Category Archives: Speaking to The Ladies

Treading Water

MAY 2017

last month of school for 3 children

email from my parents, “we are moving to Michigan on July 24th”

my brother having open heart surgery

my 14 year old headed to High School

my 14 year old having new friends

In the summer of 1993, I completed lifeguard training.

  • swim 200-400 yards without rest
  • tread water for 2 minutes
  • grab 10 pound brick from 8-12′ of water and swim back with it
  • CPR/AED

Fast forward to May 2017, twenty-four years later. I have been treading water, this time,  for 30 days. I swim, then tread. I swim, then, tread. Then, tread/swim some more,  all the while, holding on to a 10 pound brick for the duration.

It’s been physically tiring, mentally tiring, and spiritually tiring.

At times, going under. . . at times, heaving for breath. . . at times, crying so hard that I could not breathe. . . at times, my heart, beating so fast. . .

Swimming, treading water, holding on is a lot harder than running.

So f a i n t, I just wanted to collapse. So w i r e d that nothing in my mind could settle down. So c o n s u m e d, I did not want to eat. So e m p t y, I lost a bit of me.  Truly, the only thing that I had to offer my friends and Jesus was my need, my demand, my urgency, my longing.

Promise me you will not spend so much time treading water and trying to keep your head above the waves that you forget,

TRULY FORGET,

how much you have always loved to swim. . .

-Tyler Knott Gregson

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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.

 

 

 

Race Recap: Monumental Marathon, BQ Quest

Boston Bound!

When Liz asked me to write this I was really excited to share my experience (I mean, what runner DOESN’T love to talk about running lol).   But sitting here now all I can think is crap – where do I start? So I guess I’ll give you a little background.  I’m a 40 year old, divorced, remarried, no human kids but one awesome dog child mom, equine surgeon, nonrunner until 5 years ago woman.  That about sums it up haha.  I come from a long line of “real “ runners, but I never ran more than a mile or 2 on the treadmill (begrudgingly) until I went through my divorce.  I started running then, & a bunch of ½ marathons & 5 marathons later here we are.

The plot is probably familiar-ish to many of you: “I’m just going to do one ½ then I’ll go back to 5/10ks” followed by “I’m going to do one more ½ because I think I can go a little faster”; “I’ll NEVER run a marathon, the ½ is plenty for me”; “I’m going to do one full, just as a bucket list thing, but ONLY one”; “that was terrible, I am never doing that again” (fast forward 3 more marathons…) “I think I want to TRY to qualify for Boston?”. Turns out running is fairly addictive haha.  But I love that it is also a sport that you can improve in and make gains if you put in the work.

As for qualifying for Boston, a few things to note: 1-I am not particularly fast.  I’m also not particularly slow, but I do not consider myself a naturally gifted runner.  In fact, I’m pretty darn average as far as my “speed” goes. So I knew IF I wanted to BQ I’d have to work pretty hard; 2-I absolutely needed the experience of my 1st 4 marathons to hit my standard of 3:45; 3-It takes a village, literally.  I cannot name everyone who helped me, but here are a few: Ryan, my husband, who put up with all of the early mornings, the Saturday nights I didn’t want to do something so I could run long on Sunday, & (probably the worst) the constant talking about the running; Liz, my AWESOME track coach & friend who gave me such solid running advice & inspiration on a weekly basis and while training for & finishing her own 100 mile (ONE HUNDRED FREAKING MILES!) race; Kara & Christine for being great cheerleaders/running buddies/therapists; Travis my brother for always pushing me to be a better version of myself in a mostly good natured way; Nashville on the Run for being such a welcoming & supportive running group; and last but definitely not least my co-coach & constant running companion Nike (my blue heeler), who made sure at least 1 of us was excited for EVERY training run.  See-an actual village!  That would be a cool village to live in. But I digress…

Training:

  • I used the Hal Higdon “Personal Best” plan & tweaked it a bit based on my last few marathons. I did an 18, 20, & 22 mile run for my last 3 “long” runs with a 12-13 mile run in the weeks between them.
  • I typically ran 4 days per week (track, medium run, short run, & long run). 5 days on a few of my peak weeks.
  • Yoga 1x per week (day after my long run)
  • Weight training 1x per week (usually the day before my long run)

The Race:

