Choose Your Own Adventure

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.

Cheers to 10-years!

My first post-race photo ten years ago!

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.

The Runner’s Shot

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.

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.