Thursday, December 22, 2011

Drinking the passion-flavored kool aid (or why I am going to work for Back on My Feet)

“If there is no passion in your life, then have you really lived?  Find your passion, whatever it may be.  Become it, and let it become you and you will find great things happen FOR you, TO you, BECAUSE of you”
T.  Alan Armstrong

Ten years ago I found myself living on the adrenaline of chaos.   The musician/teacher me who found energy by making learning fun had hit the road, and was replaced by the drained and weary “mommy me”.  My conversations with friends focused on poop, puke, sleeplessness and tears; fun stuff.  I lost all sense of self by pouring every ounce of energy that I had into my 20 month old and new baby. 

Your life changes when you find your passion.  At first running was a way to lose weight and escape from Babyville, but it soon became my meditation and healing.  I got faster, ran farther and became fearless.  I was hanging out with strong and confident people, and soon I was drinking that Kool-aid.   It was after my first 100 mile race that I learned about Anne Mahlum of Back on My Feet.

 I was approached with the idea of having a few residents of The Bridge; a local homeless shelter, join the Run On! classes.  I must admit that at first I was skeptical, but feeling invincible after  breaking 24 hours at Rocky Raccoon 100, I agreed.  I certainly did not realize at the time that the universe was offering up another gift to me. 

My heart was opened from the very first “fitting day”.  The team members trained for 6 weeks, and when we all crossed the 5K finish line with big, goofy smiles on our faces, I knew that we needed Back on my Feet in Dallas.  A year and a half later, I found myself circled up at Main Street Park for the first mile run of BOMF-DFW. 

Back on My Feet gives hugs, not handouts.  We work as a team and community to support, love, and help each other.  We are strong and confident people, changing perceptions and building trusting relationships.   

I joined Back on My Feet to share my love for running, but found what my spirit yearns for most is to love people-all different kinds of people.    I am so thankful that running has taken me where I needed to be most.  I’m not getting faster, or running farther…but I’ve found a life changing passion. 
Are you ready to drink the Kool-aid? 

Monday, December 12, 2011

Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.

“I just want to feel today, feel today, feel today
I just want to feel something today.
I just want to know the day, know the day, know the day,
Know maybe that I will be ok.”
Ingrid Michaelson

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve run mindlessly around White Rock Lake, paying more attention to my Garmin or the mileage I've covered than the actual charm of the lake itself.
Today I chose to be an observer. 

The run started off like any other, I started my watch and headed counterclockwise from the boathouse to “loop the lake” for an easy training run, but as my legs grew heavy only 30 minutes into the run, I turned off my watch and as Sonia Choquette says, decided to “pay attention to what’s in front of me, and live life on its deepest level”. 

I stopped at the shaky bridge, and was mesmerized as I stared at the water falling from the spillway.  In the distance, white pelicans with black tipped wings scattered across the still, glassy lake.
I stopped at a short pier near Winfrey point where “let love find you” was written in perfect cursive with white chalk.  The fishermen lamented that they had only caught one catfish, but we agreed that the outside temperature was perfect.   Cyclists rode by rhythmically and assertively, with stoic faces. 
Lake Highlands Drive is dappled with quirky cottages, glass castles and classic colonial homes, and the path from there took me through tall trees with fat-cheeked squirrels hiding in the tree trunks.  Very few people visited the lake today; mostly white haired retirees bundled up with scarves and caps.  The dog park was empty, and the runners were few.
As I finished up on the west side of the lake, I couldn’t help but to notice how impeccably clean it was, and whispered a thank you to the unknown angels that keep it that way.

I rounded the final corner toward the playground and ran into an old friend who moved to Houston a year ago.  With teary eyes and a shaky voice, he confessed to me that he was just diagnosed with cancer.   My heart was heavy as I trudged through dry leaves back to my car, and my heavy legs didn’t seem like such a big deal anymore.  A sheet of dark clouds now covered the sky, and I drove off in the rain. 

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Seize the day!: Practice Fearlessness

Seize the day!: Practice Fearlessness: “Expose yourself to your deepest fear, after that, fear has no power, and the fear shrinks and vanishes. You are free.” Jim Morrison The...

