Sunday, November 24, 2019

Stuck In a Moment You Can't Get Out Of

I'm not afraid
Of anything in this world
There's nothing you can throw at me 
That I haven't already heard

                                                                              -  U2 "Stuck In a Moment You Can't Get Out of"

Well, as of a few months ago, it became official.  My oldest son is an adult.  He landed a full time job at News 10, our local ABC affiliate, writing the news.  This made this nervous mama thrilled, as ever since the day he announced he was changing his major to English, with no desire to go into teaching, I had serious concerns over what he would do with said degree.  Then he discovered journalism.  His love of writing has landed him an amazing first job.  As part of his job, he often has to man the tip line at the station, and I love having deep conversation with him about what people call the news for.  My emergency medicine background means he is rarely able to surprise me with what people put out there.  That is, until this week.  He told me about a dog who was found by a UPS driver chained outside.  She had a large tumor on her left shoulder and had literally chewed her own front paw off.  Doctors had found bones in her belly proving this was the case.  They had felt she did this to escape the pain of the tumor they were certain was cancerous.

I'm just trying to find
A decent melody
A song that I can sing
In my own company

Cancer.  That right there is such an ugly word.  One of my best friends was handed this ugly diagnosis in the last couple of weeks.  Those of us in his circle are trying to make sense of it all and be "OK" with it.  The fact is, it has pushed all of us to consider our place in this life and how things can absolutely turn on a dime.  

I never thought you were a fool
But darling look at you
You gotta stand up straight
Carry your own weight
These tears are going nowhere baby

For me personally, it came down to owning my own shit.  I had to rat myself out that my training was lack luster.  Five years into my fitness journey, exercise had become a box that I checked off.  It honestly was more routine than challenge.   I was doing enough to be equipped to race, sure, but I looked at my race times as well as previous recorded challenges at my gym and realized I had not gotten any faster.  I was lifting heavier for sure, but weights are something I like. I had stalled out in the things that were harder for me, like running.  I had lost the focus of it all and just checked the box.  I took more rest days than I cared to admit with a million reasons why.....  I work 12 hour shifts, I'm on the road and the equipment sucks, I am not a morning person, so early workouts suck,  working out only at home is fine.  It's still 3-4 days a week.  Yeah, no.  This was all an ever snowballing pile of bullshit and I knew it.  My drive of the early days had faded, and the excuses as much a part of me as one of my legs.

In was unconscious , half asleep
The water is warm 'til you discover how deep

You've got to get yourself together
You've got stuck in a moment
And you can't get out of it

I was stuck.  Just like the chained up dog with the ever snowballing tumor.  Wading in the comfort of the warm water, not recognizing I was drowning.  With my 50th birthday approaching, and my friend diagnosed with cancer it was time.  I ratted myself out to my accountability partner and recommitted to what I started out to do, to become the best version of myself.  We are now 24 days into the month, ten days past my 50th, and I have worked out 22 times.  Many of those times I went from a one hour OrangeTheory class to the regular gym to wean up using the stepper, as I have a mountain race on the horizon.  I have shown up for myself and pushed the limits of what I can do.  I learned some important things along the way.  I learned  I really can get up at 5:30 and go to the gym and still work a 12 hour day without something awful happening.  It just takes a round of coffee and angry music to get there in the morning and relinquishing my night owl ways.  I learned I can run faster, I just have to run faster, and today? Today, I fearfully allowed my accountability partner to dictate my work out.  That way I was sure to be out of my comfort zone.  So, 45 mins on the stepper after a full hour at OrangeTheory it was.  It sucked but when I got it done, I felt like I could do anything.  A feeling that has faded a bit in recent months.  As it turns out, the simple act of showing up for myself has brought my mojo back.

