Category Archives: Deeper thoughts via running

Racing My Demons

Some battle their demons everyday. Some battle them once in a while.

On the days that you are being lied to by your demons and pushed around. . . Push back. Be brave. Take up the fight. You are worth it.

What is holding you back?

I woke up this morning, per usual. I’m first up. I wake the girls up and make sure they get downstairs. I prepare breakfast for them. We pray. They eat and get dressed. Jack wakes up on his own. He gets his breakfast and sits with me, while I eat mine. The girls and I leave for school by 6:50a. Jack and I walk to the bus stop, when I get back from dropping off the girls. This is everyday, rain or shine, light or dark. I do not have to think about it and I never do.

I’ve been keeping myself pretty busy lately and I think it is on purpose. Not a day goes by when someone does not ask me, “how are you?” My answer is almost always, “fine, great, or good”. It’s an automatic response, like one of those “out of office replies”.

Do you go through periods of time where you don’t know how you are or what you feel? Maybe, because you’re pushing it away with tasks, busy-ness, fear?

After the kids left, I headed upstairs to get dressed to run. I went through three running outfits. (This is not like me.) Because I was feeling fat, ‘I had nothing to wear’. Finally, I decided fat or not, outfit number three was it. I kissed Byron goodbye.  Got in the car. I quickly reminded myself again that fat is not a feeling. Then, I listen to these lyrics.

This is the unmaking
The beauty in the breaking
Had to lose myself
To find out who You are
Before each beginning
There must be an ending
Sitting in the rubble
I can see the stars
This is the unmaking
This is the unmaking

I’ll gather the same stones where                                                   
Everything came crashing down
I’ll build You an altar there
On the same ground

‘Cause what stood before
Was never Yours (Nichole Nordeman, “The Unmaking”)

Lord. . . help me to find beauty in the breaking.

Help me to find the one who calls me beloved in my broken place. . . . In Jesus’ name.

My demons? Today?

“You are not enough”

“You cannot feel loved”

“You are fat”

Demons are excellent shape shifters and can morph from one torturous form to another in the blink of an eye. . . You courageously soldiered on. It was not easy or fun, but you persevered, even when you thought the pain would never stop. Slowly but surely, it abated. At first, you may not have even noticed the subtle lessening of your anger, anxiety, or grief, but as the weeks and months wore on you started to feel more alive and open. That resiliency supports you through every challenge, allowing you to stretch beyond what you thought your limits were, and finding more capacity to bear what you thought was unbearable.

-Nicole S. Urdang, MS, NCC, HSM, “How to Face Your Demons

  I decided to race them. To run hard. To be out of breath. To run steep. To see if I could hang on for the win. 10 miles.

Oh. They were fast and relentless. If I slowed down or walked for a second, I would hear them taunt me.  I ran longer. I pushed harder.  I climbed steeper.  They fell further back. Their lies became muffled. I dropped them, and they never caught me. I won the workout. I beat the doubt. I beat the lies. I beat the fear. I beat the demons.

I started to imagine what my demons looked like. I imagined them running after me. How tall? What shape? Their faces? I KNOW my readers can all relate to THIS. . . they were Me: taunting, lying, chasing. . . ME. . . I am my harshest critic. I am my meanest demon. Today. . . I won. I received this song from a friend. I love it.

When it feels like surgery
And it burns like third degree
And you wonder what is it worth?
When your insides breaking in
And you feel that ache again
And you wonder
What’s giving birth?

If you could let the pain of the past go
Of your soul
None of this is in your control

If you could only let your guard down
You could learn to trust me somehow
I swear, that I won’t let you go

lyrics by Switchfoot, “I Won’t Let You Go”

There is hope on our journey, friends. There are people and places that soothe, heal, calm, and hold us. I have a life full of people and places that I go to when these struggles  rear their ugly, lying heads. And, NO DOUBT, I have a Savior in Heaven who says to me, “I swear, that I won’t let you go.”

 

 

 

 

Footfalls

The challenge of Wednesday’s run was each footfall. My path was steep, muddy, and dirty. Each footfall was different. Each footfall was a challenge. I had to change my running mechanics, if I wanted to remain upright. I had to slow down in places to pull my foot out of the mud. I had to hop in places from rock to rock. I had to walk in places so that I would not slip.

Isn’t this like life?. . . our paths can be steep, muddy, dirty. . .  We chose marriage, but we don’t chose cancer. We choose to have children, but we would never chose to bury them. We chose to love our family, but we do not chose to watch one of the members die. We choose the heights of love, but do not wish to navigate the heartache that comes with loving a person.. . . we have to slowdown, change, hop, walk,  when we’d rather run. . .

Most often in training (running), I choose the steep places, the dirty places, the out of breath places because they tend to be quiet places, listening places. . . hard. . . places. I always finish. I may be extra dirty. I may be extra tired. I finish carrying mud or scars. The dirt, mud, exhaustion and scars will go away. Scars, more slowly than the other three. Sometimes the scars remain indefinitely. 

