Sunday, August 23, 2015

A promise to myself: I never "have" to run again.

You don't have to try so hard
You don't have to, give it all away
You just have to get up, get up, get up
You don't have to change a single thing.
You don't have to try.
Colbie Caillet

The 5:00 alarm sounds and I hit the snooze three times.  I want nothing more than to sleep in, but I get up because I "have" to run ten miles today, and I promised my daughter I would be home before she woke up.  
There is no questioning whether or not I will go,  I've "had" to run at least 10 miles every Sunday for the past 12 years. 

Having a hard time getting going, I have my little toast and some cinnamon coffee and sit down with a magazine. 

The first article I start to read is about balance.  Looks like it might be a good one, but I'll catch it later, because I "have" to go run.  

Stepping outside the humidity hits me like a wave of nausea and I decide to walk for a bit.  My body, from my neck to my hamstrings is sore from yesterdays workout.  I'm grouchy because all I want to do is have a second cup of coffee, chill on the couch and write.  And then it hit me- so why the hell am I not doing that?  A slow morning is what I've been craving for weeks!  And I turned around and walked home.  

Training is such a tricky balance.  

When we work hard and see success, we think that more is always better. We fight ourselves to the point of exhaustion. We become moody, irritable and tired, as we catalyze deconstructive effects on our body. Why do we do this to ourselves?  Any kind of stress, be it physical, mental or emotional produces hormones and neurochemicals that create inflammation and supress our immune system.  
We are not helping ourselves here people!

So, I vow that I never "have" to workout again. 

 I will train because I want to be successful for an upcoming event, but I will not stress on the off season.  
(And I will have an off season).
I will workout with you because it is fun to get stronger together. 
I will run trails because that is where I feel most free.
I will swim because it creates balance in my life.  
I'll bike with the group that helps build camaraderie and friendship.
I will walk when I need to. 

But today, I will eat banana pancakes with my daughter. 


Friday, August 7, 2015

Nothing to prove

"I'm good enough.
I'm smart enough.
And doggone it, people like me!" 
Daily Affirmations with Stuart Smalley

I'm going into this post knowing that my writing may be a bit controversial.....but I'm willing to go there, based on the fact that I can't get this off of my mind for the past few days.

After a few grouchy 15 milers in the heat, I decided last week that running the 100 miler at Big Cedar (and training for it right now in 107 degree temps) was not going to make me happy.
I was not upset about it at all.  As a matter of fact I knew that dropping to the 50K was going to be smarter right now on the path building to my big goal of Leadville next summer.  The only reason I signed up in the first place was because I had a moment of insanity when the Ironman was over.
I simply didn't know what to do with myself, so I decided "Hey- what the heck?  I'll just go run 100 miles."

The first rule of ultra running is to respect the distance.  I knew that I wasn't doing that, trying to run this race with such a short amount of training; so I hired a coach who will help push me out of my leisurely zone 1 runs and I hope to really kick ass at the 50K distance on this trail that I love.  

When I posted this "announcement" on Facebook- a good friend commented that "The only person runners have to prove anything to is themselves."
Whoa.  That got me thinking.
Have I been trying to prove something to myself or others over the past few years?  Proving that I'm good enough?  Proving that I am worthy?
The truth is- maybe in the beginning, yes.  I used to be horrible at comparing myself to others, especially in the years that I was trying to qualify for Boston.  I had the nerve to think that "everyone was watching me."
Ha!  How egotistical is that?  The truth is, everyone is concentrated on their own shit.  Their own goals. Their own lives.
Whether or not I qualified for Boston, or bonked at mile 18, running was a gift.  A blessing.

When I started running ultras, I began to realize this even more.  With every trip that I took, breath of fresh air, mountaintop vista, flora and fauna, canyon echo and river crossing I learned to love running for the places it took me.  I learned how special each moment I spent there was.
The reason why I can run 100 miles is because there is simply no place I would rather be.

Maybe I am lying to myself, but I'd like to think I have nothing left to prove.
To myself.  To others.
It's all an illusion anyway, this skin that embodies us.

I just want to seize the day, and enjoy the gift.