It's just a moment
This time will pass

I have a hard time not being a little uptight about lost time, but the reality is our own complacency sets in slowly like that slow growing tumor on the now famous German shepherd until one day you find your ever expanding excuse laden comfort zone is not a truly useful appendage, but a big ugly tumor that clearly needs to go.  Maybe the trick is to recognize when we are stuck in the moment and ruthlessly cut off those things that cause us pain and stunt our progress, be it toxic people, bullshit excuses or other perceived obstacles.  Only then will we truly find a new direction.  I saw the dog on the news again today.  She has had the tumor removed, which ended up being benign, and proudly prances around on three legs with a whole new spirit, not seeming to miss her fourth leg at all.  She is off to her forever home where I have no doubt, like me, she will see the best is yet to come.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Big Wheels Keep Turning

You know, every now and then

I think you might like to hear something from us
Nice and easy but there's just one thing
You see, we never ever do nothing nice and easy
-Tina Turner

Last night I found myself sitting around a table with 12 members of my Team 1DOS Sharks Fenway Spartan Sprint team.  Ah... Fenway.  Such an iconic race for me.  It was my first four years ago, fresh off an 85 pound weight loss, with no race experience whatsoever.  It would be the scene of my first, not last, ugly finish line cry.  Since that time, I have taken teams to 12 other Spartan Races and now I had once again brought a team of 5 newbies, and six more seasoned racers to Fenway. At the post race dinner, we would sit around, medals clanging, sharing adult beverages and excitedly trading war stories from the course.  The newbies had a level of excitement I have come to expect at these things.  One newbie, after conquering her absolute fear of heights  (yes, she may in fact be my sister by another mother) was heard to say,"What a feeling!  I can't wait to do it again!" Another newbie, was more quietly telling me it was going to take her some time to process what she achieved, as she has come so far in recent years.  She was simply overcome.  This is a quiet sentiment I have come to love as well.  All of this was all made more special to me by the serving of a butterscotch bread pudding, complete with candle as I was reminded that this is the week I turn 50.  It seems like such a big number, and me being me, had to take the time to see what else was turning 50.  As it turns out, not only is my mother's iconic song,"Sweet Caroline" 50, so is "Proud Mary".  To be all technical about it, really it's the CCR version that is 50, but Tina is more my jam.  When I stop to think about the fifth decade of my life, there were so many things that yes were nice, but certainly not all that easy.

Left a good job in the city

Working for the man every night and day
And I never lost one minute of sleeping
Worrying 'bout the way that things might have been

At forty, I found myself leaving the comfort of my ten year career as a nurse practitioner in neurosurgery.  For eight years, I had my trusted mentor.  We worked very well together.  We had a system and hit our groove with brain tumors and spine surgery every day.  It was comfortable, and it worked.  However, as I hit 40, we had moved to another state, the trauma group I joined had a brutal call schedule, put me in the OR assisting with traumatic brain surgeries in the wee hours, and a work life that no longer fell in line with home life.  I suddenly had to worry about a whole career move, and the switch to the ER proved to be a steep learning curve.

Cleaned a lot of plates in Memphis

I pumped a lot of tane down in New Orleans
But I never saw the good side of the city
Until I hitched a ride on the riverboat queen

As I hit 45, we moved again, only by this time, I was comfortable in my emergency provider role, but would have the sudden realization I had placed myself in a box.  Years of trauma parenting had taken a toll, I was obese, as until that point, food had been my lifelong coping mechanism.  In a defining moment, I would suddenly realize what role my obesity played for all of those around me, and my part in keeping that role alive.  It was fear of relationships changing, and learning to become the one thing I said I wanted to be, but in reality was terrified to become, thin.  Nonetheless, it was time to fight the fear and get to work.  The work was hard and the progress was certainly not a straight line to the top.  I had a hip fracture that derailed my training for a bit, and two years ago suddenly lost my mom.  Yet, despite it all, I held on for the ride that has now taken me within days of turning 50.  Holding on for that not exactly smooth trek over the last five years has given me things I never thought I could have. I am fit and healthy, an avid racer with 14 Spartans, 4 half marathons and one full marathon behind me, telling me that I am way more capable than I ever gave myself credit for.  Yes, my relationships changed, but gaining of 366 motivational clients and a foundation to help others achieve their own best versions of themselves has been fulfilling in ways I cannot even describe.