  • Indianapolis Monumental Marathon – I picked this race because it’s relatively flat, the weather is typically ideal, it was drivable for me, & historically it has a high number of people that BQ (yes, I’m a huge dork & research the crap out of everything. Because – science.)
  • What I wore:
    • Race start was 39 degrees, predicted to be 55 by race end. So I wore Nike spandex shorts, “Embrace the Suck” tank top (this was an important mantra for me-I said it repeatedly during the race) with a tech T shirt from a previous race over it, arm warmers made out of lucky 4 – leaf clover long socks (did I mention I’m superstitious?), a buff (from a past Ragnar trail team = more superstition) & compression socks.
    • I ditched the buff around mile 5, the tech T around 10, & the arm warmers around 15. I felt perfect (temperature wise) the entire time – I love running a little cold!
  • What I ate:
    • Week of: I tried to just add more carbs to my typically carb – low diet; so lots of sweet potatoes, white rice, & spaghetti a few nights out thanks to my cousin Marissa (2 time BQer) who was in town. I felt her making me a pre race dinners was a good omen (…superstitioius…)
    • I drank so much water the week before. So.   Water…
    • Night before: Ryan & I ate an early (6pm) dinner in our hotel. I had roasted chicken & mashed potatoes.  I’ve learned that for me, I need to eat early the night before & not too much.  I figure most of my “carb loading” has/should have occurred in the 5-6 days leading up to this, and a very big meal the night before just gives me GI issues on race day.
    • Moring of: ALWAYS = whole wheat bagel thin, almond butter, small redbull ~ 2 hours out.
    • During: Gu every 5 miles; by the 4th one I did NOT want it, but I know from past experience I NEED to eat them or it does not end well.
    • I drank a little water every mile; not sure how much total – 16oz through 13 miles, then used water from water stops after that.
  • The race!
    • My plan – my qualifying standard is 3:45 (~8:35 pace), but the last 2 years you’ve had to do at least 2 minutes faster than this to actually get into the race. So I was aiming for 3:42. No biggie right? WRONG! Turns out there’s a big (mental) difference in doing 8:35 for 26.2 vs. 8:25. That freaked me out, and honestly I was scared I couldn’t do it.
    • Decided to start w the 3:40 pacer & stay with him for as long as I could; if I could stay w him through 13 but not let the 3:45 pacer catch me after that I thought I’d be ok.
    • The 1st 5 miles were rough – I tend to start slow & get progressively faster, so this was REALLY fast for me to start. I started to get a little worried I couldn’t keep this pace up, but I quickly made myself stop thinking that.  NO NEGATIVE THOUGHTS!
    • From 5-10 the pacer was a bit erratic. Not his fault; we got behind a bit in the 1st 7 because it was crowded, turns, etc. & he slowed down at the water stops.  So he was trying to make up time (~8:00ish pace – eek!) but would continue to slow through the water stops.  I wasn’t digging this fast/slow/fast thing, so I went out a bit in front of him.  Girl who came with me: “we are going too fast”.  She was probably right, but I felt good!  So my new plan was to do my own thing/hold this pace for as long as I could.  “Just get to 10”…”Just get to 13”…”Just get to 15”…
    • Before I knew it I was 18 & still in front of him – REALLY??? Ok, this is good, but just keep this pace, you know you hit the wall between 18-22…
    • Mile 19: I felt so good (relative term for sure – every cell in my body hurt but not like a dying hurt haha? [yet] – not like the “hurt” that I knew was to come at some point) that I texted Ryan a pic of the 19 mile marker & time. Then I thought about the time – Holy crap I think I’m gonna do this!
    • Mile 20: Eminem’s “Phenomenal” came on. HOLY. CRAP. YES! It was like he was literally giving me a pep talk. & I was starting to need it.  It worked. Embrace the suck…
    • Mile 21: This isn’t great. It isn’t terrible, but it really isn’t great.  Wait – 5 miles left – Liz ran 100 FREAKING MILES! I’ll bet when she was at 95 she was so stoked! 95-man – get it together Liberty you can do 5 freakin miles. Embrace the suck…
    • Mile 22: Ah-there it is-the dying hurt. But still not as bad as I remembered?  “You ARE doing this! You CAN do this! Remember how disappointed you are in yourself when you stop…”
    • Mile 23: Ok yah this is actually pretty bad. But…you are on pace to kill this race! Think of all of the 4am days – you DID NOT do those to give up on this pace! You ARE NOT dialing this in!
    • Mile 24: Oh so there’s a hurt worst than the dying hurt? Awesome. Needed more motivation – put on “Beast” off of the Southpaw soundtrack –it’s my go-to when I’m struggling.  (I also have a playlist called “struggle bus” of songs that always get me pumped – I’d had it on since about 22).
    • Mile 25: This hurts SO BAD. BUT I AM DOING THIS! Just keep running.  Just keep running.  Keep. Running.
    • 2: You guys, I CANNOT even describe how I felt. I was stumbling towards the finish, legs weak, afraid I’d trip over the timing mat.  Couldn’t really see straight/a little blurry? I was looking for Ryan but couldn’t see much outside of what was directly in front of me.  I heard them call my name.  I managed to give a thumbs up going across the finish line, and then I literally collapsed in a heap against the fence separating the competitors from spectators.  It is honestly the weirdest combination of sheer exhaustion + complete happiness that I have ever felt (also probably a bit of the hypoxia – after I collapsed I immediately had an asthma attack – I have cold induced asthma but I’ve never had it be an issue at the end of a long run before, and this one was pretty bad but went away quickly).   The medics rushed over & tried to take me to the medic tent, but I waved them off & insisted Ryan was coming to get me & I was fine.  And then once I caught my breath I started crying….it was good crying though.  The poor people hovering over my head from the other side of the barricade must have though I was dying or insane.  Ryan found me & we hugged over the fence & we both started crying…an even better cry
    • I finished in 3:39:35. I never saw the 3:40 pacer again after mile 10 until after the race.  This is 6 minutes faster than my Boston qualifying standard, and an11 minute PR for me.

