I’m a Ragnarian! (Ragnar Race Recap)

I first learned about Ragnar in the spring of 2012 when I was tagged in a facebook post with, “You in?” It was for Ragnar Tennessee with my fearless cousin (cousin-in-law? That just sounds weird) who is constantly tackling every physical challenge that comes his way. I so wanted to say yes, but the logistics were a little much to conquer then, and frankly, my mileage had just reached 6.2. But, he sparked the idea, and the idea became a goal.

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This spring, Sarah and Dimity of Run Like a Mother posted a contest to join their DC Ragnar teams. I tried to gain a spot, but so did tons of other badass mother runners across the country. I had this idea that it would be amazing to go back to my old stomping grounds, the place I lived for ten unhealthy years, the place where I wanted to become the girl I now am, yet repeatedly failed at becoming. I thought literally stomping on those grounds would be cathartic, and maybe chapter-closing. But it was not meant to be. The goal grew, though.

Then came the amazing opportunity to run Colorado Ragnar with 3W Races. I think it took me about 4 seconds to reply to the invite with a resounding, “YES!!!”3W-Races-Simple1 copy

On Thursday, Sept 5th, I packed my bags (it took me almost as long as the relay itself). My RagNERD was in full force as I packed each ziploc bag, one for each leg of the race, complete with a race outfit, socks, sports bra, fuel, my leg map, and smaller leg map notes to carry with me (because I was freaking out that I would get lost).

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I also packed a ziploc of first aid supplies, a ziploc with recovery tools, and a ziploc of fun (really. That’s what I labeled it. There were robot stickers and gel pens and a glue stick and tape and window crayons). I made Power Balls (so, so good, and I’d definitely bring them on another Ragnar). And then, I grabbed all my bags of stuff and my bags of nerves and headed to meet the members of my van that were headed to Copper Mountain that night.

view from condo

We had a great dinner together and stayed at a fantastic condo, thanks to E’s awesome planning! But my head was hurting and my nerves were jangling and I needed more water than God had put on the planet. My sleep was fitful, despite my best intentions to sleep well before not sleeping at all!

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The morning came before I was ready, and I was the first runner. A cup of coffee and a granola bar later, I was ready to run. We took some pre-race pics in our temporary race shirts (our real shirts were stuck in Portland because it was raining. Huh).

pre race posing

And then we headed to the start, where I checked myself in and then stood around with a huge lump in my stomach.

pre-race jitters

And then, before I had time to get any more worried, they said, “Go!” (Or something along those lines indicating I should begin moving). I crossed the start line and headed off for the most beautiful run I’d have during Ragnar (it was the only one in the light, so that could play a part).

and we're off

It was 7.9 miles (labeled very hard, but I disagree) of gorgeous mountains, and I was present for all of it – for the shadows of the trees and the sun slanting in through the branches, for the breathtaking views of the mountains and the energy of being part of something that I knew was going to be epic. I passed two people (kills, in Ragnar-speak) during that leg, and as will be the case in all my legs, we won’t speak of how many times I was killed.

I finished strong and felt so, so good. But sweaty. I went to change beside our van, thinking it would shield me a little, but I didn’t realize we had a passenger inside, right at the window where I was changing. Sorry, N. Didn’t mean to scare you.

nick and the van

Our van (really a Yukon) followed our next five runners through their legs, cheering them on as we went, and then we passed the baton (slap bracelet) to van 2.

cheering section

At one exchange, S and I went in search of food at a farmer’s market, and we found Qdoba giving out giant samples of their house-made guac (so, so good) and tortilla chips with lime and kosher salt (who knew?). It was EXACTLY what we needed, so huge thanks to Qdoba.

After passing the baton to Van 2, we headed for food and we tried to get a little rest. It was 5pm on day one, and we were eating our first real meal. It was so, so good. I’m not sure it would have mattered where we ate at that point, but we chose Gore Range Brewery in Edwards and if you’re ever there, the roasted edamame vegetable salad is incredible. Really. Just. so. good.

We headed to the Fieldhouse in Edwards, and inside there were two fields (indoor soccer?) where you could spread out and try and catch some sleep. I took my sleeping bag and pillow in and tried to rest, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that we all looked like refugees. Sleeping bags. Random space. Small groups huddled together. Whispering. Looking haggard. Shared foodstuff of odd varieties. Hobbling. First aid. It was Red-Cross-like and a bit surreal.

