Training Update, Traditions and Transitions

I’m less than 1-month to my almost half-marathon. Hal’s plan this weekend was for me to run an 8-miler…outside. I knew it was time and the weather forecast left me no runway for excuses to run inside. Don’t get me wrong, I loath the treadmill (minus the Tim Riggins part) but running outside is well hard. And frankly, everything seems hard right now.

My recent racing reset has done wonders for my body and soul. I came back from Florida recharged and ready to hit the road again… for about a week. Then Easter week hit. For many, Easter represents those crunchy mini Cadbury eggs (delish), Peeps (gross), and serious religious significance. For me, it marks the weekend mom died.

That’s a tough tradition to break. I’ve celebrated more Easters without mom than with her. Decades have passed since her passing. Yet, I always find myself Easter week replaying the activities of April, 1996, while also trying to find new traditions and memories to fill that void. I’ve had mixed success.

I genuinely enjoy prepping an Easter dinner. I’ve long since abandoned being a holiday church goer but instead celebrate my faith privately. I set aside time on Good Friday to honor my mom (today it was a spin class, latte and 3-mile waterfall hike at the crack of dawn). I savor the Easter candy and embrace the bunny themed décor.

In my quest to be healthy, I am doing my best to do some health habit stacking. This week that included a morning chat with someone I really respect, a set bedtime routine, minimal snacking, lots of water and my training plan. Yep. I said it. My training plan. Last week, Hal said I needed to run 4.5 miles twice. The first time I dived right in. The second time, my body said F-that. I compromised (trying to practice grace here folks) and said I’d walk the 4.5 miles. I was feeling a bit beat down and guess what – the work-out worked.

I came home to chaos. We have new chickens and they haven’t settled into their bedtime routine. The neighbor cat was back. Jake was hyped up on sugar (than you Iron River PTO). I took it all in stride. Right until I didn’t.

I was scrolling through my phone to text someone about a rental when I saw it. Dad. He’s still a contact in my phone. I paused for a moment, trying to shove the wave of emotions down. The practical person inside of me said to hit delete and move on. That this was no big deal. He was a contact in my phone and now he’s not. But I couldn’t do it. I’m not ready to say good-bye.

There’s lots of conversation about the stages of grief. I hate that. They aren’t stages. They are moments. There are moments of anger and sadness and denial and negotiating and acceptance and meaning (if you buy into the new theory of 6-stages of grief). Right now, I’m in the season of allowing myself to pause and be sad when needed while also trying to allow myself to enjoy meaningful moments of joy. I’m in the season of not ready to hit delete but not denying he’s gone. I feel his absence and presence every day.

So Dad is still in my phone. We’re in the process of updating his and mom’s headstone. He sits on my sister’s fireplace. I’m slowly coming to peace with how much our broken healthcare system contributed to his final days. This spring we’ll say one more goodbye to him, but it definitely won’t be our final goodbye. That’s the thing about transitions – I’m finding they can take as long as one needs.

And that 8-mile run? I did it. Well 7-miles of it anyway. It felt great. And, it was some quality time to have a chat with dad and fill him in on what he’s missed these past few months. Hal gave my overall training to date a B. But, I’m giving myself an A in the just keep showing up category making my overall grade good, not great. But solidly good. And honestly, I’m ok with that. I’m ok with giving myself some grace and seeing where this year takes me.

I’m slowly figuring out what’s next for me. Right now, it is a series of upcoming runs, garden planning, cross-training (yep I started a weekly spin class but that’s a different post for a different day) and rock polishing. I’m not sure what will stick but I’m doing my best to have fun trying during this transition.

I hope y’all find some joy in today, whatever your beliefs might be, or whatever transition you might be facing. And in the words of cheesy Hallmark, Hoppy Easter 😊

Ready for a Running Reset?

Life has a reset button. It is called tomorrow. So here we are. I’m over halfway through training for my first almost half-marathon since pre-pandemic. Last week, I took the opportunity to check out of life. I escaped to Florida and spent 8-days eating delicious food, overindulging on cocktails, soaking in hours of sunshine and swimming in the ocean and long sunrise walks.

I also shelved personal development. I took a time out on reading self-help books, journaling deep thoughts, or attempting to manifest my life and instead just lived my best life. I devoured three fabulous books (The Four Winds, the light we lost, and Her Last Breath in case you are wondering) that gave me a break from the monotony of day-to-day tasks. I didn’t log into a single video meeting. And I didn’t run. Yep. I didn’t run a single step.