The steep places do not get easier. I get more adapted. They do not become less dirty. I bring something to wipe away the dirt. The mud depends on the day. The scars?  I still get cut and bruised. I become better at taking care of my wounds.

My scars remind me that I did indeed survive my deepest wounds. That in itself is an accomplishment. And they bring to mind something else, too. They remind me that the damage life has inflicted on me has, in many places, left me stronger and more resilient. What hurt me in the past has actually made me better equipped to face the present.

-Steve Goodier

Back at 2016/Forward to 2017

January was a tough month for me. I ran. I ran long. I ran hills. I ran high mileage weeks,  but it was more struggle than success. I think part of my lack of motivation and my lukewarm attitude was NOT looking back and NOT having a named goal to look forward to.

Looking back, 2016 was one of my most exciting running years to date. Here are the highlights.

  1. Running alongside one of my closest friends,  as she crossed the finish of her first (and not last) 50 miler in Tillamook, OR.
  2. Running my first and NO WAY near last 100 miler (surrounded by not one but four of my closest friends). Proud to be one of the 82 finishers. Proud to be one of 22 female finishers!
  3. Running Lookout 50 on my 45th birthday. This year it was a crazy weather day: rain, fog, and drizzle. I placed first in my age group. Happy Birthday to me. 🙂

The events in our lives happen in a sequence in time, but in their significance to ourselves they find their own order the continuous thread of revelation.

-Eudora Welty

Looking ahead to 2017

  1. (April) Leona Divide 50 in Green Valley, CA. The race start is 1 1/2 hours from LA, 30 minutes from Palmdale (where I was born). 46 MILES on the Pacific Coast Trail (PCT). Should be SWEET.
  2. (September) Mogollon Monster 100 in Pine, AZ. As of February 2017, only 5 women are signed up. Should be an adventure. Cannot wait.
  3. (December) Lookout 50? or Stillhouse 100K?
  4. (TBD) My coaching website!! This is a lot of work. I am excited.

It is important to look back.

Look back because you aren’t the same person you were one or three or five years ago and that alone is worth realizing. Look back because there might have been feelings that you once overlooked that now make perfect sense. Look back because maybe, just maybe, there is something worth revisiting. And look back because you deserve to be incredibly proud of how far you’ve come.

-Morgan Scoyne “How Looking Back Will Help You To Move Forward”

I’m ready to look forward.

My goals for 2017 are  part destiny, part legacy, and part discovery. 

Wilderness Living

Wilderness Living

Life is full of beauty and interruptions,
spontaneous and planned,
heart break and hiccups,
highs and lows,
quietness and noise,
exhaustion and vitality,
darkness and light,
struggle and surrender,

. . . few chose it.
The ones who do are wild and free.

-Liz McClain

What I have learned in the Wilderness (W) this year:

simplifies my extraordinarily sophisticated life.

Companionship along the way is a pleasant distraction and necessity.

It doesn’t have to be easy to be thoroughly satisfying.

W makes the rest of life seem dull at times.

The taste of the W continues to tug me back.

You’ll get dirty.

It’ll get dark, real dark.

The sun will rise.

The stars will shine.

There is a Creator of all things.

I was made for W Living.

I am a woman of emotion. I will cry as automatically as I breathe in the W.

The outcome is always more than familiar.

I am a finisher.

Broken

I brought a gift to a friend of mine. It was a small, turquoise, ceramic ring dish. It was charming. I would sit it in the most beautiful way next to my sink to hold my precious things. I was going to drop it in her mailbox, but she was outside, holding her little girl.

I was having a bad morning with my teenage daughter. I was mad. I was sad. I was frustrated. I had been crying.

My friend opened the box and thanked me for this little treasure. Then, in a moment, before she was able to use it for its purpose. . . i t  s l i p p e d. . . i t  f e l l . . . i t   s h a t t e r e d. She apologized. She felt bad.  I picked up the pieces. I wanted to keep them. It was worth something, to me, broken. The sound of it smashing onto the sidewalk, fractured my thoughts. It changed the course of my day. I still have the pieces.

At first, I thought that I was going to take the pieces and use them to imagine a mosaic. Imagine this small dish as part of something new, different. An entirely altered purpose. I placed them on top of my dryer. I looked at them each time I walked out the door, for a week. I would be the one to fashion them in a new form. I would create.

But then. . . I learned about Kintsugi

Kintsugi (“golden joinery”) or kintsukuroi (“golden repair”) is the centuries-old Japanese art of fixing broken pottery with a special lacquer dusted with powdered gold, silver, or platinum. Beautiful seams of gold glint in the cracks of ceramic ware, giving a unique appearance to the piece. This repair method celebrates the artifact’s unique history by emphasizing the fractures and breaks instead of hiding or disguising them. Kintsugi often makes the repaired piece even more beautiful than the original, revitalizing the artifact with new life.

It is related to the Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi, which calls for finding beauty in the flawed or imperfect. Making it a part of the object’s history.

The beauty and importance of the one looking at the dish, not the dish itself. Handing the (pieces of the) dish to the craftsman means that you are going to give the dish a total new life. . . a beautiful art piece.