After laying there for a bit, I headed back out to the van and donned my gigantic reflective vest, then used some twine that B had to cinch it closed a bit. I added the blinkie light to my back (well, really E did). Then, I was ready to run again!

big vest

By the time the baton reached me at 8:45pm, it was pitch black. My second leg was 2.9 miles (labeled easy) and while the leg map said it was along a “trail,” I might be more apt to call it a sidewalk. Along a busy road. Lots of lights coming at you. Then all of a sudden, it was a real trail that plunged down a hill and into darkness. The “One Mile Left” sign appeared and I was like, “Really?” Because I couldn’t see any lights. None. No blinkies. No exchange. About 50 feet away from it, I finally saw the exchange point, and I was relieved that I was, in fact, in the right spot.

We continued on, exchange to exchange, trying to cheer our runner on along the way and meet them at the end of their leg. What I can’t quite capture in all of this is just how much our van was laughing. None of it would sound funny if you weren’t there (ok, some of it might) but there were just so many great lines and shared jokes. I am so glad I got to experience this with such FUN people. The wrong people could definitely make Ragnar a miserable experience, I think.

high five!

After our last runner from Van 1 came in from his second leg, we hit the showers at the rec center Gypsum. I was so tired that I didn’t really care how dirty I was, until I felt the warm water. Ooooh, how I could have stayed there indefinitely. We decided it was like Disneyland to us at that point. We drove on to the next exchange (a gym…somewhere) and the gym was very quiet and well set up as a sleeping area. I plopped my sleeping bag down, crawled in, put on my face mask and slipped in my ear plugs, and slept the sleep of the dead for an hour and half. Then – you guessed it – time to run again!

Everyone in my van was pretty out of it (or still asleep). I got ready and think I told someone (B? N?) that I was going to go (and I meant to the exchange point) and they all thought I’d gone to the bathroom (not unreasonable – I was there a lot). I went to the exchange in a really dazed state and I was definitely thinking, “What is wrong with me? Why did I sign up for this? It’s 4am and I’ve not really slept and now I have to go run 6.3 hard miles and I am so. not. ready.”).  I got to the exchange and I saw Van 2 searching for, presumably, me. Their arms were out as though they were literally feeling in the dark for me, and they were definitely punchy. Lack of sleep was hitting us all hard! I munched on my granola bar while I waited, and then I heard, “87!” and J pushed me and said, “That’s you!” Like I said, everyone was a little punchy. I gave her my trash and she was really, really excited to take it from me. When M arrived he patted my shoulder and said, “Have a great run!” then kept on moving through the exchange, without giving me the baton. Seriously. We were a mess. Van 2 pushed him back to hand over the slap bracelet.

night run blur

And I was off on the “hard” leg that really should have been labeled, “You just might die.” It was still pitch black, and the stars were gorgeous. I turned off my tunes and listened to water rushing, leaves swishing, the occasional runner pounding the pavement, and animals stirring in the trees. That part was great. The mountains were off to my right and while I knew they were there and could make out their shapes, they looked fake, like movie props or something. The whole thing was surreal. Except for the hill. Five miles of my 6.3 were uphill. And not just a little piddly, rolling hill. Like, a “screw you” hill. Apparently my van drove up said hill before I got there, and later I saw facebook posts saying, “It’s 5am. I feel bad for our first runner.” It was the only leg of my run that felt like I was really in it with the other runners, though. People were supportive. We encouraged each other when we passed, or got passed. We pushed each other on. One team realized the stop didn’t have any water support and that the hill was insane, and so they set up their own water station and were handing out bottles of water and a dose of encouragement to anyone who needed it.

I saw the One Mile to Go sign (these were so important to me along the way), and I thought, “This could be the last mile of Ragnar I ever run.” Then I almost laughed out loud as I realized, “No way. I’ll be back.”

I came in strong from that seemingly endless run, into the dark exchange, and shouted “87!” so my teammate could get ready for the hand off. And then, I was done. I was a Ragnarian! I’d completed my first Ragnar and it was AWESOME! I wanted to celebrate with someone, but my teammates were all still quiet and sleepy and were not just coming off a runner’s high, and everyone I knew in the normal world was asleep. I settled for celebrating with the cheerleader in my head.

