Tuesday, May 2, 2017

The longest off season. Ever.

Hey there. It's been a while...

Anyone else hear the Staind song in their head now? Yeah, me neither.

Anyhoo. I'm coming off the longest off season, ever. Pretty much since I crashed in Augusta at the Ironman 70.3. What is that, like 18 months?

So this great book by Alicia DiFabio came out and I'm honored to be one of the featured stories. Frankly, after reading about some of the kickass-nothing-can-stop me ladies in this book, I've not a clue how I made the cut for 'Women Who Tri' seriously the first story made me cry and think "I'm not worthy."

My blog is mentioned in the book and Velo Press has been tweeting about it, so figured I better get off my ass and start blogging again. I've missed it, there's something therapeutic and freeing dumping some of my inner most thoughts onto the inter web where anyone can read it and the pass judgment. It helps me with my I don't give-a-fuck-what-you-think-attitude which keeps me doing crazy stuff that pushes me out of my comfort zone and stimulates growth.

I've signed up for the Chicago Marathon in October, my first stand alone marathon outside of an Ironman. Figured I better get better at running if I'm going to go back to triathlon. I miss triathlon. I really do. For a long time I didn't miss it when I watched a race or when I stalked a friend on Irontracker come race day. But I find myself missing it now, so I'm not done.

I've made some progress on my run, snagged a few PR's in a 5K and the 8K. I'm working on building distance. So I'll share some shit, err, stuff along the way.

In the mean time enjoy some pictures from my run in San Francisco today.

                                                             Running with Team Soma

                                                    Chillin' at the Bay Bridge, reflecting

'One of the things I love about running is you can do it anywhere. All you need is a pair of sneakers and a sense of adventure. The thing I love about @BoMF is that it doesn't matter if you're fast or slow, first or last, all that matters is you want to get better and you keep putting one foot in front of the other, in running and life.' #scenesfrommyrun #transformation #community #improvement #determination #grit #change #dontstop #love #family #DFS

So welcome back. Welcome back. Welcome back. Welcome b-a-c-k. Anyone seen Carter? Ahem, Kotter?

Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Do as I say, not as I do

I should get that printed on a t-shirt. Because what I say to you, the advice I give you, how I may encourage you; is what I really want for you. I want it so bad for you, but not for myself.

I tell you the wonderful things I see in you, I'll help you find the silver lining, I'll encourage you to get the help you need, whatever that looks like so you can live a happy and full life. I'll tell you to embrace the person you are and to love yourself.

But inside, I talk so much shit to myself. I say the most negative, mean, judgmental things to myself. About myself. We are our own worse critic, which is so very true. I'm sure some of you can relate to the saying "do as I say, not as I do."

Let's say we're looking at a picture of me. You may notice my smile, you may notice what I'm doing, who I'm with. You may notice if I've gained or lost weight. You may notice some of my flaws. Many people say they just see a compassionate person. I look at the same picture and I first notice that my left side of my mouth droops, an after effect of bells palsy. I see my scar on my shoulder, representative to me of a crash that I shouldn't have been so dumb to let happen. I see the uneven skin tone from terrible sun damage on my face. I should have spent more time on my hair. I should have cared more about my clothes, why didn't anyone tell me that shirt looks awful. I should have sucked my stomach in, my thighs are huge, how many chins do I have...

It goes on and on. Everyone is hard on themselves, right? It's normal and if everyone does it, then it must be okay. Comes to turn out I would discover how uncool it is, how confining it is and down right detrimental it is.

Let me step back a few months. My Ironman training fell apart. I thought it was because of a foot injury. But my foot got better, although I was still restricted to 4 miles, my training didn't come back together. I made a difficult decision to pull out of my races for the year due to being so far behind on training for the long runs required for an Ironman.

I felt a tremendous weight lifted from my shoulders. I thought my workouts would resume and life would be good. After a turn of several events I realized I was depressed and had been depressed for quite some time, years possibly. I talked to my coach like a therapist, trying to flip every stone looking for the root of my depression, but I never quite got the right rock. He challenged me to start listening to how I talked to myself, in workouts, at work, in any situation. So I did for several days. Holy shit, I talked so much smack to myself, NON-STOP. At the end of the day I made myself exhausted listening to my brain go 100 miles a minute in a bad direction.

I went to my doctor and told her about dropping out and my depression. She said matter-of-factly, "oh the girl who uses endurance athletics to run away from her feelings doesn't have that anymore" and hearing those words was like being smacked in the face with the rock I had yet to flip.

There was a Humans of New York post that talked about a guy who was going to therapy, unloading all his shit so he could get better and be healthy. Then a friend posted about how we all post about our workouts getting our bodies healthy and people celebrate those, so why not celebrate our workouts to get our mind better? That got the hamster in my head turning its wheel on a post.

