That one time I tried to run..

This has been a hard year. Divorce, starting a new job, moving twice, gaining 20 pounds, trying to find and stay true to who I am. It’s been a bit of a marathon.. Lots of hills, tears, sweat and battling nearly every part of my being. Physically it’s tough, trying to find my path to loving myself and keeping my body healthy. Mentally, keeping my head in the game and having a progressive mindset to keep going. Emotionally, well that’s a gamble any given day. I consistently feel like I don’t belong in this world, like there just isn’t space for me and it’s a daily battle to try to figure out exactly where I fit. Because of all this, I decided that one thing would be in my control this year and I would choose to do something hard. I chose Triple Lakes 40k.

I started training really early for this race. It’s not that I’m new to running but along with a lot of other things, I had given it up. I knew I could do this and I knew it would be hard but I was ready and willing to put in the work. I had plenty of training runs that made me want to give up and several that were really good for my soul. One particular 10 mile run made me feel really strong and capable and I felt encouraged to keep going. And then… It was a Saturday, shortly after a round of bad storms in the Kansas City area and I found myself running along Blue River and dodging obstacles that had been washed over the pathway. About 9 miles into my 14 mile run, I started to get an annoying pain in the outside of my left knee. Like most stubborn runners, I decided to ignore it and keep pushing. Rainey joined me for the last 4 miles and it turned into more of a hike than a run as the knee pain worsened. I was sure it was just overworked and nothing serious so I took a few days off, made a couple of visits to True Health to see my chiropractor and kept trying to run. Unfortunately, the pain continued and stopped my runs at about 1-2 miles in. I again, stubbornly decided that I just needed to rest it and I took to biking instead of running while I started counting down the last few weeks until the race. After several more visits to the chiropractor, acupuncture, foam rolling, and alternate cardio, the Dr broke the news that he deemed it highly unlikely that I would be physically capable of finishing my race. I went through a roller coaster of emotions when he told me that but I’m persistent and I was determined that I was at least going to try.

The plane landed in North Carolina and there was obviously no turning back at that point. We spent the next day enjoying food and family and then made a trip out to the trail head to see where the race would begin the next day. I was so nervous that I was nauseous. The trail was beautiful, the encouragement from my friends and another runner we met at the trail head was great but in spite of my determination, that fear lingered. I knew this would be hard and I knew I needed to prove something to myself. I’ve never been a quitter and this was going to be my moment this year. I needed to prove that I wasn’t going to fail at everything. I needed to feel strong and capable. I needed every mile to run away the pain and confusion and guilt that has plagued my every decision this year. I needed this race. I had worked so hard and race day was finally happening.

We woke up early on race day, had some breakfast, geared up and headed for the start line. I was surprisingly much less nervous that morning than I had been all week and I took that as a good sign. Everything happened so fast once we arrived at the start. It seemed like a matter of minutes and the race had already begun. We started up hill and on pavement instead of trail so Rainey and I decided we would stick with a nice power hike until we found some dirt. It took us over a mile to find that dirt but when we did, we were ready and took off! The trail was gorgeous and we immediately fell into conversation and began to enjoy our time in the woods. Somewhere between mile 2 and 3, the pain in my knee started. The discouragement threatened to overwhelm me but I pushed it aside and decided it was going to be fine. If it didn’t get any worse, I could still finish. A couple of miles later the pain in my knee was still there and I was starting to feel like my shoes were rubbing on both heels. I had worn those exact socks and shoes for most of my runs and to this day have no idea why I had this issue. We met our crew at mile 8 and I changed shoes but the damage had already been done. I had huge blisters on the back of my heels and my knee was not letting up. We made it another 3 miles to the next aid station and that is where I believe I made my first mistake. I decided to try putting bandaids over the blisters and while adjusting the bandage on my left heal managed to rip the skin entirely off the blister. I wasn’t ready to let this stop me. I walked a few steps, adjusted my shoe and walked a few more. I tried Rainey’s shoe, still in pain. I finally settled on wearing my shoe like an elementary kid and smashed the heal down in the back and kept going.