 

Strong.Beautiful.Deserving.In.

 

An effective mantra should focus on what you want to feel, not on what you’re trying to overcome…

It should also be short, positive, instructive, and full of action words.

-Ashley Jones, “The Power of a Great Running Mantra”

I just finished my last long run before my race. It is time to taper. It is time to work on visualization. It is time to practice mantras. It is time to be grateful for how many miles I have ran, and to look ahead with joy and anticipation for the miles yet to come!

You can search the Internet for running mantas. There are many. I was running last week and thinking ahead to my race. I was thinking back to the process of my training. You can choose a mantra from the list of those you read. But. . . sometimes. . . your mantra finds you.

I am strong

I am beautiful

I am deserving

I am in (the finisher’s shoot)

I shortened it to, Strong. Beautiful. Deserving. In. Here is why each word is significant to me.

Strong. Muscles, endurance. sweat. focus. consistent. Hard work. Athletic. Competitive. Tenacious. Capable.

Beautiful. To me there is something beautiful about a woman giving all she has. . . her heart, being vulnerable to the outcome, not being afraid to believe it’s possible. Sweat. tears. hard work. no guarantees. Athlete.

Deserving. Worthy. valuable. allow yourself to reach for it. Letting go of what you think you need. No fear of being happy, really happy. Letting go. Pressing in.

In. Done. finished. it’s over. It will stop. Letting go. Accomplishment. Completion.

In all these things, I am the daughter of the king. That is enough. 

I am a daughter of a King

who is not moved by the world.

For my God is with me

And goes before me.

I do not fear because I am his.

 

 

 

Working on ‘Ideal’

I made a calculated decision this week to “let go” of my binge food. NOT to restrict, but to ALLOW myself to experience the feelings I was having associated with not being 100%. Being injured and thus not being able (in my case) to run to control the potential effects of binging. I also did not try to use any other form of exercise to control the fact that I was not running as much.

I abruptly ended my last blog post, It’s Not Ideal, with this quote. Let me use it as a transition, now. The decision to let go of my binge food was not too much of a challenge the first week that I tried. It was pretty easy, in fact. I did not crave it. I did not miss it. I thought it would be tougher because Byron was gone all week in CA.

The challenge began, when he got back, because he came home with the FLU,  and he was very sick. I did not want to be sick. I did not want the kids to be sick. I wanted a break. He had no energy to help. I was expecting his homecoming with anticipation. I could, then, exhale and not be solely responsible for math, bath, attitudes, gratitudes, sass, spelling. . . .

I drove to Kroger the evening he came back. We needed food for the week. ALL I wanted was ice cream. I went up and down the aisles debating with myself.

You deserve it. 

It’s no big deal.

You don’t need it

Just buy it.

You need something else.

It’s a reward.

Remember? Feelings?

I made it out of Kroger. I made it to my car. My heart was beating fast. Sat in the quiet.

Owning our story and loving ourselves through the process is the bravest thing we will ever do.

-Brene Brown

Shame cannot survive being spoken and being met with empathy.