So what do I know? I know I talk shit to myself all day, every day. That I don't believe in myself the way I believe in you. What does it all boil down to? I have no self-esteem, self-worth or self-love. The exact things I try to empower those in our circle with; I talk the talk but don't walk the walk. Wow that's shitty of me. Who am I to treat myself so badly? I wouldn't let anyone treat you that way, so why do I think it's okay for me treat myself that way?

For a long time I was able to compensate for my bad self esteem with my professional and volunteer accomplishments. In the last few months I received several incredible professional accolades and I didn't feel like I deserved them because how I look. At this point I realized that I was no longer able to compensate for lack of self esteem, I had work to do.

I decided to take action. It's hard to undo all those bad habits of being mean, talking negative and having hate for yourself.

So like that guy in the Humans of New York post, I'm going to celebrate what I'm doing to improve my mental health. I decided to get on a low dosage anti-depressant. I noticed a difference within a few days. The world was brighter, I was seeing nature, like cloud formations, flowers and animals I hadn't seen in a long time. It's taken an edge off that I didn't really know was there. I only wished I had done this sooner. I knew something wasn't right, but kept thinking it will get better when xyz happens. But it would happen and I would look to the next xyz to make things better. Vicious. Cycle.

I got back to my daily Alanon readings and I am sharing my thoughts on the readings with others every morning. It's opening a dialogue about my higher power, my defects, hopes and fears. I grew tremendously as a person when I first found Alanon and like an onion, I'm peeling back another huge layer. I also shared openly and honestly with my home group about my struggles and have been going back to more meetings.

I've been reading an incredible book called "Daring Greatly" by Brene Brown at the suggestion of my coach. I've never read a book that could make me burst into tears after reading certain passages. Not tears of sadness, tears of realization. Tears of joy that someone is putting into words what I've been feeling or struggling with. It's a great read and could be a fast one, but I'm taking my time reading each chapter. Really taking time to reflect and process as I feel like I'm in a maze of rooms and each chapter allows me to unlock another room getting me closer to freedom. I've come to love conversations with my coach after every chapter about the lessons I can gleam from the readings and the things I've learned about myself. One of my favorite quotes so far and I still tear up every time I read it: "Only when we're brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light."

I'm working so hard to talk positive to myself. If I hear something negative in my head then I stop myself and change it into a positive. I find myself giving a damn again, trying to put more effort into getting ready in the morning, drying my hair, getting out makeup.

I'm going back to basics. I've packed away all my race bibs and need to scrape the 140.6 sticker off my car. I want to go back to the very beginning of this journey and start from scratch. It's hard to not want to compare my workouts to what I used to be able to do; therefore encouraging negative talk. But if I don't take away the evidence of that I'll keep beating myself up for not being at that level. So I'm pretending I'm new to everything. I'm learning to run again, to bike and swim again; starting back at low distances and building. To fall in love with triathlon again. I just started running with shorter strides so I can hit properly mid-foot. I even learned how to properly tie my shoes prior to a run hahahaha. While my distances are not long, I am running faster than I ever have, even when I was my strongest in the 2014 season. I'm a few pounds heavier and have lost a lot of strength since then; so what's the difference? I'm talking positive to myself during the runs, it really is such a mental test not physical. I'm learning to incorporate balance to my life as I build back my endurance, taking time to read, relax and socialize with friends; I want to be around people again.

I'm working on a low-carb lifestyle. I'm not perfect, nor do I ever think I will be. But I'm making better decisions, I'm changing habits and trying to break the cycle of turning to food when I'm happy, mad, sad, disappointed, anxious, well you get the point.

For so long I've been chasing this idea that if I just get to my goal weight already I'll be happy. Beating myself up that I can't quite figure out how to get to my goal weight. After reading some of the "Daring Greatly" book I've finally realized that I can never achieve that goal if I don't dig deeper and first build my self-worth. That's the rock I couldn't find to turn. Until I build self-worth, self-esteem and love myself, I'll never get to the rest of the things I want to achieve.

It's a lot of work. I'm not going to lie. But I keep thinking "if you keep doing what you've always done you'll always get what you've always got." It feels weird to do something different. But a good weird, it feels exciting and often exhilarating.

Friday, May 13, 2016

I'll have another

Lindsey Hein (http://lindseyhein.com/) is a mom, incredible runner, coach and social media pro. She has started a podcast called "I'll Have Another," just casual and fun conversations with people she wants to get to know better so she can share their stories with her listeners.

Lindsey and I have known each other for five years and met through Back on My Feet as she was staff when I was a volunteer. Lindsey has always been an incredible supporter of our work and of my personal journey. She is the reason I got involved with Back on My Feet in the first place.

On Monday Lindsey had me into her home so we could catch up on her podcast. We had a great time chatting, it was fun to chat for longer than the usual 5 minute catch up we get at events.