Friday, November 25, 2011

Practice Fearlessness

“Expose yourself to your deepest fear, after that, fear has no power, and the fear shrinks and vanishes.  You are free.”
Jim Morrison

There is nothing to be afraid of.
I’ve said these words to my children many times over the years, yet I’ve spent much of my life being fearful. 
My monsters don’t go bump in the night or howl at the moon; my demons have convinced me that I am being judged, and therefore could be deemed a failure. 
Betty Bender says “anything I’ve ever done that was ultimately worthwhile…..initially scared me to death.” 
What would I do if I practiced fearlessness? 
* I would serve banana flambé at dinner parties.
* I would look strangers in the eye, and strike up a conversation with the person sitting next to me on the train.
* I would converse with scholars, not caring whether or not I sounded naive.
* I would be a voice for those who can’t speak, and befriend the misunderstood.
* I would run through the rainforest, and climb Mount Rainer.
* I would wear funky rain boots, and a crazy hat.
* I would stay up late singing karaoke with friends.
* I would be a traveler, a risk taker, a seeker.
* I would say what I mean, and mean what I say.
* I would trust more, and be less suspicious
* I would live in the present. 

What would you do if you weren't paralyzed by fear?  Be fearless.  Be Free.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Power of Kindness

“My religion is kindness”
The Dalai Lama

Today I slept in, breakfast was hand delivered to my door, and the laundry was clean and folded. 
A stranger groomed my dog, I had Thanksgiving dinner with my kids at their school, and the orthopedist treated my daughter like family.    
Never underestimate the power of kindness. 

To receive kindness does us good.  My cohort agreed to take care of classes this morning, and I was able to get some needed rest.   A new friend stopped by with homemade pumpkin muffins, and I received a pleasant respite from my usual peanut butter toast on wheat.   The groomer not only promised to be gentle and patient with my shaggy Rasta pup, but took the time to carefully explain how I should brush and care for her when we returned home.  Even the orthopedist  assured me I did “the right thing” by waiting a day, washing away my pangs of mom guilt.

In his book The Power of Kindness, Piero Ferrucci states that The true benefit of kindness is being kind.  Perhaps more than any other factor, kindness gives meaning and value to our life, raises us above our troubles and our battles, and makes us feel good about ourselves.”
Kind people surround us every day making our lives happier, meaningful and more peaceful.   I’m grateful that today I was especially blessed, and took the time to notice. 

Saturday, October 29, 2011

This white girl has finally found her soul

“The wheel is turning and you can't slow down,
You can't let go and you can't hold on,
You can't go back and you can't stand still,
If the thunder don't get you then the lightning will.

Won't you try just a little bit harder,
Couldn't you try just a little bit more?
Won't you try just a little bit harder,
Couldn't you try just a little bit more?

Round, round robin run round, got to get back to where you belong,
Little bit harder, just a little bit more,
A little bit further than you gone before.”
The Grateful Dead

When my friend Mike died a year ago, I felt lost.   I didn’t know what I was going to do without my coach, amazing friend and confidant.  What I didn’t realize at the time is that I wouldn’t have to live without him, and although I no longer receive excited emails from him after a particularly good race, or hear his jovial voice on the phone; his presence has rung loud and clear over the past year. 

I felt his energy during a particularly good run in Huntsville where I swear that he laughed in my ear and asked me “isn’t this fun?” 
 I shed bitter tears at the Grand Canyon as the red rock left me awestruck and breathless.  
When I was exhausted with frustration at mile 76 of Big Horn, he talked me out of quitting. 
He helped me coax Fred to a stunning finish at Wasatch, and even tried to get me to enjoy the day as my race performance fell short in Palo Duro. 

He has coached me through the pain and despair of grief and continues to encourage me to “let go.”
He’s shown me that life is to be lived in the present, and that we are here to appreciate our humanity. 
He’s taught me to listen to my intuition, to trust and to believe. 

I still miss Mike, but having a friend on the other side of the veil is actually pretty cool.  This white girl has finally found her soul.   

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Defining Moments

"No, you can't always get what you want
You can't always get what you want
You can't always get what you want
And if you try sometime you find
You get what you need. "
The Rolling Stones

Sometimes I have to be reminded that running is my hobby, not my all-encompassing being.  A humbling race shook me awake this weekend. 

As I started loop 3 (18 miles into the race) the temps were in the 80’s, my IPOD died, and my stomach was going south.  I gagged down a raspberry chocolate GU and headed out of the aid station with heavy legs.  I tried to keep up the 11 min goal pace that I carried through the first two loops, but then I did it- I decided to let go.   I made the correct decision right?  I would slow down and enjoy the rest of the ride.  I would take in the scenery and enjoy the company of those around me.
But I didn't do that.   I beat myself up for the rest of the race, and into the next evening. 

