Thursday, October 29, 2015

On Creativity

It feels weird writing a blog post.  So much for my writing streak I started this summer.  That didn't last long.  I'm ok with this.  I think this blog has served a very beautiful purpose in my life and it's ok that I don't write here much anymore...or at all.  But I'm writing here now.

I guess I should start with saying that I've been reading Elizabeth Gilbert's new book Big Magic.  If you know of the book, you know.  If not?  Well, you're probably not reading this post anyway or you'll google the book and read a description.



I. Love. This Book!

I don't think everyone will love this book.  In fact, I don't think the world works that way..where everyone digs the same books and ideas.  I think this is a GOOD thing!  How boring of a world it would be if everyone thought the same and was interested in the same same same! But I love this book.  I feel as if Elizabeth Gilbert speaks my mind and heart better than I do my own.  So far, most pages are met with a nod of my head and a "Yes, yes! Yes. She's saying it.  She's talking about this in a way that is so damn easy to read and relate."  She writes the book in a way that makes you feel like you are sitting right across from her having a coffee.  Her chapters are short.  Wording, real.  And she nails VOICE as far as good writing goes.  This book is an easy breezy read that inspires some good ol' reflection and thinking on a concept/topic that is one of my all-time favorites to chew on:  Creative Living.  And more so:  Creative Living Beyond FEAR, that tricky little shit that likes to get in the way and keep us from so much!

Last week, Muse Magazine sent out a post saying they have one free ticket to a sold out creativity/writing workshop here in Bend with none other than Elizabeth Gilbert herself.  WHAT?  Back the bus up.  Really?  Why hadn't I heard of said Creativity/Writing Workshop (yes, I'm capitalizing incorrectly here. Because it's important.) with E.G before this? So, they are giving this ticket away to one lucky winner who muses to their liking on Creativity.  I took it as musing on what creativity means for us in our lives.  What creativity is for us.  How we find creative inspiration. Who our creative muses are.  So open ended here.  The reflection on this topic is endless.  And it is incredibly energizing and inspirational in and of itself so really this "contest" if you will, is a win, win, win no matter who the lucky chosen one may be.  Those of you that have read this blog for awhile are likely not reading it now since I dropped off the face of the blog earth will not be surprised that this creative musing or musing on creativity is right up my alley.  Creative exploration with kids, inspiration, women inspiring women, creative healing, creativity and running,  journaling and collaging, and on and on and on...  surely a topic that has taken up a huge chunk of my blog hat here at Runninghood.  

Rather than post one. more. long captioned Instagram photo (which is what I've replaced this blog with) on this topic, I decided to blow the dust off my REAL blog and share some overall thoughts or reflections on creativity in no particular order:


  • Creativity is always there but not always awake.
  • Everyone has a creative side to them.  
  • Children are one of our greatest teachers of what it means to unguardedly tap into creativity.  I think this is one of the reasons working with children inspires me so much.  
  • Creative inspiration and inspired ideas almost have a life of their own...Creative inspiration is creativity awakened.  
  • Creative inspiration can consume us.  In a good way.  
  • The initial stages of creative inspiration (for me personally) are maybe the closest I get to feeling almost possessed with ideas... possessed isn't the right word...it brings horror movies to mind.  Inspired.  Spirit.  It's spiritual.  Energizing.  A constant flow of very real ideas that almost seem to project their full potential on a movie screen for me to see...feel... hear...Believe!  Then the work part comes.  The part where I have to take one idea out of the many and truly live with it.   I work for awhile. Then I get scared.  Self doubt, Fear, Someone-has-already-done-it-better, Overhwhelmed, Who am I to think I can.... Yup, all these old friends (even though they aren't any kind of friend I'd want) invite themselves over to hang out.  And they stay awhile.  And more often than not, they convince me to keep myself from freaking making magic happen!  And I know my ideas are good ideas because every time I come back to them after getting those stupid monkeys off my back, I am inspired all over again.  
  • Creative inspiration needs to to be nurtured.  It is worthy of cultivation! This nurturing will lead to a more fulfilled, passionate, purposeful life.  
  • Creativity or Creative Living doesn't mean we create something that makes us famous.  It isn't an impressive publication or degree.  It doesn't boast status.  
  • I've reflected lots on when the creative inspiration or awakening is in my life in the biggest sense.  I want to think more on this.  Lately, it has been during some pretty big changes or life events (moving across the country, surgery for my child...).  I wonder why this is.  I'm making a note to think more here.  
  • NATURE is one of my greatest muses.  When I am in nature (particularly when I'm running in nature), I almost always come back INSPIRED.  After a long trail run, I am filled with renewal, love, energy.  I'm given new perspective.  
  • Henry David Thoreau sums up the truest essence of what creative living means for me:  
It is something to be able to paint a particular picture, or to carve a statue, and so to make a few objects beautiful; but it is far more glorious to carve and paint the very atmosphere and medium through which we look, which morally we can do.  To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts.  Every man is tasked to make his life, even in its details, worthy of the contemplation of his most elevated and critical hour.  
  • Which brings me to:
  • Creative living is being a maker of our own life...the way we dream for it to be.  
  • Creative living IS intentional living.  Authentic.  
  • Creative living is not being a passive consumer...waiting around for life to happen TO them. 
  • Creative living involves telling our stories.  In whatever way that means for us.  
  • Creative living is seizing inspiration...living with it...breathing it...saying hello to inspiration and welcoming it into our lives.  
  • Creative living inspires gratitude.  Or is it when we have an abundance of gratitude in our hearts that we are creatively inspired?  What is the relationship/connection between creativity, inspiration, and the spirit of gratitude?  Coming back to this.  
  • Creative living involves actively participating in our dreams and expressing our heart.  
  • Creatively living is healing.  
  • When we let ourselves create or do the work we feel called to do--the work we are passionate about--we thrive. 
  • Creative living is listening to our hearts. 
  • It is passion in action.  
  • Creative inspiration can be be exhausting when we are creating a labor of love.  It can require all those powerful tools that help us accomplish anything worth doing:  dedication, hard work, goal setting, focus, pushing away self doubt and fear and continuing towards the goal.  All the good stuff we learn from training for and running marathons.  :)
  • Creative inspiration can be found in the most unexpected of places. We can have more than one Muse.  
  • Even the most creative people are not always creating or inspired to create. 
In wrapping up all my creative musings, I come back to the above Thoreau quote. It expresses so much of what creative living means to me..in how we can affect the quality of our life...living inspired, awake, intentional, purposeful!  For me, my children are a huge part of this...of this life I've created for myself.  They inspire me and I see magic when I see the world through their eyes.  They are part of the BIG magic picture for sure. They have been my greatest idea.  I dreamed for them long before they were born.