Muneaki Shimode, Kintsugi craftsman

We humans break easily. We don’t hurt the same way. We don’t break the same way.

Dear Lord, 

Bestow on the broken. . . beauty instead of ashes,

Use gold to adhere the pieces left after the shattering, 

We desire to hand you the broken pieces,

Fashion them into new life, on display for your splendor.

In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

My Mountain Life

Have you ever had one of those weeks? days? You know what mean. Life, circumstance, people take you by surprise and not in a good way. Things compound and they well up and drip out. The heartache, the brokenness the sadness drips out, like a leaky facet from my eyes.

I do go to the mountains that I have close. I go there and dream of the mountains that I want in my future. Dream of what it is going to take to get there. I remember where I have been. . . the mountains. . . I long, hunger to go back. The places that I know I am capable of going. The places that I know I get to work hard to go.

It is a longing that alludes to hope. A pure place. A wild place. An untouched place. A dark place. A quiet place. A lonely place. A drastic place. A high place. A heavenly place. . . to me. I got a taste of the depth, the struggle, the beauty and I want to go back.

It was in a (mountain) place where the beauty of friendship, fellowship, community played out. . . for me. It was a piece of heaven on earth. I am looking ahead to 2017. . . I am anxiously looking for struggle, courage, pain, depth and fire, commitment and community.

2017 targets:

  1. Cascade Crest or Kodiak 100
  2. “Running to the Roar” more, in fear and with faith
  3. Coaching women to achieve their dreams and goals, no matter how impossibly big or simply small.

“Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are.”
 Jim Afremow,  The Champion’s Mind: How Great Athletes Think, Train, and Thrive

“The very traits that step us toward certain life situations are the very same traits that those situations encourage, reinforce, and amplify”

-Angela Duckworth, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance

“Being willing to be uncomfortable is essential for building toughness; it’s a characteristic that will pay dividends when honed to its fullest potential.”

-Jason Koop with Jim Rutberg, Training Essentials for Ultra Running: How to Train Smarter, Race Faster, and Maximize Your Ultra Marathon Performance.

 

 

 

How I finished 100 miles: My Crew & Pacers

 

 Intimate friends share each other’s experiences and in some ways they inhabit each other’s lives. They often have similar viewpoints and values, and they may share similar backgrounds and traditions. They witness the milestones and unexpected changes of life, the highs and lows, celebrations and sadness.

-Saul Levine, M.D. “The Importance of Friendship” Psychology Today

It’s easy to put down on the paper the logistical details that evolved before, during and after my race. It is not as easy to explain to you the connection and value that my crew and pacers brought to bear on this journey.

These four proved invaluable. They sacrificed their money, their time and their sleep for me. I wanted to make them proud.

Delaina. (crew) I would also call her a crew(s) director. She knows a lot about a lot. She is also an accomplished ultra runner. She is great with directions and not getting lost (the anti of me). What I remember most about her on this trip? Her laughter. I have never witnessed her uncontrollable laughter. I will also remember her hugs and care, when I needed to sit between aid stations. She stayed up all night and day and never showed a sign of tiredness. She made me sandwiches and cut watermelon. These two foods were the staple of my race!

Kathy. (crew) Gosh. She is another accomplished ultra runner. She is a solid, emotional rock to me. She could possibly be the anti-me, when it comes to expressing emotion. She def has emotion and does express it, but I wear my heart on my sleeve. My fav moment with Kathy on this trip was on our “scouting day”. We hiked up to Wagner Butte to check it out after we had driven the last part of the course. We met a man up at the fire tower whose job was to watch for the fires. He was a colorful character. He thought Teresa had the strongest southern accent. Later in our conversation, Kathy wittily said to him, “You’re the only TEN-I-SEE.” Hilarious. She too stayed up all night and all day to support and cheer for me.

Michelle. (1 st pacer) Gentle, humble. I have known her the longest. Michelle exudes excitement and joy. She ran miles 66-80 with me. We ran together from 2:15 am until about 6:00 am? Michelle’s a talented road runner! She is a Boston Qualifier. On the trail with Michelle, she told me, “Liz, you are doing this. You are running 100 miles. God is going to have bigger mountains in heaven for you to run!” We ran together into the sunrise.

Teresa. (2nd pacer) Detailed. Hilarious. Accomplished Ultra runner. Ran her first 50 miler in Oregon this year. I would say emotionally we are similar. She is better, however, at the details than I am. She has taught me a lot about putting together a race plan, and she has taught me about mental tapering. She paced me from mile 80 to 100.5. We started together at about 6:30 am and finished at 1:04 pm! My favorite part with her was the last 10 miles. She helped me to run/walk this section. I could not have done that without her. It hurt. Running. It hurt. Walking. She kept me focused on finishing with 5 minute walk intervals/5 minute run intervals. My fav moment with her was in the last 10 miles. She said to me, “did you see what Byron wrote about you?” She proceeded to tell me and we both started crying. 🙂

These four women know my heart. These four women mean a lot to me. Thank you ladies. I will never forget this trip.

 

“Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some stay for a while, leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never, ever the same.” ― Flavia Weedn