Sunday, January 1, 2017

2016 A Year Of Riches

The end of one year on the calendar and the start of another often leads to reflection. 2016 was an amazing year and I want to thank everyone who was apart of it. In my time of reflection I am awestruck by abundance in our lives. Ours is a life full of love, laughter, friends and family. I am blessed with being able to live the life I love and LOVE the life I live.
Each experience I go through in life just leads me to see more clearly how really blessed my life is. The love and support through the celebrations and the more difficult times makes me know that we are getting something right in how we choose to live. It is our connections with others that truly is important. This year I have been blown away by the goodness and kindness of others and I know that this will prevail in our world.
Life doesn't always go as we plan and occasionally we have to take a different route on our journey. That's what makes life the greatest adventure of all. As long as your tank is full of love you can make it over the rough roads. When you are on a smooth easy sailing road make sure to enjoy it and take in the views. Always keep your sense of wonder and adventure at everything you pass on this journey. The scenery of our life shapes our futures. 
I measure my wealth in experiences and love. In reflecting on 2016 I see that I am wealthy beyond words. Thanks to everyone who was a part of it. 

Saturday, May 21, 2016

The Circus is in Town

I was halfway up the Flying Monkey mesa, my heart was beating in my ears when suddenly it was silenced and all I could hear were the monkeys. The chatter was incessant, blocking out all other sounds.  The monkeys were trying to take over with their antics and that is when it hit me. It is my circus and these are my monkeys!

I decided on a whim to enter a 100km race in Zion.  On the drive down to southern Utah to spend spring break playing and trail running I realized that the race fell at the end of our break. I was there, the race was happening, completely logical. I'm not going to lie, it has been a rough couple of years with an injury that took it's toll physically and emotionally. It felt like it was behind me BUT it had plagued the races I attempted to partake in last year and was therefore never far from my mind. The monkey on my back was getting heavy and I needed to shed it. What better way than to jump into a 100km at the end of a solid two week training block? 

That is how I found myself on the Flying Monkey mesa at the beginning of a 100km foot race. Instead of a single monkey on my back I found out he had invited the whole circus worth of monkeys and we were going to be spending a long day together. They were all talking at once..... 'that person in front is gapping you', 'sure you feel good now, but now is early', 'what the fuck are you thinking, this is a 100km and you've been in winter for months', 'you know this climb, be patient, when it kicks up you'll gain back', 'don't go too fast, you aren't ready for this' and on and on and on and on they nattered. I devised a plan.

If I was going to be in this thing, and this traveling circus was going to be following me, I needed to be in charge. These monkeys were under my big top and I was going to be their ring master. Instead of misbehaving, they were going to be busy doing acrobatics all day long. Each one had a job to do to make the act successful. They each had a corner of the ring to perform their trick for the whole act to come together. When one would get out of line, I the ringmaster would simple crack my whip towards them to keep them in line. As in any act when things fall into place the silence and peace settle in and the magic happens.

The magic in this case was as the race went on, and I didn't become hobbled or experience pain I felt the monkey on my back loosening his grip. I felt him fall off when I was descending the Goose Bump. Previously this descent scared me and I was VERY cautious and slow coming down it. What a difference 3 years can make. This time I flew off and was loving it, the monkey couldn't hold on. I can only hope he didn't hop on anyones else's back as they came down the bump.

The monkeys and I haven't perfected our act yet. There are times they still get unruly and I have difficulty reigning them in. I don't always have control of them but I am learning a few tricks to keep them from taking over the big top. The physical training and racing is one aspect but unless I can become a master of my mind circus, the monkeys will run the show. 

'Just because you got the monkey off your back doesn't mean the circus has left town'
George Carlin

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Vision Quest

Hard to believe two years ago I was creating the vision board of what I wanted to see my new life look like. I think it happened!!! It's the flowers you water that grow and my garden is blooming with beauty! Thanks to everyone who's been on the ride, lets keep this roller coaster of life going. How great is it all going to be two years from now!!! It's about the life in your years not the years in your life.

Adventures with Friends 

Life in the Mountains

Happy Places with ones I love

Quiet Solitude that remind me of the beauty of life

Scenery that takes by breath away everyday

Whisky on occasion, just because

Adventures that happen daily, even after work

I didn't even dare to dream I would have such a wonderful partner to share the life I envisioned with.

My daily reminder when I set out on my vision quest. 

'I have found that if you love life, life will love you back'

Live the life you love, love the life you live!!!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Getting My Ass Across the Line

WARNING, there are lots of Ass pictures in this post. 
Five years ago when I was in Leadville to do the 100 mile mountain bike race I first saw the burro races. I have never laughed so hard. I've always known it was something I wanted to try. SO, when my friend Paige told me how to 'rent' a burro I got on board. I decided I wanted to race a mini ass, cause what girl doesn't want to hear 'cute ass' all day long as she runs by. Thanks so much to Brad Wann and the Laughing Valley Ranch I was partnered with the Little Jacob. He won my heart instantly! I've always known I loved Jackasses. 

