Saturday, June 6, 2015

Who says you can't replace running?

Every runner does!  And all those people are correct.  I will never be able to replace running.  The act of running, the joy of running, the meditation of running, the workout of running.......these things are simply not replicated or replaced with any other activity.  The possibility of me running again is greater than the possibility that I won't run again.  However, I have finally come to terms that I may never be able to run, or ride a bike, again.  Although this brings me much disappointment and sadness, if I don't accept this, then I will never move on.  I have been chasing the idea that I will make significant improvement every time or at least every week I try to run.  I have also been chasing the idea that I can find something to replace running.  Finally I accepted both of these notions as false.  And now, I have more room to grieve the loss of running and stop comparing everything to running and my former lifestyle.  Now, instead of thinking that I am doing kettlebell until I can run again, I see it as a whole new sport for me that is entirely different from running.  I no longer think of the benefits of kettlebell training as it relates to running, but just as its own fascinating sport with lifestyle benefits.  I get on the treadmill less and less to test out my running legs and I find that I am much less disappointed and saddened that I see next to no improvement.  I am going hiking most weekends with my poles to use on the uphill and then pick my way down with some sort of combo of jogging and walking.  I see it as hiking on the trails and not a lesser version of trail running.  Owen and I bought tennis rackets and so we can play tennis together.  This has been fun.  We tried riding a tandem to see if I could do that, but I was not able to do that without no riding a bike for me for now or maybe ever.  Good thing I didn't buy that new bike I was thinking about.....
Ironically, the bus I take to work is cancelled for 8 months.  It's about 2.5 miles for me to get to work, so I decided to use the ankle express.  Walking to work is actually the best option for me to get there the quickest.  So, perhaps I'll dust off the running shoes and walk to work the I'll do some sort of walk/jog on the way home while enjoying the summer.  I'll see it as locomotion, not as running.
Speaking of locomotion, I have really spent some time thinking about what running has done for me, particularly on the trails.  Here is what I came up with.  Human powered locomotion, such as running or walking, really has the ability to put our place as humans in perspective.  Think about it....when we get into a car or ride a bus, or get on a plane or train, the travel is done mechanically and at a much different pace as it would if it were human powered.  If you go 60 miles on the road in a car, it takes about an hour if you are on the highway.  You can get pretty far.  But walk or run 60 miles and the distance means something entirely different.  The effort to which is took to go 60 miles by foot, or even bike, is much greater, the time it takes to go that distance is much longer and it means, for me, so much more.  My place in the world feels much more accurate when it takes my own physical effort to get to my next destination.  I may have lost some of this perspective while I was in the midst of training for 100 mile events, ironically, but now that I can reflect on what that process meant to me, I will never see it as the same if I am ever to get back to it, or at least some version of it.  
For's exploring news things as my lifestyle shifts.  As the old joke goes, what is the best way to make God (or insert your word here) laugh?  Tell her your plans!
Some fun photos!

Got up at 4:30 on a Saturday to hike to the top of Mt. Tennerife

Still foggy on the way down, but so beautiful and quiet

Anyone for tennis, after coffee?

Rising above the clouds to McClellen Butte

Ivy gets a ride from her mama.

These 2 are the lights of my life.  Breakfast outside for them, they love it.

Attempting the tandem.  A fun excursion.

More beautiful PNW
Let's see what the summer brings!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Stay Hungry

