Facebook reminded me today that ten years ago I accidentally blended my finger while making guacamole. At the time, it was extremely traumatic. And, as someone with a low pain tolerance, I thought I was going to die. Crazy how surviving pregnancy and giving birth changes that perspective. But I digress.
I still have the scar from that immersion blender. Every time I look at it, I’m reminded how quickly life changes. Not in an overly dramatic way, but how something as simple as making guacamole, can scar you for life. Frankly, I think it is all of those small, simple things that add up to who we are as people.
This week I started training again. I’m nursing a real injury of plantar fasciitis, so I’m taking this slow. But, I’m already feeling life like has a bit more purpose. That, even in the midst of what’s sure to be yet another fall of COVID-19 chaos, that I’m in control of at least a small part of my life.
This summer I mentioned I was taking time to just think and be. A summer of productive procastination. It was an intense summer of Teremana margaritas, adventures with Jake, smut reading, cabin time, cocktails with friends and food. Soo much food. It was great for the soul and my mind. But, the past few weeks I’ve been feeling a bit aimless. A bit out of control. (Plus my pants are getting very tight). A bit like, what’s my purpose.
I opted to return to the basics. I’m ordering a Spin bike. I’m giving myself grace but training for a race again. I’m balancing out my summer reads with some personal development. Topping that list, gaining a better understanding of my PCOS. I’ve set a new writing goal and registered for a fall retreat. I’m making my bed every single day. I’m stretching for 2-minutes before I brush my teeth in the morning. Simple things that the book Atomic Habits (a must-read folks) taught me. I’m dreaming of a winter adventure with the family and maybe one by myself.
As beautiful as productive procrastination has been (and man it served me well), it is time to resume regular scheduled programming. Driving home today, I noticed the first tinge of red and gold on some leaves. A new wool sweater arrived at my house. While I’ve invested in my first pair of Birkenstocks (perhaps the makings of a future post), I am making plans to wear them with socks.
Transitions are always tough. Summer to fall signals a lot in my brain. A sense of urgency to make this year count. To not squander a single outdoor moment before the first snow flies. This year is no different, except that I’m going to try my hardest to balance a life of purpose with enough grace to also enjoy some productive procrastination. I think sometimes I approach life as an all or nothing. I’m finally realizing that maybe it doesn’t have to be this extreme.
This past week tested my strength as a writer. For years, I’ve had no problem sharing my voice and perspective on this blog and more recently my first book. But, as a huge introvert who is slow to open to up folks, this past week has pushed me WAY outside my comfort zone.
On Saturday, I did my first book signing at an independent book store. There were three other authors present as well. It was a great opportunity to have some interesting conversations about the book publishing journey and how we became authors. That part I loved.
On the flip side, it was the first in-person time where I was asking complete strangers to buy my book. Despite having a day job as a marketer, wowza that’s uncomfortable.
Then, I had my first speaking engagement as a runner’s group. I knew some of the women, including the organizers. It was even my idea. BUT, it wasn’t until I was reading a portion of a chapter out loud that I realized just how personal my writing is – and how these folks didn’t necessarily want to know what makes a stubborn Fin tick.
Here’s the thing, I didn’t die. I don’t know if the folks I talked to this past week cared about what I had to say. What I do know, is that it is important to me to keep pushing myself outside my comfort zone. I thought I’d share my talk below… and then also put out two more announcements into the world because that’s what I do.
I’ve been nursing a real case of plantar fasciitis (ouch). But, I signed up for a 10k in October with hopes of walk/jogging it. I’ll be following that up with a trip to my doctor and a consult with a weight management doctor to continue along my health journey in hopes to tone up over the winter. In May, I hope to return to Eau Claire or Door County for a half.
My other big news – I signed up for a writing retreat in November. Yep. Time to start book 2. I’ve learned so much the past year and I’m ready to start putting thoughts to paper. I’m also ready to tap into some real professionals to help me. It’ll be tough but time. The topic: It Could be Worse: A girlfriend’s guide to grief. More on this to come in the coming months. In the meantime, a few words about my running why from the Solstice Outdoors Running Group launch event in Ashland.
I’m going to share a bit more about me in a minute… but first I want to ask you all a few questions.
Who here ran as a kid?