There was one problem. I was really sweaty, and it was cold out, and now, I was freezing and my brain just wasn’t quite functioning. I was shaking and thought I’d have to wait until Basalt – hours away – to get warm, because my clean clothes were in a car there. S had to force me to find my driest, cleanest clothes and get changed, and “Take that sweaty bra off!” Then she told me the next stop would have a coffee shop or a 7-11, and we’d get me something warm to drink. It was like Disneyland all over again. I warmed up, got some coffee, and ordered an everything bagel with eggs and cheese. Best. breakfast. ever. I was so glad S was still functioning when my brain had given out, or it would have been a long, cold morning!

post race pic of amy

Soon we were cheering our last runner in and passing the baton to van 2 for their final legs, and van 1 was finished! We’d done it!

van 1 is done

We headed in for a pancake breakfast (except for me because I don’t like pancakes, which is apparently un-runner-like and downright un-American; who knew?) and then we hit the creek for a cold creek bath on our tired and achy muscles.

Then, to the last exchange, where we sent our last runner up a canyon in the hot sun for an 8-mile test of endurance. I’m really glad that wasn’t my leg.

last leg

We rode the gondola up to the top of Snowmass, and J was so freaked out he was almost sitting on my lap. Our team waited at the top of the slope, ready to meet M and run down the switchback with him to cross the finish. Well, sort of ready. We were all kind of hobbling about and not thrilled at the prospect of running any more. When we saw him we took off down the hill, and some of us cut across the single track switchback so that we could cheer him on without having to exert ourselves quite as much. Soon we were running under the arches of a team from BYU (the escaped prisoners) and then across the finish line! Whooooooooot! We had done it! Someone handed me two fistfuls of medals and told me to pass them out to everyone.

finish line whoot

And then there were pics and high fives and laughter and ohmygoodnees we just ran 192 miles across the mountains! And then it was over. We moved some stuff around in the vans, and several of us headed back together, tired, but still ready to laugh, and share, and eat barbecue sauce (except I don’t like sauce. Also un-American?).

Now I think we’re all in withdrawal. I’ve loved seeing all the pictures popping up on facebook (and I wish there were more! I’m bringing my good camera next time and tying a string around my finger to remind me to capture EVERYTHING). Two days after we finished, I signed on to run Ragnar SoCal in April, 2014, and this time, I get to do it with family. I’m really excited about that. And I’m sure an equally long narrative will accompany it.

I wish I could adequately capture the experience, and despite my use of nine million words here in this blog post, I know I’ve hardly scratched the surface, because it was epic.

And remember how I thought I needed to go back East to face who I used to be and really own who I am now? I was wrong. Being who I am now, and owning that, in the place I live, in the place I love, in the place and with the people who helped me become who I am – that was what I needed. Ragnar was a way for me to close the chapter on who I used to be, and really acknowledge that I am not her any more. While the miles ticked away, I really embraced that THIS is who I am. I’ll always be a former fat girl. I may always battle the voice in my head that says “You can’t.” But I know she’s gone, and that voice is wrong. And I? I am a Ragnarian.

Run on,

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Turning Things Around

I have been thinking about this weekend all week. And honestly, kind of dreading it. I have a half marathon on Saturday, and my foot keeps reminding me it’s there in a way that makes me nervous to put 13 mountain miles on it. And the race is a few hours away from us, which means a very early morning. And my son has been coming in to wake us up the last few nights because, for some reason at about 2am, he’s convinced it must be wake-up time. He is wrong. And then there’s a Ragnar team meeting on Sunday, followed by the opening of a dance studio that I want to check out.

It’s all just making me tired and I’m not even doing any of it yet.

So, I’ve decided. I’m turning this weekend around right now. Not at 3:45a when the alarm goes off, not at 5:15a when I meet my carpool, not at 8am when the race starts, and not after I’ve finished the damn thing, and I will finish it. I’m turning things around now, in my head. This weekend is going to be awesome.

I am going to enjoy my family tonight and go to bed early. I am going to be rested when that alarm goes off at 3:45am. I am going to enjoy the silence in my house as I get myself up, caffeinated, and out the door. I am going to listen to my body as I run and respond to its needs. I am going to enjoy 13.1 gorgeous Colorado miles. I am going to finish happy, find my friends and family, and enjoy the rest of my day exploring a place we’ve never been.