Pre Race Meet and Greet- Kiss My Ass

Luckily for me, Brad arranged a little practice session the day before the Big Ass day and Jacob and I got to do some bonding. That practice was invaluable. I learned so many little tips in that short period of time. I watched the 'pros' working their burros and I soaked up all the information I could. I also got tips from my very good friend Cathy and her mini ass Miguel. NOT to mention a special Donkey Balls package from them, AWESOME!! (yes I was told this weekend that I am a teenage boy trapped in a mid 40's woman's body). Two days later I've been told the Ass jokes have to stop now:( 
 Jacob, the cutest little ass EVER!!
After the practice I went home with some apprehension. Really, I was doing a race but Jacob was the one who would dictate the race plan. There was no doing anything if the ass said no. I had a pretty poor ass sleep......When I got to the corral in the morning I felt better, Jacob walked right up to me, he knew I was his runner- or he thought I had carrots.... Saddling him up I got a little concerned. Seemed Jacob may have been out on the town drinking beer the night before the big event. He was very bloated. Thought we talked about this buddy, whiskey only. Got the saddle on with no problem, the little sweet ass stood calmly and was making friends with everyone. Decided if you are running with a pack animal they should 'pack', so put my water and some food and some grain in the pack. Now I needed to test it out to see how it went. Jacob and I went for a jog. Well, that was the plan. Jacob must be very smart because when he saw the stop sign he stopped dead. 
Paige and Dakota meet Jacob

We were in the middle of an intersection and he wasn't going anywhere. People in their cars were laughing so hard. I was trying everything but stubborn as a mule comes from somewhere. It was a stubborn off and guess who won? That's right, you don't get to be a Leadwoman without being more stubborn than an ass!
Our pre race warm up check out the equipment 'jog'

In our practice I had noticed that Jacob liked to run behind big asses and drive their speed up. I knew that our pre race jog wasn't indicative of the race. I also was very concerned about how fast the start would be. I had told Jacob we were closers but like the no binge drinking, he might have forgotten the plan. 

Point of Maximum Dread at starting line- what the hell am I doing?

Luckily, Paige and I had a plan to stay calm and when the gun went off talk to our asses until we were ready to go. Amazingly, the boys partook in the plan and we had a perfect start. We set off jogging behind all the big fast asses. We kept a nice steady clip and got to the first hill, which is almost right away and is 3 miles long. 

Surprisingly smooth start, Paige and I were together and I ended up running behind the girls in the bottom all the way home from the top of the mountain.

Jacob got behind a nice ass and kept him going up the hill. He would walk at a snails pace and then we would get jogging again until he was up the other asses ass. Before I knew it we had worked our way past some of the men's teams who had started 15 Min's ahead of us. (their course was 22 miles compared to our 15). We had a nice system going and Jacob kept forward progress. He wasn't fast but he was going forwards for which I am very grateful. He did slow occasionally but after a few times I learned he had some farting to do. That bloated belly was getting smaller. Hey, I can relate.  At the first checkpoint we saw Wade and he looked pretty surprised by where that little ass and I were in the field. I couldn't stop to visit because once in motion stay in motion! 

showing my boyfriend what's in store for him

Being a virgin ass racer I really didn't know much about strategy. The wise and experienced Ken Chlouber had told me before the race regarding a plan, 'everyone has a plan until they are punched in the mouth'. It was a matter of strategy's on the fly. Jacob would trot along as long as he had a burro in front of him. The little guy likes to drive the big asses along. Therefore, all attempts to pass the ass in front were futile. When we saw some other asses up ahead I began my planning. We could gain on them until Jacob saw them and then he could get up behind them and drive them. Believe it or not, it worked. We got off the single track section on Ball mountain and passed the burro we'd been with and passed the new two. Then when a gap formed we settled in behind the new ones, there was no way he would lead. Maybe he has respect for the big boys? This ended up being our pack the rest of the way. We stayed behind them and when they got running Jacobs little legs were motoring. There were times I had to 'help' him along. Hauling ass took on a whole new meaning. 

Hauling Ass

One of my biggest pre race fears was if I was lucky enough to get in sight of the finish line my ass would stop. I've seen it many times and sadly it happened to my friend Paige. I knew that Jacob would chase as long as he had something to chase. Therefore, when we got onto Harrison I had him walk for a bit for the big boys to get a gap on him. We then started running and he had his sights on the target and kept it up right across the line. I was so proud of him. He placed 7th out of 24 in the women's race. BUT mostly importantly, he was the first mini burro. Those little legs could move. 

Finishing stretch

Jacob must have taken in some of what I said. He closed perfectly! I'd like to say it was my skills but I just got lucky and got a burro who worked well with me on that day. Would I have liked it if he was willing to pass and run on his own, sure but he wasn't so we did it his way. It was the most fun I've ever had in a race and he was the cutest ass I've ever had the pleasure to run with. 

Burro Race finishers, first mini ass across the line and in the prize money!!!

At the finish line you'd have thought Jacob won the race by the crowds that surrounded us. Seems that everyone has a soft spot for a little jackass:) I was just happy I got my ass across the line. 

