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.  

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.  

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.  

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,

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

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,


penis grabbing,
potty mouth,
gum swiping (and swallowing),
lipstick borrowing,

too smart for his own good,
flash of


Gosh, I love this little guy.

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.
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!! 

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...  

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! 

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. 

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!  

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?  

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.

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

Friday, June 19, 2015

Exercising the Writing Muscle: On Trying a Tri

“Exercise the writing muscle every day, even if it is only a letter, notes, a title list, a character sketch, a journal entry. Writers are like dancers, like athletes. Without that exercise, the muscles seize up.” -Jane Yolen

I think having inspirational writing/work space is always nice to get the creative mind flowing!  I had this space all set up when we first moved in at the end of last summer.  However, since then, it has been taken down to be moved into another room (the home office that my husband is no longer working from) but I haven't set it up again.  Creating this space (as soon as I paint my office) is a must do on my summer list!  

It's no secret that I love to write.  At least I used to love to write.  And I'm pretty sure I still do.  However, somewhere over the last year or so, my writing has become less and less frequent.  Even my personal journaling.  Dusty.  Rusty.  Out. of. Shape.  So much so that I've gone from thinking of myself as a writer for the simple fact that I wrote daily and loved to write to almost delivering a disclaimer whenever writing comes up in conversation.  I say something along the lines of: "Well, I like to write.  And I used to write a silly running mommy blog and have started writing a book BUT...." There's always that BUT lately.  As if I'm a pretend writer.  A poser.  But what makes a Real Writer?  I'm sure this question would be answered in several different ways depending on who you are. It's certainly a question I've considered recently.  There's this voice in my head sometimes...that little voice of perfection and "not there YET" that whispers:  "Ha!  Why do you call yourself a writer?  You're not paid to write (consistently).  You don't have a long list of publications. You're not listed in any notable magazines...."  The list goes on.

But here's the simple truth:  I love to write.  I enjoy using words to tell my story, thoughts, observations, and reflections.  Writing daily is fuel for my life.  It makes me happy.  Clears my head.  Leads to connection and depth with relationships.  Writing is something I used to and want to continue to do daily.  As I teach my students when I teach writing workshops:  To be a better writer, you need to live a writerly life.  To be a writer, you write.  And just as with anything you want to be better at, you practice...or as author Jane Yolen mentions above,  you exercise!  As with running (or any sport), you don't have to be elite or at the top of your age group to call yourself a runner.  You RUN!  You practice.  You get out there and move your legs and arms! And if you make running part of your life, you're a runner. It's about your personal relationship with running and what it adds to your life.  There's no such thing as a "real runner" as I hear some people say when they are giving their I'm not good enough disclaimer when asked if they are a runner and they say: "Well, I run sometimes.  But I'm not a real runner."

So, here I am, missing writing in my life (public and private) and exhausted with the disclaimers we give to make ourselves less vulnerable.  As I exercise my body as an athlete, I'm exercising my writing muscle as a writer.

Running: Run, Bike, Swim
Running used to be my main way to exercise this body (and mind) of mine.  It still is.  However, since moving to Bend, physical exercise has involved so so much more.  Currently, I'm considering jumping in my first triathlon in just a few weeks.  I have never done a triathlon of any kind and it is certainly something that scares me a bit.  I've considered a triathlon a couple of times but never seriously followed through.  So why now?  Why not?  My body feels strong and capable from all the trail running, and after Boston and my trail 50k, I feel pretty strong in the endurance category!  So, it feels like a perfect time to do a first triathlon for fun without any expectations other for the experience.

Two things I'm pretty scared of when it comes to trying my first triathlon in these mountains:

  1. Steep downhills.  Climbing the mountain roads is no problem.  I can power/endurance through this!  But then you have to turn around and come down!!  I will burn through my brakes.  And with traffic and a narrow bike lane,  it scares me to think of fearless flyers zooming by me while I grip my handles, clench my body, and repeat my mantra: "Trust you bike. Trust your bike. Trust your bike."
  2. Cold open water swim.  Yes, I was on the swim team in HS but I was never the best swimmer and open moving water is way different than a pool!   
I think the ripping off the bandaid approach might be best for me here.  Not over thinking but instead, giving myself permission to go as slow as I need...no pressure.  And lucky for me, I have some great resources here in Bend.  My friend Corie (also a triathlon/endurance coach) has been such a huge support for me with my consideration of stepping un-tri-trained into an olympic or sprint distance Triathlon.  She's offered to take me out for mountain rides and river swims, loaned me her wet suits, and so much more.  Thankful for her!  

