Wednesday, April 29, 2015

True Weirdness

After I ran by a group of girls on a pretty steep part of a climb on a popular tourist hike in Zion park they began to cuckoo. It took me a moment to realize that they were referring to me. My initial reaction was to think how rude but it got me thinking. Maybe I have been surrounded so long by incredibly active people and talented athletes that my sense of 'normal' is skewed? My idea of fun is really others idea of torture?

Lucky for me I was being chased up the climb by my partner who had given me a head start. I wasn't alone in the idea of a good time. I have a boyfriend who also thinks that the challenge of making our own marathon around and RV park on New Years day sounds like an incredible way to start the year. Our date nights consist of running up and down mountains together. We spend our holidays going places where there are great trails for running and riding. Camping weekends include mapping out repeats on logging roads to get in good miles. All of it is done with smiles on our faces. 

This weekend we are taking a romantic get away where we will be running 100 km. It should be lots of no fun fun. We will see each other a few times out there and I know we will both be super happy that we both are cuckoo! I like being weird together!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Welcome Home

He's back. I thought I had served him eviction notice in August of 2013, but he has returned. He's moved right back in and made himself quite comfortable in every nook and cranny of my condo. Lurking under the bed at night, in the closets and every time I open the fridge or a bag of potato chips he suddenly appears. I've tried to reason with him that I was doing just fine living without his presence but he isn't responding to reason. He returned to couch surf my life in January when I got 'lucky' and 'won' the Leadville Trail 100 lottery. As soon as I got the news the big fat scary monster knocked on the door and hasn't left since. He's even managed to hijack his way into my holidays!

Now every good house guest knows that you should bring fine wine and stay a limited time, BUT this guy has no social graces. Not only is he freeloading and living in my home he isn't even polite. He taunts me when I do a treadmill workout with jeers of that's all you've got. You have to run that distance 20 more times to get to the finish. When I look in the mirror his big ugly mug appears over my shoulder reminding me that winter insulation isn't going to do me any good going up Hope Pass. The only wine this guy brought is my whining!

It seemed like a brilliant idea to try running 100 miles again. I mean last time I had to do a 100 mile bike the week before. This time I will be nice and fresh I tell my Monster, but his snickers tell me differently. Last time I was super fit and had tons of time to dedicate to training in beautiful warm sun all the time. A bad weather day involved some mist. Now a bad weather day involves 10 extra pounds of clothing and well below freezing temperatures. I try to tame him with the news that I have toughened up in the elements and now I have knowledge of what it takes to finish 100 miles. He only responds with snarky comments like 'every 100 is different', 'you don't know how you'll handle things until they happen'. I attempt to mute him out by turning up the volume on my playlist but he filters in.  The only way to drown him out is complete exhaustion.

Just between you and me 2014 was kind of lonely without him. Don't tell him, but I look forward to his jeers, taunts and fear tactics because that is what gets me out the door and lets me know that I am truly living. Nothing great ever happens in the comfort zone. Welcome home Big Fat Hairy monster and while you are under the bed clean out the dust bunnies. I have no time for that, I have some running to do starting with 2 100km races in May. See if you can keep up buddy.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Let Go

Today I came across this question posted by a friend.

Only two words to sum up what you wanted to tell your younger self. How do you sum up years of living and experiences in two words. I thought about it and I decided that my younger self really needed to hear only two words. 'Let Go'. 

Let go of expectations. Life is so much simpler and kinder to you when you don't approach everything with a preconceived expectation. It's like racing. Do the training, bring a great attitude and let it happen. 

Let go of judgement. Yes, it is good to not judge others but mostly I needed and still work on not judging myself. Why when we race do we need to define the race as a good or bad race? How about just accepting it as a race and it was what is was? Easier said than done, but it is after all just one event in a life of events. It is hard to not label oneself when thinking about athletics. Everything doesn't need appraisal.

Let go of baggage. Even the smallest bag can become very heavy if you need to carry it for years. Drop it, and move away. At first you may feel you have forgotten something but over time you will get adjust to having the freedom of movement without carting the load around.