I lay in bed the night after the race playing the day’s scenario over and over in my mind when I remembered what my coach Mike told me after a particularly disappointing Boston Marathon a few years ago.  “You are not defined by your running- you are defined by who you are as a person.”   It’s just like Mike to keep reminding me of what really is important.  J
So, it is with gratitude that I remember the beauty of the red rock, appreciate my 2nd place masters finish, and celebrate the wonderful accomplishments of all of my friends. 

For me, I’m going to take it easy this week.  I’m going to rest, recover and take some time to redefine myself as a person, not just a runner. 

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Athletes- stop throwing your sh*t on the ground!

In a short span of two hours today I acquired an excellent collection of gel packages, Gatorade bottle caps, cliff bar wrappers, even a broken headlamp!  The litter reeked of us athletic types, and frankly made me a bit sick to my stomach. 

Today I participated in a “trash bash” run held by the North Texas Trail Runners.  Now, the last thing I’m trying to do here is to come off as self righteous.  This is my first time making it out to the annual event, and my participation was long overdue.  This year however, the event tugged at my heart and I felt like “I owed it” to the trail since it has provided me some quality mileage over the past year. 

I know that many people find refuge in this trail.  We are so fortunate that it is available to us in our community filled with skyscrapers, strip malls and parking lots; so it’s a bit hard for me to understand why someone would contaminate this sanctuary. Most trail runners or bikers carry some kind of pack with them, and even hydration packs have an extra pocket for trash.   Why toss your garbage on the ground?

Is it by accident?  Do people not know the affects on our environment (or care)?  Is it  too much to carry it all?   If such is the case, I’ve researched some ways to make “packing it out” easier.

1.        Gel packets- when tearing your gel packet, don’t tear the top completely off.  We found many more tops of gel packages on the ground than bottoms.  If you tear the top half way, the whole package leaves with you. 

2.        It is possible to leave most potential trash at home if you take the time to properly repackage food supplies. Reduce the volume of trash you have to pack out. Save weight by repackaging solid foods into plastic bags and liquids into reusable containers.

3.       Follow the old Nike adage and “just do it!”  Stash wrappers in your pockets or hydration pack.   Many trail races will actually disqualify you if they see you throwing trash on the ground. 

4.       Stop and think.  Every little piece of trash makes a difference.  Here are some common trash items and their decomposition life:
  • Banana Peel: 3-4 weeks
  • Paper Bag: 1 month
  • Cardboard: 2 months
  • Wool Sock : 1 year
  • Tinned Steel Can: 50 years
  • Aluminum Can: 200-500 years (But if recycled, it can be reused within 6 weeks!)
  • Disposable Diapers: 550 years
  • Plastic Bags : 20-1000 years
  • Plastic Jug: 1 million years
  • Glass : 1-2 million years
  • Styrofoam: 1+ million years
Don’t be a “trashole”.   Stash your trash.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Mountains Shall Bring Peace to the People.....

Last weekend, I had the absolute pleasure of pacing my friend Fred for the last 40 miles of the  Wasatch 100.  For those of you who are not familiar with the race, The Wasatch 100 is described as “one of the most uniquely challenging ultrarunning events in the world. It is a study in contrasts: peaks and valleys; trail and scree; heat and cold; wet and dry; summer and winter; day and night; Desolation Lake and Point Supreme; "I can't" and "I will!"
 Dickens had the Wasatch in mind when he wrote, "It was the best of times; it was the worst of times." The primitive and isolated nature of the course is both its beauty and its challenge, for it requires the individual runner to rely primarily on himself or herself rather than the Race's support systems. Wasatch is not just distance and speed; it is adversity, adaptation and perseverance.”

Adaptation and perseverance.  The beauty at the top of the mountain calls like a siren, yet as soon as you begin your ascent it leaves you panting and breathless. 
The surface of the mountain is rocky and rough, yet beautiful plants and flowers cling affectionately. 
You plead for a downhill, which turns out to be slick, craggy and unforgiving. 
The sunset induces trepidation, but the radiation of sunrise brings optimism and promise.