Recently my husband and I binge watched Friday Night Lights.  That is 76 episodes...and nearly 76 hours of TV watching.  It was worth it.  I was surprised how much I liked this show.  When it was on "regular" TV years ago I thought I would never watch it, who wants to watch a show about high school football in Texas?  Apparently I did!  Just last week we watched "We Could Be King"  which is a documentary that is very similar to Friday Night Lights but is a true story and takes place in Philadelphia.  It's basically a story about being an underdog, working hard for what you want, believing in yourself,  being resilient, relying on your teammates, etc. It was really good and very inspiring.  One of the themes of the documentary was about staying humble and hungry.  In fact, the coach made his players do push ups for every letter in HUMBLE AND HUNGRY and spell out this motto as they did their push ups.  This really resonated with me.
This brings me to mention "the injury."  This injury that prevents me from running, riding a bike, hiking, etc. has been so humbling.  I am someone who needs a daily moving meditation, someone who needs movement to relieve stress, someone who needs a sweat and a physical challenge daily.  Running with some cross training thrown in was a no-brainer to meeting these needs- not to mention an enjoyable way to meet these needs.  I miss it and I miss sharing the trails with friends. I am truly humbled that my body isn't working in a way that it used to, that it wants to and my mind is not always graceful when confronted with this obstacle. order for me to get through this period in time, I have become slightly obsessive with 30 day challenges.  30 days gives me enough time to make it a challenge and also to see if this activity of the challenge adds to my life in a way that I will incorporate it going forward.  In a sense, I am staying hungry for new challenges which keeps my mind somewhat satisfied and relieves some of the disconnect between what my mind wants to do and what my body is capable of doing.  Firstly, I tried kettlebell sport and this is sticking with me.  I have really enjoyed getting involved with Seattle Kettlebell Club , learning what kettlebell sport is, meeting like minded people and finding a new way to challenge myself physically and mentally that keep me hungry for more. This is something I will stick with.  Then I tried a 30 day challenge of a 25 minute a day strength/cardio workout in addition to anything else physically I might have been doing that day.  I really enjoyed this,  it was hard and there were some times I got my heart rate up very high and dripped sweat.  I could see improvement in my stamina and strength in just a few weeks.  I am still doing this a few days a week.  The great thing about this is that when my injury would present itself, I just moved on to a different exercise.  Even my husband tried doing this with me one time....and one time only!
Now I am doing a 30 day gluten free challenge.  I'm on day 4 and I want some graham crackers.  But I did find a recipe for GF graham crackers so I will try these out.  So far I have made some really good things!  Quiche crust, muffins, more muffins and am always looking for new recipes and learning new techniques.  Baking gluten free appears to be a delicate balance in avoiding dried out crumbly edibles.  Who knew there were so many alternative ways to bake with all these types of flours and starches. I will experiment with other things besides muffins but I love muffins and I like to eat them every day.  And so does my husband.
So by being humbled, I am staying hungry to keep things interesting, new and adventurous.  Humble and Hungry, I like it.
Now for some photos:

Kettlebell Sport:  (
Yesterday we did a 10 minute set of jerks and snatches.  10 minutes doesn't sound like a long time, but it left me shaking and panting.

Timer set

Kettlebells are colorful

Nikolai (trainer) and Adrien in between 10 minute sets

I'm loving these k-bells

My attempt at running, 2.12 miles in 24 minutes of jogging and walking



My babes

Friday, April 10, 2015

Makin' A Comeback

 Ok, so this blog is making a comeback.  Not like many read this anyway, but I feel the need to do something creative again and this is a good way to do that and to document life a little.
As this first image shows....there is a big sign alerting of a change ahead.  We don't always get an alert that things are about to change.  If we had an alert, would it make it any better?  Would we stress more knowing WHICH change was coming?  Change is inevitable.  Sometimes it happens slowly over time, other times, it happens big time and overnight.  Is it better if there is much stress before in the anxiety of knowing that something big is going to happen and then less stress, maybe almost relief that it finally happened or is it better to be just living your life with all your schedules and routine and then BAM, it happens and you must adjust and accept.  I don't know which is better....but I do know that we don't get a choice in the matter.
8 months ago I ran a marathon with my brother and my husband.  I have not run since.  It's not because I had a bad experience, it's not because I am burned out from running, it's not that I found something else that fulfills me and de-stresses me, it's because I am injured.  I didnt' even realize it until the next day when I was walking to catch my bus to get to work, which I missed because I couldn't walk fast enough.  Since then, most doctors I have visited say, "wow, this is a challenge" or "um, quite a puzzle" or "I'm not sure what to do next."  So, pretty much, I am not counting on getting back to my running world again anytime soon and it has taken me a long time to find peace with that.  And I still struggle.  I struggle because not only can I not run, but I can't ride a bike, walk uphill, walk fast, or do much without pain and discomfort.  Although, it is getting better.
As I once said on a long long run with a good friend, "running is not my whole life
 but it sure makes my life whole."  That being said, I have enough emotional intelligence to know that because I can't run, doesn't means it's the end of my world, but it does mean many other things.
Now that I don't run I can see more gratefully the things it has done for me.  It has provided me with a bonding experience with my dog, a way to relieve stress, a way to experience moving meditation, created a bonding experience with like minded people, a way to challenge myself physically and mentally, an activity to do with my husband, a way to motivate/inspire and be motivated/inspired and a part of my identity. These past few months I have struggled to find something to replace it.  I miss it.  I long for it.  Without it I am forced to find other ways to manage stress and other ways to get out my "yah'yah's" and I have had to be just a little closer to looking myself in the mirror and asking myself....Am I happy in my life?  Am I on the track I want to be on?  What do I really want to do?  When a part of your identity is missing, it's hard to replace, it's hard to look at the hole there and not feel empty.  Being injured is more than not being able to run, it represents much more.