Let go of plans. Hard for me, I like to have a plan BUT life isn't about planning everything. I remind myself often that sometimes we have to give up the life we planned to have the life waiting for us. So often when I take a turn on a trail that I didn't plan I find myself enjoying new territory I didn't even know existed. Just like life, take a turn and don't follow a map you wrote twenty years ago. The journey will open up before you.

Let go of the brakes. Momentum is a wonderful thing. Often when things are going really well and flowing on the mountain bike, the best thing to do is let go of the brakes and you will go over obstacles without even knowing they were there. Same in life, if you are death gripping the brakes every little bump in the road becomes a mountain to get over. 

Let go of perfection. Nothing and no one is perfect. Often we find ourselves trying to handle everything perfectly. Be the perfect friend, be the perfect partner or do everything perfectly. It's okay to just do your best. Your best is perfection in process. I have a tattoo that has a few spots where the ink didn't take. The tattoo artist wanted to fix it for me. I refused. I needed a daily reminder that perfection is unattainable. Instead of aiming trying so hard to be perfect, be real. 

Dear Younger Self,

LET GO and then hang on and enjoy the journey cause its amazing!


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Contaminate the World

A few weeks ago I found myself in a situation where I was infected by two very contagious people. We have all been hearing lately about horrible infectious diseases, leaving us all with a fear of catching a catastrophic  illness. What I was reminded of during my experience was that not everything that is transmitted from one living organism to another is a bad thing.

Let me explain. I met up with a friend and her friend to do a lovely day of hiking and running in my local mountains. As soon as we were in the parking lot there was laughter and silliness. I can tell you that the symptoms of having fun quickly were evident and we were spreading that infection up and down a mountain. When you come upon three grown woman who spontaneously break into song frequently it seems that smiles are transmitted to other peoples faces. The fun loving and friendly attitude quickly took over everyone we came in contact with on our journey.

I knew that these two were kindred spirits pretty quickly but the fact that we were all life long carriers was cemented when I told them that I sometimes like to run with airplane arms. Instead of questioning what I was talking about, our trail turned into a runway with three planes tilting and negotiating steep banked turns. We put in many miles that day on the trail and I knew that it was a good workout because my cheeks were sore. Laughter is good medicine and good exercise. These two ladies understood how the mountains feed my soul and that a positive fun loving attitude nourishes ones spirit.

Today a friend of mine posted something that reminded me that the best thing we can do for the world is be happy. So go ahead, be highly infectious and contagious in your attitude.... and next time you run, spontaneously break into song while you flap your airplane wings. I promise that the only thing this illness will do is cause a giant smile:)

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Being a Tumbleweed

If I were a plant I think I'd be a tumbleweed. Once again the wind uprooted me and I am blowing around. I spent the winter establishing a new home base but for the summer I have returned to Colorado. The beauty of being a tumbleweed is although I am blown away from my roots, over the years I have managed to drop seeds in several places. This means that almost where ever I am I feel like I am home. 

Returning to Leadville Colorado has been a giant homecoming. I have had family reunions with my Leadman family and have been out playing with my great friends. It really has been like summer camp for me. I am not racing this year and that has allowed me to do so many adventures I have dreamed of for years. 

One of my favorite places in the world is the top of Hope Pass. I love being surrounded by the majestic mountains and the serenity overwhelms me. This weed was able to get herself blown up there for a night. Opening the tent in the morning and looking out at meadows of flowers below the peak of the mountain was amazing. If I am ever to run the Leadville Trail 100 again, the memories of my night at the Hopeless aid station will fuel me for miles. I found great hope for the future and all the adventures to come while I was there. 

Good Morning!

Some women are flowers in the garden of life. I'm okay with being a weed, it means I'm hardier and unlike an orchid don't need special conditions to thrive. To really make me happy, let me be free and experience all the world has to offer. I thrive when I am outdoors in nature and my perfect date night is under the stars. 

A weed is a plant that has mastered every survival skill except for learning how to grow in rows.