Monday, July 13, 2015

My Running Hero

A smile on someones face doesn't mean they aren't suffering it means that they suffer in grace. Yesterday I spent hours witnessing perseverance and hard work in many shapes and sizes. I worked an aid station all day at the Silver Rush 50 mile foot race in Leadville Colorado. Everyone out there has their struggles. Whether it be a struggle to just get to the starting line or a struggle to get to the finish. It is how they handle the struggle that defines them, not the actual event. We all have to face our demons at one time or another, but people who choose to run ultra marathons seem to like to go to battle with those monsters regularly. I wish I could say that the greatest lessons I have learned about digging deep and suffering come from these races but they do not. The most heroic race I have ever witnessed was merely 2 km in length. There I saw true courage and perseverance and inner strength with character. I met my true running hero.

Let me explain. I spent the year working with special needs teenagers. One of these boys I took to his cross country zones races in the fall. He has a severe seizure disorder, but that doesn't stop him from having enthusiasm for fun. We lined up for the race and he was so excited that the grin on his face outshone the sun. The gun went off and instantly we were left in the dust. The other competitors had gone up the first hill and we were still crossing the stadium. That is when he turned to me and said 'Kiki, I am so fast'. At that moment I realized that if we all stopped comparing ourselves to others we might realize how amazing we are. 

We proceeded to run the race course. During this time he had several small seizures. Now, one of these would have made any other person stop and quit. That is when I learned about taking what life and the race hand you and continuing to move forward. I had tears in my eyes as I watched him stumble forward throughout the seizure. As soon as it was over he didn't miss a step and he put the throttle down and was running his full speed again. Makes a little blister or a tiny cramp seem kind of minor in comparison doesn't it?

These mini seizures were happening quite regularly but he soldiered onwards. When we saw the finish line in sight he found another gear. He was so excited to cross the line and 'win'. We had a downhill to go and he took off down it with me right next to him. Suddenly, I saw his body jerk and I reached an arm out in time to break the fall. This was a full on major seizure. He was on the ground for minutes. There was blood on his nose and his bladder relaxed causing his pants to be soaked. I was quite worried that when he 'came to' he'd be very upset. He doesn't like to be hurt. However, when it was over his first words were 'I need to finish my race'. He stood up and we walked for a bit, the first steps he had walked so far. When we got to the bottom of the hill he started running and he told me he wanted to cross the line himself. I got ahead and was able to be on the other side of the finish line from him. I have had tears in my eyes many a time at my own finish line but I have never been prouder than when I was standing there with a wet face watching him finish. The pride he had in his face was well earned and the perseverance he demonstrated was amazing. Overall it was a fairly good day seizure wise for him. His best days are our worst nightmares. When that medal was hung around his neck I've never seen a more deserved medal! 

Yesterday, I saw lots of perseverance and suffering out on the course. The leaders make it look easy but even for them there is suffering. The people who weren't making the cut offs all have a story and the fact that they were out there digging deep showed courage in every form. I saw people who thought their race was over at 30 miles regroup, do damage control and make it to the finish line. I know this year isn't the year I planned for myself for running, but I am still running and no matter how many times I stumble I will keep running.  My little hero taught me that it's not how many times you fall down that matters, its how many times you get back up and keep going. 

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Knowing When to Run

When I was growing up I learned everything I know about gambling from Kenny Rogers. In May I took a big gamble of my own and lined up for a really tough 100km run and had another 100km on the schedule 4 weeks later. Now, I normally someone who only bets on sure things and with the current state of my pelvis neither of these were sure things.

Part way through the first 50km of the first 100km race I was cruising along thinking that all was good. I was pacing myself well and starting to think how great it was going. I was thinking I was ahead of schedule and feeling good. In other words I was counting my minutes when I was still on the course. Forgetting that there would be time enough for counting when the race was run!

Gamblers know that when you are on a streak you don't know when it will end. My streak ended at about mile 20 when I did an air jump passing someone on single track and felt the jam occur in my left SI joint. At first I thought I could just run it out but every step caused me to tighten up more to the point where all the time I had spent running down mountains in training was negated and I was walking. I did all my 'tricks' and nothing was working so I plugged on. At this point I knew I had to walk away from the table before I was left broken. I hobbled to the 50km mark and that is where I handed in my chip and cashed out.

As soon as I got home I started intensive rehab and physiotherapy. Better late than never. I still had another chance in 4 weeks to test it. I kept reminding myself that a year ago I couldn't get through 10km without locking up, now I had managed to get to the 50km mark. Improvement of 40km. BUT I had thoughts of the 100 miler in August looming over me. If I couldn't get 100km done how was I going to go another 40 miles? 

After 4 weeks of rehabbing I put my chips on the table and lined up for another race. This time I knew I had to be all in. Once again it was going great, until it wasn't. At 45km this time I went from running smoothly to being locked up. Something just shifted and I was grasping desperately for good cards. That is when I wished I had some whiskey but I took some of Kenny's advice. I decided as I was getting a ride back to the start/finish area that I didn't have to cards to stay in the game this year. I had to walk away and so this year I will not be lining up for a 100 mile run. When I am at the starting line I want to know that my hand is solid and I have a chance. Right now I'd be playing against a royal flush with a very weak pair.  It was time to fold em. You got to know when to walk away and know when to run!

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!