If you come down to the river

I bet you gonna find some people who live
And you don't have to worry if you got no money
People on the river are happy to give

As I looked around the table last night, it occurred to me that every single person at that table came from a different place, now digging into their own hard work and grabbing hold of their own riverboat queens.  Each of them have had their own demons that kept them in their proverbial job in the city for decades never dreaming that they could be in this place.  There were several, like me, that suffered lifelong obesity, another who had been caught in the opioid spiral for years better known as "pain management", now free and scaling walls instead. There were still others at that table, I would venture to say, fight battles we know nothing about, yet freely share their success, encouragement and experience as a way to pay it forward to the next person stuck in their own box.

Big wheel keep on turning

Proud Mary keep on burning
And we're rolling and we're rolling
And we're rolling on the river
Tell me one more time
Rolling, rolling, rolling on the river

One thing is for sure, not a single person at that table got there by staying in their previously determined comfort zone.  They got there by busting out of their own box, fighting the fear of the unknown, putting in some hard work and grabbing hold of this thing we call life and absolutely giving it hell.  As the rousing chorus of,"Happy Birthday" rounded out it was time for me to blow out the candle.  Yes.  I made a wish.  I wished that big wheel better known as the next 5 years,  will continue to turn the way it has in the last and Proud Mary will keep me rolling right on down the beautiful river as right now the view is fantastic.  If the last five years is any indication of the next, I know that the best is yet to come.

Monday, October 28, 2019

All In The Groove

I am the youngest of three children, in fact,  my mom had three kids in 28 months, and not only am I the youngest but I am the only girl.  I suppose you could say being that close in age to brothers made me somewhat of a tomboy.  From early childhood I found myself shooting hoops in the driveway, and hitting balls pitched to  me by my dad with the phrase,”step into it and follow through.”  So, for me at the ripe old age of 7, the answer was clearly to play t-ball.  I can remember putting my Northern’s t-shirt and matching blue cap on for the first time for my first real baseball game.  My dad, who has the patience of a saint to take on a 7 year old t ball team, was my coach.   It was in my first at bat that day that I realized two things. First, I was the only girl in uniform on either team, and second the outfield was being waved in by their coach, as clearly I could not poke one past the infield.  It was the 70’s, and I was, well… a girl.

Sometimes when you worry
The tendency to hurry
Can make your vision blurry
And blind you
You might shake and you might stammer
-       Blues Traveler,”All in the Groove”

This weekend started out feeling a bit like that first at bat 42 years ago.  My cofounder and I hosted our first live 5k fundraising event for The 1DOS Foundation.  To be honest, from the outsider, I could be considered a rather unlikely choice for such a task.  I am a nurse practitioner by trade.  To be planning large scale events as a CEO was certainly not something on my radar 5 years ago, or something some in my life would think I could pull off.   I found myself unable to sleep most of the week as every single little detail jerked me awake with worry.  Would the bags arrive in time, would we have enough shirts, what if the photographer didn’t show, and wait…  there were certain photos we needed for promotional purposes, is this on the list?  The list.  That thing seemed endless and the worry was huge. 

Well if it's your destiny don't fight it
War between the states unite it
It might be difficult but might it
Be worthwhile?

I would hit the airport on Thursday and immediately my partner and I would set to work on the list, gathering and packing things and prepping for the race.  Relaying things to our social media director hoping to generate some hype for our runners.  Friday was more of the same.  Through all of our anxious speak and frenzy of errands, we would pause on Friday.  The reality was, Saturday was more than a race.  We were launching our second scholarship recipient.  We committed to sponsor her for 12 months with gym membership, healthy food, dietician and motivational support.  Friday we had dedicated some time to meet with her to discuss her goals and the coming year.   She is coming from a difficult place in life currently and wants nothing more than to get healthy.  As we are nontraditional leaders, with an unlikely background, this meeting took place at a tattoo parlor.  Why? I have learned that the motivational game is best played meeting players exactly where they are.  The tattooing of a shark fin on her forearm sparked a beginning for her that it was time to put the past away and attack her future like a great white and begin to show the world she is no longer a victim, rather she is a freaking shark.  In those moments, the stress of the event didn’t matter as this was the heart and soul of our organization.

