get to Leh began with a canceled flight in Geneva. I got on a flight to New Delhi but it landed me there at midnight which is not a good time to arrive in Delhi. I then had to leave the airport and take a bus over to another terminal 15 minutes away. I left the airport carting my backpack and suitcase ( still missing one bag!) and walked into a mass of humanity outside the airport at 1am. You would have thought it would be quiet at that hour but, on the contrary, I don’t think Delhi is ever quiet. Men started grabbing my bags to drag me to their cab telling me the shuttle bus was not working at night. I’ve been to Delhi 4 times and know to never trust a cab driver! I found an information stand. A young man with a beard, western clothes and suitcase was asking for information in front of me. He turned and ask me if I was looking for the shuttle for the terminal. I told him I was and he said I could stay with him for the ride over. I was immediately grateful to have someone who was going the same place as me. It made me feel safer traveling with another person at that particular time of night.

The shuttle bus was working and it was free. The taxi drivers all wanted our business and when they realized we were on to them, they suddenly disappeared.

The shuttle bus was old and dark and creepy. The young man with the beard was delightful. He introduced himself as Yaqeen. He was Moslem and going back to his homeland of Kashmir after studying in Malasia. His full name, Yaqeen Ul Haq Ahmad Sikander. He spent time telling me the meaning of his name, Yaqeen means Conviction, and Haq means Truth. There was more but those are the two I remember! His English was wonderful and I enjoyed getting a bit of history about Kashmir and the conditions there. We ended up spending many hours in the dark airport sharing our different backgrounds.

At about 3am I hear, “Hello Molly!” It was Alex Kaine, one of the runners for the race who I had met in Arizona. Alex was waiting for the early flight to Leh. Yaqeen was waiting to fly to Kashmir and I had a later flight to Leh that morning.
We all chatted for awhile then we were joined by Rajat and the rest of the group heading to Leh for La Ultra The High race.

Everyone grabbed flights early, except me. I had another four hours waiting for a later flight to Leh. I was so tired at that point that I couldn’t keep my eyes open. Earlier Alex had offered to watch over me if I needed to sleep for awhile in the airport. At that time I was not sleepy and turned down the offer. But now, hours later, I was dead tired. I had to risk someone stealing my stuff with my eyes closed. The best I could do was lie on top of my backpack and crash in the corner of the airport, which I did.

I arrived in Leh hours later, missing the beautiful view of the Himalaysa on the flight in as I was still exhausted.  I was delirious with lack of sleep with over 24 hours of travel. Stepping off the plane I was happy to see the sign ‘Molly Sheridan’ held up by an Indian man named Bickey who whisked me off to my room at Padma. I dropped all my stuff on the floor, fell into bed and slept for a day.
I woke up with the headache remembering that I was in Leh at 11,000 ft. Headaches aren’t unusual as your body adjusts to the altitude.

I had 10 days before me to prepare for another intense race in the Himalayas.
I wondered if my second bag would ever arrive. I figured it was close to impossible because Zurich was worlds away. How could my little bag find its way to this lost corner of the world…somewhere between China and Pakistan, in the middle of a hundred mountains over 15,000 ft? I let it all go. There is a different pace here and a lot of patience is required. This is not fast paced USA.

I settled into the vibe of this special country.  I relaxed into the serene peaceful mountains. I opened up my shutters and looked up to the monestary, Shanti Stupa. I was happy to be back in this world of adventure and mystery.

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