I went to Florida envisioning early morning beach runs. Instead, I swapped my running shoes for flip flops. Instead, I took a mental break from wondering if I’d make my running goal come May 1 to just be. It was the perfect reset.

I’m intentionally saying reset versus setback. I knew that if I forced myself to run on vacation, I’d resent it. So instead, I took a time out. I cross trained other ways. I skipped waves, swam with my kiddo and hit 10,000+ steps every single day. And, I returned home ready to run.

I share this because sometimes I think we think it is better to half-ass something versus taking a time out. To acknowledge that what we need right in this moment is an opportunity to just enjoy life. I returned on Saturday with a desire to hit the road. Less than forty-days to go until I see what I’m capable of doing on the course. I’m excited. Cautiously optimistic. My plan come race day – Just show up.

I recently won this bracelet from Momentum Jewelry (thank you Instagram contest!). A great reminder of my intention come race day. And if I fail, guess what? I’ll show up again. And again. And again. Because honestly, I’d rather show up and fail than give up on myself.

A couple other quick notes for those following my self-publishing journey. A special shout out to Perfect Duluth Day for sharing an excerpt from my book! Also, I mentioned a few posts ago but I’m now a semi-regular blogger for Another Mother Runner. My latest post, which focuses on faith, can be found here. If you still haven’t purchased a copy and are interested, please consider buying my book. I can now say you’ll be joining hundreds of folks (some of whom I don’t even know) who have invested in my dream. If I haven’t said it today, thank you to each and every single one of you.

Onward we go.

Tough Transitions

Something tells me that maybe somewhere someone needs to hear this. At least I know I do and I figure I cannot be alone. As a writer, I understand that words matter. I had initially wanted to call this post, setbacks suck. Instead, I’m trying this. Tough Transitions. So much of my life these past few months have been about transitions. This past week, it came to a head in something that is most definitely a first world problem, but was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

My race was cancelled. The one I started pre-training for in January after my dad died and was just hitting my stride on in my real training. The one that I’ve been religiously training for because I needed a win. Not in the literal sense – let’s be real. But, in the sense that I needed to feel in control of something.

Sure, I knew it was a long shot when I signed up. COVID-19 is still real and I respect the very tough decisions race organizers are facing right now. But dam, I needed that weekend to push myself. Yes. I know I can run any number of virtual races. Yes. I know my husband would set-up a mock half-marathon course and cheer me on. But that’s not the point. I had a plan and my plan was turned upside down… again.

I was really mad. So mad I almost deleted Hal’s training plan right off my phone. I definitely was NOT going to hop on the treadmill for my 3.5 mile run without a reason. I definitely wanted to have a pity party. And man did the waterfall of tears start flowing.

To be honest, I’m a bit sad. I’m really, really tired of losing things. And, no matter how hard I try, this idea of finding meaning in the hard stuff is kicking me in the ass. Yep. I’m going there. I think it is time to say that sometimes things just flat-out suck. The silver lining just isn’t there. That if handed rotten lemons, one could make nasty lemon-aid or they could just say, throw the lemons out.

That’s where I’m at today. There is no silver lining to losing my dad. Yes. He is done suffering. And, I am so glad that he is no longer in pain. I am glad that my dad got to make the decision but that doesn’t ease so many of the what-ifs. And, it definitely doesn’t change my reality. I’ve lost my rock and sounding board. In many ways, a huge part of my purpose.

So yep. I’m mad and sad and not ready to find any silver lining. I don’t want to know his legacy lives on in his kids. I want him here. I want him here to say to me right now, who cares if your race was cancelled. Find another. I want him here to provide me perspective and tell me that running will probably kill me someday because it is hard on my knees. I want to fight over the price of a rib-eye and the weather differences between Iron River and Cloquet. I don’t want to drive by the Scanlon exit but rather to it.

So yes, the cancelling of the May 1 race triggered a lot. It reminded me that I need to give myself some flipping grace. That I’m not ok and right now, that has to be ok. That every day I get up and try hard and do the minimum is a win right now. I’m still showering (most days). I’m still loving on my kid and dancing in the shower and finding joy in the most superficial of things (amazon deliveries are almost daily). I’ve settled on a new vitamin stack and I’m letting Hal tell me what to do 4-times per week. And, I’m trying to come to terms with my new reality of being an orphan. I don’t say that for pity. I say that because words matter. And while I am so blessed to have so many incredible people in my life, I am an orphan at 42. It sucks.