Somewhere around mile 12 the reality of how I was feeling began to really hit. I could lie and tell you that I was tough. I could tell you I was angry and pissed. I could tell you it wasn’t fair and blame everything under the sun. I could also tell you the truth. I cried. My heart broke as the waves of emotion and the reality that I wouldn’t be able to finish, hit me like a brick wall. I felt like a failure. I had worked so hard for that finish line moment and now I wasn’t going to get that moment. Why did this keep happening? I felt like I had experienced so much failure already this year, didn’t I deserve one moment of success? My marriage had failed. I had failed my fitness plan. I felt like I had failed my children and my parents and my friends because so often I had been a wreck over the past year. My heart was breaking and I was crashing through the stages of grief over and over again and yet, I kept putting one foot in front of the other. Several times I encouraged Rainey to go on and finish without me but because she is the best human ever, she stuck with me. We had now made it 13 miles and we were still at least 2 miles from the next aid station where our crew was waiting.

Those last two miles were brutal. Dave and Reed (our crew) hiked in with ice and a wrap for my knee. Rainey and I said an emotional good-bye, we loaded her up with fuel from my pack and she took off to finish the race. It took me 49 minutes to go the last mile to the aid station. Multiple times, I had to stop half way down a hill and cry in pain. I couldn’t stop though, I wouldn’t. My knee hurt, my heels hurt and now I had a sharp pain in the outside of my right foot but somewhere deep down, I knew that I had to walk out of those woods on my own two feet.

I made it out and was ushered into the car. The tears continued to flow as we drove to the finish line to watch and wait for Rainey to finish the race. Every time someone came running in and was awarded that medal and the congrats of finishing the race, a fresh batch of tears would spill down my cheeks. This was hard. Life was hard. But.. I knew I had done my best, regardless of the outcome.

The rest of that day and the following day was an emotional and at times hilarious journey of me trying to walk, being ushered through the airport in a wheelchair and passing the time in flight by watching Star Wars with Dave. We made it home, I put my feet up and officially started my post-race healing journey. The insane amount of love and encouragement that I have gotten from my friends, family and co-workers has been so beautiful. This was only one race, one year of my life, one more challenge that I would face, even if it didn’t turn out like I had hoped. This is a single page, not the entire book and there’s no way I’m giving up now.

As I write this, I’m sitting at home with my ugly knee brace on, watching football and trying to listen to my body’s cry for rest. My LCL sprain will heal, just like my heart is healing and even if I never find that exact place in life where I “fit” or even if I never finish a 25 mile race (I will!!! :), I know this isn’t the end and these failures, such as they are will not define me. I’m letting go… I didn’t fail to run 25 miles, I ran 15. I didn’t fail my marriage, I spent over a decade of my life loving fiercely and learning so much. I’m not failing my children, I hope I’m inspiring them to love themselves and try hard things. I have people in my life who will love me no matter what and I know my journey is nowhere near the end. It’s just beginning and it will be a great adventure.

 

 

 

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I Talk to Myself and Sometimes it Isn’t Nice

We all have that small voice inside our head that chats us up constantly throughout the day.  Sometimes it encourages us and builds us up and sometimes it’s a real Queen B. Deciphering the truth bombs from the bull shit can be a difficult task at times. I wonder if there’s a secret to quieting the criticism and turning up the voice of encouragement. I’m sure I’m still on that journey of letting go and tuning into the parts that I really need to hear.

A Day inside my head…

*alarm goes off*  I’m tired. Why am I always tired? Ugh, look at my hair. Aren’t my babies so cute when they sleep. I hope I’m a good mom. I have nothing to wear that doesn’t make me look lumpy. I love this outfit. I look pretty. Easy there dark circles, I’m only in my 30’s. What am I going to eat for lunch that’s healthy and helps me meet my goals? Why can’t I just eat Pop Tarts and be fit? Breakfast was filling. Did I pack enough for lunch? I wish I had more time with my babies. I have a really nice car, I’m so blessed. I love my babies, wish I could see them off to school. For the love of God, has everyone forgotten how to drive today!?!? Will they ever finish this road construction? HAHA, my car has a funny voice when my boyfriend calls. Ok work, we are going to be friends today. Mmmm… coffee. ❤ Ok, clients, mail, smile, be a good team member, try to improve, I’ve got this. Have I had enough water today? Time is going so fast. Is that clock even moving? Am I doing a good job? I definitely haven’t had enough water. I’m hungry. I’m doing a good job and I know I’m appreciated. I’m thankful for my job. Here we go, rush hour traffic. I wonder what my babies are doing. I love my gym. Am I working hard enough? Should I up my weight? I feel strong. My butt looks good. I’m hungry. Why do I live so far from the gym? Home sweet home, I’m so blessed. I love my dogs. I love my man. What chores should I do tonight to feel productive? Should I be doing more of the cooking? I’m tired. I should do more yoga. Shaving my legs is so overrated. I love when my skin feels so soft. I’m not getting any younger, I should take better care of my skin. I look pretty without makeup. I’m tired. What do I need to do to feel good about today before going to bed? Am I doing life ok? Should I still feel sad? I have so much to be thankful for. I’m working hard and it’s going to pay off. I’m tired. I should take better care of myself. I’m doing the best I can.