Who here stopped running at some point… drivers license, gained the freshman 15, it wasn’t cool…
How many decided for years they could no longer be a runner?
Who here remembers that day they decided to run anyway?
Anyone feel like a fraud that day? And maybe even still do?
How many folks here consider public speaking a form of torture?
That’s my story in a nutshell. I grew up as a tomboy and would run around for hours without thinking twice about it but at some point, I stopped. And I suddenly had this limiting belief that I couldn’t run anymore… so I didn’t. For years.
Great story. That probably leaves you wondering why I am here… I’ll tell you why. Mojitos. Yep. Mojitos. Ten years ago, I drank a few too many mojitos at a dinner party and the competitive nature in me heard some friends talking about their races… and before I knew it I casually said, I’m training for a half.
I was not. Straight up bold faced lie. I’m sure nobody would have remembered that… but my husband had given me that look. You know… I think in reality it was confusion because he knew I wasn’t training… but I interpreted it as I couldn’t do a half-marathon…
And so I did what every logical, stubborn Finn would do… I signed up for a half-marathon that was 15-weeks away…
Spoiler alert – I finished. With all my toenails. I didn’t die. And surprisingly, I did not win.
This past winter I published a book… the book was sort of the antithesis of running books… there are so many running books out there that talk about how to train harder, lose weight, run faster, run slower, eat right, exercise… but there wasn’t really a book that said, hey – you over in the corner, if you want to run you can. Just put on some shoes and start running. That you can run a race with a goal of just finishing and that’s enough.
In fact, it is because of us back of packers that Olympians win. I mean think about it, if everyone trained as hard as those in the front of pack… they’d be the losers. So yeah you’re welcome.
In all honesty, though, people run for a lot of different reasons. And I think one of the greatest things holding folks back is this notion that they aren’t good enough. And I’m here to tell you today, that you are … that if this body can run a half, y’all can do anything.
But, before you lace up and do that first run, I want you to really think about your why. Why are you here? What made you decide that this moment is when you want to do a race. And once you’ve determined your why, you can determine your what. By what – I mean training plan or food plan or whatever it is you need to accomplish your why.
Simon Sinek has this quote that I absolutely love… he says “no one likes to lose and most healthy people live their life to win. The only variation is the score we use. The metric is relative but the desire is the same.”
When you start training – you get to decide what your score will be… for me early on it was not dying and keeping my toenails… So I thought I’d share a page from my book about a moment I had in running where I had to decide if my why of finishing was strong enough to sabotage the self-doubt I was feeling.
Excerpt from It Could Be Worse: a girlfriend’s guide for runners who detest running.
Chapter 14: The Bus
By April 30th, I needed to make a decision. I paid the entry fee. I was in.
I’d like to say that once I committed, it was easy. It wasn’t. I was still injured. I was weeks behind on training. I honestly didn’t know if I’d even get far enough in my training to have the capacity to run thirteen miles. I kept revising and condensing my already-condensed training time. My 10k in May was downgraded to a 5k and then became my first no-show ever. Things looked grim. The clock kept ticking. My chances of finishing grew dim. And then, after six weeks of dismal training, I turned a corner. My legs no longer throbbed on mile-long jaunts. I looked at the calendar, and with some creative math, I discovered that I could pull off enough long runs to at least finish. But that damn bus kept looming in the back of my mind. I hated that bus. It represented every running insecurity I had ever experienced.
I snapped. Literally. I was on a run listening to Fort Minor’s Remember the Name. And, I got mad. In that moment, I loved running. I loved the fact that I was running. I loved the fact that I kept showing up, even though it would have been so much easier to quit. It was in this moment that I decided that I was tired of questioning whether I was good enough to run. I was running—but on my terms. Fuck the bus!
From that moment on, I showed up for my runs. I quit caring about my time and focused on finishing the miles. For the first time ever, I ran with a couple of incredible ladies. What started as a five-mile run ended with 9.6 miles and it was fun! I kept going. There was no time for tapering. And then it was race week. I carbo-loaded with conviction. I dragged my husband to the health fair and stocked up on free samples. I posted pictures on Facebook and shared my self-doubts and conviction to finish.