I adore the mountains.
I’m quite sure it is the challenge of the crawl rewarded by the spectacular view from the summit,.
I treasure the eerie stillness and tranquility that cities cannot offer.
I am drawn time and time again to the grandeur.  I feel accepted by nature.  I am at peace. 
One day I will call the mountains my home.  Until then, I guess I'll  sign up for the next  race and keep climbing.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Paradigm Shift

Paradigm Shift

Not good enough.  That is the story that my brain feeds me daily. 
I should be a more knowledgeable coach, a faster runner, a focused worker,  a patient mom, organized, make nutritious meals every day, be a diligent housekeeper, a loving wife….the list goes on and on in a continuous story loop in my brain.   But yesterday, I had one of those “Aha” moments that literally changed my way of thinking. 

I happened upon Steven Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and ever since reading this sentence very early in the book, I feel like a weight has been lifted.  Covey says “We see the world not as it is, but as we are-or as we are conditioned to see it."
Yes!  The way I choose to live my life is not “right” or “wrong”, or “good” or “bad”.   It just IS. 

I have spent much of my life being a “pleaser”.  Therefore, when other people disagree with me, I automatically become defensive.  What is wrong with me?  What is wrong with them?  The truth is that nothing is “wrong” with either of us; we just see things differently.  Aha!  I don’t have to worry about what others think, and I can even appreciate their opinions!   Wow, such a simple, life changing shift in thought.   Covey calls this difference in thinking a “paradigm shift”. 

I had my first paradigm shift after I first started running with a group of homeless runners in a Run On! sponsored program.   Going into the program I was admittedly a bit scared, and more than a bit judgmental.  I assumed that if you work hard, you would reap the benefits, for this is what I had always been taught.  This was my experience growing up in a disciplined family.    Through this program however, I learned that people are the same, we have just been dealt different cards.  Not right, not wrong….just different. 

Each person has their own perspective on life, and only when we learn to appreciate and embrace our differences, will we become a more interdependent (and successful) society. 

I look forward to the lessons that this book offers.  I look forward to a change in perception, and to stepping out of the “social” expectations that stifle me. 
After all, nobody’s perfect…but …what does “perfect” mean anyway?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Here comes the sun....100 miles in the Big Horn Mountains

“Little darling, the smiles returning to the faces
Little darling, it seems like years since it's been here
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun
and I say it's all right.”
The Beatles

As I come upon mile 82,  I sing out loud to this song playing on my iPod.  Fred, my pacer, joins in. We have escaped from the purgatory that is Dry Fork aid station (mile 76) and are on our way home. 

My journey to the Big Horn Mountains actually began about a year ago, when I vowed to do my second 100 mile race to celebrate my 40th birthday.   I had heard from several friends how stunning the Big Horn Mountains were, and the race date fell on the Saturday after my birthday- so it seemed fate. 

I started with Joe Prusaitis’ training plan on November the 8th and put in 1,482 training miles to get to the starting line.  Races on my journey included the White Rock marathon, Bandera 50K, Cross Timbers trail marathon, the Bull Run Run 50 Miler and a little training run in the Grand Canyon that took us 18 hour s and 45 minutes. 

This was to be my first mountain 100, one that I felt would prove that I could “hang with the big boys” J.  With Fred’s convincing and a detailed plan from Joe, we came up with an estimate of 32 hours for the race with a 2 hour window before the 34 hour cutoff.  In the week before race day they changed the course due to snow, and gave us an extra hour in lieu of the messy conditions.  All good news for me.  Still, it was hard for me to conceive that this race would take me at least 9 hours longer than Rocky Raccoon did. 

The fun began on the trip there.  After a short layover in Denver, we boarded the “Beechcraft  1900D- 19 seat Turbo Prop” from Great Lakes airlines. 
“How many barf bags do you have?” I asked Char.   We each had 2. 
The scenery into Sheridan was beautiful however, green and luscious, which made the trip on this paper airplane well worth it.

Fred, Char and I were picked up by the local Enterprise in our Chevy HHR rental, and headed to meet Gates and Janet who arrived on Wednesday to scope things out. 
The pre-race check-in was pretty uneventful, although I did trip on a curb after leaving my drop bags, which of course made for a few snide remarks from my teammates. 

I slept well that night, a blessing, and awoke to a text from my friend Jennifer.  She confided that she had been worried sick about me doing the race, but that she had a dream that Mike told her to “stop worrying…that he was going to be running with me.” 
Here comes the sun……it’s alright.

I won’t bore you with too many details of the actual race.  Yes, it was hard.  There was some serious climbing.  There was shoe sucking mud and my feet were always wet.  I had a headache for most of the race due to the elevation, and my legs looked like orange pulp after running through the shrub bushes. 
It was also amazingly beautiful.  We were blessed with perfect weather, and I met some cool cats along the way to talk to and laugh with. 