My baby boy, Struth, who initially got me into running and for whom I names this blog, is 11 going on 12.  I had hoped to do short runs with him on the trails in the fall of 2014 to just be with him and get back to our "roots."  For quite some time it was painful to just walk with him, but we walk.  We go for long walks and this is nice.  I was very stressed out when he had to have emergency dental surgery and what did I do to cope with the stress?  Well I sat in fear that something bad would happen instead of clearing my mind on a run.
Struth after dental surgery

Struth feeling better

Ella worried about Struth
 I knew I needed to find something to take the edge off so joined a gym, or the Rahab Facility as I like to call it.  I saw that have kettle-bell sport classes so I tried that.  Oddly, it is the only exercise that does not cause me pain.  So I am sticking with it for now.  It is a very unique exercise and sport.  There are actually competitions for kettle-bell which I did not know!  It is much harder than I thought and it is meditational in its own way.  My hands get beat up, but I still enjoy it as a footnote to running.


Kettle-bells are also very colorful and they match my shoes
 I have more time since I am not spending hours and hours running and training.  I am cooking more, trying new recipes, working longer hours at work, (ummm, is this good?)  I visited my parents in North Carolina.  We had a great time.  We even got to see a women's Duke Basketball game, impressive!
My them!
My mom is a riot!

 Owen and I went hiking with the dogs, which I think I might be able to continue with a couple more weeks of rehab.
Mason Lake

 Although I didn't see this coming and felt very angry about it, there has been some good things that have come out of having this time to find ways to fill the gap and grieve the loss.  Did I mention that we bought a house!  That was stressful....and exciting....and I am so happy we were able to do it!

In the new backyard!
So, this journey always....and thankfully it continues.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Revelations from Jury Duty and some running stories

Recently I was summoned for jury duty.  My first reaction was...what a drag!  I felt I was too busy at work to be able to give the time.  My supervisor even said she would write a note for me and my supervisor's supervisor said she would write a note for me so I could "get out of it."  My gut was saying, just do it, what's the big deal.  So I went ahead and committed to it.  I'm glad I did.  Even though the jury duty itself was extremely uneventful, the time I spent in the "jury pool" gave me some things to think about.  I was only there for 2 days and I was given a 90 minute lunch each day.  I had to sit in a big room in the 11th floor with huge windows and a good view.  I was able to take one 15 minute break a day.  I brought my book, a few snacks and some water.  I never did get to be on a jury.  What I realized in those 2 days is that I am extremely regimented, overly busy and do not take time each day to relax and take a break from what I am doing.  I don't usually take a lunch at work, instead I eat at my desk and the only break I really take is going for morning coffee with some co-workers.  I workout before work and I rush to catch the bus, (I am very thankful that my husband often drives me to the bus in the morning as it is a mile away and the ride saves me a good 15 minutes).  While on the bus I am usually catching up on emails and such.  Although lately I am trying to read my book on the bus to try and relax.  Once I get home from work I usually have to go to the store to get groceries to cook dinner, eat, walk the dogs, clean up, get my lunch together for the next day and then it is time for bed.  How do people do this with children????? But being on jury duty, I actually had time to relax and read an entire book.  It usually takes me 3-4 weeks to read a book, but I had the luxury to read all day next to a window in a comfortable chair.  During lunch, I had time to eat and space out, run a few errands and do some things that I think about but never feel I have time to do.  I forgot all about work for those 2 days and really enjoyed myself.  Who knew?  I renewed my library card and checked out a book.  Our library here in Seattle is quite cool.
 There is quite a red theme in the library....

The relaxation of jury duty did not last long.  I was back at work the following day, eating lunch at my desk etc.  However, I am reading my book on the bus now.  Since I checked a book out of the library I had to read it faster than usual since I have to return it on time or else...the library police comes after me.