There’s a lot of talk about how challenges are more about the journey than the destination. By race day morning I knew I’d finish. I knew I had it in me to show up and give it my best. I also had peace with the knowledge that thousands of runners would beat me. My goal was to finish strong. To pace myself and cross the finish line with my head held high. After mile one, I threw that goal out the window. I decided to just run. To quit caring about time or pacing or ensuring I had enough reserves to get across the finish. I decided to be foolish and break all the rules and just run. And, so I did.
I ran for the love of running. I thought of my mom and how proud she’d be of me for not quitting. She never cared about what I wanted to be when I grew up, only that I’d try hard and make my own path. I ran for my dad, who could no longer run, but wanted nothing more than to go for a long walk. I ran for my son, to show him that it isn’t about winning, but showing up and trying. I ran for my friends, who said my journey inspired them and convinced them to try something out of their comfort zone. I ran for every fat girl who sits on the sidelines and thinks they aren’t built to run. But most importantly, I ran for me. After eight years of showing up at starting lines, I realized that as much as I hate the process of running, I love the act of running. I love that every morning that I wake up, I get to decide if I want to run. I can blow off the training and eat the chips or I can train hard. I get to choose how much or how little I want to do, and then see those results embodied on the road. I get to see experience camaraderie of running, buy overpriced shoes, listen to hip hop and channel my inner grit.
At the end of the day, I’m a stubborn Finlander. At times, there’s a thin line between stubborn and stupid. But that day, my Sisu was strong. I knew when I finally crossed the finish line it would be my best time ever. But more importantly, I had run the race on my terms, finally at peace with the person I am, on and off the course. For anyone wondering, I didn’t beat the cut-off time. I missed it by four minutes. But the ominous bus? It never showed up. It turned out that I was good enough just as I was.
And that folks, is my story. Does anyone want to share what lead them here today?
I’m going to end with probably one of the most famous but important tips/quotes in running… it is by a guy named John Bingham. And it goes: “The miracle is not that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start.”
Kudos to all of you for starting.
And that my friends is the latest on my running and writing journey. I hope you are all finding ways to push yourself out of your comfort zone. As hard as it is, it is nice to be back in the goal setting mindset after a few months of just wandering and being in my thoughts.
Jake here hijacking mom’s blog. This might be one of the last times I do this since I’m now getting old enough where I have an opinion about mom sharing every aspect of my life… But, that’s a battle for mom to fight next year. In the meantime, this weekend I turn 8. And wowza, what a year it has been.
Let’s see, where do I start? I guess mentioning that I survived a global pandemic is noteworthy. I never got COVID-19 and I was fortunate enough to live in a place remote enough, that school remained in-person all year long and I never felt unsafe. I masked when needed but also enjoyed life. I think my parents didn’t weather as well… and maybe had a few anxiety induced moments… but I somehow managed to come out unscathed.
I did miss a season of wrestling but dad’s been picking up the slack on that front wrestling with me almost daily. I’ve also discovered the fun and exciting world of WWE, which is not how the Tigers wrestle. This summer baseball resumed. Mom and dad were coach which was a bit of a buzzkill but I practiced ton and my team included every boy in my grade. We were an unruly 18-person team that managed to age my parents at least 2-3 years so I’d call it a success. I also had the last hit of the season, surprising our opponents with a successful left-handed bunt. Yes, I’m that cool.
Speaking of cool, I aced second grade. I scored in the 99th percentile for math and mastered spelling. I don’t love reading, primarily because I’m told I have to read, but I’m also good at that. In fact, one of my biggest challenges in second grade was being the coolest and most handsome kid in the class. When I told my mom that, I got a lesson on what it means to stay humble. I’m still working on that front but I think deep down my parents love my confidence.
We managed a few travels this past year. We hit up Universal Studio in Florida, in which I promptly rode a ride that freaked me out, resulting in me wanting to ride the calmer E.T. ride for the rest of the day. I swam in the ocean, collected sea shells and watched my first shuffleboard game. Over the winter, our Airbnb wasn’t as busy so we spent a lot of family time at the brown cabin and by spring, were busy hitting up the green cabin. There, I did plenty of tubing and wrestling and reading in my new hammock.
