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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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.

Boundaries

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I am always dehydrated. Always. And do you know why? Because every time I reach for my water bottle it is empty. Every. Damn. Time. I carry a water bottle everywhere I go. I always fill it up before we leave the house. I always shout a reminder to the rest of the household to do the same, but do they? Nope. Then they grab mine when I am not looking and drink it all. This situation frustrates me to no end. I gripe and complain and they continue to drink my water.

A few months ago, it occurred to me that I can put a stop to this frustration. I put my foot down and declared my water bottle off limits. If we break down in the desert and there is a chance they could die of dehydration, I will share but until then they are out of luck. I diligently watched my bottle of water every minute. At the gym, at the zoo, at the grocery store. It took a while but they figured out I meant business and after a few times of them asking for a drink of my water and me saying go find a water fountain they stopped. This is a simple rule but for some reason it took me way too long to figure it out.

I am the type of momma that wore my babies and slept with them when they were little but my kids are not little anymore. It never occurred to me to set a few boundaries for my own sanity. Boundaries are one of those buzz words that are floating around a lot of different issues, work, PTA, family and friends that take advantage. I don’t often hear it mentioned when it comes to your kiddos.

What are some other areas that I set new rules to keep me sane recently you ask. Sleeping with mom. When they are little, sick or have a nightmare I have no problem sharing my bed with my kiddos. However, they are all getting bigger and there just isn’t room in there for three people. They also want to take turns with me when Daddy travels. I enjoy the snuggle time and that they want to be near me still but I wasn’t sleeping well. Time to set another boundary. No more sleeping with mom. I need my space and it is healthy and acceptable for me to ask for that space.

Making breakfast and lunches. This one is harder because I stay home to be a mom. Part of being a mom though is teaching them to be self-sufficient. I have made every breakfast before school and packed all the lunches for the last 8 years. This year I declared the two oldest, they are 9 and 12, old enough to pack their own lunches. Gasp! Guess what, they mostly make good choices and they manage just fine. There is also at least one morning a week that I say, breakfast is what you find in there or grab a frozen waffle, good luck.

Other things I stopped doing, getting up mid-meal to do things for them, letting them interrupt conversations I am having with adults and always sitting by daddy. Sometimes I want to sit next to my husband at dinner.

Some parenting frustrations are unavoidable. Some are completely avoidable. These solutions seem glaringly obvious now that I have implemented them but it took me 12 years to figure them out. I am not going to waste time beating myself up because I didn’t think of it sooner or because I no longer share my drinks with them. I am a mom but I am still my own person and I can have my own space. Without guilt.

I am the momma to three amazing little girls and I wouldn’t trade them for anything. Like every other parent out there I want to give them everything and make their lives nothing but sunshine and roses. That isn’t reality no matter what I do, so I hope by setting a few boundaries it better prepares them for life.