I ain't no Solomon from Babel
But my cards are on the table
And I swear that if I'm able
I'll run that mile

Saturday morning would arrive and miraculously things went off without a hitch.  We had 156 participants, some great Halloween costumes, PR’s set on the course and a lot of laughs.  We had given the event all we had and it had paid off, which brings me to the outcome of my first at bat.  The outfield being pulled in by coaching staff was disheartening for sure, but my Dad just stood next to the dug out and gave me the nod.  In my mind I knew what he was saying,”step into it and follow through.”  I did just as he had taught me and sent it sailing way over the left fielder’s head.  From that moment on, the outfield was never pulled in again for me.   

But could that pomp and glamour
Remind you
Of who you are and where you're going
And whose mind that you're blowing
As in all things, it’s all in the groove.

It’s moments like that at bat, or all of the success that came with Saturday’s race that remind me that there will always be those in life who will underestimate who we are and take the big step in for our big at bat.  The trick is to not join the outfield in that sentiment, find our groove and take a giant step in and follow through, as you might just find yourself sailing one right over the left field wall.  Only then will you see that you are always way more capable than you believe and that the best is truly yet to come.  

Sunday, October 13, 2019

The Best Day of My Life

Last week I had occasion to do the "Chicago" Spartan Beast with my cofounder Karl, that is, the "Chicago" race that was held two and a half hours south in Indiana.  Over the last three years we have grown two businesses and helped dozens of people find their way to good health and conquer their own fears.  Part of what we do is take people to races.  We help them see nothing is truly out of reach with enough hard work and motivational support, and watching our newbies cross that finish is something I will never get tired of.  This particular Beast was my 13th Spartan Race, but unique in its own right. This one was done solely as a 1DOS management team unbeknownst to our Sharks.  It was a race we had trained for for months.  It allowed us to set our own goals, train to the best of our abilities and lead by example.  Sounds great right?  Yeah...  I wouldn't exactly say me hanging on for dear life at the top of the 15 foot slip wall when I lost my footing, uttering a string of profanity that is best left over Indiana, or shall I say,"Chicago" was awe inspiring.  In fact, we have decided to refer to my partner's hauling of my sorry ass over that wall as,"management team building."  Nonetheless, we finished, medal in hand, a stronger management team with all new goals.  Mission accomplished. 

Today?  A whole other thing.  The Mohawk Hudson Half Marathon.  Truth be told, it was my fourth half marathon in the last 13 months.  Not including the two 14 mile Beasts I did in the same amount of time.  Should be easy for me.  Right?  Well... Not exactly.  This was supposed to be a full marathon that I pulled back from some weeks ago.  Tough training runs that where I ended up charging way too fast out of the gate only to find myself out of gas with miles of walking leading into this, had me convinced this might just be a disaster.  Let me add in a difficult work week that consisted of 56 hours of work, two road trips, three hotels, the cold I seem to have caught, missing the kids from being gone most of the week, and the text containing the pics of the fresh engraving on my Mom's final resting place all weighed heavily on my mind and shook my confidence to do anything super spectacular today.  In fact, I may have updated my Uber app in case a total body shut down happened and I needed to be done.

As I was stressed out about so many things out of my control, my accountability partner reminded me that a half is not about speed.  It is about consistency.  Settle in.  Go slow.  You got this.  Glad he thought so, that made one of us.  I suppose this right here was exactly why I have an accountability partner, even if in that moment I was quite certain he was full of crap.  Nonetheless, I would take off with the gun at a 12 minute pace.  I decided I was comfortable.  I could breathe, and I could probably just keep going at this pace.   Besides, I would find along the way I would have a lot of help.  Deanna, the person my foundation sponsors, who has lost 55 pounds would turn up at mile 3 and cheer me on from the sidelines.  At mile 6, I would see chalked into the pavement,"The Best Days of Your Life." Mile six, holding steady at a 12 min mile.  Not exactly record pace, but I was running with control.  Did this make it the best day of my life?  Not so sure, but I certainly was not ready to call Uber.

I had a dream so big and loud
I jumped so high I touched the clouds,
I stretched my hands out to the sky,
We danced with monsters through the night
- American Authors                                    

As I plodded along slow and steady,  I thought about it.  I did have a dream.  I would love to say that dream started five years ago when my fitness journey began.  I would love to say that it was this thunderous goal, I attacked with gusto.  The reality? I spent the better part of my life hoping to conquer obesity and never quite getting there.  So, five years ago, that little dream was more like a whisper, any louder than that in the early days, and my fear of failing, as I had so many other times, would have surely snuffed it out.