And Sunday? It’s a long way away, but I’m going to enjoy it, too. If I can’t do one of things or all of the things I’ve planned, that’s ok. Because life is too short to let my weekend plans for fun stress me out.

So right now, I’m shifting my thoughts. I’m relaxing my muscles. I’m smiling. Because you know what? I have so much to be grateful for, excited for, ready for. And now, I am.

Run on,

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Hobbly Wobbly

I hurt my foot back in February and the healing part was kind of miserable. Ok, the not running part was what really made it suuuuuuuck.

But, my foot got better, I eased back into running, and now…it hurts again. I haven’t gone to the doctor because I figure I know what he’ll say. Rest. Ice. Compression. Elevate. Wear the aircast. Take ibuprofin. And lay off the running.

I don’t feel like I need to pay $200+ to hear that. So, I’m doing most of it. I’ve been cautious with the length and intensity of my runs – but I haven’t stopped. I’m running through it. And today, someone asked me why.

I don’t have a good answer. I understand that fully letting it heal makes sense. Is logical. Is smart.

But I have a half marathon next weekend, a half that I’ve been looking forward to for 6 months or more. The most beautiful half I will have ever done (ok, I’ve only done two others, but still, this one will be gorgeous). And it’s not just the half. That race is a training run for Ragnar, a training run with some more elevation, which is something I need practice with.

And I can’t NOT do Ragnar. It’s just…not an option.

So I’m gonna tape it and go. Run. Do my thing. And I’m crossing my fingers that I won’t make it worse. I get that this might not be the smartest strategy. But it’s the one I’m going with.

Run on,

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My Thong Song

*I’d like to take a moment to tell you to stop reading if you don’t want to read about my underwear.*

**Consider yourself warned.**

***Still reading? Not my fault.***

There have been a lot of changes that one would expect with weight loss. I wear a (much) smaller size. Regular bath towels fit around me. I can run faster. But some changes are much more subtle.

I have always been a bikini-style underwear girl. Generally, I’d buy five cotton pairs from Victoria’s Secret when they had their 5 for $25 sale. Because I’m predictable. And cheap. Between junior high and adulthood, only the size changed, and I would have kept right on wearing them if pregnancy hadn’t forced me to buy super duper granny undies to accommodate my burgeoning belly and butt (though I didn’t actually carry children in my bum, one would have thought so based on my expansion).

After I lost weight, I began to care about something I’d never, ever in my life cared about before. VPL. That’s right, I even know the acronym now. I always figured having a Visible Panty Line was just par for the course of wearing both underwear and clothing, and I was a fan of both.

But once I lost weight, I started to care how my butt looked in my clothes. I used to just want my clothes to adequately cover my bum, but a smaller rear made me start reading about how to best dress for your shape and which jeans to buy (based on pocket placement, rise, etc – who knew!) and VPL changed the look of pants. So, I decided to find out why so many people on my bargain board (of course I’m on one of those) loved Hanky Panky underwear. Which, consequently, are thongs.

I have never understood people who willingly wear thongs. It seemed positively medieval, potentially devastating to the feminist movement, and decidedly uncomfortable. Gotta say, I was wrong. They’re comfortable. And cute. And, no VPL.

So, I went in search of more of them, and took my toddlers with me to Nordstrom Rack, because I’m a stay-at-home mom who does lots of errands with two kids in tow. I don’t even remember telling my kids what we were going for, but when we got inside the store and found the underwear rack, my son began chanting, “Mama needs some Hanky Panky! Mama needs some Hanky Panky!”

Who ever would have guessed I’d have a thong song? Or that it would be sung at top volume by a two year old? Change…you never know where it will take you.

Run on,

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Here’s to the Forest

I haven’t posted in a while. I’ve drafted a lot and posted nothing, because my drafted posts were whiny, with awesome titles like “Disappointed.” And yet, I’ve had amazing things happen in the past month, but I couldn’t see the forest for the trees.

So, here’s the forest.

PR 1

On my birthday/Mother’s Day, I PR’d (got a new personal record) at a 10k by 11 minutes. 11 minutes! Finish time was 1:00:29. Next time, it’ll be under an hour. For sure.