On a different day, I might try to say that family isn’t just who you were born to but who you befriend along the way. That I am so blessed to have incredible in-laws and friends and a soul mate and a son. But guess what? I had all of that and dad up until December. So nope, no silver lining yet. No greater sense of purpose or understanding or acceptance. It doesn’t diminish the moments I cherish and the time we had together. It just means I still wish he was here back when he was healthy. Back when we’d play catch in the backyard and chat about nothing for hours on end.

Will it get better? I don’t know. Lots of people say it will evolve and change and become the new normal. An extended transition I suppose. But, the road seems really long right now. So, I’m trying to find control in the little things. The Door County Half was one of those. But, that to turned out to be another transition.

If you’re wondering, when my pity party ended, I ran the 3.5 miles. I found a back-up run that’s 10-miles on the same day. My friend was gracious enough to follow my change of plans. I got back on the saddle and said tomorrow is another day. A chance that maybe someday the moments of joy will outweigh the sadness.

Transitions are tough. They are one of the hardest things to get right when writing. They are painful and cruel in real life. A necessary evil to grow and evolve and to do better. I’m hopeful that some of the roughest, choppiest transitions in life pave the way to something I never could imagine. I’m cautiously hopeful that’s what my future holds. That if I continue to show up and speak my truth, my experiences can someday help someone else through a tough transition.

So if that’s you, I hear you and I feel your pain. I won’t say I try to understand it or that things will eventually get better. Inevitably, just like pain found you, I want to believe joy will find its way to you again as well. At least that’s what I’m banking on.

To tough transitions and finding ways through them without losing sight of all that’s good. Sixty days and counting until race day. Let’s go.

PS For those struggling with grief. A game changing books that have helped me…

It’s ok that you’re not ok by Megan Devine

Training, podcasts, and pasta!

Sporting my newest training ball cap. Being a mom is the hardest and most rewarding journey of them all!

Valentine’s Day. What a loaded holiday of unmet expectations. I’m gearing up to channel my inner Finlander by eating my weight in carbs with this TikTok phenomenon known as uunifetapasta. I’ll enjoy this savory meal with my favorite men and a chilled shot of Teramana, Cointreau, lime and Sprite Zero. It isn’t quite a margarita but might be one of the best drinks of ALL time.

But, before I do that, I wanted to talk a little bit about love. Yep. I’m going there. This week marked my first Amazon review by someone I didn’t know. On my first-time author journey, this was a big deal because I honestly didn’t know if anyone who didn’t feel obligated to the read book would. And, it turns out some folks have.

It also tuns out, at least one person, loved it. From Hildee Weiss, “I loved hearing her story of how she got into running and I enjoyed reading her tips and suggestions ranging from what to eat before a big race to what to look for in a shoe. She writes with honesty and humor and with heart.” A five-star review. I’d be lying if I didn’t say it felt pretty amazing.

My writing is far from perfect. But, the one thing I pride myself on is being honest. I write my truth, for better or worse. I mean how many other gals share their stories about shit-stained pants for the world to see? And, it turns out that vulnerability occasionally resonates with like-minded women trying to find their way in the world. Enough so, that I’m excited to announce that starting tomorrow I’ll be occasionally sharing my running adventures on Another Mother Runner. Dimity and Sarah have been absolutely fabulous to chat with and they are kind enough to allow me to share some stories on the amazing platform they’ve built over the past decade. I am pretty excited. If you are interested in checking it out, sign up for their podcast here. This past week, I also had the opportunity to share more about my running journey on WTIP out of Grand Marais. I was once again extremely nervous, but Annie was an amazing host and it was an absolute honor to share my adventures with folks in Grand Marais. I also dropped off copies of my book at Zenith Bookstore in Duluth, making it now available in 5 places!

Most weeks, this would be beyond exciting. But the thing I’m most excited about this particular week is I just finished Week 1 of my 12-week half-marathon training plan. It was sub-zero so my time was spent on the dreaded treadmill. I had four training runs for a total of 12 miles. And guess what? I did all 12-miles. This week I loved myself enough not to quit running. It wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t easy. I used all of the hacks. Tim Riggins. Ordering new shoes. Drinking Nuun and using the massage gun. Scheduling the work-outs in my calendar. Doing the Mel Robbins countdown and channeling my inner sisu. Yes. I know that sounds a bit dramatic. But, I’m being honest. Running isn’t easy for me. Especially after a year plus hiatus.

