June 27, 2019

We’re Screwed Running LAVS


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Laura Lee, 53, with invisible wounds and scars. I've learned to embrace PTSD and depression because if I don't own them, they'll own me.  I don't want to simply survive, but to thrive.  I hope you'll join me on my journey.  It's sure to be a bumpy road.


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We’re screwed running LAVS…..figuratively and literally.

“Do this race with me,” she said.

“It will be fun,” she said.

“We can bond over it,” she said.

I said, “You’re NUTS!”  And, then I signed up.

I signed up for a 500K race.  That’s not a typo.  For those of you scrambling…heading to Google to do the math conversion, let me save you the trouble.  It’s 314 miles.  The race starts at Dorena Landing, MO and ends at Castle Rock, GA.  We have 10 days to complete it, but she wants to finish it in 8.  Why?  Because she did it in 9 last year.  That’s right, my sister, Pam, completed the Last Annual Vol State (LAVS) last year.  She was crewed.  A friend of hers followed her along the race route with nutrition, foot care products, changes of clothing, ice, etc.  Guess what my sister wants to do this year?

We’re running SCREWED!


What a crewed racer gets to look forward to.

We’re running this race, and I use the term ‘running’ lightly, without a crew.  We’ll be completely self-reliant.  If we can’t carry it on our backs or find it along the race route, we’re out of luck.


What a screwed racer gets to look forward to.


The weather will be hot and humid.  We’ll walk and rest during the heat of the day and jog at night.  Saunter.  We’ll be sauntering.  I’m afraid her definition of saunter and mine might be a little different.  She’s fit and trim.  I’m still overweight and have arthritis in my knees.  She swears she won’t leave me behind.  I’m counting on her.  And yet, I think we’ll be counting on each other a lot during this race.  Me more than her.  It’s not that I don’t think I bring any value to this dynamic duo, but she’s more experienced, and.  And.  Or maybe, but…



I watched her progress last year as she ran the race.  It was fun.  It was funny.  I cheered her on from 1000s of miles away as her friend went live on Facebook.  She did little dances as she hit major milestones. I laughed as she ate a breakfast while soaking in a tub in a hotel room because she needed extra calories, but also needed to take care of her aching muscles.  I winced as she took a pit stop to dump ice down her shirt and in her shorts to cool off, and then sprinted off again with a bag of ice tied to her head.


Breakfast and a soak in the bathtub


Doing a dance at the halfway mark!


Afterward she told me of the things I didn’t think about.  And, I laughed some more.


Pam getting a little punchy!


Fellow racer taking a nap in the A/C

She popped a squat frequently along the side the road because she was in the middle of nowhere and when you gotta go you gotta go.  She hunkered down under a bridge during a tornado warning and slept in a cemetery at night when she was nowhere near a hotel room.  Her friend, was in the next town, sleeping in a comfy bed, but Pam didn’t make it that far on that particular night and needed a few hours of sleep.  That sounds fun in a creepy, Halloween sort of way.  Stories that not many people can tell.  Stories that she can tell and that maybe I can tell, except…


Sleeping in the cemetery




Now.  Now, it’s not so funny because now this is going to be my life for 8-10 days.

And, although my depression may not be at play during this race, my PTSD certainly will be.  Popping a squat outside where other people might see?  Sleeping outside with no protection.  My home is deadbolted and an alarm set every night.  Now, I’ll have to sleep outside.  I’ve only been camping once in my adult life – there’s a reason for that.


This is going to be a test.  Not just a test of endurance.  Stamina.  Relationship.  Sheer will.  PTSD.


woman with short hair, sweaty and sunburned, sitting in a chair in front of a half eaten pepperoni pizza. Her head propped in her hands and staring out in the distance.

After a hard day


It’s going to be a test of my PTSD symptoms and my coping skills.

Here’s the thing –  even as a rape survivor who was both raped and had an attempted rape at night, I’m not afraid of the dark.  I used to run at night all the time.  I used to run at midnight.  I used to run in the wee hours of the morning when I couldn’t sleep.  At first I did it because I was embarrassed for anyone to see me…my overweight, jiggling body, running.  Then, I liked the solitude.  The quiet.  The stillness.  I liked the shadows.

I was like a child – if I couldn’t see then I couldn’t be seen.  Therefore, I wasn’t afraid of what might be lurking in those shadows.  I took a flashlight with me so I could see 10 feet in front of me.  But it wasn’t until a combination of things that occurred that I finally started running in the daylight hours.  And, it wasn’t because I had lost enough weight that I was no longer jiggling.

No.  That wasn’t it.



My husband was frantic every time I walked outside in the pitch-black vortex.  Afraid I’d be swallowed up, never to be seen from or heard from again.  I think that’s realistic.

I think that now.

It wasn’t until one winter night, not all too late, maybe 9:00 PM, that I was running on the bike path and heard a noise behind me.  The noise didn’t stop.  It revved up and then faded.  It revved up again and then faded again.  I knew it was definitely coming from the path.  And, it was definitely behind me.   It sounded like a kid on a skateboard.  Pushing off – going faster.  Slowing down.  Pushing off again.