I'm grateful for all the places I have blown and all the seeds I have sown for now I am enjoying the flowering of all my wonderful friendships. Tumble on:)

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Not a Lone Wolf

A while back I played one of those silly Facebook games. The one where you post a thing and everyone tells you how they met you. I know my life is full of wonderful people and it was a great way to be reminded of how many of them came into my life. Not surprising to me was that most of the people that I feel very close to I met through sport. What is surprising is that the sports I participate in are considered individual sports. Even more surprising to me was that so many of the people that I value I met through swimming.

For some reason swimming turned out to be the most social of my activities. Maybe it was the fact we were practically naked and in very close proximity to each other that we bonded so quickly. I found you got to know your lane mates very well over the course of a few workouts. You would learn who was a natural leader and who liked to follow. Some people were excellent mathematicians and surprisingly to me the accountants and engineers seemed to struggle the most with the clock. It was simple math but they couldn't quite get it????? The biggest thing was you found out who had a sense of humor, who you could count on to push you when you needed it and pull you when you needed that. Many a strong friendship was forged in chlorine and salt water for me. Some of my best training partners and friends I first met in the pool. I knew if we connected while staring at a black line we would do well out on the roads.

The bonds that I have forged over the years in miles of sweat, laughter and yes sometimes tears will always remain strong. Maybe it is all that fluid that has rusted us together. It could be that like army buddies we have seen battle together through strong winds, hail storms, cold snaps and heat waves. There is something about being stripped down to the raw essentials of who you are with another person that leaves you with a life long connection. Its the glimpse into the window of their soul when all the shades have been removed. We may not always be sharing training but once we have been training partners and bonded at that level we always have a thread stringing us together.

One of the hardest parts of moving for me has been leaving behind my tried and true partners in training. There is nothing like being on the wheel of someone who you trust completely and can predict what they are going to do before they do it. I miss my pals and the push they gave me but I know that in my new community I will find more people to add to my life posse, it just may take time. We all may be out there racing with one number on us, but never are we an individual, there is always a team behind us supporting us. To everyone I have met through sport, thank you for teaching me how to be tough and for all the good times. I may appear to be a lone wolf but I know that my pack is never far away and in that I find great strength.

"for the strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack"

Monday, May 26, 2014

Hibernation Ends

The bears that are causing bear jams all over the Bow Valley and I have something in common. We have both come out of hibernation. It appears that spring has arrived and with it we have started to venture out. I'm not sure how the bears decided that it is spring, I mean it still snows randomly, but for me it is that I can ride my bike after work without snow pants. I guess that is spring, and maybe summer too. 

As a way of really getting myself out of my den I signed up to do a local women's half marathon. Now I have been struggling with my little 'pelvis, back, abdominal' injury all winter and while I have my good days they are far between and my running isn't very consistent. Hard not to compare to last year but for every peak there is a valley. I am spending some time in the valley right now. One day I may climb back out of it. For now I am just trying to be all zen and in the moment and enjoy that I am out running. It was a beautiful race and I got to really look around and take in the scenery, for longer than I would have liked. There were women running around me that were having the best race of their lives and I had no right to be all mopey. Just like the bear on the side of the road causing the bear jam, I tried to be oblivious to what everyone else was doing and just enjoy foraging along after a long winter of hibernation. It worked, I got to the finish line in one piece and met some very nice ladies along the way. 

There was a time in my life that I would have been over the moon ecstatic with the time I posted. I would have felt that I had trained very hard to finish 21km. I didn't walk a single step of the way and in my 20's that would have been victory in itself. Now I post that time and my perspective has changed so much that I felt underprepared and slow. Who am I to judge and label my performance? This year isn't about pushing my limits or excelling athletically. This year is about getting back to the root of it all and having fun. Being kind to myself in the journey and celebrating that I love an active outdoor lifestyle. Not every year has to be about accomplishing a 'bigger' and 'better' goal or being at a higher fitness level. Right now, I am just going to spend some time enjoying where I am, the time you spend in the valley gives a different perspective than the time on the peak but it can be just as fulfilling. 
'My valleys are higher than most peoples peaks' Dan Gable