I’m still growing like crazy. Sometimes, I wake up in the middle of the night with growing pains. And, I eat like a horse. I love grapes and blueberries and strawberries and bananas and apples and oranges and peaches and well pretty much all fruit. I’ve been known to eat 4 bananas and 6 mini oranges during a growth spurt. But, better fruit than Doritos. (Although I love those as well. And Triscuits with spreadable cheese). Water is my beverage of choice but occasionally dad sneaks me an energy drink – Bang is pretty good. I learned about that on YouTube, my other addiction in life. I’ve had a chrome book for a year now and thanks to something called the Internet, the world is my oyster. I’ve learned a ton and been told more than once that I need to look at the source before believing everything I hear.
I have amazing friends. This summer, my daycare owner hosted a sleep over at her cabin. It was my first night away from mom and dad and to be honest, I didn’t miss them at all. I was happy to come home but man we had fun. I kayaked and drank mountain dew and swam and played games and stayed up way too late. The next day I was a zombie. My daycare also let me jump off a bridge into the Brule River and get ice cream at A&W lots. All in all, the perfect summer.
I’m still a bit stubborn and at times have to sit on the steps and think about what I’ve done (what does that even mean?). My parents tell me regularly that I’ll make a great lawyer someday because I’m very good at arguing. Frankly, I blame them. They are always telling me to use my words but then when I talk a lot then tell me to quit yammering.
Looking ahead, I’m gearing up for third grade with Mrs. Janigo. I’m looking forward to recess and lunch and even computer lab. We’re contemplating the Grand Canyon for Spring break pending this global pandemic. This year I also get to join basketball, which is another sport I’m confident I’ll dominate in. Other than that, I’m just making the most of living on Moon Lake!
Do you ever have those moments where you find yourself seeing the exact thing you needed to see at the exact right moment? Last night, one of my childhood besties posted this saying by Pam Lambert on Facebook “she silently stepped out of the race she never wanted to be in, found her own lane, and proceeded to win.”
If your life is anything like mine right now, I am guessing that maybe you need to hear that message as well. For anyone who knows me, you know boundaries are a big thing in my life. Some attribute my unwillingness to hug (unless you are my son) to my Scandinavian roots. Perhaps. Perhaps it is the same genes that have helped me master the art of saying no… right until I get sucked up into society’s pressures to be something. WTF does that even mean?
Anyways, bottom line is sometimes when things get hectic, it is easy to forget what matters. To get sidetracked by the to do list versus the what matters list. I was rapidly approaching that this past week. Then Saturday hit. A perfect family fun day on the South Shore. The only to do, play with my kiddo and enjoy fabulous food. It was the perfect reminder that I needed.
It is insane to think summer is over halfway over. Work is insane. I want to run another race. The no activity COVID-19 calendar is now replaced with the how can we cram two years of lifetime in before the snow flies.
Here’s the thing. Time keeps moving. No matter how hard you try to slow it down, it just keeps ticking. Moments we can never get back keep passing by. You know, I’d give anything to have a mundane conversation with my father about the weather or ask my mom for some advice about getting my high school heart broken yet again by a two-timing loser. Maybe it is the fact that I cannot get those moments back that I fight so hard to keep my time sacred. There are the things I need to do to have the resources I need (shower, collect a paycheck, answer emails, attend meetings) … but man I try hard to not let them define me.
Am I always successful? Not really. I have an ego just like everyone else. I want to get the gold star at work and look pretty for my husband. I hear the ads of being too big and want to lose the weight and eliminate the wrinkles. I want to be successful (whatever that means). I wish I didn’t. Most day I don’t. But when I do, man does it derail my why.
So anyway, last night I was faced with a conundrum of whether I should take my kiddo to a Friday matinee and have some 1:1 mommy and Jake time (before a crazy summer festival weekend on our lake), or take advantage of a meeting free afternoon to crank out some more reports. The choice should have been obvious. But, for a moment I Iet that fear of not being enough slip into my head and challenge my why. I felt guilty for taking more time off since I have some vacation time coming up.
I’m happy to report that moment has passed. The work will get done. It always does. But, these moments you cannot get back. So, if you needed to hear this, take it from the selfish Scandinavian who chooses herself first. You get to decide which lane matters and define your success against your why’s versus someone else’s. As someone who has spent and will spend a lifetime swerving in and out of that lane, it truly is the best place to be. In other news, this month marks ten years of running. I posted about it earlier this month but I also shared 10 lessons learned for Another Mother Runner. You can check out the blog post here. And, a special thanks to The Duluth News Tribune for making me a recommended reading in their lifestyle section this past week. Next month, I’ll be doing a book signing event at Redberry Books in Cable if you are at all interested in getting an autographed copy of me living out my why. Can’t make it to Cable? Buy my book here.