I could keep going for awhile here but I want to go to sleep so I'll stop with the bullets.  I think it is so easy for me to see all the things I haven't done with my life.  It's easy to see all the ways I feel like I've let big ideas die or examples where I feel like I failed or didn't pull through.  I could tally up all the accomplishments or dreams I've let fly off into nowhere.... 

But...

If I stop myself and look at my life from another perspective without that critic in the way, I can also see how much I HAVE created in my life.  I can see huge goals/dreams I've made reality.  I can see all the miracles and big magic moments that ARE.  I can see how creative inspiration has shaped my life all along.  I see a beautiful beautiful life that is exactly the way I would have dreamed for myself...in fact, it IS darn close to exactly what I dreamed for myself.  My career, marriage, being a mother to my three children who inspire me daily, the freedom and flexibility to be doing exactly what I'm doing.   I've followed through on many of my ideas and dreams and gone with creative inspiration a plenty.  I've taken from my creations what I've needed at the time and left the rest. Maybe I'll go back to the ideas I've dropped and maybe I won't.  Either way is ok.  Either way, I plan on living my life with inspiration and one where I nurture my creative spirit and find extraordinary in my ordinary.  For me, my BIG Magic is the life I am living right. this. second. It's my ability to "affect the quality of the day"...for myself and my family.  

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

My First Triathlon

Anyone who has read my blog for awhile knows I'm sporadic with my posts and my content is pretty varied.  Especially the last year or so.  Race reports and training used to be something I was better at once upon a time when I used to race more regularly, but even then, it was hit or miss with me.  In fact, even though this is still kind of a running blog, I haven't even written anything about my first trail ultra marathon in May.  I guess that's what Instagram has been for me... a platform to share my running, racing, life experiences and inspiration without having to write an entire blog post.  But here's an exception:  My first triathlon! A moment I will never ever forget and an experience that has left me smiling for days now!  

If I'm going to write about my first triathlon, I should probably back up just a bit.  On May 25th I ran my first trail 50k in Portland, OR:  The Trail Factor 50k.  Before that, I had run the Boston Marathon for an endurance training run.  This left me with a pretty heavy dose of endurance fitness.  And since I trained almost exclusively on dirt mountain trails, my body didn't feel torn down like it has with past training cycles.  After my 50k, I was still feeling so strong and hungry for the next challenge or adventure but wasn't quite sure what that would be.  Then my friend Corie who is always game for some sort of adventure or exploration.  My friend Corie kept asking me to go out and give road biking a try.  I pretty much avoided the topic as much as I could since I'd only been on maybe one real road ride before and I was actually rather terrified of riding on roads and going down big hills... and ... and... I had every excuse.  Old ratty bike, time, fear... But Corie, ah sweet Corie... she asked again.  And I said: "Yes!"  After all, who better to go out on a road bike with than Corie...Ironman x5, coach, and someone that is so so good on a bike!

My caption from Saturday after the race:  "Now THAT was fun!! First Triathlon in the books and I'm feeling on top of the world! Seriously the most fun I've ever had as an athlete...I think I'm in LOVE with this sport! I lost my fuel in the swim and dropped my water bottle with Nuun at mile 6 of ride but it all worked out. 3rd in AG and so excited to do another! My cheeks hurt from smiling! Now it's time to properly train for a tri! Bring it!!  Oh, and this girl? So glad to call her friend!"


Warning:  This post will have the name Corie typed at least 100 times.  Um, I mean how can I not include her in this post since she was a HUGE part in helping me get to my first triathlon in about a month.  

When I asked Corie how this whole triathlon thing started anyway, she sent me the following text conversations to remind me.  I think these were all around the second week of June.










I'm so glad I said YES!  It was this yes that opened a door to perhaps the most fun experience I've had as an athlete.

So, how did a triathlon come into the picture so soon after a 50k when it wasn't anywhere near my radar before?

Well, We were on our way back from my first official Bend road ride.  My crotch was sore. My shoulders hurt from death gripping my handles and brakes.  And I was pretty sure a car would hit me any second.  I was so far from having a triathlon on my brain.  Really, the thought of a triathlon just sounded scary and overwhelming.  I had thought about doing one a long time ago but never followed through because I felt too overwhelmed.  But something about climbing that last hill next to Corie who only ever makes me feel like anything is possible.... something about her words of encouragement and calm instruction...something about doing something new and facing my fear opened a door for me and made me start thinking about what it would take to actually do a triathlon... So, I asked what it would take for me to spontaneously try one out.  The rest is history!  From that moment to now the following happened:
  • Corie told me about the Deschutes Dash that would be coming up in only about a month.  
  • I considered the sprint triathlon.  She told me what that would involve and assured me it would be something I could jump into and be fine!  She told me she'd help me get there and be there for me on race day.  I still thought it sounded crazy but I kept asking questions...
  • By that night I think I had decided to skip the sprint and go straight for the Olympic distance.  I told Corie I wanted to do this and she again, assured me that I could and that she would help me get there in a month.  She said I'd just need some good bike climbs up towards Mt. Bachelor and some open water swims (which she would provide the wetsuit and guidance).  
  • I went on my first big climb of a bike ride.  It was incredible!!  I felt so good. I wanted more.
  • I finally bought those scary clip-in shoes at the REI sale and learned how to use them the same day. I then named my old bike: Mater from the movie Cars.  More here:  I'm Totally THAT Girl...We all start somewhere; Fitting the Newbie Part.  
  • I went on a couple rides by myself.  One of them was to the top of Mckenzie Pass.  
  • I swam in Elk Lake for some first short open water swims. 
  • I used a wetsuit the first time and swam in the river. Swim, Bike, Run: Lessons I've Learned in a Week. 
  • Hardest Swim and Bike Yet. We CAN do hard things.  I did my first big solo workout day where I rode my bike from my house up towards Mt. Bachelor:14 miles up up up at a steady clip. It wasn't my longest ride but definitely my hardest training ride up to this point. Then about an hour later, I swam the farthest I'd ever swam in my life other than my year on the high school swim team.  I'm not sure how far it was but I'm guessing close to 2 miles. It's not the distance that made this feel so hard but getting out there in open water and making it across the lake and back without freaking out.  I felt incredibly alive and proud of myself!!  Truly happy!  
  • I swam a handful of swims in the pool during my kids' swim lessons.  
  • My sweet friend Paul (also a FAST triathlete...he killed this race!) gave my bike a tune-up, adjusted my seat, and replaced my tires.  His only request was that I have fun and he wished for me to fall in love with triathlons.  He asked for nothing else.  So thankful!  
  • I freaked out a bit the week of the race. Ok, a lot.  I was definitely questioning myself.  My husband was out of town all week and I was feeling crazier than usual after full days with the kids.  The idea of a triathlon felt overwhelming!  So many unknowns.  
  • Corie heard my freak out and humored me by taking me out on a 20 mile ride of the race course 2 days before race day while my kids chilled with hers. Then she offered to hang with my kids while I swam the river.  I didn't do this after all but she was so kind to offer!! 
  • I was ready!  I picked up my race packet, set my outfit out, and read my athlete's guide from start to finish while studying the swim, bike and run maps.  Lay It Out Events really puts on such an organized event from start to finish!!  This multi-sport weekend was so impressive!!  
Race Morning:  

