What’s next? Running book favorites and gardening.

Springtime in northern Wisconsin.

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.

It’s All Relative

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.

Race Day Recap

This past weekend, I lined up for my first in-person race in over 18-months. Since then, I’ve attended a game changing personal development conference (important for me to note, the conference was a game changer but the host is someone I’ve since lost most respect for), launched a book, said goodbye to my father, navigated a global pandemic and gained what I’ll lovingly call the friendly 15 (aka work from home chips).

Since January, I’ve done average on my training runs. In fact, according to Hal, I’m sitting at a solid C as I enter the final weeks of training for a 10-mile run in Eau Claire. Hal also says based on my training that I will hit my goal time come May 1. This race was a good prequel to seeing if that was true.

I crossed the finish line with no clue what’ll happen May 1. I won’t bore you with the nitty gritty but a few race highlights.

  • Turns out one should not assume the course is the same and Duluth’s hills are alive and well. I’d like to say this was a pleasant surprise. It was not.
  • COVID-19 has changed the start of races. Some good. Some bad. It is nice to know there isn’t a sea of people ready to crush you at the start. The introvert in me loves it. However, staggered start times, especially if you are starting in a middle time, means you are continuously getting passed by faster runners. It is hard to not feel like a tortoise in the way.
  • Crossing the finish line is still as sweet as ever. As is the medal.
  • Post-race cocktails are still delish.

When all was said and done, I finished 4 seconds slower than 2-years ago. I’ll take it. Am I still back of the pack? Yep. Am I still pacing ahead of my goal time for next week? Yep. In fact, my 13:37 per mile time is 23 seconds under my goal for May 1. Now, I recognize there is a huge difference between a 5k and a 10-miler but I’m cautiously optimistic that next week might go well.

All of that said, I recently heard one of those game changing podcasts that have me once again contemplating my why and motivation behind running. Brene Brown interviewed Dr. Pippa Grange about her new book Fear Less. It is currently on my to-read list. But, something she said really struck me. In their interview, they talked about a shallow win versus a deep win.

The shallow win is that carrot stick – that next big thing you are always chasing but yet somehow it is never enough. It is the world record, only to determine you need to set another record. Then, there’s the deep win. You know, the one where you cross that finish line with absolutely nothing left and even if you didn’t beat your PR, you still feel a sense of accomplishment because you ran the race on your terms? These past few months, I’ve been writing in my journal that I want to complete a 10-miler pacing under 14-minute miles. It is an arbitrary goal other than it’d be a PR and in my head, the closer I get to 10-minute miles, the closer I am to a runner versus being a jogger. This might be a simplified version of a relatively complex concept, but it does poise a few questions.

Is my goal going to help or hurt my love/hate relationship for running? On the one hand, my training has been a bit more consistent after the chaffing/undertraining/almost dying half-marathon of 2019. On the other hand, I’m wondering what happens if I don’t hit that time. If I’ll still feel that sense of purpose and achievement I generally feel, even when things don’t go well, because I kept showing up.

For the most part, my running goals have revolved around maintaining toenails, run/life balance and avoiding roadside potty disasters. But, the competitive part in me wants to set the bar a bit higher while also not losing site of what really does matter to me – just showing up and trying my best. It is an interesting conundrum to contemplate as I enter this last week of training. I guess we’ll see what happens when I cross the finish line.

In the meantime, I’ll be fine tuning my playlist (spotify premium is worth every nickel), doing a couple final training runs, carbo-loading, and gearing up for a weekend with my bestie who has graciously decided to hit this crack of dawn race with me and celebrate afterward at the Leinie Lodge. To me, right or wrong, shallow or deep, this seems like a for sure win-win to me.

