Friday, May 10, 2019

Hey Future Self! Are You Listening?

In eighth grade the teachers told her to write some letters to her future self. That was four years ago, and this week, as a high school senior, my daughter got those letters back. I'm not crying. You're crying, as they say.

Her: One of the biggest thing I learned is you need friends who make you happy.

Me: Have you ever had a friend that sucked the life out of you? Or a friend that was selfish and self centered? Or the kind who stabbed you in the back or was all about the drama? These people can make us miserable, yet we hold onto them sometimes for fear of letting go of the past or because we don't want to be lonely or because we think we don't deserve better. Well, we all do. Deserve better.

There is no shame in letting a friendship die or in walking away from someone in order to take care of yourself. I've done this a few times. It's hard but it's worth it. My life would not be what it is without my core group of friends who always have my back and who would move a dead body for me and dig the grave if I asked them to. You know who you are!

Her: I have always felt so pressured to be the most athletic person that I could be because people were always asking me, "Do you run with your mom?" I realized that I have no shame in not being interested in sports because that is just the type of person that I am.

Me: I felt a bit bad reading this wondering if she felt pressure from me. I never meant to pressure her, but I know the value of moving your body and in finding a team of support. I know just by my running all the time she probably thought I expected that of her and that she disappointed me if she didn't do it. That was not at all the case, but I can see where the 8th grade brain thinks so. I'm glad she learned self acceptance along the way (and I bet she starts running one day, just wait and see).

Well, it doesn't look like I forced her to do this 10k

Her: I think happiness is a mixture of the best thing in life. Great friends, doing what you love and without a doubt loving yourself.

Me: Okay, yeah, she nailed it here. I can't say it any better at 52 then she did at 13.

Her: I am truly hoping that in high school you have a sense of self love because 18-year-old-Emma, you are an amazing person.

Me: And, yes, she is.

Just reading her words really made me think of what I would tell my future self in four or five years.

I would tell that I hope she was brave and kept on even when the odds were not in her favor or when people were critical and judgy. I would tell her she better have reached for those things she wanted even though she was afraid of rejection. I would tell her I hoped that she had remained fearless and continued to do things that took her breath away and scared the shit out of her. There's really no other way to live in this 52 year old's opinion. And, I'm sure I'll feel the same way at 62, 72 and until I croak (<or die very peacefully with a glass of chardonnay in my hand).

What would you tell your future self?

Have you ever written these kinds of letters?

Do you think your kids feel pressured to run or be athletic because of you?


Wednesday, March 27, 2019

If You're Injured, You MUST Read This (or even if you're will be one day so read it anyway)

Almost 11 months ago I was literally crying in my chardonnay.

The dirtiest word in the running dictionary had become my reality. I was injured. Not just "Oh-I-feel-a-niggle-I-better-take-a-day-off" injured, but the real deal.

Not to bore you if you know the story, but I was in the final three weeks of training for a 50k and fell on a very simple short run about 1/4 mile from my house. The result was a full tear of my left hamstring. The result was also that not only was I out of my 50k, I was likely out for the entire summer. And, it all happened in the blink of an eye.

That hurt
Even when I'm injured I'm reading about running
It was comfortable sitting on the toilet.

Therapy dog to the rescue

If you've been running long enough you've been there too. To a non-runner this scenario seems disappointing, but not devastating. But, for a runner, being injured is complex and heartbreaking (to be slightly dramatic) - it's not nearly as much about the physical pain as the mental/emotional anguish. Why is this the case?

  • We identify as runners and if we can't run, well, who the hell are we? 
  • We think we will never recover, or if we do we will have lost all of our fitness.
  • We have tremendous and unrelenting FOMO.

Being injured is time consuming and expensive. Physical therapists, sports med doctors, massages, dry needling, MRIs, blah, blah, blah.

Then.. we need to find something else to do outside of running to stay in shape. Don't make me throw up and tell me to run in the pool or get on the elliptical. I will punch you in the face then puke on your running shoes.