 

In a nutshell, that’s a day inside my head. I waiver between confidence and confusion while counting my blessings and wondering if I should be happier. I’ve been through some things recently that have left me with my brokenness showing, but sometimes I think that’s okay. I haven’t figured out yet how to perfectly navigate my path toward healing but I think that’s part of the whole journey. I often think that I’m failing but then I remember that means I’m at least trying. The idea of feeling whole again is appealing and maybe it’s even a fantasy but I think the pieces I have left are still beautiful and even if they don’t make sense right now, they are a part of who I am. That voice inside my head is me. It’s me climbing through patterns and memories and energy in my body. It’s also me trying to climb higher, push further and embrace that life is worthy of being lived. Pain and pleasure are both part of the journey.

I’m doing the best I can and I know you are too. It’s hard to balance life between that devil and that angel that so annoyingly sit inside your brain and pull you from one side to another. We fight a daily battle to make the “right” choices and most of the time we don’t even know what that means. I think more self-love and less self harm needs to be a goal. Even just allowing those tiny negative thoughts to be entertained for a few seconds can be incredibly harmful to our hearts if we aren’t careful to keep them in check. Guard your heart my friend and if you’ve mastered this secret or you have a great tip for turning negative head space into positive forward movement, we’d love to hear more! Link to your blog in the comments or post your favorite quote that keeps you encouraged on your journey. We are all in this human experience together and that is a beautiful thing. ❤

Shawnee Hills 50k

If you read my Bryce Canyon 50k blog you know that I DNF’d. It was so disappointing after all the training so I decided to try again to conquer the 50k. After searching I found one that fit in my timeline and wasn’t terribly far away. Best of all the accommodations were included in the race entry fee!!! I read the course description, followed them on Facebook and signed up. The Shawnee Hills 100 mile Endurance Race looked amazing. It had waterfalls, a national forest and treehouses!!

The last weekend in August I packed up my nathan hydration vest and headed to southern Illinois. The race started and ended at  Camp Ondessonk, the cutest little place. It has all these cabin clusters that are mostly three walled, open air tree houses. We ended up with four walls but had a fun deck and fire pit. We got settled in, attended the pre race meeting and made dinner before heading to bed.

Race Day dawned with perfect running weather. I was a lot more nervous this time. I don’t know if it was the fear of failing or just knowing the challenge I was heading into, on purpose. My coach, Coleen gave me a bracelet with her picture and a reminder not to go out like an asshole. This was my mantra for the first 3 miles. 20398261_1961105464104833_2836055162831765504_n

I tried to take it nice and slow for the first few miles, which wasn’t terribly hard since there were a few hills to get out of the campground. The forest was gorgeous, even though all the water fall’s were dry.

My asthma was really giving me trouble and I struggled to breathe. I wasn’t sure if the nerves were causing the asthma or the asthma was making the nerves worse but I felt both of them, terribly the first 10 miles or so. Feeling very frustrated I wondered if I was cut out to run long distances. The mind is such an important part of distance running so I tried coming up with a mantra to help me stay positive but I could not think of anything I believed. Finally I settled on the song from the Lego movie. “Everything is awesome!” I sang this over and over to myself, the entire day.