I'm never gonna look back
Woah, never gonna give it up'
No, just don't wake me now

As mile 6 turned into 7 and beyond, I would stick to my 12 minute pace, slow and controlled with the sudden realization that the small whisper of a dream from five years ago has now placed me in the midst of my fourth half marathon, an inconceivable notion for the better part of my adult life. The realization of the enormity of  said notion suddenly meant the pace did not matter.  Running with control and finishing mattered more.  It would appear that quiet  whisper of five years ago has now been cranked up to a more loud stubborn voice no longer interested in looking back or giving up.

I howled at the moon with friends,
And then the sun came crashing in,
But all the possibilities,
No limits just epiphanies  

Then there it was.  Mile 12.  I was tired  and was ready to be done when I looked up and saw a member of my tribe.  She had finished already but came back to push me through the last mile where I would ultimately finish and join the rest of my sharks for the obligatory bottle of prosecco.  We would talk about the course, laugh and raise a glass just like we always do.

Later, I would take the time to look at my running stats. I had even splits for the first time in my distance running career.  I had managed to run the whole half, except for a few 1-2 minute walking recoveries at the very end.  I had let the gravity of some of the steep declines in places on the trail work in my favor with paces as fast as 9'07, which allowed me to slow the inclines without walking, a whole new level of running control I had yet to achieve before today. 

Everything is looking up, everybody up now
This is gonna be the best day of my life

In the end, I suppose I have to admit that maybe my accountability partner had it right.  A successful distance run is more about control than about speed.  It makes me wonder how much wasted energy we spend charging way too fast at those things in our lives which are out of our control only to find defeat at the end.  Maybe the better answer is to harness what is within our control, take more calculated and controlled actions using our own abilities, and move slow and steady toward our own happiness.

 I will also say this.  To say running the half today was the best day of my life, as the song goes, would likely be a bit of a stretch, as certainly there are bigger life events that would claim "best day" status.  However, learning the satisfaction associated with the expenditure of energy on  the things I can control rather than tying up time with things I can't, has given me a satisfaction I had certainly been missing.  As to the newfound grief associated with seeing my mom's final resting place?  The playing of "Sweet Caroline" right on cue at the finish, as my closest friends sang along, certainly put that to rest for the moment and reminded me, the best is yet to come.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Let Your Soul Guide You

About 13 years ago, I stood very near the shore of the Sea of Azov in Taganrog, Russia as an orphanage worker put a 13 month old baby boy in my arms.  I was to spend about a half hour with him and decide if I wanted to keep him or not.  Well, in my mind that was never a question, but went through with the exercise to make the adoption people happy, but the fact was I was more worried about how hard it would be to give him back when our visit was over.  He was perfect.  A round faced blonde Russian cherub who clearly needed to be mine, and two months later we would board a plane and bring him home forever. 

As a mom of five, I can attest to that each child is unique.  This child though, he is apart from the rest.  He approaches his interests with a laser like focus.  Early in elementary school he was into animals.  He could spout off what kind of ears an Indian Elephant had verses an Asian.  Later, he got so into airplanes he could tell you the name of every control on the panel and what they did by the time he was 8.  More recently, he decided to play the piano.  YouTube and practice and suddenly after a month or two Chopin erupted from my front living room.  That's just him.  Takes his brilliant mind and grabs hold and becomes a master in no time. 

When you're down and they're counting
When your secrets all found out
When your troubles take to mounting
When the map you have leads you to doubt
When there's no information
And the compass turns to nowhere that you know well

-Sting,"Let Your Soul be Your Pilot"

That is, to clarify, a master in his interests.  By fifth grade, I would find myself in IEP meetings as he could not seem to focus on school the way he did other things.  He could tell you how to calibrate an altimeter yet without a lot of support could not pass fourth grade math.  It didn't make sense.  He was not a lazy child.  He did not seem to have learning problems, but for whatever reason, he just couldn't do it.  School was not his interest like planes were, it was a stressful unchartered territory for him that led to failure after failure.  

