The Universe Wants You Running

Last night I won a $250 gift bag from Fleet Feet Bend at a Pink Palooza party, which was designed to raise money and awareness for breast cancer. October is breast cancer awareness month.

I can’t believe I won. I caught myself saying to my mom, “I never win anything.” and then I realized how untrue that was.

It started a couple years ago when I won a $70 gift certificate to a gear store in Portland for my 2nd place performance at the Ride, Row, Run in Maupin, Oregon. I had finished 4th overall, and 2nd for women. It was both an honor and a surprise, and that was the last time I raced in 2012, and 2013..

2013 was a very difficult year for me. I lacked motivation to try, and when I was able to overcome that initial barrier, I lacked desire to suffer. I basically quit on myself. I gained 25-30 pounds and I was miserable. I hated my job because it was keeping me from being active and I resented my paycheck because it never had enough extra to pay for a gym membership or a race entry fee or new running shoes.

And then one day in early 2014, I decided I was tired of my own voice. I got a sales bonus at work and before I could divvy it up between bills, I bought new running shoes. I registered for my first race in a year and a half – the Dirty Half – a trail half marathon in spring.

Between tutoring and sales bonuses at work, I was able to once again invest money in my own health through races and triathlon gear. I started volunteering at Juniper Swim and Fitness in deep water running and was able to build a base without risking injury. I was recruited to coach a running group on Saturdays, and that has been the best thing for my running since who knows when.

After taking an entire year off, this year I raced:

Dirty Half (13.1)
Deschutes Dash (1st Olympic triathlon)
Swim Across Suttle (1.3 mile swim)
Portland Triathlon (Olympic Duathlon)
Zombie Run (5k – tonight!)
Monster Dash (10k – next Sunday)
Happy Girls Run (2 Sundays)

Not to mention my birthday triathlon which was amazing.

Last spring I won a gift bag from Lay it Out Events for a running photo I submitted. This fall I won an entry into the Happy Girls Run half marathon based on an essay I wrote about what running means to me and how much I need it in my life. I earned an entry into the Monster Dash for my volunteer duties as a running coach. Last month when I was in Portland, I cashed in my gift certificate for a hammock, which I absolutely love. And so last night when I won $140 running shoes, a pass to Crater Lake Vodka for 6 people, and an entry into the spring training program (which was already regifted because I am a coach), I was wrong when I said I don’t ever win..

I am not at my potential. I still have about 10-15 pounds to lose to be where I was at the triathlon in 2012, and another 10 from where I really want to be. But I am moving again. I am involved. I appreciate my job because it allows me to live in this beautiful runner-loving town of mine. I appreciate when I have extra money and I have learned that investing this money into my own health and happiness is the best investment I could ever make.

I did not just win shoes and race entries and hammocks and other great prizes this year; I won my life back. And I am so grateful that the universe obviously wants me running.

Celebrate the Birthdays

My birthday has always been special to me, and I hope I always feel this way. Even when I’m a boring 43, even when I’m 50.. 67, 89 and hopefully 102.

Birthdays are a chance to celebrate the day you were born. The day your life joined family and friends on earth. Another year of health, happiness, successes. Even in a year of struggle or heartache or disappointment, there is something to be celebrated. You are here and that’s enough.

Today I went out and chased my youth. I decided to use the full day to fill in as much fitness and adventure as possible. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate my life on my birthday than through endurance sports.

So the day unfolded.

34 laps at the pool.

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3.4 mile trail run on my favorite trail in Bend.

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An attempted 34-mile bike ride turned into something so much more fun. My friend Sammi suggested we stay in town to fight a tight schedule and and a serious wind.. Not to mention the electrolyte-induced headache that had been creeping on since the swim.

We rode an almost 1-mile lap in the old mill district 17 times. It was so much fun!

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After a 50-minute deep water running class (I volunteer), I met some friends at Five Fusion for sushi and dinner. It was a great night, and they treated me! I wasn’t expecting that at all. I was just so happy to have friends to celebrate with.

What a good day. This was one of the more memorable birthdays I’ve had.

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Birthday Triathlon Preparation

The Sponsors. 

nuunBuff_New_BLACK

The day is unofficially sponsored by Nuun and Buff. By unofficially, I mean not at all. But Nuun keeps me hydrated through all my adventures, and there is a Buff for every activity. This day is filled with activity, so it will involve a few of my favorite Buff products, and my favorite Nuun flavor (grape).

The Uniform. 

The UV Buff, Vermont edition. Although I have lived in Oregon for the past three years, and was technically raised in New Hampshire, I still identify myself as a Vermonter. Stay tuned..

UV Buff - Vermont Edition

The Soundtrack.

echosmith

I just discovered this band of siblings, Echosmith. They skyrocketed to the top of my list of music you must hear. My favorite part is that they are all siblings, and some of them are still pretty young, but you wouldn’t know it based on their music. Pure talent. I love families that stick together and share passions. To boot, the song “Cool Kids“, which I am currently stuck on, has a great message. To be cool, just be yourself.