But, I'm not here to be a PITA and tell you what you already know. I'm here to give you hope.

Yes, after my injury I missed several races and countless gorgeous trail runs. Yes, I spent time in the pool and on the bike. No, the recovery process was not linear. I would feel better than worse again. When I started re-started running I felt like I had never run a mile in my life. I cried. A lot.

But, I kept showing up and never gave up.

About four months post injury, things started to feel just a bit better. I did my first race post-hamstring tear (10k). Probably my slowest 10k of my life, but  I was out there and I was ecstatic as hell.. Little by little I clawed my way back

And NOW...NOW...

I am fully healed. I feel fit and strong. Those months of no running don't really matter now and are just a blip on my memory screen. I am up to 40+ miles per week, and did my longest run since May last Saturday (15 miles of trails with 1,200 feet of vertical). I am signed up to the do the 50k I had to DNS last year.

I don't say this to brag, but I do say it to give you hope. When I am injured I NEED faith that I will be back out there, that I will regain my strength. I plead with anyone and everyone to give it to me.

Well, I am giving it to you right now. You are a runner, injured or not, and you will heal. You will be back to your frequent training runs and races. You will feel strong and pain free again. It's going to happen. Trust me. I have been here enough times to be able to say that with full confidence. have to do the work. Take care of yourself. Eat well, do your fucking PT exercises, get in the pool or on the bike. Get your rest. Then...when you get cleared to run again, be kind to yourself and be patient. It will not happen overnight and you will be pissed and frustrated. But, it will happen.

Trust me.

Are you injured now?

What has been the worst injury you've had?


Thursday, March 21, 2019

What I'm Doing to Stay Healthy and Fast Over 50 (and a cool video)

I've been thinking a lot lately about the concept of aging. It gets a bad rap. It seems to most people getting older = losing your edge, not being as fun. When you hit 50 oftentimes the message is that the best part of your life is over and it's all downhill from there. And, you are just moments away from shitting your pants, chugging Ensure and spending your evening with Pat Sajack.

NOT TRUE, obviously

I'm wondering if any of you have felt what I've felt. That you're looked at differently for being older. This becomes very interesting when you forget you are 50+ because you feel like 30, but then people treat you in a certain way. Like you won't understand them or you're fragile or you're not cool or you don't get what they're about because you're an old lady.

Getting older is humbling in some ways and so uplifting in others. I'm probably happier and more comfortable in my own skin than I've ever been and I would take 50 ANY DAY over the high school bullshit years. God, those were the worst. I definitely look happier here than I did my senior year of high school while I watched General Hospital and ate a gallon of cookies and cream ice cream from Giant (anyone remember that east cost grocery store)?

Taken at Snow Canyon State Park in St. George, UT this past weekend

But, I still struggle. I am sandwiched between my parents (who both turn 80 this month) and my kids who are both now technically adults (well, Emma turns 18 in 20 days. So on April 10 she can be found smoking a cigar while getting a tattoo followed by buying a lottery ticket and fireworks. Such milestones when you turn 18!) It's a rather unique place to be and one that all feels very out of control.

And, then there's running. Most people say you get slower as you get older. I am fighting that every step, literally. I know that pace and age group placings are not what is most important about the sport. But, these things keep me motivated in my training. They keep me committed and interested. Sure there are days when I couldn't give a shit about how far or fast I'm running. But, I like being competitive with my peers. This, of course, means focusing on how others in my age group are doing because that's apples to apples, right?

So, I did an experiment. After clawing myself back from major injury and finally being solidly healthy (I fell on May 11 at 9:07 a.m. and tore the mother eff'ing shit out of my hamstring), I can now work on fine tuning things. There are two secret weapons I'm using (these are not purely original, but they are tried and true).