Ten years ago, I enjoyed a few too many mojitos at a dinner party and announced I was training for a half-marathon. (I was not.) Nevertheless, the next day I decided in a carb-induced hangover to make good on that announcement.
Since then, I’ve crossed dozens of finish lines, often at the back of the pack. Along the way, I’ve discovered a few tips and tricks that I wish I had known starting out. I put those together in a book and also for an upcoming blog post for Another Mother Runner.
But, today I want to share another lesson that’s been on my mind. Time. I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately. The obvious trigger is losing my dad and also rapidly approaching the age my mother was when she died. One cannot help but question their mortality in these moments. Bigger than that, though, is the time the constantly escapes while busy waiting or planning for the next thing.
In the healthiest of times, I guess it can be called productive procrastination. It is why I have not dived into my next book headfirst. I know my heart needs a bit more time to heal. But, in most situations, at least for me, it is about fear. It is about me wondering but what if I fail, or this isn’t the right path, or I discover I hate it or someone is better than me. Sometimes I spend so much time pondering and contemplating that I forget that sometimes the easiest solution is to just move ahead.
Ten years ago, a few too many mojitos cancelled out my fear. Before I could ponder or talk myself out of running, I proclaimed myself a runner. I’m so grateful to that because I know 100% without a doubt if I had done the pros/cons list about whether I should start running, I never would have taken that first step.
I’m so glad I did. In the past 10-years, I’ve had a few lofty (for me) extrinsic goals that focused on time or speed. That isn’t why I run, though. I run because I choose to. Because it is the identity I want for myself. And the best way to achieve that, is to do it.
There’s a fascinating best-selling book out there right now called Atomic Habits. Game changer for me. It gives me language for a lot of the things I struggle with when it comes to creating simple daily habits that’ll help get me to the goalpost. I highly recommend it.
In it, James Clear reinforces something so vital to success – that in order to get anywhere, you have to act. Seems simple. Unless you are the plus-size runner who is trying to resume training. This weekend I did that. I tackled my first non-express spin class (45-minutes of pure sweat-induced bliss) and re-opened Hal’s app. I plugged in a fall race with my only goal being it is time to start again.
If you’re still reading this and are stuck, read Atomic Habits. If you’re stuck about how to start running, just lace up your shoes and go. If you want even something simpler, buy my book. Heck, drop me a line and I’ll even mail you an autographed copy. The bottom line is just start.
Ten years ago, I threw a few words out at a party that nobody but me remembers. But, it was the start of a journey I’m so proud of and I cannot wait to see what the next 10-years have in store for me.
This is a story about tequila. For years, I always thought I hated tequila. I reckoned I was more a sweet wine and vodka/rum gal. Until, the Rock personally persuaded me to try Teremana. I wish this was an ad. It is not. Anyways, I find his Instagram account fascinating for a number of reasons – and after months of watching folks salute over “the spirit of the Earth” I decided to buy a bottle. I even googled the perfect margarita recipe and bought my first bottle of Cointreau.
Keep in mind, my introduction to Tequila was $4 pitchers of Long Island Teas that I drank with a straw until puking… and when things got fancy doing shots of tequila chased with a dead worm. Regardless, I was shocked to discover I actually love me a little mana with a shot of Cointreau, a squeeze of lime and some Sprite Zero. Delish.
Funny how our perspective changes over time. What’s crazier is how much our life is determined by the narrative we tell ourself. Now, I know my life is not better with Teremana. But, it is better with running. I don’t know what past experience made me believe that I could not be a runner but for decades I was convinced that I hate running (which I actually do) but more importantly, that I was somehow not good enough to run. Right until I didn’t.
Nobody told me to run a race. Nobody talked me off the ledge of self-doubt. But, at some point (after a few too many drinks) I decided I wanted to change the narrative so I did. Sometimes it really is that simple.
So today, I ask you this, if there’s something you want to do and if the only thing holding you back is you, dare yourself to try. Maybe you’ll hate it and never do it again. But at least you’ll be calling your shot. And who knows, if it is anything like a shot of Teremana, you may find you love it.