The Venue

downtown bend

Really, the day will take place all over Bend and Central Oregon, but the dinner at 5 Fusion is downtown in the evening.

The swim is at Bend’s Juniper Swim & Fitness; the run will most likely be at Meadow Camp or Shevlin Park; the bike ride starts at Crow’s Feet Commons (my favorite place), and then heads out on the Twin Bridges Loop, one of Bend’s Scenic Bikeways. In case you didn’t make the connection, Crow’s Feet Commons is also the home to my bike shop and my favorite bike tech.

Crows Feet Commons

So now I just need to get through today, because I am pretty excited about the goings on of tomorrow.

Stay tuned..

34th Annual Birthday Extravaganza: Triathlon Edition

triathlon birthday celebration

My 34th birthday is coming up on Wednesday, and I decided to take full advantage and get the most of the celebration. I took the day off work, and I have a full day planned. You may notice a theme here, as I turn 34 years old. The day will start with a 34 minute swim, followed by a 3.4 mile run on one of my favorite trails with Andi, and then I will meet a friend to ride 34 miles through scenic Central Oregon. After my volunteer duties at Juniper Swim & Fitness, I will meet friends at 5 Fusion for sushi. This is going to be the best birthday I’ve ever had! Be prepared for a recap on the day, promised to reach your inbox by Friday, October 17th.

The Start Line

I won an entry into Happy Girls Run through an essay I had submitted to Lay It Out Events. It was exciting to win because in my essay, I shared the struggle I faced last year to get and stay motivated to run, and how much effort I was putting into making it to the start line this year.

After a year of no racing in 2013, feeling completely separated from my goals and history as a successful cross-country runner turned marathoner turned ultra marathoner turned triathlete, I vowed to myself that 2014 would see me back at the start line.

I can’t help but sit here and feel fortunate and blessed. If you look at the results of the races I completed this year, you won’t be impressed. But it’s the start line we’re talking about. And I am impressed with my own self and the number of races, many of which were first-time experiences for me.

July 6th: Dirty Half (trail half marathon)
July 27th: Deschutes Dash (Olympic triathlon; a first)
August 24th: Swim across Suttle (1.3 mile open water swim; a first)
September 21st: Portland Triathlon (Olympic Triathlon Duathlon; a first)

Up next..

October 26th: Monster Dash 10k
November 2nd: Happy Girls Run (trail half marathon).

Here’s the thing. One reason I didn’t race last year was because of laziness. Another reason was finances. I just never seemed to have extra money and when I did, I could not agree with spending it on a race that I would end up sucking at. That was my mentality back then.

This year, I was determined. I don’t take race entries for granted. I was able to register for Dirty Half for only $25 on a special deal. I paid for Deschutes Dash one day at work; we got a sales bonus and I applied it to my own health and happiness as soon as I could. Swim Across Suttle and Portland Tri were funded by a part-time tutoring job I picked up. Monster Dash 10k was made possible through Fleet Feet, where I have been volunteering as a running coach on Saturdays. And now Happy Girls Run is rounding out a great season of fitness!

Two half marathons, two olympic triathlons (one du, if you want to get technical), an open water swim and a 10k. Compared to last year’s non-existent racing agenda.. This is why I am happy just to make it to the start line. That is something worth celebrating!

Today I ran 6 miles. I wasn’t ready for it and it was a struggle. But I was working on my mental toughness. I never used to give in to walk. Ever. But for some reason that voice that says walking is ok has way too much volume. So today I was working on it, and I hope to get in many more good miles between now and Happy Girls Run. Today, while I was running considerably slower than the rest of the group, I couldn’t help but think of how blessed I am to be able to show up on a Saturday and run 6 miles.

Life is good. Run it out.

Happy 1st

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It was on this day exactly one year ago that my little border collie was dropped off at work. It was love at first sight. She smelled like a barn. Badly like a barn.

She got her first bath that night, which left a dirt ring in my tub. She slept in her little crate, and I remember lying there unable to sleep. Not because she was loud, but because I was scared. I had lived alone for so many years and suddenly there was a living creature in my bedroom. What was that thing?!

She would not eat her food. Instead she made faces at it and walked around the apartment in a dramatic flare.

Though she was raised in a barn and therefore had no need to be housebroken, the first time she made an attempt to potty, she squatted over a piece of paper that was on the floor next to my nightstand. How did she know to do that?

The first time she laid on my bed, she sprawled out in a sea of down and flannel and she slept for four hours straight. Her belly was exposed and all four legs sprawled in opposing directions. Even her head was as stretched out as possible. She was in heaven..

On that cool October day in 2013, my very first dog moved into my home and into my heart. She sure knows how to make herself at home, too. I can’t imagine my life without her.

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