What little progress I have made towards this thought of jumping in a triathlon:
  • I bought clip-in shoes for my bike!  And so far, I have not crashed but I know just by typing this, I'm jinxing myself.  Knocking on wood now.  
  • A couple longer bike rides.  One was last week where I rode from Sisters, OR to the top of McKenzie pass.  This was about 30 miles of riding from what I was told so not too far but long enough to give my body a taste.  Climbing up the pass was no problem but coming down was a little scary for me.  Luckily, there were no cars on the road so felt ok about my awkward brake riding on the steep, windy decent.  
  • I tried a couple cold water lake swims recently.  Two of them were with a wet suit.  The wet suit was really a big pain in the butt ...what a process!!  However, it kept me warm and more buoyant so I didn't get the same panic feeling like I did the week before when I thought I'd just swim half way across the lake in my swimsuit no problem.  
What I'd like to work on in the next couple of weeks:
  • At least 2 more longer bike rides on steep roads.  
  • Trying to run right after a longer bike ride so I can get a feel for this. And riding after a swim.  
  • Two or three swims in the cold Deschutes River to practice how it feels and get more comfortable with my strokes.  However, you bet I'll be the breast stroker and back floater!  No shame.  
  • Actually wearing a swim cap next time I swim in the rivers or lakes!  Otherwise, the water in my ears leads to crazy vertigo that has me stumbling around like a drunk toddler. 
  • Maintaining endurance.  
If I don't feel comfortable and SAFE after practicing these points I listed, I will wait to find a triathlon further out.  But if I do feel ok at them even though I'll likely be super slow, I will certainly jump in and see what happens.  It might be my first and last.  However, it might spark a fire!  

My first road ride with my friend Corie.  She took me out to some less traveled roads but I was still pretty chicken!  And my crotch was angry (I need a better seat) even with the padded bike shorts.  This bike is so old but it does the trick for what I need it for right now!  

I'd considered typing up this post with a bit about running, motherhood and life in general but as I'm writing, my kids have stepped out of their beds and the RUMPUS has begun.  I have two girls in the kitchen (my eight year old and her friend) making pancakes, one rowdy almost six year old boy antagonizing his oldest sister, and a very non-morning person ten year old ready to eat said little boy/brother for breakfast.  Besides, in my attempts to exercise my writing muscle again, I think shorter is better.  I'll write on Motherhood and Life next time!

A quick shout out to my sweet friend (and amazing runner) Marci as she races Grandma's Marathon this weekend!  So glad to call her friend...such a beautiful and wise woman!

Marci in Duluth running Grandma's Marathon last year in 2:35

  1. Have you done a triathlon of any distance?  What one?  What was your first?  
  2. Any triathlon tips for a beginner who is potentially jumping in an Olympic distance mountain (steep ride, cold river swim) triathlon?  
  3. What's a "muscle" or habit in your life you miss that you'd like to spend more time exercising?  

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

Thursday, June 18, 2015

The Meantime: First Ultra, Cycling, SUP, Exploring Outdoors, and What's Next...

I've fallen in love with these mountain lakes and my new SUP comes in 5 days!  Another thing that might seem silly to some but fun to me:  Headstands on this thing.  GREAT core work!  

It's been so long since I've blogged.  It seems as if the longer I go, the harder it is to write again.  It's hard to find my voice on here sometimes.  I think this has come naturally with all the big changes in life over the last few years but now that we are settled and  have put down some bigger roots, I'm looking forward to finding my writing voice more.  Maybe that will be on this blog and maybe not, but for now I'm glad to be here today.  There have been moments in the last year where I've come to write on here and it all feels so silly and pointless.  I'm not sure why I've felt this way but more than ever I've realized how meaningful and powerful it can be when we share ourselves with others...when we write and speak our stories, goals, feelings, inspiration...  it's a light.  It really is. No matter how simple or plain or small our life topics feel when we share.  Chance are, when we are real and speak what is on our hearts and minds (deep and surface), there is someone else out there that can relate.  A connection. I've truly craved this authenticity and connection in my life...with my own sharing and in hearing about the real life happenings and heart of others.  Those that want to read will read and those that don't, won't.  It's that simple.

Sisters, OR (20 minutes from Bend)

So much has happened since my last post.  Too much to write about in the fifteen minutes I have before heading off to pick up my son from one of his last days of preschool.  I've run my first trail 50k, caught the SUP (Stand-up Paddle Board) bug, bought my first pair of clip-in bike shoes, gone on my first big road mountain cycling adventure (big to me...especially the down hills...holy scary!!), entertained the idea of my first triathlon in three weeks, attempted my first open water lake swim in a wet suit (different than without for sure!  And note to self: wear a swim cap next time so you don't look like a drunk crazy lady wobbling out of the water with vertigo), and overall, been enjoying the heck out of these great outdoors in the Central Oregon Mountains.  I truly feel home...finally!  I think I really realized this when I changed my Facebook header from my picture of fields of sunflowers in the Blue Ridge Mountains to the mountains I live in now.  I know, this sounds so funny and ridiculous but that picture was untouchable for a long time and I never could even think of changing it out because I missed Asheville so much.  But something has changed within me.  I love Asheville and will forever cherish my time there.  I miss it lots even.  However, something has clicked with me recently that wasn't entirely here before...like my bike shoes when they find their place to be clipped in to my pedals instead of sliding all over...contentment.  I'm growing here. My roots are taking hold and I'm in rich soil.  Amazing how this can finally happen when we surrender to change and allow ourselves our process as it comes.