I’m officially a wanderer. Ever since dad died, I’ve been pondering what’s next. Sure, I completed a few in-person races and have been trying to slowly re-enter the world post pandemic but in terms of the next big thing, I’m sort of staring at a blank page. This is new and frankly a bit unnerving for me.
As a Generation X gal, I like to deal in facts. As a planner, I like to know what’s next. So to solve this new conundrum in my life, I did what I know best. I turned to some trusty personal help books. I spent time charting out my why and revisiting my annual goals. I took advantage of free coursework and doubled down on amazing podcasts offered by some amazing personal growth gurus but none of it stuck. Except for this. The 5 Second Rule. Now, I don’t want to be too Pollyana about this and say that I agree with Mel Robbins when she says on the first page and first line of her book 5 Second Rule “it takes just 5 seconds to change your life.”
But, what I will say, is when you’re pondering what’s next and are spinning out a bit, there’s absolutely nothing better than just doing something. Frankly anything. So, about a month ago, I plotted out a few bucket list items and I pulled up my calendar and with no rhyme or reason, filled it in. Things I just wanted to do. Not because they’d drive professional or personal growth, or make me look like Mother Theresa or shed 100 pounds. But because it sounded fun. (This may seem normal to most folks, but I’m not known for my ability to schedule stuff just for fun, so go with this).
In the past few months, I have started rock polishing, enjoyed an incredible girl’s weekend in Marquette, planted my first hydrangea, made a gorgeous petunia planter (while sipping some adult beverages), planted a vegetable garden of only things I actually enjoy eating, started a weekly spin class and am strength training, scheduled a North Shore overnighter, resumed journaling, devoured some fabulous smut books and am co-coaching baseball. I’ve mastered the perfect margarita recipe and trained my chickens to come on command (with snacks). I’m working on a summer bucket list with Jake and set time aside to freshen up my wardrobe next week with a trip to an outlet mall. Oh and coffee dates… lots of quick check-ins with co-workers, girlfriends and even a bit of networking over delicious lattes. I’ve sold nearly 5,000 copies of my book and am jotting down ideas for my next book. I’m still in what Mel Robbins calls productive procastination… which as a writer is different than just putting a project off due to stress but instead allowing myself space to be creative. Not sure if that’s a real thing but I’m going with it for now.
I mention all of this because at times I get to the end of the week a bit exhausted but feeling like I have done nothing. If I allow myself to get caught up in that mentality that in order to be better than the day before, I need to somehow level up my game, than I am failing on all accounts. A year ago, I would have beat myself up over that—called myself directionless and without a specific purpose. Heck, that’s why I dropped a small fortune to listen to someone pep me up and believe that if I don’t have a series of life goals that I’m actively working on, then I’m blowing my life away.
Turns out, I was wrong. Sometimes, you just need space to explore. To wander. To give yourself time to figure out what makes you tick. You don’t do that by sitting down and envisioning your perfect life and then manifesting it by getting up at 5 am and moving your body. You do it by living. By trying new things and allowing yourself to recognize that you may discover something about yourself you don’t know. The truth is, the more I try, the less I know about who I want to be when I grow up but I’m having some serious fun giving myself the space to ask the question. And don’t get me wrong, sometimes that even means jumping out of bed at 4:40 am to hit up a local spin class. But, I did it because I wanted to, not because I thought it’d change my life.
A friend recently posted a shot of our high school graduation 25-years ago. I vividly remember that day. My mom had died two months prior and I felt the weight of the world on my shoulders. I felt an obligation to become “something” to keep her legacy alive and to not become some silly statistic of what it means to be a first generation college student of an alcoholic. In hindsight, I know my mom will always be proud of what I’ve done with my life but if she were around, she would have reminded me that life isn’t worth living if you are doing it for someone else.
So today, I share all of this, only to tell you that the past year has been rough. It is has been trying and serious and depressing and polarizing and game changing for many folks. Few if any of the folks I know would say that 2020-2021 was fun. I’m with you. But, I’m also hear to say that if there was ever a time to give yourself some grace and let go and just be – it is now.