Around mile 5 we came out of the woods onto a fire road, heading into aid station number 1. I was pretty sure there were only 2 people behind me so I was surprised when people started passing me. At first I thought maybe I was mistaken about how many people were behind me, but as more and more runners came from behind and passed me I started to panic that I had taken a wrong turn and cut the course somehow. When a girl I had spoken to in the first mile passed me I asked her what was up. Turns out a large group of runners had taken a wrong turn and added a little distance to their race. This would be an ongoing theme for this race. I felt pretty good at the first aid station, so with Coleen’s words echoing in my ears I got in and got out very quickly.

The next big challenge was a very rocky section. I found it difficult to run this stretch and did a lot of power hiking. There were people everywhere setting up for a day of rock climbing. Coming out of this section I spotted a local photographer hired to document the race. He was set up for an amazing shot but I was nervous I would fall and make a fool of myself. I decided to run across the rocks anyway, injuries be damned, I wanted a cool race photo. Mile 90 photography did not disappoint!!!!

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Photo Credit Mile 90 Photography

Right after this image was taken I heard my name being shouted. My husband Dave and my friend Leia were at the top of the falls and cheering for me! I looked up and then around and said aloud, “How the hell do I get up there?” I soon found out! This was one of the coolest sections of the race. I got to run through a “cave” and up a steep rock climb! Then the trails led along the top of the falls. This section was hard but so amazing we went back and hiked it Sunday. Coming into the second aid station I knew I needed to lose the tall socks and ankle brace. I was hot and it was rubbing my foot wrong. Lucky for me Dave and Leia were waiting for me. They changed my shoes and fed me and had me back out of there like a professional pit crew.

The next aid station was about 5 miles away and by the time I was heading into it my hip flexors were really hurting. I wasn’t sure I could keep going.  I hiked with another runner for about a quarter of a mile and she encouraged me to keep moving. At the aid station I fueled up on soda and pickles. It was really starting to heat up so I had them give me ice to take out on the trail too. A guy I knew had passed me early on was hanging out at the aid station. I asked if he was ok and tried to encourage him to head back out on the trail. He turned me down but then decided to catch up to me a little way down the trail. His name was Jason and he became my race buddy. We stuck together for the rest of the race. When I threw up at mile 25 he waited for me to pull it together and we headed out together. If one of us could run we both tried, when one of us needed a walk we both  hiked. We stuck together the next 16 miles and it was just what I needed. I did finish this race, in 9 hours and 30 minutes. I couldn’t have done it alone, Dave, Leia and Jason all got me through. 21077286_10159227588800254_5525397206382680586_n.jpg

This race suffered from vandalism several times. People using the trails were taking down course markings. It caused a lot of runners to get lost, multiple times during the race. Most runners missed the third aid station which left them with 13 miles or more between places to refuel. I cannot stress how dangerous this was. Missing a water refill with that far to go in the heat of August is not something to mess around with. I was so lucky I never got lost but I may literally be the only one that didn’t. I wanted to feel stronger for the race. I didn’t want to struggle as early as I did but that was what happened. I promised myself the entire race and the rest of the week that I wouldn’t do another one. I checked it off my list now I can stick with half marathons or 25k’s. This week I am researching my next 50k. That is what trail runners do. We have a love hate relationship with the distance and the pain. My plan is to spend the winter getting stronger and focusing on my weaknesses.

I am proud of my accomplishment, I ran even after vomiting, through pain and mental fatigue. The aid stations were amazing and kind, my crew ROCKS and the forest was absolutely stunning. I call it a success!!!

Who am I?