It was really easy chatting to Lindsey, she's so sweet and asked a lot of great questions. Lindsey has been pretty open on her blog about what she's gone through as a runner and a mom and I think that's why we connect so well, we share it like it is. We could have talked about any of the many topics we covered forever: Back on My Feet, Running, Triathlon, Ironman, Being a Back of a Packer, Concerts, my TedX talk, TV shows, Meals on Wheels. There's laughter and tears

If you're looking for something lighthearted and fun on your podcast list I'd highly suggest "I'll Have Another" as it's full of laughs, sometime tears and a lot of inspiration - even if you aren't a runner!

Take a listen to Episode 10 where I share some of what's been going on and become a subscriber so you can get new episodes. It's on Itunes, stitcher and google play.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

What does running change?

Self-esteem. Confidence. Discipline. Love. Determination. Attitudes. Self-worth. Health. Mind. Body. Spirit. Relationships. Priorities. Emotions. Pride. Goals. Passion. Hope. Lives.

Running changes all of that and more. We could easily fill an entire blog post with things that running changes. Yesterday we had 18 members run the half marathon and 5 members run the 5K race at the 40th running of the OneAmerica Mini Marathon. We had five runners raise money on our behalf to support our program while training for the half marathon. And countless numbers of volunteers and friends of BoMF. When out cheering the race, you easily saw a Back on My Feet shirt or face every fifteen minutes among a crowd of more than 35,000 runners.

It's tradition that we circle up before the race. In that picture of the circle there are so many emotions. There's nerves. It was a first half marathon for many. Some were going after a PR. Others were returning after injury or fighting personal obstacles. There's happiness, to be in a circle of people that truly support each other as runners and human beings all getting through this race called life. There's pride. Pride in the team, pride in one's self and pride in the progress of each of our journeys.

Yesterday was full of change. It was full of PR's: people running their first half, people running their fastest mini and others running their fastest race. It was full of struggle, some thought they'd never see the finish, some that were fighting the voices in their head telling them to slow down or walk, or were fighting against the wind. Everyone had to go through a change to get there. Whether a physical change, many lost weight getting to the start line; a mental change, some got to the start line of something they would never imagine they'd attempt. Everyone came out a little different on the other side of the finish line.

The determination to get to the finish produced an increase in self-worth. An higher sense of pride. A fuller sense of being alive and grateful for life. All because of running. Running changes more than meets the eye and many runners will tell you that running has saved their life. At one point yesterday it was brilliantly sunny and pouring down chilly rain at the same time. Just like life, the sun always shines when you need it most, you just have to look past things to see it.

Congratulations to everyone for an amazing day! Whether it went better than you imagined or it wasn't the day you visioned, it was a good day, we were out there together. Life is full of lessons and they come in different wrapped gifts. Sometimes it's a beautiful gift with a big bow that makes your heart skip a beat with wonderment about what is inside and other times it comes wrapped in old newspaper, tattered and torn. No gift is any better than another, so cherish every one.

Thank you to all our race partners for making these moments possible.

in the shadows

You've seen it in movies, the hero is struggling to stay a float after being locked into a room that is filling with water. Their head tilted back, grasping at the last few breaths of air before they're gone. Your heart is racing and you're wondering how they're going to get out, they have to make it out!

Everything is closing in on you. You don't know why, you can't figure out why you'd be depressed, there's no reason you should be. That's the pisser of depression, it comes out of no where. You can be having a great day, things are going well and it snatches you like a thief in the night.

You think you feel the hands of the thief closing around your neck, but you wake up to see nothing. So you go back to sleep, thinking you're just imaging things. It happens the next night. But everything is fine, the house is locked, you have a dog that's not barking and you haven't heard a thing that would cause you to worry. You thought you had been checking the shadows, but apparently not enough.

Then it comes and snatches you. You're in a dark room feeling isolated, the more isolated you feel, the more you seek comfort in the loneliness. You're left wondering how you missed the warning signs and didn't see it coming.

You finally see a small stream of light coming in from the top of the dark room. You realize you're in a pit that has slick muddy walls. You have to climb out, but you start to climb and you only slide back down. Finally after sitting there long enough, beating yourself up for not being able to climb the wall of mud, you see a hand reaching out to you. You get yourself up one more time and go for the biggest jump of your life, you connect hands and scramble your way up the wall to the light.

Depression. Addiction. That easily describes both of these. They come out of no where. You think you have your depression licked or you think you're well rooted in your recovery. Both you're feeling great and on top of the world.