-Brene Brown

“You cannot get rid of shame from your life. You can become resilient.” I would question my counselor over and over again,  when she would say this to me. I would say, “but there has to be a way. . . ” I finally surrendered. I asked her what resilience meant in practicality. She said, “when you find yourself in shame, reach out to a safe friend who can provide empathy.”

I reached out. I texted a friend who knows that I struggle with an Eating Disorder. She also knew that I chose to “let go” of my binge food for a while. I texted her and all I said was, “ALL I want is ice cream. I’m sitting in the parking lot of Kroger.”

As soon as I sent it, I regretted it. I wanted to take it back at first. I also wanted to know what I was feeling that was causing me to want to emotionally check out with a bowl or two of ice cream. I started to cry. I was mad at Byron for being sick. I was mad because I had to spend who knows how much longer taking care of “kids” and “life” until he got better. It was not fair. I cried. I was mad at myself for letting something as ‘silly’ as ice cream control me, beckon me. I let myself cry for a while. I let myself be mad. I let myself be disappointed. I decided to feel empathy for myself. . . erasing the tapes. . .

You should be able to handle this, you are a strong women.

You should stop crying and act like the strong person you are.

You should be able to do anything without his help.

You should be able to put a smile on your face for everyone to see how well you are holding it together. 

You should stop being such a baby about this. 

You should not allow anyone to see this imperfection.

For at least 20+ years of my life, containing the thoughts and knowing how to process them in a positive healthy manner felt like an impossible task. I make an attempt to control and restrict my intake not because I actually wanted to lose weight or because I was fat. I’ve been doing it because I want(ed) to lose the emotions, memories and feelings and this is the only way I knew how. 

I felt resilient by speaking my shame to someone. My heart stopped beating so fast when I sat and thought that it was okay to feel all that I was. The racing feeling of my thoughts disappeared when I acted compassionately toward myself and dropped the “should’s” and let the tears fall.

Perfectionism is a 20-ton shield that we lug around thinking it will protect us when, in fact, it’s the thing that’s really preventing us from being seen and taking flight.

-Brene Brown

 

It’s Not Ideal

March has been a mixed bag.

  • Week 1: 57 miles, 4 days on the trail, 20 mile long run
  • Week 2: 62 miles, 3 days on the trail, 2 x 18 mile runs
  • Week 3: 9 miles, 1 trail day, 5 days on the bike
  • Week 4: 25 miles, 1 trail day, 3 bike days, 2 road days
  • Week 5: 40 miles, 0 trail days, 6 road days

What gives? I’m training for a 50 miler on 4/30. I have been running with some form of pain/irritation since January along with. . .

  • Two Doctor’s visits
  • Too much reading on the Internet
  • Lots of self diagnosis
  • New shoes
  • Old shoes
  • New shoes again
  • KT tape

Mid March, things had to change. I had no clue how things would get better or if anything would be better. I could run. I could push the mileage. I could accept the discomfort and the irritation. I wanted relief but I also wanted to run. I really did not think I could find the answer to my discomfort. I was still looking for anything.  I saw Leah Sawyer. Her treatment has really helped me to turn the corner. There was second guessing, crying, frustration, impatience FROM ME! (I think I may have driven her a bit crazy. Stay tuned for a follow up PT blog)

I think I was trying to ignore the feelings I was having and I was trying to just press on. Remember this quote from my “I Feel Fat” post?

I feel like I want to crawl out of my skin because containing the thoughts and knowing how to process them in a positive healthy manner feels like an impossible task.
I say I feel fat when I feel everything is overspilling in my mind.
I make an attempt to control and restrict my intake not because I actually want to lose weight or because I am fat i’m doing it because I want to lose the emotions, memories and feelings and this is the only way I know how. “When I say I Feel Fat” The Psychology Journal.

When things come up in my life that I do not want to think about. . . When things come up in my life that I do not know the outcome . . . When things come up in my life that I imagine the worst outcome. . . When I don’t want to think about something that is hard or that is potentially hard. . . When I am sad. . . When I am confused. . . When I am trying to control how I seem to other people. . . When I am ashamed of who I think I am. . . where I am failing, where I have shame. . .

. . . I make an attempt to control and restrict my intake not because I actually want to lose weight or because I am fat. I’m doing it because I want to lose the emotions, memories and feelings and this is the only way I know now.

I made a calculated decision this week to “let go” of my binge food. NOT to restrict, but to ALLOW myself to experience the feelings I was having associated with not being 100%. Being injured and thus not being able (in my case) to run to control the potential effects of binging. I also did not try to use any other form of exercise to control the fact that I was not running as much, not running on the trail as much.