1.  I decided to add in a day of speed work each week just to see how it might affect my overall performance. Typically I do "junk miles" where I just go out and do whatever. For the past 5 weeks I've been reluctantly jumping on the treadmill (trying not to do that when it's on like this time). As the weeks go by, I mind it less and less because I see the gains. Here's the workout I do (I made it up, it doesn't come from some fancy running website):

1 mile w/u: 6.0 mph @ 1% incline
1/2 mile: 6.5 mph @ 1% incline
1/2 mile: 6.8 mph @1% incline
1/2 mile: 7.0 mph @ 1% incline
1/2 mile: 7.2 mph @.5% incline
1/2 mile: 6.5 mph @ 1% incline
1/2 mile: 6.8 mph @1% incline
1/2 mile: 7.0 mph @ 1% incline
1/2 mile: 7.2 mph @.5% incline
1 mile c/d: 6.0 mph @1-2% incline

Total: 6 miles

I see results. Just in the past two weeks or so, I am consistently running faster with less effort. I have cut about 15-30 seconds off per mile.

2. I'm focusing on sleep. From some research I've done lately on recovery, the findings seem to be that the absolute best thing you can do to recover (even better than ice baths, stretching, etc) is to get good sleep. I know I'm an over achiever so I get about nine hours of sleep per night. I can hear you gasping. It is the truth! That is unless the dog barfs or I wake up worried that the picture hanging above our bed is going to fall and behead me (<I love the shit we dream up to worry about in the middle of the night). One thing I'm enjoying is that my new Suunto watch tells me how long I sleep and how many hours of deep sleep I get. It is highly satisfying.

Last night's deep sleep
Total sleep time average this week
Hi Pussy!

Sleep duration is measured by an accelerometer - a motion sensor which detects movements from your wrist. An added benefit of using a sleep tracker is that your heart rate while you sleep is a good indicator of how well you are truly recovering. If you are over-training and/or not recovering properly, your resting heart rate could be elevated.

Pro-tip (I'm not a pro at anything, but I like the jargon): I take two full rest days each week. Old ladies need it.

So, there you have it. My secret sauce for the moment.

Oh, and hey, meet my new team mates! Can you find me? I'm pretty sure my legs are spread wide eagle..not sure why I always do that.

How many hours of sleep do you get per night on average? 8-9

Did you like high school? Why or why not? No. Mostly because I went to my freshman and sophomore years overseas then moved back to the U.S. my junior year. It was tough breaking into the cliques.

How old are you and what's been your favorite phase of life so far? I'm 52. I actually like this phase of life right now.

Treadmill, yes or no? Being outside wins for me - but I do the treadmill if it serves a purpose - like for speed work or when it's icy outside.


PS: Check out the 2 minute video from this weekend. Don't blink or you will miss me.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Rejection Isn't for Pussies

I wish I blogged more often.

In my "real" job I do a shit load of writing, so sometimes my brain and fingers are worn out from thinking and typing. But, here, in this space, I get to do the fun and crass writing, which I certainly cannot do as a social worker. Well, I could, but then I'd have a full time blogging job that pays nothing because I would have been fired from my social work job. Somehow saying the "f" word and talking about poop is frowned on by social services. Who knew?

So, what is the solution? Probably to blog more, but to say less (i.e, shorter and dumber posts).

Here's a shot at that.

First, to be fully transparent, I did not get THE JOB (if you aren't sure what "the job" is, you'll have to click and go find out). It was disappointing, but helped by the fact that I know who was hired is amazing. Also, I am hopeful there may be a job for me in the future as the business expands.

Some other opportunities I've applied for have not worked out either.

REJECTION is tough.

And then this funny guy has to give me the finger. Behind my back no less.
How am I so pale? Do you get really pale when you are rejected?

REJECTION and not getting what you want are a part of life.

We know this. We are told it all the time.

  • Dr. Seuss's And I Think I Saw It On Mulberry Street, was rejected by publishers 28 times (maybe he should stop rhyming. jeez)
  • Michael Jordan didn't make his high school varsity basketball team (maybe he had B.O. who knows)
  • In her twenties, Oprah was removed from anchoring a news show because she was deemed "unfit for television." (maybe she said "and you get a car, and you get a car" too many times)

When rejected, we are told to get back up and try again. But what about our fragile egos? What about our fears of further rejection? What about our desire to just hide out in bed eating Cheetos washed down with chardonnay and watching the Bachelor?< or, maybe that's just me.