My caption from Instagram:  "Holy Moly there's a lot to prep for a triathlon!!  Wetsuit, bike shorts, fuel, hydration, running stuff...But I'm so stinking excited to try something new tomorrow!! Like really excited! A guaranteed PR and I get to have fun fun fun doing it in a beautiful place!  

I set my alarm for 5:45 on race morning. I didn't really need my alarm since I was only half sleeping all night.  But not a bad restless sleep...more like an excited restless sleep. I couldn't wait to get up and out there.  With an 8:15 swim start, I wanted to get there with plenty of time travel by bike, meet up with Corie, set up my transition areas, put on my wetsuit, and not feel rushed.  After coffee, peanut butter toast and packing my bag, I set out on my bike and rode the two miles from my house to my first transition point.  Corie was there smiling and happy to show me the race day ropes despite her own race day butterflies in entering a race she was far from in shape for compared to last year.  Some background: Her last year's time would have won overall this year. However, her time this year was still pretty darn impressive with a first in her age group and 5th overall woman.  


Warm morning, bright sunshine on my face, and setting up our second transition.  So full of happy butterflies! 

Something that sticks out in my mind the most about getting set up for this race was just how helpful everyone was.  Everyone I talked to was excited that this was my very first triathlon and willing to offer any advice or tips!  LOVE this community!  I got tips about hanging my bike, getting my shoes on/off, cutting down my transition time,  and so much more.  The morning was warm, faces friendly, and I was feeling nothing but JOY and happiness at being out there and ready to try something so entirely new!  Some words that I read from a comment on Instagram that resonated with me so much before, during and after my race: 

"Enjoy the feeling of being Alive."  

YES!  Yes!  This is it!  This is why we do this.  This is why we climb mountains, travel, seek adventure, push our bodies and minds in new ways... This is what it's all about:  Because we are ALIVE and we CAN and when we say "Yes!! to life, we feel what it means to truly LIVE Fully!  

Swim


Wetsuits and swim caps have to be the LEAST attractive attire I've ever worn.  Seriously, Holy Unflattering!  Ha!  Like a bunch of aliens.  

After dropping our running shoes, we grabbed our wetsuits, caps and goggles (and my ear plugs) and walked down to where the swim would start.  As soon as I had everything on, I went from super excited and happy to scared and nervous.  I wasn't panicking but I felt like I could if I didn't talk myself down and... breathe.  Corie's husband came over with her kids and they were so full of positive energy and encouragement...this made me feel calm and ready!  Once we got near the water, Corie was there by my side explaining exactly how the start would go and offering suggestions on getting out there in a good spot, staying calm, swimming my own race, etc.  The great thing about this triathlon for a first is that the swim is down river so this makes is so much easier!  As soon as it was our turn to go, I settled into a steady swim, only interrupting my stroke a few times to look ahead and figure out where I was.  I  didn't use breast stroke after all like I thought I might.  Instead, I felt strong!!  The best part about my swim:

When I was nearing the end of the 1300 meters and going under the last bridge, I happened to look up and hear (through my ear plugs) my husband and three beautiful kids cheering their hearts out for me!!  How they found me is beyond me because we all had red swim caps on and I'd think it would be pretty hard to pick out my number.  Their cheers made me smile so big and finish strong.  

When I got out of the water, I wasn't tired so I know I can push this next time and still have lots to give. I'm actually excited to get faster and stronger with swimming.  I've come to really enjoy being out there in the open water. I ran out onto the grass and towards my bike smiling from ear to ear, waving at my kids who were cheering with all their might, and ready to hop on my bike and climb climb climb!

Note to self:  Lube up my neck next time!!  My wetsuit chaffing looks like a big hickey!  



This picture pretty sums up how I looked and felt for most the race:  Happy!!  


Bike
Once I got to my bike, I had quite the struggle getting out of the wetsuit.  I was laughing at how silly I must have looked sitting on the ground yanking at my feet.  At one point, I heard my son say: "That's my MOM!"  This made me feel so loved and proud to be their mama.  As soon as I got out of the darn wetsuit, I was quick at getting my shoes and helmet on and getting out there ready to ride!



And I'm off with my bike (not the woman with her butt in the air but the one running with the bike)