IMG_1133Your parent’s influence you by the way they raise you. Your friends impact your world and your self-esteem by the way they treat you. Your teachers and bosses create a lasting mark on your work ethic and how you see yourself as a student and employee.  You pick up a book and you identify with the character or you go to church and you feel it stir your soul. You feel connection and awareness on a walk through the woods and you find security and love in a laughing fest with a friend. There are so many moments that shape us throughout our lives, right down to the day we take our last breath. So, through all of these feelings, connections, influences and moments when our soul feels free, how do we know who we really are?
Our friend Kelly at Elements Studio Photography recently did an art photo shoot where everyone picked a word that they identified with. It was incredibly moving to see the way that we humans categorize ourselves based on past experience, interaction or relationship with other humans and many other circumstances that were often beyond our control.  Some people claim their word and allow it to give them strength and give them wings. Others of us are more prone to being caged by this reality and allowing those defining walls to hold us back within the boundaries of our insecurities. With so many emotions and so many roller coaster rides through fear and love and indecision, how do we settle on the core of who we are? How do we set a foundation for being unapologetically, confidently, fearlessly our true authentic self?
In my experience, being able to tap into awareness is at the heart of finding a grounded sense of where our core being begins.  That moment while reading a book and your heart felt lighter, that first step into nature where your feet were on clouds, that conversation with your best friend with the most amazing cup of coffee that just felt right… Those are the moments where we find ourselves. The moments when you catch yourself in such a connected moment that even your physical body can’t help but respond, pay attention. Be Aware. If it makes you feel lighter or makes your heart feel full, then it’s feeding your soul which means that’s a glimpse of your true self. Grab on to these moments and let them soak in! We push ourselves through pain and stress and endless emotions on a daily basis and we lose sight of the fact that emotions are important. Those emotional, mental and spiritual connections to our bodies are a gift that we would benefit from paying attention to.
I think a lot of times we get caught up thinking that these self discovery moments need to be a big grandiose slap in the face that pushes us into a higher version of ourselves. I don’t know how many of you have actually experienced that flamboyant of a moment, but I bet the majority of you have at least had a tiny moment of feeling “right” in your body. We don’t have to discount the smaller things in life, not ever. In fact, I believe that the more we learn to be grateful for the little things like a new running PR or a delicious home cooked meal, the more we ground ourselves into this amazing being we were created to be. Pay attention to what makes you feel. What stops you in your tracks with a GOOD emotion? Be aware of what touches your soul and feels great all the way down to your toes! And then, do more of THAT! Don’t be afraid to embrace pleasure and joy along with the stress and frustration that can sometimes haunt our everyday lives. You deserve to feel alive! It is your right as a human to feel pleasure along with pain, to feel strong and confident in your skin and to know that no matter what is going on with you, you have stability and a deep-seated knowing that who you really are will never be rocked by outside circumstances. I know, I know.. These are just a bunch of fluffy words that aren’t super specific but why do we feel like we need three steps and a mantra to put us on the right path? Mantras are fantastic! Having a 10 step program to better our personal life? Awesome! But you don’t NEED that! You just need you, and an intention to be aware of and notice yourself. You are important. You are significant. You are beautiful just the way you are. You are enough. You are always, undeniably, courageously, passionately, beautifully enough.

Why the F*** do we run?

RAINEY:

Imagine, me, very pregnant with baby number 2 and staring down my 30th birthday. I am not sure why being a mommy to 2 and turning 30 felt like such a big deal but it did. I wanted to do something crazy and wild. What kind of crazy wild idea does a mommy to two small kiddos do though? I don’t know if I read a blog about running, or saw a documentary or what but I decided what could be more wild and crazy than running a marathon for a non runner? I have never liked to run. I only ran if we were required to for PE or occasionally in college to be supportive of friends. A mile would be hard for me, hell, a quarter of a mile! After much research into training on google I told everyone “as soon as this baby arrives I am going to train for a marathon” and I signed up for our local marathon. Baby girl #2 arrived mid February. As soon as my midwife cleared me to run I was ready and set out armed with the training plan I downloaded off the internet.

Let’s be clear here, I knew nothing about running. Some days I still feel like I don’t know much about it. I am not the person super into the technical side of things. I am still not sure what a fartlek is. I didn’t know you needed to be fitted for shoes (you don’t have to but man does it make a difference!) or need to eat before, during and after runs (this is called fueling!) and I certainly didn’t know what I needed to do to get across the finish line. I had six months to get myself there and a checklist of runs to do.

My first day I was supposed to run intervals of 2 and walk 2 for like 10 minutes or something really easy sounding. I think I ran 30 seconds, walked a few minutes and went home. I walked in flushed, sweaty and almost sick. What in the hell did I get myself in to? I find it hard to give myself grace and not be a total perfectionist and at that time I really didn’t let myself off the hook. Eventually I started to get the hang of it and started building up mileage. I pushed through so many runs and built my mileage too fast, which is an honest mistake but a mistake nonetheless. I will never forget my 15 mile run. I walked a good portion of the second half and I had to call my husband for a ride 1 mile from my house. I just couldn’t go any more. That week I decided to drop down and do the half marathon instead. My back was killing me and I just didn’t believe I could ever go the distance for a full.

