Saturday, March 29, 2014

Eating an Elephant

My apologies for my lack of posting lately. My plate has been full. You see I've been eating an elephant. Big task for a vegan and a little overwhelming at times. I have made many drastic life changes in the last 8 months and with those changes comes work. I have left a 22 year marriage, moved back to Canada after 21 years away and started to reestablish myself in a new community. I chose to do all these things but that doesn't mean at times I didn't feel bogged down, instead of eating the elephant there have been times I was just choking on it. Instead of looking at the bite in front of me I would start to look at the whole thing. 

There were times when I thought I had gotten through a leg of the thing to turn around and find out it had grown back. Not everything could be accomplished easy and in one sitting. Some things needed to be done two or even three times. I wasn't always making forward progress but slowly the list diminished and the elephant went from being a giant bull to a little calf. Instead of ignoring the elephant in the room at times I would address it directly. When I was scared of the elephant I would think of him dancing around in a pink tutu and quite frankly nothing wearing a pink tutu is that frightening. 

Throughout this whole process I have been grateful for my years and experience in endurance events. Quite frankly, life is one big endurance event and the races I have done have just been training days for the real deal. In a race there are always set backs and changes in plans and goals. Life is no different. In races I look at the challenges as ways to get stronger and overcome. I have tried to apply this to life. If you want to have a stellar race you need to go through some pain and discomfort. If you want to just get through a race you can just coast along in the comfort zone. Same with life. To really live a life you need to move out of the comfort zone at times and have the courage that you are strong enough to get to the other side. 

When we toe the line in an Ironman or a 100 mile running race or any other big endurance challenge we are best to not look at the whole race. It will overwhelm us and leave us feeling a bit paralyzed by the huge undertaking. I have practiced this lately. I have focused on getting to the next buoy in the swim, the next aid station and at times just putting one foot in front of the other. By keeping in the moment and dealing with the immediate task at hand I have slowly been able to move through each stage of the changes. I can't force things and have to let the race come to me at times. I need to slam a gel or in this case a glass of wine now and then to keep from bonking. But now when I look up I can see the finish line in the distance. I have had the best cheering squad in this event and even though they couldn't eat the elephant for me, my friends and family have sat at my table and helped me cut it up. I know this isn't my last big event and that my life is onto a new and exciting chapter. I also know that there will be more elephants that come along and the only way to eat them is one bite at a time. People ask how you run 100 miles, you don't run 100 miles you run one step at a time and eventually you have covered 100 miles. 

Nothing happens until the pain of remaining the same outweighs the pain of change. Arthur Burt

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Live on the Edge

Several years ago my mom gave me a little carved pewter circle that I carry with me daily. It is a reminder of how I want to live my life. It has a simple message 'Live on the edge'. Over the summer my Lead family would say 'if you aren't living on the edge, you are taking up too much space'. I have been fortunate in that I have been able to take risks in life, do things that scare me and push my limits. BUT, if you are living on the edge there are times when you can slip and fall. That is when you  truly learn the value of your life and the people in it. Sure, people can watch you while you teeter on the edge but it is those who are willing to come to the edge with you that matter. More importantly it is those who will hang over the edge when you slip and pull you back up that make life the best.

2013 was a year of living on the edge for me. At times it could be said that I was hanging off the ledge by my fingernails. During this time, I always had people willing to lay on the edge and hold my hand until I was able to get back up. They never let me free fall and I am so appreciative. It was a year of big adventures and monumental changes and I never felt like I was without my parachutes. Even if I were to let go and fall to the bottom I knew I would have a fall softened by love of those close to me. For all of you that watched me and walked with me (some of you literally walked for miles with me) I thank you. I feel like my feet are firmly back on solid ground but I will never let myself get too far from the edge. It is at the edge that you see the vast vistas of possibilities in life and from where I am now standing the view couldn't be more spectacular. 

“Come to the edge’, he said.
They said, ‘We are afraid’.
‘Come to the edge’, he said.
They came.
He pushed them…
And they flew.”
– Guillaume Apollinaire

Thursday, December 19, 2013

An Old Friend

Sometimes we meet up with an old friend after years apart and it seems like we haven't missed a beat. We are able to understand immediately what the other is trying to articulate. The conversation flows like we just talked the day before. We experience a level of comfort that is hard to find elsewhere. Just because we may have lost touch, haven't seen each other in a very long time doesn't mean our connection is any less. There is a mutual understanding that we both have missed the other and have never forgotten but other things have gotten in the way. Neither of us judges the other for the time away, instead we just pick up right where we left off. Sure, there have been changes over time but the fundamentals that drew you together in the first place are still deeply routed.

This past week I reacquainted myself with an old flame. It had been 17 years since I had strapped a pair of boards to my feet and pointed them down a hill. The boards have morphed a bit, my body has aged but like old dance partners our timing was in tune. I admit I was slightly nervous, wondering if we would jive like we had years ago. As soon as I clicked my boots into my bindings all nerves disappeared and I was right back to where I had left off. I had decided ahead of time to take it easy and slowly regain familiarity but I quickly discovered that was unnecessary as hours of muscle memory came flying back into my body. I was making turns and gaining speed and grinning from ear to ear. Yes, it had been a long time but old friends click right back into place.

"AH, how good it feels. The hand of an old friend."

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Winter Lessons

It's been a long time since I've lived in real winter. My friends in Southern California think that they have started winter, I think it rained:0 I may have forgotten a few things about living in snow, but mother nature is making sure to provide me learning experiences. Here are a few lessons that I have survived.