When the doctors failed to heal you
When no medicine chest can make you well
When no counsel leads to comfort
When there are no more lies they can tell
No more useless information
And the compass spins
The compass spins between heaven and hell

To the doctor we went.  He was anxious.  He didn't sleep.  He had headaches and vomited from time to time.  He would get so overwhelmed with school he would literally shut down.  My little brilliant man could somehow not see his own abilities and apply who he was to this big hairy beast known as school.  Medications were tried, each with it's own side effects.  There were tics from the stimulants, vomiting from the norepinephrine uptake inhibitors and sleepiness from the clonidine.  He was given lots of diagnoses,  none that really fit him well.  Nobody seemed to know how to help him other than adding more staff to his team to literally pull him along, so he could advance to the next grade.

Let your pain be my sorrow
Let your tears be my tears too
Let your courage be my model
That the north you find will be true

As a mom, I can truly say there is nothing more painful than watching your child spiral around with no real answers when all you truly want is success for them.  Last year, finally, a special teacher would enter his life.  She met him exactly where he was.  She shared his love of music and used that as a spring board to apply to his day to day school activities.  She helped him to see the victories and realize that although he was not like most kids his age, he was wildly special in his own right.  She helped him to find direction and a way out of the spiraling mysterious maze that had held him hostage for so long.  Little successes led to bigger successes, and the confidence snowballed as he realized he needed none of what was offered before, only the ability to count on his own soul to pilot his way.  A month ago, he entered high school.  My little Russian cherib suddenly more grown up than I care to admit, has been texting me from school regularly excitedly reporting the A on his math test, or the A on his French quiz, all without special education support or medications.  

Let your soul be your pilot
Let your soul guide you
Let your soul guide you
Let your soul guide you
Upon your way

This whole experience with my middle son has made me wonder how many times we enter difficult situations and shut down because after a few stumbles, as we don't seem to believe we have the right skills to navigate through?  How many times do we give up and let outside forces try to pull us along, as fear has blinded us to our own abilities?  I think the challenge is to find those people who are willing to help us see who we really are and allow them to introduce us to own own skill set so we can truly learn to trust our souls to pilot us upon our way.  As for my middle son, despite growing like a weed at 14, I can honestly say, he walks a little taller these days.  He speaks with confidence about school and helping other struggling students learn from his journey.  When his face lights up after all he has conquered its easy for me to see, the best is truly yet to come.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

It's Time


Last weekend was long run weekend, as marathon training waits for no one.  Fifteen miles this time.  It is the furthest I have run since my first full marathon in January.  Admittedly 14 was rough the week before and I had serious doubts about 15 being any better.  Yet, I had a special medal to work for the coveted Helderberg to Hudson Half/Mohawk Hudson Full medal.  I decided it was time for strategy.  I was able to rally two of the runners I admire most to join me, or at least start with me, as they had their own runs to do.  We picked a new venue, a different trail across town I had only been on one other time.  Clearly, I partly struggled with 14 the week before because the trail I have run on all summer had grown stale.  That must be it.  I would arrive to the Rail Trail last week to a perfect day.  The sun was shining, my friends were there and off we went.  We would all take off at our own paces, but I would catch one of my friends on her way back in.  I was on mile six and feeling decent and she would run for a time with me just to encourage me.  Ah yes.  The beauty of belonging to an amazing tribe.  I would catch the second friend around mile 7  on her way back for a fist bump, and keep myself rolling.  I had enough water this time, and it already seemed better than the 14 I did the week before.  

So this is what you meant,
When you said that you were spent,
And now it's time to build from the bottom to the top
-"It's Time"                                                                 
Imagine Dragons                                                     

Oh yes, that is run was going great, until it wasn't.  There was a problem with this trail, the seven and a half mile jaunt out was a gradual hill.  Slow and steady gain in elevation like Chinese water torture.  I would hit the turn around realizing I was more tired than I should be at this point, suddenly worried about my real ability to finish.  Well, that and my irrational fear of snakes in that moment, elevated my heart rate when I ran into, what I would learn later was just a garter snake, right there on the trail at the turnaround.  My heart pounded, I felt winded and terrified, as my irrational brain made this thing out to be an 8 foot king cobra ready to strike right there on the Rail Trail in upstate New York.  The good news is, I was able to run ridiculously fast for a little bit late in mile 8.  Later, my friend would inform me she too saw it and was reasonably certain it was deceased.  No danger at all really, just a further energy sucker.  Nonetheless, I hit the next miles already spent, to where I finally had to, at mile 11, attend to the nagging voice in my head that had been present for weeks.  The one that said, "if 15 was this tough now, could I really do 26 in a month?"

