Tuesday, November 20, 2012

20 Year Plan

Just over 20 years ago I was sitting in my professors living room at a wrap up party for both my nursing education and our women's health course. During the evening she asked us all where we pictured ourselves to be in 20 years. What was our life plan? As I listened to the others and waited my turn I got a feeling that the girl sitting in that room would no longer be around. I couldn't explain it, but I knew that the person I was at that time wouldn't exist. When it got to my turn I wasn't able to articulate what I was feeling, this was really new to me. It was like an aha moment. I didn't have to know now what I was going to want to do and be in 20 years. In a weak response, I informed everyone that I thought the girl before them would be dead. Now, I didn't mean literally, but it shocked many people. I tried to explain, who I am now is just a fraction of who I will be then. Really, the thought of making a plan that went 20 years into the future freaked me out. After all I had only lived 23 years at the time.

The other graduating students all seemed so sure in their life plan, and I hope that it worked out for many of them. For me though, I wanted to be able to take experiences as they arrived and let my life be shaped as I went along. If the me then had made the plan for the me now I would have missed out on so many opportunities. I was told at the time that if you don't have a plan then you will let your life slip by without accomplishing what you desire. I made a plan then and there that I would try to go with the flow. When things presented themselves I would take advantage of the chance. My only real 'plan' was to have no regrets. When faced with a fork in the trail, to pick one and carry on.

It has now been over 20 years and that girl who was perplexed by the idea of a 20 year plan wouldn't even recognize much about herself. Funny thing is, I still remember her and I am grateful that she had the courage to know that there was so much out there. She isn't dead, she is strong and the driving force behind me still taking on new challenges. Although, she'd fall over dead if she heard that she was training to run 100 miles! If I could go back in time and answer that question now I would tell my professor and all my fellow students that my 20 year plan was to live a life where I don't keep a bucket list, instead I live the bucket list all the time.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

More than a Number

She steps on and then she steps off and back on, she looks around and then she glances down at the number. It's a scene played out over and over again in locker rooms and bathrooms, women stepping on the scale. Too often, that number flashing back at them determines who they are. More times than not, I see her step off with a grimace, letting that number tell her she is not good enough. Someone has determined what number is good enough and for her today, that is not good enough. As athletes we are obsessed with numbers almost as much as an accountant.

We are a society that is constantly measuring. Power, miles, pace, time, weight, how many races and placing. You hear it in conversations all the time. You did what race, what was your time? Did you podium? What were your splits?

Some people say that you are only as good as your last race. Do you really let a race or a number or a placing define you? There is almost always going to be someone faster, stronger and better than you are at anything, anything except being you. No one can be as good at being you as you can.

Currently, I am in the countdown to running my first ultra race. I am running a 50 miler. According to the race website I am a zero. A big fat ZERO is next to my name. I am at the bottom of the entrants list, I practically do not exist in their world. I am choosing to think of this as a blank canvas. So many possibilities.

Instead of fixating on the tangible numbers let us be defined by the intangible. Don't focus on heart rate, instead focus on heart. How much heart you have is way more than a number!

Run often and run long, but never outrun your joy of running. -Julie Isphording, 1990 LA Marathon winner”

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Light the Way

The path in front of me was illuminated showing me the obstacles and ways around them. To the side and back of me was pitch black. I could not see a thing. The silence was calming and I found myself heading in the direction I wanted without worrying about where the paths I did not take ended up. I was on the path I was on, and it was lit for me.

If only we could go through life with a headlamp showing us the way and the distractions around us being cloaked in blackness. Riding and running with only my own lights to show the way, I only see the obstacles that are directly in my path. I do not worry about the giant rock off to my left, I can't see it so I move on by it without a care.

I have taken on a huge goal for the next year. One that will present me with enough bumps in the road, I do not need to worry about the ones others are encountering. I need to stay my trail, choose my line and go with the flow. When you have enough lumens lighting the way it is easy to trust the course. My suggestion to everyone is to strap on a headlamp and head out into the world looking where you want to go. If you don't shine your light into the bushes, the monster eyes won't be shining back at you and you won't even know he's there.

Monday, November 5, 2012

My Monster

A monster has taken up residence in my life. He can show up anytime, anywhere. He is big, hairy and scary. He likes to taunt me and put doubts in my head. The only way I know to silence him is to run and bike.He mostly has me running though.

When did I first see this monster? The first glimpse of him was a shadow in the woods in 2009 outside a little mountain town in Colorado. He crossed my path again a few times in 2010 when I returned to the same town. Maybe it was just the hypoxia from the lack of oxygen in the air at that altitude but I promised him that we would become good friends. We would share many hours together and I would tame him... one day. We have been silently courting each other since the end of July. As of this morning the time has arrived to make our relationship public. As of tonight he will take up residence under my bed, in my closet and in my head. His name is Leadman and today begins my journey in domesticating him.

Right now, I am trying to keep him caged while I develop the skills to take him on. So far the cage isn't working very well, I might need a muzzle too and a stun gun. He already gloated at me when I had to fill out the part of the form that asked how far is the furthest I have ever run. Ha- you think you can run 100 miles in under 30 hours and you have only run 50km before. At first he had me almost crying but then I silenced him by saying when I signed up to ride 100 miles on my mountain bike I had never ridden over 50km on it and now I've run that same course- twice. Zing, he was quiet for all of  2 seconds. Then he reminded me that I had actually ridden a bike further than that though. That didn't leave me crumpled enough, he bared his teeth and pointed out that I am still going to have to ride my bike 100 miles in the dirt one week before I run 100 miles. Oh and throw in that little 10km the day after the 100 mile bike. But I won't even be able to go into those battles if I first don't complete the trail marathon and 50 mile mountain bike ride within the time cut offs. Yes, this monster comes with an army of scary friends.

The best way to defeat an enemy is to know them well. So, I am going to cuddle up to my monster, spend hours and hours with him and maybe just maybe come June 29th when I line up to begin the first battle of the war my monster will have become my ally.
A unicorn doesn't care if you believe in it anymore than you care if a unicorn believes in you.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

My Two Left Feet

The trail was flowing beneath me, we were partners completely in sync with on another. That was one minute and the next minute we were in a domestic dispute. That trail up and walloped me, left me battered, bruised and shocked. So why do I keep going back for more?

I remember the good times, the times where we could read each other and how it felt to dance together and I want to recapture that. Only problem is, I've never been much of a dancer, or very good at any choreographed movement. When I was in college I attended aerobics classes for fitness. I learned which teachers kept things simple. If the moves got too fancy (meaning we moved two body parts at once) I was lost. I would inevitably run into the person next to me and end up in a sweaty red faced mess on the floor. Classes that had the word dance in the title were therefore off limits. I like to dance, I'm just not under the illusion that I am any good at it. Of course when Jack or Jose are at the party I become a much better dancer. Smooth and flowing and most certainly in time with the music;) At least those party boys think I can dance, otherwise why would they encourage me so.

I have been told that running trails downhill is more like ballet than running. I'd be all for it if that meant simply that I had to wear a tutu. As it stands, I keep stepping on my partners feet. Instead of pirouetting I end up stumbling forward like I'd spent a few hours with Jose or Jack and landing in a heap. It seems I always manage to gracefully clear all obstacles with my left foot only to be caught up by my right. Making me the only dancer pining for two left feet:0