Trying again takes guts. But in my mind it beats a life of boredom and complacency. 

The good news is that with not getting what you want, sometimes you DO get what you want. Or some bullshit like the front door closes but the bay window opens up...then slams down on your finger, then the sliding glass door opens up and...

I did have a win for the month as I was accepted onto this team of amazing athletes:

When they say "be the smartest person in the room so you are inspired" - this team will force me to be the least fit and oldest in the room so I will be inspired. So, next weekend I'm off to St. George, Utah for a training camp.

Suunto also sent me this gem to get my training rolling. I'll do a review on it once I've used it a few more times. But so far - this watch does everything including tell me when to poop.

Speaking of getting my training rolling - that little bitch 50k I had to drop out of last year due to ripping my hamstring is calling me back, so...

Dirty Thirty 50k on June 1

Triathlon is calling me back too, so...

70.3 (Harvest Moon) in Boulder on September 15.

And...because friends and alcohol are always a good mix...

Bourbon Chase Ragnar on October 18-19

My race calendar is filling up with good stuff. And I'm going to keep being gutsy and being the best version of me because if not I will get really fat and lazy and make out with Heidi all day long. And then I'll get dog breath and kennel cough, which no one wants.

So for I go into the distance as training once again ramps up!

Answer at least one or you're not cool

If I did shorter but more frequent posts, would you read?

Tell me one race you're signed up for.

Last rejection you've gotten? How did you deal?

Ever tried Suunto products? I've always been a Garmin girl but I'm down for trying this new brand!


Tuesday, February 12, 2019

That Time I Was On The Bachelorette (kind of)

In the most dramatic blog post ever from SUAR (Bachelorette reference):

Imagine a group of women, all strangers, coming together at a lovely mountain home near Aspen, Colorado, where they were welcomed with wine, an assortment of fancy cheeses and small talk. These women are here for the same purpose - to be a candidate for something that they want. Only this time the prize is not a man or "finding love." The prize is a dream job.

I was one of the strangers in that house last weekend.

Well, we don't really look like strangers...

I first heard of Run Wild Retreats and Wellness about a year ago. I'm not sure how it piqued my interest. Maybe it came across my Facebook feed as a sponsored ad. Maybe I heard it from a friend. All I know is that the minute I heard about this company I thought, "I need to be part of this." You see, RWR&W takes groups of women on running retreats around the world. Only, it's not just about running and it's not just about travel. Yes, those things are included, but it's actually more about helping women manage their stress. Through running mindfully.

Running + Travel + Mindfulness = my sweet spot

*Not to be mistaken for G spot*

I reached out to the founder, Elinor Fish, to learn more about her company. I DID want to learn more, but a part of me also wanted to put myself on her radar. Months later I heard she was hiring. After a phone interview I was invited to Aspen for the Bachelorette weekend (I like to call it the Runnerette).

This was an experience like none I'd had before. I love meeting new people, but it's a whole other level to spend a weekend with them, to expose myself (not like a flasher, that would be weird) and to essentially be on a 36 hour job interview. I felt it all - nerves, excitement, anticipation, gas build up (you can't just fart in front of a bunch of new people and you definitely wouldn't do it during a job interview).

My competition? Well, no surprise they were all these kick ass, insightful, lovely women. Any of them would be amazing at the job. So would I. I just hope that came through. As luck would have it, I still don't have a front tooth, so I spent the weekend looking like a fit hill billy with a lisp. Oh, well.

We ran in the snow covered hills. We did workshops on mindfulness. We ate and drank. As Elinor puts it in her blog:

"So, before and after runs on snow-covered trails, we cozied up under fluffy blankets at our rental modern farmhouse to engage in deep discussions and writing exercises about mindful running. Each woman contributed powerful stories and insights based on personal experience combined with extensive education and training in the areas of sports science, mindfulness, yogic traditions and physiology." 