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

Better for It.

dearselfAlas, another year is coming to a close. With that, comes the reflection of goals and dreams unmet in the past 365 days and the opportunity to start anew. This practice is particularly poignant for me this year given the vast number of milestones I anticipate celebrating next year. While some of these are goals, others are just a proof of mere survival, but all hold meaning to me. This includes:

  • Turning 40
  • Celebrating my 10th wedding anniversary
  • My first and only child starting kindergarten
  • Graduating with my MBA

To mark these milestones, I started surfing Pinterest several months ago looking for that perfect bucket list of items to accomplish as I sail over the hill. Many of the lists, memes, and words to live by resonated with me—so much so that I started folders and sub-folders within my Pinterest profile marking running goals, health goals, parenting goals and 40-year old bucket list goals. The laundry list of things I could do got very long quickly… While this all started out as fun, this also happened to be timed with finals, the holiday frenzy of Christmas and complications with an aging father. Needless to say, it went from fun and inspirational to gut wrenchingly impossible, very quickly. I could barely find time to shower let alone conquer the world.

It was about this time Twitter served me up this article from Harvard Business Review. This article focuses on your framework at work but I easily found this applying to my life. In my quest to keep moving forward, I had given up control of some things that really mattered to me. It was easier to keep piling things on than saying no to keep the overwhelming sense of guilt at bay. The task lists piled and life seemed to spiral out of control. As a control freak, this is a quick road to burn-out, irritability and feeling hopeless.

This past month, after hitting submit on my final paper, I took a time-out. No freelance. No schoolwork. Vacation. Reading. I spent time with friends, mailed thank you cards, and made sure I was present at Christmas. I cooked great food and drank cocktails of my choice. I didn’t bake, even when my kitchen-aid mixer glared at me for going unused during her prime season. I looked at my freelance contracts and let go of a few that were far from fulfilling. While it is hard to walk away from money, it was liberating to retake control of the small things.

And so it leads me to this post and the inevitable New Year’s Resolutions. I’ve whittled my list down (thanks to the help of a book called Grit, highly fascinating and I definitely recommend it) to just one with a few milestones to lead the way. It is cliché but as I watch some people near and dear to me struggle with health complications and saying good-bye to loved ones, it has meaning to me. And so, as I fly over the hill, my New Year’s resolution is to simply strive for a healthier and whole me.

Doing so, means saying no more. This will definitely not be the year of yes. It’ll be the year of, let me think about it and get back to you. My time and energy will be spent investing in my family, friends and frankly me. I’ll still volunteer and give back when I can, but honestly, it’ll be a lot more inward than outward this coming year.

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It also means walking across a few lines. Topping the list – my first trail run. Initially, I wanted to think big, so I figured I’d do a complicated half-marathon in my neighborhood. It frankly didn’t even sound fun and to my disbelief, does not award finisher medals. After some soul searching, I thought, Why?!?!? Why set myself up to suck at something so bad?!?!?! I’ve done the whole finishing last thing so no need to repeat that chapter.

So I’ve revised that goal to a 10K at Mount Bohemia in October. Last May, I took a trip that way and really reconnected with myself. I figure what better way to celebrate that, than by crossing a finish line in that same neighborhood. I have a series of races I’ll run leading up to that, all allowing me to train in a realistic manner.

A few months later, I plan to walk at commencement. It is something I’ve never allowed myself to do and I figure after 4-college degrees, it is time. Plus, I’m somewhat confident (as is my pocketbook) that at this point, I’m done with spending thousands of dollars on a sheet of paper to confirm my self-worth. No offense to higher education but it is time to be a lifelong learner outside of the classroom.

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Beyond that, there are a few other things up my sleeves but more on that to come. Bottom line is I’m ready for 40 and am just getting started. Don’t get me wrong, the self-doubt is certainly alive and well but I’ve learned that my Sisu is in fact grit and my passion is improving. So, worse case on this trail run goal, I find myself meandering through the woods of the UP during fall peak healthier than I’ve ever been before… and that’s a pretty awesome consolation prize. In the meantime, here’s a snapshot compliments of Nike of my life in the gym…