One of the first things I reached for as I started my ride was one of the Huma Gels I put in my back pocket.  Uh oh.  They were gone! I guess they fell out in the swim or came out when I was getting my wetsuit off but I had no fuel.  I wasn't too worried since this wouldn't be as hard as a marathon effort-wise and I get by ok off of only one or two gels and some sips of sports drink.  I had my water bottle with Nuun Energy and I'd be sure to take a sip of the Gu Brew somewhere on the course.  No worries.  So I took several sips of Nuun Energy and I was good to go.  I began to pass people one by one on my way up.  This was Fun!!  I felt so strong but still wasn't pushing myself to the point where I'd be exhausted.  I actually don't think I really know how to push myself on the bike and swim just yet like I do with running.  So much to learn here!  And so much time I can take off just by getting better at these sports.  At miles 6 I took another sip of Nuun and then I dropped my bottle!!  No hydration. No fuel.  Ugh!!  I wasn't going to stop to get it because...well, first time or not...this is a RACE!  Ha!  So on I went... Up Up Up.  I kept passing people and kept feeling happy and excited and ALIVE!  At one point a girl passed me and I asked her if she knew if there was fuel at the top.  I commented on her Nuun bottle that was just like mine and told her I lost all my stuff.  Then she offered me an extra pack of Honey Stinger Gels and I gladly accepted.  So kind!  I thanked her at least 3 times...once on the bike, when passing her on the run, and at the finish line.  I didn't end up eating the entire pack but just having 2-3 of them was nice.  Some bullets about the bike:  
  • 25 mile ride. Still traffic so passing had to be quick and safe.  
  • First 12.5 is up towards Mt. Bachelor.  Quite the steady climb.  Some portions steeper than others.  
  • The next half is down down down!  This is the part I'm most proud of.  I thought I'd be gripping my brakes the whole way but I was actually so brave here!  I went at a pretty good clip for me!  I remember paying attention to my self-talk and it was something like:  "I'm so proud of you Amanda!  Yes!  You're doing so awesome!  This is so much fun!!"  
  • I'm surprised I didn't finish with bugs in my teeth because I was seriously smiling the whole way down!  
  • The thing I think I might be most proud of?  And don't judge!!  I peed a little on the bike.  On purpose.  Why?  Um, because I had to pee really bad, knew the run would SUCK with that full of a bladder and I wasn't about to stop and waste 3-4 minutes peeing in the woods.  I waited until I was going downhill to respect those behind me.  :)  And because, I was told by my Ironman friends that this is what they do and that it takes a lot of practice.  So, I figured Why Not?  I might as well practice.  I'm so glad I did.  :)  
  • I had my Timex watch from the start but I strapped my Garmin to my bike and used it to gage my speed.  
  • The funny thing about using my Garmin set to run mode is that I gaged everything in mile splits instead of MPH.  I tried to keep my first half (mostly up) around 3:30-6:30 pace but on the really steep portions it went into the high 7's (more like a running pace!).  On the way down, I was thrilled with my 2 min mile pace.  ha ha.  And some 1:5x mile pace.  My husband made fun of me for talking about my ride in mile pace instead of MPH.  
Run Run Run


My kids were cheering and high fiving and jumping up and down for me at the start of the run!  So fun.  I was so ready to catch some people.  

I'll start by saying:  This sucked.  Ha!  First, I'm not in 10k shape.  Second, it was half trail and a hard course.  I started off fast and thirsty thirsty thirsty but couldn't really tell my pace for sure because my Timex watch was cloudy from the swim and my Garmin was full from all the laps it took to record the bike ride.  Grrrr.  So I fiddled with it for the first half mile and ended up deleting laps and starting it around .75.  For much of the race, I kept a steady 7:25-7:55 pace with paces much slower on the climbs.  At one point I even walked a bit up a hill.  I know this is much slower than any 10k pace I've ever run but I knew I was still feeling pretty strong for the end of my first try at a triathlon.  And I was passing people like crazy!  I passed so many of the swimmers and bikers who kicked my butt earlier.  If the run didn't feel so crappy and I wouldn't have felt so hot and thirsty, I might have enjoyed it better!  48:08 was my 10k time (slowest 10k to date as I would expect) and I'm more than happy with this! In looking at the official results and seeing swim, bike, run and transition times, my run time was the second fastest of all the female finishers.  Of course, the elite and sub elite didn't race but... I'm proud of this!

Heading to the dirt trails
Seeing my friend Kristen from Glitter and Dust.  She's one of the fittest pregnant women I know!  


At the end of my run, as I came in towards the finish, my oldest daughter came up to me yelling: "You've got this Mom!  Kick it in!  Finish strong!"  Then my other daughter and son came running up to join in and they all ran me towards the finish.  Oh, this was so so special!!  I finished strong and exhausted!!

The finish.  I look awful but this picture is priceless with my kids following! 


At the finish line, my son says: "Did you win? Did you win your age group? What place did you get?"  
Me:  "I won MY race!  I won for me.  It isn't about winning the whole race but I did my best today and I feel good.  This was my first time at something and I was scared but tried it anyway."  

End results:
  • Third in my age group (so so unexpected!)
  • 13th woman overall
  • Finishing Time (not that this means much since every course is so different):  2:45:16 .  IF I had a time goal, I really wanted to at least get a 2 in front of my time!  I smashed this goal and so excited about this!  The official women's results should be able to be seen here:  Deschutes Dash Olympic Tri Women Finishers

I definitely want to try another triathlon.  I'm not a huge fan of the cost required to simply register for a half or full Ironman but it would certainly be something I'd love to do.  Part of me wants to do it with all my old gear and train as minimally as I can.  I know how easy it probably is to get caught up in the keeping up with the Joneses mentality when it comes to this caliber of triathlons but I don't want to get caught up in that.  I'm fine with my $17 goggles and tri top I bought on clearance.  Yes, I'd like a better bike someday and I still need to borrow or buy a used wetsuit.  But otherwise, I'm just fine with keeping things as simple as I can.  I couldn't ask for a better training partner than Corie so if she was on board, I just might have to go for another SOON!  Then when she qualifies for Kona, maybe I can fly to Hawaii to cheer!!  Or who knows what life will bring...Maybe I'll be competing with her!  Ha!  Wouldn't that be a hoot?  Considering how tired I am today, I'm fine cheering.

So, there you have it...another runner who caught the triathlon bug!  I'm still a runner at heart...always.  But, triathlons sure are fun!

Have you done a triathlon?  What distances?
Do you want to do a triathlon?  
Do you think the cost of a Half or Full Ironman is worth it?  

Amanda


Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Hardest Swim and Bike Yet. On Facing Fears and Trying the New: We CAN Do Hard and Scary Things.



Magical night at the lake after my hardest bike and swim yet! See that beach over there on the other side of the lake?  Not a big deal to some, but a huge deal to me to swim there and back!  


I'm convinced more than ever in these truths:
  • We can do hard things!  
  • Life is so much about what we imagine. It doesn't just happen TO us...we play a part in dreaming it up and deciding how it unfolds.  
  • There are limitless possibilities for our lives.
  • If we are too scared to try something we feel pulled to do, it pays to muster up the courage to just. do. it!  
  • We all start somewhere.  Start where YOU are.  
  • Talent, ability, fitness, education, experience...yes, these all make a difference when it comes to doing something well.  But HARD WORK pays off beyond all of these.  Hard work and belief in ourselves and knowing that we can ALWAYS learn and try something new!  
If you would have asked me a few years back if I could see myself even considering a triathlon, I would have answered rather indifferently.  I had no desire, really.  Yes, I've had fleeting pulls or thought I would try one on a whim but I've never followed through.  And if you asked me what I thought about open water swims and road biking up mountains and in traffic, I would have said nope!  No way.  Not my bag baby.  At the time, I was focused mostly on running and other goals.  However, there was a part of me that was also held back by the fear of the unknown.  