I did finish my first half marathon one month before I turned 30 and the day after my baby turned 9 months. I was incredibly proud of myself and can only compare finishing a big race to the feeling of accomplishment after giving birth. I felt like such a bad ass!

That is all it took for me to be hooked. The next few years I would train all summer and run a fall race. Honestly I still had very little idea what I was doing but I kept getting out there and running. Eventually I signed up for a Spring race and started winter running. Then in 2014 I decided to bite the bullet and sign up for another full marathon.

Today I have run 3 full marathons, more half marathon’s than I can remember off the top of my head and I am attempting my first 50k this year!

BETH:

Why the eff do I run? To eat all the food? Possibly. To have strong legs? I mean that’s always a bonus. To clear my head? Often. Because I like the idea of setting goals, kicking ass and taking names? Probably. Because I can do the impossible? To push myself every step of every mile to be the best I can be and never give up? I think we might be on to something. This my friends, Is my year to do the things I thought I’d never do.

If you read our earlier blogs you know that I’m going through a divorce this year. That is obviously something I never set out to accomplish In life but nonetheless it is happening. So why the hell shouldn’t I run a marathon this year too? Good question. I’m sure I could give you a lot of reasons why not to run but you really only need one to get started. I’ve been a runner for many years now but I recently took a year and a half off to heal a foot injury. If you ever taken time off of anything, you know it can be difficult to get started again and this time was no exception. I started off slow and I’m working my way up to running a marathon in October.

In the past, the longest distance I’ve run is a half marathon so this is a big step for me. Running can be difficult physically, mentally and emotionally but I know I have the strength in all of those areas to endure and cross that finish line. So why run a marathon or in this case a 40k? Well, you get awesome swag that usually involves a t-shirt and a medal but that’s just stuff. I’ve chosen a destination marathon so I get to travel. I’ve also chosen a trail run so I’ll be surrounded by the beauty and healing energy of nature. I also have the amazing opportunity of getting to run beside my best friend and business partner. ❤ All of those things are great reasons to push toward that finish line but the only reason I really need is that I’m doing it for me. I’m doing it for the discipline of pounding out training runs in the ungodly early morning hours. I’m doing it to find strength in my body in ways I never have before. I’m doing it to prove to myself that impossible is possible and I quite literally only have to put one foot in front of the other to make it happen.

So, my encouragement to you right now is that whatever you want this year, go for it. Let nothing hold you back, even if it seems impossible.