The 5 Second Rule talks a lot about manifesting the life you want by being brave and taking small action steps. But, if you are like me, and find that sometimes making time to just have fun is almost more daunting than tackling an MBA, then I challenge you to 5-4-3-2-1 yourself into doing nothing. To catapult yourself into a walk with no purpose other than to check out nature. Or, wander the aisles of a store and buy something totally frivolous that makes you feel pretty. Or, buy that extra espresso shot, even if it means you’ll end up binge watching an extra couple hours on Netflix and being tired the next morning. Heck, show up at a spin class and feel like a Rhino riding a bike for the first time, only to leave knowing you’ve surpassed Lyndsey Vonn’s #chin drip because you are so out of shape but find yourself wanting to go back for more. As I look ahead to the second half of 2021, I’m proud to say my one and only mantra this year is to be a wanderer. It doesn’t mean I won’t wander into some crazy, game changing experiences but the why behind it will be a bit different.
I’m currently in process mode. I’m trying to process what’s next in terms of running goals. I honestly don’t know. But, I’m loving every single second of this space to contemplate what’s next while moving my body and catching up on so many podcasts. Also, since it is the height of spring, I’m taking this respite to tend my garden. I love gardening about as much as I love running – as in I love the fruits of my labor AKA sweet peas, mint, garlic and tomatoes. BUT, I hate weeding and bugs and sweat. Anyone with me? Anyways, the garden is slowly coming along. As are my plans for what’s next.
It is no secret that I’m also an avid reader. I draw inspiration from words. Recently, I had an opportunity to write a post for Another Mother Runner about some of my favorite memoirs. I thought I’d share it here as well in case you are looking for some inspiration.
As an aside, I’d like to add the book Brave Enough by Jessie Diggins. Not a running book, but some serious inspiration.
Check out this link to a guide to some great running reads, with a leaning towards plus-size perspective. And, as I continue to explore what’s next I leave you with these wonderful and wise words from Alexi Pappas –
run like a bravey
sleep like a baby
dream like a crazy
replace can’t with maybe
Pappas describes bravey as “the label for a mini-movement, a self-identifier for those who are willing to chase their dreams even though it can be intimidating and scary. It celebrates the choice to pursue a goal and even relishes the pain that comes with effort. There is nobility to it; it’s something to be celebrated.”
Wherever you draw inspiration – however you determine what’s next – I hope you can find it in you to be a Bravey. In the meantime, I hope you find some running inspiration in my favorite running books.
A few months back, I got candid about some of the struggles I was having with losing dad at Christmas. I felt it was important to be honest about the ups and downs of grief. But, today, I want to share the flip side to the lowest of lows. The highest of highs.
My 7-year old is excited about baseball, which means I’m excited about baseball. I’m pitching in where I can with a series of other dedicated parents to coach. On a side note, kudos to every coach who attempts to teach boys in Little League because wow, there’s something to be said about 17 high energy children throwing balls and swinging bats around you. I digress, though.
This week, Jake wanted to play catch. Dad had a meeting which meant for just a moment, I was the cool parent. Prior to heading out, I reminded Jake that I once played Little League. I even showed off my team portraits and our championship trophy circa 1989. He won’t admit it, but I think he was impressed.
Afterwards, we headed outside with gloves and ball in-hand. Maybe it was the gorgeous weather… the signs of spring literally sprouting around us… or, the pileated woodpecker pecking above my son’s head. But, I was immediately taken back to a similar scene 35-years ago. A time when I would beg my dad to head outside and play catch with me. The answer, no matter how tired he was, was always yes.
Back and forth the ball went. I made Jake practice his pop-ups and grounders. He worked on pitching. The nonstop chatter only disrupted by the snap of the ball in my glove. I found myself wanting to capture and savor every second of this exchange while also reminiscing over how I’ve come full circle. I won’t get too cliché here but when folks talk about how meaningful moments are sometimes the simplest of moments – this was it.
The past few months, I’ve been really struggling with how to pay tribute to dad – asking myself how do I keep his legacy alive while also not dwelling in his loss? How to not rush past the pain but to also recognize that life goes on. And that’s actually ok.
This isn’t a post about faith. It is a post about family. But, sometimes the two are blurred. And in this moment, I can’t help but think dad was with me coaching me as I coached Jake.
I’ll certainly play catch with Jake again. I’ll certainly watch him surpass my skills and grow up to be his own person. But, I know he’ll do that without me imparting just a little bit of my dad in him first… and the circle of life continues.