Mid 2012 marks a time in my life where my world was filled with many changes (some shared and much not).  Some of the biggest happenings of 2012-2014 involved facing some pretty big and deep rooted fears and ideas in this head of mine. There were times I had to fight hard for myself and what mattered most to me.  Times I didn't know what to do. And times I had the choice to either surrender to what was hurting me or fight back and face fears like I had never done before. It's still weird to me how the same two years were not only some of the hardest with the biggest personal work but also some of the most exciting, beautiful, and adventurous.  I know, this is all so vague but the point is:  Hard things make us stronger.  Facing fears teaches us that we are stronger than we ever imagined.  Beauty, purpose, and joy are there on the other side when we believe in ourselves enough to get there.  I'm thankful for these years and this work...I was shaped and grown in ways I never expected. I'm thankful that when life threw me these curveballs that rocked my world and dug at my deepest roots, I could see the vision for what I wanted most in my life with my family, the people that mean more to me than anything else.     I wouldn't trade any of it for the world.  I wouldn't go back either.  

I know, I'm talking about two different topics here:  Some deep, personal life stuff and then swimming and biking adventures!  But believe it or not, the two are connected very much so!  What we learn about our life when we accomplish new feats as an athlete, most certainly carry over to our every day life.  When we push through a difficult race or workout... when we challenge ourselves to get out there and do something that scares us... these lessons come back to guide us in our LIVING!  Likewise, when we push through difficult life experiences that might have otherwise changed us entirely, broken us, or pushed us off course of our best path-- when we fight for what we want most in life--the strength and lessons that come from this help us as athletes.  

Bike
For the longest time, I've had huge fears of road biking on roads we share with traffic.  Those bike lanes just aren't wide enough!! And people aren't always alert while driving.  I'm the same with running...get me away from traffic please!  I'm still a little timid here.  However, after getting in a few road rides, I'm feeling more and more confident.  And just this weekend, as my family was preparing to head up to Elk Lake, I decided to ride my bike from our house as far towards the lake as I could until they caught up with me.  I told myself:  TRUST.  Be Brave.  And I did!  

My ride involved lots of traffic!  Especially since it was a hot hot weekend where cars were heading for the Cascade Lakes in caravans!  Then add the roundabouts to get to the main road...these are tricky for a beginner.  For those of you that don't know much about Bend, many of the main roads here on the west side of town have roundabouts instead of stop signs.  This can make this newbie road biker kind of nervous.  The good thing is that Bend is VERY bike friendly and there are bike lanes almost everywhere.  

Once I cycled the four or so miles to Century Drive, all I had to do was head UP and out towards Mt. Bachelor.  People ride this route all the time!  In fact, it is the route for the olympic triathlon I'll be doing soon.  Might as well practice, right?  Elk Lake is 24 miles (a lot of climb) once I got onto the Century Dr roundabout.  Century Dr turns into the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway where yes, yes, there are some amazing views.  However, this makes riding up slightly scarier for me since it would be only natural for people in cars to want to look over at the views and not the road.  Back to thinking positively.  People ride this all the time.  Yes.  So, I did too!   

I made it a good 14 miles (not a long bike ride in itself but with the up hill, it made for a good workout) before my husband and kids pulled up in the van to take me the rest of the way.  By then my legs were jello from the work in so much uphill riding.  My crotch was entirely numb as well.  A numb crotch is really only good for one thing: Childbirth.  Otherwise, I like having normal feeling, thank you.  Note to self: get a new gender-friendly bike seat.  It was so sweet to see my kids jump out and cheer for me as I approached and transitioned into my running shoes to run a bit on tired legs.  "Go Mommy!! You can do it!"  Ah, this makes my heart smile just typing.  

Run
I didn't run long after my ride.  Just enough to get a feel for what it was like to jump off a bike after a hard effort and get my legs moving in a different way.  In fact, I haven't been running a ton lately in general and I MISS it!  I'd like to fit something in today in between carting kids around to swim and play.  

Swim
Once we got to Elk Lake, I thought I might get in the water a bit and test the wetsuit, goggle, swim cap combo while fitting in a few strokes.  I had no plans of actually swimming my longest and most difficult swim of my life!  But once I got in the water and looked across the lake to the beach on the other side, I wanting nothing more than to make it all the way there and back.  I'm not sure what I was thinking entirely but I went for it!  For the sake of time (my kids are up now and we have to dash out for swim lessons), I'm switching to bulleted swim points:
  • I'm not the strongest swimmer but I'm not a bad swimmer either.
  • I'd like to be able to breathe on both sides like I do with pool swimming but in open water, one side is the best I have right now in order to get the air I need.  
  • Wetsuits make me feel safe since they add buoyancy.  
  • There was nobody out on the lake when I was swimming.  This was a little scary for me at times!
  • When I was turning around to come back, I realized the water was rough and small waves were coming towards me. This made it much harder to swim.  I started to panic just a bit at the thought of making it all the way back and being out there alone (NOT smart of me...I know!) but backstroke and float definitely is a blessing when it comes to resting!!  
  • Right as I was starting to panic, I looked up and there was my Knight in Shining Armor:  My husband on a paddle board coming out to support me!  Oh, THANK GOODNESS!  From there on , I was SOLID! With him by my side, I can do anything!  
  • I made it!  There and back...from the Lodge at Elk Lake to Sunset Beach (actually right before..I didn't go up to the beach).  I have no idea how far that is but you can see some of it from my picture at the top of this post.  

My messy happy endorphin self after swimming a lake and biking up a mountain!  

Beautiful night for mudpies.

Can't wait to do some laps in this pool!  For now, I'll enjoy watching my kids swim.  

I'm cutting this post off here.  No wrap up paragraph....just enough time to run upstairs, throw a suit on, get three kids breakfast and out the door for a sweet summer day!

Happy Tuesday,

Amanda
Mostly on Instagram with my blog these days with pictures and long captions.  :) 


Thursday, June 25, 2015

Motherhood: Lessons, Celebrating SIX and a First More Challenging Mountain Bike Experience

In light of staying with my writing flow, I'm forcing strongly encouraging myself to sit down and write.  I have no preplanned post or pressing idea to write about.  However, it IS my youngest son's birthday today,  June 25th.  The house is quiet with sleeping kids, my coffee hot, and I'm waking up with such a heart full of gratitude and love.  So happy to celebrate SIX with my little guy and to see him walk down the stairs and see his presents and enjoy this day he's been buzzing about and counting down to for almost a month now.

