Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Whether you THRIVE or just survive- the choice is yours

"Woe is me is not an attractive narrative." 
Maureen Dowd

I've had some WTF moments in my life,but none quite as bizarre as the day I received an email saying they were shutting down the gym.....my workplace, because people in America were no longer allowed to gather together.  It's been three weeks since that day, and I have since danced with all stages of grief.
Shock.....how could this be happening?
Denial....just a few weeks and everything will be back to normal.
Anger.....you know I can't sit still, and why the hell is it raining every damn day?
Bargaining....well, I guess I'll apply for unemployment benefits.
Depression....I miss my job, and my friends. What the hell do I do now?
And finally testing...how can I regain any sense of passion in my life.
Friends, I KNOW we can get through this, but I've discovered that it's going to take a real sense of remembering our purpose.  It's going to require drive.

In his book Drive, Daniel Pink tells the story of Harry F. Harlow, a professor of psychology at the University of Wisconsin who in 1949 set up an experiment on learning with monkeys.  Using puzzles, he was able to discover that the monkeys not only had a biological drive, but they also had an intrinsic drive.  "The joy of the task was its own reward."   The joy of the task takes us beyond our needs for human survival.  The joy of the task is what helps us to THRIVE!

So, how do we find purpose in times like these?
In his article "How to Find your Purpose In Life" Jeremy Smith suggests 6 simple ways to get back on track.
1.  Read  It's easy to get lost binge watching tv or browsing social media.  Sit in the sun, escape with a novel or learn something new!
2.  Cultivate Gratitude and Altruism  Catapult your default position of griping and negativity by focusing on the positive.  If I were to force you to admit it, I bet you do have very much to be grateful for.  Let that energy to inspire you to do something nice for someone else. 
3.  Listen to what other people appreciate about you.  Maybe you're like my friend Abrea who can make a killer playlist.  My friend Daina led a "Raise your Vibe" ride last week to help to get us out of our funk.  Maybe you made a mean pot roast last night.  Whatever people say that you do well- do more of that!
4.  Find and build community- your people are still there.  Send the text or make that phone call.
5.  Tell your story.   I love, love, love people like the Holderness Family who make funny videos on how they are surviving at home.  Their willingness to be vulnerable is a gift that brings us all together.  In our story, we find our truth.

Today, I am not doing the depression tango.  I'm sure we will dance another day.... but MY purpose has always been to inspire.....and so I set to seek real solutions.
We can get through this, but we must refocus on what really drives us.  Choose love over fear
Choose to THRIVE.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Let's call it for what it was....an exercise addiction

" You've got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold em 
Know when to walk away...and know when to run."
-Kenny Rodgers 

Something happened to me last week that I just can't seem to shake.  I've sat on it a few days-analyzing (and over analyzing) the situation;  until it finally occurred to  me why I have had such a hard time being around the running community lately.  Hear me out......

Friend I haven't seen in a while:  "Hey!  It's been a long time! How are you?  Are you running much these days?"
Me:  "Well, some.  But not as much as I used to."
Friend:  "How many miles a week are you running?
Me:  "Oh- around 20."
Friend:  laughs out loud.  Literally.  

Now I'm not sure why that was so funny, but I am sure that it made me feel like shit because it has taken me 3 years to come to terms with my exercise addiction.  I don't run as much as I used to because it is not physically or mentally healthy for me anymore.  That does not make me lazy, or unmotivated or a lesser person or runner....it's just right for me, right now.
There was a time when running may have saved my life, but I got lost in my ego and the accolades I received.  My whole worth was based on how long, how far and how fast I could go, and in the process I left behind people I loved.

I will never forget the first Sunday morning that I skipped my long run to sit on the porch with a steaming cup of coffee (and a smokin' hot guy) to read the paper.  It felt so right....but a fog of guilt hovered above me all day.  Sometimes I still feel that crazy guilt....like its not enough to just do one exercise activity a day (Thanks Ironman).  But I'm working on it- so please don't laugh at me.

I have the utmost respect for endurance athletes.  I am one.  I made a lot of friends, climbed a lot of mountains, ate a lot of gels, and slayed a few dragons along the way.  I am so proud of the hard work that I put in during those years.  But I also am so embarrassed at the hours (days) I spent training.

I still love to get outside and play.  Running makes me happy.  I kick ass every once in a while, and have fun doing it.  I've created balance in my life.

That is enough. 
I am enough.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

How Not to Bonk- in Running and in Life

"If you can't fly, then run, 
If you can't walk, then walk, 
If you can't walk then crawl, 
but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward." 
Martin Luther King Jr. 

They say a lesson will keep repeating itself until it is learned; so here I find myself running consistently AGAIN, starting over in my business AGAIN, and facing the challenges that come with any loving sort of relationship- AGAIN.  The questions are still there and the never ending  doubts are STILL there; but thanks to endurance training, I am slowly learning how not to "bonk".