If I'm really honest, I went into the weekend with a huge sense of trepidation. As someone who prides herself on moving out of her comfort zone, I was nervous. When I really dig deep down, what was that about? Duh. It's about every human's fear of being rejected and not being enoughBut, as Brene Brown says, at least I put myself "in the arena."

The verdict is not in yet. We do not know who got the rose. Of course I hope it's me, but if it's not at least I know my competition was amazing, strong and capable. She'll do a good job. If/when I don't get picked, I'll probably get into the back seat of my Ford Edge (my version of a limo) and shed some tears sobbing, "When will I ever find the dream job? Why wasn't I enough? This always happens to me!" Just kidding. I'll be sad and disappointed but I'll know that it's true that other roses become available when the one you want dies. Or, something like that. 

What's the most daring thing you've done lately?

Have you ever taken a running/adventure/wellness retreat? No. Except this weekend :)


PS: Find more about the retreats HERE. Iceland, Italy, Spain, Ireland, Moab, Telluride and more!

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

If We Were Having Coffee...(aka Confession Time Minus the Priest)

Who am I kidding? I'd prefer we were having a cocktail. But, for the sake of boring Dry January (which I tried and failed at), lets stick to coffee (just in case you guys have more will power than I do).

If we were having coffee I'd tell you I am an idiot. Today I went for a run at one of my favorite spots, but I decided to drive there because I wanted to run 3 miles and not the 7 miles it would be if I actually ran there (<-lazy POS, I am).

Anyway, I got there kind of early and there was no one in the parking lot but a cop and a man living out of his truck. The man was making oatmeal out of the back of the truck. I kind of kept my eye on him because that's what the cop was doing so I got kind of distracted.


I put on my gloves, connected my wireless earbuds and set off, locking the car door. When I got back to my car three miles later I saw exhaust coming out of my car's tailpipe. What in tarnation? Was oatmeal man trying to steal my car? No. I had left the car running with the keys in the ignition. You see, my car has a code on the door so I don't have to carry keys, which is nice. What's not nice is that it means I can leave the car running and lock the door and go on a three mile run.

The upside? The car was VERY warm when I got inside since the heat had been blasting for almost 30 minutes.This was my contribution to the environment.

What stupid thing did you do today?

If we were having coffee I'd tell you I'd been thinking a lot about my cousin Sherry. She was murdered while running almost exactly 7 years ago. Can you believe it's been 7 years? I know many of you read my blog way back then and participated in my virtual run for Sherry and donated to an account for her kids. I love you for that.   You can read more about all of it HERE in my piece for Runner's World.

Sherry's sister, Rhonda, holding up a picture of Sherry, her husband and her two kids. 

A lot has happened since then. Her kids have grown - her son is married with a baby. Her daughter graduated from college. Life goes on, but never in the same way. I wish we could have grown older together as runners and friends. She liked farts as much as I do.

If we were having coffee (tinted with Bailey's. You may be dry, but I'm not) I'd tell you running has felt amazing lately. Don't get me wrong. It's not like I go out singing hallelujah with every step. It's still hard and I'm still slower than I used to be - but nothing hurts and it's rather joyful just being out in the crisp air. I still have to fight to not crap myself sometimes, but that's all of us right? RIGHT?!

If we were having coffee I'd let you know that sending your 21 year old to the grocery store is funny.

If we were having coffee I'd disclose that January is bland-uary. I'm spicing it up with the shows Dirty John, Homecoming and the Bachelor (raise your hand if you are over the costumes and the virgin jokes). I'm reading good books - Just finished Providence and am on to The Mars Room. I'm cooking new recipes and watching more porn (<-joke).

Are you doing Dry January?

Favorite TV show right now?

Best book you've read lately?

Stupidest thing you've done lately?

What would you tell me if we were drunk? Or, sipping on coffee?