Such a gift it is to watch our children grow...  

What a journey motherhood has been.  A gift beyond any measure.  Each of my children, unique...beautiful...wise.  I've learned from them.  I've been challenged, stretched, and gained lessons I never imagined.  I've learned about
love
patience
heartache
frustration
hurt...

I've learned that when you see your children succeed and find true happiness, it fills your heart with such contentment and joy.
I've learned that when your child struggles and is hurting, our hearts can feel pain like we never imagined.
I've learned what it means to love unconditionally...that you can be angry and disappointed and hurt but yet still love so fiercely.
I've learned more than ever that each day is a new page to start over and be the best we can... hard work, forgiveness, acceptance...
I've learned that when I love myself and show my kids my imperfection as well as my strengths, I'm giving them a gift that is priceless.

I've always thought this picture sums this little guy up quite well!  SPUNK! 


My sweet boy is six today. How did SIX Happen?!  Oh, what a journey it's been.  Woo wee, he has rocked my world in ways I never expected!! It's been a wild and beautiful ride and I'm so grateful to have years to come.  He's been the source of so much of my writing on here...I've vented, celebrated, poured my heart out, and done an incredible amount of parenting processing with him in mind.  Some of my favorites with him in mind:

And an excerpt from this post when he was two and I was neck deep in BOY energy:  Two Year Old Boy.  No Wonder I Run.  

One wild,
full of life,
ready to take on the world,
LOUD,
Always-HUNGRY

Demanding,
binky-loving,
purse-wearing,

penis grabbing,
mischief-making,
potty mouth,
spark-in-his-eye,
gum swiping (and swallowing),
lipstick borrowing,

too smart for his own good,
flash of

TWO YEAR OLD BOY!!

Gosh, I love this little guy.
But
I
AM
TIRED!


So Tired.


And Humbled Daily by this child that seems to push every last button and tap into every last bit of energy that I have.  This two-year old boy train is a way different ride than the two-year old girl train was.  And combining it with the four-year old emotional girl train...well, woooo weeee!  I need my marathon training just to keep me SANE.  But it really isn't working because on any given day, I'm pretty CRAZY.
Nuts
Pulling my hair out.
THAT MOM with crap all over her face and shirt,
You know, the one that can't control her kid in the store.
The mom that is basically wearing a sign that says "Do as I say not as I Do" since she is yelling at her kid to stop yelling and use an inside voice.

The mom that has obviously run out of tricks about a week ago or just too tired to use them and now just tries desperately to convince her toddler and everyone else that she really is the one in control even if she doesn't believe it.

Yep, that's me.


But life is still good.  Just busy.  My bundle of boy blesses me greatly and, as all my children do, teaches me about myself and all the riches that life has to offer.  I wouldn't trade my days with him for all the money in the world.


I love you my sweet boy.   Thank you for adding color to my life.  You are a blessing.  

So much more I'd want to express in this post if I had time.  How can you wrap up motherhood and what your child means to you when you only have 15-20 minutes to type?  I can't.  This morning before writing here, I wrote to my son in the journal I've kept for him since before he was born (I've done this with all my kids).  As I was flipping through the pages and remembering snippets of his life over the years, I found letters, first words, funny memories, birthday pictures from each year of his life, hand prints... so glad for these treasures!  What a treasure.  And someday... this journal and the posts about him (even the ones about him being ornery) will be a gift to him when/if he becomes a father.  

---------------------------------------------
Her fearlessness and strength inspires me!  

And now for a quick 10 minute afternoon minutes to wrap this up.  Since I wrote the above, we've celebrated with a birthday breakfast and presents, and done a birthday celebration at my son's school (also his last day at this Montessori school).  In between camp drop-offs and pick-ups, I made my way to some of my favorite trails where I can run for miles and my dog can run leash-free most of the year.  This spot also offers some of the best mountain biking around so my ten-year-old daughter took her bike along and tried her first more difficult mountain biking experience.  She ROCKED it!  She amazes  me.  Even on some of the more technical portions of these trails, she radiated fearlessness and strength. Down steep hills, around boulders, powering up climbs, navigating the curves through trees and then hitting up the jumps at the end! I saw a side to her I've never quite seen before and qualities I admire greatly!  She almost has me wanting to try mountain biking but I'll leave the more extreme sports to her and her Dad and I'll stick to running trails...I feel much more in CONTROL this way!  So special to share these trails with her in this way and hear her marvel at the beauty in much the same way as I do.  

So neat when we get to a place with raising our kids where we realize they are grown up in ways we haven't seen yet.  Capable.  Strong.  Independent.  When we see them taking on the world fearlessly!  When we can actually take them along on our adventures and have them not only keep up but WOW and inspire us!  Maybe someday she will go Mountain Biking with me and teach me a thing or two!  Until then, I'm excited to have her along while I run. 

I'll end this post with a comment on my last post (about my triathlon and wetsuit lessons I've learned so far) that made me laugh!  Heather says: 

 "It took me a good ten minutes of struggle to get my wetsuit on for the first time. Then an athlete who had been watching me the whole time approached me to tell me the zipper goes in back. Argh!!!!!!
I love swimming though! I'm that weird one!!"

Happy Thursday!  Those of you in Oregon:  Stay cool this weekend!  Holy HOT temps!! 

Amanda
Mostly on Instagram with my blog these days with pictures and long captions.  :) 




Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Swim, Bike, Run: Lessons I've Learned in a Week. And Putting on a Wetsuit is Half the Work of the Swim Portion!

I'm still on a writing streak!  Who knows how long it will last or if it even matters much but there is something about writing on here publicly that is a different kind of writing exercise than writing privately.  So, here's to day 5!

As I've mentioned in the last few posts, I'm seriously considering jumping in my first triathlon and using the fitness and endurance I've gained from my marathon and ultramarathon training.  Plus I have four weeks to learn a few things.  AND one special friend who happens to be an Ironman x5 athlete and coach to teach me a few things and join me for workouts! She's been beyond generous with letting me use her wetsuits and whatever I might need.  Oh, and she never makes fun of me for my old gear and ignorance when it comes to swimming and biking.  In fact, she makes me feel as if I can do and be anything I want while teaching me just by being who she is an sharing her knowledge.   Feeling grateful.  Corie moved here not too long ago from Oklahoma with her husband and three kiddos.  They decided they wanted a life change and now live here. Not only do they call Bend home, they truly take advantage of all it has to offer!  Corie's posts about their adventures and exploration here in Oregon have opened my eyes to lots.  Without someone like her, I'm not sure I'd be doing nearly as much as I am lately when it comes to trying my hand (and feet, arms, body) at swimming and cycling!  