And you know what? It felt good to keep my promise to myself. It felt good to move my body. It felt good to focus on putting one foot in front of another after a challenging month of navigating grief and a harsh Wisconsin Winter. Thank god for therapy, friends and family. I don’t know what the next 75-days hold. I do know that right now I’m savoring this week’s wins and lacing up for another week of showing up not just for those around me, but for myself as well.      

The promises we keep

Ten hours after my father died, I found myself in a pet store trying to comprehend the clerk as she explained she could not legally sell my son and I goldfish due to not having the appropriate tank prepped for the occasion. It was Christmas Eve afternoon and I had promised my son we’d surprise dad with a fish for Christmas. I was still under the impression that a 25-cent goldfish did not take an act of congress to secure. In the haste of navigating nursing homes, a global pandemic, a hospital transfer and hospice, I had neglected researching the complexities behind purchasing a simple fish. Standing under the fluorescent lights of the big box pet store, I fought back tears (and some serious anger) as my mind raced to come up with a back-up plan.  

Meantime, my son, ever so resilient, immediately suggested we peruse the pet store aisles for a pet we could take home that afternoon. He guided me blindly up and down the aisles and before we knew it, I was seconds away from making a 2-year commitment and walking out with a hamster. I was all in until my son confirmed that hamster poop was beneath him and that it’d be my responsibility. In that moment, I regained control, fought the holiday crowds and secured four tropical fish, tank, food, and accessories with a few white lies and a lot of grit. We even made it home and had the tank set-up prior to our 3 pm family zoom call.  

 It wasn’t until a few days later that my world came toppling down. Grief is like that. It comes out of nowhere and leaves you trying to find meaning in even the simplest of things. But, this isn’t a post about grief. It is a post about promises.

Why the fish? Because when I make a promise, I keep a promise. I knew with every ounce of my being that I would not leave the Twin Ports Christmas Eve without a fish. But, the problem with promises is that commitment ends as soon as it is with myself. Have you ever wondered why it is so hard to break a promise to your employer, friend, family, volunteer committee or even random acquaintance on Facebook but promises to yourself are the first to go? If you’ve figured that out, let me know. Because I am guilty as charged.

Last week, I had the honor of being a guest on Another Mother Runner podcast. We talked about all sorts of things surrounding my new book, including the simple question – do you really hate running?

The simple answer is yes. But, anyone who knows me, knows that nothing is simple. Nothing is black and white in my world. I hate running but I love the act of running. And, I love that even during a global pandemic, runners get to write their own narrative. You get what you put in. And come race day, your time reflects your effort. In a world where everything it out of one’s control, I can still control putting one foot in front of the other. I had forgotten that for a while… but as I’ve pushed out my book… I’m remembering. And the truth is, I need that right now. Losing dad leaves a big hole in my heart… my calendar… and my future. I always knew my dad was sick but given the man had exceeded nine lives, a part of me believed he would live forever. Even while in hospice, I genuinely went to bed believing that there was a chance I’d go visit him the following morning and he’d be skimming the grocery ads ready to argue about the price of a rib-eye.

So here I am. One month later. If you’re wondering, the fish are thriving. I am not. I’m struggling quite a bit on a lot of fronts right now and I want to be honest about that. I don’t know how I’ll come to terms working in health care when I struggle with how mediocre and cruel the system is to people and their families. I don’t know if I’ll write another book or ever lose the weight or grow professionally. Many of the dreams I set out on to achieve in 2020 – pre-pandemic and pre-grief seem tone deaf to the life I’m living right now. The RISE conference a year ago seems like a lifetime ago. I find myself now with a blank page on what comes next.

For those wondering, yes, I’m back in therapy. I’m also starting to ask myself what’s next. Slowly, I find myself setting new goals that are a bit simpler, yet true to what really matters to me. I’m going to grow a garden of only vegetables and flowers I love. No more zucchini or marigolds and minimal beans. Good bye broccoli. I’m going to learn about rock polishing and shine some Lake Superior treasures. And, I’m going to run a race again.

Yep. This was a very long-winded post to say I’m running again with a real goal in mind. I hope to find myself lining up at the Door Count Half Marathon on May 1 and crossing that finish line in under 3-hours. It is a goal that is now ten-years in the making. It is time. I suppose one could say losing dad was the spark… but that wouldn’t be honest. The truth is, I want this for me.