What I am still having a hard time wrapping my head around is why 4 people would invest so much of their time and energy in me so selflessly, in order for me to run 100 miles.  My crew and pacers deserve so much credit- more than I will ever be able to put into words. 
Gates and Janet were at every aid station they were allowed to go to- day or night.  They fed me, clothed me, washed mud off of my legs and feet, smothered me with body glide, gave me a sunscreen face massage, wrapped my gnarly toes, made sure I made it out of the bathroom ok, patted me on the pack and were amazing cheerleaders. 
Char is the angel that convinced  me that it was time to leave hell at mile 76, and that she would see me at the finish line.
Fred spent about 16 hours on his feet, mostly walking, dragging my ass.  He bargained, pulled, pushed, waited, complimented, encouraged and heckled me.  J
I am truly humbled that my friends would do all of this for me, and to them, I will be forever grateful. 
It’s always been hard for me to admit that I need help.  Perhaps it makes me feel weak, or out of control. 
A 100 mile race puts you in your place pretty quickly though, and as you surrender to others,it allows them to help you to grow. 

Its mile 92 and I start coming up with some analogies to describe my feet.
“My feet feel like they’ve been put through a meat grinder” I tell Fred.
“Or maybe a cheese grater......or a concrete mixer….”
“How about a paper shredder?” Fred chimes in.
“No, definitely a meat grinder” I conclude.    “It’s starting to get hot.  I think I’m really sunburned.”
“You’re 93 miles into a 100 mile race and you’re going to start complaining now?” he asks. 
“Yes, but I’ll stop complaining out loud if you would like” I reply with a smile. 

I do the old man- Tim Conway shuffle down the rest of the mountain and Fred tells me I have an hour and a half to go five miles and stay under 34 hours, the original cut-off.   Yes, I understand that seems like a piece of cake, but I was worried, so I started to walk for a minute, run for a minute.  Literally.  I counted in my head.
On the final stretch of road we see Gates coming towards us with his hands up. 
Here comes the sun…….
“You have 24 minutes left at this pace” he tells me.  We do run/walk fartleks to the finish line.  33:41.
My friends, food, and a cooler of cold Shiner are waiting for me.  I change out of my stinky clothes and sit.
It’s all right.

Monday, June 13, 2011

40 is the new ?????

I’ve heard it a lot recently…”40 is the new 20”, or 30, or (insert younger age here.).
Oh man- I sure hope not.

If 40 was the new 20 I would be self absorbed and lost, not knowing what I wanted to do, who I wanted to be, or who I wanted to take on this journey with me. 

If it was the new 25 I would be new to the workforce- green and scared.   I would be making life changing commitments and moving away from the life I had always known. 

If 40 was the new 30 I would have two babies, and round- the- clock black circles under my eyes. 

If it was the new 35 I would be a workaholic- irritated, and irritating. 

40 is staying in the present.  40 is confident and strong.  40 is family, and friends and community.
40 is energy and passion.

40 is right where I belong. 

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

What the hell was I thinking?

Pass me a big cup of “what the hell was I thinking?”

I picked the Big Horn 100 for two reasons.  One, it is held on the weekend after my 40th birthday and two- because everyone told me how beautiful it was. 
I have since learned a few things that maybe I should have taken a look at sooner:

1.        This race starts at 11:00 am.  Whose idea was that?  Everyone runs through the night, even though there is a high probability that no one will get a good night’s sleep the night before.
2.       According to the new website “this race is extremely challenging due to the rugged terrain of the Bighorn Mountains. The course, an out-and-back, is at elevations of about 10,000 feet.”
3.       Due to enormous amounts of snow, they may have to re-route the course so we don’t sink waist deep in snow at the top.
4.       Yet…. most of the race is out in the open, and it could be hot during the day.
5.       My estimated time to finish this race is about 32 hours- 9 hours longer than it took me to do Rocky. 

As the race draws near, I continue to question this challenge that I have chosen for myself, but the answer always comes back “would you have it any other way?”

Why am I doing this?  Because I can.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

R2R2R- Let the healing begin

She was no longer wrestling with the grief, but could sit down with it as a lasting companion and make it a sharer in her thoughts.  ~George Eliot

Grief is a suffocating weed.  It wraps two gnarled hands around your throat and squeezes until you are breathless, and empty.  In order to survive you cry out to the universe for help, and to your amazement she answers with compassion.
She sends you friends and angels.  She sends you support and comfort.  She sends you music and poetry.  She sends you on a journey to the Grand Canyon to renew your spirit. 
Running Rim2Rim2Rim was so much more than another “ultra” run for me.  It was a team effort, a lesson in patience, and a healing experience. 