If you're at the bottom of the pit don't give up, look for that light and don't be afraid to jump for the hand wanting to help you up. If you're out of the pit, extend your hand out to help someone in need. It gets better, ride the wave. The pendulum will come swing back the other way. You've still got work to do, people to help and life to live.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

5 months that lead back to zero

Hey there. It's been a while. Last we chatted I was telling you about my new scar. Well fast forward five months and it's doing well. I've gained full mobility and the scar makes an appearance every day unless I'm wearing a crew neck top.

I can't lie, I enjoyed those few months over the winter where I couldn't do too much. Workouts were fun, back to 30-40 minutes, like normal people do. I had plenty of free time and I looked around at how much shit I've accumulated since I moved into my house in July of 2003.

I read "The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up" and while I found some of the stuff in there hokey, I took a lot of it to heart. At the same time my fridge broke and I was a few days without one. So it was the perfect time to start pitching stuff. I looked at everything with a critical eye, do I really need this? The entire process took me about a month, I went out of order for the book as that is what worked for me. I got rid of more than 50 trash bags of things that were donated to charity. I got rid of old programs, posters and photos of things I thought I'd want when I was 50. Well guess what I didn't want it at 36, so I probably wouldn't care at 50.

The things I couldn't donate I threw out, which was another 20 trash bags (because let's be honest, while your trash is another's treasure, sometimes your shit is just trash, so don't donate it thinking someone can use it just because you can't and make the non-profit throw out your trash. Case in point, read this great article Stop giving your crap to the poor)

I sold a lot of old purses and goods on a facebook garage sale site. The book is all about clearing out the clutter, things you don't need, living on less and creating spaces in your home that spark joy. I hated my dining room table so I took my money and bought one that makes me happy. I repainted some cabinets and my entertainment center. Now my house sparks enormous joy. Everything has its place and it will take me an hour to clean my house top to bottom at the end of the week. People can come over with zero notice. It's really nice.

It couldn't have come at a better time. I'm working really hard to pay off my credit card debt. The years of traveling with friends who made 3x as much as I did, the ridiculous amounts of drinking with people who couldn't afford the tab during my early 30s mid-life crisis, buying too much for others, Ironman, etc. So getting rid of so much shit in my house made me want to puke. I was literally sick to my stomach looking at all the things I "thought" I had to have that I never touched. It pairs nicely when you're trying to stop spending. So I think extra long and hard now when I buy things, I don't go to Target, I grocery shop on a list and reduced eating out.

All this organization allowed me to have time to make my tshirt blanket I've been wanting to do for years. One side is triathlon and the other side is running. I made a duvet cover and have more than 70 shirts of memories to keep me warm on winter nights. (Because who the fuck wants to date?! I'm all stocked up on crazy)

It's been good for work, too. We're building a new staff that so far is working out really nicely. We've got a HUGE project we're announcing at our big fundraising event in April, that has pretty much doubled, if not tripled my work. But it's great progress and will launch us forward so it's exciting stuff. Staying better organized and on-top of things has been helpful. It's just nuts, every time I think it will slow down it doesn't, so I guess I just need to accept that crazy and nuts is how it is running a small non-profit.

So wait, what about training?
Ha, so that's what I've been avoiding. And by avoiding, it's not like I've not been training. I guess I just haven't been taking it very seriously. Which I think has been my problem since day 1 back in 2009. I don't push myself to the max every workout. People tell me "you deserve a break, slow down, rest" and I think I take it to heart when I shouldn't. I need to go all out, that's who I am. So when I try to put the brakes on and take it easy, it doesn't work. I need to go with what I know works. Life isn't about being balanced every day, it's about at the end, when you close the book, is the book balanced? I believe mine will be if I continue to work my life how I KNOW I need to work it. I work hard and I play hard, I always have.

I feel guilty when people tell me I work too much. I feel guilty when people tell me they think I'm always traveling. Here's what I think, I don't think they see the other side of the pendulum. Those who see the work side of me don't see the other side. Those who say I travel/play too much, don't see me answering emails at 11 PM at night, or working on a grant at 10 AM on a Sunday, or talking to a member that's upset on a Saturday after a race. I also realize people say things like that because they're jealous, I know, because I do too. We always criticize that of others that we don't like about ourselves.

Today's a new day. A day to start fresh. To get serious about the things that matter. I need to stop my head from thinking "you should be here, you should be able to ride xx miles" because honestly, the 5 months has set me back to zero. I have to approach it all like it's brand new, like I've never raced before, otherwise I'll always be my own worst enemy. My speed isn't getting faster, why? Because I haven't done what I need to in order to get faster. I have to stop thinking I'll go after it in my next workout, because maybe today's is all that I have. There's no guarantees in life, I should have learned that in my bike accident in September. Real results take real work. There's no excuses, no wrap, shake or pill that will get you there. Just hard work and keeping yourself honest. Thanks to those in my life that help keep me honest.

I am enough. I am enough. I am enough.

<<Brain dump end>>