For those of you who may not be familiar with the running term; "bonking or hitting the wall" according to mcmillanrunning.com  is to "reach a point of exhaustion where you experience a sudden or dramatic reduction in your pace.  It's not tiredness.  It's exhaustion of body mind and soul."
Oh man... I've "bonked" a time or two in my life, and it is not pretty.

I climbed that wall again for the first in a long time last Friday as I was running in "feels like" 99 degree heat without acclimation.  I was under prepared, and the demons of humidity sucked my life force like a vampire.
I felt so pissed!  I've been here before, I should know better by now!
Before I knew it, an avalanche of memories washed over me.  Hey dumbass- how about this time, we actually try to apply what we already know works?  For example, I know that:

1. You have to be prepared.  In order to succeed, the right equipment, nutrition and tools are invaluable.  If you don't get in enough calories  or water, your body will stop working for you.  The right shoes, socks and clothing can make or break your race.  And don't even get me started on lube......chafing is not sexy.

2. You need a well thought out plan.  We can all bullshit our way through the day, but do you have a plan to help you to get from point A to point B; or even better from point A to the finish line?  Where even is the finish line?  How is the terrain?  Are there trail markers and aid stations to help you get there?  What small steps can you take today to get a bit closer to the goal.  Know the answers, and plan for them.

3. Find your tribe.  Who do you admire?  Who will help you along the way?  Who is your coach and who makes up your team?  Do they encourage you and lift  you up? We are who we hang out with.

4. Listen to your body.  You can feel it coming.  Whether it's training or life, you know when things feel "off".  Maybe you and your partner haven't been talking as much lately, or you are starting to fight.  Maybe you start coming in later to work because you just don't feel driven anymore, or maybe you have a nagging pain that won't go away.  Listen to your body, rest when you need to, and fill your soul.  This life, this job, this relationship is a fucking ULTRA, not a sprint.

5. If you get a little lost- get back on track.  Ugh- I hate this one!  You're trucking along thinking that you're going the right way, and then you haven't seen a trail marker for a while.  You know you're on the wrong path.  You're not making the money you want to make.  You're looking for your kids who have wandered off the main trail, and you're hoping your relationship isn't headed south.
Back track a bit.  Remember why you started this race in the first place.  Gather those who want to continue on the path with you and find your groove.  You'll still get there - it will just take you a little longer.

6. Finally- remember it doesn't always get worse.  There will be good days and bad days, uphills and downhills, sickness and health.  What do you need to do NOW to get going again.  Maybe it's a day off, or a massage, or dinner with your spouse.  Maybe it's just taking care of yourself by exercising and eating well, or watching a movie that will make you laugh.  What will it take to get you moving and feeling well again?  You always have options.

When I was running the Western States 100, a recurring thought kept popping into my head:  "Just keep doing what you're doing and you will make it to the finish."  As I try to rebuild my business for the 3rd time, train for a race in the Texas heat, and keep those dear to me close; that is my mantra.
With love, passion and relentless forward motion- I will keep showing up.   I will keep doing what I'm doing.
I'll slow down and walk if I need to or crawl if I have to, but one thing I know for sure- the "bonk" doesn't mean the race is over.  It probably means I need to give myself a bit of love and grace.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Where the F**K am I?

"Go confidently in the direction of your dreams!  Live the life you've imagined."
Henry David Thoreau 

It's every trail runner's nightmare.
You're in the zone, dodging rocks and roots, flying on the downhill, feeling free and confident; when you realize you haven't seen a trail marker in a while.  You panic......what the hell?  Should I keep going a little further to see if there is a marker coming up soon?  Should I go back to the marker I saw about 20 min ago?  You stop and think....and realize that the only way to get back on track is to head back the way you came.

Dammit.  The whole 2 miles back, you curse yourself.  There goes your opportunity for hitting your race goal.  Three people passed you while you thought you were killing it!  Now you have to put in the extra mileage when your legs already feel like lead, and you curse the dumb ass race director because it must be their fault for such shitty trail marking. You walk for a while,  head down and wallowing in self pity, until you see that trail marker and realize.... it was all you!
It was your mistake.  You're the dumb ass.

I feel like I've been missing the trail marker, and getting lost in my professional life lately.   Am I even on the right freaking path?  Did I make a wrong turn back where the two roads diverged?  Does the trail have to be filled with so many ankle breaking rocks and roots? Why won't anyone help me?  And for God's sake, it's as hot as hell out here!

But going back to my trail roots, I realize that in these times  I have to go back a few miles and remember why I started this journey in the first place.  My life is my choice.  I can choose to use the extra mileage to make me stronger, or I can give up.  It really is as simple as that.
I am the only dumb ass.

When I reluctantly go  back and find the trail markers, I realize that  hey- I was mostly on the right path, I just missed the subtle turn because I wasn't thinking clearly.
I can get back on the right path.  I can still finish the race.

The race is put before me.  The goal is clear.
Put in the mileage and get it done girl........