Owen designed the Cougar Mt 20mile/50k shirts and because of that we received a complimentary entry to the race.  We decided to run the 20 miler for something different and also because the following weekend we were signed up for Carkeek 12 hour.  The 20 miler was fun!  I started trail running at Cougar Mt back in 2005 and had done my first trail series there which included my first ever half marathon.  I had heard some people saying that they were going out for another loop as I stood at the finish line panting, bloody and thinking how I just finished my first half marathon, the farthest I had ever run.  I could not believe what i had heard.  So of course I inquired and they told me that they were training for White River 50 miler.  WHAT!  I was flabbergasted.  I was also intrigued.  So I did some research and began my training.....
Having a great time at Cougar, photo credit: Glenn Tachiyama

Owen killin' it at Cougar, photo credit: Glenn Tachiyama
The following weekend Owen and I headed out to Carkeek to run in some loops for 12 hours. Thanks to Matt and Kerri Anne Stebbins and Seven Hills Running, Carkeek was on!  In all honesty, I was sort of looking to use the fitness that I gained for the Bear but did not use.  I hadn't run Carkeek since 2009 and had tied for the course record with 54.03 miles.  I had done a few calculations to figure out how many loops I would have to run in a hour to break the course record and just see how the day would go.  I felt great actually and the 12 hours went by so fast.  I ate croissants and turkey and cheese wraps all day and had really good energy.  That all paid off and I ran 56.73 miles for a new course record and first place and Owen ran his best distance, 53.73 miles for first male!  We were both excited about it and each won a stuffed animal dragon.  What a great prize!  We gave one to friend Eric Purpus who had a very cute daughter who could have fun a huge stuff dragon.
Stuffed dragons!  Great idea!
So what now?  Just some fun running with the dogs in the ever changing weather with the season change.  One of my favorite things in the world is watching the dogs have the time of their lives running on the trails, tongue hanging out with big smiles.  It warms my heart!
Who can resist these faces

Cool fog

My heart melts

Saturday, October 19, 2013

A year in review, including The Bear 100

It has been a long time since I updated this blog.  I didn't really think anyone ever read it but then a few people commented that I hadn't written for a while, so here it goes.
A whole year has gone by and lots has happened!  Lots of really great things!  I started a new job, I really experimented with my nutrition hoping to cure my GI ailments, approached running in a new way and with that in mind, all the races I did this year where races that I had never done before.  Plus a whole bunch of other things, but I will write only about a few.
With the surgery behind me and my nerve pain much reduced, I was able to do much more running than just relying on cross training.  I really enjoyed cross training however getting up at 4:30 everyday to workout at 5 AM was not sustainable for me.  So it was good timing that I was going to try something else.  The running year started with a solid run at Bridle Trails 50k, a very fun night run on bridle trails.  This course is known for its mud and manure, however this year it was so cold and had been for several weeks that there was no mud, manure yes, but mud no.  SO it was much easier to run and much easier to avoid the manure.  Having never done this race before, I have no idea if it is more fun to slide around in the mud.  I was hoping to break 5:30 and wound up doing a 4:44.  That really surprised me.  However, I am quite sure that I out-ran my fitness level and the recovery did set me back a bit.  Owen told me that if I beat his best time there he would buy me dinner.  I tried hard, but did not succeed, he still had me by 10 minutes.  But he was there to greet me at the finish line and because  I was first woman, he took me to dinner anyway.  That was January.

Nothing too eventful happened in February unless you count going snowshoeing for Owen's birthday and near catastrophe struck.  I won't go into details, but it was the scariest moment for me in whole life thus far.  And all I can say is thank the heavens that he is still alive.  Here is something else positive from his birthday, the homemade cake.

Then in March I blew my hamstring but still raced the Gorge 50k on it and the entire race sucked for me because of it, enough said, let's move on.

Then came many many months of lots of running.  I upped my weekday runs to 10+ miles 3 days a week with 2 days of yoga and some kettle bell workouts.  The summer was incredible and we were able to do so many fantastic runs.  We went to Mt. Rainier, even took my parents there, the PCT, alpine lakes region, etc.  And our land lady was kind enough to build us a deck so we spend lots of time recovering on the deck and eating, BBQ-ing and all that goes with that.
Melakwa Lake loop

Thompson Lake

Bandera Mt

Always a beautiful sight

Rainier in the distance

New Deck with the parents

Mt. Rainier with the parents, their first trip!

PCT Section J run with EB

Kodak courage

~11 hours on the PCT, Epic Day!