PR 2

Then I won a contest to run the Esprit de She 5k with a friend, so I called another mother runner and away we went to get cute orange tank tops, run a 5k, and enjoy a post-race pool party. I didn’t want to push too hard because it was an evening race three days before my half marathon, but I PR’d there too: 27:23. It was my first official sub-30 time and I still wasn’t running all out. I think I need that shirt that says, “I am stronger than I thought.” It’s like the lesson that I can’t seem to get through my head.

PR 3

Three days later, I had an amazing time running my second half marathon. It was fun! I had energy left over at the end! While it wasn’t a crazy all out effort, I got my third PR in a month (2:22:31). I did the whole thing with a friend and we chatted the entire (very hilly) course. Plus, there was a finisher’s skirt, which a Skirt Sports lovin’ girl just HAD to have.

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The Trees

But just as the race elation wore off, my favorite celebrity mother runners, Sarah and Dimity from Run Like a Mother, announced the winners of the Ultimate Mother Runner Showdown. This was a contest I entered to win a slot on a Ragnar team in DC, and the thought of taking my new, healthy self back to my old, unhealthy stomping grounds and then pounding the pavement (intermittently) for 200 miles…well, that was a pretty amazing and liberating idea. Sort of coming full circle, in a way. But there were a ton of creative entries and amazing mother runners vying for spots…and I didn’t get picked. I was devastated. I felt stupid about being devastated, but I’ll own it.

Dimity reached out to me to get me in touch with someone who was planning a Colorado Ragnar team, which was amazingly thoughtful of her. The fees and the organizational aspects were daunting though, and I couldn’t commit an unknown amount of dollars to run with a group that wasn’t yet formed. Too risky. My Ragnar dream would have to wait.

The Mountains

And then today, I got an email that has me smiling ear-to-ear. I got invited to run Ragnar Colorado with a team from 3W Races, the most amazing running organization I know (and an organization that is actually ORGANIZED!). You know what’s kind of meant to be about it? At the end of my video entry for the Ragnar DC Contest, there was a still shot of a canvas. I had painted “Dream Big. Run Ragnar.” The girl on the painting? Well, she’s my version of the 3W Girl from 3W Races Westminster Women’s Classic logo. I like to think that’s what I look like when I run, and my girl?  She’s kind of on fire. And now, she’s going to run Ragnar.   DSC_0104

Yes, yes, yes!

So. Ragnar. 200 miles. Two days. 12 runners. Over the mountains (of Breckenridge, Vail, and Aspen/Snowmass) and through the woods, to Colorado Ragnar I go!

Run on,

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I Didn’t Mean To

Last weekend, I accidentally signed up for a half marathon.  That will be held in three weeks.

Ok. Accidentally on purpose.

Maybe one of my three readers remembers that I decided to be done with triathlon, for a little while at least, for my family life. But, I wanted to be done on my own terms. I was going to do the Denver Tri on June 9, and then, I was going to hang up my wetsuit (ok, I was actually going to sell my wetsuit. And my tri suit. But whatever.)

I was training. I was swimming laps – laps in a pool I had access to only because I worked at the gym, in a job that just wasn’t helping my family life. So I had decided to leave said job at the end of May – enough pool time for my tri, lots of summertime left for my family.

Then, on May 9, I received an email with the ominous heading, “Denver Triathlon Postponed.” No friggin’ way.  I actually thought it was some sort of joke, but no, it was real, and the new date was a not-so-doable Sept. 22. Huge difference, and it seemed impossible that this new would come at the end of a training cycle.

I can’t even explain how upset I was. Shaking upset. Crying upset! I was leaving triathlon on my own terms, and they took that away from me! Honestly, I get why they postponed the event, but I can’t do it in Sept, so my end is a lot more abrupt than I planned. It is decidedly NOT on my terms.

But at the same time, my June 9 race day was now ridiculously empty, and empty when it could have been so full. If I’d known I’d be free, I would have applied to the Skirt Sports Kick Starter program to help lead another woman through her first 5k. And if I hadn’t gotten in, I would have signed up for the half marathon, but here we are, 4 weeks out, and my race calendar is suddenly empty.