I don't entirely know what is next in my life but I sense it is something big that I least expect.  This morning I woke up with a very clear sense of calm where I know I need to trust this process and be still for a bit as this next chapter unfolds.  The fall will bring an empty nest of sorts for me as my youngest goes to Kindergarten!  I've stayed home from my teaching career for five years now so I'm feeling a little graspy (if this isn't a word, it is now) at times recently... grasping for something that gives ME definition or my life a purpose. But I have a purpose and my next thing will come to me if I don't rush and if I'm open to using my gifts...I'm certain of it. Maybe it will be teaching and maybe it will be something I'd never imagined doing.  For now, my focus is soaking up this summer with my kids, being so so grateful that I CAN make this decision to be home with them (giving value to this personal choice), and entertaining new ideas of how I can use my mind, education, and passions/gifts.  Exciting blank canvas coming up here...I'm looking forward to painting it!

I'm ending this post with some pictures and captions and will plan to be back soon with more detailed writing on training, motherhood, goals, dreams, readings, and thoughts.  I've missed you Runninghood...I certainly am hoping to be here more often.

One happy girl after a day in the mountain sunshine, a cold mountain swim, plenty of time on the SUP, and my kids lost playing all darn day in nature!  A cold IPA was nice too!

More to say with this... After our first trail 50k!  What an experience!  And what a long time running!  And walking up looong inclines!  What I thought would be an easy sub 5hours turned out to be over 5 hours but a time I was still proud of for my first!  2nd in AG.  A well-run event with plenty of beauty, aid stations, and beer/food for the after party.  Oh, and this wonderful man next to me?  He ran it very untrained and didn't finish long after me.  Although, he's a little injured now because of it.

Third day of camping....wrapped it up with having Elk Lake darn near to myself besides a few sail boats and my kids and friends kayaking in the far distance. A quiet moment to sit on the paddle board and take it all in with a writing meditation and finishing a letter to a friend. My meditation was using my senses to take in my moment and be mindful...I SEE.... I HEAR...I FEEL... Going home happy, tired, full, and filthy!!! And my kids? They are disgusting!! Bath time tonight! Oh, and I tried my first open water swim with a wet suit but forgot the swim cap...humbling!!! And holy vertigo from the water in my ears...I looked drunk trying to walk to shore. Dear Bend peeps, please don't laugh at me if I jump in my first triathlon in a few weeks...I'll be the one breast stroking and riding my brakes down the mountain.

Ride from Sisters, OR to top of McKenzie Pass where epic views and a lava rock observatory awaited me! Wahoo! Besides a numb crotch and no brakes left on my bike on the fly down, I'm feeling on top of the world! And oh small town Sisters, you make this mountain girl's heart swoon!!
A whole gaggle of kids catching snakes for hours upon hours...their own world...entirely lost in play...filthy hands and bodies, fort building, imaginary worlds, stars so bright you feel like you're in a dream, fresh air, cool lakes, s'mores, stories by the campfire, happy dogs, building new relationships, long days...so close to home but yet worlds away! Renewal! So worth all the work to make it happen!! Memories for a lifetime.

Life is fast! But a blink of an eye. I think it's so valuable to slow ourselves down enough to reflect on just how much we really are doing... accomplishing...working through and making beautiful! This is especially true for me when I recognize those little lying voices of fear, self doubt and "not good enough" creep in this head of mine. We all have this to some extent, I think. This exercise of listing the big things in the last year was pretty powerful...the truth is on the pages! It's not about saying "Hey, look at me!" It's about recognizing our accomplishments and life high lights...when we acknowledge these things, we give life to MORe of them!  It's been a heck of a year ...from June 2014 to June 2015...so much change but in the midst of it all, there's been some pretty big and beautiful moments! It hasn't all been easy but it sure has been worth it! Thankful for this time to reflect and read my heart as I shift gears and think about my NOW goals and my goals for the road just ahead. Life, I love you.

Hope to reconnect with those of you that still write blogs and read blogs and that I truly do miss connecting with!

Mostly on Instagram for my blog these days!