Before heading out, Fred, Char, Marlee and I decided that we were going to stick together since this was not a race and we were in no hurry- and that proved to be the right decision more than once.
We left the South Rim at 3:30 a.m. with our flashlights in tow.  Honestly, I was glad that I couldn’t see where I was going since I have had issues with a fear of heights in the past. 
We took our time hurdling the huge erosion posts down and in what felt like no time, left Indian Garden campground as the sun was coming up.  The beauty of the canyon was breathtaking, and with every turn we took you could hear someone around you saying “wow”. 
The trip down to the bridge took us 3 hours, and we decided that “less picture taking” was probably in order since that meant we were on a “24 hour pace”.  We began to run and walk with more purpose, filling our bottles and eating both at Phantom Ranch and Cottonwood Campground.   We were still feeling pretty good, and settled in for the 7 mile hike up the Canyon. 
Shortly after, Char decided that she was going to turn around and wait for us back at Cottonwood, and you will see later that was a choice that we all would be grateful for. 

The climb to the North Rim was tough, but I am pretty good at putting these glutes in motion and was actually looking forward to the challenge of the climb since I will have similar elevation at Big Horn.  I was also looking forward to a promised “lunch” at the top.  It turns out that the only lunch at the top was us!  The deerflies up there were horrible!  Swarms of them!  You couldn’t stop for a minute without slapping 20 of them.  There goes my break.  Another runner mentioned that he was going to fill his bottle with snow- and that was brilliant.  That saved me, as it was getting hot and I was drinking all of the 140 oz I was carrying until we got back to Cottonwood. 

After having a little mental “pity party” for myself over the lack of break, I was hanging on to Marlee and Fred who were hauling ass down the North Rim.  I sucked in my fear of falling to my death and went with them.  This part was fun.  We arrived back at Cottonwood on good pace, and after refilling and a break, we all set off  back to Phantom Ranch.

This is where I’m pretty sure that things got ugly for a lot of people.  I know they did for me.  It was REALLY hot with little shade, and at one point on this stretch I just had to sit down to figure out what was going on.  Thanks to patient Fred who encouraged me to take another GU, drink more, and handed me an electrolyte pill.  The section from Cottonwood to Phantom Ranch was one of my worst, with periods of more walking than running, and by the time I got to PR, I knew I needed to try something else.  Everyone had been talking about the “fantastic” lemonade at the ranch, and I was pretty sure that would do the trick.
Damn it if the store at Phantom Ranch wasn’t CLOSED.  I would have paid $20.00 for a coke, but there was none to be found so after a trip to the bathroom, I forced down 2 full bottles of water, another Gu and another E cap and waddled out of there.  Luckily, this worked, and I was good to go again because like the sign says, “Going down is optional.  Going up is not.” 

Fred and I caught up with Marlee and Char by the river and it was Marlee’s turn to bonk.  So we worked as a team to revive her and Char drug all of our butts into Indian Garden again.  No one gets left behind. 

It’s dark.  Again.  Fred predicts that it is going to take us 3 hours to go up the 4.5 miles to the top, and damn if he wasn’t right.  Remember those erosion bars I mentioned in the beginning?  They felt like we were climbing over logs.  We all keep reminding ourselves to stay away from the edge as our legs are wobbly and unpredictable.  But in all this, I am happy and excited.  It’s hard, it sucks, I’m tired…but we are going to make it, and I keep moving forward, and keep moving forward, and keep moving forward. 
I reach the top and say out loud- “oh my God.  I did it.”  I hear a smiling voice say “congratulations!”
It is actually another runner who is waiting at the top for his friend, but in my mind I know it is Mike, and I give him a mental high five. 

I am so grateful for friends like Fred, Char and Marlee.  We laughed, we cried (well, I cried, but that’s another story) and together we SURVIVED!  I am thankful to my coach Joe, and all of the other runners who provided support out on the trails.  I am genuinely grateful to God for giving me a capable strong body, and for letting me experience such a beautiful place. 
R2R2R is no joke, but what doesn’t break you, makes you stronger.
On to Big Horn…….