It was only a bit over a week ago when I went out with Corie on my first real road ride.  Since then, I've had three really great rides, a few open water swims, and even did my first track/speedish workout in quite some time today!  Really, I've learned some big lessons in a week or two and I'm excited to learn more!  

A short recap below...  

Swim
Yay for an evening open water swim in the Deschutes River!  

Last night I met Corie at a spot on the Deschutes River where I was able to practice swimming in the cold river as well as swimming in a wetsuit again.  This time I also borrowed a swim cap so I wouldn't get water in my ears and end up with major vertigo.  This swim was a pleasant surprise.  Having another swimmer with me was such a COMFORT!! I was able to relax and actually practice my stroke a bit as well as get my heart rate up.

Here's what I have learned about the open water swim (particular in this river):
  • Looking ahead while swimming.  Corie showed me how to transition from my side breathing to looking ahead without having to stop swimming to see what is in front of me.  I will need a bit more practice with this.  
  • Getting a wet suit on and off is the hardest part!  Ha!  Seriously, getting that thing on is hilarious! Here's me below trying to yank it on before our swim.  Oh, and I've learned to use the padding of my fingers so I don't rip a hole in the wet suit.  
  • Swimming upriver can be nice! I can get a fantastic swim workout in the Deschutes River by swimming just a bit down stream and then swimming up against the current for most of the time.  You don't go very far but you definitely work hard!  
  • I'm no longer terrified to do the swim portion of a triathlon.  Scared, yes.  But terrified, no.  As long as I accept the fact that people will hit me in the head and be flailing about, I will just go with it.  And no shame in the beginners float, backstroke, or breast stroke.  No shame at all.  I'll crawl stroke the best I can and take breaks when I need!  
  • I have visuals for how to start taking my wetsuit off as I'm walking out of the water so I can transition to the bike more quickly.  However, I won't be like Corie and have my shoes already clipped on the pedals so I can jump into them.  Ha!  
Getting on a wetsuit is no joke.  Serious business! 

Bike
This morning I woke up early and met Corie for a bike ride up towards Mt. Bachelor so I could get used to the course that will be part of the Deschutes Dash Olympic triathlon.  I have been a little worried about how steep the downhills are.  After today, I have no doubts I can comfortable ride this route/distance in a race.  I will still be slow on the steeper downhills but I know that even with my slower bike, I will be able to hang going up! There are actually several portions of the downhill where I will be pedaling to gain some speed too so not as steep as my ride up McKenzie pass last weekend. What a beautiful ride this morning!  Twenty miles to start today...10 up the mountain and 10 down.   It was early enough to where there wasn't very much traffic at all and we were able to ride side by side for much of our ride!  Us, wildflowers, and mountain views!  Oh, and I can see why so many of you are early risers...not a bad way to start the day at all!  In fact, I can see myself doing this more and more often.  Yes!  

On our way down this morning.
A few things I've learned about cycling:
  • Riding with clip-in shoes isn't so scary after all.  In fact, I can definitely see how they are helpful.  
  • Thanks to Corie, I have such a good visual of what an efficient turnover should look like while I'm pedaling.  As soon as she described what I want my feet/legs to be doing, I was able to practice this and visualize along the way.  
  • Looking at the white line separating the bike lane and road when going fast can be helpful when zooming by shaded areas or parts of the road with a guard rail.  
  • Trust my bike and relax my hands and body.  
Oh, I also learned that bike shorts make you look like you have a penis even if you don't:
Looks like I'm wearing a diaper. Or have a penis.  
Naming my bike. I named my bike Mater after that scrappy looking truck in the movie Cars after Corie told me her bike was named The Biscuit after Seabiscuit: "Though he be but little, he is fierce."  Still wearing my diaper. 

Run
Today when I dropped one daughter off at a camp and had an hour to pick the other up at the same spot, I took advantage of my time and hit up the track for some light speed work.  With all the endurance training and trail running leading up to my 50k, it's been forever since I've done track work.  I didn't even do much at all but it is so very obvious how out of track/speed shape I am!  Woo wee!  I did four 400s and four 200s with warm up and cool down.  Simple.  Pretty sure my 10 year old runs a faster 400 than me right now!  Granted, I wasn't running them all out but I was surely tired!  I've been running and racing for over 20 years (this makes me sound OLD!) so I didn't learn anything new today but I was reminded: 
  • Start where you are. 
  • Your body remembers.
  • You can build fitness faster than you realize if you're patient and take it one day at a time.  
  • You can be in shape in one area (endurance) and really out of shape in another (speed).  
In taking this time to swim and bike, I desperately miss my trails even though it has only been a few days.  My dog is missing his trail runs too.  I hope to get out there early tomorrow to get my trail fix!  However, bottom line:  It sure is fun trying something new!  

I loved reading your comments on my post from yesterday.  Thank you.  I hope to get some time to respond soon!  

Amanda
Mostly on Instagram with my blog these days with pictures and long captions.  :) 



Monday, June 22, 2015

I'm Totally THAT Girl! We All Start Somewhere...Fitting the Newbie Part!

Exercising the writing muscles post #4.  I'm on a roll here.  And it's helping...I feel my writing brain waking up out this deep sleep.  There's still plenty of goop in my writing eyes but daily writing exercise is clearing that up quite quickly.

I have 20 minutes tops here (post note:  didn't make that 20 minutes so came back to finish later) since today is the start of some new summer camps for my kiddos so I have to have them all out the door with clothes on and food in their stomachs in a half hour.

Goals for this morning:

  • Write something
  • Get the kids to where they need to be ON TIME
  • Plan for my son's 6th birthday party this week!  How did he get to be 6?!  I remember writing about him so much on this blog when he was 2 and 3...oh, boy oh boy, did he make good writing material!  
  • Pencil in at least 2 days this week where I can practice an open water swim in the Deschutes River and a bike ride up and down on the course where my potential first and untrained (properly triathlon trained) triathlon will be.  If I can do these things somewhat successfully without freaking out, dying, drowning falling off my bike, burning my brakes out, and having my crotch fall off from my old needs-to-be-replaced bike seat, I'm IN for a newbie, try-it-out Olympic triathlon in 4 weeks.  
Speaking of triathlon newbie.... I'm a runner.  Through and through.  I've run for as long as I can remember.  My first race was when I was around seven.  My dad, brother, grandfather, cousins, great grandfather...they all ran.  I guess you could say running is in my blood.  Running feels natural and is something I rarely go a week or even a few days without.  I know what I'm doing when I go to a big race.  I'm on auto-pilot these days when I make it through the expo, packet pick up, corral line-up, and water stops.  I have my system down for pre-fuel, pacing, warm-up...all that runner and racing stuff that goes with running.  HOWEVER, yesterday when I rolled up my driveway on my old bike after a ride to test out some rolling hills and my new (ugly) clip-in shoes, I laughed when I saw how ridiculous I looked! 