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Why I had to take a break from running ....(it's probably not for the reasons you think)

Knee surgery was the perfect alibi....

You know, they went in and scraped out some damaged shit out of my knee, put me on crutches, and sent me on my way with the promise of being able to run again in 4 months.  
Here I am a year and a half later, finally running a consistent 20 miles a week.   

"I don't want to get back in to soon." 
"I don't want to hurt myself again." 
"Can you get me the ice pack? I think my knee is swollen."  

But here's the truth.  
When I was running ultra distances....I was running away.  
Away from mistakes, away from grief, away from bullshit...away....away....
And it worked- for a while. 
But soon every time I ran, I began associating running with the three big d's:  Death, Divorce and Deception.  

Every run became a deja vu of memories and thoughts so self deprecating that my body finally decided to go along for the ride by presenting one injury after another.  First it was my ankle, next my knee, until my spirit was literally devastated and beaten.

My dad used to say, "time heals all wounds."  
Time, and amazing people, and a little bit of forgiveness and grace has allowed my body and spirit to heal.

Because no one checks my times, no one follows me to the finish line, and frankly no one gives a shit..... I can just run when I want to and stop when I want to.
I can swim, ride my bike, or maybe do a little yoga; or I can sit on my back porch with the dogs and drink hot, strong coffee.
There is no crisis, no drama, nothing to run away from.  

I used to think if I ran enough, I would feel free- like a bird: but right now- freedom is in my ability to choose what feels good, and right for me.  And what feels right is a bit of running! 

But birds nest too.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Celebrating nice moments

"Life is too short not to celebrate nice moments."
Jurgen Klopp

Finding myself always looking to the bigger picture, I feel I have been blind to the "nice" moments. 
And there are some REALLY nice moments.

Like when you let your dogs off of the leash,and they wander about enjoying the smell and feel of the trail- but they always come back when you call. 
Or when dinner and wine ends in a fit of giggles so uncontrollable that you can't catch your breath and your stomach hurts. 
Or when he waits in line with you in 35 degree weather with you for 20 min, just so you can get corn in a cup.

What if we all shared those "nice" moments more, and the sucky moments less?  I'm thinking perhaps we could really change the world. 

Who's in?

Friday, October 26, 2018

From Egoism to Altruism

"Vitality appears in one who is firmly set in moderation." 
Reflections on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali- II.38

My friend and coach Mike used to joke: "Anything worth doing, is worth overdoing," but from the time I was about 12 years old - that joke was my life.
My mantras were based on quotes like:

“Struggling and suffering are the essence of a life worth living. If you’re not pushing yourself beyond the comfort zone, if you’re not demanding more from yourself – expanding and learning as you go – you’re choosing a numb existence. You’re denying yourself an extraordinary trip.”
Dean Karnazes

“What I’ve learned from running is that the time to push hard is when you’re hurting like crazy and you want to give up. Success is often just around the corner.”
James Dyson

"Good things come to those who work their ass off."  Unknown- perhaps my parents

"When the going gets tough, the tough get going"  as sung by Billy Ocean in 1986

And I have been successful!   Until one day I wasn't.
After Ironman Texas in 2015 I felt completely empty.  It was as if I had sold my soul to the devil.  I was tired, coming from a broken relationship, had very few real friends and  nothing left to give to my family.  I am ashamed to say that I put that race before EVERYTHING.  Working out 20 hours a week, and working 12 hour days, 6 days a week, there was absolutely no moderation in my life.  It was all "go hard, or go home".....until one day I realized what I really wanted.... was just to fucking go home.  It was time to surrender, to let go of the madness, and in doing so I found yoga.  

In studying the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, the fourth limb states that "Vitality appears in one who is firmly set in moderation."  The book explains that "moderation creates a harmonious relationship among the different forms of energy that animate the body: emotional, sensual, sexual, physical, and the more subtle energy of thought."  
I can totally wrap my head around how awesome it would be if we could get rid of the "too much," and try to more evenly distribute our energy.  Unfortunately, in our society we are often rewarded when we work through the pain or exhaustion, or for having or doing more.

It doesn't help that there is a very fine line between pleasure and pain.  Working out is awesome, until we blow out our back.  Eating chocolate is awesome!  Until we have a stomachache.  Wine is awesome.  Well- wine is just awesome.  Kidding- wine is awesome until we can't get out of bed  the next morning because we are a bit hungover.  Sleeping too much or too little, too much sex or too little, too much thinking or too little..... all energy sapping things.

For me, I knew it was time to change when exercise became not only an energy sapping thing, but a soul sapping thing.  I knew my ego was driving the car, and we were leaving all of the important things and people behind.  

Patanjali states that good energy management "often passes progressively from quantity to quality, and from egoism to altruism."   I am wracked with guilt for choosing quantity over quality for so many years......but by slowing down and  making time for study, meditation and others; I think the car is starting to head in the right direction.