Monday, March 28, 2011

Vulnerability- Between Wind and Water

Gail Sheehy

I had a dream a few days ago where someone very clearly said to me “running makes you vulnerable.”  Wow.  The very word makes me want to hide under the covers.  Running shouldn’t make me feel vulnerable; it should feel strong and safe.  But as a runner, I am reminded of my shortcomings on a weekly basis.   The truth is that lately my runs have felt more like a chore to mark off the list than a fun play date; and since my goal race has some pretty serious ground to cover…well….that scares me.  It feels as if I'm a ship between wind and water. 

How many times in our running journey do we compare ourselves to others, or doubt that we are good enough?  With each goal that we set, we open ourselves to experience disappointment or anxiety.    We put our heart on a platter, and serve it up for everyone to feast judgment on. 

Dr Marcy Cole says “The ego judges, while our spirit is compassion. The ego runs with fear, while our spirit is fueled by faith.”
I think that in my dream, my spirit is begging me to use it as fuel for my continued journey.   It’s time to quiet my doubting mind and to go on a fearless adventure.   It’s time to be invulnerable. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

"What are you running from?"

My life is one big running metaphor. 
“What are you running from?”  someone recently asked me. 
 “Wow- you’re really going to go there?” was the first thought that came into my head, but it did make me think.  Am I running from something? 

It’s very possible that I am running from stress;  the chaos that comes with being a busy, working mom and coach. 
It’s possible that I am running away from home, and work, and the concrete jungle that is Dallas. 
It’s possible that I am running away from my past, those I have hurt and those who have hurt me.  Those I have lost, and those I have found. 
It’s even possible that I am trying to run away from myself and the confusion that comes with all that is me. 

Aren’t we all running from SOMETHING though?  Maybe the question should be “what are you running TO?”
I’m running to freedom, to clarity and to independence.  I’m running to success, and patience and hope.
I’m running to be a better me, a better mom and a better coach. 
What I do know is that if I wasn’t running FROM something- I would probably be running TO something that was much more toxic.   
And so I run, and life keeps on keeping on……

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Things are OUT OF CONTROL- and hey, I'm good with that

It’s Tuesday morning, and I am headed home in a chipper mood after a particularly good run.     I call my husband to check in, and then it begins…..
“Ben can’t find the note that he needs to return to his teacher, and Hannah thinks she left her backpack in the back of your car.  Oh, and by the way, don’t forget that I’m going to be home late tonight and Maria comes today. ” 
Ah!  Maria!  I begin the scramble to pick things up off of the floor so that our housecleaner can actually CLEAN the house.  I meant to get this done yesterday, but last night I decided that I wanted my children to actually be able to see  so I took them to get their haircut.  I ooh and awe about how beautiful the youngest two look as the stylist reveals their precious faces.  I talk my oldest daughter into a new, flattering style and she agrees.  All is good and I decide to read for a bit when I hear “Mrs. Kimble, can you come here please?”  Trust me, not what you want to hear when your child is getting a haircut.  Hannah has lice.  At 7:30 p.m.  on a Monday night.  So instead of picking up a few things off of the floor and preparing for my big presentation due in a couple of weeks, I am now combing lice out of my child’s long, thick hair, and dumping all of the linens in the house into huge piles so they can be washed. 
I feel out of control, and I don’t like it.

Control.  Janet Jackson and I both thought that once we were “all grown up” we would have it, but that is far from the truth.  But I’m starting to wonder, is that something we really want or need?  The definition of control is pretty harsh:  to exercise restraint or direction over; to dominate; to command.   I certainly don’t like the thought of someone dominating or commanding me, so why should I want that from life?
I like to think that life unfolds itself just as we need it to.  It’s not good, it’s not bad, it just is.  This helps me a bit to let go of my need to control things, people or situations. 
Man, it’s a hard thing to do, but when I find myself letting go, it feels as if a huge burden is being taken right out of my gut.

Life happens.  We can’t control our situations and we can’t control others.  I for one find that I am so much happier when I don’t even try. 

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

All good things

One of my guilty pleasures is watching the Food Network.  I really admire those who can take food and turn it into delectable art.    Today, while folding what seemed like endless mounds of laundry, I escaped in a show called "The best thing I ever ate."  During this show, the chefs/hosts tell about the best fried concoctions, Italian meals, desserts, and other foods that they have eaten and where this amazing cuisine can be found.  I drool (literally) while watching them describe their favorites with exhaultation, and travel into the world of all things delicious.
The enthusiasm with which they describe the dish is almost is just food after all, but the passion with which they do it is most definitely contagious.  So, inspired by the chefs of the Food Network,  today I contemplate some of the things that  I think are "the best" in my life.