I shined my light behind me without stopping my forward pace.  Contorting my body.  Nothing.  Tried again.  Nothing again.  After several minutes and several light-shining, body-contorting moments, I turned around, took a stance, legs spread wide and braced for an attack – and I shined that pocket-sized flashlight straight ahead of me.  It reflected off of something and then whoosh!

A man in a sports wheelchair was upon me.

It explained the revving and fading.  He apologized.  He hadn’t meant to startle me.  He didn’t startle me.  He scared the living daylights out of me.  I told him so.  I wish when I had shone my light, he had announced himself, but he hadn’t.

He was returning from playing basketball at the local middle school and was on his way home.  The bike path ran behind the middle school.

Someone else who either didn’t understand his vulnerable situation or didn’t care.  Like me.  I didn’t know which.  It didn’t matter.

I jogged beside him and we chatted until we got to an intersection where he turned off the path and continued on the street.  I turned around and made my way back home.  I never saw him again.  Not ever. Not ever ever.

It was enough to make me start running when the sun was shining.




Now, I’ll have to run in the dark to maintain my strength.

Now, I’ll have to sleep outside to regain my strength.

Possibly for 10 days.

I can do this.

I can do this.

I can do this.

I can do this.

I think I have to do this.

Pam at the finish line


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comments   | 

  1. Irene says:

    You will never be alone on this marathon. While I feel like I understand your fears, I am also wishing that my sister and I will that time together. We talk about doing a part of the Pacific Crest Trail. A goal and like you, a bit scary to consider. Yet here you are. I love your inspiration.

  2. You can do this! Plus, you have your sister to watch out for you. For you to watch over each other! I think that’ll be more than enough to give you surprising strength. It’s amazing how far we’d go to protect someone we love.

  3. I will be running w you in spirit, when you gotta go I wont look ,lol. Faith my friend. We got this.

  4. Joanne says:

    Yep! I definitely thought the 500K was a typo but that got cleared up real fast!

  5. Kate says:

    You CAN do this! I am moved by your courage and look forward to seeing the celebratory post when YOU DID IT!

  6. Holly Bird says:

    I know you can do this! Congrats on making the steps to achieving your goals!

  7. Jennifer says:

    You can do this!! You are so strong and brave!

  8. Beth says:

    What an accomplishment! Well done :0

  9. jen says:

    wow . good for you! this is going to be huge!

  10. Dena says:

    I am so inspired by your courage and dedication (even if it is just toward your sister 😅)! You both are going to have such an amazing time together!

  11. Leigh Ann says:

    What a big personal challenge. I know you can do it!

  12. Tricia Snow says:

    You can do it! I can not wait to hear all about it!

  13. You’ve got this. You are an inspiration!

  14. Kendra says:

    Such a brave commitment! Great job!

  15. Karie says:

    Can’t wait to hear about how you do. Best of luck!

  16. Suzan says:

    Courageous of you to commit to this! I don’t think I could run across the street 🙂 I have no doubt you will finish & be filled with pride & accomplishment!

  17. Shirley says:

    Oh my goodness! Even though this will be hard, you can do it!! I’ll be looking forward to the post-race articles.

  18. I love your humor and positivity behind your story. I was shocked when you said 500K. I power walk a 5K three times a week and I think that’s enough for me!

  19. Magan says:

    Oh, wow! What an amazing challenge! I can’t wait to hear about all that you accomplish on this journey. I’m absolutely cheering you on!

  20. Alexandra says:

    Oh wow. Great post! thank you for sharing! your pictures are hilarious!

  21. Karla says:

    I can understand the emotional as well as physical challenges. Find the joy, too! And/or the beauty. And/or the hope!

  22. Michele says:

    What a challenge! This is awesome and I am still laughing at the pictures!

  23. Cindy says:

    Wow what an amazing challenge…or opportunity. You’ve got this! And what a bonding experience with your sister. Best wishes!

  24. Oh my goodness!!!! I can’t even imagine, but it looks like you had an amazing time!!! I loved all of the photos of the racers napping here and there. Congrats!

  25. Lina says:

    Love all those pictures. Too funny! This is such an amazing challenge. You can do it!

  26. Emily says:

    HOLY BANANNAS! This is incredible and your joy is contagious! 🙂

  27. T.M. Brown says:

    I honestly could not imagine attempting a feat such as this. Wow! 500K just seems next to impossible and almost inconceivable. Good luck to you and your sister!

  28. […] June 27, 2019  I wrote an article, “We’re Screwed” and discussed my sister’s experience with the Last Annual Vol State (LAVS) race and the fact […]

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Laura Lee, 52, with invisible wounds and scars.  I've learned to embrace PTSD and depression because if I don't own them, they'll own me.  I don't want to simply survive, but to thrive.  I hope you'll join me on my journey.  It's sure to be a bumpy road.



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