Bryce Canyon 50k

I decided this year that I wanted to attempt my first ultra marathon. My first plan was to run one in February in Texas but shoulder surgery cancelled that. A group of Mud Babes was planning to go to Utah for a destination race and I thought why not!? I will tell you why not. It is hot in Utah, this year unseasonably hot. It is much higher altitude than I am used to and there is a lot of ascent in this race. I knew all of this going in and none of it scared me off. I was less nervous than I normally am for long races. I felt a little unprepared mileage wise but ready and willing to tackle this crazy ass race. My hubs and I decided to make a road trip out of it and do some sight seeing after the race too so I was really looking forward to this trip/race. We left Wednesday before race day on Saturday and drove into Denver, Thursday we drove to Grand junction and Friday we arrived at Bryce. I thought this time would help me acclimate. The entire KC crew had dinner together pre-race at our hotel restaurant and then went to our rooms to prepare for race morning. Each distance had a different start time so the 100 milers were already out there when we arrived in town, the 50 milers started at 6 am, 50k was at 8 and the half marathoners were after that. There were four of us doing the 50k. We were all chatty and excited on the shuttle to the start line. Then it was time to run! The first five miles were our biggest ascent and I was winded and nauseous from the get go. I tried to run smart though and take it easy so I would have some gas left for the second half. It went well for the first 7 miles then my race went to shit. I puked my guts up four times out on that trail, four times!!! It was awful. After the first time I thought I may be able to rally but after the second time I was pretty sure my day was over. Except guess what! It wasn’t over because I was in the middle of the wilderness with no where to go except the next aid station. I first got sick at mile 9.5 and I could go back 2 miles to the previous aid station (where we were warned a ride out would take several hours to get to us) or continue to the next aid station at 14 where Dave was waiting, with my car. Forward motion it is then! Trail runners are an amazing group of people. I can’t tell you how many people asked if I was ok as I shuffled towards my DNF (did not finish) and several even offered to stay with me to make sure I made it. I declined not wanting to ruin any one else’s race. I knew I was rough but also knew I was going to be fine. As fate would have it to get into the aid station (which my watch said was at 14.6) you had to go down a very steep, loose ravine wall and back up the other side. Seriously! I stumbled down and powered my way up the other side to see Dave working the aid station and waiting for me. He waved enthusiastically and jumped up for a kiss and hug. I pushed right past him mumbling that I was dropping and went in to the tent and sat my ass down on a cot where I stayed until the next round of dry heaves sent me outside. Dave had offered a few other runners that were in rough shape a ride back to their car and so he gathered his group of dehydrate, smelly people and delivered us to the luxury of our air conditioned hotel. The last two miles of this experience I swore off running, altitude and all hot weather activities. After a nap and some serious sobbing over the loss of my race I felt a lot better. I would be fine one moment and crying uncontrollably the next moment. I cried over not finishing, no bragging rights, no finisher’s mug (instead of medals), I cried because I didn’t feel well. I have busted my butt to get back in to running shape post surgery this year and I was more than a little disappointed over not finishing. I have never dropped a race before. I put in the training and the hard work and it just didn’t work out this time. It happens to everyone and I know dropping was the smart thing to do but it still didn’t prepare me for the grief I felt.

I went to the finish line to watch my friends finish their races and spent the rest of the day/evening there cheering on those badasses that crossed both the start and finish line at Bryce Canyon.

Like childbirth after the passage of time you forget just how challenging and hard it was and are ready to do it again. I am ready!!19399035_10158855220505254_3877623454136802444_n

 

Triple Lakes 40K

Sometimes we get a crazy idea and just go with it. Actually, most times. Start a business together? Sure. Take up running as an adult? Of course. Run a new race distance through the woods? Why not!!! Beth and I are training for the Triple lakes 40k in the fall. We thought why not take all of you along with us, at least virtually. If you are a runner you know that running can be therapeutic. If you are not a runner then let me tell you running can lead you to a lot of places, physically and emotionally. There WILL be poop talk, feelings of empowerment, frustration, self doubt and finding new things out about ourselves. We are going to blog all along our training journey and share it with you! So follow us on Facebook and Instagram. FB_IMG_14975418253141

Divorce

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If you had told me 11 ½ years ago that my marriage was going to end in divorce, I would have stubbornly told you that you can take a flying leap and that divorce would never happen to me. I would have been wrong. Divorce: separation, division, split, disunity, estrangement, alienation, schism, gulf, chasm. Those are just a few definitions. I don’t think the dictionary contains the right words for describing this act and I don’t think there’s any one description that fits. Every relationship is different and unique, so it only stands to reason that the dissolution of that relationship would be unique to those individuals. For me? Well, divorce means a lot of things. Divorce means shattering the heart of another human while yours simultaneously explodes in a million pieces. It means still having the greatest human love possible for this other person but knowing that it’s not going to work out. It means cracks in the hearts of those who are close to both of you. It means losing part of your mom status and knowing that any effort you put into forging a close family bond is going to be dismissed, forgotten, never spoken of again. Divorce means a lot of confusion, wondering what others think about you and if some people now refer to you as that bitch who left her husband. Family? For me those lines were often blurred anyway, wondering if I’d ever fit in or be accepted and now, family happens without you. Divorce for me means finding the balance of letting my two little humans see me fall apart and being strong for the children who now come from a broken home. It means worrying that they’ll like dad better or that even they will blame me for turning everything upside down. It means every emotion in the book; anger, loneliness, sadness, hope, confusion, grief and so many, many more. Divorce. Such an ugly word. Of all the words, it’s never one I wanted to describe me. You’re right, it’s fair to say that I chose this, I did. I want the world for him. I want him to find happiness and love himself. I want him to have the most amazing job that he is passionate about and a safe space to come home to at night. I want the kids to love him more and more every day and I want them to see the light and love and talent in him that I always saw. The grief…dear God, the grief and the guilt is almost consuming. We don’t love the same way. We never really did. We both made plenty of mistakes. I gave him my 20’s and he gave me his 30’s and now we’ve grown apart even further. Years go by and people change, trust is broken and sometimes faith and stability never come back. Stability. Like the home we built together, the flowers and tree and all the memories we put into making it a home and not just the piece of property we signed our names to.  Divorce means I will never be the same again. It’s a lasting mark, a scar on this journey that I call life. But scars can be beautiful, right? I dare to hope that the strength I gain might make me a better person in the end. Right now, I’m not fully me. I’m broken, so broken. I’m healing too, I think. Most days I feel like a hurricane, wondering what emotion will flood me next and when the darkness will stop pouring over me. For now, there’s a tiny speck of light that’s piercing my vision. I don’t know yet exactly where that light leads and who or what will help me heal and bring in more light. For now, divorce feels like one foot in front of the other. It feels like loving my kids stronger and hugging them more. It feels like going to work, being a good human and doing my best to take care of me and mine. It feels like making sure relationships are a priority and that I never give up so much of myself that there’s nothing left. It feels like stumbling and wondering when I will find answers. It feelings like one foot in front of the other and hoping I gain strength and love and confidence along the way. It feels like finding me and exploring my place on this earth. It’s pain…so much pain. But… I wonder what will come next?