Who needs fancy bike socks when you can wear the cotton neighbor boy's socks you found on the floor by the door?  


I'm THAT GIRL.  And I will be THAT GIRL if I jump in this triathlon.  I'll be that person that is so painfully and honestly a NEWBIE who is not only clueless but doesn't give a rip about how she looks doing this new sport!  I'll be far from fitting in and looking legit when it comes to a triathlete.  It's quite funny really.  Just a few things I noticed yesterday when I caught a reflection of myself in the car window:
  1. My old bike.  I originally bought my Trek 1200 as a beginner bike to train for a triathlon way back in 2003ish.  I thought a triathlon sounded cool but never actually did it.  Instead, I used my bike to commute from downtown Portland to the suburbs where I taught (part ride, part train).  Since then, it has been used for commuting and local riding.  It needs new tires, brakes and tune-up for sure! 
  2. See previous bullet about bike but add the commuter bike rack I've been cycling around with!  This will look a little silly in a triathlon (and does now even when I'm cycling with my cycling friends) but you know, I think I'm going to keep it there just because!  It adds to the character of this whole first timer thing.  
  3. Regular running visor under my helmet.  My helmet is probably a youth size Huffy helmet or something.  Okay, kidding on the Huffy.  Remember Huffy?  Who had a Huffy bike?  
  4. NOT-so-hip cycling socks.  Yesterday I wore some random boy socks left here from the neighbor boy.  Good ol' cotton boy socks.  
  5. Handle bars leave my hands black...must get to the bike store and buy some new tape to wrap those babies up! 
  6. My husband's camel back pack...so NOT cool.  But it does the trick:  hydration PLUS tools for my bike just in case!  The extra weight is just making me stronger, right?  
So, when it comes to jumping in my first triathlon, I will most definitely fit the part.  I'll be THAT GIRL!  Oh, and you BET I'll be that girl doing the breast stroke for most of my swim portion.  Or better yet, I might be floating on my back or hitching a ride with one of the paddle boarders or tube floaters.  Maybe I'll look the part for my second triathlon if I make it that far.  

I desperately need new bike tape for these handle bars!  

I think I should keep the commuter rack on this bike for this potential triathlon...just for kicks!  It surely makes a statement of some kind.  


In all sincerity, as much I really do notice and acknowledge how silly I do and will look, I have never been one who gets caught up in having to look a part.  I don't get too wrapped up in the fashion show side of sports (or life).  A runner who is wearing generic cotton shorts and tanks and an old pair of Reebok shoes can just as easily kick ass as someone decked out in Lululemon and boutique running apparel.  I believe this is true with a triathlon as well.  Yes, good gear makes a difference!  A faster bike would be worth the investment if I were going on to more serious triathlons.  So would taking the commuter rack off the back of the bike!  It would also be worth my investment to get all-around better  gear eventually.  But in the big picture, it isn't about how legit and decked out we look that makes us a good athlete.  I have no doubts that if I do this triathlon, I will work hard and give my best that day...no matter how untrained or ridiculous I look on race day!  I'd rather look like a silly newbie and do it with authenticity than be a pretentious poser! 

What about you?  Have you ever felt ridiculously new at something...as if you stood out like a sore thumb?  


Amanda
Mostly on Instagram with my blog these days with pictures and long captions.  :) 


Saturday, June 20, 2015

Strong Women and What Your Feet Look Like as a Bend Trail Runner in Summer



Happy Saturday!  Third post in three days now...how's that for exercising my writing muscles?  Thank you for your comments and emails about jumping in a triathlon.  It's been so helpful to read your tips and advice.  Kristen's comment made me realize more than ever how thankful I am for having strong and supportive women in my life.  Not just women but friends and mentors that are there to inspire, guide, advise, and be there to help you along your way.  I feel so fortunate to have had so many people like this in my life.  Recently, I've seen this to be especially true.  I think a big reason for this comes from being in a place where I have rooted and am reaching out to my community more... making friends, connecting, and being open to building new relationships (work and personal).

This morning was another reminder to me of how thankful I am for strong women in my life.  My friend Carissa is here on vacation with her family and she reached out to myself and friend Shelley to see if we wanted to run a long run with her.  I'm so glad she did!  And I'm so glad I got out of bed early to start my day with a trail run with these two women!  Our 13 mile trail run felt like only 3 miles with the good company and beautiful forests.  And I drove away feeling mentally, emotionally, and physically charged.

One of the things I loved the most about my run with Shelley and Carissa is how refreshing it was to be out there with women that inspire me.  Capable women.  Intelligent women.  Women that read and have ideas. Women that challenge themselves and seek new opportunities.  Mothers.  Athletes.  Professionals.  Women that make me think.  Women that uplift and support.

I found my sixth person for the book club I'm starting!  Shelley.  And if Carissa lived here, I'd ask her to join too.  We aren't going to have a book club where we read only books but it will be a group of these women who want to learn and be inspired.  We will read articles, listen to podcasts and enjoy books of all kinds (entertainment and educational).  And I'm 100% certain that these 6 women will inspire, support, uplift, and encourage each other to find greatness and be our best selves! We will learn together and challenge each other.  I'm excited!!

And below is a picture of what your feet look like when you come home from a long trail run here in Bend in the summer!  Gotta love the dry, hot, mountain dirt!  Looks like I'll be hosing down with the dog this summer before I'm allowed in the house!

I know, nasty dirty legs!  


Thanks also for those of you that asked about my trail 50k.  I just might be back soon to write a bit more about that!  Lots to say.

Oh, yeah, and before I forget something so exciting to me.... CONGRATS to my good friend Marci on her marathon PR today at Grandma's Marathon!!  2:33:33!!  4th woman overall!  Love this girl to pieces.  I'm so so thankful for her, another very strong, supportive and wise woman in my life! Can't wait to take her out for a congratulatory beer when she comes home to Bend.


Amanda
Mostly on Instagram with my blog these days with pictures and long captions.  :)