I don't ever want to let you down
I don't ever want to leave this town
'Cause after all
This city never sleeps at night
It was time to get real.  Backing away from a marathon I signed up for months ago seemed like such a disappointment to me.  It would mean admitting to my motivational clients I was not ready.  Backing away from a challenge was generally not something in my inspirational wheelhouse.  However, I was not totally prepared for my first one.  As I slowed to a walk on mile 12, memories of mile 20 in Disney came back.  The moments I said out loud,"I just can't do this."  My feet hurt.  My back hurt.  My hips hurt.  I was miserable.  I was blessed with an amazing team that would never let me walk off the course.  This race was different though.  It was just me on the course.  Other than two faster runners doing the full, my whole crew was doing the half.  In that moment, I realized this question has fueled my chronic insomnia for some time.  What was I losing, outside of another medal, if I dialed it back to the half?  Well, I was risking the disappointment I would feel in myself plus running the risk of my clients' disappointment in me.  I finally bit the bullet right there on mile 12, took a deep breath and texted my accountability partner.  This was the hard part.  After weeks of pushing me through training I did not want to have this conversation.  

So this is where you fell,
And I am left to sell,
The path to heaven runs though miles of clouded hell,
right to the top,
Don't look back,
Turning to rags and giving the commodities a rain check

As I tend to do when I get nervous about talking about difficult things, I would text his ear off with my justifications for doing the half.  I wasn't letting down our accountability arrangement.  I was doing a half and doing it better. A Spartan Beast hovered around a half and it would make me a better Spartan racer.... I had a million comments....  see, my theory was if I kept talking he couldn't tell me I a being an idiot and should go for the full.  However, that diatribe was met with something totally different.  It was met with absolute support for changing trajectory to match the training I am currently doing well, rather than risking injury or taking on the misery that would surely accompany the full.  I would get the same response from my amazing tribe.  Honestly, I got nothing but support which made me wonder why I let this keep me up at night for so long.   So, in the end, without looking back, I have given the full marathon a rain check.  Not never, just not now. 

It's time to begin, isn't it?
I get a little bit bigger but then I'll admit,
I'm just the same as I was,
Now don't you understand,
I'm never changing who I am

As I walked through those last few miles last week, I felt relieved.  I had done better than a half the last two weekends.  I had the distance in the bag. Suddenly, the river was brighter, and mile 14 of the trail I was on was less like Chinese water torture and more like inspiration.  In the days that followed, I would throw all of my previous training plans away and start on something all new preparing for the half. Speed training, inclines, and suddenly it just was all easier. 

This whole experience makes me wonder how many times we get so caught up in chasing the bling and avoiding the disappointment of what we are not quite ready for, that we forget to celebrate where we are on the journey right here and right now.  Now I can't wait for next month. A race I have done before, on a trail I truly love, with a lot of my favorite people for a distance I can do well. Leaving the marathon on the table for now has done exactly one thing, added one fewer medal to the rack I don't look at all that often anyway.  I am learning that the challenge here is not made up of mileage, fancy medals or racing.  The real challenge is embracing our spot on this journey even if it means giving a  goal a rain check, and choosing to be the best current version of ourselves instead because, after all, the best is yet to come.