1) Leaving your wet bathing suit and towel in the car to dry doesn't work. You will have a frozen suit and towel. Think it's cold getting in the water, try doing it in a suit with ice on it!

2) Your favorite jeans become the ones that you can fit a bulky base layer underneath. One good thing, come spring I'll look like I lost inches without doing anything!

3) That 'winter' jacket you own, is now a base layer. It is also your pajama top.

4) You don't blow dry your hair for looks, it is functional. Wet hair become icicles and I have discovered wearing ice on your head does in fact drop your body temperature.

5) Wool is awesome. Wool base layer, wool socks, wool hats- those sheep are on to something. Even wet wool keeps you somewhat warm. An old wool sock over your water bottle helps keep the water from freezing while you are skiing. Wool isn't as itchy as it was when I was a kid either. Just another thing that my grandparents knew, they always had wool socks.

6) Snow dogs are made for the snow. Tana will sit out in the snow bank for hours watching squirrels. That one should have been obvious, being that she's called a snow dog.

7) If you are going to live in winter, embrace it. That means, getting outside and enjoying it. Which in turn means that the equation of how many bikes is enough,  N (being the number you own) +1, also applies to skis.

8) The weather is real, you need to know what is happening if you are going to plan or do anything. Mother nature may have other plans for you. AND, wind chill can make a difference.

9) When the sun shines on freshly fallen snow and the trails are in perfect condition for a ski, winter makes you forget that summer exists.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Let it Snow

For the first time in years I am looking out the window at a dusting of snow on the ground. I am very excited to be spending some winter time in the mountains. I can't wait to strap some boards to my feet and explore, but there isn't quite enough snow for that yet. I am not the only one loving this change in climate. My snow dog has finally discovered that she actually does in fact love snow. She wants to just sit out in it and watch the squirrels in the trees. While I have grown accustomed to perpetual summer, I am looking forward to winter. They say that the grass isn't always greener but the snow sure is whiter:)

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Girls Best Friend

My little buddy is 12 years old now. I am grateful everyday that I get to wake up and see her little face looking at me, dog breath and all. We've had many great adventures together and I hope for many more.

'Whoever said diamonds are a girls best friend, never owned a dog'. 

"my goal in life is to be as good of a person as my dog already believes me to be"

Monday, October 7, 2013

Lessons from 100 miles

Training for and running my first 100 mile race I learned many life lessons. It is amazing how similar doing a race of 100 miles on foot is to the race of life. Along the way there are choices to be made, mistakes made and many learning opportunities. There is no right or wrong way to do 100 miles or life, we all must choose our own approach. It has been quite awhile since I have posted but I have been reflecting on all the things that I realized along the way.

During a 100 mile race all competitors are on the same set race course but none of us are having the same race. The same in life. We may look like we are on the same path but each of us experiences it differently. In this regard, attitude carries you way further than your feet ever will. Approaching an obstacle or a difficult situation as a learning experience and new adventure makes it a much more pleasant experience.

None of us can go it alone all of the time. There were many times during the race that I relied on my crew and pacers to help me through. Without them I'm sure I'd still be out there. It is not a sign of weakness to accept that at times you might need help. I trusted my guys 100% to get me to the finish line and they put so much energy into helping me reach my goal. I can only hope that in the future I will be able to do the same for them.

Along the way, I would run with some people for a while and then they wouldn't be there anymore and I'd be running with others around me. Often times the same people would come and go at various times throughout the event. The same happens in life, people drift into and out of our lives at various times. Enjoy them while they are there and know all of us are floating on different currents which will at times converge again.

I was lucky in my 100 mile race that I had assembled a fantastic group around me. I had great training mentors, my crew was top notch and I had the best pacers a girl could ask for. It made it so much easier to have so much positive energy and great people on my side. The people we choose to have in our daily lives have the same effect. Surround yourself with loving, positive, and energetic people that you care about and life is good. We all get to choose who is on this voyage with us, choose wisely.

It isn't always easy when you are running 100 miles. There are lots of times when it is downright hard and you feel horrible. Really low crappy parts. Those times can happen in life too, but you know what, they pass in the race and they will pass in life.

Having a plan is a good idea for nutrition and pacing and clothing. Being flexible on your plan is even better. Things come up that we can't anticipate and we need to adapt. Sure you can plan out your life, but what if a great opportunity presents itself that doesn't go with the plan? Are you willing to give it up to stick to the 'plan'? Not all plans work out, sometimes we need to be able to adjust our plan on the fly. If you can do this in a 100 miler you will have a race that you didn't even think was plausible, if you can do it in life you will have a full life.

We have no idea what another persons journey is about. There were people doing the 100 mile race that had to drop at various parts of the event. They were fighting with injury or the inability to train effectively due to time constraints. Whatever reasons that they didn't make it all the way, they all were courageous enough to toe the line. I know a few people who made it to the 50 mile mark and called it a day, they are heroes to me. They knew going in that they were going to have a difficult time of it, but they went out there and they did what most people couldn't do without injury. Everyone out on that course was fighting some demon of their own. We never know by looking at someone what monsters they are battling, show them kindness, life is not easy and getting out there an living it everyday takes bravery.

No matter how much support you have, how many people are around you and how busy the path you are on is, it all comes down to you. You have to make the choices to guide your life in the correct direction, you  are the one steering the ship and if you can enjoy the journey you will arrive at the destination in peace. We all end up at the proverbial finish line, some of us just earlier than others. Let us hope that when we get there we can all celebrate a life well run:)