I want to take the next 13-weeks and train hard. I want to make a promise to myself that I’ve earned the right to be selfish for a few months. To say I need this win after a year of losses. I need to feel like I’m in control of something right now – even if it is just for a few hours on a cold and windy May day. If the race is cancelled, so be it. I’ll find another and then another. And when I cross that finish line, I’ll be reminded that the most important person to keep your promises to is yourself.    

Local Author Shares Love-Hate Relationship with Running in her Debut Book

Iron River resident Beth Probst is a non-athlete. Or so she believes. In 2011, after a few too-many mojitos at a dinner party with friends (remember those?), she decides to give running a try. Logically, she signs up for a half marathon, even though she’s never run a race in her life. And so begins the nearly decade long love-hate relationship with running.

It could be worse: a girlfriend’s guide for runners who detest running is a candid and at times humorous look at Beth’s running highs and lows, successes and failures, and some tactical tips on how to be a real runner when you feel anything-but. An added bonus, she taps into the wisdom of some of her favorite female running buddies to offer some additional perspectives and advice to help move one from the sidelines to the starting lines.

Of the book, this first-time author says she decided to put herself out there when she realized a gap in the marketplace for the woman who is filled with a lot of insecurities and doubt about running and has only one goal – to cross the finish line upright.

“There is an incredible pressure towards perfect in society,” says Probst. “Running is no exception. When I first laced up, I found countless books that focused on how to run faster, train harder, eat smarter and finish faster. But, for me, the plus-size gal in my 40s, my goal was to just finish while keeping my toenails in-tact. I’ve since crossed the finish line over a dozen times and I still don’t get the alleged runner’s high folks talk about. I figured I wasn’t alone so I thought I’d share my story in hopes in inspires one person questioning if they should run, to just lace up and try.”

Beth never hides the fact that she’s only finished in the back of the pack and had some horrifying running mishaps. But she still keeps showing up. “The great thing about running is you get exactly what you put into it,” she says. “I’ve cut corners on training and ate the frozen pizza the night before a long run—and those mistakes came with consequences. But that’s the thing about life. It is full of choices but they are our choices to make. This book is as much about taking charge of your own narrative as it is about lacing up and hitting the pavement.”

As for who should read this book? The dedication says it all—this book is dedicated to any woman who has felt unworthy… but showed up anyway. “If someone reads this book, I hope they leave with a few resources and tips on how to channel their inner strength – or Sisu – and realize that they have earned a spot at the starting line as much as the person next to them. That’s the heart and soul of this story. And better yet, I hope they even laugh a little.”

It could be worse: a girlfriend’s guide for runners who detest running is available locally at Solstice Outdoors in Ashland, Honest Dog Books in Bayfield, Drury Lane in Grand Marais, and Redberry Books in Bayfield. Or, to purchase online visit: https://store.bookbaby.com/bookshop/book/index.aspx?bookURL=It-Could-Be-Worse

When all you have is words…

The decision was made in an instant but years in the making. “I love you girls but I cannot keep fighting. Please don’t be mad.”

A glance at the nurse and a plea. “Please. I just want to go in peace.”

Suddenly we are out of time. After years of ups and downs navigating a broken health care system watching my dad fight for his life – and win; and advocating for his life more times than I can count, the decision is made. My sister and I advocate for him one last time. We watch dad initiate hospice and support him with all of our heart while feeling a piece of our heart break. He signs the papers instantly. He cannot nor should he suffer for another second in a system where folks fight to keep him alive, regardless of the physical pain he endures and his desire to die. He is ready.

He tells my sister and I he’s proud of us one last time in a sterile hospital room. A man of few words, he couldn’t have chosen a better book ending to a complicated yet rich life. I do not know it at the time, but I will not see him conscious again.

I should have seen this coming. In my head, I had prepared for it over and over again. I had made time for visits, listened to my dad’s endless stories and jokes, and sought therapy to help navigate the struggles of an aging parent. I had worked through my anger surrounding an amputation and a healthcare system that never understood my father. I had resolved all of the what ifs in my life – the times growing up where I was too busy pursuing my dreams that I missed the simple things. You know… the weekend fishing trips, county fairs, camping, phone calls and lunches. I spent the last ten years making up for those moments. I said everything that needed to be said. But yet, I still find myself in this moment, completely lost. Caught in the in-between. The part where you pray for a quick ending but guilt bubbles up and challenges why you would actually wish your father dead. A friend who knows grief all to well reminded me there is a difference between honoring your dad’s wishes and accepting them. 