Friday, July 31, 2015

"This is just another AFOG. Another F'ing Opportunity to Grow"

"So I just let go, of what I know I don't know
And I know I'll do this by living in the moment
Living our life 
Easy and breezy 
With peace in my mind 
With peace in my heart 
With peace in my soul
Wherever I'm going, I'm already home 
Living in the moment."
Jason Mraz

I had a taste of the secret to a free and joyous life this week.  It's so sweet and delicious that I have to share, and so simple it's shocking.  It's so straightforward that my mind doesn't want to believe it....yet in the past week I have softened ten fold, and I realize that deep within my soul, I  have known this forever.

So.... on this Friday evening I heat up a bowl of frozen mac and cheese, pour a glass from an $11.99 bottle of wine, and meditate that my words will speak to you, just as Anam Thubten's words have spoken to me.
One thing I do know as I get started- this shit is going to be real.

I have spent so much of my life believing that things just weren't the way they should be, and that somehow I would be happier if my circumstances were changed.  As many years as I can remember I have been living a fantasy story told to me by my own crazy thoughts.
As a child I thought: "I would be happier if I didn't have so much work.  Jody doesn't have to do chores...."
As a teenager I complained: "I never get to go out.  I would be happier if my parents weren't so strict."
As an adult my gripes were:
"Teaching would be easier if worked in a more affluent neighborhood."
 "If I didn't live in this city, I would have so many more adventures"
"If I just had a house in this school district...."
"Life would be so much easier if I had more money"
"If he hadn't gotten so sick...."
"If we could have worked it out..."
"If life wasn't so unfair......"
"If I was in charge...."

Thubten explains that this problem begins with our EGO.
 "Like a spoiled child throwing a temper tantrum- Ego doesn't except who we are or the way things are, and when we are under the jurisdiction of ego we don't accept anything.  We don't even like the fact that we are on this planet.......but there is nothing we can do."

So how do we placate this brat trying to get everything that he wants?  How are we supposed to deal with the everyday aspects that materialize in this life we live?

The answer is acceptance.  Easy as pie.

My best friend and I used to always quote: "It is what it is."
How is it that over the years I have forgotten that?

Buddha told us that "everything is emptiness."
All we have to do is accept everything the way it is, without attaching positive or negative thoughts.
There is no good or bad.  There just is.
We accept people the way they are without attaching a label to them, and we are able to love everyone and everybody.
We accept our circumstances as "another fucking opportunity to grow"- without attaching the demons of anger, doubt, loneliness or fear; and life becomes less scary.
We accept that where we are right now is where we are supposed to be without bonds to our job, or to a relationship, or to any moment.......   and all problems dissolve.
Lack of conflict = lack of pain;  and in turn we are free.

So what do we do?
"Surprisingly we don't do anything," says Thubten.  "Just by watching and being in the present moment, we find ourselves in a calm and peaceful space where nothing has ever happened."
How simple it is.  It does not require any special learning or religious rituals , this secret to happy life.
We just be.

Can you do it?  Can you stop fighting and just accept the way things are right now?
Can you trust that your life is unfolding just as it should be, grateful for every opportunity and experience?
Can you just let go?

Don't confuse the story for what your heart knows is really true.
You are enough.   Your life is unfolding just as it should be.
Sometimes we are just presented with another fucking opportunity to grow....and that in itself allows us to evolve.
In this moment, it's all good. Listen to your heart, and believe.

* Special thanks to Aaron Conner for sending me the book: No Self, No Problem by Anam Thubten
and for reminding me to always stay mindful and grateful for the present moment :) 

Friday, July 10, 2015

You get me high........

"I remember feeling this way
You can lose it without knowing
You wake up and you don't know which way
The wind is blowing

Ohhh ohhh, you get me high
You get me high
You give me something so deep
You get me high" 

Tom Petty

Today I felt like I was fucking losing my mind.  I'm not really sure how it happened.
Yesterday was all sunshine and pansies, but today I wanted to crawl out of my existence.
Over nothing.  (Well, a few bills and some tough love- but basically nothing).
Anxiety is a son of a bitch.

And then I went running.  Just 30 min at Arbor Hills trail while my girls played on the playground- and it all melted away.   Nature prevailed, freedom reigned and the answers came.  Endorphins are magical.