May marked my first double digit in-person race in 18-months. It was my first time running in Eau Claire. The race promised to be an exciting weekend away with one of my favorite gal pals. My training, while not all in, had been consistent. I took Friday off to pamper myself with an early morning spin class, a savory maple latte, browsing an amazing independent coffee shop and investing a small fortune at my favorite Red Barn bare root plant sale (hey, some girls love purses. I love plants).
Things took a little dip when my spin instructor informed that Eau Claire is not in fact a flat city. In my defense, there was no topography map with this race. But, I definitely knew that wasn’t a good sign. She is after all, a seriously badass runner and if she thought Eau Claire was hilly, I was in trouble. Later that day, my bestie’s dad had a terrible accident resulting in her going from runner to caretaker in a heartbeat. I was devastated, for obvious selfish reasons, but also because I’ve been there. I know how challenging it is to balance work, life and caring for family. At the end of the day, father’s always come first.
As I modified my packing, I knew I needed to modify my intentions as well. Sure, I went into my training in January with a specific time goal in mind. I really wanted to clear 14-minute miles. My race a few weeks prior indicated it might be possible. I also knew, similar to how circumstances can change, this too was not a guarantee.
On Saturday, I began the journey south. I opted to “pop in” to see my boys at our family cabin. It was cabin opener and a mere 90-minutes out of the way. The extra car time gave me plenty of time to revisit my why. You know, that thing that’ll fuel your run when there’s nothing left to give. I knew I’d need it come Sunday morning.
I’ve talked a TON about my why. Heck, I even wrote a whole book about it. But, in this moment, my why felt different. It felt like a signal of acknowledging the next normal. The normal where COVID-19 still factors into daily decisions but doesn’t prohibit me from running with strangers. The normal where dad’s still in my phone but won’t answer my call. The normal where I’m starting to discover I’m living in a master’s body that doesn’t rebound as quickly as I’d like. But, at the core, my why remains as simple as because I can.
Race eve I listened to the course director breakdown the pending race. It is here my fears were calmed when she mentioned the course was relatively flat. Looking out my window at some serious hills, I breathed a huge sigh of relief. I went to bed that night firm in my why and a hope that Sunday’s race would be successful.
Depending on the benchmark one uses, Sunday’s race was anything but successful. Turns out relatively flat includes a long stretch of uphill at the start and then a series of never-ending rolling hills every time you crossed a bridge. BTW the race is called Bridge 2 Bridge – turns out there are A LOT of bridges in Eau Claire. I was not prepared. And I paid dearly for it. By mile 3, it was clear that even with the help of an Uber, I would come nowhere close to my goal time. I was definitely disappointed. I even had a moment where I contemplated quitting, only I had no clue where my car was and figured it might be shorter to just finish the race then walk home. In racer moments, this was an ultimate low.
Luckily, my why kicked in. I had plenty of time to take in the scene. It was a gorgeous course with over-the-top friendly racers and volunteers. Despite being May in northern Wisconsin, the weather was borderline hot with the perfect mix of sun and shade. I was running with real people on a real racecourse. Spotify did not disappoint with the perfect race tunes. I was once again reminded of Henry Ford’s famous quote, “whether you think you can or think you can’t – you’re right.” I crossed the finish line Sisu strong.
Statistically speaking, that race was rough. I finished not only in the back of the pack but the bottom finisher for my age group. It was my slowest time ever. I set a record in new chaffing spots and my calves are still recovering. If I’m being honest, do these numbers disappoint me? Absolutely. I’ll be taking the next few months to evaluate what’s next in my running and fitness journey. In the meantime, I’m reverting back to the basics of just moving my body every single day.
That said, I’m proud to share this story. I had many, many opportunities to quit the past 4-months. My initial race was cancelled. Spring was well spring, resulting in abnormal training conditions at best. Work is busy. Life is busy. I’m grieving. Plans changed. But, yet, it still always comes back to if I get to run, why wouldn’t I? It really is as simple as that.
So for the hundreds of runners that passed me this weekend, thanks for your words of encouragement. For those sitting on the sidelines wondering if they can, you can. I promise you that. It may not be pretty but it is still worth it. Afterall, success is all relative… and for the record, Eau Claire is not relatively flat in this gal’s eyes, but I wouldn’t want it any other way.