Later on, I find myself alone in the hospice room watching my dad gasp for air. COVID-19 has added a logistical layer of complications in saying good-bye. Science says my dad is on enough morphine that he is comfortable. My heart says he knows I am here. Here. Sharing one last moment with dad.

I choose to use this moment to remember. I remember our fishing opener trips – including the time I was so engrossed in my book that a fish pulled my rod into the lake before I noticed I had caught it. Somehow dad managed to retrieve the rod (with a very tired fish on it). I remember my one successful day of fishing catching Sunnies with dad and how delicious his pan-fried fish tastes. I remember our annual camping trip including the year my girlfriend and I snuck out to meet boys on the beach. My mom had to let us know she knew while my dad just gave us that look. You know – the one dad gives that say a thousand words. It was the same look he gave when I flicked matches into his ice shanty and got removed from a little league softball game for being sassy.  

I remember arguing over the cost of a good steak, grapes and a 12-pack of diet coke more than once. I remember the endless conversations about weather where only Google could resolve the temperature differences between Cloquet and Iron River. I remember arguing just to argue and then argue about why we were arguing. My dad loved a good debate about nothing. That trait lives on in me.

I remember the endless days of playing ball growing up. Or, how dad would patiently watch me twirl baton, doing his best not to comment on the fact that I was destroying the lawn with my endless pivots in a quest to land that double turn around. I remember helping him plant his garden and sharing that first ripe summer sweet pea. I remember our trips to the Chicken Swap that resulted in unconventional pets and dad buying me a mule named Goldie and trying to pass her off as a pony because I was sad the pony I had wanted got purchased before we could buy him.

And then there was the advice. I remember dad lecturing me on how I didn’t need another degree to feel smart or that changing jobs wouldn’t make me happy. That a job is called that for a reason. I remember my wedding day where after our father-daughter dance he simply said, I hope he makes you happy and if he does, I’m happy for you. Or, the time he casually asked if I knew how babies were made when he felt I was taking too long to make him a grandpa again. I was 34 at the time.

I remember dad telling me he missed mom too when he knew I was sad. I remember dad walking me down a makeshift aisle at my wedding and holding my son after he was born. I remember him helping me pack for college, see me off to Oxford and inspect my first home. In every critical moment, dad was always there on the sidelines rooting for my success.  He’s been the constant in my life. For 42-years, every major milestone has been marked by dad encouraging me to pursue my dreams.

These memories and thousands more will carry me forward. This morning he passed peacefully. And now the waiting is over, replaced with grief. Grief is a crazy beast I’m all too familiar with. A new void in my life no one can ever fill. There will be no story big enough, no fish large enough, or joke bad enough to replace the man who made me. But in this moment, I’m thanking a higher power that dad’s struggles are done and that he’s reunited with mom in time for Christmas. Heaven gained another angel this Christmas and left a hole in my heart. But for now, I will find comfort in remembering and knowing that my dad’s stubborn spirit lives on in the family he created. Not even grief can take that away.    

Call Your Shot

I finally did it. I wrote a book. A book dedicated to any woman who has felt unworthy… but showed up anyway. In other words, gals like me. The book is technically about running – hence the title: It could be worse: a girlfriend’s guide for runners who detest running. But as I say in my into:

This book is about finishing. It is not about winning a race, enhancing your performance or setting a new world record by utilizing some ultra-hip training plan.  This is simply a book of tips, tricks and tales about what happens when you want to be a runner and…

In other words, running is not central to your breathing. You are a strong believer that running is a means to an end. That running is exercise. That the running culture is cool and you aren’t sure that you have a place within it, but you want to show up anyway. You don’t know where to start. More importantly, you don’t know if you belong or have earned the right to show up.

For years, I’ve let myself believe that I’m not ready to be an author. That I somehow have not earned the right to pen my story because of a whole slew of reasons including lack of education, lack of writing experience, lack of life experience… the list goes on and on. Surprisingly, I have a similar list for why for years I didn’t call myself a runner. I also believed that in order to write a book about running, I’d need to either become a really good writer or a really good runner. Newsflash – I am neither.

But, that’s the point. This book is as much about insecurities and the power of acknowledging it is ok to just be ok at something (or even mediocre) as it is about the tips I give so you don’t shit your pants before a run or lose a toe-nail. And I truly believe in a world of overly polished posts and perfection, the world needs more of the messy truth.