1.  Coffee-  couldn't live without it.  It's comfort in a cup that I wish I could wrap my hands around all day. 
2.  Long slow runs- escaping for hours on scenic trails with no worry for pace, or time. 
3.  Down to earth music with a humanness that I can relate to. 
4.  A hot bath- It's like being wrapped in a clean, fluffy, weightless  towel.   
5.  Homemade mac and cheese that melts in your mouth and warms your tummy. 
6.  My rockstar family.  They love unconditionally, and are quirky and fun. 
7.  Sleep.  Letting go.  Sliding under soft linens and suspending consciousness. 
8.  A good belly laugh that makes your sides hurt and your eyes water. 
9.  A thoughtful book that educates and enlightens,
10. Friends who open the door for us to see and feel our own vitality.  

 For these comforts and blessings I am truly grateful.  
Where do you find your bliss?

Nothing is more important than reconnecting with your bliss. Nothing is as rich. Nothing is more real.
Deepak Chopra

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The wrong turn

Cross Timbers was today,and I did the marathon.  Although the trail was well marked, someone changed the signs and I (plus a few others) made a wrong turn in the last 2.5 miles.  Luckily for me, it probably amounted to no more than 5 minutes on my finishing time, and an extra hill.  The guy in front of me however was pretty darn "pissed".  He talked about it for the next mile.  He slowed his pace and in turn, was passed by several others. 
It's hard when you make a wrong turn.  You have to shake it off and regain focus.  You can't let if effect the rest of your race.
I think that wrong turns in life are the same way.   Nobody is perfect.  We all make mistakes. 
Wouldn't it be great if we could just acknowledge the wrong turn and move on, instead of letting it effect our whole race?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Everyone has a story

I started the morning at 5:00 a.m. outside of the Bridge homeless shelter.  Team Bridge, our 20 people group of both residential and non residential members headed out in our new running shoes to make history.  We were a part of the Back on My Feet Dallas launch, starting out with our first breathtaking one mile run, and ending with an inspirational breakfast of over 600 community members. 

I will never forget the smiles that I saw today, and the love that radiated throughout Main Street Garden Park.  Shouts of  "I did it! and I feel great!" resonated as we made a human chute through which every runner passed at the end.  We became equals, through running, and through our common goals. 

We're a lot alike- you, me, the homeless.  We all need to be lifted up and supported.  We need that pat on the back and that hug.  We need each other. 

Everyone has a story.  Our days are filled with drama, and tragedy, and comedy.  Sometimes they bring despair or regret, but if we're lucky, someone comes along to help us to grow, provide comfort or to  give us hope. 
We are a lot alike because no matter what our story is, everyone wants and needs love. 
I hope that you will consider coming to share your story and your love by volunteering just one morning a week with Back on My Feet.  

"Reach out your hand if your cup be empty,
If your cup is full may it be again,
Let it be known there is a fountain,
That was not made by the hands of men. "
Ripple- The Grateful Dead

Friday, February 11, 2011

The one thing you can count on is change

The doors we open and close each day decide the lives we live.
Flora Whittemore

Wow, I never thought that I would be a blogger, but I am reminded almost every day how important it is not to put limits on yourself.  Life has no limits.  No promises.  It does not owe us anything.
So though it was certainly not my choice, the recent death of a friend has opened up my eyes to see the opportunities that life has for me, if I'm brave enough to open the door and embrace change. 

I am very grateful that I stumbled apon a book titled Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach. 
He talks of a seagull who was brilliant, and ambitious, and didn't want to squawk like the other seagulls, or fight over scraps of fish.  This seagull wanted to fly.  He tested his limits.  He was outcast, but continued to soar above all the other gulls.  One day, the seagulls of "light" come to take him home, to a wonderful place where he is taught by other inspiring seagulls new flying skills.  He learns everything that he needs to know to be the best aviator he can be.  In time however, he decides that he must go back to earth to share what he knows with other outcast seagulls.   Those birds learn everything they can from him until they too can fly higher than the others, and can share their talents with those around them.

I understand that it is my time to take the knowledge and soar, and if I can bring a few others along for the ride, well, that would be awesome too! 
It seems like such a simple venue, but running changes lives. Running changed my life, and I am so fortunate that my adventure continues. 
Stay tuned, it's going to be a fun ride. Change always comes bearing gifts.