So I go to the Westminster Women’s Classic, my birthday celebration race, and Skirt Sports is there with a booth, offering registration for their race, June 9, for 50% off. My husband hands me his wallet so I can go sign up (I do not normally require his wallet for monetary exchanges, but mine was in the car. Just FYI). There was a pause while I decided what to sign up for (5k, 5mi, or a half marathon). After much deliberation, I chose the 5mi because I was certain my husband just might kill me if I signed up for the half.

I give him too little credit. The man knows me. I came up to him and told him what I signed up for (at half price!) and he said, “What? I thought the whole point was that you wanted to do their first half marathon?” Ummm, yes. “Go back and sign up for the half.” Wheeeeeee!

So, with my husband’s blessing and encouragement, I went back and signed up for the half marathon, 4 weeks out from the race date. Never thought I’d say that I sort of accidentally signed up for a half marathon, but it makes giving up tri-ing a little less gut wrenching. And half price? Who could go wrong…

Run on,

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Just Go

Yesterday I overslept, so instead of a peaceful morning run, I ended up with a jogging stroller run in the afternoon with a feisty four-year-old and a nap-groggy-and-grumpy two-year-old. Those two runs are almost the same, right? Oh. Wait. No. One of them is a LOT longer, even if all I managed was two miles before I just wanted to chuck the stroller into the creek.

So for today, I planned to get up and run in the morning. No oversleeping. No excuses.

We set the alarm. I laid out my clothes. And at 6am, someone shoved me and said, “GO!” At first I thought it was a little rude. No soft voice saying, “You gonna run now?” Just, “GO.” The way it was said was serious. Like, get-your-butt-out-of-bed-NOW-and-run. I kind of just wanted to roll over and sleep some more (the house was so quiet!), but that “GO” spoke volumes.

And he was right. I needed to go. I got in an easy five mile run before he left for work, and his “GO” was honestly the thing that pushed me out the door. Once I was out there, with the cool Colorado breeze on my face and the mountains rising up to meet me, I was good. I was in my happy place. But today, I needed a little push.

And while I said “easy five mile run” in that glib way that runners have of throwing things like that out there, let me say this was my first easy five miles ever. Easy as in I didn’t have to think about them. I didn’t hurt. I didn’t feel like checking my watch constantly for my pace. I wasn’t pushing myself, I wasn’t making a concentrated effort to finish the miles. I just ran. And it felt SO good.

Go. Let me be the person that shoves you out of bed. Go. Get your run on. You can thank me later.

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Letting Go

On Monday morning, my son was up early, and while I shut my eyes against the morning light and tried to ignore his happy chatter, the thought occurred to me that since I was awake, I might as well go for a run before my husband left for work. I’m pretty sure D was shocked when I came down the stairs in running clothes and said I’d be back shortly, because I am not a morning person. At all.

The air was cool, the trails were almost empty, and I was able to get a guilt-free run in before the day really got started. I’ve been struggling with guilty workouts for a while. With guilty everything, really.

I take on more than I should. I always have, but right now, I feel like it’s at epic levels. There’s so much that I want to do, and only so much time to do it all, but somehow, I never seem to remember that until I’ve already over-committed myself. And who gets hurt in the end? My kids. My family. I just ditched the natural foods co-op I was running, and I got another Mom to help out planning weekly events for our homeschooling group. But at the same time that I made these good-for-me choices, I took on yet another part-time job, did a little stint at a race expo on the only day my whole family has to spend together, and agreed to teach two more gymnastics classes every week for the summer. What is wrong with me? Is “no” just NOT in my vocabulary?

One of my part-time gigs gets me a free membership at a local gym, and really, I took the job for that reason. I enjoy teaching swimming classes once I’m there, but it’s a 20-25 minute drive just to teach for an hour and a half. So my kids have to be in the car for a long time, then in childcare, and there’s not time for me to actually workout then. So, we come back again the next day and repeat the drive and the childcare so I can workout (and the next day, and the next day, and…). We are spending SO much time in the car. And while I don’t feel guilty for my actual workout time, I’m feeling really guilty for the amount of time they’re spending in the car and in childcare for me to teach other kiddos. It’s not fair to them.

Especially since the weather is getting nicer (or, it was, given that snow is falling yet again today) and the trails are free. All I have to do is get my butt up and run. That’s it, and I don’t need the gym.