So folks, this is me being messy. This is me putting myself out there and sharing my running journey. The highs and lows, and the tears, laughs, mishaps and miracles I’ve experienced along the way. If you are a runner, you may find comfort, humor and/or pity in my story. If you for even a second want to be a runner but are scared to lace up, I hope you find some courage in these pages.

At the end of the day, this story is as much about me putting myself out there as asking you to take a chance on this first-time self-published author. I hope you’ll consider buying my book, reviewing it, and even sharing it with a friend.

To buy my book online visit: https://store.bookbaby.com/bookshop/book/index.aspx?bookURL=It-Could-Be-Worse

Or, a few shops are carrying my book locally. Check out the buy my book section on this website for a listing.

Over the next few months, I’ll be sharing some additional excerpts from my book, along with some of the incredible essays my favorite running pals penned for me. Their stories are equally if not more amazing.

Two Yooper days, one book, and a lifetime of insecurities.

I’m on my annual fall one-night get-away in which I contemplate all things life while driving and hiking back roads with my trusty D-SLR slung on my shoulder. It is a lot to tackle in 24-hours but it is on these trails where a 3-4 hour hike feels like a lifetime. It is crazy how easy binge watching a season of Gilmore Girls is compared to hiking straight uphill for a mere 15-20 minutes. I digress. I am going to share this one quick snapshot for history/tree buffs. This is from the rotted out inside of a white pine that snapped off about 60 feet in the air. It involved a lot of crawling in mud to get but sort of cool when you think about it.

But, back to the reason I’m popping on here today. The reason I’m writing today is I’ve found if I put something on the internet it happens. So here we go. I wrote a book. And then in the heat of editing, I almost shelved it. Yep. That’s right. I set out to write a book. I finally did. And, while that was my only goal, I’d be lying if many moons ago I thought I’d someday be a best-selling author. I think it was about the time I read my first Danielle Steel novel and contemplated what it’d be like to have millions of folks read my words. It sounded so glamorous and exciting. And since then, I’ve always wondered what. Keep in mind this is the same girl that once thought it’d also be cool to be Mary Lou Retton despite not being able to land a somersault or complete a cartwheel.

Fast forward about 30-years and here we are. This book – It could be worse: A girlfriend’s guide for runners who despise running will not top the NYT chart or frankly any chart. I know that, and frankly given some of the more embarrassing but authentic running accounts I share, I’m a bit mortified to think of what would happen if more than close family and friends read this.

That said, I’m human. Humans like to succeed. They like to feel like what they do matters. It is hard to pen a book and put it out into the universe knowing that best case scenario it will fail by all accounts. Yesterday, on the back roads of the UP, I played over and over all of the insecurities that come with putting yourself out there. How intimidating it is to share something so personal. But even worse, how intimidating to put something out there and have nobody even care.

But here’s the thing. This book is actually all about insecurities. My whole reason for running was to prove to some imaginary people in my head that fat people can in fact run. That just because I have some extra padding, that doesn’t mean I don’t get to choose the life I want. And part of that life is sharing my narrative… for better or worse. (This seriously frightens my husband but here’s the thing, don’t marry a women who chalks up writing as one of her top hobbies if you don’t want your life being on the internet).

So, after talking to myself and an unusually large and fearless doe chomping on some acorns on Brockway Mountain, I’ve talked myself off the ledge. I am plowing full steam ahead. This book will live on Amazon.com in perpetuity, (or until Jeff Bezos decides independent authors aren’t cool enough) and maybe even appear in a few independent book stores. I will share personal insecurities that maybe I don’t want the world to know, but frankly who cares. If this pandemic has taught me nothing else, it is that life is too short to live in regret. That at this point, I’d rather be a failed first-time author than no author at all.

Expect more posts in the coming months about this first time author putting herself out there. You’ll hear about my cover journey which includes the tough (not really) decision to not feature my fat ass on the cover… although I give 100% love and kudos to my designer who suggested the title Running Behind. I’ll share free excerpts, resources that have helped me run, and some very cool essays from some amazing friends who are contributing their words of wisdom to my cause. My only hope is that if you find any nugget of use, you share this with someone else. I hope to have more information about release date in the next month.