Sunday, September 1, 2019


Made a wrong turn, once or twice,
Dug my way out, blood and fire, 
Bad decisions, that's alright
Welcome to my silly life

Yep, that's what I would be doing today.  Digging my way out of what feels like a bad decision, which may in fact, involve blood.  I was marathon training, 13.75 miles on tap today.  Further than a half marathon, yet among my fellow marathoners preparing for our races, we are calling it "a training run" like this is no biggie.  For me?  The glory of the marathon sounded amazing.  I did the sister half marathon to my upcoming race back in April.  Do the half in April and the full in October and you get a special medal.  Ugh... my propensity for bling has once again gotten me in trouble.  Now I am saddled with long training runs that some days are not as easy as others. In fact, the only way I do these things is to make a promise to my marathon training group as well as my personal accountability partner, as I am much less likely to let them down.  Left to my own devices, this may not be the case.   As I went to leave the house, I found myself annoyed with said personal accountability partner, freaking 13.75 miles, clearly this was his fault.  

As I went to leave for the trail, I passed through the family room to the door, the kids were watching some action movie and I found myself saying what I always do,"turn it down, that thing is screaming." Which, in my state at the time, probably came out a little harsher than I intended.  But seriously, why is it in recent years movie makers have found a way to make the dramatic sections of the movie so much louder?  I find I have to watch movies, remote in hand, ready to turn it down for these parts so my ears don't bleed  The whole thing is just annoying.

I would hit the trail at Lock 7 for my run along the Mohawk.  The weather was cool for a change, which was a bonus, but I was still dreading my run. I thought about the group I belong to known as "Fall Marathon Training Group."  The group was formed by a friend when we realized there were quite a few of us training for fall races.  This predominantly female group has helped me to remain accountable but I can't help to be jealous of these seasoned runners.  They are all so much faster than me, and they seem to make these training runs look so much easier.   I suppose it is my history of lifelong obesity, which meant I was last to be picked in gym class, counted out and bullied, that had my brain ruminating over my own inadequacy as an athlete.  Probably not the greatest time for this internal diatribe of negativity while I was at mile one, but yet, here it was.  However, as music often does, at mile two Pink had a lot to say to me.

You're so mean, when you talk, about yourself you were wrong,
Change the voices in your head, make them like you instead,
So complicated, look how big, you'll make it,
Filled with so much hatred, such a tired game,
It's enough! 

It dawned on me in that moment, it's quite possible I was wrong.   I do tend to spend much of my time letting the loudest voices be the negative ones.  The ones that remind me I don't measure up, or the gentle grieving thoughts for relationships that have significantly changed during my four and a half year journey to health and wellness.  Pink was right.  It was time to put this to bed, and focus on a solid run to the best of my own abilities.  I would get through the 13.75 miles that my training app called for, and add another quarter for a nice round 14.  Why?  Because I could.  My paces were pretty even, I was sore and tired, but I did it.  

The whole world's scared, so I swallow the fear,
The only thing I should be drinking is an ice cold beer,

When I finished, there were messages waiting in my private group chat with select members of my tribe asking how I did.  I shared my run there and was met with cheers and congratulations.  Then,  as we do, among our Fall Marathon Motivational group, I posted my run before I even got in the car.  I immediately had the greatest comments from all of the marathoners I admire so much.  Here I was jealous and feeling inadequate when each and every one of them are firmly in my corner, cheering me on.  My paces did not matter.  This was not a competition.  Rather, a celebration of all of our successes.   My accountability partner, who I was way less annoyed with at that point, would send congrats as well and shut down comments where I tried to downplay the parts of my run that maybe were less than perfect.  Fourteen miles.  'Nuff said.  

Oh pretty pretty please, don't you ever, ever feel,,
Like you're less than f**kin' perfect,
Pretty, pretty please, if you ever, ever feel like you're nothing,
You're f**kin' perfect to me!

As I write this I am thinking more about the volume problem of modern day movies, and I found myself asking, when does it get really loud?  When it gets good.  Maybe our job is is to have our own remote to dial back the negative and less interesting voices in our heads and lives, and crank that shit when it gets really good.  Maybe Hollywood had it right.  I ran 14 miles today, more than a half on a lazy Sunday September afternoon, a quarter mile further than I intended, and was celebrated with so much love and support.   That right there is a whole lot of perfect and should be cranked til my ears bleed.  I heard a phrase today about looking for the people in your life that pour into you.  I am so grateful to my tribe that shows up for me every single day to remind me I am nothing less than f**kin' perfect, just as I do for them.  After all, we are all in this together and the best is yet to come.