Thank you God that I found this drug called running first.

Friday, June 26, 2015

One year after Western States....what I know.

"Life is a mystery, 
Everyone must stand alone
I hear you call my name
And it feels like home"


I love running in the mountains so much.  There is no place I would rather be and when I am there I literally never want to leave; so when the opportunity to run Western States came to me last year through a sponsorship through Libby Jones and The Active Joe- it was indeed a dream come true.   You can read about that experience here:

Last year at this time, my life was a whirlwind of chaos and change.  Jorge and I had separated, and the crazy emotions that came with that rocked my world.  I quit my very unsatisfying job teaching (sorry- that was just me- I am in awe of teachers and all they do!) and started my own coaching business while also working for Run On!  My financial status was shaky at best, and I was so unsure of myself that I jumped out of an airplane just to prove to myself that I still had some guts.

Now as Forrest Gump would say, "Ultras are like a box of chocolates- so delicious....but you never know what you're going to get."  ( or something like that).
At Western States I was fighting a battle that has never been presented to me before-  THE CUTOFF  (cue daunting music).

That whole damn race I did everything "right".  My nutrition was spot on.  I didn't go out too fast.
I stopped to take care of my feet when I needed to. I smiled at the aid station workers and was mostly cordial to my amazing pacers.  I was one of 10 racers who ran a negative split, but the whole time I was fighting the damn cutoff.  I even heard the warning horns at one point for God's sake!

Doesn't it seem that in endurance racing there is always something?
It could be the heat, humidity, a side stitch, your stomach, stupid mistakes, going out too fast, falling off a cliff.......  That's just ultra racing.  Deal with it sister.

Doesn't it seem like in life there is always something?  An unexpected bill.  An injury.  You're too busy at work.  You gain weight.  Your kids get sick.  Your best friend dies.
Yep- you know what to do......

During Western States I kept hearing over and over in my head by my late friend and coach Mike (of that I'm positive) that if I just keep doing what I'm doing, I would be ok.  I would finish.
Yesterday, I was all knotted up  about building my personal training business, and what did I hear once again in my head?  Just keep doing what you're doing.  Stay patient.  You'll be a success.

In the past year I've started a new job where happiness greats me every single day.    Through love and forgiveness on both ends our broken relationship has been mended. I've stepped out of my comfort zone and completed an Ironman. I am working on book ideas,  dreaming of making enough money to travel the world,  doing my best to help others find their true potential, and am allowing more time to spend with my family and friends for fun and play.

What I know is that there will always be something.  Just keep doing what you do.  You are already a badass, and at the finish line it's completely worth it.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Because someday I will no longer run.

"No day but today" 
Jonathan Larson- Rent

The humidity covered me in a wet blanket as I headed out to run, but today, instead of pushing it away in anger and disgust, I embraced its warm moisture.  A sweaty slow run seems a small price to pay for the nourishment of this Earth that we depend on for life.  I slowed my pace, noticing vibrant green plants, blooming wildflowers and smiling faces; for someday I will no longer see.

I ran as hard as I could up the hill that I always dread, stopping at the top to appreciate the strong pounding muscle that is my heart; because some day it will no longer beat.

I allowed my lungs to burn for a second, feeling their almighty, life giving power; because some day I will no longer breathe.

I turned off my watch, allowing my legs to run the playful pace they wanted to; because someday I won't be able to run.

And as I settled in to a perfect rhythmic breath, becoming one with the Universe, she whispered to me-
"All of that is true..........but you will never die."

Friday, June 19, 2015

Life's Paradox

You know those circumstances?
The ones that you think will never happen to you
And when they do, they rock your world like a fucking earthquake?
The nights where you find yourself curled up in a ball on the floor, gasping for air in wailing denial.
The days that you take one hour at a time.
The months where you wish, hope and pray.
Seasons that stay frigid
Years of nightmares?

You know those moments?
The kiss that you never want to end.
Chocolate so sweet that you close your eyes to savor it.
Snow capped mountains and whitecaps on water.
Fingers entwined.
Seeing your breath.
Sunshine on your shoulders.
Loving so much your heart could truly burst?

The sun and the moon
Yin and Yang.
Man and Woman
Life and Death
You can't have one without the other.