Struggle

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Struggle. We Struggle to learn to walk and talk and please our parents. We struggle to get good grades and pick good friends. We struggle to choose the right career or the right husband or wife. And if you’re like me, somewhere along the way you get lost in the struggle. You begin to identify with the struggle and feel lost whenever there isn’t a struggle to be had, to the point where you start to realize that you create and embrace things that drag you down and make you fight. So many times I have taken the conflict within and held onto it as if it might kill my will to live if I were to be without it. I’ve never been so wrong. Holding onto the struggle led me through years of heartache and brokeness. I am just now learning to embrace freedom. The reality of letting go of my chains and being able to really focus on my potential is both the most amazing and most terrifying thing I have ever faced. Without chains, I am free. I have all the power and endless choices of paths to take. Sometimes it feels like a lot of pressure and it’s difficult to face the freedom of so many choices. What if I make the wrong one??? But…. What if there is no wrong choice? What if I stepped into every decision as the highest version of myself knowing and acting with confidence that I could face the outcome? I can face miscarriage, I can face divorce, I can face loneliness, I can face fear, I can face the darkness of this world and whatever comes crawling out of it. Because once we face what scares us the most, we can face anything. Pain pours into us but love pours out because we choose that. As humans we have this amazing ability to take the pain and the loss and the sadness that comes our way and turn it into something beautiful and call it life. We can choose to let the struggle define us or we can invite it to mold us into a higher version of who we already know we are. I choose to be brave, I choose to stand strong. I choose to stay on the path and make my own adventure…and I hope you do too.
Be brave sweet girl as you face the sun
Be strong as your hopes seem to come undone
You are not “struggle”, you are not “blame”
Your light it shines, love is your name
Be brave sweet girl, the moon is bright
She’ll light your path in the dark of night
Just one step, that’s all it takes
Just one moment a difference makes
Be brave sweet girl, be brave.

IPhone Video

During a run the other day I decided to video a section of trail I was running. It was a little technical and I wanted to share it. In my mind this video was amazing and I would go home and edit it and it would become mind blowing. It should be noted that I have never edited a video in my life, but I have an IPhone so it should be easy, peasy. Um, no. First of all my video was less than amazing to begin with so the finished product didn’t quite live up to the mind blowing status I hoped for. It is jerky, a little nauseating (think Blair Witch Project), the music doesn’t fit the video length and maybe not all that entertaining. But you know what, I don’t care. I had so much fun making it and I am proud of my first attempt! Yes, I said first because I will definitely be trying again. Videos may just become a new hobby for me. That is one of the defining traits here at Free and Fierce. Try new things, go for it, have fun!!! So if you want to get a little motion sick go check out my video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cq20W3yTC-s&t=7s16865116_1906357996259882_7170517685655487564_n