Mr. Rainier, White River campground to Ipsut CG

Very steep sections and ~6700 ft

cool suspension bridge on the Wonderland
The sun went down fast and it was COLD
My favorite, watching the sunset with Owen at 6700 ft at Rainier, priceless

~44 miles on the Wonderland, great day, hard day

In August we were lucky enough to run Waldo 100k.  This event is top notch event.  We arrived Friday night and camped in the parking lot with many others.  We parked in the parking lot of the ski lodge and so available to us were the bathrooms, warmth inside, a little cafeteria that opened I believe just for the race.  I slept surprisingly well that night and got up very early for the 5 AM start.  We started in the dark and on a pretty major climb.  By the time the sun came up we were headed for the first big peak, Mt Fuji, and an incredible view.  This race is run almost entirely on single track and is one of the most organized, beautiful, fun and tough events I have ever had the privilege of running.  I highly recommend it. Good friend Eric Barnes was there and Jenny Appel and so the next morning, we went to breakfast at the nearest town in a greasy dinner.  A greasy omelet never tasted so good!

Friday before the race at the ski lodge

Thanks to Long Run photos, this incredible section of the course was captured

Great photo of Owen, thanks to Long Run photo

YUM, breakfast and coffee!
We recovered from Waldo and next up was the Bear 100.  We decided to drive to Logan, Utah for this race instead of fly just to mix things up and to see some of the good old USA.  Right out of the gate, I got a speeding ticket!  Oh boy.  The drive was not too bad, including all the pit stops, it took us 14 hours from Seattle.  The Bear claims to be 36 hours of Indian Summer.  It starts in Logan, Utah and ends in Fish Haven, Idaho at Bear Lake, 100 miles later and through the Wasatch/Uinta mountains.  The average elevation is ~7000ft, which for a sea level resident is daunting.  A storm rolled in making the Indian Summer a myth to us.  We brought all of our winter gear.  I had read some race reports on years with warm temperatures that had said it had gotten really cold at night.  We were prepared.  I started off wearing tights which I have never done in a 100 miler but I am glad that I did, we encountered snow and ice nearly immediately.  I dressed correctly as although the temps dropped to the low 20's, I actually had managed to stay fairly warm.  I did wear my cross county ski pants at night and a puffy coat though.....
The Bear for me was a very tough event.  Once again, I got very sick at mile 45 and puked for ~ 20 miles.  Once I arrived at mile 61, I knew I would be in for a long one as I could not keep food down and had very little energy to think, strategize or run.  I left that aid station and continued to puke every few steps and was quite unstable on my feet.  A guy who was pacing another runner stopped and asked me some questions about my condition.  He told me it was in my best interest to go back to the last aid station and recover because we had a long climb ahead.  He said he was a doctor and that he was not just blowing smoke up my behind, but that he did know what he was talking about. I didn't listen to him, I did not want to back track.  Then about 30 minutes later, Owen caught up to me and I was still bend over puking but a little bit further along the course.  He also told me to turn around and go back to that aid station and recover. I had probably gone about 2 miles and did not want to turn around but I knew he and the the other guy were right.  I reluctantly turned around and went back.  I got to that aid station, immediately fell asleep.  I woke up, puked some more, then I eventually tried to keep down broth and a banana.  Once I could keep something down, I headed back out.  I left that aid station at 2:45 AM.  I had been there nearly 3 hours.  I went back up the climb that I had started 3 hours earlier and just kept moving.  I still felt sick and now had diarrhea but I just wanted to finish.  And without going into too many more details, I did finish.  I thought I would not make the cut off time of 36 hours but told myself, even if I didn't finish in 36 hours, I would have still done the course.  I was unable to eat the rest of the miles but I could drink water and broth.  There were 2 trail angels that I met.  One was pacing someone else and stopped to pick me out of the crazy mud and encourage me.  This was about mile 90, he was so kind, so very kind.  At the last aid station, mile 92, there was a woman there who asked me if I was alone and offered to run it in with me.  I was so grateful for her offer and took her up on it, she said she really wanted to see the last 8 miles of the course.  She was a true angel and having her company just took my mind off the insane climb to over 9000 feet that was just past the aid station and the subsequent steep downhill and the longest 8 miles of my life.  I crossed that finish line in 34 hours and 39 minutes.  The strange things is, I didn't even really feel relieved or excited.  I just felt very out of it.  I haven't even really begun to process this event, I cannot figure out how I feel about it.  I am glad to have kept going but also disappointed that this nutrition disaster keeps following me around, I seriously need to figure out what I am doing wrong that makes me so sick in these 100 milers.  Back to the drawing board. 
Owen finished in 32 1/2 hours despite his asthma problems.  We are both glad we finished.  We rested all day Sunday and drove back to Seattle on Monday.  Back to work on Tuesday...we need a vacation!
Snow and low temperatures on the first climb at the Bear

A sunny day for the finish

Some of the food from my drop bags that I never did eat after I got sick