All in all, this book is a labor of love. That’s what it should be. A mere opportunity to put myself out there once again in hopes that someone, somewhere might read it and say if she can do it, so can I. Another attempt to give myself some grace so that I don’t miss out on an amazing opportunity to fulfill a lifetime dream. And, because frankly 2020 will not be remembered as the year COVID-19 kicked me on the ass but instead the year I dug deep and kicked back.

Lucky 7 Anyone?

I’m interrupting mom’s year of self-discovery to talk about the most important thing in her life – me. Yep, Jake from Moon Lake is back and hijacking mom’s blog for a quick update on the year I was 6.

A year ago, I rang in my birthday with a football themed party at the Community Center. I sported a new Tiger’s jersey proclaiming my love for roughhousing and mom’s dream of me someday becoming QB1. Life was simpler than.

I kicked off first grade by learning how to read… really good. It turns out I’m also really good at math. I love counting and for whatever reason, it was easy for me to add things up in my head. Some days I even surprised Mrs. Graff with my quick draw addition. Art on the other hand… well we all have our weaknesses. Coloring just isn’t my jazz, you know?

Speaking of Jazz, I love a good jingle. Mom gave me her Alexa this past year and I’ve been using it to play some of my favorites – Old Town Road, Blah blah blah, Pizza Man and Feed Jake. What can I say – I’m a country boy at heart who loves his Sponge Bob.

Which reminds me, mom got chickens again. I’ll be honest… I’m just not into them.  Other than the occasional chase, I’ve found I’m much more into domesticated pets like my best pal Joey. I did like playing cowboy for Halloween, though. For a brief moment, I even considered a profession in bull riding. Turns out, cow butts stink, so for now, I’m tabling that one.

As fall turned into winter, I tuned up my wrestling skills. Dad laid the smack down this year and said if I wanted to do tournaments, I had to go to practice. It turns out if you practice, you actually get better at wrestling. I was doing really well, even managed to place in a few tournaments, and then our world turned upside down.

It was time for spring break. We were about to jump on-board to head to South Carolina for a week-long get away on the ocean. I was gearing up to catch my first big salt-water fish and maybe try a handline. And then… everything changed. COVID-19 hit hard in March. School shutdown. Our vacation was cancelled. My friends could no longer come over to play. Baseball season was a no-go. I’ll admit, COVID-19 really cramped my style.

It turns out we had it pretty lucky, though. Mom and dad kept their job. They worked out an arrangement so I could do schooling in the morning virtually and then have my besties mom watch me in the afternoon. It is working out pretty well. I finished the school year strong and got to play with my buddy Nolan. Meantime, mom and dad got to keep working which meant they could take time off this summer for some family adventures.

Can we say cabin time? As soon as temperatures warmed up, we headed to the green cabin. I’ve had quite a few weekend adventures there including mastering tubing and knee boarding. I even tried water skiing (unsuccessfully) in July. This makes me the YOUNGEST Probst to ever try. And who knows, I may even get up this summer still. I’ve abandoned fishing for now but that’s partially because I am a fish now. Yep, early on in COVID-19, I mastered swimming at Moon Lake. I can now swim, float, do somersaults off the dock, cannonball off our pontoon and stay under water long enough that mom thinks I’m drowning.

I took advantage of COVID-19 to master my bike skills. The training wheels came off, I outgrew my kiddie bike and am now hoping for a new BMX bike. A new Dollar General went up in town and for over a month I used their newly paved (but abandoned) parking lot to master my technique. I even hit up a new bike park in Cable.

Our other summer adventures included mini golfing, meeting Paul Bunyan, go karting and exploring area lakes thanks to a new pontoon trailer paid for with stimulus money. Things got so crazy I actually went swimming in Lake Superior and Moon Lake… in April!

Dad gave me my first pocket knife and mom lets me light candles when she’s watching. Dad also keeps bringing me to the workshop where I get to play with sharp tools and learn about woodworking.

The two neighbor gals got gas powered four wheelers but after much debate, I’m gunning for a Chrome book and hacker mask instead. It isn’t the same but mom and dad are trying to teach me to be responsible about money. I also really love my screen time… when I’m not doing karate with dad or beating mom up.

Looking ahead, I’m excited to hear my school is opening up. I miss hanging out with my friends on a daily basis, eating uncrustable PB&Js, and winning a mean game of dodgeball in gym. It’ll be different wearing a mask everywhere I go but different is alright I guess. If nothing else, it keeps life on Moon Lake interesting.

And that my friends is the latest from Jake at Moon Lake. Until I’m back to report on how Lucky 7 went, enjoy your day!