But to really be done with the gym, I have to admit that, for now, I’m done with triathlon. Yup. Because that’s another thing that’s stressing me out. And it shouldn’t be, because I do this for fun. Or, it should be fun. When I started training last year, I wanted to lose weight. I ended up falling in love with running and training and tri’ing, but this year, I’m in a different place. I’m not trying to lose weight; I’m trying to gain strength and fitness and I want to enjoy what I’m doing to get there.  And I’m no longer five minutes from the gym. That’s huge, right there. I know I’ll have fun at the Denver tri in a few weeks, but fitting in the time at the pool is just stressful. More stressful than the payoff right now.

So, I think this is my last month working at (and thus working out at) the gym. And June 9th will be my last tri for a while. And maybe there are some other things that I should cut that I just haven’t figured out yet. I feel so compelled to do, do, do, do, do as much as I can. I want to give back. To others, to my family, to runners and those who have yet to become runners. I want to contribute in a real way to my family’s finances (this one is huge. I struggle with my lack of a contribution). And I just can’t do it all. I can’t.

But to make this work, really, really, work, I have to turn into a morning runner, or I will lose my f#$%@ mind. I know this. And if that happens, nobody wins.

So, who’s successfully turned into a morning runner? How’d you make it work? Do you sleep in your running clothes? Lay everything out the night before? And how long before it stuck – before this changed routine became a habit?

Run on,

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Hill Repeats – I Like It

I hate hills. Really. If you look at my data (because I’m  a nerd with a running problem), you’d actually see that only a few months ago, before I’d hit a hill, my heart rate would spike and my pace would slow. Before the hill. This told me that it wasn’t even the physical exertion of the hill, but my perception of the hill that caused my heart to race and my pace to slow. I’m not saying hills are easy or that it’s all in my head. But clearly, my head exacerbates the issue. I make a mountain out of a mole hill; literally.

I told a running friend about this, and he told me that I had to solve this hill problem. I had to do them. Then do them again. And again. To pick up my feet quickly, just to the point of feeling a bit ridiculous and energizer bunny like. Then, he made me do one. For nothing. We were doing a scavenger hunt type adventure race, and there was supposed to be a checkpoint up a hill. We did it and there was no one there. And he said, “But you did the hill.” And he was right.  So I started doing more hills and picking up my feet and feeling both slow and energizer-bunny-like at the same time.

Now, I hate hills less, and my heart rate and pace don’t change just because I see one coming up, but I’m still not a fan.

Tonight, I set out to do hill repeats. Maybe I just needed a little extra punishment after a day with my kids that might qualify as brutal, despite my best attempts to help them create some Matisse-inspired artwork, work on sight words, have lunch on the patio with Daddy, and hit up the park for several hours. Nope – I needed some more self-abuse. So, I loaded a few podcasts from Another Mother Runner to my shuffle (or, I thought I did), and I set out on my hill-repeats run.

The thing is, I had checked those podcasts in itunes, really, but somehow, I ended up with only one song on my shuffle. It’s the song I downloaded for my dance class. My, ehem…dance class…at Boulder Spirals…ehem… So, I ended up running hill repeats to the song, “I Like It” by Moby. The lyrics are pretty simple…”I like it; I like it a lot.” Repeat. In a sexy voice. A really, really sexy voice. While doing hill repeats. But I’m telling you, it was the only thing on my shuffle…so, I listened. Again. And again. “I like it. I like it a lot.” It’s dumb, I know. But actually, they were the best hill repeats I’ve ever done, if only for the entertainment value…

This may be my new hill-repeats song, if only because it’s freaking hilarious with its irony. Got any good hill repeat tips?

Run on,
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So. This Happened.

This may not seem blog-post worthy, but I haven’t been this size since I was a sophomore in high school, and I certainly wasn’t this fit the last time I was able to pull 4s over my hips. As of April 2013, I’m officially 90lbs down from my highest weight. Not lost. GONE. 90lbs. That’s like ridding myself of a small person (a small, depressed, negative person, actually).

My goal was to be healthy and fit by my 33rd birthday. I wasn’t sure what that would look like, but I never thought it would mean a size 4. I can’t wait to celebrate next month – to celebrate ME, to celebrate the huge life changes I’ve made, to celebrate all that I want to embrace now that I am not, literally, weighed down. I’m sad that I waited so long to begin this next chapter, but so grateful I didn’t wait a day more.